Fall… and it all starts again

I’ve often that I think fall should be the New Year, at least by my life’s calendar. For me, this time of year is when everything feels like it has come full circle and we’re on the brink of going around again.

See: Migrations. I used to joke that my family was cursed, because every fall for the past few years there has been something (power outages, sewer leaks…) that drove us out of our house for a couple weeks. But since Patrick and I moved at the end of last fall, the new joke is that I was the cursed one all along. In fact, I don’t think my family did have to migrate last year…
And now this year, Patrick and I have been planning our schedules (as far ahead as we can), it turns out that I won’t be in Denver for much more than a week in October, and who knows about after. Let the migrating begin. (Or… continue, as I haven’t been in Denver much in September, either– not that I’m complaining! Spent a few weeks in Cleveland, a week in Arizona, and a weekend camping in the mountains. Now I’m in Fort Morgan, which is still in Colorado even though it looks just like Nebraska. Crazy how this state is half and half like that.)

See also: Mindset. At the very turn of the season, like lifting the corner of the page… I could feel it, the other day. It was hot and sunny but the breeze had a bite to it. The sunshine looks different (but maybe I’m just crazy– sometimes I think it looks different in different states). Anyway, things are changing, and this makes my mind start gearing up for some kind of “Phase Two”. Like getting home from work and changing your clothes to go out for the night. I find myself making lists, making plans, wanting to focus myself on certain things with an almost studious air. I even do research, which is something I hate. Suddenly I want knowledge, discipline… Wait, this sounds like school. Crap. Okay, I want to hone my self-disciplining, self-teaching skills. All this? Sounds like New Year’s resolutions to me.

Fall, I guess, is a lot different from the New Year, though. Fall isn’t about marking off, “the end of that, the start of this”; it cups you in the time between that and this. At the same time, it stabs right now into your brain and heart. It’s too beautiful and too short, but you know it’s going to come again, around and around.

then how shall I begin?

So, the train thing was a dud.

Mom and I feel bad because every time we take Bug somewhere, it turns out to be a fail. (“You have Fail Mail,” Poncho kept saying on Sunday. I don’t really know what that means, but that’s Poncho for you.) There is only one place that cannot– must not!– end up a failure. I wanted to take Bug to PJ MacIntyre’s, aka home of the best homemade potato chips and shepherd’s pie ever. Maybe taking Bug just causes the unexpected to happen… Not neccessarily something bad unexpected, just something we never saw coming. (Like meeting the Mythological Rory, perhaps?) It’s physics, people.

On Monday, Bug, Poncho, and I jumped through a glorious pile of leaves! Poor Bill (who was sick– so we really did all say “Poor Bill!”) had raked them out of the front, but instead of putting them on the curb, he saved them in the backyard for us. I think he deserves hearty applause for that. The sky was perfectly blue and the leaves were bright, flaming yellow and the day was seventy degrees and we had a fab time somersaulting through, burying each other, and getting leaves permanently tangled in our hair.

Also, I have been preparing for All Saints’ Day… On Monday I started making a saint collage, which is a project I have not attempted since a very young age (and back then I became grouchy at it). Yesterday, I finally picked a saint to dress as. I can’t tell you who, seeing as it’s top secret, but I can say that I made this as my costume’s most important feature:

Yup. It’s a gold tooth on a chain.

Thank you, polymer clay and gold paint.

Wait a minute… Two posts in a row that include a picture?!?! What!?!?
Oh, what the heck.
More!

In Kentucky, looking downhill.
(Unless you’re Bug. Then you’re just looking cool.)
This picture looks like a movie still to me. An artsy coming-of-age film about… um, artsy kids coming of age? (Aaaand I’m sticking to writing novels.)
Fast forward: we’re at the beach and– Oh hey look, a random seagull!
The three of us getting splashed by the tide. Sigh!

 

 

Oh, and I must tell you who took these lovely snaps: Francis! Well, maybe Eliza took the seagull one. All I know is, it wasn’t me. I like to pretend that the reason I don’t take pictures is because I “live in the moment”, but it’s actually because I suck at taking pictures of anything other than moss and bark.

 And gold teeth, apparently.

red and gold and green and blue

It used to annoy me how people would talk about how beautiful fall is. Yes, yes, we all know, pretty leaves. Snore.

Fast forward a couple of years and here I am gazing out the window in awe. Cloudy, rainy, foggy, cold, and/or dim fall days are awesome, perfect for stories. But these cloudless clear ones bring back waves of memories, not inspiration. The blazing red trees against the bluest sky this city ever sees stops me in my tracks (or trains of thought) and re-routs them down memory lane.

Poncho: “Hey look. I turned it into a cube.” As he holds out some chewed gum to me. It is, indeed, shaped like a cube.

Brothers.

But even with it bein’ fair and sunny weather, I do feel strangely inspired for one of my current, sort-of-started projects. (Is it weird that I find it just as difficult to tell when a novel is started as when it’s finished? My process is kind of… um. Not very process-y.) It’s the most “realistic” story I’ve ever thought up so far, straying perhaps completely out of the realm of fantasy and more into the realm of whatever Jane Eyre is, minus the Gothic stuff, with other stuff to replace it. (I know, that was the best elevator pitch ever.)

This story idea kind of scares me because sometimes, you start a story and it’s all la-la-la, happy day– HEY WRITER, GUESS WHAT? And then it throws things at you. 

Let me tell you a little story. (There is a point to all this babbling, I promise.) Ahem. Once upon a time, I was forced to play sports thanks to the lovely institution called School, which I used to be trapped inside. Sports, I thought, were fun, but not for me. Because in sports, the player is faced with a choice as the ball (or Frisbee) sails through the air.

Choice A: Catch it.

Choice B: This. 

Yes. That is me, re-enacting every encounter with flying objects I’ve ever had.

And so, you see, I was not very good at sports. If it was coming right to me, I would leap out of the way. So there was definitely no way in heck I was going to leap into the path of the flying object in order for it to hit me to catch it.

Little did I know that there would be things thrown at me in writing, too. But unlike actual sports, there is no gravity in storyland. Once you get over the cringe reflex, you can still pluck it out of the air and decide what to do with it.

So I’m trying to decide what to do with the fact that this story says it wants to be, in fact, Ohioan. That’s right. It wants to take place right. here.  

What does that even mean? How can I even tell if it’s actually Ohioan? I mean, what do I know about Ohio, it’s not like I live–
Oh right. That’s right. I’m Ohioan.

So why do I feel like if I write it that way, it’ll be doomed?
a) Unlike Fantasy World, real people live in Ohio. People older and wiser and more knowledgeable than me. And maybe it won’t seem right to them!

Ah, but the key here: Perspective. Of course it can’t and won’t be “correct”. It might not even be close to what other people see/know/think about this place. But I guess I can let dear old POV take the blame/credit (whatever the case may be).

So, I think the project is a go. Despite my inherent fears.

Also, I know nothing about horses.
Guess what? 
There’s a big old horse right smack in the heart of the story.

The good news is that my other story, A City With Bears, is slowly breaking out of the idea-stage cocoon. And since other things I know nothing about– trains and streetcars– play a pretty big part in it, I am taking a writing field trip this weekend to a Train and Streetcar Museum! Hurrah! I’ll get to ride a real streetcar! 

Check that off the Life Dreams list. (It’s the one right below Live Next to Train Tracks. Thanks, 112th Street Garden, for that inspiration. You’re pulling carrots and then wwwwwwoooOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOooooooooooo the train goes by so close you can see the color of the driver’s eyes. Dizzying and exhilarating and, the first time, a little scary.) 

Grand!

I think I shall go enjoy this unbearably lovely day outside.

Yours till the iron horses,
Pen

I shall dream of a thousand pounds tonight, I know I shall!

On Tuesday I was… canning! That’s right, canning tomatoes. I had enough to fill three jars (actually a lot more, but some had cracks or spots, so they’re left out for Dad to make “a concoction” with), which I know is not a lot. But I didn’t can last year, and I really wanted to. As I peeled the skins off the tomatoes and cut them into quarters, the kitchen looked like a murder scene. Red everywhere. And I was the one holding the bloodied weapon. Kind of disturbing. (Also, why does it always come back to murder mysteries with me?)

The smell of tomatoes makes me think of the beginning of fall. And fall has begun! Spring might get the reputation of bringing everything back to life, but for me it’s fall. Everything in summer is still and hot and muggy. But now everyone is home from vacation, busy with work and school and harvesting the last of the gardens. Neighbors now have to mow thier lawns with their shirts on, and the trees are going to throw confetti to celebrate. Hurrah!

So, it’s now– what?– my fourth week of working at the library. I think. It feels like I’ve been working there for ages. It also feels like I am an anthropologist studying the habits and customs of Pages. For example: the classic page dilemma. You need to sort your books, but you don’t want to do it in the middle of an aisle somewhere in the way. I discovered the perfect place to do this. It’s in the adult fiction area, where all the ends of the rows have endcaps except this one row. Thus, you can push your cart against it and not be in the way, because the aisle is wide enough for people to walk past things the width of the endcaps. Then one day I noticed that all the other A pages use the same exact spot. There has been no discussion about or sharing of this place, to my knowledge. We just all found it through our own deductions. I have also noted that there are scratch marks on the ends of the nonfiction rows, at just the places the wheels of a cart would hit them. But only the ends on the right side of the aisle have the marks. Once again, we all somehow do the same thing without knowing. It’s all very interesting.

And then I realize I have some odd habits of my own. The other day I caught myself singing as I worked. Singing very, very quietly. (The song was “Penny Lane”.) I also catch myself muttering the numbers to myself while I do nonfiction. Actually, I mutter to myself a lot. (Or maybe I’m simply still Alice, but now we’re into the train bit, and I’m conversing with the Gnat. I love that part best of all sometimes.)

And when I got home from work yesterday, there was mail for me waiting on the table: my first paycheck.
I opened it.
Me: “What!!! They took so much of my money!” (Whoever “they” are, “they” are not my friends.)
Mom: “Well, yeah, sorry about that.”
Dad: “Ha. Ha.”
Me: “They took twenty bucks toward my retirement? I’m like twelve years old! Do they really have to do that?”
Mom: “Someday you’ll be glad about it. Just let it sit there and grow.”
Me: “And what the heck, they make me pay taxes, but I can’t vote this November!” (I’m really quite miffed about that. Quite. Miffed.)
Dad: “Ha. Ha. Welcome to the rest of your life.”
Me: growl. “Well, anyway, they shouldn’t show you all this. They should just show you how much you actually get, then you’d be like Yeah! I’m rich! But instead I want to punch someone.”
Mom: “Yeah. It’s true.”

But seriously, no taxation without representation! Golly, where have we heard that one before? Hm? Oh, I don’t know, I think it was the AMERICAN REVOLUTION.

Sigh,
Pen

Turning over a new leaf

Today, I jumped in a giant leaf pile. It was one of the highlights of my life so far. I mean that.

You see, I was at the DHFs’, where there are lots of big trees in the big backyard. Poor Bill made them rake the other day, and so they raked all the leaves into a ginormous pile in the middle of the yard, and left it there. Then we went outside this afternoon and decided to jump into the pile. But once I was in, I would not get out (except to make another running start of course). Bug and I were totally enthralled. I mean, I have not had the nice childhood experience of leaf-diving. This pile was soo deep and wide, we buried each other in it. We threw leaves in the air and into each other’s faces. We had leaves all over us and tangled in our hair (I still haven’t gotten them all out, actually…).

It was glorious, quite simply. Glorious.

Yours till the pin oaks,
Pen