Tuesday, January 21, 2014

Snow Globe

The world is a snow globe as I sit in my apartment. I am living in what is known as the Polar Vortex. When I was a child it was simply known as winter. I feel like this is the beginning of a terrible movie about the future. The bad opening line if you will that is used. However, it is true. It is my experience.

The snow comes outside my window. As I sit in the warmth of my shoebox, it looks harmless. Yes, it is like a snow globe. I still remember my dad had them in his office when I was a kid. Someone gave him one, an old client I think. It was Dickinsonian in theme, or at least looked like Victorian England. I still remember shaking it as a small child, enthralled at the chaos I created. The tiny figurines were at my mercy. Yet as the sparkling white flakes fell, it had a look of beauty.

Now Mother Nature creates the same scene in New York City. The sparkling white flakes land on the ground like pieces of powered sugar on top. The snow on the ground resembles icing. Of course, as the powered sugar falling from the sky lays on top it seems like it would be the ideal sugar cookie, one that would bring you to the dentist because it would produce a great many cavities. From inside my house, the snow is harmless. It is a friend. Winter weather is the best writing weather. I have my blanket, my coffee, and my candle burning. I always burn a candle for luck, The Archangel Michael. While not as religious as I was growing up, I was learned according to Revelations he led the army and defeated the evil Lucifer. So I burn the candle for my own peace of mind. It's not some fundamental razzmatazz. It is just my little ritual to keep negative energy out.

The snow also produces old memories. When I was a kid my grandmother collected old houses. These were Christmas Carol themed. We all got a house every year for our birthday. My Mema Ralph keeps them to this day in her home in a glass case. As a child I used to have nightmares that she had magical powers. That if someone angered her she would shrink them, making them live in the small houses and submit to her will. When I told my aunts and uncles this, they thought it was hysterical. My grandmother did too, thank goodness.

I also think of sledding in the backyard. My brother, sister, and I created our own course. We always went out when the trash TV of a snow day got to be too much. Then we created our own course. One year we even had our own ice skating rink we fashioned. While ghetto in some respects, it did the job. We played music in the shoddy attempt at winter fun made in our basketball court. Snow fell and we celebrated winter. As a family we even cross country skiied. We went to the park as a unit. My sister was always really good at it, because it requires a svelte body. On the other hand, I was always kind of slow. It wasn't my thing, so thank goodness my family came to America instead of us living in Germany or Austria where our ancestors were from. One time, when we had a blizzard, we even cross country skiied to church. Most families stayed home but not us. We had a way in and out. And then there was the line running we did in the snow. Of course since we were so little we didn't last long. However, my father explained they did this in Finland in order to train the team. I would try to explain that we weren't living in Finland but it fell on deaf ears.

Somehow, I also remember being sixteen years old. I was the heaviest I had ever been. At the time, I was on a special liquid diet. Going through the awkwardness mixed with teenage rebellion, I wore bright red lipstick with matching blue eye shadow. I hated math and was failing it most of the time anyway. I loved reading. At the time my favorite class was AP European History with Miss Garber. I liked her because she had been to Europe and China and all those places. Her grading style was kind of crazy, but I did well. A bigger lady, she was stuck to the chair but her love of history was awe inspiring. At the time, I wanted to go to New York to become a superstar. I wanted to go to NYU. I wanted to write novels. I wanted to get the hell out of where I was. However, the Colton and Palmer textbook became the escape for me. The characters in European history were amazing. Phillip II wore monk's clothes and had to be found in the palace by his staff and cleaned up for visiting ambassadors. Martin Luther took longer than planned to translate the Bible from Latin to German because he believed the devil was trying to stop him, and would throw bottles of ink behind him thus thwarting his own progress. John Calvin put Bibles in the bars of Swizerland. When that failed he closed the bars. Sometimes the king of Poland thought he was the king of Germany and vice versa. The book was fun to read too. One sentence read, "The pirates raided the coast, ransacked for gold, and lusted for booty."

Now I am in New York City and it snows. There are people in my life who question my choices, my goals. They wonder why I don't opt for a bourgeois existence. Such is not the luck and lot in life of an artist. Not everyone understands the calling. As I sit in uncertainty about the next step of my life, those closest to me want for me to be more ordinary, more normal. If this were the case I would have stayed where I was. Following one's passion is a mission of faith. While the unknown is scarier than death in some ways, because with death one know they will die, it is also exciting. The unknown holds it's own possibilities. The unknown holds it's own design. The unknown is like a snowman. Sometimes you start with one vision but the outcome is different but more spectacular than imagined.

As I go out into the snow, New Yorkers bravely shovel their sidewalks bundled up against the cold. Armed and dangerous with salt, they pave the way so that others will not slip. The corner store floor is wet and slippery with melted snow from the boots of others. As we all enter, we get coffee, tea, or hot coca to keep ourselves warm. We greet each other as we pass, sort of bonding. The truth is, none of us can control the outcome. We are all in this together. While the weather sucks and the winds blow in more ways than one, it is a comfort to know none of us are facing the cold alone. This is not an individual struggle but something we are fighting as a group, a unit, a city.

The Polar Vortex is similar to following the dreams of one's passion in art. Sometimes the future is uncertain and you are thrown a curve ball. You sit in the discomfort of the cold unknown. However, it is best to be where your feet are. It is best to have a positive attitude. That way, not only will you see yourself through the storm but any crisis that arises. With the belief that this too shall pass, you know that there is light at the end of the tunnel. Eventually if you stick with it and smile, everything is going to be okay. In the words of Winston Churchill, "When you are going through hell, keep going."

I Came I Saw, I Sang: Memoirs of a Singing Telegram Delivery Girl

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