Sneauxpocalypse

25 01 2014

icesycle

The only way we know how to deal with ice in south Louisiana is to put it in our drinks. No one thinks twice over our tradition of drive-through daiquiri shops. We apparently all know that you can drive with one hand holding your frozen drink and the other hand on your steering wheel. But let one snow flake (or sneaux as we call it here) float in the air and we go crazy.

Our roads become like bumper car lanes. Over 200 accidents were reported yesterday. We live in a land crisscrossed with rivers and bayous and a day of freezing temps means they shut down all the bridges. There is no back up plan. Just gloveless reporters interviewing people in their cars on highways that have become parking lots, reporting how cold they are.

Many were able to stay home during this latest sneauxpocalypse. Because we knew it might get really cold and there was a 30% chance of snow, all schools were closed before the first possible snow flake fell. There was a light overnight dusting. It was like the powdered sugar left on your clothes after eating beignets.

People gathered up the sneaux on the hoods of their cars and built 3-inch sneauxmen. There were lots of icicles on palm trees pictures floating around on social media. The university was closed and there were college kids sliding down the icy levee slope (the only hill in town) on cookie sheets.

The sun is now out and the icicles are dripping away. The tiny Frosty’s on car hoods have disappeared. It is supposed to get even colder in a few days. I know we haven’t learned anything on how to deal with this foreign-up-north like weather but I am thinking I can do a better job with prep. It’s gumbo-making weather. I may need to find a drive-through daiquiri shoppe on the way to “making groceries.”

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My Own Time

19 01 2014

The women of Midlife Boulevard are writing about the best advice they have ever received or given. A bloghop is when a group of bloggers write on the same subject and link their stories together. The links to my friends’ blogs are at the end of this post.

I give workshops on the creative process. I tell people that it is important to understand your own unique process because when you’re stuck creatively, you can create and have the tools to help you move forward. I’ve had to take my own advice. In writing this post, I was stuck. I was writing, but I wasn’t saying anything. So I put it aside and went about my day. It’s now something completely different. I threw the original away.

crap

Throwing work away and starting over is hard. We often feel that our ideas are our children, we love our ideas, we think they are the best ideas in the whole world, we want the whole world to love our ideas too. But an idea is not a child and sometimes that idea is crap and needs to be thrown away. I’m an Art Director in my day job. Clients often throw my ideas away; even those that are not crap. I’ve learned to not take it personally, to let go, start over and come up with a new idea. But the real challenge for a creative is to throw your own work away because you know that it can be better.

bookThere’s a book I like to use as a resource in studying the creative process. It’s The Creative Process Illustrated. The author asked various advertising professionals to illustrate their creative process. There are similarities and differences in all. I’ve learned my writing process is different than my design process. It’s something like this:

•   Wake up early

•   In my PJs, with a cup of coffee, handwrite in a notebook, curled up in my chair

•   Stare off into space, write, meditate, write, meditate, get another cup of coffee, write, meditate

•   Walk away from draft, take a shower

•   Rewrite draft on computer

•   Print it out, go back to chair, edit all over the page

•   Repeat

•   Write, edit

•   Write, edit

•  Write, edit

•  Go for a walk

•   Write, edit,

•   Proof, proof again

•   Publish

 •  Keep finding typos

I like to participate in Midlife Boulevard’s monthly blog hops. This pushes my writing in new directions, a good thing for my creative spirit. This month’s theme was to write about the best advice you’ve ever gotten or given. I had gone through my writing process and realized I had to listen to my creative process. It told me to throw an idea away that was not working.

The only thing worth keeping in my first draft was my first paragraph:
“I remember saying at 21 that I was never getting married, never having children and never going to live in my home town, as I moved away for that first job upon college graduation. I remember my mom calmly saying, you’ll do everything in your own time. I remembered those words when at 33, I was married, expecting a baby and living back in my home town.”

My mom’s wise words were that things happen to you in your own time. It’s proven to be true as I look back on my life and it’s just as true in my creative life. Being a writer is still new and fresh to me. I’ve recently been asked to join a writer’s group. I’m flattered that others see me as a writer as I have only begun to see myself that way. As my mom told me—it has happened in my own time.

If you like My Creative Journey, I’d love for you to follow me. My posts will then arrive in your email and I promise no spam.

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Click here to see what the other writers have to say.





A Spoonful of Sugar?

12 01 2014

I was seven when the movie Mary Poppins came out. That year I dressed as Mary Poppins for Halloween and my mother made me the most exquisite Mary Poppins rag doll for Christmas. I still remember the words to all the songs in the movie. I grew up watching Walt on TV. I even worked at Disney World one summer during college. My daughter also grew up with all things Disney.  So as a Disney fan I looked forward to seeing Saving Mr. Banks, the story of the making of Mary Poppins. It’s an entertaining movie, beautifully filmed and filled with great actors giving good performances. But…I kept thinking what’s the real story.

Mary poppins

There’s a term called Disneyfication. It’s about repackaging something so it’s sanitized. As an employee at that summer job, I knew you had to fit the Disney look and embrace the brand or you were regulated to “back stage” or you simply didn’t work there.

That’s the nagging thought I kept having while watching this movie. The author of the Mary Poppins’ books, PL Travers, really didn’t want to be devoured by Micky Mouse. But she needed the money, so she sold her creation. That’s what the conflict in this movie is about. It’s the same conflict some authors have with the Oprah book club or why some musicians don’t want their music played on American Idol. They don’t want to be consumed by the machine.

What was the real story of Helen Goff whose pen name was PL Travers, the creator of Mary Poppins? This movie was set in the same time as the TV series Mad Men. 1964 was not an easy time to be a woman in the workforce. The only women portrayed in Saving Mr. Banks, other than PL Travers, were secretaries. Was Helen Goff portrayed as a pain in the ass, an unpleasant bitch, because she was a strong-willed woman with a powerful sense of who she was and what she wanted? Was she a woman who was just “leaning in”? I respect the Disney brand, but this brand has whitewashed dark fairy tales that were meant to teach powerful lessons into fluffy entertainment.

Looking up PL Travers online I learn she certainly didn’t fit the Disney mold. Mrs. Travers never married and was known for torrid affairs with men AND women. She adopted a baby who was a twin, but didn’t adopt the other twin sibling.  As someone who apparently wasn’t concerned with societal norms, she certainly was not a woman who could easily be told what to do. She was a woman who marched to her own beat and not to a Disney song and dance tune.

Two facts that are documented in the movie are true. One is that she was not invited to the Mary Poppins premier, but came anyway. And the other was that she cried during the premier. Saving Mr. Banks leads you to believe that the tears show she came around to the Disney point of view and was touched by seeing her creation come to life. But maybe we’re seeing a woman cry because she felt she sold her soul to the devil. That’s not, however, a Disney happy ending.

Maybe someday they’ll be another movie about this interesting woman and it’ll not be made by someone invested in preserving Walt’s image. I’m guessing this future movie will have no spoonfuls of sugar, no dancing penguins, and no catchy song or dance numbers. There won’t be the expected happy ending tied up neatly with a bow and perhaps Walt will be cast as the villain. That would be supercalifragilisticexpialidocious.

If you like My Creative Journey, I’d love for you to follow me. My posts will then arrive in your email and I promise no spam.





Bless Your Heart: An Epilogue

5 01 2014

I got my first negative blog comment. While I was initially annoyed, I soon got a tiny bit excited. I’ve been told trolls and negativity comes with the territory. So I feel I’ve finally arrived. It really wasn’t an ugly or vicious comment, just surprising.

troll

The comment was on a story titled Bless Your Heart, that was about this quintessential southern phrase that I use all the time. Pwrjhp left the comment, What you are saying here is similar to asserting that just because someone might say, “thank you very much” in a sarcastic way, that this is always how it’s intended. To say this phrase is merely a passive-aggressive insult is a severe 
simplification of both the phrase itself and southern mood. Please stop perpetuating this idiotic myth that turns people against southerners.”

See…it’s not awful, just baffling. Has this person never watched “Shit Southern Women Say”?  My first thought when I read this comment really was…”well, bless their heart, they don’t know what colloquialism is.”

There are many idiotic things in the South that offend me. I’m deeply offended by comments by the bearded patriarch of Duck Dynasty. I’m offended by the poverty and racism and hate that still exist in this neck of the woods. But I have traveled the world and have found small mindedness is not only something that lives in my Deep South. I’m offended when I travel away from home that people feel safe to spew their racist vitriol because they assume I’m what their stereotypical image of a Southerner is, and that I’ll agree with their vicious ideas.

I will be the first to admit that living in the South has its challenges, however, so does every place. But the lovely uniqueness of the way we talk down here is not one of the problems that needs fixin’. In a world that’s becoming one big strip mall, with the same Wal-Mart, the same Appleby’s, the same Old Navy and the same Taco Bell, I celebrate the things that set us apart and make us unique.

My sweetie and I just went to breakfast at a favorite local diner called Frank’s. I love their homemade buttermilk biscuits, grits, boudin omelet and sausage from their smokehouse. I’ll have a dark, rich cup of our local brew, Community Coffee. It’s poured by a waitress who’ll call me honey or sugar or darlin’. It’s full of people wearing LSU purple. I see the cook busy serving up plates has a camo baseball cap on. I’m perfectly comfortable with the deer heads on the wall even though I’ve never gone hunting. This place is indigenous to where I live. And I prefer to go to Frank’s over Shoney’s breakfast buffet any day of the week. It’s all part of my Southern heritage and I embrace it.

So thank you for your comment. It has made me think about where I live. I wish the media would talk about William Faulkner, Eudora Welty, Tennessee Williams, Kate Chopin or Harper Lee instead of Duck Dynasty, Swamp People or Honey Boo Boo.

One of my favorite contemporary authors is Rick Bragg. When I read his words I hear his distinctive southern voice. I’ve heard him speak at the Louisiana Book Festival; he talks about writing in your authentic voice. I embrace the southern part of me that says y’all and fixin’ to and calls all soft drinks a coke. You see, I really do say bless your heart and so does my mama and dem. And it often is dripping in other meaning.

There’s really only one thing left to say to Pwrjhp, “Thank you very much and Bless Your Heart.”

 If you like My Creative Journey, I’d love for you to follow me. Here’s some other stories I’ve written about living in this part of the country.

Luzianna Friday Nite

New Orleans, a feast for the senses

When the Levees Broke

Life is Like a Song

Argo, the Ayatollah, Eudora Welty and First Apartments

Parading

The Importance of Doing Nothing

Bread, Batteries and Booze