Archive for June, 2011|Monthly archive page

The Inner Land

In Animals, Circus, Contes d'Exil, Hautvoir, Revision on June 30, 2011 at 6:32 am

The dream was structured like a fairy tale. In the beginning, and in the end, all is well. From a writer’s perspective, the reunion with my lost dog felt contrived; but I was awake by then, and judging these things from something other than a dreamer’s perspective. In a dream, whether disjointed or smooth, events respond to some internal logic. They are what they are.

A few more days of slogging back and forth between the old home and the new one; a crucial meeting with the former landlord tomorrow morning. Life is starting to take on its newest configuration. The quick connection to internet serving as the real-life miracle in my personal narrative.

Back to fairy tales and their tremendous hold. The scene in the dream when the travelling circus appears out of the mist. My despair at not having a camera on hand to photograph the swirl of colored figures, the complexity of their dance. The “kind woman” offering me a lift, and taking me farther and farther away from the mountain where my dog was lost; dropping me off in a small town where a former spouse was delivering a public speech.

How the family came to settle in la Montagne Noire in the first place; an essential feature in one of the characters’ sense of identity.

Oh, and Abel, one of the choir members’ five-year old son. Stalking around the rehearsal hall on Sunday, reciting and miming a poem about a wild wolf with biiiiiiig teeth, and how nobody notices his kind heart and friendly disposition, so focused are they on this fearsome attribute.

The pull of the inner land is strong this morning.


Landing, sort of

In Food, Hautvoir, RLB trivia on June 29, 2011 at 8:42 am

Office life is swirling around me. With any luck, I’ll get my thoughts organized soon. And my internet connection at home. And my materials sorted out.

For the time being, Cybèle is here at the office, after a few protest barks this morning. She never barked before. I have neighbors now; best not to let the habit start up.

Fascinating post? No. This is about making sure I can get some things down in this environment. As I walked out to Pré Millet with the dog this morning: almost seven years into the experience of living in France, the feeling that I’m finally landing in my France. The one I discovered on my own, years ago. A different place, not influenced by someone else’s enthusiasms, or jaded and disappointed eye, or sense of place. An interesting change in perspective; small delights springing up unexpected, such as the name rue Marceau, the one I took this morning on my way to work. Reminded me of the French mime of that name; plus, the sight of a narrow, grey courtyard filled with potted hydrangeas in a host of shades of pink. Plus the pink light filtering through the curtains this morning. Fig jam on crackers, and tea (the stove isn’t connected yet.)

More than enough to  keep the spirit happy and fed, even though the body is close to stuporous at the moment.


In Hautvoir, Revision on June 28, 2011 at 5:35 am

Not all revision gets done on paper or on screen.

Crashed for several hours, last night. Then up for several more, to get things done.

Then, the best part: lying flat on my back (after the brief fantasy about the moving crew physically removing me to my new digs in the bed while I slept.) A revised scene starts playing in my head. Several paragraphs scroll by, as clear as on a teleprompter. Then, I hit a snag. Can’t remember a specific transition in that scene. The itch starts up.

External drive and photo equipment at the office. This computer packed up in a few minutes. In story in my head. Just need to get the physical elements lined up in their new configuration.aggggghh.

Back soon.

Places that make sense

In Hautvoir, Music, Revision, Visual artists on June 27, 2011 at 6:17 am

The heat. The adobe walls, absorbing our voices instead of projecting them. The heat. Voice warm-up and rehearsal in this?

Five minutes before show time yesterday, we switched venues. Took over the back porch of the property where a high metallic roof provided resonance. The miracle happened, on cue. What is it about showtime, anyway? Take a bunch of listless, desultory kvetchers; sound the gong, and away they go. Animated, in tempo – on key. Ended up singing for our supper, literally.

On stage. On the page. Same miracle (I’m talking about the process, not the result.) The energy becomes focused. No room for clutter or indecision.

Doing revision from the back of the story to the top isn’t as crazy as it may sound. I  had no idea who would have the last word. Working my way back, I cut out the bits that won’t lead anywhere; or flesh out existing scenes I thought were lead-ins to further developments. Not a moment’s thought to the impending move while I’m doing it.

The home of the real-life glass muralist. First on the car run to the concert, yesterday. A hangar with rooms built into it, like small houses running along both sides. I’ve been invited back for dinner. A feast of photography awaits.

Best-case Scenarios

In Hautvoir, Music, Revision on June 26, 2011 at 6:13 am

My personal take on optimism: given death, disease, disasters and annoyances great and small are givens, best to keep on steering the course toward whatever goals give satisfaction. By which I mean satisfaction great enough to offset (or render bearable) the negatives in the first sentence.

Writing-wise: two more days with this internet connection, after which the best-case scenario takes me to mid-July before the connection is re-established in the new place. Meaning, the community blog and this one will get written up and posted from the office, before and after hours; as will some of the work on Hautvoir.

Not much else to say, given what needs doing today and tomorrow. The toughest will be cutting down on the yammering to friends. And the listening to music whenever the mood strikes.

Allez. A bit of Taraf Borzo , in gratitude to my neighbor who’s providing his station wagon and a trailer on Tuesday (in addition to the truck and the crew from work); now, I know the whole thing will get done in one day and – better yet – I’ll still have a working computer at the end of it. In the best of all worlds, I’d find myself with a brand-new laptop instead, but real life best-case will do.


Chemins invisibles/Invisible Paths

In Hautvoir, Revision on June 25, 2011 at 6:26 am

Break up the patterns, and reorganize the pieces. Again.

The anxiety isn’t over the space or the list of things to do between now and Tuesday. At four am, the tasks loom even larger than in broad daylight, but, honestly: boxes, bags, and even hand-carried items are not at issue here. Fatigue,  yes; but it has the advantage of paring down issues. Messy or organized, the physical move will happen. Getting reconnected to the internet will be a small, medium or huge horror show – or a non-issue. The invisible paths on my mind this morning have to do with story, and the myriad ways in which the layout of physical spaces influence our thought patterns. For example: the path from bed to coffee to computer. A detail? Yes. So is the path from the stove to the table (said table no longer in this space but in a kitchen across the street.)

The story. The layout of the scenes. Order of appearance of the characters. Why this one now, and that one later? The overall pattern they weave. Since there’s no other alternative at this point, I’m convincing myself the disorganization caused by moving is just the thing I need in order to step back and see the story in which I’ve been travelling at character-level all this time. No, I won’t lose the story, neither physically (three back-ups in two separate places), nor in the worst possible way: when the story dissolves or turns sour before final jelling.

The message out to all the characters? The physical upheaval in the writer’s living arrangements is nothing but a metaphore. A crucial moment in revision. Stay alert and engaged. Whether obvious or not, the move is about bringing the story home.


Holding Pattern

In Hautvoir, Revision, RLB trivia on June 24, 2011 at 5:54 am

Crazy day/weekend/week starting now. Some stuff moving out this morning; plus too many obligations to fulfill in two separate towns. More rehearsal tomorrow for a show on Sunday night. Official moving day: Tuesday. Still don’t have a commitment from the service provider for a new phone number and internet connection.

Apart from which all is copacetic. No matter how I try, I can’t be in more than one spot at a time; every once in a while, I realize that, and relax into the moment.

Story-wise, the good news is: knowing I’ve got the elements I need to bring it to some… what? Shape? Yes, for one. For another: knowing it’s only part of the Hautvoir story. (Placeholder here, note to me re: glass mural – see photo above.)

OK,  dog to walk, bread to buy, and more stuff to pack before the crew gets here. Vocals to learn. Service provider to contact today, lease to sign tonight… hm… and so on.


Hijo de… (a placeholder)

In Hautvoir, Music, Revision on June 23, 2011 at 6:33 am

Yes, all signs point to that character as the one with the missing element. What did he hear that night? Is the reference to Chicago useful in this story or as backstory in the next one? What did he hear that night?

I woke up with this character this morning, after an unusual-for-me nine hours of sleep. I know his scene will be during the dead of night, as the saying goes. I know getting himself from the bed to his favorite chair is a major endeavor at this point. Why Chicago?

I visualize the inner space in which these questions and sensations simmer as an inner bubble. Considering the number of things calling out for my attention at the moment, an inner bubble is an excellent image; thank you, mind, for suggesting it.

What hasn’t the character told me, or anybody else? What hasn’t he told even himself yet? Is there a moon out or does he make his way from the bed to the chair in the dark? If so, is the coast clear or does he stub his toe?

At several points of the day,  yesterday, I found myself attending to several tasks at once: coaching two separate groups, and dropping in and out of a meeting in the morning; combining two coaching groups and meeting with the new Director of the Social Services Center all at once in the afternoon. (Which may explain the nine-hour sleeping binge.)

Why any of this suggests the song Hijo de la luna to me is no concern of mine. It does, and that’s good enough to throw it into the pot.


In Hautvoir, Revision on June 22, 2011 at 6:22 am

Not quite seven am yet, and whatever cool air was to be sucked into the house is in it already. A bit of rain overnight only added to the suffocating brew.

Becalmed isn’t the right word for my present state of mind; you can be as stunned by good news as you are by bad. I had a brief thought for revision last night and decided against it. I wasn’t sure I’d recognize my own draft, so far had I drifted from what has become my usual mindset. It’s all relative; but when you drop the fifty-pound backpack for a respite, how can you not feel fifty pounds lighter?

I don’t know why I was so stunned by the judge’s decision at the administrative tribunal yesterday, if not because it was so obviously the correct one. A fact that still leaves me staring at my screen, grappling with that most unfathomable of mysteries: things going right. ( “Don’t worry, it won’t last”, a soothing voice says in my head. For story purposes, at least, that is reassuring.)

For story purposes, again, the best parts of yesterday not being those things that worked out for the best. Stated otherwise, the respites exist so you can build up tension again, but in a different configuration. What that tweak will be when I look at my draft again later today, I have no idea; but I’m intrigued.

A Sense of Place

In Hautvoir, Music, Revision on June 21, 2011 at 6:13 am

The basement at the Young Workers’ Home: photographic lab, offices, a meeting room in which the State-appointed medical doctor fills out the forms in multiplicate; one half of one you must keep as a relic. It states you are “apte” – meaning you are good to go as a member of the work force. (After comparing our impressions of said medical doctor, we all agree the woman has found ways to keep herself semi-sane by talking around impressions suggested to her by a person’s appearance or job title. It can’t be easy, spending your days filling out forms and – “oh, yes! your blood pressure! Almost forgot.”)

Castres, this afternoon. A visit to the Tribunal. Faces, impressions, vignettes await and, not so incidentally, some decision or other concerning matters of concern to me.

Again, yesterday’s basement. Looking up the stairs on to a statue of Socialist Great Man Jean Jaurès, presiding over the dining hall. Next to it, a bouquet of artificial flowers and a small iron. The entire space – dining room and large meeting hall – has a vague air of Eastern European Communist-era ethos.  Minus the vanguard and shock troups of Young Workers, unfortunately. Times, if not the decor, have changed. Our job is to explain basic principles of employability to young and old alike  – things like brushing your teeth after a really bad drinking and smoking binge; not posting threats of mayhem on your job advisor’s cell phone; not telling a potential employer he can do it to his mother, for all you care. That kind of Introduction to Social Grooming. Followed by whatever practical demonstration we can think of concerning advisability of respecting those strictures.

Once in a wild while, one or other of us socially responsible ones allow ourselves a rant of major proportions. The others nod, give a hug, or make an outrageous statement of their own.

The band forges on from there.

Music. Always helpful.