[commencing: free-form thoughts!]
Tomorrow’s my birthday! I’m throwing a sangria party at my house. This means later I will be shopping for lots of booze and fruit, two of my favorite things to shop for. I’m not sure who will come to the party, because I’m not sure who I invited (I’m a little sheepish about the collegeyness of my apartment, and also how far away it is from everything) and I’m also not sure who will take me seriously (if I did invite people, I did it in a pretty flippant way, c.f. above-mentioned sheepishness).
I like to celebrate my birthday, because it’s fun, but I always have misgivings about a party/gathering in one’s honor. It seems like a lot of pressure. I don’t mind corralling people for OTHER reasons–author events, happy hours, networking, theater-going, whatever. But birthday parties seem like “ack, all eyes on you!” kinds of occasions.
Anyway I’ll let you know how it goes. My friend Karen is bringing a camera so we can post pictures of the outcome.
My great-grandmother (whom I never met; she died in 1978, and I was born in 1983) was named Assunta. This is the Italian equivalent of the (slightly) more common name Ascension, usually given to girl babies born in this window of August near the Catholic holiday of the Virgin’s Ascension. I don’t know the date of her birth, but I think it was August 11th–much like the Juliet from Shakespeare’s Romeo and Juliet. It’s something we three Italian ladies have in common.
I don’t know a lot about my great-grandmother, but I have very vivid impressions of her in my head, either from stories I’ve heard or stories I’ve made up myself (I can’t tell the difference after a short while). I know my mother loved her very much, that she was hyper-emotive, that she was a storyteller and a crier and a scene-stager. I know that on the 10-year anniversary of her death, my grandmother (her daughter) got so drunk and had an accident that rewrote the family tree and–it has turned out–affected a lot of us deeply, in different ways.
I’m working on a novel right now that was originally inspired by this weird episode in my grandmother’s life, and its aftermath, so I’ve been thinking about Assunta lately. I have taken notes for this book since 2006, and have constantly set it aside in fits of frustration or insecurity because I’m not quite sure what I’m trying to say. This year, I set the month of August aside to try to finally give it flight, or at least go down fighting. It hasn’t been easy. Normally writing goes pretty quickly for me; this has not been the case these last 12 days. Sometimes I’ll work for an hour and only come out with 25 words. I am not used to this difficulty and it’s tearing me up.
I think this is where being creative is like giving birth, right? No need to complete the analogy. Preaching, choir, etc.