the elusive cumulative

Date June 10, 2010

So, I’m in this writing workshop.  And it has been proven to me– over and over again– that I’m not nearly as smart as I thought I was.

Grammar and language and mechanics have always been things that I just knew.  I couldn’t name parts of speech or figures of speech or diagram a sentence to save my life.  I couldn’t point out a participial phrase even if you told me to do so or I’d never have chocolate again.  And a base clause?  Puh-leeze.  Nominative modifier?  Get over yourself.  I ain’t gotta clue.

I mean, really?  I write.  And if I’m lucky it sounds okay.  Sometimes.

Back toward the topic, I’m in this writing workshop and I’m learning all of these things.  And I don’t hate it.

Just like I didn’t hate the color of my laundry room the first (of 4) times I painted it.  Just like I didn’t hate The Hubs after our first (I-meant-to-be-our-last that turned-into-forever) date.

And again, back to the topic.  That’s part of the MS writing rubric: staying on topic.  Bet you didn’t know that, did you?  Bet you did know that I’d fail miserably if someone assessed this bad boy right now.

Ahem.  Last try.  Here goes.

This word and grammar nerdiness– I’m digging it.  So, yesterday we had these two guest speakers, highly published in educational writing, world renowned in instruction, beautiful ballroom dancers, come and share with us the effectiveness of using cumulative sentences in writing.

“Cuma que what?” I thought to myself.  But it turned out, I loved it.  Adored it.

Used it.

And you’re going to tomorrow.  Just you wait.

for my papa (on dating regrets and such)

Date June 10, 2010

“If there’s a thug within a hundred mile radius, you’re gonna date him,” Daddy told me late that afternoon.  I tried to pretend like he wasn’t right, but I knew better.

Daddy was always right.

He was an about-to-be Marine– tall and handsome with hands as big as nighttime.  Not Daddy, the thug,  I mean.  His truck growled and groaned like a retired and dying hound dog and I sat right over next to him in it as we drove down my parents’ curvy, gravel drive.

He lit a Camel one handed and I simultaneously choked back a gag from the stench and the heart that was in my throat.

I saw Daddy in the rearview mirror of that loud, gray Chevrolet.  He was shaking his head just so and waving with one hand.   A hand that was strong and rough from bread trays and tractor wheels.

A hand bigger than nighttime.

and this is what i wrote

Date June 7, 2010

Nimbly she played.

Quietly she sang.

Songs of river stones.

Stories of time.

The sounds echoed through the forest in their gentle way, each sweet trill leading him.

Toward her.

As she played.

Songs of river stones.

Stories of time.

Until the boy was there beside the moving water.  Awestruck and frozen in his wonder.

Seeing her.

As she played.

Those songs of river stones.

Sweet stories of time.

Suddenly she is aware.  Her pale blue sprite eyes seeing him seeing her.

Then she is gone.

And there shall never be

more songs of river stones

nor stories of time.

institute sounds more like a place for crazies

Date June 6, 2010

Somehow I managed to weasel myself into this invitational summer writing institute.  I’m in no way, form, or fashion of the intellectual capacity to be a member of this elite group, but I’m BSing with the best of ’em.

My momma would be so proud.

Still, the institute has embedded within my day a time to write and I’m enjoying the journaling, editing, revising nerdiness.  It’s fun to see my own handwriting again in my own notebook with scribbles and scratches polluting the pages.  It’s all part of the process.

Or so they tell me.

Today we were given a picture.  We studied it.  We asked ourselves questions.  We wondered.

“What if he found her on purpose?”

“I wonder what made those ripples in the water.”

“What if he’s lost?”

“I wonder…”  “What if?”

And then, we wrote.

trying for a habit

Date June 4, 2010

Writing is one of those things that takes momentum.  And time.

At least for me it does.

Honestly, I haven’t had much of either lately– I’ve been sort of stagnant.  Stuck.  Like water pooled in the low-lying corner of my daddy’s shop.

But just so you know, I’m fighting tooth and nail to get them back– that motion, those minutes– that give my writing voice.

And its hard.

But people keep asking me about it, telling me about it, pushing me about it.

“Emily, just write.”  (Effin love you, Monda!)  “If I pull up your blog one more time and don’t see something new, I’m coming after you!”  (Chicago Cat at her best.)  “Make it a habit.  Make it your time.”  (Howlie Baby’s my writing hero.)  “Punkie, I check your blog 759 times a day.  Ahem.”  (A big hey to y’all in NOLA!)

“Earth to Emmm-a-lee!  Are you still alive?!”  (Fatty Munchers reign supreme.  No pun intended.)  “Em, I went to the county library today.  Mrs. Taylor misses reading your blog.”  (Yes, Mom.  I’m on it— and Hey, Mrs. Taylor!)

So, I’m here.  Writing.

For you.

And for me, too.

Let’s hope there’s more of it.

direct quote (read: shameless kid-speak to follow. may engage gag reflex. read at your own risk.)

Date February 24, 2010

“Mih Eger, you know when you had done sneezed and sumpin’ happens?”

“Um, something like what, honey?  Like when someone says ‘Bless you.”?

“No, ma’am.  Like when you sneeze and a lil bit o’ boo boo comes out.  Cause that had happened to me right now.”

it’s just around the corner, right?

Date February 22, 2010

It feels like my feet haven’t been warm at all in the last ten years.  It’s raining again and I think I left my umbrella hanging on that little blue hook in the back of my classroom.  My hair is flat and lifeless; my temper’s fuse is short and ever-burning.

There are dark circles under both of my eyes– looking more and more like charcoal due to the pastiness of my February flesh.  That tire around my waist is growing, exponentially, I believe.  Even if you can’t really tell because it’s hidden under this hand-me-down hoodie.

Spring, are we there yet?

a need

Date January 24, 2010

I have a need for silence.

Sure, I love the sound of padded puppy feet running across the tile early in the morning.  And I adore the childish chatter in a third grade classroom.  I love the sound of football stadiums and the roar that stays in my ears for hours after a worth-the-road-trip concert.  And, yes, I’m crazy about crowded swimming pools, splashing water, and the “Mommy, watch me!”s that come along with them.

Still, I have a need.

To sit on back porches and watch the rain.  To lay on the couch with a blanket, a book and a Sunday afternoon.  To drive on country roads without the radio.  To sit at a table and write.  To walk around a yard, alive and green and mine.  To take a shower in the middle of the day.  To pull out old pictures and put them in stacks on the floor.  To remember.  To ponder.  To dream.

Yes, I have a need for silence.

a post for Sisser who wears cute teacher clothes

Date January 6, 2010

Daddy said, “Well, she’s my favorite now, but I didn’t even like her at one time.”  And Russ probably agrees.

Middle school kids think she’s the raddest thing ever.

Sisser sports cowboy boots and braided pigtails.

Her coach said, “Yeah, she’s fast if fast means slow.”

She’s a Camp Lake Stephens rockstar.

Sisser’ll watch three movies in one day with me and share the Diet Coke.

She fell hard once and at the end, we all cried.

Sisser’s a lover not a fighter– even if you’ve heard otherwise.

I’ve hiked across mountains with her and ridden The Underground with her and slept in too many too small beds with her.

Homegirl can make a BAD (in a good way) road trip CD.

Today, she’s a grown up– so, that’s “Miss Sisser” to you.

Happy first day of school, Sisser.  Summer’ll be here in no time and we’ll be beach bound.

Luh you.  Duh.

Sometimes I love my job.

Date January 5, 2010

I rounded the corner onto the third grade hall this morning and stopped.  There, sitting quietly against the wall were nineteen brown faces.  Each in turn looked up and smiled at me– the kind of smile that asks, “Did you miss me?  Are you glad I’m back?’

I stifled a giggle and perhaps a tear or two before I opened up my arms.  In three seconds flat we were one muddled hug of third grade love.