Saturday, July 07, 2007

Ode to my family.

In the past, I fear I may have come across as slightly braggadocios when referring to the job I presently have. All the same, I'm not apologizing for it.

It's true that I may have even called it the best job I've ever had. If I didn't say it before (or in case you weren't listening), it still is. It's not very often that someone is able to go to school to be a reporter (that's me), actually becomes one, eventually ends up working in a warehouse and library for years on end after that, realizes he needs to write again and, just like that, lands the perfect writing job. An unconventional one. As a magazine writer this time, getting to travel and talk to people about their life stories, casting them in a brightly favorable light. I'm not going to lie when I say it's a nice way to earn a living.

Along those same lines, I'm allowed to take courses that might enable me to become better at my craft (in turn allowing my job to pick up the bill). The class I'm currently enrolled in is Creative Nonfiction, over at the U. After just one session with the teacher and my much-older-than-me classmates, I have re-discovered why it is I like the genre as much as I do. It allows you to combine the worlds of poetry, fiction and nonfiction together. Not only are rules made to be broken, but it's encouraged. This will enable me to effectively knock the crown off of Sedaris' head someday and assume his throne.

Anyway, I appreciate the exercises I've been able to take stabs at thus far. Both have offered me some creative opportunities to dive further into my brain and abilities than I have in some time. One had me imagining myself at my present age, visiting my parents in California, in the early years of their marriage. The other, the one I'm going to share here, had me describing how each member in my family laughs. Since there are so many in my family (quite honestly, we make the Brady Bunch look small), I had barely reached my youngest sibling before class was getting dismissed, but it was a great delve into the imagination nonetheless. My more artistic side would like to couple each description with a corresponding photograph of the person laughing, but that'd take entirely too much time to put together. For now, the words will speak louder than pictures.

  • I can't hear it anymore, so the laugh my dad owns comes out like a silent film, no sound and all gold caps on the back molars. Tall teeth and happy on the inside.
  • She (my ma) laughs loudest when you go first, ever the well-mannered one. If it's not quite there yet, she shoves it out as hard as she can. It ends up being a match, see, and hers is louder than yours. She wins this.
  • His (Rick) is like that dog cartoon from my childhood, the one who closes his eyes and snickers with his throat. It's a raspy creature that is less heard, more seen. The chuckle is small, but the face is red. Usually ends in a coughing fit.
  • Ernie came before her (Nicole), so I still maintain she copied hers from Sesame Street. Bouncy, whispery and, when the moment's especially good, almost like she's in pain. Deep down inside, the throat clicks, both uncontrollably and repeatedly.
  • Mel keeps joy on the down low. Release a punchline and she'll give you an embarrassed smile, the kind that wrestles with what wants to come out, but never quite gets there. This is the laugh of a middle child. She's laughed this way all her life.
  • Kilee, on the other hand, is the babbling brook. Never quite in on the joke, she's just as willing to laugh at herself for not getting it as she is her daughter, the one likely telling them.
  • The little bro (DJ)? His come out in staccato bursts, one who is tickled from the inside ... a somber face that bursts into broken pieces when he's caught in a half-truth, the kind even he knows he can't quite keep to himself, not even if he tried.
  • Lacey loves to laugh at what she says, only she'll wait for your eyes to meet hers before she shares her prize, usually along with a just-as-quick "Jeskidding." It's a low, consistent barrage of giggles.
  • If he (Spence) can help it, he'll maintain he doesn't ever do so, but he won't tell you that. Catch him when the sullen teenager guard is down and there it is, the smile he so rarely shares. Capturing his laugh along with it is like spotting an endangered species. Don't blink and keep your ears wide open.


Angie said...

This is my favorite post you've ever written.

Cindy said...

Not that it wasn't good before, but your writing has gotten way better in the 3 years that I've known you. Beautiful descriptions!

Dainon said...

You two are real nice. Thanks!

f*bomb. said...

I guy I was dating described my laugh to me once, and it made me love him. I had never ever noticed my own laugh before, but now it sounds absolutely ridiculous to me.

Anonymous said...

Loved your descriptions. Funny thing is, I couldn't contain my giggles as I read through it because you described all of us perfectly! Sounds like a class I would really enjoy. See you later today.

Marie said...

Very nice. I especially like the stalking-the-sullen-teenaged-laugh bit.

One of the nicest compliments I ever got was this lovely old lady telling me she loved my laugh. No one's said that before or since, but hey --

We had to perform the Mary Poppins "I Love to Laugh" song for our fourth grade school "program" and I really wanted to be the kid who got to stand up and do the "blast" laugh.


Price said...

Before I even read your descriptions, I was trying to imagine how I would describe the laughs in my family. It involved a lot of onomatopoeia. My little brother's yuck yuck yuck, the nasally sneeze laugh of my older sister, and the true Ha ha of the littlest one.

Your descriptions are much more imaginative. Great post.

aisy said...

a great read during my lunch break!