Friday, April 17, 2009

Friday Report

I'm working on a new book and having lots of fun with the mother in it. She gets notions--to bake all her own bread, sew her own clothes, buy all her stuff secondhand from now on ... Sound like anyone you know? It drives her daughter (who's the novel's main character) nuts, especially when the mom decides she's going to sew all the family's clothes from now on.

I get lots of notions. I can't decide if it's because I'm creative and imaginative, or if it's a sign of an unorganized, undisciplined mind.

Sometimes when I'm hit by a big idea, I imagine the experience is akin to what a manic-depressive goes through. Here's how it goes: I read an article in the paper about a family who's only eating local foods. What a great idea, I think! So green, so local farmer friendly, so tasty! I go to the library to see if I can find any books about eating locally, planting a kitchen garden, cooking seasonally. I go online to see if it's possible to buy flour locally--is there a mill around here some place? Are there any local groups supporting the locavore lifestyle?

I'm energized by this new idea. I organize my life around it. I look for the theological implications.

And then--always--I go one step too far.

Instead of just eating locally, I begin to think about doing everything locally. Is it possible to only buy locally made clothes? Can I buy throw pillows made by local artisans? Where can I find potting soil that's composed of entirely of locally dug dirt?

And pretty soon the energy rushes out of me like air out of a rapidly deflating balloon. My original notion, eating more locally produced food, was a good one, but I can't seem to stop with a small, simple plan. I always take my ideas to the point of exhaustion.

The great thing about being a writer is that all my notions are grist for the mill (but is it local grist, ground at a local mill?). Also, I get to write off all the books and magazines I buy in the middle of my manias. But it's always kind of sad when an idea that has energized me loses its appeal. It's like a boyfriend you used to be crazy about. You don't want the boy any more, but you miss the thrill of being in love.


Will's all set to go to a birthday party tomorrow. It's only the second one he's gone to this year. He's been invited to approximately 47, but we've been out of town for most of them, and a few we just bagged out of lack of interest on Will's part.

I want to say for the record that I am about done with birthday parties. Now that I've got the Easter Bunny off my plate, birthday parties are the next thing to go. Actually, I don't mind the parties Jack gets invited to--the kids are into sleepovers these days, so all I have to do is run Jack over to his friends' houses and throw his sleeping bag out of the car after him.

But Will's still getting invited to parties that take place in complicated venues--big inflatable jumping stuff! Fun Fake Gambling!--that are always at least thirty minutes away.

Tomorrow's party is actually in somebody's home (rarely done these days--they must have a huge house and hired help). When I RSVP'd yes, I didn't think it through clearly or I would have remembered that this particular house is 40 minutes away from our house. Think about it: there and back, there and back--my whole Saturday afternoon, shot! Plus, since the Man is away this weekend, there's the what to do with Jack problem.

I had a brainstorm last night, fortunately, and put out an e-mail to see if anyone wanted to carpool. The nicest mom in Will's class e-mailed back immediately; the relief in her e-mail was clear. Yes! Please! Let's carpool.

I feel like I've dodged a bullet. I've had several Saturdays in a row where I've been booked and haven't had a chance to do the fun Saturday afternoon stuff I love--sewing, gardening, taking long walks, napping.

You know what the real birthday party problem is? The inviting of every child in your child's class. When I was a kid, you got to invite maybe five of your friends. People understood that you couldn't invite everybody, and you understood that you wouldn't be invited to all the parties thrown by the kids in your class. It was cool. Some hurt feelings here and there, sure, but life's like that.

So maybe it's time for a moratorium to the Everybody's Invited Birthday Party. Be brave. Invite six. Who knows, maybe the parties would even feel a little bit special that way.

And, oh, yeah, let's dump the party favors, shall we? If I want more plastic in my life, I know where to get it.


Susan said...

Maybe you should only accept invitations to local birthday parties, ones which you can reach by walking. Or maybe only ones for children conceived locally. As for the party favors, only accept locally produced plastic. Perhaps you could even kill two locally raised birds with one locally mined stone, only accept party favors of locally grown produce or flour.

You have to learn to work with your manias.

Left-Handed Housewife said...

Susan, you are brilliant. I'm still giggling about the locally produced plastic and the locally-mined stone. As we say here in Blogland, LOL!

Dulce Domum said...

I used to think that I actually *was* manic-depressive simply because of the wild fervour of my "notions". I think being disorganised is the flipside of being creative, I've been on websites that have told me so, therefore it must be true.

In the UK we tend to book some desultory disused factory filled with slides and balls and bouncy stuff and other "fun" items for kids' parties. These places are always called the "Fun Factory" or "Play Palace." They are hell on earth. All the mums sit around drinking really crappy coffee, wishing they weren't there, whilst the little ones bounce on slides, big balls and each other until one or all of them cry. Then they have a "tea" which consists of curled up ham sandwiches and cheesey Wotsits, then jelly. Awful, awful, awful.

Ali said...

Can I just say me too? To all of it.

Tracy said...

I'm too practical to be manic. When something sounds like it's getting too hard I get off the train. But Frances, we need people like you in the world...because authors are among the most wonderful people on earth. And if not for your imagination where would people like me be? Bored and without the adventure contained within pages.

I have a 30 minute mental travel barrier. It takes 30 minutes to get anywhere from here...after that I'm thinking "do I have to?". We had a rule when the kids were young ~ birthday years and guests had to be the same number. No more. Now I just flat out refuse to have parties. I hate in fear...can't wait for them to be over. I can't stand the noise. I can't stand the kids who won't toe the line and I can't stand my own non-birthday kids being a pill. Now we pick our guests carefully and do something special that doesn't send me to the mental ward at the hospital.

Anonymous said...

Oh how I loved this post. I do everything to death too. You can tell what latest fad I have enslaved myself to simply by reading the bookmarks on my laptop, ie:

Sock knitting
Knitting socks
Knitting on double-pointed needles
Knitting socks on double-pointed needles
Sock knitting for dummies

You get the picture.

Gumbo Lily said...

We did not do "invite your friends" birthday parties. We had "family only" parties at home. The birthday child chooses the supper menu and the type of cake or dessert. That's it.

I love your grist.


Left-Handed Housewife said...

Dulce, I too have wondered if I were manic depressive. I've read that there are actually fairly mild forms of m-d, highs not so high, lows not so low, but definite swings. And I like the idea that being disorganized is just the flipside of being creative. Usually I chalk it up to me being an unhelpful mix of boneheaded and lazy.

Are your UK birthday party factories windowless? That's what creeps me out about our Fun Worlds here--they're like caverns, with no natural light allowed in. I find them wildly depressing, especially with all the children's screams bouncing off the walls.

Ali, Again you are a kindred spirit. We will keep each other going when our enthusiasms lag and there's yet another party to drag the kids to.

Tracy, I love your practically (which interestingly manifests itself in creative ways, I think, with your quilting and wonderful recipes). And I love that you live in fear of parties. Me, too!

Tina, Same here! My bookmarks are a testimony to my various crazes. Knitting, sewing, quilting, cooking, gardening ... they're all there.

Jody, We've mostly done family parties, too (though we did a couple parties for Jack at our swimming pool clubhouse--I still haven't recovered), and it's the same deal--birthday boy picks the meal and the cake, we make a big fuss, blow out candles, open presents. Very fun, and much less stress on mom!

Angela said...

The year Liz was 5 we moved to a new area and everyone was Very Friendly and invited her to their party. Her birthday was the last one - so we ended up using the church hall and organising a Pirates Party. Being Rather Impoverished we did it all ourselves [and dressed th epart], and the 'favours' were home made money bags with a few chocolate coins in. One child said "Huh, is this all I am getting?" to the embarrassment of his Mum! Subsequently I was asked at school where I got the brilliant entertainer, and had to explain it was the Pastor, and he did it every sunday morning!

I love your 'notions' too...keep up the flow of creative ideas

vgeerling said...

I reckon all those wild notions (only buying local dirt, etc, are awesome and great stuff for the writing.), also, very amusing! It's good to have things to dream about, if only until you get tierd of them.
Fake Gambling at kid b'day parties?!

p.s. I'd like to read one of your books you know...

Victoria (dear meagan)

debbie bailey said...

Amen to that! Birthday parties have gotten ridiculous! I don't give out favors. Who came up with that crazy idea? The point of a BIRTHDAY party is to honor the person having the BIRTHDAY! I don't think kids should be rewarded for coming.

We have birthdays at home usually surrounded by grandparents, aunts, uncles, brothers, sisters, nephews, etc. Lots of laughing, cutting up, being crazy together, and loving it all. The birthday person wears the crown I bought at Hallmark (locally owned of course) about 25 years ago. It's a tradition even our grown children love.

Enough said by me. I agree with you thoroughly! Let's take back the traditional birthday party. No bouncing anything (unless it's the children themselves) and no favors. Just lots of cheap fun and memories!

Jo said...

I have just found your blog, and am rather loving it. I think that blogs and People With Notions do go together. Surely People Without Notions would have nothing to blog about?