Archive for September, 2012|Monthly archive page


In Animals, Circus, Drafts, Local projects, RLB trivia on September 30, 2012 at 2:48 am


Out in the hills, yesterday afternoon, under rain like a day in the Deluge. Eight-year olds doing basic exercises on a poney – learning to sit bareback and with no hands through a trot. Learning to turn from front to back; to kneel and to stand on the poney. They’ll be moving up to the horse at the next session.

The horse: five hundred kilo of kindness and good will. Five hundred kilo of power, nonetheless. The interplay between Tempo and his owner in the ring while, out in the stable, Curio protests being left all by his lonesome.

One of the girls has done circus riding before. “You don’t ride on the horse,” she tells the others. “You sit into the horse.” Meaning: letting go the head and the trunk, settling into the lower body, finding the spot in the ass that  follows the horse’s movements. Accepting.

I have no idea what comes next. All I know: panic is worse than useless. Alert in body, quiet in mind – the toughest combo of them all.

The give and take

In Animals, Circus, Drafts, Music, New story, Querying on September 29, 2012 at 5:28 am

When the hard times show up, there’s some comfort in knowing life isn’t singling you out for special treatment in that regard. Better times would also make for sharing though.

Priorities. Where to put my attention both in the story-in-the-making, on the one I just completed and on the nitty-gritties of staying on the ball while it takes another turn through another day.

A friend and I talked about keeping the faith, last night. Not in religious terms; just the basic faith in your projects and your realizations, no matter what reception (or lack of same) they may get. Not arrogance, or the annoying attitude of cold callers running their shpiel like factory workers punching out whatevers. Faith in your babies, knowing full well they don’t stand a better or a worse chance than any others. An art I haven’t mastered yet.

There’ll be singing, this morning. Maybe a visit to some horses, this afternoon. A lot of talking with other people living on precarious edges; sorting through options now that I know I’ll have nothing but my wits to go on for the next part of the exercise. Dealing with the complicated dance of self-reliance when you must also rely on others. Caring. Laughing. Crying. Howling.

And so on.

L’esprit d’escalier

In Circus, Drafts, En français dans le texte, New story on September 28, 2012 at 7:24 am

The better, smarter, wittier, more loving or snarkier things you would have said, had you only thought of them on the spur of the moment. The better way to express whatever it was you wanted to convey. The exact right word at the exact right moment. In French, we call it “l’esprit d’escalier” – the better way to say it that comes to you after the fact, and  as you descend the stairs.

I can dream on. Writing  – and especially  re-writing fiction –  is the closest I’ve managed to reach that level of communication, so far. Out in the world of immediacy; in the world of “what exactly did you mean by that”? Misunderstandings. So many of them they look like the park right now, littered with fallen leaves from the plane trees. Mulch in the making. More soil to feed the roots. Yes, for sure. This last, for those of a philosophical frame of mind.

Meanwhile, the less philosophically-inclined struggle on with their messy, messy lives. Laugh when they should cry; cry when others split their sides. Find humor in their own mistakes, when none other present themselves for scouring through ridicule.

You don’t laugh because it’s funny, I once heard one of my characters tell another. You laugh to make it so.

Onward to the next misunderstanding? Who knows, it may be one that yields a moment worth remembering for all concerned. I’m reading about clowns at the moment. They’ll figure in prominent positions in the new story I’m trying to discover these days.


In Drafts, Food, Music, New story on September 27, 2012 at 6:15 am

For this specific character: Starting from the discomfort I experience when seeing myself from the outside (in a photo, for example), or imagining myself through the eyes of someone looking at me. Self-consciousness; the negatives rising like a cloud of insects on a hot, muggy evening.  Often the case at the beginning of a concert, and the character is a singer. So far, no surprises.

The discomfort, similar to that at the beginning of a session of swimming laps (although I haven’t done that in a long time.) Similar in the physical akwardness; the lack of coordination between the breathing and the muscular activity. The mind chatter of the “Cease and Desist” variety.

In concert, the demands of the music  grab your attention. In swimming, the breathing, the arms and the legs come to some agreement. In both cases, at some point, the activity and its specific rythms take over. The mind chatter stops. The eyes clear. If you’re singing in public, the expressions change on the faces in the audience. If you’re doing your job well,  you’re enjoying yourself, and so are the people in the hall.

The negatives. The real ones. What can they yield, other than all the usual recriminations, be they self-directed or aimed at all those nasty culprits, out there?

Being. Now.

In Drafts, New story on September 26, 2012 at 11:54 am


“I had a teacher once. He told me: the critics who’ll want to sound cultured will describe you as a histrionic personality. People who’d crawl behind the wallpaper, if they could? Will call you a show-off. The ones who dislike you will say you’re an exhibitionist. None of that matters. The whole point is how well you accept the fact you’re a performer; and how you rate this specific performance. Not the last one; not the next. This one. Sometimes, they boo, they, hiss, they cheer. At one performance, they savage you; at the next, they cover  you with so many flowers you feel like the surprise guest at your own funeral. Then, they all go home to deal with their own lives, and leave  you to deal with yours. Does it hurt? Yes, it does. Does it matter? A whole lot. Can  you do anything about it? No. Do you like Fellini?”

Myrtille  uses her upper arm to wipe away the tears. “Fellini?”

“How old are you again? Thirty-eight, that’s right. Fellini, the Italian film-maker. François Truffaut – he’s a French film-maker – ”

“I know that.”

Susan smiles.  “Truffaut once said Fellini was more courageous than he was narcissistic, and – most of all – that the man preferred his work to himself. It doesn’t matter whether I know Fellini or care for his films. I like what Truffaut had to say about him. As much as possible, I try to live by that ideal – the work, first; me, second. I don’t often swing it all that well. C’est la vie.”



In Uncategorized on September 25, 2012 at 6:22 pm

Someone, somewhere has been having a whole lot of fun with my  head. I doubt the fun will stop simply because I’ve removed every trace of a blogroll. Once you’ve found ways to play with somebody else’s head, why stop when you’re sure no one will catch  you?

To each his or her own idea of fun. Playing with other people’s reality isn’t part of mine.

Cheers to one. Cheers to all.


In Collage, Dante Alighieri, Food, humeurs, Revision on September 25, 2012 at 6:32 am

Neither charmed nor amused – then or now.

Then – ten? twelve years ago? The phone rings as I’m walking down a street  in the States (I hadn’t chucked phones yet). “Hold on, someone wants to speak to you,” the familiar voice says from far, far away. A man’s voice next, doing a whole snake charmer’s number. What did he want? To charm. He annoyed me for this very reason. End of story. See Robertson Davies’ The Manticore.

Now: pestered, bothered and aggrieved. No, this isn’t about my personal circumstances, although much in them do precisely the same thing to me. It’s about a story line, and two characters in it – more specifically, the male character. The story won’t let me go for this very reason. (From the looks of things, the female character has a strong martyr syndrome she overcompensates by stuffing herself with food; the writer is willing to let her go at that? I don’t know.The writer is annoyed.)

I never read the Dune stories, nor saw the movie inspired by it. Why a Dune-type creature appeared in my sketch book in the early evening amid a messy bunch of notes concerning the male character? Why it ties in with notes from a personal dream – notes dating back to 2005? I no longer question. At this point, all I want is some resolution so the characters will go on their way, and let me move on to the next story.

Except the resolution refuses to show up.

A much, much better moment in dreamtime last night. One of those small moments when riddles fall away, and things make sense. Amen and hallelujah. But then, of course, I woke up.

Way too much thinking going on

In Music, Story material on September 24, 2012 at 7:21 am

Fuzzy – like this portrait of a friend done through a hand-made kaleidoscope?

Fuzzier, anyway.


– I said: fuzzy. As in: I’ve been on this planet before. Apparently, people know me. Invite me to parties; invite me for a Sunday drive out to Albi; show up at my door to discuss issues relating to bills from the power co  – late on a Sunday afternoon? pointing an accusing finger at me for making a little boy cry out of fear because of my big dog shoving out its head when I open my door? Yes, I’ve been on this planet before, I remember now. Strange place, in many regards.

Read, most of the day, yesterday. Except when I walked around town with my dog. Fuzzy-headed with a vague sense of dissatisfaction. Not loneliness – or, if so, loneliness for a state of mind. The right note at the right pitch in the correct rythm.

A new song at rehearsal on Saturday. Parts of it in 8/16, parts in 11/16, then back to 8/16. The usual trick in counting 8 time being to break it down into fours – one, two, three, four, one, two, three, four. Doesn’t work. Here, to keep time, you have to switch to one-two, one-two-three, one-two-three. Then, you can tack on an extra one-two-three for 11/16. Got it?

Not quite, if I count. No problem if I keep time with my body instead.

This has something to do with writing stories?

Yes, somehow. But it gets fuzzy when I try to explain.

Sparkly, bubbly, frothy

In Artists, Poetry, Story material on September 23, 2012 at 7:04 am

One of those.

Meaning one of those mornings where I wake up with  words and a poem in my head. The words: all about acceptance (but with the slow burn of anger in the background). The poem: Dylan Thomas’ Do not go gentle into that good night (but rage, rage against the dying of the light).

First reads: a review on a book titled All Passions Spent by Vita Sackville-West. Followed by reflections on Gertrude Stein and the notion of passivity not being where it’s at.


I’m spending more time with people in social settings, these days. A strange experience. Did I hear the word role-playing somewhere? Not only role-playing but role distributions, too. Bucking or questioning the ones assigned by parents and teachers: part of the process. But what about the ones friendly types start slathering on you, and in which you could settle with some degree of comfort, spiked with bits of irritation for variety?

I don’t get that sense when singing or at rehearsal. Don’t get it when actively taking in someone else’s performance. But the role playing at social gatherings? A fascinating process – the fascination being the risky part. Why not accept the role if it’s somewhat flattering? If it has connotations of your having achieved some form of superior wisdom; a kind of status and assigned position in the group.

Why not? Because it induces a form of sleep-walking in me. Doesn’t matter if the opinions expressed are amusing, witty, intriguing – spill out the whole bunch of words in that category, makes no difference. You come back home with no further interest in your writing. With thoughts such as: well, you tried and tried. Maybe it’s time to enjoy life and coast along. Who knows what tomorrow will bring? And such.

Meanwhile, as you sit there, sipping your drink and taking in the banter, all the anxieties in the room are doing their thing in the background; or shooting up in unexpected bursts of laughter or sudden breaks in the conversations.

Questions half-raised.  Then, like sea creatures unaccustomed to air, they sink back down.

“Thanks so much for the gift. Had a great time. My best to … and to … and … yes, see you soon.”

Assembling a Cast

In Animals, Artists, Circus, Music, New story, Story material on September 22, 2012 at 6:57 am


I don’t click the “regional artists” category often. Connotations of “not really up there” attach to notions of local or regional fame, if you get caught up in the mentality of a silver medal means you didn’t get the gold. (Anyone remember that great slogan from the Olympics in Atlanta? How’s that for a tribute to the athletes raking in the money for Coca-Cola, and Nike and – but this is a sidebar.)

In my dreams, I sang back-up to one of the songs on the program at l’ibère familier last night while one of my friends from the choir played groupie with one of the musicians. In real life, this friend whom I’ll be seeing again in a few hours at rehearsal, did no such thing. She stood up in mid-concert, crossed the room to where I was sitting and with utter seriousness, took my hand and led me to the side of the stage: where we started to dance. Joined, eventually, by two other women. Call us the backup dancers.

My friend is tall and in her thirties. Slim makes it sound as if she had some padding, somewhere. I am in my mid-sixties. I am short; words such as willowy need not apply.

Meanwhile, my friend’s boyfriend sat off to the other side in one of the more comfortable chairs, propping up his bandaged hand while  his two children took in every note and every move the musicians made. The middle finger on his left hand is undergoing reconstruction, using bits of fat and skin culled from other places on his body. I watched his face, from time to time. Sometimes, the rythm and the energy lifted him and carried him along. Sometimes, he looked submerged by his own bodily sensations of the unpleasant kind. Sometimes, he looked plain tired.

The cast is starting to assemble for the first draft on the next story. There may be one artist of international renown in the mix. She’ll have to be a product of sheer imaginative powers. A few of the artists I’ve known were stars; some of them were real people with real lives. Most of the artists with whom I’ve worked never received top billing anywhere. Some of them were never mentioned by name on the poster or on the screen.

These days, most of the ones I know are street artists. They give their all in performance and for those moments when nobody cares about names, addresses, professional standing and bank accounts gone AWOL or MIA. Not to mention those brief moments when even physical pain washes away.

(I clicked Animals, didn’t I, Ah yes, a friend’s dog resting her head on my knee for a good part of the concert. Then, disappearing with the friend – now you see them, now you don’t.)