Tuesday, November 27, 2007

Sometimes a Shining Moment

In a former life, I probably wanted to be a food photographer. Not. But I do seem to take lots of food photos for this blog. This is yesterday's lunch (pumpkin muffins by Hannah). "Dinner" is what we call it in the South, as we eat our big meal in the middle of the day when I'm home.

We often eat in this cozy, companionable spot in front of the fire.

For the next four days, I'll eat lunch at Canterbury Woods Elementary School, where I'm working, in Fairfax, Virginia, outside of Washington, D.C. I'm teaching personal narrative writing with 5th graders at Canterbury Woods and I want to share some thoughts on this process with you all during the week.

I'm signing stock at Politics & Prose in D.C. on Wednesday at 4pm. If you're in the neighborhood, please come by and see me. Anybody want to go to dinner afterward? Let me know. D.C. is my beloved old stomping grounds. Any Children's Book Guild readers out there?

I had such a mellow Thanksgiving it was hard to leave home yesterday. I'm out for 8 days, with one overnight at home. I'll go from here to New Orleans, where I'm going to be starting an oral history project with Coleen Salley. Then I toodle up to Hattiesburg, Missisippi, where I'm going to visit with elementary school students and give an address on December 4 to the University of Southern Mississippi Honors Forum. Here's the title of my talk: "From Mississippi to Mississippi: A Love Story in Three Violent, Compassionate Acts including The Beatles, the Vietnam War, and Your Personal History."

I've been writing this speech for over 30 years. I'll tell you more about that soon.

I'm feeling a bit flattened by this fall's schedule with a new book out there and all the traveling I do anyway in addition to the tour I've just finished. But you know how it is. You stand up in front of that classroom of students or that group of teachers or that gaggle of neighborhood kids, and you know that there is sometimes a shining moment, even in the midst of your flattened feelings or a difficult day, season, life, and you watch for it, for that moment. You are energized by it.

Sometimes you realize you are living it, that shining moment, right this minute. And especially, when you look back with some perspective, you realize that life is one shining moment after another, even in the midst of the challenges you face.

Maybe that's why I take so many pictures of food. I'm looking at this meal I'm about to eat, this meal that two (or four) hands have prepared so lovingly -- it's a shining moment. Something like that.

I have to go look in the mirror now and apply make up. This will not be a shining moment. Remind me to tell you about getting started with Weight Watchers on Saturday -- definitely not a shining moment on that scale. But I'm serious about this, and soon there WILL be shining moments to report. We're going to do these shining weigh-in moments together, too -- right? RIGHT? hello?

Off to school I go. Have a good week, everybody... the year is almost over! And hang in there, Hannah -- only two more weeks and the semester is DONE.