Wednesday, March 07, 2007

Maria is sitting on top of the clean clothes. Actually she is stuck, sitting in the basket of clean and folded clothes. She sneezed on the hangers, then said, “I wovee you mom. Night-night.”

Last night she helped me prepare dinner. While I worked on the spaghetti sauce, Maria measured teaspoons of salt and separated cloves of garlic. Max was appalled to see the salt poured out over the kitchen counter, and he only seemed mildly convinced when I explained to him that she was cooking.

“Cooking? How is this cooking?” he asked incredulously.
“Well, she learned how to say garlic, and she learned how to separate the cloves, and now she is practicing pouring and measuring,” was my happy reply.
“But what about the mess?” Max countered.
“Messes get cleaned.”

I think I am realizing that for me, writing is a compulsion. I am keenly aware that I am publishing a lot of stuff that will litter the Internet like dust motes in a sitting room; meaning my thoughts go largely unnoticed. Yet, in spite of my humiliation and self-conscious embarrassment, I cannot seem to keep from writing. Everyday I send my thoughts and reflections, the daily rituals and details of our family life out in to the ether. At least for our household and me it serves as a family time capsule, or large scrapbook, so that we can revisit happy times, silly moments, rough patches and memories that might have drifted away. And I cannot explain why blogging is the method, the tool, the page for my journal. I cannot justify my choice, except that I do want to connect with other family, friends, so I keep on writing.

I am not a particularly skilled writer and I do not have the most innovative or engaging website, and knowing this sometimes troubles me. I feel inadequate, small. And I also feel reminded of a trend that I recognize in our society. I don’t know if I can describe it clearly, but the trend I see has to do with a lot of people wanting to be Special, Famous, Recognized and Rich, and not necessarily for any particular reason. In other words, there are a lot of Paris Hiltons. Naming one celebrating is a weak way to make my point, and yet it is still somehow effective. Paris Hilton is rich by way of inheritance and she is famous by way of doing nothing of genuine value for society. Is she special? Well, you would think she is, if taking magazine covers and news’ headlines in to account. I see far fewer acknowledgments for the people who actually work, sacrifice, plan, endeavor, strive, dedicate, apply, sweat, create, fail and try again, innovate, and go back to do it again everyday, without the hope of a severance package, awards show or free home-makeover. Our society keeps widening this tremendous gap between wage earners and individuals like the ex Home Depot CEO whose severance payout was 210 million dollars. 210 million dollars for a job poorly done, or how good a job could anyone do to merit that amount of money? Or how about Spend it Like Beckham? Yes, it’s a business move and he is a franchise that generates interest and more money, but I feel for his teammates; are they worth so much less? And what about the children aspiring to be professional soccer players? Will they fully understand that success can be found without millions of dollars and product endorsements?

We cannot all be famous, not even for 15 minutes. We won’t all get rich fast and easy. Very few of us will get tickets to Oprah’s Favorite Things giveaway show. I don’t think it is good for so many people to cling to the hope of fame and prosperity, to wait for their lottery ticket to save them, to idealize the lives and faces of a lucky few. I think that as we find more and more people without the nicest cars, the shiniest homes and the newest handbag, we will face a crisis. The widening gap between the 1% with everything and the rest of us will cause a great deal of anger, resentment and bitterness.

I used to really enjoy watching Martha Stewart’s television show, the old one, before she was famous for going to jail. Her half hour program featured tips for home keeping, cooking, crafts and hobbies. She shared her skills and she invited skilled professionals to teach their crafts. She went out in to the community to find craftsmen, farmers, fishermen, jewelers, hobbyists and cooks, many different people with talents and interests. The show was not about promoting celebrities or making product endorsements. The program was about regular people that knew how to do something useful or simply beautiful and it was about giving the viewer an opportunity to learn something new and interesting. I miss the unique experience of hearing from a person that knows and loves her work and is content to go on working for the sake of the process and the product and not for fame or huge sums of cash. There is something genuine and endearing about that kind of person.

Do I want fame and riches? Well… hmmm… well kind of, but … hey, it’s infectious! I could enjoy a little recognition. I would like to hear that I am worthy of a trophy, some swag and a write up in TIME, and money is very useful. I would love to test my skills in philanthropy, to build the house of my dreams. I don’t want fame, not for what I do, not for the cost of privacy and freedom. I don’t want to make winning the Lottery my goal or plan, or to pine away for a windfall that will make my life perfect. I do want to continue writing and posting pictures on Chickenblog and maybe making someone laugh or feel connected a bit. And I will remind myself periodically that this is for the sake of the process, for the product, for the pleasure of it…

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