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  • Living Gesturally

    March 28, 2007

    When I was studying art in college, one of the exercises the professor had us do at the beginning of every class was a series of gestural drawings. A model would come into the studio, disrobe, strike a pose and then we would have 10-15 seconds to capture the line, the attitude and the form before he or she struck another pose.

    The value of this exercise was that it taught me to see – to see what was important, what was essential. I learned to quickly capture the essence of a composition with just a few simple lines.

    Now that I have a three year old, I don’t get to spend much time in my art studio, but I still use this same technique, only now I use words on scraps of paper instead of charcoal on newsprint. Like the gestural drawings, sometimes I’ll see something in what I’ve recorded that can be worked into a greater composition and other times I’ll look at a nonsensical string of words and wonder if Sudafed should really be an over-the-counter drug.

    Earlier this week I opened the drawer of my nightstand so that I could sweep everything off the top and into the waiting drawer with my forearm. Dusting and cleaning all in one economic motion. Down in the dark recesses of the drawer, a small scrap of paper with my own handwriting caught my eye. I picked it up and read it:

    Sean on tricycle, helmet, mails here, chapstick

    While those words would make no sense to anyone else, for me they reconstituted a sweet and previously forgotten moment and brought it back to life.

    Photo Temporarily Unavailable

    A day or two after I returned home from the hospital last month, I was resting in bed. Bringggg-bringggg! Sean announced his arrival by furiously working the bell on his little red Radio Flyer tricycle. He pedaled into my bedroom wearing a helmet. “Mail’s here ma’am,” he announced. Then he got off of his tricycle, opened the trunk and pulled out some coupons and junk mail. He handed them to me and then extended his other hand so that I could pull him up into bed with me. He was quickly distracted from his postal duties by the tube of Chapstick on my nightstand. “Can I use your Chapstick? My wips are willy willy chapped,” he said somberly. Before I could grant permission, he grabbed the tube and vigorously smeared Chapstick in a big circle around but not on his lips. “Want some?” he offered, holding the waxy stub up for me to see. When I declined, he scampered down out of my bed, got back on his bike and rode out of the room ringing his bell.

    I smiled to myself as I looked at those few words scribbled on the back of a dry cleaning coupon. A verbal snapshot. I was reminded that it is the small, spare and even unremarkable memories that are the very essence of life. And maybe, even more so than grand moments in life — the weddings and the graduations –they are worthy of capturing and preserving.

    And I think that’s why I blog.

    33 Comments »

    1. Paulette1958 says:

      I love the capturing of your soul and spirit as you unfold such depth everytime you write. You are such a gifted writer. If you wrote books I would buy every single one!
      This was precious and brought tears to my eyes.
      I too am an artist and related to all the art lingo, lol.
      Keep writing and they will come!

      March 28th, 2007 at 11:55 pm

    2. Rocks in my Dryer says:

      And that’s why we read you.

      😉

      March 29th, 2007 at 12:32 am

    3. Polly says:

      Your ability to make even the simplest and uneventful details of life seem intersting are uncanny. You ARE an artist. A word-smith, if you will. And to quote Mrs. Dryer, “that’s why we read you” and we “get” you.
      I am trying my hand…again…at scrapbooking. It is sucking the last remaining creative brain cells I have left from me. But I am determined to show my children a story of our family and what their life was like before their memories took.
      I trus you’re baking all this great writing for Sean to enjoy later. It is a great scrapbook.

      March 29th, 2007 at 1:41 am

    4. Polly says:

      Bad typing Polly…
      I TRUST you’re BACKING all this…
      It’s late!

      March 29th, 2007 at 1:42 am

    5. mamaspeak says:

      very nice. it’s part of why I blog too. i’m so glad you share this part with us to help remind us to notice and record those moments as well.

      When we finally get to meet IRL, Sean is going to think I am such a freak, I feel like I know him so well already. I just want to scoop him up and hug him right now!

      March 29th, 2007 at 2:41 am

    6. Jeana says:

      I willy, willy like this post. It reminds me of one I did on Memories of the Mundane.

      Not that I’m calling your child mundane. AT ALL.

      March 29th, 2007 at 6:28 am

    7. Antique Mommy says:

      Yes Jeana, the mundane. I think when we are old and gray and senile, we be reliving in the mundane days of lives in our mind – not the births and weddings.

      March 29th, 2007 at 6:36 am

    8. nutmeg says:

      Me too! The other day my husband was doing the same cleaning task and he found some of the same little shorthand notes. They were quite old. He read a few outloud and suddenly tears came to his eyes. The few words he had jotted down didn’t jog his memory and something that was so funny or touching had quietly slipped away. Good thing you clean up about once a month!

      March 29th, 2007 at 6:55 am

    9. the Butler's wife says:

      You capture it well. I teach my 3rd graders with those exact words, “Draw a picture with your words,” I tell them. Thanks for that.

      March 29th, 2007 at 7:19 am

    10. Blog Antagonist says:

      Oh yeah. Forgetting scares me. I wish I had started blogging years ago when my kids were little so I could remember some of the sweet, sweet stuff that has been lost to time. What a lovely story.

      March 29th, 2007 at 8:25 am

    11. Jill says:

      What a beautiful moment. Thanks for sharing with us. It’s posts like this that keep me coming back to your blog every day!

      March 29th, 2007 at 8:47 am

    12. Karen says:

      I find that if I DON’T write it down as you did…it’s gone…I tend to forget things easily, even things I SAY I’m going to remember, so I have to do as you do. I’m glad I have a word for it now. Gesturally. I like it.

      March 29th, 2007 at 8:47 am

    13. maggie says:

      That’s a lovely post. I find myself doing the same thing; writing cryptic notes on scraps of paper, saving a moment or an encounter.

      March 29th, 2007 at 8:50 am

    14. Babystepper says:

      That’s exactly why I started blogging too. I realized I’d already missed a years worth of those moments, and didn’t want to miss any more.

      March 29th, 2007 at 8:57 am

    15. snapshot says:

      Amen. Just as a single photo captures the story within the story of life, a few scribbled words can do the same thing. It is why we blog. To capture a moment within the journey that is life.

      March 29th, 2007 at 8:57 am

    16. Robbin says:

      My favorite moments of all are the mundane!! Notice I didn’t say “memories” because I rarely remember them. My latest random note says, “Reagan, cowgirl, Michigan, P” now why is it I can remember what that means, but have to read the rule for fractions a million times before I can explain it? I guess one goes to the heart and the other into ???

      March 29th, 2007 at 9:41 am

    17. wordgirl says:

      It’s true. Those tiny moments mean so much and they are the ones I’ll miss the most when everyone is grown and gone.

      March 29th, 2007 at 10:28 am

    18. Stacey says:

      That’s why we keep coming back each day!!

      March 29th, 2007 at 10:32 am

    19. Sally says:

      You have such a way with words, and a gift for writing. Love reading your blog. What a great idea, jotting down ideas on paper so you don’t forget the moment. Why didn’t I ever of think of doing that before??

      March 29th, 2007 at 10:47 am

    20. TaunaLen says:

      Perfect. This is just the nudge I needed to remind me to write about my moments. I started an “idea bank”, but I think I’m thinking about it too much. If I capture the moment in a few words – a snapshot, hopefully I’ll remember later what they mean. I love reading you.

      ~TaunaLen

      March 29th, 2007 at 11:14 am

    21. BOSSY says:

      What a coincidence: Bossy captures the same meaningful verbal snapshots on little pieces of paper too! Only difference is Bossy wraps her gum in them.

      March 29th, 2007 at 11:27 am

    22. melissa says:

      so true! you’ve said it so perfectly why so many of us with children blog. i know i would never remember this stuff if i didn’t write it down.

      March 29th, 2007 at 12:09 pm

    23. Kara says:

      aw! How neat! I think I would forget what it meant though unless I wrote the whole story down lol. I really should start writing down the funny cute sweet things my kids do.

      March 29th, 2007 at 12:54 pm

    24. Tamara Cosby says:

      Thank you for reminding me to remember to do that…I love your writing style/drawing style. I didn’t know it had a name…and for that, I thank you! 🙂 Love Love Love reading your blog!

      March 29th, 2007 at 2:53 pm

    25. Maria says:

      What a beautiful photograph you’ve captured here.

      March 29th, 2007 at 3:41 pm

    26. Linda says:

      I am so glad you do. I agree – our lives really are made up of this precious little scraps of time. They all blend together to create the picture of our lives.

      March 29th, 2007 at 4:33 pm

    27. SL says:

      What a great reason to blog. It will also be handy when he is older and you need to remember some great stories for his dates…

      March 29th, 2007 at 6:19 pm

    28. Anjali says:

      Loved this post! And you’ve now given me even more reason to keep blogging myself.

      March 29th, 2007 at 7:14 pm

    29. Beck says:

      I don’t know if anyone has mentioned this, but that was a seriously beautiful post. You are an artiste, my friend.

      March 29th, 2007 at 7:45 pm

    30. Karly says:

      You always make me wish I could write like you. You are so talented.

      Also? What a great reason to blog.

      March 29th, 2007 at 8:11 pm

    31. Deanna says:

      Great post! I shared a link to your blog on my blog! Hope that’s okay! Let me know if it’s not, I will remove it. I thought my scrapbooking friends would be inspired by how you remembered that particular moment. Thanks!

      March 29th, 2007 at 9:26 pm

    32. Carrie says:

      Great post – Brought me to tears and also reminded me of some of the things my oldest child says that just mean so much. BTW I’ll be keeping a pen and pad by the bed to jot down things I hear my kiddos say that I reallllyyy want to remember :0)

      March 29th, 2007 at 11:25 pm

    33. Mommy Dearest says:

      That’s what I like about your blog: those little snapshots of motherhood.

      We gave that same Radio Flyer to my 3-year-old for Christmas (2005). A few months later I backed over it with my 15-passenger van. Make sure Sean remembers to park his in the garage.

      March 31st, 2007 at 12:54 pm

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