Michael (see also February 4) loves telling stories – from the one about his compassionate 3rd teacher who encouraged his dyslexic younger self to keep trying even though he was getting poor grades, to the one about finding a Mark Twain manuscript in a yard sale. He has written some of his stories down over the years but his most remarkable storytelling has been done with a camera, spending decades as a photographer for Time magazine and other major publications. A successful documentary photograph captures the essence of a story in a single frame, and many of Michael’s stories have done just this, from the iconic 1979 Time cover photo of Robin Williams to heart-rending images of LA’s homeless community on Skid Row.
Today is Day 265 of My Daily Giveaway. Only 100 days left. And I am feeling it! After meeting with our son Theo’s teachers in the morning, and then giving a lecture to the docents of my former museum, finishing up an essay for my book, helping Theo with his homework and making dinner, I wasn’t feeling up to the Giveaway. There have been very few days when I’ve actually entertained the thought of not giving something away, but today was one of them. But I’ve made a commitment, and I have to follow through. So while my husband David took Theo to his soccer practice, I set out for my daily walk and opened up the back of my car to see if there was something that might feel right for a guerilla gift this evening. I still have a handful of CDs so I pulled one of them out – a CD of Rimsky-Korsakov’s music including his most famous work, Scheherazade. I pondered the CD for a few seconds and then laughed to myself as I thought about the story that had inspired the Russian composer’s symphonic poem.
Today our son Theo went off to writing camp for the day, a camp that he would have made an almighty fuss about less than a year ago, but one that he is now happy to attend. Apparently, his favorite subject at school is now writing. The camp is run by Sascha, a friend and fellow mother at Theo’s school, whose daughter is in Theo’s grade and son is a few years older. Sascha has been sharing her passion for writing and storytelling with many of the kids in the school for several years now, either in her creative writing classes and clubs after school or imaginative camps during summer and winter breaks. A couple of years ago, Theo had attended one of her winter break camps. At that time, he still didn’t like writing and was surrounded by super-keen girls of his age who seemed to be writing their first novels or, more likely in L.A., screenplays. Theo was a bit discouraged, as were we, but Sascha reminded us that boys’ fine motor skills take longer to develop than girls’ do and that for some boys it can actually physically hurt to write for a long time. So Theo wasn’t being dramatic about his sore, tired hand. He just wasn’t really ready to write back then. Now things are different, and off he went to camp this morning. I relaxed and got to work on my own writing projects knowing that he was in very capable hands.