Friday, September 18, 2009

Coffee Talk

So this will be the official first for two occasions: a) my first time writing a blog to participate in the Small Things Coffee Talk originated by Rachel Anne, and b) my first time writing two blogs in one day (the previous one was a copy-pasted free-write I found too amusing not to share about my psychotic kitten, Bean).
So to be perfectly responsible, I suppose I should admit that in doing this I am procrastinating on my homework, which at this point also consists entirely of writing. I have been doing a lot of writing lately, actually, all for school, but one piece in particular is stealing my heart as we speak.
I have long been struck by a feeling of obligation to record all of my grandmother's old stories from her childhood on a farm in the wild Northwest. These stories used to lull me to sleep at night with images of dappled ponies and wild boars and cougars. Now that my dear, gentle grandma is falling increasingly into the cruel clutches of dementia, despite a fairly healthy life, I feel the commitment pressing even more firmly on my already over-committed shoulders. If I do not write these stories now, my panicking subconscious whispers, I may never have another chance to make sure I've done them justice. But it seems all things are coming together not only for the good of those who love God, but also for the good of those stories that-- I am sure-- entertained him as well. I am taking a creative writing class now, in my last semester, finally having figured out that the class title, "The Art of Narration," is UMUC-ese for "Creative Writing." And here I was thinking it taught about public speaking or something. Silly me. Anyway, the first assignment for this class is a creative non-fiction piece, at least five double-spaced pages long. I have already written ten. I'm not done yet. Grandma's stories, seemingly locked somewhere within me since those days of pigtails and playing pretend, have come spilling out onto my screen in waves that I cannot staunch. It is like-- please excuse an accurate but slightly disgusting simile-- pleasurable vomiting. For once, in my writing, I am doing both exactly what I should be doing, and exactly what I enjoy doing.
:: Please hold on a moment while I rescue my mouse out from under my cat's behind. He likes to lay on the pull-out section of the keyboard drawer, and it makes productivity slightly difficult. Be right back.::
Okay... where was I?
Well, in other news, Johnny has bought a raft. For anyone who might actually read this and doesn't happen to identify themselves as my mother, relative, or someone in Sunday School, Johnny is my full-bearded, full-figured boisterous introverted maintenance-man husband and best friend of three-and-some-loose-change years. Every year since he was too small to record them in his amazingly accurate memory (I married a man who could tell stories almost as well as my grandmother), Johnny and his family have made the half-day journey to an RV park on the shore of Chincoteague Island in Delaware. Since I have known them, I have gone along three times. This traditional vacation always falls squarely on the week of my husband's birthday, which makes planning for it either easier or harder depending on my personality type for that year. Anyway, the area is chock-full of wildlife, though I've never actually seen the wild ponies Assateague is famous for (Think the child's book "Misty of Chincoteague"). This wild life is largely scattered throughout the many inlets, bays, streams, marches, and estuaries that overrun the area, and is best witnessed from the safety and comfort of a persona boat or kayak. We tried the kayak thing, last year, and I was mostly okay, though I did experience a moment of stark terror when our kayak flipped (that was Johnny's fault) and I landed in pitch black water, briefly went under, and came up with salt stringing my nostrils and thick mud seemingly sucking me down into the depths. I have an irrational fear of dark water (i.e. any water I cannot see what is swimming in it with me). So, of course, my husband's fondest wish every year about this time is to get me out on the water with him and explore. I love my husband. I know what he is trying to do. He thinks facing my fears will negate them. And for all I know, he might right. With a couple thousand years of similar repeated overturnings, I may start to lose my terror of open water. But meanwhile, I can simply enjoy nightmarish imaginings of this years vaunt on the water in his new four-man blow-up raft. And in my mind's eye, it holds to its name and blows up just as we reach the the deepest part of the inlet. ::sigh::
In other news, against my better judgment I am going to post all over the internet (okay, just at the end of a very long blog that I hope nobody will finish reading) my latest secret: I want a baby. Yes, I, who have been infamous for my rantings against the idea of pregnancy, birth, and jumping on the trendy train with all the other women in my Sunday School who have sequentially swollen and burst with new life, am finally to the point of wanting a child. I blame Melissa.


  1. Wow! What a blessing to write your grandmother's stories, that will be well worth your time and stress!

    Laughing about the cat, can't even comment on a raft, but babies are a precious, treasured gift from God. Good luck!

  2. First of all, I love this post! I simply can't wait until you finish recording your grandmother's stories and share them with the rest of the world!
    I understand the internal push to put memories on paper, and what a wonderful blessing that God has made a way for this to be a part of your current world...but remember, God will safeguard these stories that mean so much to you.You will do them justice...they won't be lost. On another note, I work with people to help them through fears and phobias, I know of a couple of techniques that can help you work through your fear of dark water without having to actually confront the fear head on (flipping your raft) multiple times. I would love to talk to you about it!

  3. I am a fellow story lover and procrastinator. This was a great post! Hopefully one day you can bless your own child with your stories.

  4. Who was it who said it was a woman's perogative to change her mind? At least you are, woman enough to admit it.

    Continue recording those stories - don't let them be lost. What a precious thing to be able to share with your (eventual) kids!

  5. Hi! I have wanted to record some of my own grandmother's stories. She is 95 years old and if I lived just a bit closer, I would sit by her side and write down every tale she told me for hours at a time. There is so much wisdom to glean from our elders.

    One of these days I'll get around to taking some writing classes again. They were my favorite in college. I would love to publish some of my writing one day.

    It was nice stopping in to meet you. Have a great weekend!

  6. I know what you mean about the writing. Sometimes it just flows out of you doesn't it? I think it is truly wonderful that you are recording your grandmother's stories so they are not forgotten. My Mum and Dad study family history but it isn't the same as just stories. Stories are richer and fuller and more fuel for the imagination than dry of facts and figures about who was born when, what ship they sailed on and when they married etc. Of course they've found some "stories" amongst the facts and figures but precious few!

  7. Oh I agree you will be so glad you recorded those stories from your grandmother. What a treasure!
    I highly recommend motherhood! Every moment of swelling, weight gain, stretch marks, sleeplessness, cramps, and delivery is well worth the sweet reward you hold at the end! And for me honestly I felt good being pregnant. There is nothing like feeling that little life move inside of you. Best Wishes!

  8. Keeping a record of your Grandmother's life is an amazing challenge! If we don't keep these records---who will? And you know, you may end up chronicling another "Little House" series. Just remember the little people :0)!

  9. Welcome to Company Girl coffee...and I must say that if your grandmother's stories get written in the same style as your blog, they will be a wonderful adventure to read! Great job. It will be a treasure.

    I'm looking forward to getting to know you.