Lourdes Mint's Mid-Life Miracle

Real-time memoir of the coming year (5/20/14 – 15) and the achievement of a life-long dream

Archive for the tag “Quotes”

There is always “burn” here now.

Pretty+Flames+2-7-2007+3-36-23+PM+2816x2112There is always “burn” here now.

Door knobs burn in my hand as I turn them, so I leave the inside ones open. Even the floor burns the bottoms of my feet, so: shoes, but they burn also. These words too, all words, whether I think or say or read them, they all burn now. Sometimes./

To hear them, these ones here, spoken aloud in this room today — w/ no one aside from me listening, no music playing, nothing baking — to hear them without burning, what I would give for that! To be back there, here but back then, in my dream of life again, where it was plenty warm enough, what I would give./

There were times I’d think I must have come from there to here through someplace really cold. I’d think, could I have died that day? That day I “wakened” to the smell of all my pies burning and you knocking as loud as you could on the door. “What’s burning? Are you okay? What’s going on with your hair?”/

We threw the pies into the garden, laughing. You cut my hair in the kitchen to help fix me back up as we aired the place out. “What happened, though? Did you fall asleep? Since when do you bake pies and for what?” I opened you some wine and we spent the rest of the day together./

But I watched the pies slowly disappear alone. It took weeks and then one downpour finally carried the rest away./

Today, I know I came through someplace really cold to get here. Why else, how else, could touching these now — these plastic keys — burn me so? So that the plainest words/thoughts, uttered as plainly as I can manage, are birds barely escaping a flame and then at the very last second returning or just stopping, letting it happen, letting it wrap them and hold them in its hot hands until they turn to ash?/

There is always “burn” here, but I’ve begun to wonder if it might be okay for a time./

After all, crying now is like climbing a tree—but on another planet. Crying: Why? How? It doesn’t happen here, I don’t think, but I’m not completely sure (having learned about evaporation so long ago). I do know it’s not okay not to cry ever./

I know too that today nothing is baking, no music is playing, and no one knocks or doesn’t knock at the door. And I know I didn’t die that day. I am being still and quiet, no more words aloud for now, dreaming of when I was “just warm enough” and wishing I could cry, here or on some other planet, any planet (except Mercury, Venus)./

And yet. Even though these words, my memories, the door, the floor, the bottoms of me feet — ALL of it burns, all of it is burning me — I begin to think it could all turn out all right, that one day I will be just warm enough again.

***

THIS is a repost, thanks. I’ve been gone from here for SIX long months. I consider it a bit of providence that I log back in tonight, after several days (weeks? months?) of thinking about this blog AND THIS POEM especially, and find that BURN is the one-word daily prompt. Today. When I log back in … But so, I have nothing new here now, I don’t think, am exhausted, but I jump back in to this — everything — holding the hand of my 47-year-old self from two years ago. I trust no one more.

https://dailypost.wordpress.com/prompts/burn/

https://wordpress.com/post/lourdesmint.wordpress.com/678

 

 

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Daily prompt response: Problems with Styrofoam and Another Advice Column Reject

instock-069Peanuts

In response to The Daily Post’s writing prompt: “Connect the Dots.” Scour the news for an entirely uninteresting story [or make one up?]. Consider how it connects to your life. Write about that.

Dear Abby,

I know this is probably not a huge deal, but on the off chance that someone else has the same problem and suffers mainly because it can be so inexplicably distressing, I figured I’d write. You know how those Styrofoam peanuts can’t be recycled so you have to get them out of the box your extra fragile purchase was packed in, bag them, and throw them away separately — with the rest of the garbage? Well, every single time I do this, and I do mean EVERY SINGLE TIME, I’m extra careful to pull the bag into which I’m emptying the peanuts all the way around the box, all four corners, before I even attempt the transfer because I always seem to end up making a mess. But still, no matter how careful I am, an estimated 40 to 60% of the peanuts end up outside of the bag and I have to round them up by hand (“like herding cats” because of the static electricity) and bag them by the handful. Do you know how long that takes?

So I just want to know WHY? Is that too much to ask?

I don’t know whether it’s just the static electricity or there’s some other scientific explanation for why this CANNOT work as it seems it should, but I’m way beyond annoyed now and actually starting to get concerned. Thinking about it now, I guess the real basis of my concern is whether it’s normal to have so much trouble with Styrofoam or whether something else could be going on? I mean, do you think there’s some underlying issue I’m not addressing here? Or maybe even larger forces at work, whose presence and significance I’m missing?

Up to my neck in peanuts, LM

 

Dear Abby,

I’m supposed to be working on my novel now …I have so precious little time and I’ve entered into a contest or rather a challenge to help keep me going: NaNoWriMo. You may have heard of it? Anyway instead or working on my novel, I’ve been unpacking valuables (I use that term very loosely) that we have no place for yet (we moved recently and not all of our furniture is here …). Although I’m having a bit of trouble with the Styrofoam peanuts, as I wrote you about separately, I am not having trouble with writer’s block. In fact, really I’m having almost the opposite problem. I start working on my novel and the next thing I know, hours have disappeared and I have no idea what, where, who, etc. But see I can’t have disappearing hours, no idea, no — I have children, a family. But here I am with a discrete, necessarily limited, beautiful little chunk of time set aside just for the novel and instead I write you … and only “for pretend,” no less, in a blog amid a sea of blogs that connects to an ocean of blogs that connects to a bunch of other seas and oceans of blogs.

So I just want to know WHY? Is that too much to ask?

I don’t know whether it’s just the static electricity (for lack of a better word [FLBW])  or there’s some other scientific explanation for why this CANNOT work as it seems it should, but I’m way beyond annoyed now and actually starting to get concerned. Thinking about it now, I guess the real basis of my concern is whether it’s normal to have so much trouble with Styrofoam (FLBW) or whether something else could be going on? I mean, do you think there’s some underlying issue I’m not addressing here? Or maybe even larger forces at work, whose presence and significance I’m missing?

Up to my neck in peanuts (FLBW), LM

p.s. For our listening enjoyment: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=EI7OUQbE65g

“go alone — crawl, stumble, stagger — but go alone”

“You must be Independent, Independent, Independent –jm105-256— don’t talk so much but do more — go your own way and let your neighbour go his… Shake off all the props — the props tradition and authority give you and go alone — crawl, stumble, stagger — but go alone.”

~ Charles Rennie Mackintosh

Independent, YES, for sure! (Original would be nice too, but is not necessary. I mention it because I think people often confuse independence with originality, which can be a real problem for their creativity and productivity, but maybe that’s a post for another day.) Neighbors — oh, there are many I’d gladly follow home. Don’t think I have too many props to shake off, but am willing to crawl, etc., if needed. BUT I love this guy’s designs (behold one iteration of his famous rose) … just not 100% sure about his ideas.

More to the point of this post: writing can be lonely, not for the bloggiest of bloggers maybe, but for lots of the rest of us. So, just so I can connect (or in hopes of connecting … even if I don’t know it’s happened), I am giving myself permission to quote other people liberally here in my blog or provide links to whatever, anything I feel like doing this month (so pretty much like every other month!), as I work to put out 1700+ words per day for NaNoWriMo.

It’s Day 2 and I’ve done 2,345 words (not bad, the quantity I mean), but my narrative point of view is shifting all over the place and not in a clever way. Plus my tenses are sliding, willy nilly, forward and backward and off to the side (though that’s typical for me because sometimes I do feel like past, present, future, etc., are all here in the same place at the same time). Also, even though every 50 words or so come easy, these are followed by hundreds that feel like I am punching myself in the face or, no: trying to put on clothes that are a few sizes too small … and wet and itchy too. I’m haunted about how little I feel I know about the world, how my seven-year-old referred to me as “odd” today, how my main character is male again (and apparently has two interchangeable names). I’m also bothered that I can’t picture him clearly yet, but I can see what he sees, feel what he feels, etc.

I’m thinking, he could look like this:

Brosseau-Tom1868-2_cr-CareyBraswell[1](This is a young[er] Tom Brosseau and here’s a song of his: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=5vcWe–L7AM)

OR he might look like this:th98WXLH1R

(The is the young, late Vic Chesnutt and one of his tunes: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=f2KyL1MlqW0)

No surprise that I’m conjuring the images of song writers I greatly admire to help embody my protagonist. No surprise, but no explanation (now) either. In the end, it doesn’t really matter who I’m picturing anyway, I just need to see his face. And I can’t yet.

On the bright side, whatever he turns out looking like, I like him a lot so far and that’s helpful because I will be meeting with Nohl/Ben every day (or as often as I can) until we get his story done.

 

Your “plans” will never go as planned if …

Your “plans” will never go as planned if you make no plans. I really don’t like TOO MUCH of this kind of talk, coming out of my mouth or going into my ears, buzzing around in my mind, but today it fits. This week, this month, this year — I could go on — it FITS! Although it’s not really that I had no plans as much, I think, as that I might not have shared them best with the people who needed to know them most …

But I don’t want to hear, “Life is what happens when you’re busy making other plans.” I don’t want to hear about the importance of spontaneity, etc. I have a PhD in that. Yes, I’m all for spontaneity, but to go well, even it benefits from a plan — in fact, I don’t think it can’t truly exist in the absence of a good plan. Without one to derail or to bust yourself out of, what is spontaneity really except doing something you feel like doing pretty close to the time you first thought of doing it? (No big deal.)

And how about free-wheeling? Love IT. (If my doctorate was in Spontaneity, my dissertation was on Free-wheeling.) But there too: you’ve gotta have that wheel in order to pull it off. And historically there’s not much that’s a bigger deal than the wheel when it comes to forward motion, progress, etc. At this very moment, I can’t think of a single thing. But maybe that’s because of where I am today, this week, this month, this year.

Anyway, look at this splendid young woman. I’ll bet she has herself a plan. Wheels too!

tumblr_ntltvx1RQi1tstj1ho1_500

Found on inked-dollz.blogspot.jp

Float: A Love Story (or “Scientists Prove that Atheists May Not Exist…”)

[Note: I didn’t post at all in February, but started many, many stories that I didn’t finish, and TRIED not to think about my blog’s goal, the deadline for which is fast approaching. The Lourdes Mint who is not writing is usually not reading either, and the whole writing/reading thing SEEMS to go dormant, BUT REALLY it funnels itself, tornado-like, into a poltergeist-ish presence here — one that leaves water running, burns food, compulsively engages in what I’m going to go ahead and call performance art (not a euphemism for anything too far off from that, just so you know), and enthusiastically takes on new projects/commitments even when I don’t have time enough for the ones I’ve already got.

Speaking of which, I just finished helping a friend “proofread” his new book, which I shouldn’t have done probably (no more editing, etc., for me, remember?), but the good thing was that in doing it, I got bitten so good and hard by the word bug that here I finally am again! And, on my way here, I found this article* (kind of interesting) and it reminded me of a conversation that I overheard once in a cafe, next to a hot springs in (a place resembling, on this particular morning) Iceland. Anyway, here’s my “story”…]

Float: A Love Story

“ZZ,” I’ll call him, is a pale, thin-lipped guy who looks like he spends most of his time in a dark room, illuminated only by a computer, living on nothing but coffee and Ho-Hos. He has a beard so huge it looks (and smells, I’m guessing), from where I’m sitting, as though it has its very own ecosystem (the kind that would include plenty of marsupials, mushrooms, and marshy bogs).

“‘Scientists prove that atheists may not exist…’? I don’t understand how one could possibly prove this,” ZZ huffs. “No, actually, what I don’t understand is why one would care to take on such a silly endeavor. Am I really that scary? What, are they bored w/ cancer and AIDS? Pathetic. It makes no sense. I mean, why/how can one … um…?”

He takes an angry sip of his hot frothy whatever and looks at the woman across from him, whom I can only see from the back and who is huddled over her plate, appearing as though she’s just taken a huge bite of something delicious. I crane my neck to try to see what she’s ordered … I’m sill trying to decide.

ZZ continues: “Well, what else do you remember about it, the article?”

Chewing, chewing, chewing, the woman—whom I’ll call “Chortles”—holds up a “hold-on-a-second” finger. ZZ glares at the top of her head, tilted down toward the plate. He begins to yawn (too deeply, too loudly, I think), and blink (too fast, I think), and stroke his beard (once is way more than enough, I think — and then … oh, I cannot hold off much longer on eating … getting to the springs).

I see he is feeling alone, though, and almost jealous of the food on Chortles’ plate, of how happy it makes her (I am too).

“Okay then, what did you say the article was called, again?” ZZ picks up his iPhone, peering into its glassy face through thick, black 1970s “smart person/atheist” glasses. “Hello? [to her] Can I get a web address, or URL, maybe?”

Chortles chortles and, with what sounds like a full mouth, says something about, “key words” and how “no one really needs web addresses” anymore. (And what’s a URL, again?)

ZZ seems pretending not to hear, keeps poking away at his phone. “No access, still? Here? Oh, you!” he hisses at the slick black thing in his hand. “Bastard whelp! Pathetic.”

He sets it down, gently, and begins to examine his hand as though it has just now, at this very moment, appeared. He then looks incredulously at Chortles, who is still chewing, from what I can see—no wonder given that she’s taken another bite or five while ZZ was laying-in to his phone.

Watching her gobbling away, he almost smiles, but also sighs loudly and turns his attention to the panoramic window that runs the length of the entire east wall of the place—furrowing his brow and slowly shaking his head at the sight of the hot-springers. Some are blissing out, others are frolicking, in the pre-dawn, orange-ish glow.

It’s as though they are, in their very being—through either their in-your-face contentedness or their “glad animal movements”—speaking directly to ZZ in some strange language he’s unable understand. And it’s as though he desperately wishes to communicate this disconnect to them, to everyone! The furrowing and shaking continue, becoming more and more pronounced.

“No sense at all … the article, I mean!” he says suddenly, sharply, and abruptly returns his gaze to Chortles, who looks up at him finally and vaguely nods before returning her attention to her plate. She’s slowing down.

“None!” ZZ goes on. “And sense is pretty much my number one criterion—no, my only requirement—when it comes to choosing to give something another moment more of my attention. I don’t think that’s too much to ask.” He strokes his beard again, gifting it a little tug this time. “Life really is too short, as they say.”

“Too short for what?” asks Chortles, taking a sip of her steamy beverage as she looks out at the springs. “Oh!” She points toward toward the mountain. “See this? The sun is just about to rise… .”

ZZ gives the view a cursory glance. “Hmmmm, yes, I see.” He turns to her again, pauses. “What did you think of it, the article?” he asks, his thin lips sporting a bit of foam.

Chortles chortles again and sort of shrugs.

“Huh! She laughs,” is all ZZ says as he watches her finish up. He’s hungry, starving, I’m guessing by the looks of him, but he does not seem aware of it … or at least not ready or willing to do anything about it.

Then, suddenly, the first rays of sun appear at the ridge of the deep purple mountain beyond the body of water, long fingers of pure light reaching up, over, and into the ambient glow already there. But I’m so hungry…

“See! I knew…,” says Chortles, beaming, I imagine. ZZ smiles a little, picks at the last bit of her food—says, “Indeed!”

Indeed?! Puh! Of course that’s what he’d say, I think. My food cannot come soon enough… .” But suddenly it’s there, my food—same thing as Chortles’, whose non-communicativeness all this time suddenly makes perfect sense. I’m digging in, watching too as the glow is overcome.

“I’m here now,” the sun says to its pale understudy. “You can lay back, now, relax.”

These words, this thought … strange … come into my mind as I behold the sight along with everyone out in the water and all of us inside too, even the people who work there, even Chortles, even ZZ. And all is almost perfectly quiet until a metal utensil falls to the ground.

“Actually, you know, it is funny,” ZZ says, evidently still thinking of Chortles’ latest non-response (and second chortle) to his desperate plea. “Actually, yours is the perfect response.” ZZ laughs too now, but to me it has plastic, accidental-sounding quality to it, like another utensil, a spork—I’m picturing—falling to the ground.

“Yes, I really did see it as kind of funny,” replies Chortles absently, after she’s tossed her napkin on the plate. “That’s all, really. Now let’s go float, my lamb. That’s what we’re here for, right?”

ZZ smiles at her, even though she’s not looking at him—now standing up, now sweeping crumbs from her front, now grabbing their large woven bag.

“Float, right… Have we paid?” ZZ asks Chortles, beginning to clear the table.

Chortles confirms (“Yup!”), as she pats him on the part of his pants where a butt should have been. He moves slowly, seemingly unsure of where he’s going. “I miss the kids,” he says.

Chortles grabs his shoulder, gently redirecting him. “Me too,” she says and points to the bin near the trash can. “Over there.”

And/but as they walk out, I can hear ZZ winding up again.

“Who wrote it, though? Can you give me anything there? Man, woman? Young, old? American? Anything? … Credentials?”

The door shuts behind them and I can no longer hear what they’re saying, but watch them as lay out their blanket together and then begin, also together, to braid ZZ’s beard or do some equally weird thing to the beast with swift, perfectly coordinated movements. And … I’m done, I decide, thank you—clearing my own table now.

Out on the bank, I move close enough to smell the springs and begin feeling their effect, something, as I lay out my blanket … and as ZZ and Chortles approach the water’s edge.

I am close enough, too, to see how full of doubt ZZ is, it seems, but also how free from fear — as Chortles takes him by the hand and leads him into the shimmering water, which looks almost pinkish-blue in this light.

A little later, I’m surprised, but then not, to see which of the two of them blisses out and which frolicks …

** THE END **

 *Here’s the article: http://www.science20.com/writer_on_the_edge/blog/scientists_discover_that_atheists_might_not_exist_and_thats_not_a_joke-139982

And here, also, are the lyrics from “May It Always Be,” by Bonnie Prince Billy, one of my favorite singer/songwriters—that’s him in the pic, standing in for ZZ. Hate to overload this entry, but I never know when another month might fly by with no post … and because this story/memory reminds of this song.

I’ve been with you for a fairly long time,
May I call you, may I call you, may I call you mine?

And you are near, an’ been with me,
May it always, may it always, may it always be,

Please don’t leave my side, remember I love you,
None of what I have done wrong was really done against you,

If you love me and I’m weak, then weaker you must love me more,
To reinforce what’s also strong, and all the love we have in store,

By example you showed me, living’s alright,
Stay here with me, stay here with me, stay with me tonight,

And come with me when I go to the bedroom,
And we’ll play bride, and we’ll play bride, and we’ll play bride and groom,

If you had not been born you know,
What would I? What would I be then?

I would not have strength to grow,
And be counted, and be counted among men.

Please don’t leave my side, remember I love you,
None of what I have done wrong was really done against you,

If you love me and I’m weak, then weaker you must love me more,
To reinforce what’s also strong, and all the love we have in store,

And in the morning we’ll wrestle and ruin our stomachs with coffee,
Won’t we be, won’t we be, won’t be happy?

We will rise in anger, love and ardor,
Shining, shining, shimmering in loves armor.

[You can hear a good version on YouTube: “Bonnie Prince Billy – May It Always Be (Live in London)”]

[**Photo: Bonnie Prince Billy at Sydney Opera House (2006); read more at http://www.fasterlouder.com.au%5D

Remedy: “What is coming is, IN TRUTH, returning” (Poem for Mo J. & Others)

Remedy for YOU, Mo J., and Maybe for Others Who Believe (w/ Hope or Fear) that Their Identity Is “a Construct”

Mo J., I should start by saying — reminding you of how often — I listen LONG (and hard) to you. You know I do. And I believe I understand your thoughts and reasoning about the illusion/delusion of personal identity. I read [a good many of the words in] the books you recommended, the Goffman, Foucalt, etc. I Goff-awed at first, but then — truly — got kind of Fouc’ed up about the whole thing, which we discussed. In fact, as you’ll recall, I had what I think might have been my very first panic attack the last time I cracked one of those bad boys and so I took them ALL back to the library, kickin’ and screamin’, a day before they were due (even though I could renew them, “like, forever,” the summer intern told me). I have not looked back.

But I’ve been looking at you, still listening to you (for the most part), still loving you (for the most …) — AND hoping you can find your way back in from the cold (and then tell me how you did it — heh!). page-0-2

THE THING IS, I admit I can’t mount a solid argument against either of their positions… or yours. And something in me does see, does say, well, OK, this could very well be exactly how it is: As a person, one has no definite essence, meaning there’s nothing that makes me uniquely me (or you uniquely you); “who one really is” is only as solid as the words she or he can put together to make the case (and only for a time), as well as restricted AND dictated by powers beyond all of our control. Yeah, I can see that, Mo J. (and maybe others).

And yet, and yet, and yet: NO! I don’t believe you believe it (exactly), just like I don’t (exactly), because something in me ________.  So this poem-ish thing is for you (and sometimes also me). I’m hoping we can set it to music… 🙂

“Pour Yourself Out”

Go ahead and pour yourself out*

Everything, all that makes you you, till you’re sure there can be nothing left

Don’t bother with containers, mops and the like, etc.: any and all just-to-be-on-the-safe-side measures that may occur to you — because, you know, if what you believe is true, then well ….

Forget writing anything down first or putting anything away for safe keeping, not that you would (and again, you really can’t), and tell no one

Tell no one what to do or not do IN THE EVENT that your generic shell (husk?) turns up:

F’wumping about at gatherings, leaving odd messages, curling up in a pile of dead leaves, freshly raked (by someone else) for bagging

(Let that poor thing, that “drone-hive … of phantom purposes,” fend for itself.)

Nothing you do “just in case” will do you like you (don’t?) need to be done right now, anyhow.

I know, I know, but I know you too.

So just pour — start now — in dread or giddy anticipation of finding out/proving that nothing remains, if that suits, or with the intent of ridding yourself of yourself, if that’s where you are (as you sometimes are) these days, BUT GO!

Pour like you mean it, too; this is important:

Out the window of your fast-moving car (or mine — I’m ready!)

Into the ocean at the beginning of low tide or IN the middle of high (whichever is most effective), or

Onto what’s left of your garden so late in the fall … or better: that of a stranger or estranged friend, or best: that of an indiscriminate user (or gifted hobbyist/closet-creator) of pesticides, a deranged killer, a Pampered Chef party-thrower, whichever is most repugnant to “you”

Pour it over a cliff or into a pit or quarry, a trench or ditch (48-hours style), or a rank puddle of super-dubious origin deep inside a cave, where nothing but your light-snubbing brethren can breathe

And then: spit, stomp, say “HUH!,” bang a GONG — whatever feels right, rings true, to your construct

Then wait as the panic or thrill rises, peaks, begins to fall and then

…… And then plateaus as your body braces itself, knowing — as it does in every particle of its every cell — exactly what is coming AND THAT what is coming is, IN TRUTH, returning:

dirty, wet, BAD, sorry, angry, FILLED WITH MISGIVINGS, heartbroken, MISTAKEN, ashamed and shameful, WRONG, and maybe even worse;

but also better than that, DEFINITELY better: uniquely glorious, specifically worthy (to me and maybe others) in several, very singular respects, loved in particular and distinctly loving — and all of it You.

Go ahead. Pour.

* We can discuss the exact mechanics of the “Pouring-yourself-out” process, but I’m guessing it would start with getting rid of all your stuff — starting with your writings, photos, drawings, etc. No problems there, right? We’ll brainstorm over coffee (or wine). It’ll be fun. Call me, Mo J. (and maybe others).

By Heart, for Viola (Daily Prompt): “Angela and I don’t want the two dollars back …”

You’re asked to recite a poem (or song lyrics) from memory — what’s the first one that comes to mind? Does it have a special meaning, or is there another reason it has stayed, intact, in your mind? (Participating in NaBloPoMo? Head to BlogHer’s NaBloMoPo Central for more!)

http://dailypost.wordpress.com/dp_prompt/by-heart/

 

I met a boy called Frank Mills,

On September 12th right here, in front of The Waverly, but

Unfortunately, I lost his address.

Adapted from: Testing American Football Helmets in 1912

He was last seen with his friend, a drummer, who

Resembles George Harrison of The Beatles, but

He wears his hair tied in a small bow at the back!

I love him, but it embarrasses me, to

Walk down the street with him.

He lives in Brooklyn, somewhere, and wears

His white crash helmet.

He has golden chains on his leather jacket, and

On the back are written the words [names?]:

Marrrrry, and Mom, and Hell’s An-gels.

I would gratefully appreciate it if you see him, tell him, I’m in the park with my girlfriend aaaand please:

Tell him Angela and I don’t want the two dollars back, jussssssssst him.

 

I’m pretty sure the song’s from Hair (promised myself not to look it up till AFTER I wrote out the lyrics, which I felt the need to do JUST TO SEE if I really still knew them by heart). Viola, my best friend from 12 to 18 years of age or so, and I learned it together. She was a complete “bad ass” and I was class clown (not that you’d ever guess that from this blog), but not always intentionally. She brought so much excitement and sophistication into my life, knew and would do all sorts of things I never dreamed of  — before her. Quick, clever, ball-sy, sometimes OUTRAGEOUS Viola! But she had a challenging, almost frightening, side too. Looking back, I understand now how much anger and sadness she was dealing with. Anyway (story for another day), our lives took us in very different directions after high school and we are no longer in touch. She began fading away little by little at first, but then, all at once, she was gone. Other friends of hers and I have kept up with the basic facts of her life through members of her family who’ve remained in the area, but she has broken off all real contact with me, with all of us, since the move — a decision that has continued to baffle us.

But we saw her recently after lots of coaxing, through her ma, to get her to show at a reunion. Lots of laughter but also so many tears, not nearly enough words to explain them. It was good, though. As much as I loved seeing her, I also respect her decision to cut things off with her old friends. Sometimes the past has got to go.

ANYWAY, this song: I think Viola and I learned it firstly just for fun (we adored the “white crash helmet” and the bit about the two dollars) but also as a way — I felt then — of sort of sealing the deal between us, a pledge, like the way some friends become blood brothers/sisters (which we may also have done). The song reminded us too of some of the boys we went out with … and of our foolishness in going out with them, the extent of which we probably shared only with each other.

To me, singing the song together was like squeezing the other’s hand and having the other squeeze back — or better, like saying to each other in unison, but not outright, “I know your whole story, the whole stinkin’ thing, and I love you anyway.”

 

“An occasional little rip, mis-stich, an error in the fabric of reality…” — Daily Prompt

Doppelgänger Alert

http://dailypost.wordpress.com/dp_prompt/doppelganger-alert/

You step into an acquaintance’s house for the first time, and discover that everything — from the furniture, to the books, to the art on the wall — is identical to your home. What happens next?

(Thanks for an intriguing prompt idea, Lourdes Mint!)

YOU’RE WELCOME. But really PERHAPS I should refrain from suggesting prompts that I don’t already have a ready, clever response to. 🙂 I never responded to the last one they used. (Shame on me!) This will be quick and dirty, so that I don’t twist myself into a pretzel over it… Here it goes!

*     *    *    *     * AS IT HAPPENED, I accepted her invitation, even though we were never particularly friendly. It was almost like we fit the same slot in the community, so similar in so many ways, she felt redundant to me. Maybe I did to her as well. But it seemed that circumstances brought us together: both our husbands, supposed novelists, gone for months on an Alaska fishing boat, while we had several small children and pets in each our care. And we both worked as second grade teachers, though at different schools. She was also right across the street, in a house just like ours, so it was hard — seemed pointless — to say no. We had the teenage girl nextdoor to me, whom we both knew, watch the kids. The idea was dinner and a bit of light conversation, I suppose. I brought dessert. That’s where it started.

“Oh!” she said opening the door, glancing down at the pie in my hands. “I should have made it clear this was an all-included event! I actually made pie, too. Tell me yours isn’t cherry.”

“Okay, but it is,” I said passing it to her. “So now you have two.”

“Weird again. And funny too, but I have this same coat,” she said hanging it on the rack.

“And weird yet again,” I said. “I have that coat rack.”

As I turned away from the entrance, the first thing I noticed were two small flames, candles at the table. “Nice,” I thought — I’ve always considered it a mistake to not have candles for dinner guests, any dinner guests. Then I began to look around — that polite, non-appraising look you give to others’ homes, no matter what you are seeing, what you are thinking.

Kadinsky-page-0

But then my eyes fixed on a print of a photograph taken of Kandinsky in Odessa, something you don’t see every day and which most people, seeing my framed copy on my wall, assume is a photo of my grandfather. And then, noticing that David Bowie’s Warszawa was playing, a bit quirky as dinner music goes, but a definite favorite of mine, I felt a sort of vertigo coming on.

And then the other striking, no — impossible — similarities between her belongings on mine, flew at me like a flock of big black greasy birds, angry at being surprised. The leather couch that cats had used as a scratching post, the bamboo blinds, the cactus garden at the center of the see-through acrylic coffee table that I was always banging my shins on, book titles too, lamps, the tea pot, her vacuum cleaner (left out in the open, like mine), the little hand weights next to her television, the indoor-outdoor rug in her kitchen, the cats coming down the steps, just about everything I laid my eyes on — SAME AS MINE.

At that point, I think actually waved my hands in front of my face, let out a sort of yelp and maybe an obscenity, and collapsed backward into a chair.

“Oh my, oh my gosh, what … ?” My host looked genuinely stunned, frightened. “Are you OK?”

I started to laugh. “Wow, yes. I’m just exhausted.”

“We can do this another time,” she said. “I mean it, really.” She looked scared. And I suddenly felt mad.

“No, let’s just do this, whatever this is.” One of the cats jumped on my lap.

“Blanca!” she said. “Down.” And then to me, “Sorry. The worse your day is, the more all-over-you they are.”

The tea pot began whistling — a perfect D sharp, like mine. “Excuse me,” she said, rushing toward the kitchen.

“Blanca,” I called out.  “That’s ‘white’ in Spanish, right?” (My white cat was Mr. White, but still.)

She nodded and appeared in the kitchen doorway, looking as though she were about to explain, but I interrupted” “And I’ll bet you’re brewing ginger tea, my favorite. OUR favorite.”

“It is ginger, as a matter of fact, but I’m not really sure… . I don’t understand what’s going on here, really.” She looked me right in the eye and I saw nothing creepy there, nothing that might begin to help explain this inexplicable thing that was happening nonetheless. I she were a creep, then OK. I could deal with that. But if not, then what?

She was not a creep. I just felt it, sure as Blanca on my lap.

“I’m sorry,” I said. “Please pardon me. Please.”

“It’s OK, but really, if you don’t feel up for this … .”

“I’m fine.” And dinner was fine, even as we dined on a Wolfgang Puck dish (a Vietnamese salad) that was one of my go-to recipes for guests, even as every outdated song that came on — I suppose it was on shuffle, as mine always is — was another from my own, rather singular (I’d always thought) collection. We talked about the regular things: our jobs, parenting, being married to aspiring novelists/actual fishermen. I was relieved to find that the doppelganger effect did not seem to extend to every aspect of our lives.

After cherry pie, she walked me back to my house to retrieve her children. I knew she would see what I saw, something I neither dreaded nor looked forward to. I simply had no idea what could be done.

In any case, her face registered nothing as she entered the house. She just gave me a quick hug and they were out of there before her kids had even buttoned up.

For months she and I only waved to each other as we happened to pass each other coming and going. Then one day, I found her sitting along in our neighborhood park. Assuming this was as rare a treat for her as it was for me, I was prepared to just keep walking after our usual cordial but distant greeting.

“Would you sit w/ me?” she asked. We sat for a long time without saying anything. Then finally, she cleared her throat and began to speak.

One time, on her way home from an evening class in grad school, she explained, she had passed herself driving in the other direction. “It didn’t just look like me: IT WAS ME! Same car, same hair and face, same everything. And as I stared at her, I finally caught her eye. And we both just kept staring until I almost hit the car in front of me. Shaken, I pulled over, rolled down the window, and watched the car for as long as I could — as she, the other me, just kept on going to wherever it was she was going. And at one point, she too rolled down her window to give me … a thumbs up!”

I sat there, not knowing what to say.

“A f_cking thumbs up!? I mean, what is that supposed to do for me? What can it mean? What does it even begin to explain?”

I almost said, “at least it wasn’t ‘the finger,'”  but I knew it would’ve been worse than off. “Well, what did you do?” I finally managed.

“What did I do? What could I do? I did nothing. I’ve told no one, until now. And you know why.”

“Because of our weird doppelganger experience … .”

She laughed, not looking at me. “Well, yes, but no. It’s bigger than that. I just decided that unless I accepted that there could be an occasional little rip, mis-stich, an error in the fabric of reality, then I would go crazy. So that’s what I did. And recently, as you might imagine, I’ve had to do it again. And so there you go. How about you? Have you managed to square the whole thing with yourself?”

“I think so,” I said. But I was trying not to forget her words, didn’t want to think of anything else until I could write them down. They could help. They would help. They were already helping.

An occasional little rip, mis-stich, an error in the fabric of reality. An occasional little rip, mis-stich, an error in the fabric of reality. An occasional little rip, mis-stich, an error in the fabric of reality. An occasional little rip, mis-stich, an error in the fabric of reality. An occasional little rip, mis-stich, an error in the fabric of reality.

We both sat for a while saying nothing.

“Someone’s burning leaves,” she said. “I thought that was against the law. Anyway, I better go. Nice to see you.”

An occasional little rip, mis-stich, an error in the fabric of reality. “You too, I said,” smiling. “I’ll spare you the thumbs-up,” I added uncertainly. She laughed a little and said “thanks,” rather absently, turned and walked away.

An occasional little rip, mis-stich, an error in the fabric of reality. An occasional little rip, mis-stich, an error in the fabric of reality. An occasional little rip, mis-stich, an error in the fabric of reality.

When I was very young, everyone in our apartment building died in a fire except me. They said it was as though my bed was encased in a protective bubble — they didn’t find me until the next day, after the rescue mission was called off. I had apparently slept through the entire thing. I remember almost nothing of this, except these words: “No Godly explanation for it,” which my grandmother, who took care of me from then on, said almost every day until she finally passed away. By then, I was in college — as far away as I could get — and had been able to cut my ties with the story. But the story had never cut its ties with me. I always felt odd (possibly evil), ashamed, frightened: the reluctant citizen of a world where things happen that have no fathomable explanation.

Art has helped, music too, humor, all opportunities for “laughter and forgetting,” LOVE, but there will never be anything like words — for me — when it comes to finally getting a grip.

So, when I was very young, everyone in our apartment building died in a fire except me. There was indeed “no Godly explanation for it” — EXCEPT THAT SOMETIMES, OLD LADY, there HAPPENS TO BE an occasional little rip, mis-stich, an error in the fabric of reality. Bet you didn’t know that, did you? So you can just stop giving me those sideways glances, like I’m the devil’s spawn. There was and is no Godly explanation for it, so you can stop looking for one. And RIP.

An occasional little rip, mis-stich, an error in the fabric of reality. An occasional little rip, mis-stich, an error in the fabric of reality. An occasional little rip, mis-stich, an error in the fabric of reality.

Yeah, I think this will work for me. Thank you doppelganger. Thank you Words for once again coming to the rescue.

comp4150

Wassily Kandinsky, “Composition IV,” 1911

 

 

“In times of change, LEARNERS inherit the earth, while the learned …”

“In times of change, learners inherit the earth, while the learned find themselves beautifully equipped to deal with a world that no longer exists.” ~ Eric Hoffer

Just this for now. I can’t decide whether it stokes me because I identify with the learner or it depresses me because, even though I would never describe myself as particularly “learned,” I am haunted by the realization that what I think of as “the world” will be unrecognizable to my children when they’re my age or even when they’re in their teens. Or perhaps it’s already happened?

Of course it is already happening… .

SWOOOOOOOOOOSH!

 

TheLearners

 

 

 

Oh Lourdes! “Real-Time Memoir” and Other Things That Might Not Make Sense

I don’t want to go back to my About page. I really don’t, so I won’t. Not today. Sometimes I do heed my gut. 😉 I remember the gist and my one goal for keeping a blog, which is to be achieved in less than a year — so fewer than 300 days from now. What I don’t remember is how I thought blogging could support or help me meet my goal, how in the world I thought it would not take away from the small store of available time/energy for working on my fiction that I had then, which is now even smaller. And how could I not recognize that for me anyway (knowing myself as I do), blogging could turn out to be just another form of procrastination, the blog itself another place to dawdle, a way to psyche myself into thinking I’m making some sort of progress … when really I have been here — exactly, precisely here — creatively speaking, for 20+ years?

Also, how could I not anticipate (knowing myself as I do) that this world, your world — inhabited, cultivated by so many committed, serious writers — would become one that would matter to me, one that I might care about and want to belong to and even stand out in? I don’t know. Part of the reason is inexperience, ignorance, whatever. I’m not trying to flog myself here, but I never dreamed I’d blog, rarely read blogs up till now (except my mom’s and a handful of friends’), and really, simply had no idea what was going on out here. I thought they were mostly about making crafts; getting super-awesomely organized or happy or healthy or just BETTER in some big way; or making/saving/managing money — not that there’s anything wrong with any of those things. But I see now: I have been more than a little out of it and this out-of-it-ness has been deliberate on some level, I suspect, a fearful reaction to something I could sense but not bear to look at directly, find out more about: the world of writing, and publishing, is forever changed and changing still! It’s eye-opening and maybe a little intimidating, not just the quality of some of the writing here (in my own humble opinion), but also the sense of community and the thought, care, and generosity that obviously go into reading and commenting on one another’s work.

So I look and cannot help wondering, is there hope for me, my stories? I do think so, but I can’t seem to figure out how blogging fits in — I mean, in a way that makes sense to me as/where I am right now. I get the obvious benefits: the very real opportunities that blogging has brought to some, the success many of you have  found, and even the immense satisfaction — of which I’ve had a taste or two — of simply connecting with a few others.

Why all this angst now?

Well one, I couldn’t stop thinking about the Daily Prompt guy’s post yesterday re: gimmicks (http://dailypost.wordpress.com/2014/08/05/raymond-carver-simplicity/)  ……………  And I had to ask myself, what is a “Real-Time Memoir” anyway? (This term is in my blog’s subtitle.) I can’t really answer that, so I start thinking: gimmick! Now, I’m not crushed here, not going to panic, but I do think it warrants some thought and that, ultimately, I should have some sort of explanation. I must have had something in mind when I came up with it, which I sort of remember (yammering on about it to a friend while walking the dog, months before Sarah came), but all’s a bit fuzzy now. Maybe the cure for this bout of doubt, the answer to my questions about my blog, lies somewhere in exploring the idea, though. Maybe I’m just not clear on what my blog is for.  [Can’t seem to get rid of these italics.] 

Two, and I almost hate to put this into words: after a long conversation with my six-year-old about lots of things, mostly what we’ve got going on for the rest of the summer, which led to talk about the new school year and how we will try to be better organized in the morning, not so rushed, on time on a more regular basis. Always, even? ………………. I run late, which means WE run late. A lot. We are late as we are having this conversation. So when it comes up, he says, point blank: “You should know better, Mommy” — in the gentlest way possible. But ugh. I should. I do. I start to think about the blog again. Real-time nothing!

Three, I read: “Night Is Young” (http://abozdar.wordpress.com/2014/08/06/night-is-young/), an apparent response to today’s prompt about writer’s block (http://dailypost.wordpress.com/dp_prompt/writers-block-party/). And boom! Somehow the juxtaposition hit me like the final line in that Rilke poem, the first time I read it, about the torso of Apollo (see below if you don’t know it; image borrowed from The Paleo Periodical). I started to think about the blog again, doubting it and somehow so much more, slowly but surely inching my way into a comfortable shadow that remains.

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Archaic Torso of Apollo

by Rainer Maria Rilke

We cannot know his legendary head
with eyes like ripening fruit. And yet his torso
is still suffused with brilliance from inside,
like a lamp, in which his gaze, now turned to low,

gleams in all its power. Otherwise
the curved breast could not dazzle you so, nor could
a smile run through the placid hips and thighs
to that dark center where procreation flared.

Otherwise this stone would seem defaced
beneath the translucent cascade of the shoulders
and would not glisten like a wild beast’s fur:

would not, from all the borders of itself,
burst like a star: for here there is no place
that does not see you. You must change your life.

Like the time I read Nausea and Grendall during the same summer vacation (bad idea for me at the time), somehow this combination of events has packed a good punch.

I hate the way all this sounds, by the way.

May need to reconsider my space-time coordinates (0r those of my goal, rather), recalibrate, reboot, re-re. Or just go out and celebrate my eighth anniversary with my husband tonight (night is sooooooo young now) and, later, sleep on it. 😉

 

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