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.
Strangeness And Charm
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