Monday, January 25, 2016

Counteracting My Way Through January

January is not my favorite. I am not a snow-playing person--though a new, bright and blueish, cottony covering of snow does make me feel seven for a minute. After living in Phoenix, though, I realized I want distinct seasons and if I have to live through Utah Januaries in order to have Winter-Spring-Summer-Fall, well then I can do it. I just have low expectations, and feel proud of myself when I accomplish something like: only have a 50-cent fine at the library! or remember to have the children bathe!

This January of 2016, while keeping it simple, I've noticed contrasts in what I've been doing.

So far, I:

-Attended two funerals of people who died too young. But, also attended a wedding with twinkle lights and chocolate mousse, and made dinner for a couple who had their first baby, a cuddly gnome with peach-fuzz hair.

-Had plenty of pajamas-past-noon days. But got myself looking fancy, too. Red lipstick and up-dos and nail polish!

-Read Dad Is Fat, by Jim Gaffigan. Read Ahab's Wife: Or, The Star-Gazer, by Sena Jeter Nasland.

-Ate fast food. Ate fancy food.

-Taught Sally about crayon resisting her Crayola watercolors. Taught 2nd graders some basics from The Starry Night, and had them create their own versions using short strokes of oil pastel and a wash of blue watercolor over the page.

-Watched a documentary about a drop-box for unwanted babies. Watched Bob's Burgers, and the last season of Parks & Recreation. I miss Andy and Ron already.

-Stomped through high snow. Climbed around red rocks in the sun.

Carry on, January. I've got you figured out. I know your secrets are simple, and I will take you down.

Tuesday, January 12, 2016

Patience in the Art Department

The can is red with white. It sits on my desk now, holding scissors, glues, and scotch tape. Scotch Buy, it reads, CHUNKY PEANUT BUTTER, the REAL flavor of peanuts, SAFEWAY—good quality, thrifty value, 6 lb. 14 oz. The can was used to hold stubs and sections of crayons when I was a girl. I remember digging through the colored wax up to my forearm, searching for carnation pink, goldenrod, or brick red. I loved the smell of my hand after fishing through there. Crayola perfume.

I wasn’t gifted in art. I remember the desperate, erased pencil lines as I tried to sketch the face of Roald Dahl for a book report in 5th grade. I looked to his photograph, to my page, photograph, page, photograph, page. Why was it not working? His chin was melting, and I didn’t know what to do about his right nostril. I had thought drawing from a photograph would be simple, even fun. I thought including a sketch would get me a better grade. And I thought it would look something like Mr. Dahl.

Much later, years later, my golfing boyfriend Sam decided he would run for Student Body Vice President. “I need a slogan, I need to make flyers,” he said to me as we sat on the flower couch in my living room. We knew a play on his last name was the direction he should go. “Don’t get stuck next year, vote for Plummer!” was born shortly after, and thus began what would become a long life of creating terrible—and sometimes good—ideas together. I told him I could draw up some possibilities for a flyer. “You can draw?” he looked at me like I was speaking Latin. I grabbed a pencil with no more eraser left, one of my mom’s 87 yellow notepads she kept around, and drew a cartoon person’s head and shoulders at the bottom of the page. Then I stuck a plunger on the head, and extended the handle off the top right corner. I drew surprised eyes, and an oval mouth. I drew on ears and a nose, hair coming our from under the plunger. I wrote the words of the slogan next to the plunger handle. DON’T GET STUCK NEXT YEAR – VOTE FOR PLUMMER!

Sam smiled.

I loved making him smile.

He didn’t win.

Wednesday, January 6, 2016

Six-word Memoirs, Arizona Edition

In Arizona, I was not myself.

But sometimes I miss that house.

Loneliness caused life to be simple.

Shopping Target was considered our fun.

Also, throwing rocks into Lake Pleasant.

Sam smashed scorpions with a mallet.

We went on walks with scooters.

The boys were little, Sally small.

Vacations were to Utah, my mom.

We forgot about cold tap water.

It felt weird to wear socks.

We rarely got sick, allergies gone.

Hot air balloons peppered the sky.