Wednesday, June 24, 2009

poem for a hot day

Summer, after solstice
shows up
As if on contract,
Warmer than a womb.

Clothing, routines
Drop to the floor

We sip Pinot in the garden
smelling leaves,
watching moonflowers bloom
in slutty slow motion.

Wednesday, June 17, 2009

Movin On

Tis the season of transition. In our house its been chock full of culminating events, final parties, award thingies, final gatherings and two weekends of recitals. I am keeping the paper goods out just in case I have forgotten a celebration—we are ready for a party at a moments notice. And of course this is a month of new people, new situations, growing up. My youngest played Bach from memory. My oldest got on a plane to go to Europe without a single family member. And I survived my first day of running 8 day camps at once. Every one who works for me can quote my science fiction speech on transitions—you know how in all science fiction when you move from one space time continuum to another, you can come apart molecularly, and how we have to be the heroes and make sure that all time travelers make it to the other side? But this is the season when you close the chapter on one thing and turn the page to another. And that brings me to another one of Yogamamas Rules of the Universe.

The Rule of Transition
All transitions are important. They must be marked with ritual and some kind of food—the food needs to repeat so that every time you do the transition you want that food. The beginning of summer at our house is Super Dogs and a milk shake. I also like to mark them with smells---hairspray for ballet recitals, the spirea flowers on the piano for that recital, the stinky sox of the baseball playoffs…you get the idea. All transitions should be attended by Significant Persons—who can be friends, folks you pull off the street, or ship in from distant lands. All transitions should be marked—on the calendar, in the journal, the blog or the email. And all transitions must for better or worse, interrupt the flow of daily life. You need to be disrupted before you come through the wormhole on the other side.

Every last day of school, my poor husband has to eat three different and separate meals out so that each kid gets a date with him. He gains 5 pounds before the end of the day.
Every first Friday of the first week of camp after we have to drink a margarita on my front porch. After the piano recital we have to invade a local restaurant and destroy it with rice all over the floor due to the young age of several siblings. So wherever you are I hope you are enjoying your transitions in the vortex of the year.

Tuesday, June 2, 2009

Movie Musings

When my oldest child was 2, we took her to her first Big Screen Movie: Toy Story, by then unknown Pixar, an animation upstart. It was Thanksgiving weekend, and it took 25 minutes down country roads to get to the vaudeville house that the little town of Niles had converted into a cinema—the Ready 4. I remember that ten dollars got all three of us in and the works in terms of sodas, popcorn and South Bend chocolates. That theater has long since closed, but I can still take my family of 5 to the movies for under $20 out there in the country. Going to a movie in the city requires cashing in a savings bond and forget the eats unless you are in a top tax bracket. So we almost never go any more, weighing carefully which are the must see Big Screen, and which will work on the Big TV. But going back to that very first movie experience……. She turned around as the credits rolled and, eyes wide, said That Was A GREEEEEAAAT movie. And it was. At two, with no more experience (Sesame Street, Bananas in Pajamas, Disney Songs videos) than any two year old media savvy kid, she instinctively knew that this was a classic. And it has stood the test of time—it was the first movie she downloaded on her iPod.

Pixar is now owned by Disney, and is still turning out classics. We very uncharacteristically went to see their tenth, the new UP on its first day of release here, the whole entire family. WHOA. I still thing that Wall E may be a more important film due to its political message, but my kids are all making our dogs do DUG voices, and you can’t really quote WALL E since it goes so long without any dialogue. It was a wonderful family experience, and I am sure we will buy the DVD so we can keep sharing. As the music guys say on their show—it’s a buy it not a burn it.

And that one time two year old with great taste in film recently had her first short screened at a film festival and is eyeballing film school, and she is trying to participate in her third international film festival—this one in India. Ok, ok, it probably helps that your mom is a sometimes media teacher, and I am not sure how much weight one should give to those early experiences because I am a firm believer that kids pop out pretty much formed and its our job as parents to put what they need in front of them, but it has been interesting to watch her taste in media develop. We made the mistake a couple of years ago of buying tickets to the wrong theater when Disney released the Miyazaki film Spirited Away a few years ago---we wanted to take the whole family to the dubbed version, and ended up having to read subtitles to our 2 pre readers for 3 HOURS—we were NOT popular with the people sitting behind us. But my then 11 year old was suddenly WILD for Miyazaki and to this day prefers to see the film in the original language with subtitles. I learned something important with that error. You should just expose kids to the good stuff, to the real stuff, to the unusual stuff. They don’t HAVE preconceived notions. They are sponges ready to soak it all up.

In the end film is a way to tell stories. And storytelling is part of the deepest aspect of our humanity, from when we began as a species to paint on walls and to grunt out tales around the fire. We are hardwired to get it, if its done well, even with subtitles. In the end though, the story told must be a good one. It must resonate within our lives and help us bring meaning to our lives, because we all walk around, desperately trying to find meaning.

As I coped over the weekend with the ongoing and slow personal but universal tragedies of mortality and the economy, heightened intensely by taking in a theatrical adaptation of Gogol’s Overcoat (the Russians are way better at the human tragedy and existentialism than the French), I thought that the existential reality of human life is tragic—we die and we are aware that we die. That completely sucks. And all the beauty and love and goodness are more intense because we die. Some days, it just hurts so much to live with that. But that’s the mirror side of the tragedy. Live we must. And tell the tale.

As I told my sister in law, after dropping off her kids which I had whisked away to Michigan and the carnival and mosquito bites and poison ivy and sibling battles—

It is not what really happened, but the Tale We Tell After, and how we tell it. So live, and tell good stories.