Posts Tagged ‘tea’

The Post – Gab to Go

February 4, 2008

Given it’s Monday, you expect to see someone sitting at their desk with a coffee cup sipping tentatively before plunging into whatever awaits. So it’s not a surprise that I have this Styrofoam cup on my desk. The odd thing is it sits next to my regular ceramic mug, which is what’s actually holding my caffeinated drink of choice – tea. So why the Styrofoam cup?

Ah, a throw-back to yesterday’s post – start this one with a question, right? Well, questions are the order of the day, and that’s exactly the point with this Styrofoam cup. It doesn’t contain caffeine. It’s loaded with . . . questions. No it’s not some mystical beverage, or some liquid whose swirls you gaze into or whose curls of steam you study for the secret of life. It’s a game. And to a writer, it’s like a playground.

Questions are the staple of a writer’s life. It doesn’t matter if it’s nonfiction, essays, or fiction, you write to answer questions. Whether it’s what killed the dinosaurs, why we should care, or a story about bringing them back to life in a doomed amusement park, all three start from a question. No questions, nothing to contemplate, and hence nothing to write.

A question here: In an era of You Tube, My Space, video games and Instant Messaging, how do you cultivate a love for, and the ability to confront questions? No this isn’t another essay bemoaning all of this technology in our kids’ lives. Technology is here to stay and frankly, a lot of it is great. Just see the effect on homebound elderly who’ve embraced email and the web and thus feel connected not isolated. And let’s be honest, even adults are glued to all of the above, not just teens. It’s simply a realization that unless the power goes out, everyone is plugged into something electronic (like this blog?) and when is there time to sit across the table from someone, ask a question, and ponder an answer?

One family confronted this on a vacation trip. They realized each was plugged into their own electronic device, and hence, their own world. Fine up to a point. But there was no conversation. No connection. Now I’m not dissing this completely because hours of several people jammed together in a closet on wheels can get old. Each having their own space for a little while can be a relief. However, I did grow up in an era of “See how many different states’ license plates you could find” or “look for whatever object came up next on a list” as you traveled down the highway. Like it or not, you interacted. So I can understand this family’s concern.

They came up with a simple yet elegant solution. They came up with a list of questions, things like: “What is something about you that would surprise most people?” “What word do you really dislike?” “What is the biggest risk you’ve ever taken?” Simple questions. Yet even one person’s answer could lead to not only an extended conversation, but a newfound appreciation for people you reside with and ordinarily take for granted. We often find talking to “new people” exhilarating because it’s something new and different. Yet how many new and different things are within the very people sitting next to us that we may have grown bored with?

The family went ahead and created a product – a bunch of question cards in a Styrofoam coffee cup – and have recently started to market it. It’s called “Gab to Go.” It started locally and is beginning to spread as people realize what a gift asking a question can be.

For myself, I could probably take each question and write at least one post on it, maybe more, depending on how I slanted it. The possibilities, if not infinite, are pretty extensive. In fact, I may use a question/essay approach on a regular basis in future entries. For now, I revel in the new worlds and travels never imagined, with people very close to me, all because somebody thought to ask a question.

If you’re interested in learning more about the how and why behind this couple’s game, and news articles on their idea, check out “Gab to Go.”

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.