Old Moon

Thursday, December 30, 2010

On the Eve...

Even as a child, I remember being in some way relieved after the Christmas holiday season was over--even if school had started again, even if the weather was going to get worse before it got better, even if I had received whatever I might have had on my list. (I don't remember ever writing a list, but can't believe I didn't!)

I have begun to wonder if I'm simply lacking in some desirable human trait. Could it be that we're doomed to disappointment the minute we have expectations? No, that can't be it, because by the time we've been around a few decades, we've discovered how often some things (relationships and meals and movies, for example) turn out way beyond the best we envisioned.

Is it that we're just tired after the excitement fades? In childhood and age, I believe that may have something to do with it.

Now it occurs to me that as time affects our perception of it (changing its relationship with our sense of its length according to how much of it we've been through), we gradually realize that ends mean we're on the verge of something new and thus unknown. At this time of the year, it's that eve of a New Year that we see before us.

Curiosity or uneasiness or merely anticipation can all cause some psychic discomfort, but I seem to be one who is glad to have all that tension become a thing--not of the past, but of the here-and-now. When you have to remember to change the date when you write a check, you know you're launched, and there's no going back. You pull up your socks, take a deep breath, and prepare to face ahead and get on with it.

So, New Year wishes to us all! Good ones!

A new set of submissions, a renewed search for an agent, a new project, renewed hope...and not just for ourselves.

Friday, December 24, 2010

Greetings

Merry Christmas

The trick is not to be boring and trite…
Yet, clich├ęs are because they apply
--to you and me and the butcher, the baker,
the candlestick maker…you see what I mean.

With or without a literal fireside, may you be warm;
with or without heaps of parcels, tinsel, and ribbons,
may you feel the beauty and know the bounty
of the impulse of generosity and the comforts of love.

2010

Tuesday, December 21, 2010

Solstice

I've just read a wonderful piece by a teacher of writing that cautions against overuse of metaphor. I've tried to take his words to heart. Sometimes, though, the circumstance can make a metaphor virtually unavoidable. He said that metaphor is a reductive device, and it is, which is one reason I so like to make use of it. What hadn't really concerned me before was his assertion that its use invites misinterpretation. ! Why didn't I think of that?

If your reader sees something different from your vision when you chose (or as happens, were chosen by) a metaphor, is that necessarily a bad thing? If you're trying to convey some difficult and relatively abstract piece of information (a concept in physics, for instance), perhaps it would be a bad thing. So what about fiction and poetry? Could the inherent flexibility of metaphor be an advantage?

In my personal case, the date drives me to a metaphor I can't ignore. Our wedding anniversary is December 22nd. Need I say more?

Friday, December 17, 2010

...and so to bed...

On the eve of another departure for New England, my focus has shifted towards what to pack and how to arrange the boxes of gift-wrapped packages to keep them from the eyes of evil-doers in the back of my grandson's station wagon. I make myself stop watching the Weather Channel. Visions of sugar plums (whatever they are) don't dance in my head, but worries about bills that will arrive while I'm away do. Who did I miss on the Christmas card list? Did I send all the checks for the year-end contributions? And then I think of Samuel Pepys and his standard end-of-the day sign-off in his diary--see above.

And then I stop short mentally and try to concentrate on the fun I'm going to have with with the family. When you get to be old enough, one of the compensations is a kind of automatic reassignment of the primary satisfactions we're allowed on this earth. There are too many things out of our control to waste energy figuring out anything more than how to try to be prepared as much as possible and remembering common sense. If it snows a little, never mind. If it snows a lot, get off the interstate and find a motel. And so on...

Maybe there'll be a column for Senior Women or a poem or two that will arise from the the adventure. Surely one must grasp an opportunity when it's available. One of my friends will fly from North Carolina to Italy to spend Christmas with her daughter and two grandsons, another will do the same to Iowa City to be with her family. What's a mere 800 or so miles for me? We each have to be aware of how uncertain our chances really are of doing the same after another year has gone by.
Carpe diem!

Friday, December 10, 2010

A (Mild) Rant

It's too late now. I was an English teacher, raised by real nit-picking parents and grandparents when it came to correct speech and grammar, and I can't seem to forget enough. I just read an interesting blog about and by an extraordinary young woman, and I wanted to post a public reply--until I realized she's just too young to have been taught properly. "...if I wasn't a writer..." raised my blood pressure. What ever happened to the subjunctive? [My father would have told me to look it up if I asked what that meant. If you don't know, you should look it up.] If is a little word, but it conveys either something that hasn't become fact or is contrary to fact, which requires a change of tense.

Why do 90% of TV anchors, columnists, and authorities on everything you can think of insist on confusing "convince" and "persuade?" Doesn't anyone care about the distinction between "take" and "bring?"

I understand about a language being forever evolving, but it's so galling to have the incredible possibilities for precision in English be simply allowed to die on the vine of usage. With one of the largest vocabularies of any language in existence, it seems such a shame to neglect it as we do.

One of my most aggrieved reactions is to the bastardization of that useful word, "gay." All the connotations of my childhood have been tossed into the trash. If it described what it means, I might forgive those who put it to its current use. But I doubt if the people who are indicated when it's used would consider it does them any justice.

Writers of the world, UNITE! before poetry can't even be written any more because there won't be enough words left with connections to readers' memories and sensibilities to catch what the authors intend to convey.

Sunday, December 5, 2010

South to North and Back Again?

The last post dealt with location, and so will this one. Over 800 miles north for Thanksgiving with my children involved more than a usual amount of consideration of settings. From the moderate early winter of North Carolina to the honest chill of end of November in the Berkshires was a big enough change. I won't go into the idiosyncrasies of the household that took me in, though I must mention a Great Dane tall enough to steal my dog's food from the top of the hutch on my granddaughter's computer desk.

The days are shorter up there, the color of the sun is paler, the trees are completely bare except for the oaks and an occasional beech, and there's no holly growing wild to color the greys and browns of the woods. I'm working on a poem about that. Grazed fields are still bright emerald, birds throng the feeders, and a walk with the dogs brings one back grateful for warmth.
And the best kind of warmth is what you get among your own. I wish I could be properly eager for yet another major holiday so close to that one. While both are delightful, for my family Christmas is even more special--and my wedding anniversary is the 22nd. I just wish we had been as wise as the Canadians and put our Thanksgiving in October!

Anyway, onward into the fray! My issue of our newsletter is almost finished; I've printed some of the cards I'll send as soon as I have time to write them; I have most of my gifts wrapped because I may have to go to Connecticut again with my grandson in his car. He gets out of college on the 17th! You see, there isn't time to get things done!

Happy Holidays, in case I never get back to this site till it's all over.