So, I had a bad night. It may be due to the picture to your left where tissues are crowding my mug of raspberry tea and my Downy napkin poetry. I’ve been sick with a cold for just two short days and yet, I’m a cosmic mess. At least tissues and napkins are pulling double time: snot and words. Hopefully the two are not blurring one another. Due to my lack of composure during creative writing discussions (which was more so the reason for my no good, very bad day) I took a mild trip to the bookstore. By mild I mean I only purchased one book. Quailridge isn’t exactly the place to go when you only want to purchase one book, it’s the place to go when you want to become a serial book killer. It’s an instant mood lifter, it’s like the mood ring of bookstores – you walk in and you’re instantly violet-blue. See the mood ring manual here.
I did the usual: ran my fingertips along the hardcover spines, through F,G,H,I and then poetry, travel, literary journals. I looked through the card section, found quotes for friends in other hemispheres. I cheered myself right up from that crying jag. I joke with my friends that when I’m pregnant my husband will have to run out and get books, not tacos, or pickles. Maybe a book on pickles. Do they have such a thing. Today, I bought a book on birds (typical).
Let me introduce to you, The Conference of the Birds (retold and re-illustrated) by Peter Sis. I have a thing about bird books, or the word bird in titles. I also have two birdish tattoos, and a nickname of “little bird. It’s kind of my thing; birds and books. Any title with “birds” or “birdies” usually lends itself right to the register. This book spoke to me from clear across the room. It was face-up towards me, it’s printed on this unbelievable grid paper, and the whole back sleeve is birds. It didn’t take me long to designate this book, “the one” and marry it right on the spot. In this case, I’m polygamous. This book is amazing.
If you didn’t already know, I’m obsessed with Shaun Tan books. If anyone in Australia wants to send me his new sketch journals, I will not be opposed. I own every single one (The Red Tree is in my nephews room though because I gave it to him for a holiday not even thinking it wasn’t very childish. It’s actually quite depressing). Since my love affair started with Tan in Australia, I have yet to find illustrations, or illustrated books for adults that measure up to Tan. I think in color, and oddness, The Conference of Birds matches. Just check out some of the images that Penguin gave as an excerpt to NPR.
I was delighted to find this book. It only takes one page of something delicious to perk a bookish girl up (boys take note. Maybe read the little diddy “Date a Girl Who Reads” so you can know the truth about love and devotion). Once I did some research, I found that last year Sis was on NPR “All Things Considered” to introduce his dream world of birds to adults, not children. Anywho, that’s not really why I’m writing. I never wrote a blog about how wonderful my Month of Letters was in March and Claire reminded me to blog about it. A month of letters was a really lovely way to get to know bloggers out there and realize how your brain works in the stream-of-concious. I often stream-of-concious for fiction and poetry exercises during my daily writing, but I don’t often enough write about my own life this way. It’s interesting to decide what you’re going to write to a stranger, or how you’re going to present yourself, or if you’re just going to write about the glass in front of you and the orange eye make-up you’re wearing that day. I wrote a lot of letters about coffee and food. I was almost always hungry when I started writing. I filled every first letter with the same note as well:
“For it is said, you know, that a letter will always seek a reader; that sooner or later, like it or not, words have a way of finding the light, of making their secrets known” (Kate Morton, The Distant Hours).
I think there’s something about the honesty in writing letters that you don’t get through an email. How easy is it to just slide your pinky to the delete key and let everything go blank again, start fresh. With a letter, unless you feel like digging and scraping your pen across a page (who writes in pencil other than Nikki Finney anymore), it’s a lot more work to delete ink than the georgia font on the screen. I like letters because I always feel like myself when I write them. I’m never pretending to be someone else because I know if I do, then it’s all fake. In letters I can scrawl my bad, loopy, half-trying-cursive handwriting, my unknown and aggressive commas. (The page looks like people are on the comma egg hunt). My bad spelling and lack of acceptance of the “i before e” rule. I tend to be the mess that I am when it comes to letters. Usually, the blog world doesn’t see that mess because I try to focus (sometimes it comes out though, like this blog, it can’t be restrained). It wasn’t just me who celebrated the art of hand-writing, but tons of ladies wrote me back. Here is what came of that:
Thank you to Claire, Jen, Whit, Muzette, Lauren, MyMeanderingMind, Riki, Tracey, Chrissy, Ever, Kate, Katie, Kristine, Cindy, Chris, Sars and Anna. I got more cards than this. Haley sent me this rad owl card that I unfortunately have misplaced. I think my dad moved it from the kitchen counter where I last saw it. It was very hippie Harry Potter, as she is. In fact, I think I just described her in three words. Thank you to everyone who participated with me, or helped me to create a global community of letter writing/penpal-dom. It’s a revolution, get on the bus.
I am a writer, educator and genuine creative living on the coast of NC. Our house is built on sunshine with my husband BJ, dog named Tucker, and our two very sassy cats: Fromage and Jasper.