Natalia Naman Temesgen: Overcome by my good ideas

March 22, 2014 

'You should write that down and you should hide it under a rock."

That's a line from Pulitzer-winning playwright Suzan Lori-Parks' play, "Death of the Last Black Man in the Whole Entire World."

It's also what I have to say to you the next time you have a good idea. Why? Because good ideas tend to get away from us if we don't write them down and keep them someplace safe.

I had a good idea last week. My daughter is turning 1 at the end of the month and I considered throwing her a birthday party -- a manageable, low-maintenance backyard picnic party. I'd invite a handful of friends with young kids and we'd play in the sun and eat some cake. Good idea. I didn't write it down.

Instead, I Googled 'first birthday picnic party' and found the most gorgeous, extensively photographed first birthday picnic party ever. For a boy named Theo. (Google it. It's amazing.) And suddenly, my daughter's low-key backyard birthday party became a "thing."

My good idea got self-conscious in the face of Theo's fabulous party. What kind of awesome mom does he have? What kind of lame mom am I? I need to make my daughter's party look like THAT. Good idea gone haywire.

A few months ago, I had a good idea to do a local public reading of my new play, "The Old Ship of Zion." It was an opportunity to share my work with community members and get their feedback.

Recently, I became obsessed with the foyer outside of the hall in which we're doing the reading. It's a big, open space and I thought back to all the elaborate readings I'd been to up North. I can't leave that space empty. I've got to fill it with exhibitions! Photos that inspired my writing, research on the history of black churches … fake trees! Yikes.

Luckily, I've been guided back to the "good ideas."

My husband saw the frenzy in my eyes as I talked about that empty foyer and told me to forget it. He reminded me that my goal in bringing this play to town is to share my writing with the city that inspired it.

My other wake-up call came from the receipts I collected from Toys R Us, Jo-Ann and Party City this week. Mainly, the combined subtotals at the bottom. I don't need all the stuff bought. (This is why you save receipts!) The point of the party is to celebrate our stunning little girl's first year with people we love. Not to throw an exorbitant affair that puts some weddings to shame.

So back to good ideas. Write them down. Tell someone about them. Because if they get self-conscious and start to drift off path, you might need a reminder.

And if you want to walk through an empty foyer and check out the reading of my play, I hope you'll join us. It's a free event on Thursday at 7 p.m. in Blanchard Hall of the downtown CB&T building.

-- Natalia Naman Temesgen is an independent correspondent. Contact her at nataliadian1@gmail.com or on Twitter @cafeaulazy.

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