Wednesday, January 28, 2009

Photo by Smaragdin

I've been thinking a lot about my creative path to success and realized I'm not exactly where I intended to be.

In a counseling session many moons ago I was instructed to create a life map. It could be any medium, so I literally drew a map with winding roads and I put a car at the beginning of the road and its first stop was college. I wanted to finish college with a bachelor's degree, maybe a masters or MFA if I was feeling particularly ambitious. The next stop was a job I would enjoy and a job that would further my career in the publishing world. I drew two options for places I would find this job. Palm trees for California. Skyscrapers for New York. I was not going to stay in Texas past my college graduation. That was just out of the question.

I can't remember where the winding road led. I think it trailed off the paper to happily ever after.

But here's the thing. A) I fell in love at age 20. That certainly wasn't on the life map. Up until that point I thought boys hated me. I thought I'd be single forever. No man to tie me down. Fortunately, it did happen. There were some bumps along the way (some very bumpy bumps), but here we are almost 5 years later.

B) I finished college and took a job at a local magazine, but I hated it! It probably didn't help that I was working for a magazine whose theme didn't interest me in the least bit, but I am grateful for the experience.

C) Bills, bills, bills, and all the extra stuff life throws at you that costs mucho dinero. I quit my job at the magazine to be with my boyfriend in "small town" Florida. Lack of jobs, for sure. I had to get something before my savings ran out. I didn't have time to think about whether or not this or that job would further my writing career. When you have to pay the bills and there aren't a lot of job options, you take what you can get! Of course my family and boyfriend helped me and I did get a rather interesting job at a funeral home, so again, I'm grateful.

D) Must go where the money is. It's true that my boyfriend chose a lucrative career in the computer world and he'll probably always make more money than me. That's why we moved to Tennessee. I didn't have to follow him. I could've decided to go at it single and move to New York and live in a box and maybe get a job as an editorial assistant, but I didn't. There's love again.

So...I didn't go completely off the life path. I graduated college, got a job in publishing, and moved out of state, but things didn't go exactly as planned. Do they ever?

I'm not unhappy and I don't regret anything. I'm grateful for all the experiences, but I have been thinking...and it's always the same thing. When will I be able to do something I half care about? If I had it my way, I'd stay home and write. Not worry about a full-time job, but that's not possible at this time. I have bills. My boyfriend has bills. There's money, but not enough to go around.

And it's not that I dread going to work everyday. My job is all right. But I don't care about any part of it and I hate that feeling. I know I won't put my all into anything I do because my heart isn't in it. And it doesn't seem like there are a lot of options for me in this neck of the woods.

The good thing is I can go home, leave work at work, and continue working on the things I do love and care about. I can be a writer wherever I am in life.

Monday, January 19, 2009

No Harvest Ripening

A poem by Anne Morrow Lindbergh

Come quickly, winter, for the heart belies
The truth of these warm days. These August skies
Are all too fair to suit the times - so kind
That almost they persuade the treacherous mind
It still is summer and the world the same.
These gaudy colors on the hills in flame
Are out of keeping with the nun's attire
We wear within - of ashes, not of fire.

Season of ripening fruit and seeds, depart;
There is no harvest ripening in the heart.

Bring the frost that strikes the dahlias down
In one cruel night. The blackened buds, the brown
And wilted heads, the crippled stems, we crave -
All beauty withered, crumbling to the grave.
Wind, strip off the leaves, and harden, Ground,
Till in your frozen crust no break is found.

Then only, when man's inner world is one
With barren earth and branches bared to bone,
Then only can the heart begin to know
The seeds of hope asleep beneath the snow;
Then only can the chastened spirit tap
The hidden faith still pulsing in the sap.

Only with winter-patience can we bring
The deep-desired, long-awaited spring.

Saturday, January 17, 2009

Sweet Saturday

Tonight I made "Outrageously Thick Spanish Hot Chocolate with Churros" from Sticky, Chewy, Messy, Gooey by Jill O'Connor. Here's the recipe for the hot chocolate if you're in the mood for something super rich and chocolaty. This recipe serves six. (I didn't make the churros).

6 cups whole milk
2 tablespoons cornstarch
1/4 cup dutch-processed cocoa powder
3/4 cup sugar
pinch of salt
1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
8-12 ounces semisweet chocolate, chopped (I used chocolate chips)

Pour 5 1/2 cups of the milk into a large, heavy-bottomed saucepan. In a small bowl or cup, stir together the cornstarch, cocoa powder, sugar, and salt. Add the remaining 1/2 cup of milk to form a smooth paste. Heat the milk over medium heat and just before it begins to boil, whisk in the cocoa mixture. Bring to a boil, stirring constantly, and cook for 1 minute, or until the mixture thickens slightly. Remove from the heat and stir in the vanilla and about 8 ounces of the chocolate. Stir until the chocolate is completely melted and combined. Taste the hot chocolate; if desired, stir in 4 more ounces of chocolate (or to taste) for an even richer flavor. Set aside and keep warm.

Today I visited the Book Eddy and came across Anne Morrow Lindbergh's The Unicorn & Other Poems. I've been reading her other book, Gift from the Sea, so it was pure serendipity and such a sweet moment to find this old book of poetry. Plus, there was a little note inside, written in 1973. I believe this note was written for me...

"From the woman who gave you 'Gifts from the Sea' - to my favorite unicorn - hope you enjoy it."


Here is a poem, from the book, I absolutely adore:

"The Man and the Child"

It is the man in us who works;

Who earns his daily bread and anxious scans
The evening skies to know tomorrow's plans;
It is the man who hurries as he walks;
Finds courage in a crowd; shouts as he talks;
Who shuts his eyes and burrows through his task;
Who doubts his neighbor and who wears a mask;
Who moves in armor and who hides his tears.
It is the man in us who fears.

It is the child in us who plays;
Who sees no happiness beyond today's;
Who sings for joy; who wonders, and who weeps;
It is the child in us at night who sleeps.
It is the child who silent turns his face,
Open and maskless, naked of defense,
Simple with trust, distilled of all pretense,
To sudden beauty in another's face-

It is the child in us who loves.

Tuesday, January 13, 2009

If you're a fan of Francesca Lia Block you'll love this video of her talking about and reading from her new book, How to (Un)Cage a Girl.


Wednesday, January 7, 2009

Will you join the dance...

The body says what words cannot.
~Martha Graham

The main thing is dancing, and before it withers away from my body, I will keep dancing till the last moment, the last drop.
~Rudolph Nureyev

Dancing is my gift and my life…God gave me this gift to bring delight to others. I am haunted by the need to dance. It is the purest expression of every emotion, earthly and spiritual. It is happiness.
~Anna Pavlova

Don't dance for the audience; dance for yourself.
~Bob Fosse

Dance till the stars come down from the rafters. Dance, Dance, Dance till you drop.
~W.H. Auden

All photos from we heart it
fruit snacks aren't just for kids

Everyone is so grown up or has this I'm-an-adult-now attitude, and quite frankly, it confuses me. Maybe not confuses, but makes me wonder why. I'll be in a conversation about childhood things with a group of people and all I see are smiles and excitement and general giddiness. It's what happens when people talk about what they loved as a child. Movies, games, books. "The good old days." But as soon as I pull out my My Little Pony fruit snacks everyone crumples their face as if to say, "What the heck are you doing eating My Little Pony fruit snacks at 26?"

"Yes, it's My Little Pony," I say. "And I have Build-A-Bear fruit snacks too. In fact, I even went to Build-A-Bear the other day and stuffed my own rabbit. I also bought a fairy outfit for her."

Well, that is when everyone loses it and I could care less. Why do I participate in such silliness? Because it's fun! It makes me smile, keeps me young, keeps my mind buzzing with creativity. I'm not going to pass up colorful little pony squishy food because they're meant for a 5 year old. Why would I do that if it's something I want? Why would I stop reading faerie tales or dressing rabbits because I'm "too old?" One is never too old for anything. That's what I say. Well, perhaps throwing a temper tantrum in the grocery store would be taking it a bit too far.

You know what I mean though? It's the age old conversation about getting older and putting away childish things. Losing your childlike mind, yadda yadda.

Nurturing your inner child doesn't mean you're immature.

I learned to shrug it off years ago. Actually, I don't think it ever bothered me. If I had a dollar every time someone has said, "Cassandra, it's not all about faeries and magic," I'd be super rich. I have observed that people only say that when they're struggling with reality and I'm not being dragged down with them. It's not that I live in a fantasy 24/7. I have a healthy balance of dreams and waking moments, but I would hatehatehate to come down from the clouds for too long.

I guess that has more to do with being a Romantic than being a child, but perphaps children are Romantics.

ANYwhichway, I think next time I get a funny look whilst I'm eating kiddy fruit snacks, I shall offfer one. I'm a bit annoyed I didn't do it this time, but I'm sure the opportunity will present itself again. :)

Thursday, January 1, 2009

A sweet bottle

I wanted to mention that I found the most adorable bottle of champagne last night and couldn't resist buying it. What's a ballerina supposed to do when she's confronted with a champagne label that has this on it?!

And look~the top is pink with pointe shoes :)

For the record, it was a pretty good champagne, but not sweet at all. Nevertheless, I drank three glasses and passed out. That is to say, I fell asleep! Not a drunken passed out.

And I do have many resolutions for the new year. Ones I believe I can keep. They mostly have to do with publishing poetry, and my dance resolutions never cease. There are so many things to work on!

Here's to another year of adventure...

Happy New Year!

Hope 2009 is the most magical of all :)