27 January 2009

Distant early warning

The daughter: "A FedEx plane crashed."

Me, with preternatural calm: "Where?"

And so the day begins.

She wasn't to know that it's just over 18 years that Colin Powell told us live on TV that an F/A-18 Hornet had been lost in the first night of combat. That my heart died for an eternity until my mother called to tell me she'd spoken to my brother and he was well. That my nightmare ended that January morning but another family's continues to this day.

This morning, however, I was certain that all was well. And so it was. Even those involved in the crash walked away with minor injuries.

He calls me, does my brother, from far away places, hotels and airports, and planes as doors are closing. We laugh and chat for those precious moments, make plans and catch up. We've always been close, even when closeness involved beating each other up, but that war changed our relationship forever. Now, we are careful of one another, we understand that the differences may exist--and do they! Philosophical and political--but we each are precious to the other, and we treat one another with care.

You sometimes drive me crazy...

Last night, as we talked about the Newbery Awards, the son said in his decisive and accusatory teenage way, "Why don't you write a book and win an award?"

There are occasions when others can crystallize my thoughts better than I myself can. Why indeed don't I write a book and win an award? (Because I don't have time? Because I don't think I can?) It is, however, both enlightening and heartening to hear that others take it for granted that I should. That I could.

Reading Lisa Snellings' blog today, when she spoke of insomnia and nooks and crannies and hidden spots, I thought, yes, of course, and another part of last year's raison d'ĂȘtre fell into place, not that I could actually explain the what and how it fell into place. Reading an article, I came across "musical vice" and I had to smile, thinking how I'd long ago written about rocking out at a concert one week only to be found sitting quietly at the symphony the next. But for me, not a musical vice, simply my vice, perfect and not something others would expect. And a small vice in taking pleasure in still being able to surprise the world by simply allowing myself to follow my own path...in silk and lipstick, in manky sweatpants and sneakers.

I have few vices. Coffee, staying up 'til all hours, concerts, travel. Occasional bouts of bad temper.

Travel. I was preempted. Inevitable. My plans crash in the wake of others' need, but sometimes that is how the game plays out. I am not resentful, though perhaps disappointed, so it's all the nicer when I actually can invest in my solitude, write in my notebooks, drink coffee, walk down streets unknown to me, and talk to people. Everything happens in its own time; I practice patience. I am bad at patience; I don't like waiting.

So, later than I'd planned, but on for March. Judge the science fair and then I'm outta here. My young ones, particularly, excel at making me feel selfish when I take time for myself, and it's sometimes difficult to justify work that doesn't happen in an office as work. It makes me feel somehow graceless. But it's work, even if it's fun. Trust me.

It's a beginning.

Go listen to some good music: "Distant Early Warning" from the album Grace Under Pressure by Rush. I clung to this song like a liferaft in the early days of that war. It's always been my brother's song because he frequently drives me crazy, and it just suits.

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