Monday, January 28, 2013

New Thing #14 Update ~ Is It Wine Yet?

The Is It Wine Yet? Draft has been in draft form for weeks now.

It's a follow-up for the 14th New Thing:
Details about the day we siphoned the wine out of the huge glass jug into empty wine bottles. Not the final step in the process but something like the Mid-Winter Dance halfway through your senior year of high school.

My main point was, and for the most part still is, that instant gratification is an empty, superficial satisfaction. It's not the real thing.

But I was having a difficult time getting the words out. I'd start and stop. Stop and start again. But no matter how I came at the post, it ended up looking a lot like a sermon or a scolding.

I do have this gene. The Strong Opinion chromosome. Proof of the theory of evolution. I'm lukewarm on very few topics. I find lukewarm completely unacceptable and ordinary. I love this about me. Not everyone, however, finds this adorable. Let me tell you my opinion on those people. Okay, another time.

So I intended to write about our society's twisted and growing addiction to instant gratification. The quick fix. That insidious, unattractive, desperate energy of impatience and lack of gratitude. Entitlement. How it's a junk food mentality and lifestyle.

Two glaring examples:
  • Our unwillingness to devote the time and energy to real and satisfying meals. Living on drive-up, deli counters and frozen dinners. 
  • Our unwillingness to invest in flesh and blood people. Creating risk-free cybernet relationships with like-minded cowards and calling them 'friends.' Or girlfriends. 
Going for the quick and easy solution because true a investment of time and energy is involved and scary. It requires something from us.

Some things......many, many things in my experience, are worth the wait. The extra investment and dedication. The glorious results of patience and vulnerability. How much joy there is in the anticipation. The longing, the waiting. Makes me wiggly thinking about it.

I drafted and drafted.
I had quotes from Veruca Salt's musical tirade: "Don't care how..I want it NOW!"
And Willie Wonka's quiet truth: "The suspense is terrible....I hope it'll last."

This draft has been cooking in a designated part of my head on a constant basis for ages: at times just barely simmering in the background, other times on high heat, just about to boil over. But always there.

Late last night, as I was driving home, a completely separate part of my brain was trying to figure out "Where can I find an acoustic guitar player for an upcoming New Thing project."
And how it's turning out to be more difficult than I'd imagined.....
And wishing that I knew how to play guitar myself, how I've wished this for years....
But in all honesty, how I'm not willing to put in the time and I'm not willing to 'seriously suck' as a beginning guitar student for however long it would take to be good.
That if I could just wave a magic wand and be an instantly proficient guitar player, I would.
And that I would also wave the same magic wand to speak fluent French and ice skate.

Then the two parts of my brain, formed a reality-TV-strength alliance, and took me down.
"This is why I'm struggling so furiously with the need to scold and condemn instant-gratification," my brain said, in stereo. Because I have this too! I've been preaching to myself.

It's obnoxious when this happens. When the thing you find yourself railing against, in your head, mentally yelling at people because they do this thing or that thing. Your self-righteous justifications and monologues  But that truthfully, the real reason it bothers you so much, is because it's not an observation of others, but a frightening Fun House reflection of yourself. Aha!
Dang. I really just wanted to write about how right and superior I am in this area. Grumble, grumble, snarl, grumble. Stomp. Scowl. (I also have the Fit Throwing Chromosome.)

Me and my platforms. So mockable!
('Mockable' is getting the dreaded Red Line in Spell Check. Not a real word? Really? In our society? Today? With all the insanity around us........Mockable is not a real word? That's hysterical!)

Squishing those grapes was a unique experience that I'm happy I got to do. I loved it. But another great thing about making wine is the wait. The anticipation.

I can't say exactly how long the wait. Every day, as directed, I thumped the giant glass jug of 'pre-wine,' resting on the floor under the island in the center of my kitchen. It was a pretty sight every morning, preparing breakfast. The distorted effect by the thick, clear-blue glass. That deep, deep red, sometimes cloudy liquid. Resting. Changing. Occasionally bubbling, gurgling.

I guess sometimes things don't go as you plan with wine making and you end up with wine vinegar instead. Worst case: you're well on your way to vinaigrette salad dressing. So all those weeks waiting for the day to transfer the liquid to the wine bottles, we trusted that it was growing up to be wine. When we finally popped the stopper on the jug, we each took a couple sips. It was definitely alcohol. All wild greens in the area were quite safe. In fact, it was kind of a high percentage of alcohol.

Although again, I wasn't paying close attention to the gadgets and the numbers they revealed. But I still want to say 13 something percent. ?? It's a technicality to me.

What I know first-hand it that it's tart and it's strong.
And pretty.

I think Ciara and Ephraim knew this even more 'first-hand' than I did. Eph was the first one to siphon the wine from the large single jug to the individual wine bottles. Then Ciara took a turn.

The experience took me back to high school, watching the boys in Terrace Heights siphoning gasoline out of one tank and into the tank of a bone dry dirt bike. Not bothering the original gas owner with the nuisance of being asked. Sucking on the end of a hose to get the flow going, then spitting gas on the ground.

Now, I don't know if the guys back in school ever swallowed any gas, but I'm pretty sure Ci & Eph swallowed a bit of that wine.

After we siphoned the last of the liquid from the jug into the wine bottles, there was a thick bog of grape 'remains' left at the bottom. A heavy, goopy, wine slime.

Reds, burgundies, scarlets, I love these colors. This wine marsh that had settled to the bottom was a beautiful deep, smoky maroon color. I hated to just throw it out. Which is what happens to  the sediment in this process.

So before it could be discarded, I grabbed a comfortable but dingy beige sweatshirt from my closet. A shirt I put on when I want 'cozy.' Ciara twisted and tied knots all over the shirt. Wine Tie-die. I wadded the sweatshirt into a large bowl and poured the thick, heavy goo over it. Saturating the fabric. It marinated for at least 24 hours. I knew the longer the better. I envisioned a pale mauve outcome.

Waiting for the shirt to soak, then rinse and dry was another sweet anticipation. I loved the feeling of 'I can't wait,' to see the final result. I loved the possibility that a comfortable but unsightly shirt would be transformed into something pretty and serve as a nice souvenir of the wine-making experience.

When it came out of the clothes dryer, the shirt was a very pale purple.
Okay, not really.
I wish.
In truth, it was a gray color. An ugly gray color. 50 Ugly Shades of Gray. Not pretty at all. None of the red that I'd hoped for.
My own little wine-die science experiment. Oh well.
Sometimes you win; sometimes you end up with a shirt that is even more dreadful and tattered than when you started.

See those fancy, foil-topped bottles in the background? 
Yeah, we didn't do those.

We ended up with the equivalent of nine bottles of wine.
One bottle has been set aside for when Sequoia turns 21. 
20.5 years is some serious delayed gratification.

This is our mini-bar packaging. 
Watch for it on your next commercial flight.


So let's just I say I could cross my arms, nod my head, blink my eyes and turn myself into a perfect guitar-playing, French speaking, triple-toe looping ice skater, Jeannie-style. Where's the honor in that? Having it handed to me. Requiring nothing from me.
How could I ever truly appreciate, connect to the music, the language, the athleticism.
How could I stand back and excitedly say, "LOOK! Look what I did!" because I really didn't do anything. What is the antonym of 'accomplishment?' The opposite of 'Well done?'

Australian poet Judith Wright said, "As we get past our superficial material wants and instant gratification, we connect to a deeper part of ourselves, as well as to others, and the universe."

Saturday, January 26, 2013

"Oh Birdie, what am I going to do?"

There are some times when I am my own worst critic. Times when I am incredibly and unnecessarily hard on myself. Holding myself to an unattainable standard that no one else would ever hold me to.

But then there are other times when I am not hard enough on myself. This is one of those times.

I see how seriously behind I am in blogging about the New Things. Even with just writing in general. Why do I keep letting myself get away with this? There are some things in life for which we shouldn't get a pass. Writing falls within this category for me.

There are a number of New Things that have happened but I keep not doing the writing.

Technically speaking, if we're counting weeks since I turned 50, I am a few New Things behind. But this doesn't weigh on my mind at all. Because these events just do not occur weekly. A few weeks will go by without any New Thing; yet sometimes two or three will happen in single week. I have complete confidence in getting 50 New Things accomplished by my 51st birthday.

The writing, or not writing, however, is kicking my ass. I wonder if I'll ever understand why writing is so difficult sometimes. I call myself a writer. I claim to love writing. I think I can write pretty well. So why is it so hard?

I like to think of writing as my art. My form of expression and creativity. But it doesn't appear that people with other forms of creative expression have this problem. Are there painters who keep putting off the actual act of painting? But instead, just think about it all the time?
Are there interpretative dancers who rarely dance?
Are there chainsaw sculptors out there beating themselves over the head, metaphorically speaking, because they haven't fired up the Husqvarna 440 e-series in two weeks?

A quote I heard years ago, while in a writing class at Pierce, makes me feel better but also makes me wonder:
"Writing is easy; all you do is sit staring at a blank sheet of paper until drops of blood form on your forehead." (Gene Fowler)

I can always think of something else to do. Paint my toenails. Clean a closet. Watch my latest favorite movie for the 47th time. Actually, I'd even rather go to the mall. And I abhor the mall. And most other retail establishments. Well, okay, I guess I'd choose writing over going to the mall, if those were my only two options. Maybe I could use a personal 'writing' trainer to threaten me with a trip to Macy's every day. Sounds like a great business opportunity for some enterprising entrepreneur.
Am I all twisted up about this because writing truly is my passion and it hurts my heart when I am not diligent and productive?
Or is writing such a fucking struggle because it really isn't my passion? Maybe writing isn't the real thing? Is the writing struggle and the constant self-flagellation just a distraction from my true purpose?
My internal, intellectual cage-fighting skills are really strong. Always have been. Why is writing so hard? What does that mean?

I know these feel like rhetorical questions. And maybe so. Does rhetorical mean that you don't expect an answer? Or that there really is no answer?  

In You're Got Mail, Kathleen Kelly, writes in an email to NY152: 
"Sometimes I wonder about my life. I lead a small life - well, valuable, but small - and sometimes I wonder, do I do it because I like it, or because I haven't been brave? So much of what I see reminds me of something I read in a book, when shouldn't it be the other way around? I don't really want an answer. I just want to send this cosmic question out into the void. So good night, dear void."

I can relate. And sometimes writing here in the blog feels like sending cosmic wonder-ings into the Dear Void. 
But unlike Kathleen Kelly, I want an answer. I sincerely wish I knew. 
It makes me cry, this struggle.