Wednesday, April 9, 2014

The Gift of Work

I don't talk much about my day job (as any reference outside of "my day job") not because I don't love it or because I plan on leaving it any time soon, but because during the day, 5 days a week, I'm a military move coordinator.  So I guess I could say I'm a military move coordinator by day, a mother at night, and an artist/ SCAdian/ crafter on the weekends... but that's a mouthful!

For six months (ish) through fall and winter, my day job is pretty slow.  I still remember the first time in September when I reached a moment in the afternoon when...I...didn't...have...=anything=...left to do.  I didn't know what to do with myself!  It lasted all of ten minutes before there was something to do, but still, I hadn't realized it wasn't always going to be busy.

That's because I started my job almost a year ago and had a month to learn it before we were into the full swing of things.  And once we were, I didn't have time to read or do anything during the day outside of work and taking care of my family.

So we've been waiting for THE SEASON to start.  And it officially started today, with a bang!  Last year, we would get 20-50 awards per day for a couple of months.  Today, the floodgates opened on THE SEASON and we were blessed with the gift of work: 108!!

Last year, my days could be between 10 and 14 hours long.  But in the last year, I've made changes and (what I believe will prove to be) improvements that should speed my process up.  But I've had to wait for the season to start to test it!

Today, I had a normal work day length (:  (Don't get me wrong, it was -constant- motion almost all day long!...but that was true of last year as well.)  We shall see if this holds true again in the days and weeks to come, but I'll certainly get the test I've been waiting for.

All of this to say that I'll have to divvy my weekends up even further to keep up with my goal of two new pieces of art every week.    But it's a goal I intend to keep (:

Schools and Art, Time Travel and Stars

Last night I dreamed that I was sophomore at a school I have frequently visited in my dreams over the years (though I doubt it exists in the real world). It's a pre-K through high school, single story building where the elementary school and high school portions are separated by a covered walkway that leads to the principles office in the middle. It's yellow aluminium siding with a red roof and the grass is always extremely dry and yellow. I've never dreamed it any other color. But I don't believe it's out in the desert either.

For this dream, we're under a tornado warning and the school has been in lock down all day. In fact, no one is allowed to leave. We're going to have to spend the night here.

I'm working with the pre-K classroom. Teaching them art is what I chose to do with my free period every day. So we've been drawing and painting and making cardboard forts to keep them busy and distracted so they don't have time to be afraid.

Now it's dark and bedtime. Many of the kids are settling down on their nap mats. Some are sleeping in their forts. And I'm quietly walking around doing a head count and checking on all of them when one of the youngest startles awake. Before he can cry, I lay down on the floor beside him, our faces even, gently smile and slowly close my eyes like I'm falling asleep. He follows my lead. And as soon as my eyes are completely closed, I know he is sound asleep again.

I open my eyes, but now, it's the middle of the day and I'm in a hilly location in the full bloom of spring. I'm twelve.

I'm sitting on a ledge, dangling my tenny shoed feet and drawing while I wait for my friend's brother to pick me up. I have no idea who my friend is, or what her brother looks like, nor why he's picking me up, but that doesn't matter. I'll know him when I see him.

A jeep pulls up in front of me and it turns out that my friend has two brothers. The nondescript sandy blonde old enough to drive, and their gorgeous middle brother who's three years older than me and has jet black hair and bright blue eyes. And there's no back seat so I'm required to sit on the bench seat snugly between them.

As beautiful as he is, I don't like this. I don't like touching people I know, much less people I don't. But I keep quiet and clutch my notebook like a shield.

The older brother starts driving us to their house and the younger keeps trying to start conversations and giving me encouraging smile...or would be if I'd look at him. I answer his questions, but ask none of my own and keep my eyes firmly on the road ahead of us. My tone isn't unfriendly, but it certainly isn't inviting. (I was a very prickly natured child.)

We're zipping along country roads at impossible speeds, no seat belts, and open top and my hair whipping in the wind behind me. Suddenly, he jumps a gulch, Dukes of Hazard style, and I glance off to the left, my eyes following out to the larger river below, taking in the scene in slow motion.

Down by the river, the colors are incredible. Golden rod yellow, bright pinks, splashes of lavender and royal purple. Down by the river, it's fall. And there are people. Some fishing, some having a picnic. Children running around and playing tag. But from this distance, from this height, they're just specks of moving color in an impressionistic pastel, and I can't help but whisper, "Beautiful!" in sheer awe at the colors.

Her lovely brother briefly catches my eye and smiles to let me know he can't see what I see, but he can appreciate that I see it, and I turn my eyes away from him and close them to form the memory of that view in my mind so that I'll be able to recreate it later, my fingers itching to explore those rich, vibrant colors.

And when I opened my eyes again, it's night again. And I'm my age now, outside in a clearing in the woods by myself, at least for the moment.

I'm not scared, or worried. Nor lonely or cold. I'm peacefully taking it all in. The chirrup of crickets and tree frogs, a gentle choir around me. Lazily floating lightning bugs, flickering their languid and urgent language of love. A gentle breeze that comes through to ruffle my hair and caress my face.

I breathe in slowly and deeply in contentment. And breathe out any stress that may have been contained within me, slowly tilting my head to the clear dark sky full of stars I don't recognize, and don't have to, in order to appreciate them in wonder.

Then my alarm clock went off.

Monday, April 7, 2014

Storms and Laughter

Storms and Laughter
by Janin Wise

The Devil's beating his wife,
But I'd swear the caterwallin'
and cacophony
is her getting licks in as well.

of the lightning
so close it was practically
beside me.

of the thunder
so boomin' I flinched
and screamed aloud.

And then the air was
filled with laughter.

The sky turned black
with dire intent,
and heaven fell out the bottom
in driving sheets.

A long loud tone
pierced the silence
of the office
and we thought it was the siren.

But it turned out
the phone was up too loud
and the dial tone was blasting
the first note of the air raid siren.

And then the air was
filled with laughter.

Four women in a space
not much bigger than an
old southern rambler,
one wall entirely glass.

And we faced that darkness
and we faced that lightning
and we heard the warnings
for dire rain and distant tornadoes.

And we filled that air with laughter,
our shield against our fears and nature's weather.
And we filled that air with laughter,
our voices rising in joyous harmony.

For a day filled with laughter
is never wasted.

Even a day filled with storms.

Fate, Miracles and Dancing Beans

This post was inspired by the novel  The Opposite of Maybe by Maddie Dawson. At the age of 44, Rosie finds herself suddenly single and pregnant. She tries to hide in her grandmother’s home, but meets two men that will change her life forever. Join From Left to Write on April 8 we discuss The Opposite of Maybe. As a member, I received a copy of the book for review purposes.

The thing I loved most about this book was the serendipity of reading it around the birthday of my oldest son.  When I was pregnant with him, we also called him our bean.  But he was our dancing bean.

I still remember finding out I was pregnant for the first time and my husband and I were both nervous and excited.  The first time we heard his heartbeat on the monitor it was like magic—we were creating a new life between us and it had taken root deep inside of me.

And then there was the day we went in for the first ultrasound and there he was!  Our little dancing bean up on the monitor celebrating the movement of the cosmos in his own universe contained within my belly.  I looked to my husband and he look to me and reflected in his eyes I saw the joy and wonder I knew were within my own.  We had touched on one of those moments that echo throughout time.  A moment of “I will always remember.”  And we have.

It’s amazing to look back and know that my boy, who’s feet are now 2 sizes bigger than mine, was once ever that small.  I’m still half an inch taller, but just barely and I know the time is fast approaching when my bean will be bigger than I.

But not yet.

He began as a miracle of life and a magic moment between my love and I and we have been blessed to watch him grow and turn into the intelligent, capable, loving young man that he is becoming every day.

The other serendipitous moment is that she could pin point exactly when she conceived.  I have that date marked clearly in my mind.  A hot summer day and a touch of morning loving before my beloved headed off to work….followed by an emergency phone call not thirty minutes later.

My husband had just been in a car accident trying NOT to hit someone going downhill who was coming to a sudden stop and had no working back lights.  He dodged off to the right, going down an embankment and hitting a large rock like a ramp that sent him spinning exactly like the video games indicate it would.  He had just a moment to marvel at that wonder before his truck slammed into a tree by someone’s house and landed on the roof.  At that point, he blacked out.

Thankfully, no one was seriously hurt, though my husband pulled a bit of glass from his scalp a full week later that had been missed.  Another miracle?  We had gotten cell phones not three days prior at the prompting of my coworkers at SEARS.  I have always been thankful for their gut instincts on this one.

That day, my husband and I got our first real marriage scare and a reminder in the value of life—and were rewarded with an unexpected (but not fully unplanned for) miracle.  My point is that things don’t always go the way we thought they would...but even so, the moments are incredible and the ride well worth it.

Sunday, April 6, 2014

Shades of Green

Shades of Green
by Janin Wise

I look around
and remembered
one of the things that
I love about the south:
Spring time and its shades of green.

Olive, Heart Gold and Citron
-the remnants from winter past,
greens tinged with brown and orange,
providing counterpoint to the lushness.

Loden, Napier and Forest
-the evergreens
of Holly, Pine and Magnolia,
dark, rich, vibrant and constant,
the reminders that spring would return.

Absinthe, Pastel and Harlequin
leaning towards chartreuse
the yellow tinge of first growth,
new shoots taking their first reach for the sun.

Inchworm, Granny Smith and Celadon
blossoms on hundreds of trees
whites painted in tinges of green
filling the air with their scents
and space with their miniature multitudes.

Cadmium, Brunswick and Illuminated Emerald
the shadows and shades
kissed in blues,
their darkness cool and comforting against the light.

These sixteen and more,
harmoniously residing side by side,
an abundance and profusion of greens
heralding the changing of the seasons
the end of winter and the beginning of spring.