Word of the Day
Having a hooked shape.
Mid 18th century: from Latin uncinatus, from uncinus ‘hook’.
The scorpion had an uncinate tail with an uncinate stinger at the end. John was hooked on scorpions.
“Graduates, class of now, as you enter a world that will be increasingly filled with links and app, take some time to be bored. Take some time to navigate both distraction and boredom. Take some time to make time.”
-- from Creative Quest by Questlove (with Ben Greenman), page 161
From boredom comes looking closer, and from looking closer, comes stories.
This is how I often write songs. I pick up my guitar, and just start noodling around until something hits my ears. I'll play with it and see if it goes anywhere, and if not, it's quickly forgotten. When I approach the nothingness void with a frame, shape, theme before I start writing, it often feels so forced. This happened this week with a song I am working on for an event. Now I am trying to unwrangle the song from the box I put it in, and see if it can breathe on its own. #smallstories
The colorful kid's umbrella sat beneath the tree on a day filled with sun. A few feet away, a pair of rubber galoshes (I do love saying that word, you?) also rested. I imagined our neighbor -- a young girl with a fertile imagination, often dancing through her yard in some high theatrical production of her own making -- left some props out. The still-life nature of these two rainy day objects on such a warm spring day made my heart leap. They were both imbued with possibilities. #smallstories
“I wrote for hours, losing track of time. I wrote lying in bed and standing in the kitchen. I wrote outside, holding my pages in place with a steel camping mug, the magic hour light dancing on in the rim.”
-- from Look Alive Out There, by Sloane Crosley, page 58
“The implications of all those excited people is that we’re changing for the better. Whereas, when I look at social media, it seems like a world that once had adults in it is being changed into the eighth-grade junior-high cafeteria. When I look at Facebook, I see a video-poker room in Vegas.”
-- from My Favorite Curmudgeon, passage by Jonathan Franzen, in Light in the Dark (Writers on Creativity, Inspiration and the Artistic Process), page 260
My voice catches. Eyes water. I have to pause to continue. My 6th grade students sit silent, listening, thinking. I'm reading a passage from Watsons Go To Birmingham 1963 by Christopher Paul Curtis, where 10 year old Kenny enters a church bombed by white supremacists. He's looking for his sister. There's a deep power in Curtis' storytelling here but the shock and grief of the world requires context. I continue, finishing the story, before we talk of hate, race, injustice and hope. #smallstories
We surprised the two ducks, as they surprised us. My wife and dog and I were on a trail in the woods, leading to a small brook. We came around the bend, with the dog running ahead to get a drink from the stream when the sound of wings broke the silence of our walk. Two ducks skirted the surface of the water, a frenzy of flight. The dog watched with wonder, as did we, and then the ducks were gone, finding refuge somewhere else. We kept moving forward, the other way. #smallstories
“No doubt we should have known the water birds would quit coming. But we had been given to understand that places we owned were to be used as we saw fit. The birds were part of all that. What went wrong?”
-- from Modern American Memoirs (edited by Annie Dillard and Cort Conley), excerpt by William Kittredge, page 370
“ … the whole point is to keep moving forward (when brainstorming initial ideas). The point is to generate ideas in a rush, and not necessarily think too much too early about whether or not they work. They work in the sense they exist.”
-- from Creative Quest by Questlove (with Ben Greenman), page 88
Early Sunday. I was driving to facilitate a planning session for a social justice-themed summer camp. Off to the right, the Oxbow glistened in the morning sun. (The Oxbow outlet was cut out of the earth by the Glaciers. It's like a calm extra arm of the river.) The soccer fields just below the bridge were already full of games. Glancing up, I saw the approaching sides of the Seven Sisters hills covered in thick fog, a white moving blanket obscuring the peaks. All this and more. #smallstories
There’s a family at the Little Library box across the street, perusing books. A little girl is standing on tiptoes, peeking in to see what’s good to read today. The dad is pointing to a book. I hope she finds something left by a neighbor. I put some children’s graphic novels in there the other day but they are long gone.
You can listen to the song (and all the other ones) here: https://awhaleslantern.bandcamp.com/track/fire