Friday, September 25, 2009

School of Thought Seminar: Life as an Artform

Marta, 1984

This is my baby. In real life she's a grown up writer and graphic designer, with a family of her own, but she's still Mini Mart to me. Her whole life is a work of art.

When Marta was little she had an imaginary friend named "Gnome." He went everywhere with her, and we always saved a seat for him at any gathering. She carefully lifted him onto his seat, made sure he was comfortable, and never forgot to include him. If she was that nice to an imaginary friend, you can imagine what she's like with her real ones. Here's one of her actual to-do lists:

01. thank the mailman.
02. pay for the next happy meal in line.
03. pick up someone's recycling.
04. leave money in the meter.
05. read something uplifting.
06. rearrange your books by color.
07. hold the elevator.
08. dig up old photos.
09. watch Extra with your mother. because you love it.
10. then watch Law & Order with your mother. because she loves it.
11. and then watch Big because you haven't seen it since you were like 13.

Min makes everyday life fun. One day when she was about six we were on our way to Mervyn's. She said, "When we're shopping, act like you don't know me. I'm going to pretend I'm a midget." Even the sales lady laughed along with the gig, and thanked Marta for coming.

Midget Min

A few years later we were walking out of a cafe in Salt Lake City and someone held the door open for us. Min said, "Merci." The woman asked where she was from. Marta faked an accent and said, "Paris." Afterward she explained she wanted to give the lady a little thrill by thinking she'd met a foreigner.

A tiny foreigner?

Another time we were sitting at the kitchen table when we heard Dee come in. Out of the blue Marta whispered, "Mannequin!" and suddenly froze in position. She wouldn't unfreeze and come out of her new character until I explained, "She's being a mannequin." After that it became a routine game, and everyone had to become a statue until the arriving person broke the spell by saying, "Mannequin." One night Marta answered the door and her sister's brilliant and dignified new boyfriend was standing perfectly motionless in a silly pose on the porch. Min squealed, "Mannequin!" and he was embraced wholeheartedly as a brother-in-law on the spot!

Marta has a flair for life. Here's an example:

29 April 2008

feeling a brand new feeling

in my experience, there aren't a whole lot of new feelings to feel after you've grown up. sure, i believe each experience is it's own, but routinely my life doesn't have a whole lot of brand newness in it. i know how it feels to feel a lot of things. which i have never given much thought to. until now.

for example, i know what it feels like to hold a piece of buttered toast, i know chocolate milk in a cold glass, i know corn on the cob between my teeth. i know the ocean waves slamming against my body, i know sand between my toes, i know the hot sun on my face, i know taking a shower with a sunburn. i know what a cold slab of marble feels like against my skin, i know cool grass and sizzling cement on my feet, i know cold rain on my head, i know soap in my eyes, and lemon in my wounds. i know mud in my hair and lotion on my legs. i know unsweetened baking squares in my mouth. i know gusts of wind and feeling winded. i know what it feels like to knead bread and sink my fingers into clay, i know paint on my hands, i know dried plaster on my arms. i know gum in my hair and floss in my teeth. i know the itch of chicken pox and the fear of a nightmare. i know the hurt of a high heel and the sparkle of a diamond. i know pierced ears and glossed lips. i know new york cheesecake and mom's rice pudding. i know the hug of a friend and the loss of a love. i know butterflies of a first kiss, the ache of a sad heart, the tug of a string. i know how it feels to feel elated with joy, to be surprised, to be disappointed, to laugh until i cry, to worry until i'm sick, to blush until i am red. i know forgetting my lines on stage and i know a standing ovation. i know the smell of my grandma's perfume and my dad's shoe polish. i know flying in an airplane and riding in a train car. i know views of the swiss alps and i know a baby sleeping on my shoulder.

i know how it feels to feel loved and to be in love.

i didn't appreciate all of these small feelings i've felt until i felt this new feeling for the very first time.

i never want to forget how incredible it feels to feel a little kick from the inside; saying hello. reminding me of the miracle growing inside. reminding me of the miracles that are all around me. reminding me of the miracle of new life and the miracle of my life. and how blessed i am.

when he kicks from the inside, i smile every time at this brand new feeling. and realize all the feelings he will have to look forward to. all the feelings i will get to teach him about; like finger painting on butcher paper and rolling cookie dough into shapes and blowing bubbles in the shade and jumping into salty waves of the pacific and learning how to sound out words on the page. i imagine the newness of how it feels to swing on a swing-set and sit on dad's knee and ride a horse and run a race and spit out watermelon seeds and see snowflakes fall and build blanket forts and hear the boom of fireworks. i want him to feel all of these feelings. because i want to give him the same thrill that his little kicks give me.

i already love him. he will always know the feeling of love.

Marta has taught me to treasure the little things. Her life is a work of art. Pop over and wish her a happy birthday!


Homework: Do any or all or be inspired.

~Write a thank-you letter to someone who has inspired you.

~Make a list of ten little things that improved your happiness today.

~Set a goal to do three random acts of kindness this weekend. Record them in your journal on Sunday night and tell how it made you feel.

*If you do any part of this assignment on your blog, please link it back to TravelinOma and provide proper attribution. Leave a comment here (with a link to your homework if you want to share it) and/or a link to your blog (so we can get to know you.) School Days has open enrollment so join anytime. No make-up work required! If you're new, click here for an orientation.


Christie said...

I miss playing mannequin and talking about gnome. We should have been mannequins when you came in for your surprise dinner!

Jake said...

I can't believe our little min is 28! She has been adorable from the beginning.

audrey said...

I love Marta's outlook on life. Her blog is how I found you in the first place!

This assignment was very well timed for me.


[eeny] said...

I came over to your blog from Marta's too...

And I have to say, I love the way both of you write. Love the stories about Marta when she was little. My mom keeps telling stories about me every once in a while, too...specially on my birthday. Guess that's just a mom's thing.
Thanks for sharing your life here...I am looking forward to a new post every day.

Greetings from Germany,

Lee said...

I am a huge fan of Marta's and thrilled (but not in the least surprised) to read such lovely stories about her. Love the assignments. Thank you for being you and having such a thoughtful and talented daughter. (The apple didn't fall far, eh?)

Have a lovely weekend!

the wrath of khandrea said...

please post about someone in your family who lacks grace, charm, poise, talent, beauty and near-perfection.
there IS someone like that, right?

RIGHT? if not, you should consider adopting me to balance things out a bit. you guys are all amazing.

crissy // mama boss said...

I hope to have children as positive, creative and lovely as yours. Thanks for sharing.
This ones got me feeling good before I've even gotten out of bed. today's happy homework

Miranda said...

So sweet! I've been reading Marta's blog for a while and I too love her enthusiasm for life. You have such a wonderful full of love for each other. Bravo!

marta said...

thank you, mama for making my day. all of these memories made me laugh aloud. am glad all of blogland is celebrating. xo. thanks for deciding to give me a birth day 28 years ago today.

Linsey said...

This is my favorite School Days post yet. Doing nice things for people just because you can is a dying art. I wrote some thank you notes this week and, honestly, it felt good. I had gotten out of the habit, living such a transient lifestyle. Marta sounds like a lovely spirit. I've no doubt much of who she has become is a testament to good parenting.

Diane said...

You were inspired with today's assignment. Thank you.
wk 4 assign 5

kenju said...

Marty, you are the best writer ever! Your kids are so lucky to have you as their mom!

Allison said...

It felt good to do this. I'm saving so many of these prompts to include in my journaling on a semi-regular basis.


Misty said...

You're a day late, my random act of kindness was performed yesterday. So I guess that's it, hu? Ha, just joking. Instead of blogging this assignment, I'll be sending actual, real-life, snail-mail with a stamp and everything thank you letters. Thanks for the inspiration.

And Happy Birthday to your sweet Marta. She sounds incredible.

crissy // mama boss said...

I've been thinking, all day, about the wonderful, little things in my life. It has been wonderful to reflect and think about all the good and happiness in my life.
I couldn't help but compile another list of these happy things.

Ginger said...

Your family sound like fun. Who knew that adult children could be such great friends?

I wrote the 10 things assignment for my blog and am thinking of what I'll write in a thank you letter to my 92 year old grandmother. Writing by hand is much more difficult than with a computer. It requires contemplation and effort, but the recipients are so happy with the tangible assurances of love.

Mrs. O said...

I had such a horrible start to my Friday with a passive-aggressive nurse that made me wait 50 minutes to see the doctor while she sent everyone else back. And she knew I had somewhere to be.

This assignment was just what I needed to get my mind back on the positive. Marta sounds like just the sort of person I long to be.

Kiasa said...

Thanks for the inspiration, as always! You and Marta are amazing!

The fabulous happiness assignment is posted on my blog.

Kiasa said...

Thanks for the inspiration, as always! You and Marta are amazing!

The fabulous happiness assignment is posted on my blog.

dalene said...

thanks! this reminded me i really should be posting more on my other blog whose purpose is just that--to note the simple things that make me smile.

homework is done. thanks!

KJ said...

Tiffany said...

Wow. I loved reading all the memories. What a precious daughter!

brooke said...

Excellent tribute--I've learned so much from Marta through her blog--wish I knew her better in real life

Dansie Family said...

i have always admired marta since she joined the dansie clan. thanks for sharing. and i love her little chinese shirt. i have the same one my parents picked up in hong king when i was that age and now my little porter wears it.

Cath said...

She is a special daughter and you are a special mom. Thanks for sharing these memories of Marta with us. :)

~j. said...

ALWAYS better late than never.