Archive for the ‘Maison du Pré Millet’ Category

The Story’s the thing

In Animals, Drafts, Local projects, Maison du Pré Millet, Music on February 1, 2014 at 7:46 am

Different tolerance levels. Different breaking points. Even the same person, dealing a second or a third time with a similar set of circumstances? Can’t predict how he or she will react, this time. War hero today, quivering coward the next. A take charge person – you know, can-do, bring ’em on,  no mountain high enough? One more tiny move? Reduced to a lunatic whose comments don’t make sense to anyone outside the person’s head.

Small children. Teen agers. Your own dog. Shared knowledge, shared customs or habits. Then, a look or a behavior that stuns, delights or frightens.

Two? Three workshop proposals turned down in two days. One on-going project at risk because of illness and people quitting their jobs.  Scrap the meetings, the write-ups, move to the next thing. Reverse logic at work these days i.e. more relief than disappointment when the projects get turned down. Only so many hours in a day; only so much energy available to a body.

Dealing with other people’s writing when they ask for advice. When they come to you for that specific purpose. You may disagree with the person’s premise, with the underlying philosophy, that’s your business. If you’re close enough to the person, you may even have a discussion on the topic – after-hours. Or not.

The story’s the thing. Even in its craziest versions, it can help to keep a body sane through just about anything. Story’s the equivalent of Johann Sebastian Bach, laying down structure where none seems apparent. Finger holds. Toe holds. A sense of continuity even through the worse jumbles.

Space and time – stop, look, listen

In Hautvoir, Local projects, Maison du Pré Millet, proto drafts on January 30, 2014 at 6:29 am

A ninety-year old woman, happy to play around with real life memories, and tweak them. For the fun of another jaunt down memory lane, with different outcomes. Easy enough to play along with her, for the fun she’ll get out of this different take on  what could have been.

The next exercise: much trickier. Shreds of memories – all of them sad. Something like disheveled clouds drifting above a woman’s terrible fear of the dark night falling on her. She writes down everything, so as not to forget. Forgets she forgot a few minutes ago, and writes it down again. How to make something of the drifting clouds.

The exercise: something like a combination of ghost writing and interpreting. Closer to interpreting i.e. quasi simultaneous translation of a person’s words  into another language. Quasi, to allow for appropriate choices and, whenever possible, the avoidance of words with different connotations once they cross the linguistic barrier.

Then, once you’ve dealt with other people’s words and other people’s attempts at saying what matters to them: making your way back to your own words, and your own attempts at discovering how best to combine them to discover something else. Something other than what you’ve said all along, or believed all along, or conveyed in the same old way, until it sounds as trite and boring as an old political pamphlet.


Small surprises in my living space: the discovery of two doors leading to other places. One in the night table near my bed. The other in the storage space/catch all where I keep the washing machine, the ventilator (in winter) and the space heater (in summer).


The mood at the school in Gaillac, this morning. What will it be? Explosive enough, last week. With the staff changes since then? Looking forward? Yes. Rushing forward? No.


The day after the former, late dawn veering to early morning

In Drafts, Local projects, Maison du Pré Millet, Poetry on January 13, 2014 at 5:38 am

The exercise involves twelve students (approximate age : seventeen), their French teacher and the librarian at the local technical college. Two hours this morning, plus two one-hour sessions during the week. I’ve never met the students; the teacher, once and the librarian, twice. I have a plan; people like to know you have one. How things play out being another – unpredictable – matter.

The person with whom I’m running another workshop loved the small parcels pulled together by some of the students. It gave him an idea for structuring the layout of the album we must produce out of the students’ photos and texts. The challenges in that exercise include whatever results he’ll get tomorrow from a recent biopsy.

Plus, another workshop tomorrow, with adults; the presence of one of them, iffy, depending on her general sense of clarity or befuddlement.

I took a photo of the small parcels, last night, outrageous spelling mistakes and all. Like found i.e. accidental art, some of those mistakes are so funny, they raise the whole thing to the level of a koan. Moments of zen abound. How blessed can I get.

Up at five thirty am means I’ll be crawling on my knees by seven tonight. Let’s take this five minutes at a time, characters. I know you’re feeling huffy about all that attention I’m putting on real  people, dammit, when all of you have so much at stake. All of you? One hundred percent sure of that? Every single one of you so stoked you can’t stand shuffling in the sideline a second longer? Yes? No?

Guess I have time for a bowl of coffee.

Lost Causes

In Animals, Artists, Circus, Collage, Collages, Contes d'Exil, Current reading, Dance, Dante Alighieri, Drafts, En français dans le texte, FAR - Arts Center, Fête de la Musique, Film, Food, Games, Hautvoir, humeurs, I Ching, Irish Mist, Local projects, Maison du Pré Millet, Maison Saint-François, Mary Etteridge, Music, New story, notes, Now playing in a theater near you, Once in a parking lot, Opinion, Poetry, Querying, Radio, Revision, Ridgewood, RLB trivia, Sanford Meisner, Story material, Summer Story, Sundays, Synopsis, Tea, The Art of Peace, The Crab Walker, The Great Strike, The Man in the Jar, Theater, TV, Uncategorized, Visual artists, Wine on December 15, 2012 at 9:06 am

Despair: unavoidable in peak moments. Useless in the long run. Uses up too much energy.

Hopelessness: a better option. You can coast along (except in those peak moments). You can make jokes and people laugh. You know: a shrug. He or she or you or it: hopeless.

Fine. I’ll settle on hopeless for the time being.

First document dated November 24 1995 runs to eight of the fourteen typed pages on my desk. I typed the two next ones on December 11 of that same year; followed by a one-pager on December 30th; another one-pager on January 17th 1996; plus two pages on January 28th.

Beneath those fourteen: eleven handwritten pages of jottings and various attempts at letters from earlier times.

Either I manage to get one or several characters in the present draft to take some of those words and make them into sustainable fiction or I don’t. If I do (to my satisfaction, if to no one else’s), I’ll tear up or burn the originals. If I don’t, I’ll tear them up or burn them anyway. Because despair is unavoidable in peak moments, but useless as a long term strategy.

If I succeed, will some of the characters then get to move on to hopelessness? Will some others make break-throughs into unimaginable realms of sustainable good cheer?

Who knows?

I must find out.


In Drafts, Hautvoir, Maison du Pré Millet on February 26, 2012 at 8:34 am

Until last Friday afternoon, walking with my dog in pré de Millet was one of the better moments for one simple reason: the dog ran around, rolled down the incline, sniffed at every tree. I walked around, checked on the mushrooms (in season), the daffodils (now sprouting), sorted out thoughts, feelings, real life hurts or pleasures, story lines. When the dog was through with her part of the walk and I was ready to go home? We walked back up to the road, and proceeded on our way.

Pré de Millet has become more complicated because someone now waits for the dog and I to appear. That someone then comes out on her small terrace and starts waving her arms in earnest, for fear we might miss her presence. I’m happy to spend some time with my eighty-three year old namesake; happy to listen to her talk about deceased husbands (two), children, grandchildren, memories of old hurts and old pleasures. I’m not so thrilled to be considered the sister she never had and whom life has now delivered on a platter – especially if this means every single visit to pré de Millet must of necessity become a visit to Renée Lucie’s room. Planned Parenthood should be expanded to include planned brotherhood and sisterhood, too.

Personally, I find friendships easier to navigate than  all the expectations placed on parents, children, relatives and other kin. A friend goofs? You say: that was pretty stupid. The friend agrees or disagrees. You argue, or you laugh. Case closed. You call a friend, and say: forget about me for the movie tonight; I’m zonked and want to stare at the walls instead. The friend says OK or asks if you want company or tells you off for wasting a ticket he/she could have passed on to somebody else. No big deal; you’re still friends the following morning. The friendship lasts while it lasts – which may be a few months or the better part of a lifetime.

Is losing a friend easier than losing a relative? No. In some instances, losing the friend can be tougher. You chose the friend; the friend chose you. When the pieces don’t fit anymore, you’re stuck with a  major re-appraisal of who and what it was all about.

A man’s best friend turns on him. Crosses the street to avoid talking to him. Sides with people for whom the man has nothing but contempt. That’s where the story stands in my mind this morning. Plus, the image of pieces of glass, forming a pattern that will never, ever be seamless.

Simple(r): not as in simplistic. As in: to each story its own complications. Enough material in this rough draft for at least another go-round in Hautvoir after this one is done.