The kids and I are off on our adventure next week. I’m packing my mom up in a ziplock bag and taking her to England. Don’t worry she’ll be double bagged, maybe tripled if I am feeling generous. I wouldn’t want to leave a trail of Hawkins’ ashes across the Atlantic.
We will be arriving in Paris and meeting our dear friend Jenny, who is living the dream in France for the year with her family. The five of us have some very touristy plans sandwiched between eating cheese, bread, wine, and then more cheese. If I haven’t partially morphed into an attractive half woman/half cheese hybrid upon my return to Canada then I haven’t done my job as a cheese loving tourist. And if I return as an unattractive cheesy human entity, please feel free to serve my cheesy bits on crackers to guests and donate the other half to science. So that’s Paris in a nutshell.
The rest of the month will be spent at Jenny’s house in the south of France, and with my lovely family in Lesceister with a few extra nights in London. We need to round out our touristy agenda with a trip to Buckingham Palace, and tea with the queen. I hope she is available on short notice. If not, we will settle for Kate and that guy she is married to.
We have many long journeys ahead of us this month. We are not bringing any screens with us, but have our bags packed with books, journals, notepads and coloured pencils. I find I do my best creative thinking and planning on long car trips. I hope that transfers to planes and trains. I would like to write more. If I just keep saying that perhaps it will happen. I’m hoping to take the time on these long passages to get some thoughts on paper. I believe everyone has something interesting to say, maybe not all the time, but we do have at least one interesting thought or experience to share. Sometimes you just need the solitude and boredom to bring it forth. I’m hoping that happens to me and my kids on this trip.
I had my last writing workshop a few weeks ago. My favorite part of the workshop was what I called pressure writing. It was when you were given a short 10-15 minutes to write something specific down on paper. I was always stumped but eventually churned something out. My fear would rise exponentially as my fellow classmates would be furiously writing while I simply stared at them. Our last pressure writing exercise was the most interesting to me. Our instructor read us a poem describing the writer and then gave us the formula so we could describe ourselves. Here is the passage:
Where I’m From
I am from clothespins, from Clorox and carbon-tetrachloride.
I am from the dirt under the back porch. (Black, glistening, it tasted like beets.)
I am from the forsythia bush the Dutch elm whose long-gone limbs I remember
as if they were my own.
I’m from fudge and eyeglasses, from Imogene and Alafair.
I’m from the know-it-alls and the pass-it-ons, from Perk up! and Pipe down!
I’m from He restoreth my soul with a cottonball lamb and ten verses I can say myself.
I’m from Artemus and Billie’s Branch, fried corn and strong coffee.
From the finger my grandfather lost to the auger, the eye my father shut to keep his sight.
Under my bed was a dress box spilling old pictures, a sift of lost faces to drift beneath my dreams.
I am from those moments–snapped before I budded –leaf-fall from the family tree.
Here is the formula.
specific ordinary item:
sensory detail of home:
plant flower or natural item:
family tradition, trait, tendency:
faith religion or superstitious belief:
place of birth or ancestry:
specific family story:
I encourage everyone to do this, as you all can. Fill it in when you are standing in line, driving your car, on the subway or anytime there is blank space in your day. Your poem can be different for different periods in your life. Be creative. You have something interesting to share even if it is just for yourself.
I will share mine. It is not mind blowing but it is a part of me. Send me yours if you’d like. I want to read them.
Where I am From
I am the paper bag that housed my lunch time cheese and mustard sandwiches that I was too embarrassed to take out and eat in front of the other children.
I am the swaths of possibilities at at our local Fabricland.
I am the soft touch of the beige corduroy couch that my mother upholstered herself.
I am the lily of the valley flowing from the pots on my bedside table.
I am the laughter that flows even in the depth of sadness.
I am the wonder of the unknown beyond death.
I am the busy streets of west end Toronto enveloped in wafts of chocolate from the local Hershey’s factory.
I am the perfect marriage between rice, chicken and a can of Campbell’s mushroom soup.
I am the adoption that never was when I was born with an IUD on my head.
Have a wonderful month of April. I will be back to my screen in May. Enjoy your spring and the tulips!