Well, I'm back in South Florida, after travelling to the D.C. area to spend Christmas with my immediate family who lives in the area. We avoided the blizzard that socked the Northeast, although we did have a few days of snow drifting past the window, but not really sticking (the best kind of snow, really). We didn't have to go through any kind of invasive pat-downs or x-ray technology. Very uneventful travel--the best kind.
I got a lot of reading done--more on that in a later post. My parents have a very slow computer--I've had dial-up connections that were speedier. Amazing what else I get done, when the computer isn't there to distract me. Plus, I wanted to be more present--my nephew isn't going to be young forever, and the computer can wait.
One of the highlights of the trip, besides the Christmas merriment: we got a backstage tour of Wolf Trap, the national park for the performing arts, with a huge stage and an even larger backstage area. We thought the tour might be cancelled; it was snowing, and we still weren't sure whether we'd get a dusting or a foot of snow. But we went anyway, and the six of us who braved the elements there got a great tour.
Here are some other tidbits:
--I'm happy to report that old-fashioned puppets can still compete with high tech Star Wars toys.
--My 4 year old nephew loves the Star Wars franchise, which is several decades older than he is. How is this? The brand has reinvented itself, through the animated Clone Wars. A lesson for all of us in the arts?
--Another lesson in narrative: my brother-in-law says that my nephew has never seen a complete Star Wars film. He's seen bits and pieces and he watches Clone Wars out of sequence. Yet he seems to understand the complete narrative arc, in ways that we grown-ups, who had to wait for each movie to be released, do not. Is he just a typical post-modern child? Or is everything we learned about narrative (beginning, middle, end, with flash backs if necessary) wrong? Or maybe humans have never approached narrative that way--except for artists, who are creatively attempting to control the story.
--We also watched Grocery Store Wars on You Tube. What possesses people to create a Star Wars knock off with vegetables, and a fairly serious message? What great technology advances, that allows people to create independent films and launch them.
--All I remember from French class is the words to carols and how to ask for the location of the bathroom. Well, that's not exactly true, but it would make an intriguing poem, perhaps. Un flambeau, everyone!
--In the airport, I watched a young man swing his toddler child up into the air. Then, with his other arm, he scooped up his pre-school daughter. He proceeded to walk around the baggage claim area, holding at least 40 pounds of children in his arms, not appearing to be tired. I thought, this is why young people are strong and sturdy. Or perhaps love makes us strong and sturdy.
--We spent a significant amount of time with the nephew looking for bad guys hiding in the house. It didn't seem to scare him at all. My spouse thinks it's a variation of hide and seek that we always play.
--Everything is a gun to a pre-schooler boy. I noticed this when I worked in a day care center too, that everything is a gun to elementary school boys (we were strict about no guns and no gun play, all to no avail). Even during our arts and crafts time, we constructed guns (I made mine with a festive pink fringe). The puppet shows involved fighting and death. Sigh.
--Still, I'm glad that we're letting the nephew be the nephew, instead of trying to hurry him to the next phase. I do think that we'd all be better off if we learned self-defense techniques in P.E. classes, and if we all knew how to operate guns safely.
--As we wrapped packages, my spouse said that all our packages look wounded (because of lots of tape). I will never be the kind of person who gives beautiful packages, at least not if I wrap them.
--I watched a TSA agent hug a man and exclaim, "Happy birthday, honey!" She treated all of us like we were rock stars--she was so happy to see us all. I want to be that kind of woman on the job. I want everyone who comes across my path to feel blessed to have interacted with me. A worthy goal for 2011, yes?