Sunday, December 19, 2004

A float

Seems like each Christmas season, I have an author to catch me in the slower moments in between board games with the kids, cooking, laundry, or mellow moments that this season seems to bring about. Two years ago, Kathleen Norris was around with me, breathing out her story in "The Virgin of Bennington" and "The Cloister Walk" (the thing I most remember from this book is that she said that she inherited her promiscuous nature from her father. Now, that was one exciting revelation in the monastic retreat she was taking, why?, spiritual hits the physical as she lusted over a monk.:) Good dose of reality.
Anyway, last year, I was recovering from teaching and needed to pour over Pearl Buck's "The Good Earth" in order to teach the China unit in January. (Wahoo! Wang Lung for the holidays!)

This year, it's Anne Lamott who pokes her curly head inside my home. I bought her "Bird by Bird", a book on writing, and I'm excited to dive into it. Yes, it will make me swoon and emerge a disgruntled cul-de-sac housewife that my husband can't figure out (what's new?), but, regardless of the fallout, I still love dreaming and imagining the bravery of "official" writing. I remember kicking around in the cow lot, dreaming in the same way (yes, back to the theme of cow crap). So, why not do it when I'm 40? I'm still alive, aren't I?
So, before I read Anne's newest-book-to-me, I wanted to capture a section that she wrote in "Operating Instructions." I love how she writes and what she writes about:

"....I feel so much frustration and rage and self-doubt that it's like a mini-breakdown. I feel like my mind becomes a lake full of ugly fish and big clumps of algae and coral, of feelings and unhappy memories and rehearsals for future difficulties and failures. I paddle around in it like some crazy old dog, and then I remember that there's a float in the middle of the lake and I can swim out to it and lie down in the sun. That float is about being loved, by my friends and by God and even sort of by me. And so I lie there and get warm and dry off, and I guess I get bored or else it is human nature because after a while I jump back into the lake, into all that crap. I guess the solution is just to keep trying to get back to the float." (p216)

I can so identify with all of that. I love that image of a float which exists too in my life, thank God. When I feel like a big failure, I still have my friends. When my children hate me, or want more out of me than I know how to give, I still have God. When I stutter in front of an audience and take on way too much responsibility than I know I should, I can find the float among the crap. When I forget to have my son's tuberculosis test read, I can feel okay, somehow, somewhere, even though I'm totally irresponsible even with a major thing like this. Sigh.

So, thank you, Anne Lamott, for being my writer friend during the holidays. I'm definitely going to do you a huge favor and add you to my favorite writer's list in my profile. :)
For now, I am going to float on off. Maybe play Battleship with Cody. Maybe read a bit more. Maybe call my momma. The night is going slowly by, but I'm in good company.

Au revoir,

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