Saturday, 6 October 2012

The Tree of Life

It's after midnight, Jordan has already started softly snoring and my mind won't settle, it keeps playing images from The Tree of Life. As I was mulling over the many beautiful scenes and images Malick created, an article a friend once shared with me came to my mind. It was about how some language in poetry isn't necessarily meant to be disected and literally, logically understood but that a part of understanding poetry is feeling the vibe of the words chosen.
1) Smooth soft pearls dance delicately along her warm skin.
2) Cold diamond sparkles cut shards of light around the hard metal band.
Although the two sentences are both basically referring to a piece of jewelry, they have a different feeling - a different vibe.
With poetry and story telling, if you take away meaning, there is still something tangible left over - the taste that is left in your mouth after digesting them - be it bitter or sweet. Malick's film leaves me with a very sweet taste in my mouth and I don't know if I'll ever figure out the exact recipe of his most extrodinary dish - but delicious it was. And of course because it is past midnight and I'm in that state where you might give an extra laugh to something less funny, or extra thought to something less poignant...
I wonder if Malick was maybe leaving out story to force us to experience the vibe, the essence - the soul of his message.
I've often thought that God remains a mystery to mankind on purpose. If God exists and He wants us to know Him and He has the power at any time to end this messy earthly debate over whether or not He does exist - why not just show up on the scene. Why not show Himself to mankind right now and be done with it? My personal belief is that if He did so, then we would all know Him in our minds, we would know the text, the narrative, the ending but I think so many then might miss His vibe, His essence - the soul of His message because they wouldn't need to use their hearts to try to understand and know Him. Is that what Malick was trying to achieve? Who knows. It's time for me to go to sleep.

Tuesday, 31 July 2012

Hey, are you hiding something under that bushel over there?

“...simply moderate giftedness has been made worthless by the printing press and radio and television and satellites and all that. A moderately gifted person who would have been a community treasure a thousand years ago has to give up, has to go into some other line of work, since modern communications put him or her into daily competition with nothing but world's champions.... A moderately gifted person has to keep his or her gifts all bottled up until, in a manner of speaking, he or she gets drunk at a wedding and tap-dances on the coffee table like Fred Astaire or Ginger Rogers. We have a name for him or her. We call him or her an "exhibitionist." How do we reward such an exhibitionist? We say to him or her the next morning, "Wow! Were you ever drunk last night!”
Kurt Vonnegut, Bluebeard

Thursday, 26 July 2012

For Art's Sake!!

Remember that scene in Napolian Dynamite where Pedro gets so hot he decides he can't stand having hair anymore and shaves his head?  Well, the other day (no I didn't shave my head) I felt the same way, not so much hot but just a strong hatred of feeling hair on my head (I wanted to shave my head). 

Recounting this feels bizarre, I wonder has anyone else had that feeling?  It's kinda crazy, kinda weird - would my accountant husband ever have that experience?  I doubt it.  Any weirdness that I am I have always dealt with by telling myself "Don't worry Char, you're just one of those weird creative types." Even though I have no one significant creation to date that I can truly boast about I think I just kind of live creatively.  I make art for my wall, I love creating in my kitchen, I make up stories for my boys,  make up songs to sing to my Ruby - I create everyday.  In fact I view mothering as an art as well, certainly an act of creation. 

I was just reading the blog post of an aspiring writer who was writing out her cognitive process for coming to terms with the fact that she may never be a published writer.....yet she writes on.  I'm so glad she continues to write because I think it's so incredible to be able to live in a society affluent enough where there are some people who have the means and the time to work on something beautiful.  I love artists who often work lovingly on a craft that never gets recognition or compensation.  And even though I have someone coming over for lunch in 10 minutes and my hair is still wet from the shower and I still have some tidying up to do - even then I still choose to sit down and write out a blog post just because I wanted to.  (Perhaps I'll read my guest a poem instead of doing my hair and maybe she'll appreciate me just the same.)

Thursday, 31 May 2012

I wanna hold your hand

Scene: At the playground

Lady: "Hi"
Me: "Hi"
Lady: "You're boys seem to play so nicely, they are very nice to my son."
Me: "Oh, I'm glad to hear that."
Lady:  "Mine is that one over there, the one with the rather large head."
Me:  "That's funny, I was just talking to my sister-in-law about how large my son's head is."
(chat about large headed boys ensue)
Me: "How old is your little baby?"
Lady: "She's two months.  How old is yours?"
Me:  "Two months."
Lady:  "She was born on April 2."
Me: "Mine was born on April 2 as well."
Lady:  "Huh, what's her name."
Me:  "Ruby."
Lady:  "That's such a great name, we were going to name my oldest Ruby if he had been a girl."
Me:  "What did you name your baby?"
Lady:  "Finn."
Me:  "Wow, my sister named her little girl Finnlay......Gee, it's like we're cosmically connected."
Lady:  "Ya."
Me:  "Well, I need to go get my son ready for kindergarten.  It was nice meeting you, I hope I run into you again sometime."
Lady:  "Yes, it was nice meeting you as well, I'm sure we will see you again soon, I'm at this park a lot."
Me: "Bye."
Lady:  "Bye."

Things I have in common with this lady:
1) a son with a big head.
2) a daughter born on April 2 2012
3) a love of the name Ruby
4) the name Finn which is an indirect commonality as it links first to my sister but a link nonetheless.
5) a need to visit the neighbourhood spraypark often.

That's it.  That's my current idea of having a lot in common with someone.  These commonalities have nothing to do with my philosophy on life, or my take on politics or a particular passion/hobby of mine - they all do however have something to do with the fact that I am a woman and a mother and she is a woman and a mother.  I can't really think of a better reason to connect.  I think women are supposed to connect, support, help, love each other....just because we are women.

I was watching Oliver play soccer the other day when suddenly the (rather intense and a little bit grumpy) coach barked "NO HOLDING HANDS ON THE SOCCER FIELD."  The instruction was directed at two little girls on Oliver's team who were in fact holding hands in the middle of the game.  Not the first time I've seen this - a few months ago during another one of Oliver's soccer games I witnessed two girls holding each others hands as they twirled around and around.   Why weren't they fighting each other for the ball?  Why were they more interested in connecting with each other rather than competing against each other?  

I know women can be competitive and combative.  Not all women hold hands and twirl around with each other - but maybe we should a lot more often than we do. 

I want to say something complicated and am not sure how.  I guess I'm thinking back to when women were fighting for equal rights and equal opportunities, it saddens me that women didn't then see their posts as wives and mothers as being equal.  I am a stay at home mom and it is the most difficult job I've ever had and I guess I just don't understand what the women before me were thinking when they decided that instead of demanding the respect and honour that wives and mothers deserved they declared those roles as menial, beneath them - a lower class effort.  When they talked about equality, they meant paychecks and promotions.

Sometimes I feel like 1950's rerun, a dinosaur at times.  I just wish that instead of rushing into the workforce because women were unsatisfied with staying at home they just thought about what they could do collectively to improve their posts as mothers and come up with ideas as to how society could better support their efforts as mothers, respect their efforts as women.  What if there could have been a whole different life for a woman that included education, babies, fulfillment, connectedness - that was less patterned after a man's way of life and more after a woman's natural tendencies and inclinations....towards holding hands and spinning around in a circle.

I don't know what I'm writing, it's after midnight, Ruby is sleeping on my chest as I type.  I'm happy with my choices, just sometimes I wonder....

Thursday, 10 May 2012

Here's lookin' at you kid.

I had a nightmare when I was about six months pregnant that I was trapped in a maze.  The walls and ceiling of the maze were made of mirrors.   I remember feeling so scared in my dream that I would be forever trapped in a maze where all I had to look at and consider was myself.  I think that's what hell will be like. 

The link below takes you to byu tv.  The show featured is one of my favorite episodes in the Turning Point series.  It features a few serious musicians in New York who volunteer at a local hospital by performing for the residents.  Heart warming and definately inspiring.  I highly recommend watching.

Saturday, 28 April 2012

I mother earth

The other day I took a good long look at my post pregnancy body - I was a little disheartened. I stared at my belly and thought hateful thoughts about it. Later that day I was talking to Oliver and out of no where he said "Mom, I like your belly. I like your belly because it can make babies."

I like Oliver's take on it better than mine. He's changed my mind about the whole thing. My belly has brought me so much happiness and joy. I think I like my belly too.

Sunday, 15 April 2012


I did it.  Nature helped.  Maybe God intervened.  April 2 I had some unexpected bleeding which led to an early - a wonderfully, mercifully, soul savingly early c-section. 

FINALLY after 8 1/2 long, horrible, never to be repeated months of pregnancy I have reached nirvana.
I feel as though I have woken up from a nightmare.

Woken up to a world that seems so generous, beautiful and full of joy.  I am so happy with my little girl - Ruby Kate Schneider.  We all love her.  I feel so blessed to have had the opportunity to have children and I wish I could freeze my life right now and have my little ones stay this little and wonderful forever.

Life is once again in session.

Wednesday, 21 March 2012

Just Breathe

The story behind this little song (play audio clip below) as told by ZeFrank:

"I received an email from a woman named Laura, who had recently moved to a new city for a new job. She was overwhelmed with anxiety and asked me to write her a song to help her calm down. I asked her to send me an email describing what it felt like when she was overwhelmed."

Her e-mail began "it feels like days don't start. and days dont end. there is no sense of time. it feels like being dropped into a dark void. completely dark. and all the darkness has weight, a thickness. not liquid. not a solid. something else. and you're trapped. and the longer you are there you know the black is just growing and growing and growing. and there is nothing you can do."

"I wrote a sketch of a chorus and quietly asked some people in my audience to record themselves singing along while wearing headphones. I received about thirty recordings and mixed the tracks together (w/o any pitch correction) to create the chorus."

ZeFrank sent the finished song to Laura and she wrote back:

"This is one of the nicest things anyone has ever done for me. I can't thank you enough. I don't even know how to. To feel like everything is spinning out, and have a relative stranger do this, with other total strangers participating *is* overwhelming. In an incredible way.

Thank you so so so so much.
(Read the full story here)

Thursday, 23 February 2012

Fr. Barron comments on Terrence Malick's "Tree of Life" (SPOILERS)

I really liked the movie "The Tree of Life". It's a movie I would like to own and watch every once in a while. I thought it was beautiful, poetic and thoughtful.

One line that has played in my head since seeing the movie for the first time is "Father, Mother, always you wrestle inside of me." I've been thinking a lot in the past year about competition vs cooperation. These are the words that came to me as I watched the film. I was so interested to hear Fr. Barron use the words nature vs grace to discribe what I think are the same ideas.

I also really loved the scenes where the oldest son prays the prayers he is taught in church and then the whispers of of the real, genuine prayers from his heart are heard - the truth that comes from the boy, unscripted, just seems like such authentic prayers for a young boy - the questions, the doubts.

What a beautiful film - I'm still digesting it.

Saturday, 18 February 2012

Grandma Majeran

This pregnancy my thoughts have often turned to my Grandma Majeran who passed away a few years ago. She didn't have an easy life. She got married when she was thirty years old and ended up having ten children. My mind can not even fathom being pregnant ten times, giving birth ten times...and after turning thirty. They didn't have a lot of money. Her husband drank too much and didn't offer her a lot of gentleness or kindness.

I've never heard any of her ten children gush about how incredible a mother she was. I haven't heard "she was an angel mother" or "I always felt she was really there for me" or anything else frothy with lovely praise. I have memories of hearing things like "Kate just did her best to survive" and "she had a hard life" For this reason I never really considered giving my grandmother much credit until now. Physically she dealt with so much more than I have even caught a glimpse at in my own life. Now, when I think of what she endured as a wife and a mother I can't help to think that she actually was an incredible woman for the huge feat of survival. She didn't just survive though, my grandmother had and somehow kept a sense of humour. She was funny, sometimes maybe she didn't even mean to be but I remember her ability to see the humourous side of even difficult situations. She didn't seem to take life too seriously and somehow she didn't become bitter or cranky despite her difficult life.

I remember going into her garage and saying that I really liked a guitar that was sitting in the corner "If you like it, just take it" she shrugged with a smile. Later I found out that guitar wasn't even hers. It was one of my aunts. She bought her grandchildren scratch and win tickets for Christmas gifts. I don't ever remember actually winning anything but scratching those tickets as a kid was kind of exciting. My grandma was told a few times that smoking wasn't allowed in the assisted living home she moved into. She got caught smoking one too many times and got kicked out. Kicked out of an assisted living home!

My grandma marched to the beat of her own drum and I wonder what kind of woman she would have been if she hadn't been as overwhelmed as she was with a difficult marriage and ten lively children. I think about this because the past seven months I've seen the worst of me and wonder if I was stuck being pregnant seven more times if my kids would have anything good to say about me. But I'm not in that situation, this will be our last child and I'll be myself again, and there's a good chance that my kids will have good things to say about me. And I think of Grandma Majeran and think "but for the grace of God there go I."

Tuesday, 14 February 2012

by: Walt Whitman (1819-1892)

A noiseless, patient spider,
I mark'd, where, on a little promontory, it stood, isolated;
Mark'd how, to explore the vacant, vast surrounding,
It launch'd forth filament, filament, filament, out of itself;
Ever unreeling them--ever tirelessly speeding them.

And you, O my Soul, where you stand,
Surrounded, surrounded, in measureless oceans of space,
Ceaselessly musing, venturing, throwing,--seeking the spheres, to connect them;
Till the bridge you will need, be form'd--till the ductile anchor hold;
Till the gossamer thread you fling, catch somewhere, O my Soul.

Sunday, 5 February 2012

A showdown with the truth.

My favorite part of the book East of Eden is when Lee's father told him the horrific story of how his mother died: "his mother went into labor early, while still in the camp; the men then discovered she was a woman and, behaving as animals, did unspeakable things to her. When Lee’s father found her she was dying, and by her request he clawed her stomach open with his bare hands and delivered the baby." Then Lee recounts:

"And when my father would tell me [the story] I would say to him, 'Get to that lake--get my mother there--don’t let it happen again, not this time. Just once let’s tell it: how you got to the lake and built a house of fir boughs.' And my father became very Chinese then. He said, 'There’s more beauty in the truth even if it is a dreadful beauty. The storytellers at the city gate twist life so that it looks sweet to the lazy and the stupid and the weak, and this only strengthens their infirmities and teaches nothing, cures nothing, nor does it let the heart soar."

Since reading that for the first time, I think I've tried to become a little bolder in facing truths in my own life, looking them in the eye and at the least, giving a nod to their existence. I've found that for the most part when I do that, the truth looks back at me, gives me a little nod of respect in return and then I know and can see exactly what I'm up against, the true beauty of what I'm dealing with - I am awake and ready to rumble.

Thursday, 2 February 2012

“I have already settled it for myself so flattery and criticism go down the same drain and I am quite free.” - Georgia O'Keeffe

I don't know if this is true or not but I've read that the American painter Georgia O'Keeffe who, if you image google her name you get a gazillion painings of flowers, also said the following:

"I hate flowers - I paint them because they're cheaper than models and they don't move."

Tuesday, 31 January 2012

"Songs to not die to"

One of my dearest and oldest friends e-mailed me the other day asking how I was doing. This was just before I found out I was iron deficient. My reply was dark and foreboding. She immediately replied that she was going to send me something in the mail. It came yesterday. Two different kinds of specialty tea, an adult Arab looking comic book (haven't had a chance to really sit down with it yet) a chocolate, a copy of the movie Nacho Libre, two CD mixes, one of which she named "Songs to not die to" and a letter of encouragement with a kind of "we're not gonna take it" tone to it. That package was heaven to open and kind of reminded me of why I started this blog in the first place. In my blog description I write "The musings of a...dime a dozen human being who happens to love the view from a rooftop" and I feel like my friend sent me some fantastic rooftop views in her package. I appreciate looking at the big picture which sitting on a rooftop offers, but for me the metaphor of sitting on a rooftop also includes seeing the beauty life has to offer from a unique perspective. I'm grateful for poets and musicians, songwriters, novelists, painters, architects - people who create beauty, fun and food for thought. I have honestly been too exhausted to enjoy any rooftop views lately but since I've been taking iron for the past week or so I've been feeling more up to sight seeing. I think my friend's package came at just the right time.

Here's the first song on the CD mix "songs to not die to":

Wednesday, 25 January 2012

Hooray! I'm iron deficient!!

I've been so tired lately that when my Mom called me last week to say hello I just burst into tears and couldn't stop crying. Hormones make me crazy, it's true - but add debilitating fatigue on top of all that extra crazy and, well, I didn't think I was going to survive this pregnancy. Two days ago I went to see my ob and she told me I was low in iron and needed to take supplements. It is amazing to me how much our physiology affects our personality.

Wednesday, 18 January 2012

Seizing Up

I've had a really lame day. Overly hormonal and on the verge of tears all day with intermittent breaks in the dam - this song (which once inpired me) today enrages me as I sit here with heartburn, aching hips and a dark cloud hanging over my head. I want to seize my days but all I can manage right now is to tolerate them and I hate that. Growing a baby... maybe that should've made it into the video, perhaps it's not romantic or ambitious enough but I'd love to see a scene where a big old pregnant lady waddles around and then flops down on the couch with a frown as a toddler aggressively jumps on top of her and demands yet another glass of milk. Did I mention I've had a really lame day?

Wednesday, 11 January 2012

“The mind is its own place, and in itself can make a heaven of Hell, a hell of Heaven.”

–John Milton
Paradise Lost

Sunday, 8 January 2012

“E.L. Doctorow said once said that ‘Writing a novel is like driving a car at night. You can see only as far as your headlights, but you can make the whole trip that way.’ You don’t have to see where you’re going, you don’t have to see your destination or everything you will pass along the way. You just have to see two or three feet ahead of you. This is right up there with the best advice on writing, or life, I have ever heard.”
— Anne Lamott (Bird by Bird: Some Instructions on Writing and Life)