Mind you … these two pictures were taken at the very same time. While the crabs were doing their thing in the water, the dragonflies were doing theirs in the air right about.
“Who’s me next pirate?!”
That’s what I say every Wednesday and Friday morning as I walk through a line 150 long. The kids are wide-eyed with anticipation as we cloak them in their official pirate uniform–a skull & crossbone doo-rag, a felt eye-patch, and a foam sword. Then … and only then … do they get their official pirate name. And with grand flourish, a sweet little girl suddenly becomes Squidface Sarah, and that handsome young lad turns into Mad Man Max.
Once all the pirate kidz have been officially pirated (akin to being knighted), they go on the boat ride of their lives as they steal back Captain Tanner’s pirate ship from Crazy Captain Black Mark (my dad), send Stinky Trader Luke to Davy Jone’s locker, and find the buried treasure. It is quite the adventure.
After the pirate cruise leaves, I sell tickets for the morning crabbing trip and then sit under my umbrella while I answer phones, take reservations, and sell tickets for the 11:30 and 2:00 crabbing cruises.
We finally got some good rain this afternoon and I was quite content to just sit in it and take pictures of the bubbles, drops, and ripples the raindrops made in the harbour.
You know — just another Wednesday. G’night!
Yesterday, I wrote all about my afternoon at Daufuskie Day and posted about a gagillion pictures. But this image needed a post of its own. It’s my favorite photo from the day.
I wonder who she is and what she loves. I wonder what her life has been like. I wonder what makes her laugh and what makes her cry. In her, in this image, I see a strength and a determination, wisdom and elegance.
She is just so beautiful to me.
Pat Conroy described it in his book The Water is Wide. It, he wrote, “is an island off the South Carolina mainland not far from Savannah, Georgia. The island is fringed with the green, undulating marshes of the southern coast; shrimp boats ply the waters around her and fishermen cast their lines along her bountiful shores. Deer cut through her forests in small silent herds. The great southern oaks stand broodingly on her banks. The island and the waters around her team with life. There is something eternal and indestructible about the tide-eroded shores and the dark, threatening silences of the swamps in the heart of the island. [It] is beautiful because man has not yet had time to destroy this beauty.”
Daufuskie is her name. Some say it comes from the Yemassee Indians and means “land with a point.” Others say it’s Gullah for “the first key” north of Savannah. Either way, it is, in many ways, an island lost in time. There is no bridge, still, after all these years, and I doubt there ever will be. The only way to get there is by boat. The preferred mode of transportation around the island is a golf cart and most of the families living there are the descendants of African-American slaves. The Gullah language still drips from the dialect, much like the Spanish Moss that hangs from the trees.
As a child my family carried boat loads of tourists over to Daufuskie Island to ride around in “jungle buses” stopping at the old one-room school house, the 100-year-old Baptist church, the Bloody Point beach, and other sites of historical interest. The ladies who lived there would prepare a delicious South-island lunch and Miss Bertha would save me extra cornbread–which I ate, wrapped up in the folds of her lap. The highlight though, was always the deviled crabs–a divine delicacy passed on through generations of women. I still have yet to find its equal.
This weekend I accompanied my dad to Daufuskie for the first time in years. It was the annual Daufuskie Day festival–a day to celebrate the heritage, traditions, and lifestyle of the island.
Local families were set up with their tents and tables selling their wares, fresh produce and sea island cuisine–lowcountry boil (whole crabs, shrimp, corn, potatoes, and sausage boiled up with seasonings), jerk chicken and ribs, fresh peach and blueberry pies, and deviled crab of course.
Despite the fact that I was the only white girl around, and despite the fact that they were dying laughing at me, I finally joined in to learn. I just could keep still any longer! (Cuz you know I’m a dancer in my heart.)
At the end of the day, I bought a chunk of watermelon for a buck and sat down underneath a palmetto tree. I leaned against the trunk and started in on the sweetest melon I think I’ve ever tasted. I couldn’t help but smile as the juice dribbled down my chin, down my arms, and down my shirt as I spat the seeds into the dirt beside me.
This, is life, I thought to myself.
I looked out over the marsh through a frame of Spanish moss, beach music playing in the background and closed my eyes as the scent of boiling shrimp and bar-b-que lingered on the steamy breeze. Sweat pooled on my upper lip and dripped from my hair. Yes–this, is southern island life.
On the bookshelves,
that line the walls,
in this old room of mine,
sits a copy of The Great Gatsby.
I read it for the first time in Mrs. Hamm’s English class. Junior year. Hilton Head Prep School. It’s worn out and marked up–just like all my books. Lined with ink marks and littered with post-its.
Side note: I came 2.25 inches away from buying a Kindle the other day but just couldn’t bring myself to do it. I felt like I was cheating on my books. How could I ever face them again?!–knowing I was a shameful, scarlet lettered adulteress. The shame!
So anyway, back to the books.
If I love a book, I can’t help but mark it. I underline, dog-ear, and bookmark with wild abandon. You know–so I can go back and re-read the bestest parts over and over. If the words fit prettily, I salivate. If an author, in his expertise, provides a particularly clever and inspiring description of a scene or a character or a place, I find myself twirling inside, applauding their genius, and soaking every. black. letter. into my cells.
Ah the written word.
So back to The Great Gatsby.
in that delicious book,
one that I think of every year on this date,
one that seems particularly fitting as I sit here miles away from home at home, scratching at my cocoon from the inside,
“And so with the sunshine and the great bursts of leaves growing on the trees … I had that familiar conviction that life was beginning over again with the summer.”
Oh, may I say,
on this first day of summer,
Hello new life!
May I raise my glass to the sun and toast the days that wait just down the lane with nothing but open arms.
Cheers to you!
And may you, and me, and we, embrace boldly and joyfully, the promises of this,
New life indeed!
In honor of the first day of summer, I want to share my peony with you. I planted her last Fall and worried terribly about her life expectancy. She was dreadfully thin. Skin and bones, and nothing more. But when the snow of winter melted, she stretched her limbs and feathered herself with leaves. A tiny bud appeared one day, sitting royally atop her head like the Queen Mum’s crown. And as I left Utah, I frowned at the thought of leaving her. Pitiful, but true–she was on my list of reasons why I didn’t want to leave the desert.
But true to form, as resident best friend, Frit has kept me supplied with pictures of her birth. Last night we Skyped (because we miss each other so), and she carried me out to the backyard so I could peer through the digital screen, wide-eyed at the brilliance of my lovely bloom.
(I think I can officially cross #55 off the list of 101 Things to Do in 1001 Days.)
I have read numerous reviews. I also forced myself to listen to the entire soundtrack, simply because I didn’t want to write this post from a place of ignorance. It was hard to listen to, the soundtrack that is. I wanted to stop numerous times. But I didn’t want to write out of sheer emotion either.
But let me back up–to the day I heard that the creators of South Park were writing a Broadway musical to be titled, “The Book of Mormon.” Upon reading this news my heart sank. And I thought, “Here we go again.”
I wasn’t enraged. I wasn’t hurt, at least not yet. But I was stupefied that my religion had become the punchline of yet another a joke. And not the funny kind. Because the thing is–there are some funny Mormon jokes. Like any other society or culture we have some quirks–funny little nuances that are unique to us. And I’ll laugh at them with the best of them.
Kind of like that movie, “My Big Fat Greek Wedding.” I found it to be a funny, light commentary on the cultural quirks that make Greek Orthodoxy so wonderful and colorful. But at no point did the movie aim to deride the belief system upon which they hang their hat.
But you see, we Mormons get it all the time. The derision. And few defend us. Sometimes I wonder if we even know how to defend ourselves. We never have been a “fight back” kind of people. And at that, I can’t help but wonder about the level of public outcry if some of the prejudice pointed at us were to happen to any other religion.
One example. In the 2002 race for Arizona governor, Matt Salmon (a Mormon) lost to Janet Napolitano. Now losing is fine. He just didn’t get the votes. Okay. But one can’t help but wonder if the independent television ads about Salmon and polygamy (a practice no longer observed by Mormons) contributed to his loss. Or the posters that were put up underneath his campaign signs that said, “Don’t Vote Mormon.”
I often wonder what the public sentiment would have been had Salmon been Jewish and had the sign read “Don’t Vote Jew.”
But back to the musical. Newsweek said that it “may be the most obscene show ever brought to a Broadway stage.” Entertainment Weekly called it “irreverent” and that “the show is jam-packed with foul language … sexually explicit jokes, and enough blasphemy to knock your church-going grandma right out of her seat.”
Just to clarify, you can spend $487 (the going rate for a ticket to the show that’s now sold out through the year according to Bloomberg News) for irreverence, obscenity, sexually explicit jokes, blasphemy, and 49 f-words (+ additional expletives, calculated from the show’s script and score books). And yes, I do realize that that could be a list of descriptors for any random cross section from today’s American pop culture. But I’m not writing this from a place of judgment. I have my own vices and what one chooses to view, listen to, and spend money on is up to each of us.
My point is, I won’t be spending $487 to see this show and I hope you won’t either. But why?
Well. To begin, it’s because though touted as “parody” and “satire” I, instead, found the soundtrack derisive with an underlying hint of prejudice. “Satire” and “parody” are, in my opinion, simply intelligent words used to gloss over what is essentially at the core.
Please know, I am not opposed to satire, but “A reasonable definition of satire … is ‘a literary manner which blends a critical attitude with humor and wit to the end that human institutions or humanity may be improved. The true satirist is conscious of the frailty of institutions of man’s devising and attempts through laughter not so much to tear them down as to inspire a remodeling.’ The best satire does not seek to do harm or damage by its ridicule.” (source)
At the risk of appearing thin-skinned, after listening through the CD, I felt torn down, hurt, and set apart by ridicule.
But even that–my apparent thin skin–isn’t why I hope you won’t see it.
I hope you won’t see the Book of Mormon musical because I found that many of our beliefs were misrepresented, made fun of, or taken out of context which only further propagates the misunderstanding people have about us. Most people don’t know what we believe. And by and large, what I listened to only digs a deeper gulf between who Mormons really are and what the rest of the country thinks we are. I can’t help but wonder how many people, after seeing this show, will be able to separate the parody from reality. If that’s not damage under a guise of “satire,” I’m not sure what is.
And yet the audiences are flocking to see it, to hoot, holler, and applaud. And then bestow awards and accolades upon it. In doing so, they are rewarding irreverence and blasphemy directed toward a people who essentially are just trying their best to live good lives, raise good families, serve God, and love their fellowmen.
Is that who we are as a nation? As a human race? A people okay with entertainment that belittles and derides? That takes the things one group holds sacred and smears them underfoot?
And again, why did they choose the Mormons? What would be the result had they chosen Jews, or the Amish, or Muslims? Would people still think it’s as funny?
No. I won’t be seeing the Book of Mormon musical. And I hope you won’t either. Because in going, you’re saying that what they’re doing is ok. And it’s not.
Additional thoughts from the Washington Post (a non-Mormon’s perspective)
And another perspective (from a Mormon)
The warm yellow light of the table lamp sent a hushed glow from the corner of her room, casting long gray shadows against the walls. The ceiling fan spun slowly round, finding only slight success in cooling the thick Southern air. Love songs streamed from the radio, soft and amorously melancholy. The shutters on her windows rattled outside as the distant thunder crawled closer. She stretched, long and deep, lifting her brown legs to rest on top of the bed–the bed she’d slept in as a child–and sank deeper under an afghan her grandmother had crocheted years before. By no means cold on this balmy summer night, she simply liked the weight of it against her body–heavy and comforting, like a cocoon . She leaned her head against the back of the plump, pink chair that sat next to the wall of shelves lined with books, and closed her eyes.
And the rain began to fall.
This morning on my knees I approached my Heavenly Father. I thanked Him for this new day, for the beautiful light that rested on the window sill as I sat eating my breakfast, and for this place. I didn’t know if I meant “this place” as in this Island–this pocket of Heaven on Earth–or “this place” as in the certain point I’m in in my life–with all that that entails. Perhaps I meant both. But like I said, I didn’t know. I just knew that those two words were the right words, and that I needed to, wanted to, thank Him.
And then I continued–asking Him. “Father, please help me change.” But I stopped. Those were the wrong words. Yet they’re the words I’ve been tossing up to Heaven for years.
But today, they were wrong.
In a split second, I culled the ocean of words in my mind and found myself saying,
“No. Please help me become.”
Frit has often quoted a scene in Tim Burton’s film Alice in Wonderland (it’s also in Lewis Carroll’s classic book) wherein we find Alice doubting. She’s forgotten, or simply doesn’t believe she’s been to Wonderland before and feels like she can’t, or doesn’t want to, help fight against the Red Queen. At this point the Mad Hatter says to her, “You used to be much more muchier. Yes you were much more Alice the last time we met. You have lost your muchness.”
As I prayed, I found myself wanting to be all of my “muchness.”
To be the realest me.
The bestest me.
Not a different me.
Not a half-baked archetype of what might be me.
And not a me that discounts all she’s done and become up to now.
But … to become more of me.
The me that has existed eternally.
The me He created me to be.
I don’t have internet access on the dock. This has been a bit of an adjustment.
To pass the time (in between taking calls from tourists and selling tickets) I read. A lot. I write. Some. And I look around.
For hours, I look around.
And this week I’ve seen some pretty cool things.
1. An anhinga, also known to the Seminole Indians as the “snake bird,” swimming and diving–hunting for fish. After a few dives it caught this little fishy and shook it around for a while (I guess to disorient it). Then it tossed it in the air, opened wide, and swallowed it in one gulp. Then it hopped up on the dock and spread it’s wings to dry out. They have to dry out after long periods of swimming or their wings become too heavy with water to fly.
2. A school of fish. There were hundreds of them! Tiny silver things, darting this way and that, an occasional show off jumping in the air and splashing me with water. They stayed by my dock for much of the day and I watched them all afternoon.
3. A Little Blue Heron, hunting for food along the mud banks at low tide. He finally found a snake and tore. that. thing. apart. But not before a really good fight from the snake. (In the second picture you can kind of see the snake trying to wrap itself around the heron’s beak.)
4. Petey the Pelican. He’s a regular ’round our dock and was just chillin’ by our crabbing boat today, floating in the water, flappin’ his wings (did you know that the brown pelican is the largest of our sea birds with a wing span that can reach up to 7 feet?) … and flappin’ his beak.
5. A manatee! This was particularly exciting as manatee don’t generally live in our area. But every summer we get a couple who wander up, I guess from Florida, and make their way into our harbour. I was so caught of guard I gawked for too long before I jumped to grab my camera–which was at the bottom of my bag of course–and I didn’t get it out in time to get a great picture before it submerged and swam away. Hopefully you can kind of see it–it’s the brown log looking thing in the water. I’m hoping it’ll come back tomorrow so I can get a better picture. What a gentle giant.
6. The harbour in late afternoon. I love this time of day. The light is just beginning to turn a touch of golden and today the reflection was shimmering on the boats so beautifully. The sky was blue blue blue and it just looked so pretty I had to take a picture.
Last week as my dad walked toward me on the dock I couldn’t help but laugh. There he was, Jack Sparrow incarnate, grinning wide, willing me to acknowledge what a great pirate he was.
He had just finished captaining his bi-weekly “Most Excellent Pirate Expedition” cruise. Minutes before, 50 sword-wielding, eye-patch-wearing kids had disembarked the boat and went running up the ramp to find the “treasure” (but not before stopping to ask me, “Arrrrrrrr ye a good pirate or a bad pirate?).
“So what do you think of your old dad dressed up like a pirate?” he asked.
“Well, you do make a great pirate,” I replied.
“This doesn’t even phase you, does it?” he continued, nodding to his costume.
I smiled and shook my head.
“You grew up in quite an interesting home, didn’t you,” he laughed. “This kind of stuff is just normal, huh?”
And it’s true. With an actress/singer/music teacher for a mother and a composer/bass player/captain as a father–let’s just say … things were creative.
I never thought twice when my mother left the house in broad daylight dressed up like a clown, or a rabbit, or a cat. And dad as a pirate? Well, I didn’t even bat an eye. (You should see the two of them as Raggedy Ann and Andy.)
The vast majority of my childhood memories revolve around the shows and concerts mom and dad were in. Life just bobbled back and forth between the harbour and the theater. And I loved hanging out backstage in the dressing rooms–the glow of the light bulb-lined mirrors illuminating the ladies as they applied their lashes and lipstick before slipping into their fantastic costumes. And soon enough, it was us three girls staring in the mirrors.
Well. We may not have light bulb-lined mirrors at our house (Mom: we should totally get some of those. How fun would that be?!), but through the years, our family has amassed quite a fantastic dress up closet. Chuck full of sequins and feathers, there is a costume for every occasion and every age. From spiders to Spanish senoritas, we’ve got the wigs, hats, gowns, and capes from just about every Halloween costume (mom sewed them all), every dance recital, and every show.
And said closet? Is in my room.
This spells hours of fun on a lazy Sunday afternoon. I thought you might like to see a few of my favorites:
Start a costume closet for your kids today.
I’m not one to read my horoscope daily, or even monthly, but I would say that I’m a bit of a believer in “signs.” Not to the point that I run my life by any sort of astrological chart, but … I think there is something to be said for the way the universe moves and how that affects who you are and where you are. How much it affects I don’t presume to know, and wouldn’t even venture a guess, but I think that at its purist form, there’s something heavenly about it. And how can I discount the numerous parallels between the Pisces sign and myself*?
From AstrologySpot.com: Pisces, you are a feeling type, motivated by strong emotions, visionary impulses and feeling attachments. As the ‘mutable’ Water sign, you flow from feeling to feeling, plan to plan, vision to vision. This makes you highly creative or gifted at working with other people and sometimes just predictably unpredictable. You are most happy when you can follow your dreams, while intimately linking with other people’s dreams. As the dreamer your key phrase is: “I imagine”.
And from Zodiac-Signs-Astrology.com: When Pisces are independent and inspired by life’s events, their creativity comes shining through but they are unable to be on their own for long before they start dreaming in their imaginary world of happy people and happy endings.
Yes, yes, YES! I do that.
I’ve often wondered the ratio of time I spend in my head in my own little world as opposed to the time I spend being fully engaged in the world around me. Frit will, at times, look at me, often when we’re supposedly having a conversation, and say, “What are you thinking about?” … I don’t even realize I’m doing it.
I can lay for hours on my bed and daydream. Yes, hours. For years I’ve struggled to get up in the morning, not because I’m still sleepy, but because I like to begin the day in an imaginary world of my own creation. Awake. But dreaming none-the-less.
Sometimes I’ll turn on my favorite iTunes playlist and flit from daydream to daydream–each song with its own fully crafted story and details so vivid I can see which shoes I’m wearing and what color.
These dreams of mine are usually about romance, but not always. I also plot my profession, my someday home, or what I wish I looked like. But if I’m honest, yes, it’s mostly a 24-hour love story on replay in my head.
Which leads me to my point.
I’ve often thought that perhaps one of the reasons I’m so content to dream is that things are just so much better in my head. Particularly this last little while. I’d much rather live in the story–even if it’s pretend and even if just for a moment. You see, in my head, I’m successful and I’m confident. I know, quite certainly, the direction I’m headed. Oh and I’m thin and clever to boot. And I know how to flirt. The boy (who is unwittingly handsome, of course) always brings flowers and says the most darling of things. (And … if you must know, the love scenes are freakin’ awesome.)
But … My runner-friend-Laurel posted a quote on her blog last week: “If you want to make your dreams come true, the first thing you have to do is wake up.” Now, this is not the first time I’ve contemplated such an idea. On multiple occasions I’ve thought to myself, Self. In the hour you’ve spent daydreaming about a relationship that doesn’t even exist, you could be at the gym getting the body you want or reading lovely literature or writing the next great American novel. And yet, you lay here with stories that will never be, unless you get up and do something about it
At which point, I usually then reply, Self. You are ruining a completely delicious moment in this daydream. Then I roll over and push play.
Now. By no means am I saying that I’m ready to change my ways. At least not completely. I think my daydreaming is part of my charm and is essential to my creativity, and frankly, I’m pretty certain that it’s embedded in my atoms of my soul. I don’t know that I could get rid of it completely, even if I wanted to.
But what I am saying is that I need some Nicorette for dreamers. The lines between where I am, and what I want, and what I need to do to get it feels to have become a sort of Himalayan mountain pass.
Methinks I need some boots.
Okay, not boots, but motivation–some force to move against my inertia.
Some sort of will to live, and not just dream.
I need to think on this.
And I will.
Just as soon as I finish the dream I started this morning.
No seriously. I can’t concentrate on this post, because the story is calling.
*While there are a lot of traits I totally relate to in the Piscean charts, there are also a lot that I don’t. Which is why I take it with a grain of salt.