Saturday, July 5, 2008

Downs and ups

Washington Post's weekly Magazine is a cherished thing to me. It's a Sunday magazine but for seven-day subscribers it's almost always delivered on Saturdays, and on the rare Saturday that it hasn't been delivered, I've pouted and complained out loud, even if nobody was listening. I have called to register dissatisfaction about our carrier when our Magazine has arrived damaged, and I have called to have the entire Sunday inserts bundle redelivered if our Magazine was absent. And I have trouble giving attention to anyone else, my own husband and children included, between the time I get to sit down with the Magazine and the time I finish it.

This morning I lost a friend. We've never met, never spoken, but she was a big-sister sort of figure to me, and now she's gone. Since we moved to the DC area seven years ago I have faithfully read Jeanne Marie Laskas's Significant Others as the first page of my Washington Post Magazine ritual. Her space was the second-to-last page so I always opened the Magazine from the back first. If I opened the last page and could see the crossword puzzle through it, I'd close it again in frustration, because that meant Laskas had taken a week off and the crossword got shifted to her page. This is how much focus I had for her column. And as of tomorrow's issue (that I read this morning), it's over. I don't even know how I'll open the Magazine next week. It would feel so disorienting to start at the beginning, but there's no reason any longer to flip to the back cover.

Why this column? Laskas is a gifted storyteller, and the medium she uses is most often her family. She has two daughters and in the anecdotes she tells using everyday events, her readers develop a love for her whole family. She has two daughters and she tells stories about the wonder of their childhoods. She more than any other influence made me think that I could blog. I just want to write down the stories about my two daughters in a way that I can remember them, family can laugh about them, and anyone can love them. Laskas's gift is that she makes her readers cherish the everyday. If I think my life isn't extraordinary, why write? That isn't the point. Extraordinary happens infrequently; seeing life as so many piles of wonderful ordinary makes the storytelling worthwhile, but in turn, the story telling brings out the grandeur of the ordinary. This ordinary life is worth micro-capturing by anecdote, and reassemble the anecdotes -- the ordinary shines up pretty nicely, and looks extraordinary after all. This I learned from a woman whom I've never met, but whose writing I cherish. I don't want you to be sick of yourself, JM! Because I'll find it hard to be patient for that next memoir. I was already impatient, but without my weekly taste it will be that much more difficult.

And in the category of the ordinary really is extraordinary: L figured out today how to pull herself up from a crawling position and reach items on the coffee table. She is six months old going on about nine months, and I'm not entirely ok with it. And E is VERY not ok with it, as for the past two months or so we've been telling her 'If you don't want L to get your toys, stop leaving them on the floor. Put them on the table or somewhere she can't reach.' The coffee table has become an over-populated metropolis of E's Very Important Belongings and today L played Godzilla, smashing things and sweeping away things, and knocking to the ground things, and generally causing havoc with a very pleased smile on her face. E started at bewildered, having believed for so long now that the coffee table top was practically sacred ground to the deity of Herself. She moved quickly to indignation and self-righteousness and ended with wailing. MOMMY! I WANT YOU TO TAKE L AWAY FROM MY TABLE CUZ SHE'S TOUCHING MY EVERYTHING! It's a hard lesson to accept, the one where you realize you're not the only sun in the solar system. Pity her, please. Pin It

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

OH! I read your post early this a.m., and then re-read taking the time to go to your links. OH! Your weekends have changed. I've seen you lose focus to the world around you as you read that column. While it will not make up for the loss, I noted that JML still writes a column in Ladies Home Journal, so, despite the fact I never thought you'd subscribe to this publication, I have ordered it for you as a consulation prize, as a token of understanding your loss. Her column will now arrive monthly, you'll get a few coupons, E can cut to hearts content (probably at the kitchen table and not at the coffee table in the family room, not with L moving about), and life will go on. Loss is hard.
Love, Grams