Archive for the 'writing' Category

Wherein I talk to myself

Having started Nano without a plan whatsoever, I think it behooves me to think about what I’m writing. Who-what-when-where-why.

Here are some thoughts:

Who – Characters: I have a kiddo (Sofia), her parents (Jennifer and Stephen), her great aunt, her cousin (Florecita), her grandmother, and one artist (Desiree).

What – Thematically: Announcements. Endings and beginnings. The ways in which we hear other people’s narratives. Photo albums, family stories, wedding and obits in the newspaper.

Where – Place: Santa Fe for sure, other places as well, where characters might intersect in a transient way.

When – Time: Present.

Why/ POV?: Inclined to give each character some first person with an omniscient lurking narrator. Did that make sense?

Okay. Right now, my characters are straight out of central casting – too much rushing, but it’s a start.

What makes the theme / plot move?

Announcements

Who announces what?

Tia Josefa does not announce anything; just reads the announcements of others. She would, presumably, get news about la familia before everyone else because she is looking for it.

Sofia, in common with Josefa, is observant and wants to know. She would also be attuned to new announcements.

Jennifer and Stephen are both professional observers and burned out empaths. They are uncomfortable applying their professional skills to their personal relationships.

Jennifer is hispanic, from Espanola. She and Stephen met in college (Santa Cruz) and settled in Santa Fe to start a business together. Mediation, counselling and conflict resolution. Jennifer leaves to become a sand box therapist for children. Stephen has a side interest in sculpture, metal work arts.

Desiree is a semi transient artist with a quick eye and some street sense. I need to know more about her, but I know she plays with texture and light, as an artist. Tends to be poor; not always, though.

That’s all for now, guys. I know it’ll be brutal for me to keep up with the numbers I need to generate, but I’m just back to work today (had the flu) and at least I’m thinking it through a little.

I haven’t put any little creatures in yet. That is an oversight.

I’ll be back later. I anticipate doing the bulk of my writing over the weekends. Because I work too much. That’s why.

Advertisements

Bottom feeder

another giant squid

This is what it’s like to be a bottom feeder. First of all, we love ink. Ink is invisibility. Ink is darkness. Ink is what we write our history with. Look out there, out there into the vast whiteness. It has nothing to say until the ink drops into its wide open. No turning back once the ink has been spilled.

You want to tell your history, that’s fine, nobody’s stopping you. You want to tell someone else’s history, that’s different. There’s danger there, smells like sulfur, smells like burning cactus, smells like the brushfire or the war that can rush in and wipe out an entire clan.

Once I was playing cards in the back room of a little trailer house in Four Corners and I heard the wind pick up suddenly, and it was like I could see them even from inside, tumbleweeds rushing across the black night and suddenly igniting, igniting like monks in red robes, self immolating and taking down the fragile open country and everything that lives there with it.

I understand the meditative life of the tumbleweed, I understand the need to move, to feel the wind catch and carry us somewhere new. I knew about that even before I left Navajo country after the fire. I found my home on water, water green and blue and dark, almost black, where I fell in and never went back to dry land again, not for more than two, three days at a time. Long enough to find myself lurching when I came back to dry land, feeling the hitch and pull of gravity and rotation more strongly than I felt them on the water.

My family’s been landlocked for hundreds of years, most of them. My sea ways made me foreign, weird and unrecognizable as a giant squid, coming up from the deep only rarely, with gifts for my sister’s children, and then her grandchildren, until I am the only old salt on the Navajo nation, bringing seaweed ristras and monkey balls and painted tentacles. I stay a couple days, give them the salty sweet taste of my bottom feeder’s life, and then I leave again, leaving behind nothing but a trail of ink, and a history they can fabricate from the secrets hidden in the bright open sky and the black mesa reaching in the four directions around them.

For me, I add two more directions: straight up into the heavens, and straight down, into the cold, dark waters, where the wild shy ones live, where I feel most at home.

The singing beggar

gold lame

There once was a beggar who loved to hear himself sing. He started out as a child.

Most singers start out as children. I remember, myself, singing to my small dolls, which were made of popsicle sticks dressed in fabric scraps. At that time, gingham was easily come by, but my small dolls did not sing back to me until after the war, when the fabric samples suddenly bloomed. The gingham was still there, but also sequined fabrics, gold lame, bright silks, rayon, some thin gauzy fabrics that were neither silk nor satin. My popsicle dolls dressed more and more for evening wear, their little painted faces had rosebud mouths and eyelashes drawn on for many nights on the town. They put on little plays, some geisha action, but with Debbie Reynold’s moral sensibilities, and these popsicle girls were terribly conflicted. I didn’t know what to do with them, exactly, and put them away for some time. Took singing lessons, etiquette, even found a small Korean book on how to entertain American service men. This was in English, marginally, with many grammatical errors but the basic message intact: listen carefully, your face must mirror your companion, no extra movement of body, hands or face.

I taught my dolls to keep their faces still and their stick bodies well dressed. We learned to sing simple Korean songs, little jingles that had two or three American English words. I learned to tilt my head at the exact right angle to convey interest, kindness, and willingness.  My dolls had red rosy cheeks.

Then one day my uncle, who was an American serviceman, came by to say hello and to bring us presents. When he saw my dolls, he took them and crushed them and screamed at my many Korean moms, who were raising me to be right for them, right like they were being, and I felt sad, confused, and angry, too, to tell you the truth. Then I went away to school at the American school where Ken, my American sponsor, sent me, until I was 17, when I went away to the U.S. to go to college, where I studied music. And that is another story.

In the middle of everything

golden retrieverThis is a common scene in my home, most or many of those autumn days: me, pushing the dog bed against the wall, in spite of her strong preference for keeping the bed in the middle of the room, where I had to step over her repeatedly while I bake.

This dog does not want a den, she wants a stage. She’s been through many remodelings in a relatively short period of time, for a number of reasons. Sitting quietly in a corner does not guarantee love, attention or food, in her experience. When we upgraded our windows, single to double pane, she tripped the Pella man, whose ankle was twisted, but he forgave her anyway because of her strawberry blonde hair and her wish to play tennis ball with him before he leaves. The plumber is less forgiving, and charges me for his x-rays.

At some point in the remodel I am finally able to remove the vintage 70s Elvis posters that have been tormenting me through ex-husbands, sentimental children and unsightly holes in the wall that I have not ever gotten around to patching or painting.

Really, don’t we all know that remodeling is most manageable following a huge natural disaster? A flood, an earthquake, even a fire? Although fire is so absolute that it has almost a religious significance. This fire would not have happened without your sin. Or mine.

So I found myself dragged through our history: the beaded shell door hangings, the various sound systems, lost technologies, the aging spices from vegan experiments, the nasty industrial air fresheners of the nineties, the assorted snugglies and noise cancelling devices of the early 2nd millenium. We washed our feet like Jesus at one phase in our nesting. We lit sage to cleanse in another. We accumulated in the next decade, more and more and more and more and more and came suddenly to a painful and choking halt, with duct tape and orange alerts and one ounce bottles to carry on our big adventures somewhere else.

Now it is time to upgrade the house with security systems and timers, cameras and automated gates. My gardeners begin to worry, begin to believe there are terrorists everywhere and now my baking is for reassurance. No worries, I tell them, Randy and Julian and John and Jorge, take this apple spice cake and this bag of little things we did not use in the remodeling. They are looking for re-usable wiring so they can protect the perimeter of their empty lots, where they will someday build the house they’ve always wanted for their wives and children, who are for the time being living in little thin-walled apartments in Rio Rancho, which are incredibly expensive and yet close. Being close is important. Being close is more important than double pane windows, which is something even my red-haired dog, who is no rocket scientist, knows, and I have come to agree with her, and leave her bed in the middle of everything, because that is where we all belong.

Potluck

RaccoonSkunk

She is at a masquerade ball. She’s dressed as a skunk. Her husband as a raccoon. They pretend they are not together. She is hot in her skunk costume, smelling a sweet musky melon smell rising up from within the costume. I smell like an animal, she tells herself. Her little skunk nostrils flare and her tail rises up, as if to give absolute proof to that statement. She goes to the food table, which is decorated in prison gear, with balls and chains and convict striped tablecloth. She brushes her black and white tail against the table and looks at the food. Popeye is standing next to her, looking at the yam pie and the sweet potato custard. He chooses the yam; she is more interested in the Dagwood pile of cold cuts: salami, pastrami, bologna, ham, pimiento loaf, sweet pickles, hot pickles, cole slaw, iceberg lettuce, American cheese. She builds a mighty fortress of a sandwich and looks for a place to eat where she won’t be seen. She feels ravenous, predatory, nocturnal. Scott walks by in his raccoon coat and she sees that he, too, is sweating, and she controls an urge to go and smell him, rub her scent against his. She is a perfume scientist, blending pretty scents with predatory glands, mixing clove, sage, nutmeg, ylang ylang, lavender with musk, dragon’s breath, graveyard flowers, dirt, the smell of rotting underground. She blends it all together, stirs it with a licorice whip, makes an infusion and douses herself in it for this dead evening. She is someone’s dead relative, she knows that, but not whose, she’s not even sure what species she is now. The fumes she and Scott make rise together and settle over the potluck table, greenish vapors wafting, hovering, dispersing into the casseroles, the pasta salads and the sandwich fixings. The costumed guests wander by, pick at the olives and the little sausages wrapped in bacon. As the perfume settles on them, they fill their plates higher, higher, suddenly ravenous and revolting to themselves, until the entire party is rolling on the floor under the table, mashing foods into their mouths, into each other’s mouths, tearing at the flesh of the melon and the chicken with equal lust, equal abandon, and in the background they could barely hear, through their overpowering hunger, the minor chords of any organ in any moldy cemetery in any old movie with a theme that involves dismembered body parts, oozing bits, and smells that make the innocent turn faint and nauseous. There were no innocents at this costume party, on this Halloween, and all there were fed until they were hungry no more.

Deep breath

cigar with woman smoke

George Hamilton takes a deep breath. Aaah. Cuban. Hand wrapped. Smooth. He is smoking in his tanning booth, smoke swirling around his head, gliding smoothly down his torso like a familiar snake. He exhales and wiggles his toes. His eye guards have been customized for him with his own warm brown eyes printed on them, eyebrows elevated, whimsical, amused. He inhales again, lungs filling with green trees and rich forests. He visualizes himself full of vibrant health. I am full of vibrant health, he says, from my head to my toes. He exhales, and the smoke wraps around the hairs on his arms, his legs, his long bony toes. He lies quietly for another minute or two, until the alarm goes off. He opens the lid of the tanning box and steps out in a cloud of smoke. He picks up a towel and walks to the two-headed shower with the large glass doors and the oversized rain showerhead. He sets his cigar in an ashtray just outside the shower and steps inside. The steam and the smoke blend and rise through the warm, humid air. George takes a deep breath and lets it out again. A deep, cleansing breath.

First I will tell you a true story

v is for violin

First I will tell you a true story. Then I will throw a big bag of words at you, because I can.

True story: About a year ago I was working with a kid who did not talk, almost three years old, no language at all. I spent a few months getting past his fear and hysteria, helping to lead his mother to the A word. Autism. One day, teaming with my therapy partner, she was talking with mom about his learning style. While they talked , I had Lou leaning against me, looking at cards as I turned them over and named them.  It was rare for him to touch me, or to sit quietly, or to interact in any social way. I showed him another card and said the name: Violin. And the next one: Rainbow. He took them from me and said: Violin. And showed me the card. Then the other: Rainbow. And showed me the card. Then he danced around the room with the two cards, saying Violin (holding it out). Rainbow (holding it out).  First words. Violin. Rainbow. Three years old. For the next few weeks, he kept those cards close, repeating the names. And new words came, all of a sudden, a suddenly opening door.

 

Suddenly words

You might consider your libido as a kind of ornament, hanging on a tree like a ripe tomato, or secret and deep as a trench, ripe and sweet as fresh-squeezed juice. But that’s not how we do it round here. We keep our spirits up, we’re green and crisp as spring salad. We like to showcase our young; reservations are required. At the Odium Theatre every year there is an extravaganza that features filigreed kimonos (most of them in mauve) challenging the deep water acrobats, diving into moats, down gorges, smiling and waving all the way down. The journalists draw pictures of them, smirking like Cheshire cats, jumping down that gorge, making aerial hairpin turns, alive alive alive until there’s a bad moment, could have been just a bruise but instead the truth is a bastard, a dastardly freak who gloats at the bloated corpse that floats downstream until it is washed up in a swamp, a quagmire, a murky, queer and unlikely terrain. The distinguished gentleman stands and with characteristic discernment and an unseemly relish demonstrates his encyclopedic knowledge, his Hail Britannica superiority. After hours he goes home, shoots up, and plays the violin, watches as the sun goes down, where the rainbow smudges the lengthening sky. But never mind all that, indeed, certainly not, it’s not surely, but you jest, and you find this questionable, this questionable judgment that zooms past us while we stand and pontificate. Zip it up, friend, make it work, it’s not me, it’s the esoteric tickle of uncertainty, the chronic temperamental temptations of someone who loves Pandora, the Explora who is no esoteric Cassandra, no hunch maker, inkling spreader, odds wagerer. She is more like coals carried aloft on balloons, leaving their baggage suspended on earth day, the flying Brenda on the wall, bounteous, dubious, glorious, smack down gorgeous, suspended indefinitely by curious safeguards draped in a koolaid smile.

rainbow ocean by thelma

Rainbow Ocean by Thelma 1 at deviantart.com


Enter your email address to subscribe to this blog and receive notifications of new posts by email.

Join 52 other followers

Blog Stats

  • 165,291 hits

Archives

Categories

April 2018
M T W T F S S
« Apr    
 1
2345678
9101112131415
16171819202122
23242526272829
30  
Advertisements