Friday, April 20, 2012

forget-me-not blue

Of films, words, weather and sweet memories..

Today the sky stretches above me, the kind of clean, clear blue that makes you glad you’re alive, makes you feel like waltzing. I remember this very same blue in a of pair eyes on a beach long ago. On a summer day he stood with his back to the water, I gazed in his eyes and –surreally – it was as though they were but two tiny portholes to the blue bay beyond for both were the exact same color, the color of forget-me-nots. I spent a good part of that summer naked as a mermaid, skinny dipping in the frigid water of the bay, a heathen toasting my body on a giant slab of stone perched a few feet above the high tide mark, slipping naked into the water to cool off, painting little watercolor pictures, singing from my rock to voices that came across the ocean all the way from Africa. And looking into those blue eyes. (I believe that devil Reefer was somewhere about as well.) I was Love. It’s one of the sweet, sweet memories, the kind that let you know you’ve lived well, or at least had your moments.

This week it really hit me that this is how they keep you in this godforsaken state – the weatherman predicts rain, rain, rain for days on end, and you mentally prepare for gloom, but no rain arrives, not a cloud in fact, instead what follows are endless blue skies and a warm breeze that lifts the jonquils from their winter graves to bloom with abandon over greening lawns. And you think, Wow, isn’t this a great place? That rain just went right on by. (sucker)

That was last week. Yesterday they predicted rain today, there isn’t a cloud in the sky, again the forget-me-not blue overhead, and I’ll lay you odds the “rain all the way into next week” won’t materialize either. Springtime in Maine is a clever trick, the weathermen all liars. Oddly enough, in winter their forecasts are amazingly accurate, for lives are at stake, broadcasts then are full of advice how to stock up, timed predictions as to the storm’s ETA, reminders to fill water buckets (for flushing), get your wood in, snow shovel ready. And this is the best part – During every snowstorm, the tv weather people all wear cheery wool Christmassy sweaters (think Colin Firth in Bridget Jones) to work, in celebration of the snowy weather outside. It’s really cute.

Words, words, words (I think it was Sartre who titled an autobiography Les Mots, which of course everyone mistranslates as THE Words. But the French almost NEVER use a noun without an accompanying article to indicate gender, so I think Sartre, a bit tongue in cheek, actually meant this to translate (if he cared at all) as simply WORDS, as if that’s all they were, just words. See? An effort at either self-effacement (doubtful) or a bit of cheekiness toward those who might read such unimportant drivel (compared to his other works).

Anyway, words flow in and out of my brain in a constant river of cleverly assembled notions and phrases . . . until I write them down, then read them the next day and cry “How could you ever think that was anything but crap?!” and do it all over. I wonder if writers I admire do this too, and imagine them just whizzing brilliantly along without thought of an edit, none needed. I’m a third of the way through what I hope is my final rewrite before I send this baby out to some unsuspecting agents/ publishers and move on to the sequel, or some stories. I’ve thought about two other novels unrelated to this one as well, but who knows? Have to forget there’s so little time left in life and see the future as infinite. The fact is I can’t seem to stop, though not a day goes by that the ex- Catholic school- demurring- modest girl in me doesn’t argue with the better angels of the woman I am. But the angels win, they slam those self-doubts up against a wall, insisting, What do you mean you can’t?! You ARE! I am also getting fat from lack of exercise. So when my contract ship comes in I shall make a beeline for that tennis camp for grownups in FLA and let them whip me back into shape.

I am in love with words, they’re all I think about, well, almost all. I watched the film Out of Africa last night and wept like a child. It seems unfair that the older one gets the more heartstricken one can be by a well told story of a beautiful romance. I noticed things in the film, all having to do with beauty and deep feeling, I never saw fifteen years ago. I guess it takes the heart time to catch up to itself, after accumulating a lifetime of feelings and disappointed (Joni’s word) love, to feel safe enough to admit how intensely one has loved, to appreciate the lovely memories that intensify with time, no longer even bittersweet, just sweet.

While it’s true I’ve not been wild about Ms. Streep’s most recent role choices, my God she is beautiful beyond belief in this film, such tenderness in her face, the music likes to break your heart, and you know it’s sappy, but your heart breaks anyway. And Redford, well.. be still my heart, all you can hope is that you’ll never actually meet the man in person as your legs would surely betray you, collapsing there on the spot as you mumble some feeble “pleased to meet you”. Hard to believe when I was in my twenties I dismissed him as just a pretty face. The arrogance (ignorance?) of youth perhaps. Makes me wonder yet again what I saw in the men I loved then. I do remember that starting around the age of 25, I saw men differently after witnessing the glorious sensual vulnerability that was Giancarlo Giannini in his prime.

Now the night before was a different pleasure altogether. A more contemporary film, London Boulevard is beautiful, tough, clever, genuine dialogue, beautifully directed, a soundtrack that hit me where I live, and proof positive that among the latest crop of drop dead gorgeous, not to mention brimming with talent, male leads, there are a few (and Colin Farrell tops my list) who can still leave this old heart still as death and breathless with desire, I mean – there oughta be a law, you know? I thank God there isn’t.

I had a lovely thought this morning as I sat sunning on the stoop here at the tindominium in the woods (cat sitting for two days). And by the way, let me say that it’s fantasies like this that keep me going in the face of no planned future to speak of and challenging finances. Here it is: When the London publisher who is (or will be in this scenario) wild for my novel wants me to fly over and sign the necessary documents, I shall insist they fly me first class, both ways. I‘ll simply state I need that experience in order to be able to write a character I’m toying with who wouldn’t dream of flying any other way. In short, (sir or madam), I need to experience how the haves do it so I can write with authority. I had to then consider, was this a fantasy or a premonition? See? We do what we have to do to get by. Back to the river today.

Ciao, Bellas e bellos.

Monday, April 16, 2012

Why I hate the News

Panama City
Why I Hate the News ...

I took a rare moment to check a news source aside from John Stewart or Colbert and immediately regretted it. This article on completely broke my heart. How can these people not see what a huge mistake they're making? How? Has the world gone completely mad?

I shall need to watch this again to try and restore my soul and carry on. No kidding. Caterpillar? Dell? My ire knows no limit. Occupy will see me yet.

Thursday, April 12, 2012

The Palace Guards

My Righteous Palace Guards, Can You See Them Both?

Hey there, sports fans. Did you think I was dead? Not dead, but very much alive. Resurrected, in keeping with the season. Working doggedly every day, excavating in my novel, rewriting, rewriting, "killing my babies", as Stephen King recommends, digging for gold, threshing like mad to separate the grain from the chaff, and feeling like I'm finally getting somewhere. I've found momentum! I've even got over needing a three day hiatus of wandering around spacing out and talking to myself before being able to readjust from visits to or from the outside world and get back to the work of butchering the English language. (Now I just do that every day – saves time.) I'm so very glad to have developed the ability to suffer interruptions, even three day breaks away from what is my temporary home or lengthy phone conversations with kids, without breaking my writing stride. I simply hang up and get back to it. I think it's because I never, ever stop thinking about the words any more. If I go outside for a break I have to rush back in in less than two minutes and write something down. I don't deserve to feel this good.... well, maybe we all do.

Either I'm finally writing something good ... or I've gone quite delusional. Either way, I'm happy, so where's the harm?

The tranquility surrounding me helps. It's so beautiful here, and when I get stuck, I go outside, and have a nice chat with my pal Chip the chipmunk who I regularly provide with an easy diet of sunflower seeds and millet (he shuns the millet but the birds love it) and in return he hops up on the patio stones and chatters away at me. It's a fekkin scream to be honest. I'll talk to anything, really. You take your company where you find it.

I sleep under the stars beyond the skylight, wake to glorious sunrises, make tea and (gluten free) toast with a drop of (2000 mgs) vitamin D for zee bonz and a nice dash of cinnammon sugar, settle in for a nice read for a half hour or so, Kate Atkinson's Human Croquet (GOD she's good!) my latest fave, I'm reading her books in the order she wrote them, as usual, and am ready to go. Then I head to the desk (I actually dress for work now! and by 8 a.m no less) and dig in. Life is good. If I never have this blissful opportunity again to work in solitude, surrounded by water glinting off a stunning river that flows just beyond the window at the end of a long sloping field (with sheep in it!), I'll consider I've had my chance and be eternally grateful for what this time and these kind folks have given me: the habit of writing – everyday, and feeling good at 5 o'clock. Some days it's six pages in five hours, somedays I'll spend ten hours trying to get a single paragraph right. But it's always something. When it gets time to make a fire, these days by 4 or so, I'm ready for tea, a last stab at whatever I'm working on, then it's on to supper and the Daily Show and Colbert, a glass of Tempranillo and a good laugh at the end of a good day. And they're all good, I'm privileged to say. Right now it' doesn't seem to matter that the money's running out, because the muse is running in, and I don't think I've ever been more contented. I feel alive. I'm finally not waiting for the other shoe to drop, please God let me stay this way.

Here are my Kitchen Tips for Writers:

This business of writing has a downside, well, it's an upside I suppose if you've taken on a little extra baggage in the hip area as I have this year – you forget to eat, tending to view milky coffee or a cuppa tea and an apple and cheese as a meal cause it's quick. Doesn't drag you away from your thoughts or the desk for too long. But because I have this iron deficiency celiac related issue (I tested off the charts, waste of money I coulda told them) I have to be sure I eat plenty of iron (anyone with sense is averse to taking iron supplements) and that means MEAT, and only good meat - beef, lamb, pork, the high iron stuff, grass fed. Veggies just don't cut it this time, you need non-heme iron when you're anemic.

So I've taken to preparing these multi-day meals to save time in the kitchen, allowing for a longer workday, no having to think about "what's for supper?" Meaning, "what shall I actually eat today besides yogurt?" Today it was a yummy pot roast with lovely (local) organic spuds and carrots – enough for a week, just cook, then it's heat and serve (and what what a nice hunka beef it was, got at Whole Foods, worth every penny at 5.99 a pound, a gorgeous roast properly tied with fat on the outside). I can't even say the name Whole Foods without that infernal video theme "It's gettin real in the Whole Foods Parking Lot" (see earlier post) taking over my brain. It cracks me up every time. Next week it's meat loaf, veal, beef and lamb, easy, freezable, reheateable. Who doesn't love a meatloaf sandwich? The odd tofu stir fry for balance. I compensate for the lack of veg by juicing every day, carrots, celery, kale, beet greens, fruits, ginger, cilantro, you name it, it goes in the juicer every morning. Bellissima!

For entertainment, I thought I'd recommend a few recent discoveries to ya'll:

The film Creation, streamable on Netflix, easily one of the most perfect movies I've ever seen.

I'm a new fan of Linktv, it's channel 375 on Direct tv, up there past the stations selling everything under the sun, and msnbc and the news, and the stations selling religion. It's the home of Democracy now and ALJAZ English, and their documentaries are all worth viewing, and if they screen The Economics of Happiness don't miss it. It's wonderful. Send them money in stead of to those wimps on pbs, it's viewer supported, and the most radical thing on the telly. Actual history, actual news, people talking about real stuff. Bravo.

Let's see, what else? Oh on Netflix again, The Cave of Forgotten Dreams. Wow, Werner Herzog's documentary about the 30,000 year old cave paintings, closed to the public, discovered in 1994 in France. Gorgeous and wondrous and full of insights on the nature of art and human self expression.

If you're not reading Kate Atkinson, oh please start. You won't regret it, her wit and humor and insight into the human condition is unparalleled. She makes everyday tragedy hilarious. Behind the scenes at the museum, Human Croquet, Case Histories and its sequels, and her short stories are phenomenal, esp. the Not The End of the World collection. Can you tell I'm a huge fan? She is a master of the interior dialogue and gut busting funny to boot. She sees life the way I do. And major thanks for Mellie for the Christmas gift of her book.

I've been reading a lot. Jane Austen wonderful! How could I ever have thought she was wussy? Because I didn't actually read her! (For which I blame PBS.) I put her in my novel. I read The Great Gatsby again recently and loved it. But Hemingway, you can have that dude.

Okay, time for weewaxing and a cold eye compress (I look like a raccoon from peering at a computer screen all day.) I'm crawling back in my leetle cave. Until next time, via con dios, amigas y amigos. I miss and love you all.