A Field Guide To Now

Right now by Christina Rosalie

Between now and the end of the semester is a complex choreography of dividing every hour into fractions. There is persistence, determination, and an unavoidable lack of sleep.

Between now and the end of the semester there is a book deadline: the revised chapter titles; and another chapter. I dream in type. I dream the Scrivner interface. I dream sentences, and when I wake feel myself swimming towards the now of this book, this chapter, this day, with everything I have.

Between now and the end of the semester spring will bloom for certain, the buds on the lilacs tell me so. The grass will sing syren songs. The peepers will show up. The air will warm. And I will be indoors hunched with terrible posture at my desk, making things happen.

And right now: there are so many things I should be working on that I don't know how to start. Every project feels like a glass ball. Which one do I toss into the air first? What do you do when you reach a point like this? How do you take the first step toward the rest?

on my path by Christina Rosalie

The Journey

One day you finally knew
what you had to do, and began,
though the voices around you
kept shouting
their bad advice--
though the whole house
began to tremble
and you felt the old tug
at your ankles.
"Mend my life!"
each voice cried.
But you didn't stop.
You knew what you had to do,
though the wind pried
with its stiff fingers
at the very foundations--
though their melancholy
was terrible.
It was already late
enough, and a wild night,
and the road full of fallen
branches and stones.
But little by little,
as you left their voices behind,
the stars began to burn
through the sheets of clouds,
and there was a new voice,
which you slowly
recognized as your own,
that kept you company
as you strode deeper and deeper
into the world,
determined to do
the only thing you could do--
determined to save
the only life you could save.

~ Mary Oliver

+++

Thank you, thank you for your words! I'm soaking them up as I plunge into an intense week with tight deadlines for school, facing things I don't know how to do and time constraints I don't know how to meet. I'm so excited to share this book. To make it good, and true, and beautiful. I love that it has illustrations, and can't wait to share some peaks at my process with you, just as soon as I come up to breathe again.

Today I sit at my kitchen table by a vase of iris and roses (thank you my sweet sister!) and watch fat wet snow fall hard. I keep coming up against the boundaries of what I'm capable of in code (Action Script 3.0), and keep fumbling until I get beyond them. This process takes hours, with hardly anything to show, and I'd be frustrated except that none of it really matters, save for how I'm learning, always and again from what I cannot yet do. From every misstep, I learn the location of solid ground; from every failed attempt, wrong turn, or narrow miss, I find my path more clearly.

The Big Deal by Christina Rosalie

I am driving toward home. The road is rutted, and wet spring snow is falling in a blur against the windshield. There is the froth from a cappuccino from my favorite coffee place in a paper cup beside me, and good tunes on the stereo and I’m returning from two more interviews, my mind is brimming with the way these stories that I’m gathering all circle back to this:

Do what you love. Say yes. Risk everything. Practice, and practice some more. Then do it all again.

And then I’m at my mail box and all week I’ve been opening it looking, waiting to find the fat envelope I’m expecting. The promise, the whole thing spelled out in ink and official forms, and today it was there, and I signed and slipped the papers into a new envelope and stuck them on the wide bay window sill by the door so I won’t forget to bring them to the post office to send out by certified mail first thing in the morning.

And just like that: I’ve signed a book deal.

Yes. Yes. Yes.

Life In The Present Tense: A Field Guide To Now will be published by Globe Pequot Press and available in book stores in September of 2012!

I’ve been waiting because it feels so good, so almost too good to be true good, that I wanted everything singed and sealed before I shared here.

Because this is it. This is the beginning of the rest of my life. The beginning of what I want more than any other thing, and it’s happening.

It’s happening because of your backing, and encouragement and trust in my process and my heart is wide ocean of gratitude.

My editor,* Mary Norris, found the book via Kickstarter and has been pushing me the past several months to hone my proposal and dig into my vision of what I picture for this book and it’s oh so good.

An I can’t wait to finally start sending out the long promised backer rewards. Cannot wait to make prints, and pull together postcards, and chapter snippets and a podcasts and sneak peaks and just pure goodness. Stay tuned.

* Yes! I finally get to say that. It feels amazing.
++

A week or two ago I found is the scrap of paper on which I scribbled this dream, before I could even imagine how it might be possible.

It's proof: ask, and the universe answers.

Do what you love. Say yes. Risk everything. Practice, and practice some more. Then do it all again.

All the love in the world,
Christina

Utter failings and exquisite truths by Christina Rosalie

It hit me today while I was running that I don’t tell stories here nearly as much as I used to and I miss it, and I can see that you must miss it because the comments dwindle when I post sporadically and tersely with just a few scraps of observation from my day. And the truth is, your comments mean the world to me: not their quantity so much as their depth. I love what you have to say. I love how you see your worlds, and how you see mine. And the truth is, my readers here have saved my life many times over, and I mean that with no hyperbole at all.
When I started this blog six years ago it was my only creative outlet: I’d just move to a new town with my husband and six month old Bean, and I had no friends living within five hundred miles of me, not to mention no friends anywhere with children. This blog was my lifeline. I laugh now when I tell people, but I truly got at least 90% of all my parenting advice for raising Bean from the people who shared their lives through their blogs, and who shared my life by commenting here.
And gradually, I found my voice here, through telling stories about my kids, my muddy dirt roads, my heart full of wanderlust, my hunger for doing more and seeing more and being more; because you were listening.
I dreamed the idea for my book here; I shared the news of Sprout’s arrival here; I spilled the messiness and heartache of tenuous times here and man, I am so, so grateful for the inspiration, insight, and pure awesome that you bring to my life.
All this to say: I want to share more here, not less. I want to keep having this space be a place that I go to find my center: to find my words and hear your words. And it’s sort of slipped off the map a little in the past months because holy hell, grad school is no small thing.

I’m in the midst of cool project for school this week; an interactive documentary, to be exact. (Though if you ask me what an interactive documentary is, I’ll have to say wait and see—because I haven’t found a single example of what it is I’m trying to do. It requires action script code, and video editing, and interviewing, and graphic design and interaction design and animation. See?)
At it’s core is a series of video interviews with local artists who are all utterly brilliant, and intimidating, and awesome. They’re the kind of people I want as mentors. The kind of artists who have made it big time in their fields. The kind of artists who make me proud and terrified to call myself an artist.
I can’t wait to share it, but it I’ve still got a couple of weeks of work; and a lot of learning to do.
Right now it’s pushing me beyond every single boundary I have.
I’m interviewing people I never met; I’m designing a browser interface that accounts for emergent interactions; I’m learning to make lines do what I want them to do in Illustrator. This all but petrifies me.
But mostly the interviewing people I haven’t met part.
I’m good once I get to know someone, but those first awkward moments are a heat flash away from pure agony. Add to that the fact that I’m shooting video (a thing I am learning to do on the fly, as I go) and oh lord. Deep breaths.
Today I interviewed Maura Campbell who is fierce and fiery and passionate about her craft. My batteries died in my HD Flip just before the end; and then further embarrassment ensued because I couldn’t figure out how to open the damn thing. (Thank god for smart phones. I had the how-to googled in under a minute.)
Really. This happened.
And even though I was mortified, I was thrilled, because here’s the thing: I knew, even in the moment, that the battery malfunction I was having was just another way of falling down.
And learning to fall is necessary in learning to fly, or leap, or risk anything. Because it’s the people fall and recover that become rockstars and superheroes. It’s the ones who fall and get up time and again that discover how to make their dreams fly.
And if there’s one thing that has really gelled for me this winter it’s been this:
Falling is ok. Failing is part of the process. Doing both with frightening frequency means I’m pushing beyond my comfort zones, and that I’m learning. Big time.
Also that bravery doesn’t come from waiting for the perfect opportunity or knowing everything in advance, or getting it right the first time. Bravery comes from googling how the hell to open your video camera and replace batteries in the middle of an interview, and then recovering composure.


And at the end of the interview when we were standing in her paper strewn office, and she was telling me about how writing is requires being utterly selfish with one’s time, I asked her the question I always want to ask every creative person that I come into contact with: How do you balance this with the rest of your life? How do you do this and children?
And in not so few words her answer was this: you do the only thing that you can. When her kids were small, she wrote, fervently, in the center of the living room as her kids, four of them, twirled around her. When they were bigger, she retreated to her bedroom, leaving them with the warning: interrupt only with blood, or fire.
And that’s what makes her brilliant.
It has nothing to do with balance, with being a ‘perfect’ mother, or with having the right time and the right place to begin. It has to do simply with persisting. . With daring to dive every day towards what you love to do most. Always.
And it was such an awesome interview because I got to be reminded of that.


Things that delight me by Christina Rosalie

This series of shadows snapped from a walk with the boys yesterday.

Spring riding today: blue squares all the way. Easy turns. Wide grins.

Buying a new moleskine. The reporter kind with plain white pages. I the way the pages feel flimsy and effortless; the way ink shows through & the way words tumble after each other to be put down there in my messy handwriting.

A secret I can't wait to share really, really soon.

The way the light lasts longer and longer every day.

Mapping out my schedule for summer and blocking off whole days for writing, no excuses. (Or perhaps I have the best excuse.)

What are six things you're delighted by today?

in this moment by Christina Rosalie


Just stopping in quickly to say hello this morning with these photos from my sunny, sunny bedroom... and to nudge you to go play. Do one thing. Today. You'll be so happy. (Promise.)
I'm finishing a big milestone for the book today (later than I'd hoped. Typing with fingers crossed makes things difficult.) And it feels good and terrifying and true to my heart. I wish I could tell you more, but I don't want to jinx it.
Today I'm crushing on this sweet song.
Reading the archives over at Slow Pony Home.
And swooning over every single afternoon here.

Thankful* by Christina Rosalie

I took these pictures yesterday, out my front door. Like heaven, the way the storm came through spreading the arc of a double rainbow and then left the world golden and blue and vermillion with the setting sun. I'm so thankful for this place that I call home--and also this place here, where I can connect with all of you ( hit m 1,000 post here just last week!) Also today I got lovely, really super awesome news about my book--that is still not in stone enough to share details on, but enough to grin about big time and to be thankful for.

I've spent the last three days working intensely on digital projects: Flash, After Effects, video. By this afternoon I felt a little like a wild animal, and when the golden afternoon light filled up the sky again I pulled on running close and fled the house for a long run while the shadows grew long and blue across the road.

Tomorrow I'm taking a digital break to be with family... I'm craving that: a reason not to check in and be in front of the screen for a day.

Happy Thanksgiving! xo, C

mountains at the back of my mind by Christina Rosalie

Frost in the morning. The mountains pink again with dawn and snow. A filigree tiny crystals on every blade of grass, each barren twig, the puddles frozen over. We talk about jack frost and watch the skies for crows. Count them, two by two, and see the blackbirds here and there, scattered across the fields of stubby stalks of corn.

*

A trip to Boston tomorrow, solo, with both boys, and I am writing lists for not forgetting: string cheese and juice boxes and etch-a-sketches and extra pairs of pants.

*

An email from an editor (the editor?) wondering about the status of the book; and I have lump in my throat because the past month has been very quiet on that front. I have ideas, and I’m working, but slowly. It’s so good, so good, but is it what the editor wants?

It is more prose poem than essay, more wonder, than advice, more solace than suggestion. It is a reason, to show up, to pause, to rest with the empty space on the page; to linger with the fragments of image, with the telltale narrative of a day lived one moment after the next, spreading like concentric circles, widening the view from here, from this moment right now.

Is this important?

More important than market? What of blockbuster hits, what of print dying and all that jazz? Do I listen to that ruckus, or just make what springs up urgently?

What do you think?

August 22: decided by Christina Rosalie

I love this set. I've been loving taking pictures every day (though I've failed to post every day.) I like trying to tell a story with shape, with color, with line echoing line, with gesture reflecting gesture, with color. +++

So I am going.

It's for certain. Even though things will be tight, tight, tight financially. And also time, it will be a figment, and invention of imagination, a delirium, a dream. Who cares? I'm going. A full time student, this year, this week. I'm giddy. Happy. Content. Terrified.

I didn't even imagine this last year, now.

It's been such a year.

A year of big huge changes. Of beginnings. Of this: every day I face uncertainty on the page and keep going. I put my words here, and here, and here again, around the moments that I am trying to say. It isn’t arrow straight or clear, but it’s got a pulse, and it keeps unfolding, like something new and wet, or something very old and furled and fragile, and I keep waiting, and showing up, fingers crossed, with more determination in my rib cage than I’ve ever had for anything. This book is happening. There is no other way.

And now school too. Complete reinvention. The beginning of so many things.

Have any of you done this: full time school + full time parenting + full time writing?

Full, full, full.

{big smiles}

August, just around the corner by Christina Rosalie

Summer is galloping by. Full tilt. Allready the shadows are longer as we head outdoors after dinner, the four of us. The boys head to the sandbox. T and I grab our new rackets and giggle as we attempt volley after volley in the fading summer light. Around our heads halos of insects swarm; the air is mellow and smells of the honeysuckle and roses by the front door.
In the garden things are suddenly ready for harvest: arugula every single day, spinach, basil, chives, lettuce. I walk down barefoot, often followed by one or the other boy to harvest a colander full before lunch. The best salads begin with a simple vinaigrette, chopped fresh herbs, every green imaginable, and then whatever we have around to throw in: grilled trout, quinoa, carrot curlicues, tomatoes. I will remember this summer as the summer of fantastic salads.
And of changes.

Wild crazy wonderful changes.

Your comments on my last post really filled me up. I want you to know that. Each one brought new perspective, encouragement, thoughtfulness.

I especially loved this from V Grrrl, because it reaffirmed exactly what I believe:

I think a healthy family is one where everyone’s needs are balanced against each others, where family members recognize that everyone works together for the family as a whole, and that sacrifice and compromise are part of that process.

T and I and our boys all made a promise to each other about this upcoming year. It's going to be an all hands on deck kind of year, and all four of us are in. We're all going to try our hardest to do it the first time, follow through, pick up the slack, pick up the messes as we make them, remember to take walks, exercise, eat chocolate, laugh.

It's going to be such an adventure. I can't wait.

T and I have basically become adults together. We met when he was just turning 21, and in the decade that I've known him he's either been a student or working in the stock market and I cannot even begin to describe the relief and disorientation I feel at imagining him doing work that matters in the world; work that he loves; work for a salary. It will be a learning curve for us both to discover ourselves anew in these new roles. I imagine it will be all about patience and patience and patience. Also humor. And chocolate.

For the next month I'm working my way through the manuscript for A Field Guide To Now. It's exciting to finally be in it. Things are coming together. Art, words, ideas. I'm excited by the direction and beginning to trust the process now that I've had a few days strung together of consistent project time. (That last photo is a sneak peak at a piece of art that will go into a postcard.)

I'm curious: What are your plans for August? What food are you crushing on right now? What tunes are you loving?

Also: If you could hear just one thing that you need to hear right now, what would it be?

xoxo!

Lovely things by Christina Rosalie

Hello. Here are a couple glimpses from around our house today. My new studio, in our former third bedroom, is almost done. T is building a glorious built-in very simple, extra long desk for me along two walls. Finally, for the first time in my life I'll have enough space to write and do art....to spread a chapter out, or to leave a painting in progress and not have it compete for space. It's also the first time that I'll ever have a studio that isn't also doubling as a guest bedroom (T's former home office will become that space...) I am thrilled. Thrilled about having a space that is calm and pretty and mine all mine.

I can't help but feel a little outnumbered sometimes around here...as the only girl among all these loud boys (except for the cat!) I've just had this conversation with Bean who dashed pell-mell into the bathroom this morning, interrupting me as I was attending to a few stray eyebrow hairs:

"Hey little man, you can't come into the bathroom when Mommy's in it unless you're either bleeding or vomiting from now on, okay?"

"Why?"

"Because Mommy is a girl and girls totally deserve uninterrupted bathroom time."

"Why?"

"Hmmm... BECAUSE I SAID SO."

Oh yes I did.

(His drawing above is of "plans" for crane that can work at night and has multiple hooks.)

While T has was sanding and painting and hammering away upstairs, I spent the morning de-stoning little local sour cherries to make some sort of delight. I made the recipe up, and it's just divine:

For the crust: A little more than 2 cups flour (I used a cup of fresh ground whole wheat--that is a bit coarse and nutty and oh, so delicious) About 1 1/2 sticks butter. About 2 tablespoons cold water (You might need more if it's not 90 percent humidity!)

For the filling: Almost a quart of sour cherries, de-stoned About 1/4 cup sugar 2 tablespoons corn starch

I spread the dough into the pie plate without rolling it out first--because of the whole grain flour it was very crumbly and broke easily. After filling with cherries I folded the extra crust over the top and baked it at 425 for the first 20 minutes or so, and then at 375 for an additional half hour. Scrumptious. Bubbly. So good. I'm guessing it will be even better for breakfast *wink.*

Lastly, I just wanted to tell you that your comments on my last post absolutely filled me up with joy. Thank you. It's a beginning of so many things that are new and tenuous and optimistic.

xoxo! C

An ending & a beginning by Christina Rosalie

The world is suddenly green. The drenched trees lost their blossoms as quickly as they bloomed; petals fell like a party dress to the grass. Now everything flutters with the minute iterations of leaves. The grass is suddenly shaggy and surprisingly long; as though it’s from a Jack In the Bean Stalk fairy tale while hummingbirds zip among the rain drenched azaleas and lilacs fill the air with heady sweetness.

+++

This weekend big things are happening. A Field Guide To Now on Kickstarter is ending tomorrow. 28 hours left. (Become a backer if you haven’t. This is IT!)

I’m leaving on a weekend adventure today with my camera and some pretty shoes in tow. I won’t be here when the project time runs out, but I want to tell you how grateful I am. I am astounded, joyful, terrified, delighted, eager. This is such a big deal… and YOU made it happen.

Thank you.

xxxo!

Snowed in by Christina Rosalie

18 inches of snow yesterday. Today: it's already 55 degrees. Forecast for the weekend? 75 and sunny. My brain is having difficulty computing. ALSO: we don't have power. Haven't for twenty-four hours. Which, truthfully, sucks quite a bit, especially since I work from home on the INTERNET.

Now I'm at a friend's house (she is a lifesaver) and the sun is shining and I'm popping in here to tell you that a guest post is up at Wishstudio that you absolutely must go read!

Vanishing point by Christina Rosalie

Everything couldn't be more uncertain, more tenuous, more questionable than they are right now. T. is thinking about quitting his job. It's been too many months of nothing. Shoestring hardly defines it any more. Is there a vanishing point?

Trying to push through and get this proposal sent today.

A million things converging. Exhaustion, for one. Worry. The way everything is heartbreakingly beautiful right now: wet and green and new. Snow still on the mountains; the red flush on the hills of the maple buds; swallows building nests above the bay windows; a clear, wide, empty sky; the piercing call of a circling hawk.

(Also, if you haven't, please go be a backer... it's getting close. )

a different kind of validation: by Christina Rosalie

"Oh,"  T. said yesterday as we were both stumbling over the HEAPS of laundry on the floor upstairs, "I guess you actually really DO a lot of laundry." YES. Yes I do. (And it's been a point of contention, I might add.)

But this week: not so much. In fact not at all actually. And it SHOWS. Our house looks like a bomb was detonated somewhere in the vicinity. Housework has dropped off the very bottom of the to-do list, to be returned to sometime when this proposal is done, and life returns to normal speed.

By then I may have a hunchback (I have discovered I have terrible desk posture) and my family might have been devoured by mutant laundry heaps. Alas. (Or T. could just do the laundry. Perhaps he will?) (A confession: I love every single minute of this bleary-eyed, up till 2am, creative, messy process.)

Today i need... by Christina Rosalie

Today I need you to remind me that the many hours and the messy house and the hunched shoulders and the dark circles under my eyes will all be worth it. (It will, right?)

Because I'm at that point with the proposal. THISCLOSE.

I have a headache. It's been raining all day. The birches look dramatic with their new chartreuse leaves blowing against a cement sky. Crows keep flying past with bits of things in their beaks. I've had too much coffee. And all my dreams were about my book.

+++

(If you haven't,please become a backer, ...even for the very smallest of amounts...)

April begins by Christina Rosalie

At 5:43 a.m. I wound the window open so that there were two inches of screen exposed between me and the things of the early morning world: the smell of mud and moisture, and also the song of robins, and the other birds I do not know the names of;

and together my boys and I lay in bed, my eyelids still heavy, closed, the little one sitting with his pacifier lopsided in his mouth, the bigger one tucked into the crook of my arm, and T, there, completing my outline, and we listened to the day come softly.

Out the window the clouds were pretending to be mountains, there, across the gulch, beyond the pond, where the world ends, among the maples with their new red buds now flush with pollen, the fog was there below the sky with shoulders hunched, the sun hesitant and milky.

Today, oranges for breakfast, and also a promise on the radio that has everyone watching the thermometer with skeptical glee; balmy sweet undeniable spring on the cuff of all this mud, finally.

So it’s April.

+++ I wanted to tell you how much I loved reading all your random things. So much fun. Thanks for sharing them!

And I wanted to tell you that yesterday was the half way mark for days left for funding for my book project…To celebrate I've posted a new update and a drawing that has to do with the little painting above and something else entirely delicious over at kickstarter... so go take a peak and become a backer if you haven't already.

FYI: I’ve had a couple people email me asking how the Kickstarter funding works—so I thought I should clear things up quickly: If you become a backer you are only pledging an amount. You will not be charged at all—unless the entire funding goal is successful…and then you’d be charged in May. More about the whole crowdfunding process and how I feel about it over at Magpie Girl.

Today: lots of things including sunshine (or so is promised), a much needed run, and writing. Always that.

What's on your plate today?