Wednesday, June 28, 2006

A Delightful Return to Napping

More of the delights of summer. And these, unlike the anonymous watermelon photo from my last post, were actually, delightfully, consumed by us. Those snap peas were the paragon of snap peas. Yum! In other summer news, the heatwave has broken, thank GOD. I'll have my nap back today! How I've missed it.

No big news today, or inspiring words, or kooky stories about curses (though I'm about to go work on it and hopefully finish it). Today I just want to encourage you to visit this site and watch the video; also, read the little bio. This guy's name is Matt and he has done his dorky, endearing dance in some of the great places of the world. It brought such a smile to my face! And it makes me drool to travel. Sigh. Is anyone planning any wonderful exotic trips anytime soon?

Ooh -- also: our contractor "broke ground" on the soon-to-be writing room yesterday! Broke ceiling, I suppose you would say. It's going to be such a great room. I can't wait to get in there with paint, and to go shopping for curtains and such! I've also been mosaicing a thrift store table to go beside my awesome green bench. I love to mosaic. I told Jim I'm going to give up everything else, illustration, writing, everything, and devote myself to mosaics. (just kidding)

Monday, June 26, 2006

Oh my poor neglected nap!

This is not the actual watermelon I just ate. There is no photographic evidence THAT watermelon ever existed, which is kind of sad, because it was a MIGHTY FINE watermelon. Oh me oh my.

Things I love about summer:
- watermelon
- blueberries
- corn on the cob
- sidewalk cafes
- toes in the river
- fewer TV distractions
- long, long days

Things I do NOT love about summer:
- HEAT!!!

Egad, we're having a heatwave in Portland - today is the hottest June 26th on record. I hate heat. On top of all its others miseries, like drying out the plants and all, it is just TERRIBLE for naps. We have air-conditioning in only one room, the studio, and so on a day like today, over 100 degrees, it is in the studio we must be, and there are not any napping surfaces in the studio. So I had to skip my beloved nap today and power through the drowsy hour between 2 and 3. I am a napper. I find it is the best way for me to get up early, and go to bed late, both of which I like to do. But this heat messes up everything.

But, with the exception of naptime, I would be in the studio anyway, so it's not such a big deal. I worked some more on my Sunday Scribble cliffhanger today. It is growing, and it has a new title: "Spicy Little Curses Such As These." Though one commenter assumed I knew where the story was going, I didn't totally. I couldn't figure out why the old lady laid the curse on the child to begin with. The starting point was Sleeping Beauty and the christening curse, so I suppose she was a Malificent figure, but I'm not so interested in villains without motives. I like to explore really difficult choices. Then, last night as I was falling asleep, the Orpheus myth came into my head and it seemed so perfect, since this story was my response to the "music" prompt. That brought on many more ideas and prompted a morning of googling Hindu belief in Hell, which led to the Katha Upanishad and Hindu near-death stories. (this is very interesting: Hindu near-death accounts differ significantly from Christian ones. While in Christian ones there is the going towards the light and being greeted by family members who tell you to go back, it's not your time, in Hindu versions the patients relate being taken forcibly by these kind of underworld thug-bureaucrats to an authority figure, often with a clipboard, who discovers a mistake has been made and sends the person back.) I love Google.

So, as far as the rest of the story goes, I am not going to post it here, but if you would like to read it, email me and I will email it to you when it's finished. I am having so much fun with it, and I'm sort of inspired by the idea of stories that that combine elements from several fairy tales or myths, as in this case, Sleeping Beauty + Orpheus, throw in some India, and what do you have? I don't have time right now to really explore short stories, though. But from time to time I may indulge.

Saturday, June 24, 2006

Sunday Scribblings #13 - Music

Oh dear, oh dear. This is my longest post. You don't have to read it. BUT if you're interested in fairy tale curses and India and opera and love, maybe you'll read it. I had so much fun writing last week's sexy fairy tale scribble I decided to keep on with it and write a fairy tale involving music, and a curse, and kissing. The kind of kissing where teeth clash and lives are ruined. Have you heard of that kind of kissing? I think I just made it up. Anyway, the story took off, and here it is, and I realize I am only sheepish about its length because I'm a shameless comment-hog and I'm afraid you won't read it. But I'm okay with that, because the main thing I wanted out of Sunday Scribblings was to get myself writing stories, and I AM. And I LOVE IT. Cheers. (More scribbles here.)


**story removed because it is being published. Yay!**

copyright Laini Taylor 2006

Tuesday, June 20, 2006

What We Love

Do you know what you love, and what you want to create? Do you know how to listen to yourself, your impulses, your voice? It seems it should be as natural as breath: as you breathe out your own breath and no one else's, so too you dream out your own dreams and no one else's, right? Maybe not. There are a whole lot of filters our dreams have to get through on their way out into the world. Along the way, they can get... compromised. Tweaked, twisted like reflections in a funhouse mirror, and even kidnapped and replaced by other dreams. And I'm not just talking about dreams. Mainly, I think, I'm talking about creative voice. The shape and life your creativity takes in the world. Are you writing what you want to write? Are you drawing what you want to draw? On the surface it seems this is something that SHOULD come as naturally as breathing, but does it?

Lately I've been reading echoes in a lot of different blogs of a kind of creative self-discovery, writers and artists questioning whether their creativity is taking its natural shape. Several writers I regularly read have written about accepting that what they LOVE writing isn't fiction - which perhaps they think they SHOULD love - but personal writing. There may be some resistance, thinking this kind of writing isn't as accepted in the world, it's harder to explain to non-kindred spirits. I think of SARK's books, and how before they existed many in the publishing industry surely would not have considered them publishable. Who would buy those silly little books, I imagine them asking. Well, HA! SHE knew. She believed what was deeply important to her would be deeply important to lots of other women, and it IS. (And it sells!)

An artist whose blog I read is struggling a little in art school, with too many voices, it seems to me, telling her what kind of artist to be. So I've been thinking a lot about this: how do we discover what we love, and who we are?

There are a few things that kind of work for me, though I see they seem to be in conflict:

1.) I discover what I love by being alone with myself and being playful and experimental. By shutting out the other voices, by trying this and trying that and seeing what settles into my soul with a deep sigh of satisfaction. A dressing room approach to writer's voice & artist's style. What fits me? What fits MY thighs? What fits MY mind? Of course, different things work for different people, but for me, being around a whole crew of other creative people is only good in short little spurts, like retreats or conferences. Then I need to be alone with me. Art school had its benefits, but I know now I was right to drop out after three semesters. I do not thrive in a competitive atmosphere of coveting others' talents. If only I could draw like that... If only I'd thought up that plot... No. It makes me curl up like a little snail in the dark and feel sorry for myself. I want to be the only artist in my head! Also, the art I love making now, like my new Laini's Ladies Bohemian collection (of which the above image is one) would not have garnered me praise in art school. Art school was about edginess and coolness, about being non-commercial. Dark. Not me, not so much. That environment is supposed to encourage the emergence of personal creative voice, but in my opinion art school best encourages those whose styles fit in the current mode, and others find themselves trying to adapt themselves to what's considered cutting edge. I'm not cutting edge, and cutting edge people make me a little nervous.

2.) I pay close attention to what I love when I find it in the world. When I read a book I can't put down and can't get out of my head, I try to figure out WHY I can't put it down, WHY I can't get it out of my head. What did the writer DO to me? And how can I do that to others? (See? that conflicts with the non-coveting, being alone in my head thing, but whatever. Maybe because this is technical: how did they DO it, not: dang, I wish I'd done it.) I was about halfway through writing Blackbringer when a big fat book totally took over my life for a few days and after I finished it, I made a list of the chief elements I thought made me love it so much. Not plot points, but things like this:

- camaraderie: a group of wonderful characters gathered around the protagonist, all cool and powerful and all fiercely loyal to each other.

- romance: the drawing together of two characters who don't yet know each other, but who the reader can see are so meant for each other; the suspense of waiting for them to meet, for their relationship to unfold.

Those were already elements of Blackbringer, but making that list made me more aware of crafting them and making the most of them.

I don't think this post is shaping itself towards any profound conclusion, but I would like to know what other people think: how easy is it for you to recognize what you love doing and do it? Is it natural for you, or do you have to gouge your way to it, through barriers and external voices?

Sunday, June 18, 2006

Sunday Scribblings #12 - Bed

Fairy tale princesses. Those virtuous girls with flesh tender as lily petals, all unsmudged by manly fingers, were they indeed as pure as that? How grave and dull if they were, and their beds, how clean, how sweatless. Did they never fall back into rumpled sheets, their hair a nest of tangles round flushed faces? Did they never bite their lips in the night to keep from crying out and alerting the witch, or the queen, to their pleasure? Did they never shiver as their gowns were slowly, tantazlizingly unlaced, or better yet just lifted like a rising sea of lace about their waists? Did they never feel the secret heat of breath upon their necks and thighs?

And did Rapunzel lay back upon her narrow tower bed alone each night with only her hair for company and dream of freedom, of wading through waist-high wheat, of flying? Or did she wake in fever a half dozen times with the phantom touch of a dream lover’s hand fading from her flesh? Did she clasp herself in her own arms, imagining them to be another’s arms, imagining she was loved? And when the prince finally came through her window like a dream made real, what then?

And Swan Lake? Those dozens of princesses, swans by day, maidens by night, dancing to keep warm when the twilight twinkled their feathers away into nothing but smooth skin, naked until morning. They must have become feral creatures living so long as birds: flying, walking barefoot in snow, feeding wild. Those long human limbs might have felt like the enchantment; they might have forgotten which was true, maid or bird. Did they sleep as humans, curled naked in a nest, or as swans with their heads tucked beneath their wings? And when the prince came forth on horseback and spied them there, dancing in their human skins, naked and wild the under moon, what then?

And what of the pea? Of all the absurd ideas, flesh so tender as to detect a pea beneath dozens of mattresses! How was such a dainty creature to ever endure childbed, or a husband’s touch? What a fool that old queen was to dream up such a test. I have a theory. When that lovely amnesiac maiden wandered in from the wilds and the queen squinted down her long, imperious nose at her, the old snob was ripe to be fooled. I think the moment she turned her back her son winked at the mysterious young lady and she, with a complicit gleam in her eye, winked back. Surely she did not climb the ladder alone to her high bed that night: the prince was right behind her, caressing her ankles as she climbed. And I think she was telling the truth in the morning when she claimed not to have slept a wink. Such a bed as that wasn’t made for sleeping! I imagine they hid under the covers, whispering, giggling at their own deception, their eyes feverish with longing -- until now, they’d only met in the woods near her family’s modest cottage. It was the prince who’d begun to plot after his mother devised her foolish test for some other prospective bride of dubious nobility. But they’d had to wait months to carry it out so the maid could soak her work-rough hands and pummice away her telltale calluses. Now the time had finally come. The high bed, the absurd pea. And because I am a romantic I imagine this was the first time the prince slipped his hand -- trembling a little -- up his love’s slim calf, over her knee... the first time he took her earlobe between his lips, and the first time she hooked her small foot around his leg and pulled him close. They fell silent then and grew serious, their eyes bright under the covers, so much in love this towering bed was their entire world. So much depended upon it -- they might have waited, just to be safe. But they’d waited so long already, whilst she soaked away her calluses so she could pose as a princess, and pretend to be bruised by a pea.

Read more scribblings here.

Thursday, June 15, 2006

Happy Swigging

I just wrote a catch-up email to Meg in which I got started listing the things I've been working on lately and couldn't seem to stop listing. I realized... there's been a LOT of work happening here lately. It made me feel good, especially since yesterday I got to check several things off my ever-present list: three new collections of images for my licensing agent, as well as mailing some prints of my Cricket cover off to an amazing school in India (more on that in a minute). In the midst of that I've been working on my revisions to Blackbringer and I THINK it's going well. I actually LIKE revising, for this reason: it's easier than writing!!

Then, some celebrating had to be squeezed in there somewhere, celebrating Jim getting to illustrate my book jacket, and just the book in general. The contract process was so long and halting and filled with waiting and anti-climax and more waiting there was never that one moment to throw a hat in the air and shriek, but now it's feeling more real all the time, talking "trim size" and other real, tangible things makes me realize: my book is going to have physical form and be in bookstores! So, that called for some happy swigging. Though tempted to go to our favorite restaurant Bombay Cricket Club, we branched out and tried a Cajun place called Acadia. We started with cocktails, then moved into wine with dinner, and then to some chocolate + liquor concoction for dessert, along with pecan pie and "gooey butter cake." Oh my. And I forgot to mention we opened a bottle of amazing zinfandel from our trip to San Luis Obispo before going out, so basically, we met our booze quota for the next several months, but we were still up before seven this morning, so all is well. (Though I did have a strange dream in which I had a peg leg, and not some fancy prosthesis either, but a plain pirate-style peg, and interestingly, it was extra long so I could wear it with my 5-inch-heeled cowboy boots!)

About the school in India: a few months ago I got one of my favorite emails of all-time, from a fellow whose company sends books and magazines to the Shanti Bhavan School in Bangalore, India. It's a school that takes destitute slum children right off the streets and gives them a world-class education. How about that? Why isn't there MUCH MORE of that in the world? Imagine if all rich people spent money setting up schools for poor children. That million dollars Lindsay Lohan spent on clothes last year? Anyway, the part that made it my favorite email of all-time was that the kids loved my Cricket magazine cover, because it's a scene set in India, and they said they thought I must have been Indian in a previous life! They renamed the painting "The Tigre Raj" which is so much better than my uninspired "Parade." It is so exciting knowing that kids around the world are seeing my art! There's just no feeling like it.

I've been feeling like I don't have much to write about in my blog lately. I've been just work-work-working, and when I read other people's blogs I'm often jealous of what a rich inner life they seem to have. For better or worse, I don't spend much time in self-contemplation. I just get up with Jim, eat breakfast, walk the dogs while daydreaming about work, then get home, brew coffee, and... work. Til about midnight. Hm. But we HAVE been showing signs of trying to live a little, and I don't mean just the swigging. The little one-night trips, little hikes, cafe-writing expeditions, those are a move in the right direction for us. But usually, we just want to be working!

Tuesday, June 13, 2006

Yo Gabba Gabba, etcetera

I swiped this photo right off of The Excitement Machine, a blog I came across on one of those aimless link-to-link wanderings that can turn up so much strangeness and wonder. What IS Yo Gabba Gabba? I'm not quite sure if it's real or a spoof, but it appears to be a children's program involving live toy monsters, and if you click here you can see the trailer.

Here's what else I discovered on that little "walk" through blogland:

- Anna Ventura's lovely paperdolls

- A class Anahata is teaching this fall on "funky wallpaper murals". Oooooh...

- This local artist's website & blog. I've never been to her shop but it's only a few miles from my house, so I'm going!

Every time I do that, meander the links, I get pretty overwhelmed by how large this world is, this blog-world, how we're "living" in a teeny tiny neighborhood of it and inside everyone's "house" so to speak, there are a hundred more doors, into new neighborhoods, new worlds. It makes my brain do strange little jumping jacks trying to picture all the dazzling lines of connection that run between all our computers. (Metaphorically, of course, but don't put it past me to imagine a string and paper cups connecting us all!)

Also, I have GREAT news. We found out yesterday that Jim gets to illustrate my book! He's been rallying for the assignment and has done a number of pieces for the editor and publisher and art department to look at, and though they let him know a few weeks ago that he was hired to do interior spot illustrations, he only got the news yesterday about the book jacket. I wish I could post the art that finally decided them, and which will in all likelihood be the cover to Blackbringer, but I think there are people who would frown if I did that. It's a secret... but I can't wait to show you. It's my favorite thing my talented husband has ever drawn! Cheers, all!

Saturday, June 10, 2006

Sunday Scribblings #11 & Anniversary Getaway

Mystery -- this was my choice of topic this week, and it's something I could go on and on about: a reader's frustration with real life, with the notion that while in fiction "all will be revealed in time," in life it's not so. There are many things we will never ever know. So, the prompt is, of all mysteries large and small, what mystery would you have unveiled for you if you could?

I've thought about it and I think honestly, if I could know any great cosmic mystery at all, it wouldn't be: is God real? It would be: Are there sentient beings on other planets, and what are they like? And have they indeed visited us on Earth, are they technologically superior to us, how many different species in how many different worlds? I had a dream a long time ago that I woke up from and started immediately to plot as a story (which I never wrote). In it, two travel-writers and their adolescent children are part of the first civilian flight to the first planet discovered with sentient life. The characters in my dream were no doubt based on my old bosses, Tony & Maureen Wheeler, the founders of Lonely Planet Travel Guides. These two started the company in the 60s by driving an old van across Central Asia, about which no travel guide yet existed. They then holed up in Australia for a time and wrote up their notes, typed and stapled them and started selling them to local bookstores. Decades later they own a company that has opened the most mysterious places in the world up to adventurers, and their children have been along for the ride. This is a complete tangent, but it seems appropriate enough. I still sort of love that idea, of being the first travel writer to an alien civilization that will soon be finding itself inundated with rich earthling adventure tourists. In the dream it turned dark and came to light that not all the sentient species on the planet were friendly.

I'm not an abduction conspiracy theorist. I'd just love to know. What's going on out there in all that vasty blackness? I'd also like to know -- in the earthly realm -- how sophisticated is whale speech really? Do they have syntax and vocabulary? Do they tell each other stories? How does their intelligence stack up to ours? I really really wish there was a way to know that!

ON ANOTHER NOTE, Jim and I just celebrated our 5th wedding anniversary!

Yay, us! It's been a wonderful though lightning-quick 5 years since that day in the forested hills above Berkeley, California, when we stood facing each other on a lawn, all teary and overwhelmed with love. We got married at the Brazil Pavillion that was salvaged from the San Francisco World's Fair, a lovely lovely spot, and everything about the day was perfect. We didn't take a honeymoon really but just drove back up the coast to Oregon, stopping along the way at the Russian River, Mendocino, and the Redwoods. To celebrate our anniversary we went out to the Oregon coast thursday, to Manzanita, a wonderful small beach town less than two hours from Portland. It's rustic and free of beachy motels and wax museums and boardwalks. There's a wine bar and a few shops and NO souvenirs anywhere! We stayed in a skinny two-story tower-cabin, walked on the beach, ate taffy, and drove to the nearby river towns of Wheeler and Nehalem for some antique shopping. On the way home we made the short hike through the woods to Oswald West beach, one of the loveliest beaches I have ever seen.

"There is a pleasure in the pathless wood/ There is a rapture on the lonely shore/ There is society where none intrude/ By the deep sea and music in its roar/ I love not man the less, but nature more." - Lord Byron.

Now, after two beautiful trips to the coast in the past month, I'm daydreaming about having a cabin there. Dream, dream!

Thursday, June 08, 2006

young & dumb & 'fat' & boycrazy

"I came to the conclusion that I wasn't smart until I was thirty." That's from Madness's current post, and is an observation made as a result of reading her own old journals. Ah, me too! Me too! A few weeks ago I put up some silliness from my college writing journals and some readers responded that they can't bear to read their old journals -- well, me either -- those were "writing" journals filled with exercises, daily writing, poetry. NOT my whiney personal journals that seemed to be concerned with a) how fat I was (I was not), and b) boys. How vapid and silly was I? Very. But I thought I was quite the serious young woman. That's the funny part of it. I thought I was smart. I got good grades. I had a good vocabulary. I was worldly. I grew up in Europe, ooh la la. Didn't that make me sophisticated? Ha.

I wish I could rewrite the journals of young me and doing so, rewrite young me. I mean, not really, because I'm very happy with who and where I am now and I know it's that wending game-board trail of malarkey that brought me to this particular space, so I wouldn't actually back up and change anything even if I could. I'd be afraid things would arrange themselves differently and I might end up married to the wrong person, living in the wrong house, with the wrong dogs farting in their sleep! But I do wish I had been more like a character in a book.

I read young adult novels. Do you? I recommend them. There are incredibly fine books being written for young people. If you haven't seriously perused the YA section since you yourself were "y," you should. Things have changed since I was a teenager. Books are gritty now, about serious issues facing kids, and anything goes. (there is also "junior chic lit" which makes me shudder, it's SO inappropriate!) Well, I wish I had been like a character in a book, perhaps a bit offbeat and wrapped up in my own world, publishing underground literary journals in highschool and sneaking out in the middle of the night to plaster the school with stickers I had printed up with odd sayings on them. I wish I had played the ukulele to strangers on their birthdays or caused an explosion in the chemistry lab while discovering some heretofore unknown principle of... er... um... magnesium? (I don't really know what that is. I never ever took chemistry.) Instead, I was trying to make my bangs stand up straight like everyone else in Orange County in 1988. I had a crush on the quarterback from afar, like everybody else. I went to stupid loud parties I didn't enjoy, and pretended not to know my mohawked brother when I ran into him and his punk friends around town. College was better, but I could wish it was better-better. I mainly wish I hadn't cared about a) being fat, and b) boys so much. I might have gotten more done.

So what can we do about that when we grow up and find ourselves becoming less dumb at last? I admit to feeling some shame about how shallow I was, in a way feeling like that girl wasn't really "me." I don't want to disown young dumb me, not really.
I do have a bit of a fear of trying to "write" my children when I have them, though. Will I try to turn them into characters in books as they grow up? Try to make them more interesting than I was? Disdain them for being as shallow as I was? Urge them to take up the ukulele and publish a poetry journal? What's that quote? (Alexandra - help?) About the parent's unlived life being such a powerful force on the child? I can see it. My parents didn't do that to us, but I fear I might. I'll meddle. Even last night as Jim was working on an illustration I kept wanting to somehow jump into his brain so he'd do it just how I envisioned it; I'll want to do that with children too, about their lives! Plot them like books, design them like characters. I don't want to be a monster parent! I hope I will be able to control myself. I hope I will keep getting smarter.

Monday, June 05, 2006

Writing Room - coming soon!

Behold the green furniture! These wonderful shades of lime and chartreuse have been my favorite color for a few years now, and I had thought I might paint the guestroom-soon-to-be-writing-room that color... until I found this bench. Actually my mother found it at our favorite Portland gift store, Stella's (also the first store ever to carry my greeting cards when I took my first baby step towards commercial enterprise) and called me saying I MUST have it -- and my mother knows me. And now I DO have it! And THEN my sweet wonderful Jim surprised me with this matching writing desk for an early anniversary present -- thank you sweetie!! (Our 5th wedding anniversary is on thursday!) I am so in love with both of these pieces of furniture it is a kind of torture I don't yet have a fitting home for them. You see, I have decided to convert the seldom-used guestroom into a writing room. Yay! My long-awaited writing room. A few months ago I posted a meme that included 3 things you'd wish for just for yourself, and one of mine was a writing room, so this means a lot. (We DO already have an art studio but I don't really write in there because Jim & I share it and he likes to listen to political radio sometimes and I like to read my own words out loud to myself).

Well, the guest room is soon to undergo a transformation. I wish it only needed paint and love, but it in fact needs new walls, insulation, a new ceiling, and new french doors to the exterior. It needs to be gutted. Sigh. But I'm hiring someone to do it because my delusions of do-it-yourselfing ended years ago with dry-walling the art studio. Anyway, with the prevailing greenness of the furniture so far I think green walls would be overkill, but I'm thinking of a kind of pomegranate red. Yum. Also. there's the potential for a private little patio just outside the french doors, and I have visions of writing my next novel in there with the doors open and some long silky curtain billowing in. I'll post before and afters once this project is done. Wish me luck!

Speaking of writing, I've been having a great time working on the extended version of my short story The Hatchling that I originally wrote as Sunday Scribblings week #2, and I've written about 17 pages so far and LOVE it, but I have to set it aside now for something more important (and scary): I received my editorial feedback today from my publisher, so I'll be working on revisions to Blackbringer for the next... I don't know. Weeks? More? It's my first time doing this and I'm really nervous!

In other news, my Laini's Ladies Garden line is out in select stores. Yay! Unfortunately (or, fortunately) the first shipment sold out right away so they won't be available to order online until mid-July when the second shipment arrives from the factory. I heard today at Stella's that the line seemed to be doing really well at the Portland Gift Show over the weekend. I hope so. My new "Bohemian" holiday collection is also showing now. Here are a few sneak peeks:

Saturday, June 03, 2006

Sunday Scribblings #10: Earliest Memory

We had a treehouse in front of our Navy-base row house when I was three and four. I had the croup when my father built it so I couldn’t go out and play but only watch my brother enviously through the window. My father had a beard then and it tickled. He took us fishing off Monterey Pier and I caught only baby octopi, time and again. I remember the way the ink bled out, like watercolors into a wash, when we’d toss them back.

I remember telling my first lie. I went to a Montessori preschool in Carmel and my teacher was lovely with straight yellow hippie hair down to her waist. I was banging ruthlessly on the piano keys one day and she complimented me, and I looked her straight in the eyes and thanked her, and said I was taking lessons. Not much of a lie, but I must have been pretty shocked with myself if I still remember telling it.

I remember being turned loose to play in a carpet warehouse. How the stacks and stacks of rolled carpets were like mountains and we were set free to scale them and leap between them. It was glorious.

Being small. When I sat down to write, this is what I was going to write about, then all the other memories came tumbling out too. It must have been the open house for my older brother’s kindergarten. There were corridors of a school with drawings on all the walls and grownups everywhere, standing around. I love this memory for my only physical recollection of what it was like to be that small. They were just legs, for all intents and purposes: grownups. And I was racing through this forest of legs with the other kids, and when I came to what I thought were my dad’s legs I flung myself into them, hard, flung my arms around them. Then I titled my head back and looked up, and I still remember gasping, the horror of it. It wasn’t my dad, but just another grownup in brown pants! Mortified, I ran on.

It’s funny how so many of these early memories have to do with my father. I think he was home all the time then since he was in graduate school, whereas in my few years up til then he’d been at sea a lot and it was just my mom and brother and me in our little house at the edge of the cane fields in Hawaii -- but I don’t have real memories of that time. After Monterey I remember a lot more, from first grade through fourth in Virginia, and Papa was gone a lot, plying the Atlantic in a Destroyer, I suppose. Of course Mom is always there, in all my memories. During these years she caught the houseplant mania that was sweeping the 1970s and our house began to turn into a jungle. Each time we moved for the rest of my youth she’d have to give her jungle away and rebuild it from scratch in the next house. And she was pregnant with my little sister, and my brother and I weren’t permitted in the hospital so my dad had to take us to the parking lot and point at her window. Funny, I get a little choked up thinking of that. Of needing that reassurance, to see that window among windows, and know she was there.

Want to read some more Sunday Scribblings?