The Lighthouse

the lighthouse

11 January 2014

Of flip phones, disco balls, and tangerines

I miss my flip phone. It was satisfyingly final to snap it shut.  Plus, I knew for sure the thing was off when it was closed.  I don't how many times since I got a smart phone (not an entirely apt appellation) I've thought the call was disconnected, only to later hear an automated voice ask me if I'm still there.

There is always - always - a moment of 'oh good grief' in a job interview. On one occasion it was the unfortunate combination of dry mouth and nervous smile resulting in a permanent and awkward smile as my upper lip stuck to my teeth. Trying to prevent that unfortunate situation, I applied a liberal - though professional - amount of lip gloss prior to an interview this week.  There was no fixed-lip grimace this time. No, instead, the gloss clumped in the corners of my mouth, and in my imagination they became the size of ping-pong balls, and as they were glossy, like disco balls they were catching and reflecting all the light in the room, dazzling and distracting the interviewing panel.  Oh, and between the warmth of the room, my nerves, and my embarrassment at the mini disco balls on my face, my cheeks got hotter and hotter and I'm sure redder and redder as time went on.

The one consolation to this season of apples and pears, and apples and pears (how I miss the berries and peaches!) is the Christmas tangerine.  I've been known to eat them like candy - as many as 12 a day. However, it is not possible to eat twelve tangerines a day every day for long. Eventually the little cuties sit in the fruit bowl for so long they begin to shrink in on themselves inside the peel. What's a girl to do with a bowl of nearly dried up tangerines?  (The really good ones are not sold individually but in crates or plastic nets in large quantities. Once the festive visiting season is over, what seemed a reasonable pile of tangerines now seems mountainous) Well, what this girl did is add a goodly amount of tangerine juice to gelatin, a splash of rum, and some condensed milk. Once refrigerated, it was a cool and creamy, light and tangy dessert.  Yum!  Of course anything with a splash of rum must be good, no?

07 January 2014

Of words, and Alf, and balls of yarn.

Any artist or craftsman can tell you how revealing it is at times to lay your work out for public consumption. I think any work of art or craftsmanship contains something of its creator. Perhaps the better the work, the more of the creator there is to be found.

I've experienced that as a writer. There have been pieces I've written that have me fairly squirming in discomfort to know that the words are out there for other eyes to see; that my construction of thoughts and sentences were then vulnerable to criticism, judgement, or even worse: disregard.

To my great surprise, I am now experiencing that vulnerability in reverse. I have been asked to proof a dissertation. Because the stakes are so high, and because I'm being paid which makes it a professional necessity, I am reading this document with more focused attention than I have with anything else in a long time. Not merely reading - it is scrupulous scrutiny.  It isn't my place to question the thesis, doubt the research, or judge the conclusion, but it is my job to ask every comma to justify itself, to test the construction of each sentence, to evaluate the structure of all quotations.

I read and reread every paragraph, and there are many of them. I have spent over 12 hours on this paper so far. That time and attention has lead me into the mind of its creator I now feel acquainted with the author on a level not achieved in all our personal dealings in real life, now stretching over several years. That intimacy is almost... too intimate.

There is a book I enjoy reading again and again, a trilogy actually, by Judith Tarr called The Hound and the Falcon. One of the characters, Alf, is able to see a person's mind. He sees them as tapestries or tangled skeins of yarn, or clear pathways.  I often wonder what Alf would think of my mind when I'm trying to untangle my thoughts.  A friend of mine, Father A, has a beautifully clear, organized and disciplined mind. Alf would delight in it.  I feel a little like Alf in this dissertation situation.  Not that I have any insight into the writer's being, but I feel I have been granted a glimpse of his mind, and that is something we usually guard from other people. I know I like to keep my tangled yarn to myself, which is why it is a disconcerting experience to share my 'true' writing (rather than the stuff that doesn't really mean anything.)

I don't know how to end this, or even why I'm sharing it.  I'm feeling somewhat abashed, or even a little embarrassed. Have you ever experienced something like this?

01 January 2014

Prosit Neujahr

Hello Dear Reader!  Happy New Year.  Can you believe it is 2014?  Two thousand and fourteen!  As recently as the 90s I was sure that the two thousand and teens were so far in the future that I'd be too ancient to have anything in common with who I was back then. Yet here we are, with not a hint of flying cars (though some can park themselves, which is a nifty trick) and - thankfully - we're not wearing Star Trek jumpsuits. I feel like the same person I was in the last millennium, but I know there are some differences: I can no longer sleep on the floor, I don't much like modern music (the exceptions I consider to be 'real' music rather than modern), I no longer feel guilty for not finishing every book I begin, I'm better at saying no, and I've learned I'm capable of more than I thought. I know that I'm ok on my own, and I like who I'm becoming - though I annoy the snot out of myself at times.

There hasn't been much going on here at The Lighthouse for a month or more. I'm still not sure what I'm going to do here, as it is no longer a chronicle of my life with The Peanuts (I sure do miss CTKS) and I'm not sure this is the place to work out my inner demons. I'm feeling the itch to take it up again, whatever it is. I guess it will be what it will be.

I've managed to do some writing, getting a really good start on a novel I'm calling Caroline... or Stained Glass. I'm looking for a new job, as the old one comes to an end in 23 days. I'm journeying through the Old Testament and still managing to lose track of who begat whom and just how big is a cubit, anyway? I've been hired to proofread a dissertation - for actual money! I've decided to carry on with many of my Advent observances, notably spending more time in creative pursuits and less in passive entertainment. I'm contemplating getting a cat.  Just one... I know that's a slippery slope. The Great Reading Project still plods on, with many a distraction such as the new Adriana Trigiani book - heaven!

I want to publish something this year - article, story... heck, a book!

I have become very aware of death. Not in a gruesome, gothy way, but because two family members and a close friend died this year, several friends have been touched by death, and two other family members are dueling with cancer. It's foolish to pretend that death doesn't exist or that we have all the time in the world, and that preparing for death entails only making sure someone knows where the important papers are. I've seen it up close and personal, how death is a battle. The soul struggles, even in the devout. The scales weighing our lives become real and loom large. Now is the time to settle accounts, those fiscal, personal, and spiritual. Read Dante is you think otherwise.

I want to be more patient, more kind, and more aware of how blessed I am. I want to stop drifting, and be more fully alive.

Let's make 2014 truly spectacular!