Saturday, June 7, 2014

We are all just fleeting blips...

Sometimes there is not too much to write about. And sometimes, there is so much that it feels overwhelming and the desire to write is imminent. I stop, though, as if I had nothing to tell or concerned with where it fits into my life. Is it that blog or that social media update? This memoir or that essay I have been wanting to start? In this age of constant updates and photos to tell our lives, we forget that we have more than just a moment to share. There are conversations, art, and stories.

If anything, this trip to Los Angeles has shown me the fleeting present moment, and the tiny blips along the way that actually make up our lives. If you are not there to see a nephew's smile as he lifts up his head, or to look out at the ocean as your brother and sister-in-law are surfing the waves together, it does not happen. It is easy to get caught up in your daily life and look only at pictures from the other side of the country. Not until you see them, live with them, wake up in the morning and see a snuggled up baby on the couch and your brother reading next to him that you realize: this is as fleeting as that facebook post you read last week.

When I went to Jamaica this past February, it was the same thing. Once I changed my daily schedule of up, coffee, dog out, work, home, run, chill... I realized there was more to me and more to my story than that. Maybe it is not the end of my writing career, as it has felt this past year as I moved more towards the tech industry.

Maybe it is just (another) beginning. A way to transform the end of newspapers and paper books to a way we can communicate with one another besides  updates and photos. We all have stories to tell, someone told me this week. It is also what my own parents have been encouraging for years, and what prompted my first story: The Unicorn and the Princess (age 5?).  At that point, I had a big book with blank pages with the unicorn on the cover. It was my space to write in. If we don't have that space, we don't write.

And if we don't physically spend time with our loved ones, we don't really connect, and we don't really experience our lives with them. Our lives are just a fleeting blip. Don't miss a second of it.

Monday, January 27, 2014

Snow in Other Lands

Here is an excerpt that I have been working on. I've been revising it as I am excited that my brother's wife is bringing another Lundquist into the world. I hope you enjoy it!

--Maine in the wintertime mimics the topmost parts of Canada. 

Moose walk around the untouched forest of snow, and gray covers the sky in constant preparation for precipitation. The sky holds a foreboding, a mystery that I haven’t found to be the same in many other parts of the world. There is a ‘town’, which is an Ace Hardware and a Renny’s, but a few steps into the woods and there are creatures that I would have written about when I was 7 with my first novel “The Unicorn”.  It chronicled the life of a unicorn trying to get home and finding help along the way from creatures and one human, a girl probably named Esperanza, and they become friends. Mystical. I think it is sitting in my box of stuff from my younger and better years.

My aunt lost at least one cat every year to minx, foxes, and other cat eating beasts. The level of magic and fear only increased because their house was built in the early 1900s, and it creaked every step I took upstairs. The cozy house was as if it was still in the 1800s, that we were like the first people here, that wolves haunted the barn, and we had to venture into the white snow to get eggs to eat from the coop. 

I loved the mystery of the woods. It was nothing like the woods near my house that quickly intersected with a neighbor’s. My uncle would direct me through the trees, off the trail, to follow animal tracks, and I was afraid. He seemed to know what he was doing, and I followed him diligently, letting my mind pretend. Besides eating rice pudding, there is not much to do up there but read, listen to my aunt sing old tunes, and walk for as long as you can in the snow until you feel like your toes are going to fall off. I’m pretty sure I gained about 7 pounds every Christmas. 

After dinner, I would roll onto the grey, sinking couch after a smorgasbord. Swedish meatballs, lasagna, salad, homemade bread, sweet Christmas bread, lingonberries, cheese, crackers. You can’t skip anything. The long wooden table parallels a smaller wooden table in order to accommodate all 10 of us. Earlier that day, we woke up and opened presents one at a time. The Christmas tumpten (my little brother) gave each person a gift from under the piney christmas tree. My grandmother looked around at all of us with dark blue eyes, as if they held the ocean she crossed to start her life over. 

Her simplicity was bothersome for a long time, and while I loved her dearly, I was confused by her.  Why did she only wear long woolen skirts and white blouses? And stockings, even in the summer? She had Swedish tchotchkies in her house, woke up at 5 am, and why were the sheets and towels at her house so stiff? Why couldn’t she be like my friend’s grandmother who had soft, baby pink towels? She said “Yuh” with sort of an intake of breath. She loved attending all of my sports performances, and she was always the only one on the sidelines in the woolen skirt outfit beside Andover mothers in their new hairdo and stank perfume. It was bizarre.

My father was always so interesting next to her. It was like they were from another world. There was a yearning in his eyes for her to be happy, for her to be his mother still, for her to not grow older... but she was. Her hair was whiter every year, thinner, though still perfectly curled from the soft pink and yellow curlers she curled up at night. Her clothes looked the same, but even older. My grandfather had died when I was young, and for nearly 20 years after she spent days by herself on the Cape, cleaning her old house, working on the pine needled yard, and walking along the beach in frigid Northeastern winters. I wondered about it. How could she be like this? It wasn’t until I was older that I wished I could spend more time with her. That someday I wanted to name my child after her. Vivian.

In the winter, we were all freezing up there in Maine, so I would snuggle into the nook off the couch in front of the hot wood burning stove. I loved the after dinner time. Everyone was together in one room. For one day of the year, everyone: all three of my brothers playing Risk with my cousin, my mother and I reading on the couches, my father chatting with my aunt, my grandmother watching it all. I wore feety pajamas, which would eventually get hot by the wood burning stove and my feet would sweat. I watched the snow come down outside the window, two universes separated by a window pane.--

Wednesday, January 8, 2014

Revelatory Dreams

I had a crazy dream last night. 

In it, I dreamt that I was a detective of sorts, and I was trying to figure out what kept happening to people left and right of me that were dying. I wanted to figure out the scheme and save everyone. Then, all of a sudden, the killer was in front of me. All of those signs were for me, that I was going to die. It was very real, the kind of dream that makes you toss and turn and cringe. I had a chance to say goodbye to my family before he took me outside to do the deed. When faced with the imminence of death, I thought not of my job, not of yoga, not of my house or the mountains. I thought only of the people closest to me. 
I gave my little brother a huge hug, something that rarely happens because we live so far apart and have had a tough time connecting, and cried and told him how much I love him because I do. I hugged my father and my mother, which was insanely difficult even in my dream to imagine being without them. To really say goodbye. And then I was let outside the house to end my life. 

And then I woke up. 

Dreams can show a lot and remind us of what we are missing. It can also show what has been on your mind, in your subconscious, and what is on the backburner. It was interesting to wake up really FEELING this dream and remembering that there is so much more to life than doing well at work, staying fit, and ambition for further accomplishments. 

It is in the simplicity of being with your family and loved ones. It is about the people and community and love.