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Archive for June, 2012|Monthly archive page

And now?

In Circus, Music, New story, Theater on June 30, 2012 at 7:10 am

And then?

Then, if it’s an extra-great audience and venue, there’s the final encore: the Ukrainian lullabye, to cool everything down. To say: that’s it, for now; after this one, the show is over, the moment splits open. Life moves on to the next, and the next, and the next after that.

Then, if it’s an extra-great venue, the staff treat the performers to a great meal. People talk, laugh, eat, drink, exchange jokes, or life-altering information. People meet or split apart. Tell bits of their life story. Mix, match, look at spaces beyond the lights and the tables. People go home. Pick up the pieces where they left off; or discover something irrevocable happened while they were talking to the person sitting on their left.

Roadies. Performers. The specific kind of energy generated by a common goal. On the way home, the driver and I were talking about that. Earlier, I saw it while sitting at the table after the performance. During the performance too. The energy; how it moves, how it flows;  how music does the job. How stories sometimes achieve the same kind of magic. The how is in the doing, though. Whether it can be captured by me in the next bit of living and writing time? I don’t know. All I know: it’s always worth a try.

What happens next to this blog and the other one? I don’t know. I’m going to try saving and transferring, as per instructions on the admin  page. Then, deal with the complicated practicalities of every day life in the present tense. And stay tuned to whatever – the mysterious something.

A brief, brief moment last night when six young circus artists left after sharing the table with us. They were about to leave the courtyard through the gate out to the street. One of them turned, and waved both arms at us, beaming. Maybe some of us at the table will meet up with some of them at another gig, in another place. Maybe not. But there’s always that feeling of a special kind of bond where people take chances, give it their all and, sometimes, produce small moments of magic.

Then? Smile. Wave. Exit.

Poof. Gone.

(See you soon, somewhere on the road?)

 

Apart from which

In Music, New story on June 29, 2012 at 6:18 am

Won’t be the easiest of days. When there are too many things in need of attention, the best part is knowing you can say you’ve done a decent job of it, even if you don’t get through the whole, super-ambitious program. Would be nice though, if I can get myself to concentrate on some writing toward a new draft. We’ll see.

Accidents are stupid by definition. Laughed most of the way to the hospital. Pain is a landscape with peaks, valleys and those moments where there’s the background knowledge of it. In rapid succession after the little girl bumped into my left foot with her skateboard: the searing pain to the big toe. The first funny moment: as I’m leaning against the post wincing and gritting my teeth, the thought: “Aren’t you overdoing the emoting here?” Look down at my foot; catch sight of my toenail. The one-two: damn, this is going to hurt for a while and oh, yeah, I guess I’m allowed to wince.

Voilà. Since I’ve incurred the same damage on the same toe before, the doctor and I had a learned discussion on the French approach to this type of mini-surgery vs the Québécois. Getting around with a mucked-up big toe isn’t much fun. The peaks and valleys aspect of the pain – the best part is knowing each peak is one less; or, the true sign healing is underway.

Being extra-careful around furniture known for it’s toe-stubbing potential; extra-careful around the dog – she enjoys leaning on people’s feet. Getting to the drug store and back should make buying pain killers a worthwhile and virtuous expedition. The good news: I have a very nice singing voice according to the nurse at Lavaur Emergency. In fact, she said she may show up for the concert in Lautrec tonight.

Not that I’m particularly brave nor remarkably stoical. Bearable pain is easier to bear when I let it do its thing, that’s all; I pay attention to the peaks and valleys, because I can’t do otherwise then onward. The peaks and valleys produce fine energy for cursing and/or singing. When tired, rest. When re-energized, move on.

Voilà for now. The rest – blogs, email and such – I’ll manage to sort out, or won’t.

Yes, I’d rather sit here and yammer, this is a fact.

Tu as bien fait de partir, Arthur Rimbaud !

In Dante Alighieri, Drafts, En français dans le texte, Poetry on June 28, 2012 at 1:40 am

“Tu as bien fait de partir, Arthur Rimbaud ! Nous sommes quelques-uns à croire sans preuve le bonheur possible avec toi.” René Char

You did well to leave, Arthur Rimbaud! In the absence of all proof, there are a few of us to believe in the possibility of happiness along with you – René Char

***

The toughest may turn out to be writing again in the absolute certainty no one reads a single one of my words. (No, not what Arthur Rimbaud replied; what I experienced  yesterday when I disconnected from this for several hours; a bit like re-discovering life without electrical power. Can I keep the writing on edge without an electronic boost? A good question.)

(Dante Alighieri? You bet.)

Enter Title Here

In Drafts on June 27, 2012 at 5:58 am

About to sink under the waterline. Again. Unless I figure something out quickly. Given my track record with both administrative bodies and computerized systems, I’m  not sure it’s worth the energy.

No huge deal, of course. I’ll lose my email adress; I’ll lose this blog and the other one I’d just set up. Both of them average five or six hits a day. The world won’t come to a screeching halt, will it? I’ll get another email adress; start new blogs, maybe. What the hell.

I won’t stop writing. Probably won’t stop that before my mind or my fingers give out. I write therefore I am. To each his own self-definition.

Funny: took a whole bunch of photos at an official ceremony yesterday. The official photographers, both from City Hall and other such prestigious venues, treating me with the supercilious air my amateur efforts deserve. One of the officials then informing my boss I’m way too old to deserve a full-time contract. Old people should stay home and give younger ones a chance at a job. The man’s a card-carrying Socialist which just goes to show ideas are one thing, their practical applications, another.

While the officials officiated under the scorching sun, a work colleague lugged around a container of hot water to loosen the glue holding up the wallpaper representations of various women. The officials have requested they be removed from all public buildings. Why? No idea.

Voilà. Started a new draft. Et vogue la galère.

The Letter

In Hautvoir on June 26, 2012 at 6:17 am

How I write. What I write. What I consider worth recording. What I’m willing to change. Once done: a story others like or don’t like.

I like the two Hautvoir stories. I doubt any agent or publisher will be interested and why should they, if they consider my stories won’t interest a sufficient number of readers? Publishing is a business. I understand that. If being published were what mattered most to me, I wouldn’t write the stories I do, the way I do. At least, not these last two where I told myself: pay attention to the characters first and foremost. If they screw up the story as you imagined it, they’ll screw it up. Their privilege.

It’s an act of love. Same as the drawing or the crooked card a kid hands you. My stories are crooked. My characters don’t achieve much. Nobody will ever be tempted to buy the rights to their screwy lives to turn them into a blockbuster movie. Plus, too many characters (all those names to remember? all those points of view? for what, if there’s no real pay-off at the end?). And so on.

Fats Waller is singing in my head this morning. “I’m going to sit right down and write myself a letter, and make believe it came from  you. I’m going to write words oh so sweet, they’re going to knock me off my feet; a lot of kisses at the bottom, I’ll be glad I got ’em…” and so on.

I write love letters nobody wants.  Which is better: having them returned to sender? Or getting them back with all the spelling mistakes underlined in red? Or not sending them at all because you know that’s what you can expect?

To the best I can manage now, the second Hautvoir story is finished. The only thing worth recording here – for the day it will serve as a post-it to self: I write the way I do. Doesn’t mean I can’t improve the mechanics – I’m always willing to do that. But the bunch of characters that show up for stories? Probably won’t change much. If nobody else cares about them, that’s too bad; but it’s no reason for me to send them packing for nicer, more appealing and altogether better-dressed-for-success ones. Even if I did, the better designed characters would end up on a slant by the time I’d done with them; and so would their stories.

Are there people out there who might like my characters and my stories? Maybe. Are there ways to find them? Maybe. I’d like to say I’m filled with optimism on that score, but I’m not. Unless you’re into pre-printed greeting cards, love letters are pretty personalized packages.

The next one? Hovering in the wings. Meaning: at least another year of struggling through repetitions of previous things, keeping an eye and an ear out for the unsaid, the unspoken, the part no other character had noticed before.

 

Getting it right

In Drafts, En français dans le texte, Hautvoir, Poetry, Revision on June 25, 2012 at 5:29 am

well, that’s all right. Another draft never hurt anybody; plus, I didn’t want to leave the characters yet, did I?

But right now, this very minute? It’s Monday morning; my head aches, my throat aches, my muscles ache. One of those moments when the whole thing has nothing to do with inspiration. A good place from which to read the present draft as if I were that summer hire wading through the slush pile. Thankfully, at this point in the game, I’m not fixated on publication as anything other than part of a process. A part I’d like to discover, obviously; but not if the story doesn’t hold its own.

Funny: in the dream, I was riding a bicycle at night in neighboring Lavaur;  heading toward the center of town which also happened to be a theater. This morning in the emails, I discover one of the choir members is suggesting we buy a new bicycle for the choir leader. But in the dream, the bicycle was mine and so was the ride.

Will I get this story where I want it. Will it be one more for the road, and on to the next almost-but-not-quite? How can I know at 6:18 on a Monday morning with a cold, a sunburn and the overall level of enthusiasm hovering close to the discharged battery signal?

A familiar place. Allez. This post as combination kvetch and pep talk. Pick myself up. Move on. Figure out what doesn’t work and why. Fix it, if I can. Even to myself, I can’t explain it. Best I can say: I know when a scene feels right; I know when it doesn’t. As for an entire story: some day, maybe. Maybe some day.

***

Thank you to the person who pointed me toward this poem by Prévert.

 

Au hasard des oiseaux

Jacques PRÉVERT

Recueil : “Paroles”

J’ai appris très tard à aimer les oiseaux

je le regrette un peu

mais maintenant tout est arrangé

on s’est compris

ils ne s’occupent pas de moi

je ne m’occupe pas d’eux

je les regarde

je les laisse faire

tous les oiseaux font de leur mieux

ils donnent l’exemple

pas l’exemple comme par exemple Monsieur Glacis

qui s’est remarquablement courageusement conduit pendant la guerre ou l’exemple du petit Paul qui était si pauvre et tellement honnête avec ça et qui est devenu plus tard le grand Paul si riche et si vieux si honorable et si affreux et si avare et si charitable et si pieux

ou par exemple cette vieille servante qui eut une vie et une mort exemplaires jamais de discussions pas ça l’ongle claquant sur la dent pas ça de discussion avec monsieur ou avec madame au sujet de cette affreuse question des salaires

non

les oiseaux donnent l’exemple

l’exemple comme il faut

exemple des oiseaux

exemple des oiseaux

exemple les plumes les ailes le vol des oiseaux

exemple le nid les voyages et les chants des oiseaux

exemple la beauté des oiseaux

exemple le cœur des oiseaux

la lumière des oiseaux.

Dawdling in the wings

In Drafts, Hautvoir, Music, Revision on June 24, 2012 at 6:07 am

So. Almost at the last days in the story. First off: does one of the characters have some of her personal thoughts recorded in story on this, the Thursday night, first? Maybe yes, maybe no. Then, the Friday. Doubt I’ll get to the Saturday today; who knows.

The expression on a fourteen-year-old girl’s face,  yesterday. The ride home with her mother. Plus, those moments when words work as well as silence, and vice-versa. Meaning: flow; feel right, neither too much nor too little.

In the dream, a woman approached me near the local hotel; wanted to know if a young girl had contacted me. Writing this and the preceding paragraph, I see the dream is in response to the expression on the girl’s face. Fourteen. Self-assured to a fault in her attitude; eyes,  stormy and confused.

Apart from which, singing by poolside is much easier when 1)the manager of the site turns off the sprinkler gate at the entrance (not recommended for accordeons and fully-clothed people); 2) kids in the pool stop splashing the singers as their contribution to the show. The last two performances have been total exercises in concentration. Calling them public rehearsals best describes the experience. This one was filmed so we’ll get to see and hear it; useful for working out the glitches.

Dawdling here. I know it. There’s work to do on the story; this feels a bit like what the title says.

Maybe not crazy enough yet

In Drafts, Hautvoir, Music, Radio, Revision on June 23, 2012 at 6:06 am

Every time I ask myself if I’m not pushing it too far (meaning: allowing my characters too much leeway for outrageousness), real life does them several times better. Conclusion: Maybe I’m not letting them go far enough yet.

My favorite Story from Real with tangential value for story: the private operator of one of France’s highways calling on the gendarmerie  concerning a disturbance at one of its toll stations equipped with a pass-through. The gendarmes show up. Film the goings-on, force the troublemakers over to the rest area and order one of them they know well from previous encounters to report to a judge concerning the disruption. “They even filmed our canine civil servant,” the arrested one said. “Canine civil servant?” the radio interviewer asked. “On the job, our canine assistants are considered civil servants just as we are.” (Whether the dogs collect old age pensions at retirement not being germane to this post; but there’s the glimmer of a possibility there, isn’t there? Down thought; down. Sit. Stay.)

In other words: border police, slowing the traffic flow for spot checks with civil servants of the sniffing kind on one of France’s notorious smuggling routes, were pulled off the job by other policemen, at the request of the private operator. The better angels in my nature insist: the gendarmes filmed the operation so they could spot the cars and their drivers, not the civil servants working for another Ministry than their own. Still:

Q: if you were a smuggler, would you take your chances on back roads or with an E-Z Pass on rapid transit highways?

Review above material. Test at eleven.

Meanwhile, I remind myself there were days, weeks and years during which writing anything involved scribbling on bits of paper while a baby slept and/or chaos ruled. The scribbles often producing nothing other than reminders to myself I existed, whether the Universe found any interest in that fact or not. These days, my constant reminders to self have a different flavor: the world is a wilder and a wackier place than anyone can imagine. The true miracle being how things manage to hang together anyway, at least, most of the time.

No test at eleven. Rehearsal at ten, instead; followed by sound tests (ha! at an outdoor swimming pool?) and singing outdoors at 2:30. Home when I get here. Story proceeds in its usual, chaotic ways.

The Lay of the Land

In Drafts, Hautvoir, Revision on June 22, 2012 at 6:20 am

Not really putting aside the weirdnesses of WordPress and of blogging, in general; moving the issue to the background for a moment.

After the move. The arrival in the new town, wherever it was. First impressions as the car drove in from whichever direction and travel experiences had preceded The Arrival. Discovering the house; discovering the space allotments. Discovering the size and shape of the new private turf in a shared bedroom. Explorations of the immediate surroundings: the yard, the street, the distance to other houses; kids, cats, dogs or other significant features. Then, the biggie: discovering ways to and from the new school. Followed by the huge and private thrill, if riding public transportation alone was involved: staying on the bus beyond the prescribed stop. In fact, riding the bus along its entire route. In other words: discovering where my new part of the world stood relative to the rest of the environment. The school, whether boarding or not, the kids, the teachers: another adventure in itself. A bit like the mysteries in blogging, the new school and its challenges lurked somewhere out there. New frontiers. Intriguing, a mix of curiosity and anxiety; but not as immediate a concern as making sense of a new environment. Same, same, same as landing in a foreign language or hearing a different kind of music for the first time.

From Spain, to the Pyrenees to Hautvoir from age zero to nine. Who put him up in town? How and when did he go back to where his parents lived?  I can see him, walking down the steep hill on his way to school. Then, I can’t see him anymore because I’m the one sitting in the classroom, doing my damndest to grasp what the teacher’s saying in that strange, unfamiliar accent.

Revision, what else?

In Drafts, Film, Hautvoir, Local projects, Revision on June 21, 2012 at 6:12 am

Brief one. At this point in the revision, my main concern is getting the various strands of story to plait or weave together in a satisfactory pattern. Satisfactory, meaning? I don’t know except to say: the place where the pattern speaks for itself. Ah, so that’s what this was all about, you say; even if all kinds of questions remain. Or, better yet: if the pattern makes the unresolved questions even more interesting to explore.

In the meantime, in real life: a trip to Aussillon market by bus this morning. An activity scheduled as one of those let’s-all-work-as-one initiatives where we all pretend to be Boy and Girl Scouts leading the children through an exciting adventure in the wild. Said children being fully grown women with plenty to teach us; but that’s a different matter.

Watched a documentary at the office, yesterday evening: interviews with the staff at the Primo Levi Treatment Center in Paris. No action whatsoever. All of them – social workers, psychologists, general practitionners, lawyers and interpreters – raising some of the most fundamental questions surrounding notions of exile and trauma relating to refugees from war zones, applying for some form of legal status in France. Thoughtful; instructive; enlightening. Eons away from any kind of sensationalism. Not a laugh a  minute either, obviously. Things should be way more amusing on the morning trip to Aussillon.

(one of the interviews holding my attention in the film: on the topic of torture, the psychologist speaking of the complementary needs for both revelation and veiling of some of the uglier truths and realities of human nature. The balance between those two needs for life and health to be possible.)