Saturday, June 23, 2007

Friday, June 22, 2007

Happy Birthday, Octavia

A special happy birthday to one of my favorite writers, Ms. Octavia Butler (god rest her soul).

Backstage Passes: Invitiation to Write #16

For Writers:

She and her kid sister took a road trip to Ohio one summer to catch three Def Leppard shows. This was 1987, and the band was at the height of its popularity.

The kid sister was 16, and she was willing to do anything to meet the band. By the third show, the roadies had taken notice of the two young women, and one offered the girls backstage passes.

When they went backstage after the show, the band was nowhere to be found, but the room was filled with assorted roadies and hopeful groupies. “Take your tops off,” one roadie said, “and you’ll get to meet the band.” This was the initiation price all prospective groupies had to pay for the chance to meet the heavy metal heartthrobs.

The 16 year old was willing to strip down, as were most of the girls in the room. The older sister refused to take her top off, however, as the thought of a bunch of 40 year old roadies pawing at her chest repulsed her.

In the end, the roadies failed to keep their end of the deal, selecting only the ones they deemed “prime” to meet the band -- and only after completing one more task, which I won't relate here, to prove their worth.

Fortunately, the 16 year old was not among those invited to play the roadies' next game, although she didn't feel lucky at the time, and she never listened to Def Leppard in the same way ever again.

Where would you like "backstage access"? What would you do to get past the “filter” to the restricted area beyond backstage?

“Disappointment is the nurse of wisdom.”
Bayle Roche

Thursday, June 21, 2007

Into the Void: Invitation to Write #15

For Writers:

I hadn’t seen or heard from her in over three years, and then one summer, she sent me a letter. The reasons for us losing touch are too complicated to note here, and may not matter anyway. In short: she had graduated from college and moved on with her life.

Her letter was handwritten, which is a nice touch in the age of word processors and emails, and she briefly filled in the gaps of my knowledge. She was preparing to adjunct at a local college, and her wedding was set for that December.

Interestingly enough, I was beginning my teaching career as an adjunct at the same college that fall. Seeing her a few weeks later at the teacher orientation session, I noticed that she hadn’t changed that much. On the surface, her look was more professional than it had been as a student, but otherwise, I found it difficult to acknowledge the passing of three years.

And though we were friendly to one another that semester, we were by no means close friends. When she wasn’t teaching, she was understandably occupied with wedding plans.

On the last day of the semester, we were both in the office finalizing our grades; and as I had not been invited to the wedding, I knew that this would be the last time I would ever see her. She never seemed to notice that she was going back into the void; she never seemed to notice that her absence would be felt deeply for years to come.

Today, think of absence. Is there someone still living (as far as you know) who was once a valuable part of your life that you’ve now lost complete touch with? Did you have any clues that this was going to happen, and if so, why didn’t you fight to maintain contact?

“Absent or dead, still let a friend be dear.”
Alexander Pope

Wednesday, June 20, 2007

Camilla in the Crib

We put the crib together yesterday, and guess who has already made herself at home? Our white fur ball.

(Click on the picture for a bigger look)

Life's Highlight Reel: Invitation to Write #14

For Writers:

When I graduated from college, it was a hot August day in Illinois. The gym didn’t have air conditioning, and my silk shirt was completely soaked after the first ten minutes. The ceremony lasted for over two hours, and then I went out to eat spaghetti with a couple of friends. Yawn.

Graduating is one of those events that people would instinctively put on a personal highlight reel. But at least in my case, the event – the ritual – was an uncomfortable and mundane experience. Symbolically, it represented three years of my life, but it’s hard to capture three years by walking across the stage, shaking a few hands, and having a few pictures taken of you.

In life, we often try to capture the culmination of experience through ritual – whether it be a baptism, a wedding, or a graduation. Human beings need rituals, but are ritualized events really the highlights of our lives?

Today, consider your own personal highlight reel. What would you include on it? Would ritualized or ceremonial events be on it? If so, fine, but stop to consider if a ritualized event is as important as taking a walk through a park, smiling at your son as he plays baseball, or visiting a cave in New Mexico.

“The one thing I remember about Christmas was that my father used to take me out in a boat about ten miles offshore on Christmas Day, and I used to have to swim back. Extraordinary. It was a ritual. Mind you, that wasn't the hard part. The difficult bit was getting out of the sack.”
John Cleese