If, post mortem, you took all our family brains and put the right-brained parts on one scale pan and the left-brained parts, ala CSI, on the other there would be a cartoonish imbalance with the right-brained parts spilling and overflowing the pan of the tipped scale, tumbling to the floor and sliding down toward the drain. Except for Dan’s right brain, which would be struggling to slide uphill, against the natural grade of the floor, away from the rest of our brain parts and the drain. There would be one huge Abby brain part, Grandma Moe and some Laurel neatly stacked and organized on the left-brain pan. And Rich, definitely, but he’s not blood; he’s by marriage.
It’s not infrequently that members of this family aspire to great creativity, meet with some success and then crash in a sea of sturm and drang, angst and anguish. In other words, there’s not an ounce of common sense among us, no one can work for anyone else or earn a reasonable living and the house is often full of the sounds of strangled music, frustration, impatience and self-loathing. Then Dan will break into stand-up comedy, done with a foreign accent and make the dinner I’ve just served sound loathsome and everyone is roaring with laughter except me. I’m off poking at my computer and cursing myself for not making that down payment on the bungalow on Roatan.
In my family my brother, Bruce, and my mother, Jan, are very good writers. Mom has many years as an English teacher under her belt and as many more writing passionately for environmental preservation plus almost 80 years of life experience. And she’s the daughter of a manic depressive concert pianist (back then they weren’t bi-polar yet). Bruce is one of those people you never want to go head to head with in a trivia contest, he’s an avid reader, he’s smart and he writes well.
As for me, I’ve been wanting to write but I haven’t gotten beyond random journaling, notekeeping for BCMA, some travelogue articles and a few incensed letters to the editor about the state of Abby’s highly taxed education ( very embarrassed, she stopped speaking to me for quite a while). I get encouragement to write- but your friends in bookclub are supposed to be your main source of encouragement in life- and Rich is always saying "This is great! You should be writing!" but we’ve only been married 2 years and he still wants nooky so I discount his opinion somewhat.
My first attempt to write involved establishing a pen name, Rose Red Marie, in the second grade. My dad, a young midwestern German farm boy turned tractor salesman, was so pissed that he had to miss work to come sit in one of those tiny chairs for a conference with the teacher: "She’ll only answer to Rose Red Marie and she won’t sign her papers with anything but Rose Red Marie." he was spitting nails for a week. I tried again in middle school when my mom was teaching at Liggett, then a private school for girls and I got to go on scholarship. It was small and they encouraged creativity. Gilda Radnor was in my class (the whole high school was only 50 strong then) and so was the granddaughter of Edgar Guest, the poet. Her Dad was Bud Guest, a local radio celeb. She invited me over for New Year’s Eve and I was way out of my league in this giant Bloomfield Hills mansion- we were living in a 1000 sq ft on the East Side of Detroit.
Anyway (finally, the punch line, phew!) she was showing me these original books of her grandfather’s writing and I knew, in my heart of hearts, even then that, "It takes a heap of living to make a house a home." could be topped. Fairly easily.
When you start up a blog you can’t help but notice that a few other, hmmm, million would-be writers are also busy pounding away out there. Some of them are REALLY good. I love http://julia.typepad.com/ She’s very funny, tolerably caustic and writing about something difficult and meaningful. If I figure out how I’ll put in a link to that. What’s clear is this is mostly for me, to satisfy my quirky muse. I’ll use it to occasionally exorcise political fury or rant at Claire, my virtual customer service rep at Sprint. Mostly I’m going to try and use it as a link to the Florida house so we can ge that up and running. I’ll use it for BCMA. Just this and that. We’ll see. P.S. This picture includes an egg tooth in motion.