I have always loved to read, and when I was a little girl, my favorite book, (you might be familiar with it) was Ramona the Pest. I think it’s probably because I could really relate to the star of the book, Miss Ramona Quimby. Nothing ever seemed to turn out right for Ramona, but her predicaments were simply part of her charm, and served to make her even more feisty and determined. (I’ve always liked a strong female lead, or was that strong-willed? Oh well, potato/potato.)
One of my favorite scenes, is Ramona’s first day of kindergarten. Ramona, tummy full of butterflies, is directed by Miss Binney, the teacher, to a desk, and is told to “Sit here for the present.” So, Ramona sits. But Ramona has a busy mind, and her thoughts churn and churn,” What kind of present could it be?” (Oh, no! Back in the day, even my 7 year-old mind knew what was coming!) As the day wears on and no gift appears, the disillusioned Ramona questions the teacher. Kindly, the teacher explains the misunderstanding, and offers up an alternate definition of present. Ramona leaves her first day no older-but wiser.
In my last blog post, (Picture a Christmas) I talk about anticipation as looking forward to. Ramona spent her entire first day of kindergarten anticipating the present, and in so doing, she missed all the other memorable aspects of her very-first-ever day of school! With that in mind, I want to share a recent experience I had that really brought home yet another definition of present, and that is being present.
Last week, across my Facebook feed in classic movie “Star Wars” scroll, Marie Osmond announced a contest. The prize was two tickets to a private screening of the latest Star Wars installment, The Force Awakens. I’m not a Star Wars fan per se, (gasp!) but I am a Marie Osmond fan. (There’s that strong leading lady-thing rearing its head again.) So I did what any middle-aged, non-Star Wars fan would do. I grabbed my daughter, made her teach me how to Instagram, (arghh…read my even older post, Old Dog, New Trick,) took a crash course in hash tags, (or the pound sign as I still call it), mocked up a picture with caption, and posted away.
And so it was, that I, at 53 became hip. Entered D & M’s contest, instagrammed it, hashtagged it, and won two tickets, so apparently-nailed it! (Either that, or the fact that it was one hour away, in Gainesville, TX, population-not-too-many was a factor-but I digress…)
I never win anything, and boy was I excited-what a gift for the holidays! I got a good dose of anticipation myself…picking out a slimming outfit, so I wouldn’t look like a middle-aged whale next to Marie; who, thanks to Nutrisystem and Body Gym is lookin’ mighty fine, I must say. I knew there was no time for fillers or Botox, so I prayed over my Oil of Olay, “regenerized” my face, and threw in my turkey neck just to be on the safe side. I wanded my unruly hair, and all in all, after spending more time primping then I did on my wedding day, I looked fairly presentable. At the premiere, we were queued up, and the excitement was palpable.
Nervous chatter all ’round. Most of the over-fifty gals were there for Donny, eyes glazed, swapping stories and harking back to their glory days. Me, not-so-much. I am a die-hard Marie fan, not one of those crazy groupies! (Did I tell you my wedding announcements were the same as Marie’s? ’cause they were…) OK…maybe I am a bit star-struck, but I can play it cool with the best of them. (Because I’m a little bit country, and a little bit rock-n-roll-yeah, I went there…)
Finally, a tour bus pulled in and the entourage of band members, crew, and dancers arrived. Then it was time. The glass theater doors swung open, and in walked Donny and Marie, amid whoops and cheers. Donny was as expected, but Marie is very small in person, and just a doll. Everyone had their cameras at the ready, snapping away and videoing as they passed directly by. I am technically-challenged, (snicker), so I made my daughter do the paparazzi work.
The small crowd eagerly pressed forward into the theater the minute it was open. My daughter and I split up, me to get us seats, and she to get our popcorn and drinks, also gratis. (Thank you Donny & Marie!) What we didn’t know then, was that Donny & Marie had stepped behind the concession counter to “serve” the theater goers.
Most of the folks had rushed and grabbed their popcorn buckets and drinks prior to their arrival-anticipating the crush to see celebrity in person, and were already ensconced in their seats. They were unaware that those that had waited, were up close and personal with D & M, as they chatted and served up popcorn, soda, and Icees. My daughter felt bad for me, knowing I was missing it. She stood back from the fray and took a couple of discreet pictures and brief videos to share with me.
She shared that although she was excited to meet them, she didn’t want to invade their personal space. This was their Christmas gift to their staff and they had generously included their fans in the contest-but this was their preview as much as it was ours, and their free time as well. We felt like creepy stalkers, and we put our phones away for the night. D & M went on to graciously answer questions and joked around for about ten minutes. They were charming, down to earth, and open.
Cherry-on-top, they gave away tickets to their upcoming Christmas show, and we were lucky again. (Marie, my new BFF, chose me! Donny asked my name for the will-call window and suddenly, “white and nerdy” was all cool celebrity, and I choked like Cindy Brady looking at the red blinking camera light! It took a few elbow-to-the-rib jabs from my daughter, before I could squeak out Williamson.)
As for Star Wars, even I enjoyed the movie! The 3D special effects were amazing, and the good vs. evil-believe me, I get. As we flowed out of the theater as a group, cameras were poised even at the restroom door for Marie to come out! Marie’s adorable daughter was there on holiday break with her, and we couldn’t help but contrast our mother/daughter night out with theirs. How hard it must be to live as a celebrity. How vulnerable you must feel, with strangers clamoring after you, and taking pictures left and right. No safe zone, no anonymity. We actually felt fortunate to NOT be talented and famous. (Yup, we’re lucky that way!) And here they were, more outgoing and fun than you can ever imagine, spending their night with us, and making sure everyone was having a good time. It was a gift indeed. Which brings me to the present.
We had a wonderful time that night, but I couldn’t help but notice that we weren’t all present. As fans, we were so consumed with getting the picture, that we didn’t get the picture. Videoing is not the same as seeing Donny, Marie, and her sweet daughter Abi in person. Snapping away is not listening, interacting, or experiencing. Eyes glued to a screen, we are virtualizing the real thing! In our quest to make a memory, we are missing it as it’s being made. I’m just as guilty as the next guy. I had my daughter take the video, but I would have done it if I were technically savvy. If I didn’t hate selfies so much, I would have selfied! Luckily, since I need readers, can’t work my phone properly, and everything I snap turns out blurry, I got to enjoy seeing, being, and experiencing-by default. (And, because I have a wise daughter.) Like Ramona, I learned a lesson that day that left me wiser. Be aware in the moment, and savor it. The experience IS the gift!
Two days later we went to D & M’s Christmas show, and it was a sparkly, dazzling, holiday extravaganza. Although it was taboo, folks filmed and snapped away the entire time. And as for us? We didn’t take one picture or video that night to remember it by. But we will treasure our memories. They were awesome seats, and we were just grateful to be present.
If you’re going to be able to look back on something and laugh about it, you might as well laugh about it now.
I’m obsessed with glassware. However, in true bull in a china shop fashion, I’m less than graceful, so glassware doesn’t always love me. From glassware kitsch like Fire-King and Jadeite, to Irish crystal, Murano glass and Limoges. Sea-glass, Mercury glass, Carnival glass and hobnail. Chintzware, tea-sets and fine china. Ornaments and garden balls. Soda bottles and mason jars. By now I’m sure you’re glassy-eyed just reading this, and if so, I’ve made my point. But it’s true, I’ve always just loved and to be honest, hoarded, glass.
My big sis got a mosaic tile kit as a kid and I was so envious as she created the little ashtray project included. Toys were disturbing back then. Yes folks, you too, can teach your kiddo to make you an ashtray! Mosaic tile kits: making ashtrays cool since the 60’s! One thing I learned from coveting my sister’s mad ashtray skills: glass-working requires artistry. In her case, it mostly required messy glue on the webbed backing and tricky tile layout. And dilemma-when you’re done, do you give it as a gift, or save it for a few years till you’re old enough to light up? In her case, she used it for jewelry, and thereby dodged a wicked habit.
Speaking of smoke, everyone knows where there’s smoke there’s fire…and that brings me back around to my point. Glass. And me. And the fiery furnace.
Last year for Christmas in my quest for creative gift-giving, I gave my husband a Groupon for a glass-blowing workshop. In retrospect it’s one of those times where I gave a present that was better suited to me…(like the time Homer Simpson gave Marge a bowling ball for her birthday with his name “HOMER” engraved on it…awkward.) I could tell by the look on my husbands face that he was underwhelmed. But after one workshop, he was converted. The class not only taught glassblowing 101, but participants got to keep the treasures they crafted as a takeaway. In his case, it was an egg-shaped paperweight in Boise State’s renowned smurf-blue and bright orange colors. He loved the experience and declared it the best present ever! (And his paperwork has never flown off his desk since.)
The minute the Groupon was available again, I bought one workshop for my daughter and me, and one for my son & daughter-in-law to mark their first anniversary. (Which I think traditionally is paper…but I broke protocol and went for something more lasting.)
Now comes the part where I’m going to have to insert a disclaimer. I absolutely hate to try new things. I am a foot-dragging-stick-in-the-mud when it comes to anything even slightly adventurous or just out of my comfort zone. So the fact I even committed to trying something new was a leap. But this is the year of old dog, new tricks, (see older post), and so I hijacked my artsy daughter sidekick to go with me. After picking my project and colors, those crazy glass masters handed me a poker where I was on one end, and the other was a molten fiery blob. I quickly learned to slowly twirl the pole to hold the shape without letting the red-hot mass plop into the fiery abyss. It’s like toasting a marshmallow. A MARSHMALLOW THAT CAN KILL YOU! First one side gets globby, and you turn, turn, turn, (sing it like the Byrds,) balancing out the flaming goo and hoping it doesn’t go kaput. Next I got to roll the toasty blob into my color shards, then back into the fire, which is called the glory hole. (It reminded me more of a hell-hole…literally. Terrifying to think of hell as a fiery furnace when you’re actually NEAR the fiery furnace! Hopefully that’s as close to a singe as I will get.)
More twirling, and a couple more rolls in the glass chips-fast forward-fiery furnace-yada, yada-and we were to the glass blowing stage. A helper rolled the pole while I puffed down the tube to blow air into the piece so it could take shape. Actually, I was the helper, and the pole roller was the pro, but they let you feel like you are the creator and an artist in that moment. After following careful instructions of air/no air, (which I nailed, by the way) various scary looking tools were used to mold, snip, and bend, all the while the glass is about a zillion degrees.
For the finale, the fragile piece is nestled into the oven for hours and hours. Fingers crossed. Maybe a silent prayer. (This is a Kim-project after all, and as I mentioned in my earlier post “Out of the Closet” I am craft-challenged.)
The end result is a beautiful creation of glass. Art in itself.
All this from timeless sand, refined in the fire till the grains are smooth, the colors unique, the shape one-of-a-kind. It evolves under a masters hand into something amazing.
Kind of like us.
You use a glass mirror to see your face;
you use works of art to see your soul.
George Bernard Shaw
AARONTATE.COM Aaron Tate Glassworks(206)387-9228
Song Reference: The Byrds Turn, Turn, Turn http://youtu.be/eiprqeaydik
(Lyrics taken from Ecclesiastes chapter 3 KJV)