I wrote the words in French, somewhere, yesterday. Or the image showed up in dreamtime – the one about towering waves. About not looking at the mass of water about to descend but concentrating on moving the skiff up one side of the liquid mountain and down its opposite slope.
Exaggeration? Of course. Dreams exaggerate. Writers exaggerate. Actors exaggerate. Life exaggerates too but in a messy way dreams, writers and actors attempt to evoke. Dreams come the closest.
But there were no crashing waves in the only dream I remember from last night. In fact, I was attempting to reproduce the distorted shadows laid down by – a cabbage? Not even: by a straggly cabbage leaf. Part of which was bound to find itself beyond my piece of paper. I spoke out loud while doing it. Someone’s quiet voice in the background would comment, from time to time, over one word or another I spoke. The voice would say things such as: “oh, that’s good”, or “well put”. Which was nice except the dreamer could never figure out which of the words had made that impression.
I’m trying not to think too far ahead because thinking about this day and the rest of the week tires me out before I even get going. I’ve been asked to provide photographic coverage for an event beginning Thursday and ending late Sunday night (paid, that’s nice, how much or how little, I don’t know). I start a series of writing workshops with twenty-five eleven year-olds and their teacher (must prepare somewhat). Coaching sessions all day today, plus meetings in the hope of finding some money and some living space for my Albanian friends about to get evicted. And, as always when I’m tired, fighting down the dread voice of you’ll never make it. “It” applying to whatever most matters to me at that point. Writing a good story, for instance, but not only.
Jane Austen. Mansfield Park. The parallel: pure idiosyncrasy, of course. The parallel being between the Fanny Price character (with whom, I’m sure, Austen identified the most) and a personal incident the memory file brings up under the title of Jimmy Reston, the Deans, and the Hired Help. A long-ago little scene in which I was cast in the role of the over-enthusiastic aide speaking up – I mean, literally joining in the conversation – while the celebrated journalist and his hosts held a pre-conference get-together. The crashing silence that ensued. The look of astonishment on Reston’s face and embarrassment on that of the Deans.
Wounded pride on the part of the hired help? You bet. Ah, pride. Would be my downfall, parents and teachers opined. Speaking out of turn? Pride made me do it. What else?
A glum lot, they were. Levity just wasn’t their thing.
Allez? Allez. Can’t live more than one moment at a time, can I?