Archive for March, 2009

Floods in Moorhead. HELP!!!!!!

Tonight I write from a state of helplessness and consternation as the rain pours in Moorhead and a state of emergency has been issued.  But, as I find with most things, there is the good witch side and the bad witch side for me.  The good witch side says I will be there on Tuesday to do what I can and to help support a community that is the root and the foundation for my family.  The bad witch side of me wonders how after this weekend, stores can be open and people can be acting so nonchalantly about the impending floods!  I sat at the rink this weekend and listened to a friend boringly say, “I suppose I could go volunteer a couple of hours this afternoon, but I live way down here in south Moorhead so the flooding really won’t affect me.”  Hey, you fuckhead, isn’t this YOUR community, YOUR friends and YOUR home?  What do you mean it won’t affect you because you live way in south Moorhead?

OK, I have had 2 glasses of wine and am fired up about this.  Maybe the local news was exaggerating, as would then have been CNN because I saw them broadcasting as well.  Maybe this is all a hoax.  Somehow, I don’t think so, but I can’t seem to understand why a fire hasn’t been lit under the asses of some of the people who live here!  I think I heard more excuses because NDSU and MSU were on break so the number of volunteers were way down.  Hello!  What about residents?  How about leaving your parking spot at West Acres and getting dirty?  How about taking a break from your Sunday walk to HELP?

I need to calm down.  Sorry.  I just got so frustrated!  I beg…please don’t sit back and wait for someone else to get dirty!  HELP out if you can!

It’s OK to have confidence in your abilities

Oh, the things a new book can do!  On Thursday night, I bought Natalie Goldberg’s book, Writing Down the Bones, which two out of two Loft teachers have highly recommended.  Now that I have had my nose buried in the book, I see why both made the recommendation; completely and utterly inspiring for a wanna-be writer yet simple and easy to comprehend.  I find that my body and mind relaxes when I am reading because she is speaking directly to me.  Ok, I know better, but what she has to say is totally applicable to me at this juncture in my writing life.  My confidence has been built and I see that what I am going through is typical for many writers and when she describes her own experiences which are similar to mine, I feel a kinship with accomplishment.

Goals for the next 4 weeks, (until the Idea Intensive class is over):

  1. Write at least 30 minutes a day with letting first thoughts flow on to the paper, but without stopping on the page, editing or re-reading.
  2. Blog something each day
  3. Continue to work on the mind-mapping exercises.

Less than Six Degress of Separation

While sitting at a local coffee shop today, I listened and watched as two strangers began a conversation, (albeit mostly one-sided by “nurse-lady” as “retired teacher-lady” tried to work on her crossword puzzle), and although I didn’t mean to eavesdrop, it’s hard not to hear bits and pieces when you’re 4′ away.  I heard the word, “Monticello” and then “my daughter’s first grade teacher”, so I commented that Monticello was where I had grown up and attended school.  This comment of mine wasn’t enough to deem worthy of a response, so I continued on with blogging.  About 10 minutes later, I hear nurse-lady say, “Cavanaugh” followed closely by, “Amundson”, and I just couldn’t hold back. 

“Excuse me,” I said again, “I don’t mean to be listening, but are you by chance talking about Connie Amundson?”

Connie was nurse-lady’s third grade teacher and she was asking retired teacher-lady if she knew Mrs. Amundson.  Retired teacher-lady had worked at Cavanaugh Elementary School, but replied that she didn’t know Connie.  I jumped into their conversation, wanted or not, and told them how my daughters went to Connie’s home nearly every day after school and how Connie had made them eat garlic sandwiches because it was good for them.  I shared with the two ladies, who had now become more interested in what I had to say, that I used to make jelly for Connie and although she couldn’t eat it because of her diabetes, she would hold it up to the sunlight streaming through her window, purse her lips, look at it like a mother looks at her newborn child, (and I am NOT exaggerating when I say that!), and declare, “Exquisite!  Absolutely exquisite!”

I told them of Connie’s mandate to our shared neighbor, Mel, to cut some of the branches off from the tree in his front yard because while sitting in front of her kitchen window she didn’t have a clear line of sight to my front door.  Connie would claim that because we were gone working during the day and thus weren’t around that she needed to keep a watch on our home.  Mel dutifully cut down part of his tree and Connie was pleased.  For us, it just meant that she always knew when we were home which in turn meant that we had better pick up the phone when she called.  There was zero avoidance tolerated!  Connie watched our home so closely that one spring day shecalled Chris at work in downtown Minneapolis to tell him that there were ment at our door trying to deliver a mattress.  Chris tried to calmly assure her that this was not happening, but Connie would not hear of it for she was watching it happen with her own two eyes.  Connie demanded that he come home from work in the middle of the day, and respectfully he did.  Needless to say, the mattress was being delivered to our neighbors home, not ours.

The last couple of years of Connie’s life were very hard and I shared with nurse-lady how she basically ate herself to death but in doing so she loved every minute.  As we were now fondly purging all of the Connie-stories we could remember, nurse-lady fondly remembered how Mrs. Amundson would walk down the row of girls in the 3rd grade classroom and say to one of them that they were next in line to receive her Avon perfume bottle once she had used up all of the perfume.  Nurse-lady didn’t recall if she ever got one of Mrs. Amundson’t perfume bottles, but that didn’t matter.  What mattered was the paper fish that nurse-lady still has from the 3rd grade along with the memory of how Mrs. Amundson praised her fish saying it was, “the most beautiful fish she had ever seen!”  Nurse-lady’s voice sounded exactly like the passionate voice of the Connie I remember.  Even her lips and gestures were strikingly accurate of Connie’s after all of these years.

And, nurse-lady has a pink planner that is the color of Pepto, and every time, she says, she looks at its color, she is reminded of  her of her favorite teacher: Mrs. Amundson.

Nurse-lady graduated from Robbinsdale in 1978.  I graduated from Monticello in 1983.  Adara graduated in 2004, and Kory in 2005.  33 years.  4 women. 3 strangers at a coffee shop connected by 1 mentor and friend who touched us all.

Creativity Abounds

The creative juices are really flowing in me for the first time in years and years and years, and in typical Joni fashion, I want to act on each of them right now!  OK, I know that’s not possible, but it’s really hard for someone with my aggressive personality to step back, plan, and take things in baby steps.

Last night was my second class in Ideas Intensive at The Loft, and this class has been both very good and very bad for me all at the same time.  I’ll call it my split personality class; the good witch versus the bad witch.  The good witch from the perspective that it has loosened me up to a point where I am starting to let the ideas in my mind take root and manifest themselves into something that perhaps I could work with.  The dad witch from the aspect that it has enticed all of these ideas and there just aren’t enough hours in a day to get everything I want to out on paper and that frustrates the living poo out of me.

So, one step at a time if I must.  For now, my goal is to do some brainstorming and clustering/mind-mapping.  This was a technique that we discussed last night which was new for me, and I could truly see the benefits of it versus the traditional outline I had been working on.  My goal is to spend the week letting the ideas flow to my cluster so that by next week’s class, I have a pretty good idea on the things I want to focus building on.

On another note, I have a new baby.  Yes, Grandma Lainy, a new baby.  Her name is George, and she Nikon D90.  Oh, she is soooooooooo beautiful!  I love her.  I really, really love her.  It shouldn’t be legal to love an inanimate object so much, but I do.  Sometimes, I hear her talking to me.  We are getting better acquainted with each other being she’s only been here since Saturday, but already she has stolen my heart.  It won’t take long for her and I to become soul-mates, that’s for sure.  So, as the time progresses and I again start updating this blog with my creative adventures, you will all get to meet her and to relish in the beauty she transposes for us.  I promise to share the fruits of her labor with you.  And if you want to know how she got her name, it is from Georgia O’Keeffe who, in my opinion, was the most creative and free women I have ever heard about and who every time I think of her conjures up beautiful family memories of my trip with Adara to Santa Fe and of the art exhibit in Minneapolis with Michael.  This will inspire me.

Off to write…