Blue Room Miscellany

1. I decided to decline the invitation. I composed the same note that I did yesterday, and for whatever reason, today it felt right to hit ‘send.’ I passed along some names of folks who I thought would be good for the project, which felt like a small way of living more abundantly.

Also, I have realized in this process and not articulated adequately, what a ‘quality problem’ this is to have. It’s very humbling to have people solicit your ideas on a project. I’m always a bit flummoxed by it. I mean, I’m just this gal…

2. The Writing Revs met today at Starbucks, and in case I had time to kill before or after, I brought the book Stealing Jesus, which our church book group is reading this month. While in line I began thinking about how with Kindle, we won’t be able to see what one another is reading, in coffee shops, on the Metro, etc. Kindle and other e-readers will give us some privacy, but will it come at the expense of the serendipitous encounter?

I have a friend who is always meeting interesting people simply by bringing her Bible or other religious books to the local coffee shop—people are curious and will strike up a conversation. I admire this friend for her ability to collect stories and interactions—she is a magnet for quirkiness. I am not, for whatever reason—temperament, a more reserved vibe—but sometimes I’d like to be. I feel like I’m shutting myself off from some cool stuff by projecting an “in my own little world” vibe. (Other times, I rationalize that I live an accessible life as a pastor and a mother of young children, so I’m entitled to be left alone at Starbucks.)

Not more than two minutes after having this thought, a woman came up to me, curious about my book. She’s a clergywoman in the UCC who does a lot at Washington National Cathedral. We struck up a short conversation and she gave me her card. How about that! A small bit of succulence in the stodgy old ‘burbs of DC.

3. Just as I admire my friend the story magnet, I also admire those neighborhood mothers who leave enough margin in their schedules that they can let their kids linger at the playground following preschool, or collect random neighborhood kids at their house. I aspire to be one of those women with the open door and the sauntering gait, who give their children an unhurried childhood. The best I can do is to try not to shoo and nudge them too much as we chuff along from place to place.

Today I got a glimpse of a different way. I picked up Margaret and her friend A from preschool and arrived at A’s house per my carpool duties… but his mother had been detained and was 20 minutes away. “Whatever works for you,” she said apologetically when I called her, “You can wait there, or go to your house, whatever.” I’d been in meetings all day and was feeling pressed, but I made a decision not to be bothered. I wish I could say that mental adjustment was easy. But we came back to our house for an impromptu play date, and by the time she arrived, we were playing on the porch with the bubble machine.

Each of these small events gave me a frisson of energy. Have you experienced delight in something small, today or recently? Share in the comments.

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4 thoughts on “Blue Room Miscellany

  1. Martha Turner Fein says:

    At first I thought you were going to be talking about another kind of serendipity. When the Library of Congress closed their shelves, forbidding researchers from getting books themselves, there was much discussion about the serendipity of looking for one book and finding another near it that wasn’t what you were looking for but was what you wanted. The same could be true of downloading books rather than browsing shelves at your local library or bookstore.

  2. Shala says:

    So many thoughts on this one and your earlier post about how do you decline work. I struggle with this quite a bit as a freelancer, because if you get a reputation for saying no, eventually there will be no need to ever say no, and then what will I do if our family situation changes and I need to go back to work full-time?

    In fact, I’m struggling with it right now. There’s an offer in my inbox which would quite successfully use up 2 of my writing days every week. On the one hand, steady income, no marketing needed. On the other, this is not how I want to spend my now suddenly very limited writing time. I have this novel, you see that I’ve been working on for oh 10 years, and it’s been waiting patiently on the side lines for most of that decade while I wrote what other people wanted me to. I promised myself that I would finish it this year, and how can I trust myself to become the person I want to be, if I can’t trust myself to keep my own promises?

    So I will be turning this one down. Reluctantly. But hopefully, because you are right. I don’t want to be a person who acts out of fear. And it’s long past time I finish this darn book, so that i can get on to the next one, which is really interesting. 🙂

    On the Kindle/book thing, as a long-time Kindle owner, I don’t worry at all that Kindle will stifle the serendipitous encounters with strangers over analog books. Personally, I go through phases. I like reading books on the Kindle for a while and then I go back to a physical book and think, why did I ever give this experience up? Most of the Kindle and ebook users I know are the same way. I also use books as an identifier / ice breaker when conducting Rice interviews. My description, you see is so very basic — brown hair, glasses, green eyes, late 30s — that it really helps to then add and I’ll be carrying a copy of The Betrayal by Kathleen Gear with me.

    And it gives us a starting place for the conversation that doesn’t feel like a test.

    Shala

    • MaryAnn says:

      Shala, this comment and your other one make me wish we lived in the same city so we can meet every so often for tea and talk about these things… I think we understand each other.

  3. Shala says:

    I wish that too, MaryAnn. I really miss you, although this blog helps.

    Michael and I are talking off and on about a trip to DC next year. I’ll let you know if it happens. Let me know if you travel through the Boston area for any reason. You and your family have an open invitation to my house.

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