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Sunday, November 3, 2019

Inspiration, Vision, and the loss of grandparents

What will inspire you this morning? I know not. The picture above (filtered) was from an art installation shown in several cities, including one near me. Does it inspire you? From their website

"Rainbow City Shreveport is presented by the Shreveport Regional Arts Council (SRAC) and will be on view from November 2 to December 8, 2019. RAINBOW CITY Shreveport will be a place to make new friends and entertain families during a six-week, fun-filled festival, as the people of Shreveport celebrate the grand opening of the City’s first urban greenspace—CADDO COMMON. CADDO COMMON, with its RAINBOW CITY, is located at 869 Texas Avenue in downtown Shreveport in the Shreveport Common Neighborhood. It is FREE and open to the public. Arts in Education Tours, with hands-on STEAM activities, begin Monday, November 4 and continue to Friday, December 6. Dynamic programming continues throughout the six-week festival and includes Walking Wednesdays, Food Truck Court lunches and suppers, Friday Night Dance Parties, Sunday Brunches, a Weekend Arts Market and special events"

The brilliance is amazing, the size and grandeur is impressive. Not what I would've done but I applaud the artists wholeheartedly. They certainly got my attention. Given the palate of an open outdoor space, what would you create? 

As far as writing goes, I have been working on how to develop characters through various methods including dialogue, setting and actions. Good friend Dave Owens prods me occasionally, which always helps, but productive moments are eluding me like they're related to Bigfoot.

I am also currently reading Vellichor, a dark fantasy novel about a 'special' book store. It's the latest release by author Dawn Napier. Good book so far; chapter two really grabbed me and drew me in! You can check out some of her other works here, though a word of warning: some of her fantasy/horror books cover touchy subjects, which ought not to surprise readers of said genres.

And for all you crazy people (including my wonderful wife) who have decided to participate in #NANOWRIMO this year. Good luck! I don't think I'll ever jump on that crazy train given the time of year it happens in, but maybe I'll do my own version over the summer sometime. 

On a more somber note, I recently lost my last two grandparents. As a writer, what do I say about them? Memories mostly. The way we laughed, cried, 'familied' together. The easier one to write about would be my grandfather. An army vet, he was one impetus to my military career as well as several other members of our family. Great man, unparalleled welder, excellent provider, great American Dream story, wonderful role model for any and all. A true Man. His smile could light up the room and his anger could cower any foe. I won't be able to hear the phrases "Como tall-ee voo" (how are you in French) and "How's the weather up there?" without thinking of him. He invariably said both at every meeting between us, which in hindsight now strikes me a little odd, considering I am not the tallest member of the family! My fondest memory of him? Him trying to pass on to me his love of fishing. It never stuck, but days by his side at Leg Lake and other places never fail to bring a warmth to my life.

My grandmother on the other hand, my Nana. Deep breath. Swallow. She would be the harder to write about. Especially without my eyes leaking. The superglue of family, she held it all together through every storm. Picture the actress Claudette Colbert, so close they could be twins. They even had the same color hair. 

Memories are probably the easiest way to write about my Nana. 


Yeah. I can hear her laugh and hear her yell in my mind, almost at the same time. She had much to be sad about and much to be happy about, and carried the emotional weight of both with poise and grace. I can picture the wave of her hand as she dismissed the worst things in the world as if by magic. "Holocaust?" *Wave of hand. "What do I know about such nonsense? Come and sit down, get you something to eat, you skinny child!"

Sitting at the table, waiting for food. You didn't ask what deliciousness was about to be served, you just sat down and enjoyed it. Usually while guarding your dish from air strikes by your uncle's silverware. 

"Mi Hijo!" Son. She had every right to call me her son, though nieto would be more accurate. She raised generations with love and care, including me. 

Opening one of the greatest Christmas presents ever when I was a teen. A book. Changed my life and still affects me to this day. Amazingly perceptive woman. 

Thanksgivings. Tamales. mouth-watering Turkey mole. Family dozens deep, crowded happiness more than can be described. And while this is the second holiday memory, and you could easily assume the most pleasant memories would be during those times, you would be wrong. Even the regular everyday moments were wonderful. There was just this joy in the house when she was there. I'm not sure how I will feel being there with her gone. Will I still feel her presence?

All My Children, General Hospital, One Life to Live. What happened today, Nana? Soaps, Little Rascals, Three Stooges (I can hear their theme song Three Blind Mice playing right now...). Wonderful wonderful memories beside her in front of that big ole TV that drew down to a spot in the middle of the screen when you turned it off. I can still her Dada's TV in the bedroom way down the hall too, turned all the way up so he could hear it. 

My fondest memory, the moment I wish I could go back to with all my heart? Driving her to work, at near midnight, up the streetlamp lit openness of a near-deserted La Brea Avenue. Eating breakfast burritos before digging into a night of returning a movie theater to pristine condition. Memories inside of memories of running down the aisles as a little child while the adults swept and vacuumed up popcorn and mopped the stickiness of spilled sodas. The feel of fresh sunshine as we finished for the night/day, her gossiping with friends, weary but filled with satisfaction at a job well done. Then heading back down the traffic of morning La Brea Boulevard toward big comfy home somewhere south of the Ten. Odd memory for some maybe, to be tear-filled and held so close to the heart, but then again, she was my Nana, as she was to so many others, and I will cherish my memories of our days together any damn way I want to. It's what she would have wanted.

I miss her. 
I miss her red hair. 
I miss the smile on her face. 
I miss her hugs, her love, and her caring about you no matter what you were up to. 

I blame my sister for today's writing. Thank you sis. Love you.