Sunday, November 25, 2012
Like falling off a (b)log.
I just complained to my mother -- whose dining table I am sitting at right now -- that it feels like so long since I've blogged that I've actually forgotten how to do it. She replied, "I'm sure it's just like falling off a log." Thank you, Mum, for your oh-so-convenient post title inspiration.
It's the Christmas end of the year; the warm end, the sunny end, the end that is packed full with plans and dates and shopping and hopes for tying up all the loose threads of the dreams that were anticipated at the beginning of the year and now stand won, lost, fulfilled, or forgotten. Last week at the grocery store, I bought peaches. Today, I bought apricots. Stonefruit packing the shelves and Jingle Bells playing over the radio: just another sign of approaching Christmas.
Last night, we sat among twinkle lights and sailor's knots and, if we were artists of some kind, tried to embody the hope of what Christmas means by exploring it in some form of creation. If we were the recipients of that art, we tried to lay hold of what the artist was doing, what the artist in all of us is doing whenever we try to look past the dirty glass of the temporal and see the lasting thing that is hidden just beyond it. I was privileged to have some of my short fiction read publicly for the first time ever and, contrary to expectations, I didn't die of awkwardness while I sat there and listened. Rather, I felt the honour of seeing words I had chewed over, crossed and uncrossed, come to life in another person's voice and inflection and lovely enthusiasm. It was pretty special.
One of my little students enlisted my help to write out his Christmas list a few weeks ago. He didn't need my help determining what should go on the list; he just needed some pointers on how each item was spelt. He had all the big guns up there -- the latest branded toys I can't remember the names of, a Wii (or whatever the newest version of a Wii is), stuff like that -- and when he felt happy with the list, he pushed it forward on the table and left it there as a sort of offering for all of us to approve. I had already moved on to something else and was marking the work of another student. The little guy glanced at my hand moving over the page, and snatched his list back. "What are those pens called that are actually pencils and they click the lead out?" he asked, looking at the one in my hand. "Pacers," I said. He licked his bottom lip and picked up his pencil again. "How do you spell pacer?"
Another student was filling time while her sister had a piano lesson. From across the room, she interrupted a song to ask, "How do you draw a major?"
"Like, C major or A major? Like in music?" I asked.
"No!" she said.
"Like, in the army?" I offered. "A general or a captain or a major?"
"No," she said, getting frustrated. "Like, away in a major."
"Oh, that. Right. Yeah, that's called a manger."
"Okay. Can you show me how to draw one?"