Posts Tagged ‘mosaic’

The Post – Human Body in the Vacuum of Space

January 17, 2011

One of the things you might notice as you read my blog is that from time to time I’ll have odd facts, stories or strange nuggets of information. That’s that “mosaic broken bits” part of me that has a wide range of interests and loves trivia. So, here’s one for today:

I always thought that if you got exposed to the vacuum of space, even a tiny pinprick in your suit, that you were immediately dead due to your body exploding or boiling out. From NASA, it’s not quite like that :  click here

The Post – Stage Three: Coming Into My Own – Evolution TO a Novel

February 19, 2008

Initially, I was going to call this entry “Evolution of the Novel” thinking I would dig right in to the logistics of writing Under the Pier. But I realized before I could do that, I had to finish the process Uri Shulevitz outlined for the “Evolution of the WRITER.” From that it was clear that this entry’s title needed to be “Evolution TO a novel,” the final leg of coming into my own.

I have always struggled with the fact that others seem to do rings around me. My husband works in a job where not just every day, but every hour, the priorities change, the deadlines change, who he has working for him changes. It’s constant jumping. He has a quick, fast mind. My sisters and friends manage full-time jobs, more than one job, kids, house, pets, and other responsibilities. I thought maybe it’s a writer thing – writers just move at a slower pace. Yet I observe other writers producing novels, while writing articles, while chatting on the writers’ email lists, updating their web sites, promoting their books and doing school visits. It’s like trying to walk with someone who is always faster than you. The best you can do is maybe match them for a little while, but eventually, you always fall behind. For years it bothered me, and the competitive person inside kept trying to keep up or catch up. And I absolutely ABHORRED admitting to anyone, that I couldn’t keep up with them.

The title of last Thursday’s entry for Thich Nhat Hanh’s online course read: “Let Go.” The entry said: “Letting go gives us freedom, and freedom is the only condition for happiness. If, in our heart, we still cling to anything . . . we cannot be free.” That was the answer I’d finally come to in the last year or so. Just, let it go. Even playing racquetball – I always fought to win when I was younger. Now I never win, but I have grown to love the process of just playing my best. Coming into your own is the moment you finally choose to be free. You let go of the competition and comparisons and just accept who you are.

I am a plodder. Plodders do not have fast brains. While others are rushing around, plodders just stare at them from the sidelines with their mouths open. Instead of snap conclusions, plodders pull things apart, stare at the parts, put them back together differently, then stare some more. Confronted with a pile of seemingly useless, unrelated bits of information, plodders push them around for hours or days or years, until finally a whole picture emerges. The one thing about plodders is that they never quit. They just keep plodding until they find the big picture and make sense of things. They feel the questions and keep going until they have an answer to the question, “What is it?”

It’s like when I did bacteriology. You start out with a confusing mass of all different kinds of bacterial colonies on an agar plate. You look it over until you spot the one that’s probably the culprit of the infection. You stare at the colony on the plate. What color is it? What’s its size, texture, smell? How does it look on different types of agar? What does it look like under the microscope? You run a battery of 20 or more biochemical tests. You end up with this heap of separate, seemingly unrelated bits of data, and the question – what is it? The answer comes from how all those pieces are assembled by a person too stubborn to quit. Assemble the bits like a mosaic and you have Staphylococcus aureus, or Escherichia Coli, or Enterobacter aerogenes, or my favorite, Campylobacter. 🙂

Maybe the thing that plodders and at least this writer have in common is the place inside where we carry both the tools to recognize the patterns, as well as the questions that need to be stared at.

I think stories come from the places within us that hold the unanswered questions. Those places hold the deepest hurts, the places of anger, confusion, sadness, the disappointments, the unsettled business, the tangles we never unknotted, the humiliations we’d like to forget, or the ugly things we don’t want to look at. And the happy moments. There’s the ultimate confusion in life: Why are some times happy and others abysmal? Plodders seek answers by picking through all the tangles, like a bag person picking through the garbage can. If the plodders also happen to be writers, they make their moments of picking through the trash, public. They write a story to document their quest for truth.

The story may not even resemble anything from the writer’s life. Last time I checked, no author has lived in futuristic space or slain any dragons. The story doesn’t have to be autobiography. What it must contain at its core are the questions that that writer carries in their heart. Writers then journey through what they write, to the ultimate whole picture, hopefully, the answer to their question. Some writers can express this journey to find their truth in a 4-line poem or succeed in capturing God in five words or less. Some write picture books. And some, like me, need the panoramic expanse of a longer, more meandering path. That means, novels.

It means plots and subplots, woven like twisted threads. It means primary characters, secondary characters, and maybe a few cardboard characters. It means diverse settings and tweaky, idiosyncratic details. I know this now, because I know me, now. I am exhausted and weary of trying to be what I am not. I am what I am, take it or leave it. Some will relate to my stories, some will hate them. No matter. I write, for me.

I’ve spent many, many years trying all different things on for size. I’ve tried to be what others are. Do what they did. I’m tired of that. I’m ready to be me. So I just, let go.

“Better to write for yourself and have no public, than to write for the public and have no self.”

Cyril Connolly – 20th Century British literary critic.

UP NEXT: Okay, NOW Let’s Talk About Where Under the Pier Came From

Hello, and Why mosaic?

January 13, 2008

I’ve been sicker the last 2 days than I have been in years…couldn’t even get out of bed to get breakfast, much less get going on this blog. I had wanted to work on picking out a mosaic design for the header from the photographs I shot at the North Carolina Museum of Art. They have a Roman floor mosaic there. Aching, coughing and wishing someone would just take me out back and shoot me to put me out of my upper respiratory misery, I came down to the study tonight, just to do a quick check on the world. Instead of the CNN banner page that day-by-day becomes more like the front page of the National Enquirer, I see my laptop open to the front page of my blog. There, in beautiful living color, was the header, floor mosaic installed, blog title nicely spanning the glass and stone chips some Roman installed 2000 years ago. My husband had gone ahead and set it up for me, even though he was sick.

Some men buy diamonds and that’s fine. But for me I’ll take a geek dude any day of the week, one whose form of loving me is to bring me soup in bed, then come down the hall and finish setting up the blog page. )

For the very technical types out there who may be mystified as to why I HAD to have the header set up first before I could write…I am not a computer person, I am a writer. I am mostly emotion, some logic. I go first by gut and sensory feel, then by analysis. I told him I was struggling to feel “warm and snuggly” willing to open my soul online, unless I felt like I was “home”….in a “nest.” My blog, with its ancient Roman mosaic banner, feels safe and comfortable. Like putting out the vase of flowers on the doily on the end table holding the pot of tea while the fireplace burns. NOW I can write.

I will explain more later about the purpose of this blog, and how I envision this project to go. For now, given how I feel, I will just talk about “soul mosaic.” The Romans took refuse – small bits and pieces of broken stone and glass that at first glance were nothing but trash – and instead arranged them into beautiful mosaics. Those rejected pieces, when arranged by someone who could see “their soul” became a unified whole that was a work of beauty.

I know the feeling. For most of my life I have felt like an odd collection of unrelated stone and broken bits. Many of those bits I never valued. Some I hated. Most I flat out ignored or tried to run from. It is only now in my 50s I realize that all those pieces of me, really do make a beautiful picture. When assembled with the right eye, the soul of the mosaic…my mosaic, can show through.

I decided to share this with others. I imagine I am not the only one out there who has ever questioned their life, their purpose, whether they accomplished anything, whether they are worth anything. I imagine I am not alone in wondering what value all the “broken bits” have. Maybe it is my gift to someone out there, to let them know, the broken bits really do make a work of art.

Time for tea, and a huge thank you to my husband. Good night.