Inspiring

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Have you ever received a very fine gift, one that you really like and appreciate, yet aren’t quite sure what to do with it?  This describes the fancy paper the hubster bought for me some six (!) years ago.  It’s so beautiful that I felt it required a special occasion to write on it.  And I did, a time or two, but, in the back of my mind, I thought it had an even higher purpose, so it stayed in a drawer.

This makes me laugh!  You, Madame Paper, are so special that you get to stay in a dark drawer for six years.  How about them apples?  I am such a purger, if you didn’t know already.  I like to give things away.  If I’m not using it, I don’t want it in the house.  Yet some items get a pass, and then, often times, years later, are used, and quite well, I might add.  We made a stand for our second mason bee house with a metal pole that languished in the basement for who knows how long.  It’s now buzzing with life and testament that it can be okay to not let go.

Back to that fancy paper.  I have always liked telling people that I like (or love) them, their work, think they are smart, funny, have good skin, cute toes, great style, awesome glasses, whatever quality I happen to admire or appreciate.  Sometimes people seem frightened by this (wondering if I have an ulterior motive?), as the recipients are often strangers, and I’m this smiling crazy person bearing down on them at the supermarket (slightly hyperbolic), but mostly they like it, or at least smile and say, “Thank you.”

Then I heard about a man (John Kralik) who was going through a very difficult time in his life and decided to write a Thank You note to someone every day for a year to better appreciate what he had.  It changed his life in the most extraordinary way (365 Thank Yous).  Then I stumbled upon the Pema Chodron book at the library (that’s it in the photo, too) and the words, “Give away what you most want,” struck the deepest chord.

What do I want?  How about love, kindness, validation, sincere compliments, and being appreciated?  Pretty awesome, right?  Why not give it away?  So I’m starting my own Lettre Royale Campaign (after the paper).  I’ll write one letter a week until the pretty paper runs out.  There are about fifty sheets.  I’ll write to friends and strangers, near and far, and see what happens.  Besides, it will give me yet another reason to buy cool stamps.  I like those, too.

Well hello there friends –

I am not about to beat around the bush on this one, no way, no how.  What do you think?  Do you like it? I hope so, because I really, really do.

After all of that writing about it, I decided that if I am a Writer (notice me embracing that capital W), I better start acting like one.  Step one, business cards.  Super duper lovely and ever-so-Colleen style business cards.  Many, many thanks to Marty of Bartleby’s Letterpress Emporium (how perfect that the shop shares the name, though certainly not the demeanor of one of my favorite literary figures, too).  Ever so kind, patient (if you hadn’t noticed, I am a bit fussy), and supportive, not to mention her phenomenal talent with a letterpress brought this girl to tears, even though I promised her I wouldn’t.  Not a bad promise to break, if one must, after all.  They turned out exactly how I imagined they would:  the heavy cotton, that beautiful texture, our our humble red roofed abode (drawn by me).  They are perfect.  By the by, if you live here in Stumptown and love fine paper goods, do pay her a visit.  Her printed cards are exquisite, really.  The shop is just a charming place to wander, too.

Okay, getting to the second step now, full speed ahead.  I will also be attending the Willamette Writers Conference in August where I hope to wow someone into representing me.  So, for the next month, I will be polishing  my manuscript, honing my elevator speech, typing up dazzling query letters, and generally believing that I can do this.  You know what the wonderful part is?  I am not afraid.  I am ready.  I am worthy.  I am talented.  I am a good writer and a terrific person.  Why wouldn’t someone want to represent me?  Okay, I just ventured into Jack Handey territory, but that’s okay too.  I am among friends!

So, a start.  I hope you will join me on my journey.

Well friends, I have what is surely the last of the peony photos this year and a broken record alert!  Aren’t they pretty?  Aren’t they pretty?  Well they are, and these two smell quite lovely, too.  Yes, yes they do.  We also managed to get two dry days in a row to enjoy them, but the clouds are rolling in, and I’m pretty sure that means Mr. Rain will be up to his old tricks in no time, which is okay.  The little break of sun was enough to tide me over until next time.

I have no clever segue way to what comes next.  I’ve been thinking a lot about what it is that I want and how to get it.  I came to a conclusion that probably should have been obvious, but wasn’t, but now that I’ve made it, I feel as though I’ve been hit over the head with a hammer in a Bugs Bunny cartoon.  Yet, instead of stars, I am seeing what I do with greater clarity than ever before.

I have never called myself a writer.  I have always said, “I’ve written a book,” or “I’ write a blog.”  In some ways, I didn’t want to pigeon-hole myself in the “I am not what I do” way because I feel I am so much more than a single word.  I also didn’t think I deserved the title of Writer without being published.  Yet, in this way, I believe I have been selling myself short, for who will believe I am a writer, especially one who is worthy of publication, if I don’t?  It also diminished my work, made it less important.  Well, dang it, it IS important, even if only to me.

So, a change.  A “this is it” moment:  I, Colleen Sohn, am a writer.  Gosh, I got weepy typing that last sentence.  I am a writer.  I wrote a novel that I hope to get published one day.  I write a blog.  I write poems.  I dream up worlds.  Words dance in my mind and through my finger tips.  They are alive, just like me and you.

That felt good.  Thanks for reading.  I love sharing my writing with you!

As my cutie pie neighbor Keirnan (age five) might say, “She’s up to her old tricks.”  He’d be right, too.  I am up to my old tricks, loving the offbeat films where the actors are decidedly not up to theirs.  It is so refreshing!

The hubster and I saw Greenberg this past weekend.  Finally, finally something I was interested in seeing at the Academy.  I have been waiting for ages.  Seriously, I cannot remember when I was there last, and it totally bums me out.  I love movies.  I love sitting in movie theaters.  I love watching people file in and search for the perfect seat.  I love the moment the lights dim and the action starts, all the while munching on buttery popcorn and Reese’s Pieces, despite their absence of nutrition.  For the film is the sustenance, the essence of life, moments in darkness that ultimately illuminate.

I digress.  Greenberg, save two, um, cold(?) sex scenes, yes, cold, is one of those train wreck type films.  I could not look away, yet my heart kind of ached to.  It is the story of Roger Greenberg: broken man, letter writer, vest wearer.  He’s come to Los Angeles to house sit for his brother’s family after suffering a mental breakdown.  He’s meant to build a dog house, take care of its future occupant, Mahler, and, as he states rather explicitly, do nothing else.  It doesn’t quite work out as planned, as he immediately has feelings for his brother’s assistant Florence (a pitch perfect performance from Greta Gerwig), the dog gets sick, and he generally makes an ass of himself, though he puts the blame squarely on others.  It’s a great story about loss, starting off on the wrong foot, and the way we cobble our lives back together.  Perfect in its imperfection.

Will Farrel is Harold Crick, a boring and friendless IRS agent who suddenly starts hearing a voice.  A voice that knows him well, is never wrong, and clearly states that he is going to die.   What ensues is a beautiful transformation – from a numbers man ticking away the hours to a human being truly living and loving life.  So very, very good.  It makes me want to be a better writer.

This is Paul Thomas Anderson’s fantastic and exhilarating art house version of Adam Sandler.   As much as I like movies like 50 First Dates and Mr. Deeds (Are you surprised?  Do you underestimate my sneakiness?  They’re funny!), I sure wish he would make more movies like this.  Sandler plays Barry Egan, intense, lonely, incessantly badgered by his annoying and domineering sisters, he is constantly on the verge of rage and violence, and utterly powerless to stop it.   When a woman unexpectedly enters his life, there is instant chemistry and mystery.  What will he do?  Will this end badly?  What about that awful guy at the phone sex place?  Finding out is a great and scary ride.

This last one could actually be tied with Vampire’s Kiss.  Have you seen that one?  Nicholas Cage (circa 1988) plays a guy who thinks he’s been bitten by a vampire and acts accordingly, sporting fake teeth and all.  Which only makes me think of Chris Cooper’s teeth in this movie, oy vay, creepy.  This movie is strange, smart, and beautiful.  Nicholas Cage plays the Kaufman brothers, so unlike any character I have ever seen.  Fearful, weird, out of shape, paranoid, balding, and obsessed, yet likable.  The kind of underdog fellas you root for.  Besides that, there’s Meryl Streep and Chris Cooper.  Who could ask for anything more?

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Look at my sweet Birdie.  Doesn’t she have a fine profile?  I love the curve of her nose, her enormous ears, and all that soft, silky fur.  She is a fine specimen indeed.  It’s funny, too, even after nearly fifteen years (her birthday is March 4th!), I never grow tired of watching her.  Playing, sleeping, running in the yard, it’s always a pleasure to see her happy.  Unhappy is quite another matter, but I won’t get into that!

In other bird watching news, I had the FINEST (all caps for serious emphasis) sighting from my back window this past Thursday afternoon.  I was walking by and saw something high in a treetop, a slight white glimmer of movement.  My heart leapt!  Could it be?  I turned back and stopped, focusing my eyes.  It sure looked like it.

I whooped and hollered down the stairs,  “Oh my goodness!  Oh my goodness!” I grabbed the phone and the binoculars as fast as humanly possible and bolted back up the stairs.  Imagine my excitement when I learned my hunch was absolutely correct.  There was indeed a Bald Eagle atop a tree, no more than a hundred yards from me.  I could see its regal gaze scanning the horizon, the beautiful white feathers, the golden beak, the lovely eyes.  I called the hubster, and I spent the next few minutes detailing the eagle’s every move.

“It’s turning his head, yikes almost 360 degrees!”

“It’s moving it’s wings.  Wow, it’s so big!”

“I think it’s looking right at me.”

“The crows are coming!  They’re cawing, but this guy isn’t paying one iota of attention to them, no matter how close they get!”

“Oh my goodness, Buddy, I’m watching a Bald Eagle from our back window!”

In all, I probably watched it for ten joyful minutes, repeating that last sentence about five times.  It then left it’s perch and flew right over our house, so close I could see individual feathers.  I’d like to think it was a “Hello Colleen, I saw you, too,” gesture.  Whatever it was, I could not have been happier (well, maybe if I could have taken a photo, but our camera cannot zoom like that), and I certainly won’t ever look at that tree in the same way again.

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