The Question That Must Not Be Asked.

posted in: Rant | 16
The only thing worse that writing about your precious, precious writing is including a black and white picture of yourself looking directly into the camera. Let's get gross.
The only thing worse that writing about your precious, precious writing is including a black and white picture of yourself looking directly into the camera. Let’s get gross.

It wasn’t many moons ago, but like, a handful of moons ago, that a person said to me, “Oh, sure, Mary, you have time to blog but not time to [ACTION.]” He wanted something from me, see, and felt my lack of attention to the matter was inexcusable in light of the fact that I had posted blog entries throughout the week. If I had time to write about meeting Tim Gunn, well, clearly I had loads of time.

This person happened to be miserable that day for reasons that had nothing to do with me, so I coughed loudly and made the conversation stop in as loving a manner as I could. When I lay down at the end of the night, though, my jaw was still clenched.

I don’t get furious often. I’m not saying it never happens — if you care about stuff, you’re bound to holler at some point — but I know the Wrathful Buddha is not a good look for me. Besides, most of the time I’m too bewildered by everything to be angry. I’ve been wrong so many times in my life, even as it’s happening, furious feels like something I’m going to regret later. I’ve also spent time around a few perpetually angry people over the years. Those people are not good role models. Don’t get mad, get perspective.

Fury became me, though, when the thought was floated that my blog should take dead last in the race to Get Everything Done And Done Well. When it has to, and sometimes it has to, PaperGirl warms the bench. Contracts are contracts, contracts have deadlines that must be at least broadly observed, and I need to eat. (At present, PaperGirl does not put food on the table; strange, as it is arguably my most valuable asset.) But having a meaningful life means more than being a good soldier.

This frustrating conversation from several months ago came up again because I felt the same sentiment was dangerously close to being on the lips of someone else the other day. The “Well, you have time to blog” argument was almost launched. When it wasn’t, I was relieved. I didn’t feel like getting furious; I had just combed my hair.

I will always prioritize writing. Always. If I’m not writing here, I’m in my journals. If I’m not in my journals, I’m reading, the other half of writing. There’s time every day for one part of this endless, bizarre, oft-fruitless, occasionally ecstatic process of mine and I refuse to be told there isn’t. I can’t help it. I actually can’t. Without the writing thing in my life, I feel nothing short of impoverished. And when I feel like that, well, no one gets anything at all — not on time, not late, not anything.

Do I sound defensive? I am. I am defending myself. I’m like, at the castle, shooting arrows from the parapet. The big cauldrons of treacle come next. Stand back or be liquified.

Every so often, my eyeballs pop open when my head is on the pillow: am I missing everything good? Did I wind up in the circus when I’m supposed to be on the farm? Is there still time to chuck everything and sink the rest of my days into writing, just writing? But what a question. Who do I think I am? Am I a victim of circumstance? Which set of circumstances? Both my parents are aspiring novelists, you know: my beloved mother is actively writing her commercially-viable first novel; my estranged father is likely writing his totally non-commercially viable nineteenth. I don’t want to write a novel; I want to write whatever PaperGirl is when she turns into a book. I want time to figure out what that looks like, which will be the first arduous part of making it all come true.

When I’m in bed, thinking all this, my eyeballs start darting around like crazy. The only thing to do at midnight when troubling conversations linger or I fear the level of hubris that must be in place to consider whether one’s life is being misspent, is to snuggle closer to Yuri and stick my face between his shoulderblades if he’s sleeping on his side. We have designated that part of his body “the face place” because my face fits perfectly there, thank goodness.

It’s got to fit somewhere.

The Zebra Dance.

posted in: Day In The Life | 4
From the NYC Capoeira website. This is a much larger event/group than I saw on Friday, but you get the idea.
From the NYC Capoeira website. This is a much larger event/group than I saw on Friday, but you get the idea.

In Shipshewana this past week, I had classrooms full of students. Before the lecture or session would begin, I would chat up the ladies in the audience. It’s nice to get to know people and breaks the ice a little bit.

I would say “Hi!” and they would say, “Hi! I watch you every week!” and I would say, “Yes, and I watch you every week,” because it’s funny to tell people that I can see them from inside the television. Then I would say, “What’s new?” and they would say what’s new and then they would ask, “What’s new with you?” and I would tell them that I moved to New York City. Then they would say, “Wow! Cool!” and then, invariably, “How come?”

“For love!” I would declare brazenly. Now, even though most people light up when you say you’ve done something for love, they still want to know you haven’t lost your mind. So I usually say I moved mostly for love but also for work reasons, and then I add the fact my older sister has lived in the East Village for over fifteen years and that I know New York City pretty well. Everyone feels a little relieved that I have family here and that there are reasons other than young Russian love for me to uproot my life and move to a city perpetually threatened by natural disaster, contagion, and terrorism.

This post is about going to watch my sister Nan practice capoeira on Friday night.

Nan used to be an experienced Brazilian jiu-jitsu star, but now she’s a fledgling Brazilian capoeira star. Jiu-jitsu was starting to take its toll on her body and she was a little burnt out, honestly, though I’m not sure she’d say so. But she is a talented combat-sport athlete, so when she left the body-slamming sparring sessions of jiu-jitsu, she didn’t go eat bonbons. No, she alighted to the New York Capoeira Center on the Lower East Side and proceeded to fall in love with the sport/game/dance/meditation that is capoeira. Yuri and I went to watch her and her class and it was extraordinary.

Capoeira has a fascinating, if spotty, history in the world; spotty because the art of capoeira has been concealed out of necessity and therefore not a lot has been written down about it from decade to decade, century to century. The bones of the story are this: millions of African slaves were brought to Brazil by the Portuguese beginning in the 1500s. From the motherland (the exact regions of Africa are speculated about but non-verifiable) slaves brought music and dance that then mixed with the people already living there.

The practice is part dance, part aerobic exercise, and part game, with people kicking, sweeping legs, and moving arms and feet in a perpetual, languid motion while repetitive music is played (think gourds and tambourine.) But capoeira is also part martial art, and that’s the incredible part. Those African slaves in Brazil were steadily developing a rather deadly form of self-defense disguised as this dance/game, practicing those pretty leg sweeps and languid moving arms with a secret purpose: to kick serious a** when necessary. People who saw the slaves practicing capoeira called it “the zebra dance” (the capoeiristas who really know what they’re doing absolutely look like zebras, back-kicking and going up on two legs and fiercely prancing around, defying gravity) and onlookers thought it was really beautiful and weird-looking — until they were knocked out, literally, by a zebra kick to the solar plexus. I read one thing that said a village defended itself for centuries against attackers using capoeira and left the enemies dazed, confused, and extremely injured or dead.

There is so much to say about capoeira. I can’t possibly give you a real history on it in a single blog post. But I can tell you that my sister Nan is so good at it and watching that room full of people dance, sweep, kick, go low, jump high, and sway, sway, sway to that tribal-sounding music (played live by a group of three people, one of them being the instructor) was beautiful. Yuri and I both were transfixed, sitting there on the bench, and we both had a profound New York moment: they do capoeira in a lot of places in the world, but the diverse group of people we were watching Friday night could only be zebra dancing together, here, like that, right then.

By the way: in 1889, Princess Isabel signed “The Golden Law,” that marked the official end of slavery in Brazil. We should be happy that there was a Princess Isabel, that her law was so gorgeously named “The Golden Law.” We should be horrified that that didn’t happen until 1889

Long live the zebras.

 

The Divine Miss L.B., Solo Banana

posted in: Poetry | 3
Reclining, of course. Image: Wikipedia.

 

 

As some readers know, I have an ongoing, personal project that is a collection of poems about fruit. It’s not that I have a thing for fruit exactly, but I most certainly have a big thing (ew) for light verse. Fruits are fruitful for this, it turns out. Nothing makes me happier than to break away from all the tasks at hand and work on a new fruit poem. Does it help me meet deadlines at work? No, but life is more than deadlines.

Each fruit is gets a unique poetic style; e.g., the pomegranate poem follows precisely the meter of Lewis Carroll’s Jabberwocky because the syllables match exactly; the cantaloupe poem is written for a chorus; the as-yet-unfinished pineapple poem is a Victorian odyssey in A-A-B-C-C-B rhyme-scheme, etc. I hope to publish them all one day — if you know anyone who’s in the business of publishing entertaining poetry about fruit, do let me know. Taken together, they do have a certain charm, I think, and there are drawings I’ve done with them, too.

If you click on the “Poetry” tag here on the blog page, you’ll find the other poems in the collection that I’ve posted on PaperGirl. For now, let’s direct our attention to the newest of the bunch (hey-o!) and enjoy “The Divine Miss L.B., Solo Banana.” I chose a limerick for the banana poem because bananas are funny objects, a bit lewd, too — just like most limerick. I didn’t set out to write something bawdy, but what I ended up with is totally not what I expected. Isn’t writing poetry wonderful??

NOTE: It is crucial to the poem that you recite it aloud — yes, right now — in a syrupy, thick Southern accent. I’m entirely serious. It doesn’t work otherwise. Channel your best Blanche du Bois.

The Divine Miss L.B., Solo Banana
by Mary Fons (c) 2014

Said Divine Miss Lady Banana,
(Born and raised in deepest Savannah) —
“Hon, I’m all real,
With born snack a-peel —
Ah can’t help if you love me, now can’ah?”

Suitors came far and wide just to meet ‘huh,
They was John, there was James, there was Peet’uh;
But none of them fit,
So Banana split,
Waved “Bye!” an’ lit out like a cheetah.

“Solo life, it suits me just fine,”
Said Mademoiselle la B. Devine —
“Why be beholden?
My life is golden,”
And she turned to face the sunshine.

Color Me Quilter: A Webinar You Will Like

posted in: Work | 11
One many slides from the show.
One many slides from the show. Visit the “Booking” page on my homepage to sign up. It will be fun + informative.

On Monday, something unique and (hopefully) extremely awesome is happening from 1-2pm, EST: the first live, online webinar in the Color Me Quilter series is taking place. Let me tell you what this is.

I understand that you may be slightly skeeved or grumpy about the word “webinar.” I was both skeeved and grumpy when I first came into contact with it because it seemed trendy — goofy, even. But I was wrong to sniff at the webinar because as it turns out, webinars are great. I’ve taken a bunch of them and I love them.

A webinar is a seminar on the web. (You probably figured that out.) But what you may not know is that the seminars of days past, the ones you saw in college or at “a function,” they were rather dry and you had to sit in a darkened classroom or lecture hall try to not fall asleep. The Internet has changed all that. Now, seminars — webinars! — can be viewed by you in your fuzzy slippers at home, the best of them are bright and fast-moving, full of juicy content, and they are interactive. That’s right: you can ask the person leading the seminar (in this case, me) questions and stuff, while it’s all happening.

Quilters ask me again and again, “How do I choose fabric?” and that question is first answered in regard to color. The color value and its level of contrast in regard to other fabrics, the scale of the print — this is fundamental stuff when you’re making a quilt and you know what? I can help you. I know this stuff.

One Color Me Quilter webinar is one hour. There will be one each month for the next year. (You don’t have to buy them all or anything, don’t worry.) Each month, I focus on a different color — I thought it would be fun to set it up like that and so far, it’s so engaging and interesting, other work has taken a backseat to my work on the show — do not tell my publisher this. The color that will kick off the whole series on Monday and part of the reason I’m geeking out? It’s my favorite color: red. I go through the dyeing process, red’s placement on the color wheel, how to “audition” different reds. You get quilt history. There are patterns to download. There are pitfalls examined and advice is given on how to avoid such things. Visually, it’s a feast. Informationally, it’s Thanksgiving dinner. Let me feed you red.

Do you want to join me? I hope so. It’s $19.99. NOTE: For me to earn my living, it is extremely important that you go to this link first to buy the webinar! You’ll see the list of “Mary Fons Presents” links there, which will take you to the purchase page at Fons & Porter. Being self-employed means any traffic I drive through my own website returns me more pennies on the dollar. Is it sexy to mention it? No. Is it me, lookin’ out for my pennies? Yes! (Remember, I have to buy groceries in Manhattan now. Do you have any idea how much butter costs in the East Village?? It’s not pretty.)

Thank you all. Hey, here’s that link again — you’ll want the first webinar listed, on “Red.” I do hope to see you on Monday, friends. You will like it.

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