Wednesday, June 30, 2010

staring down the brilliant dream

I was kind of a loner as a kid. I was super friendly, loved talking to adults, but was an only child and kids my own age didn't quite seem to understand me. I spent a lot of time (I mean a serious lot of time) up in this apricot tree at my house on Lander Place. Just dreaming. Thinking of stories with great characters. I spent a lot of time in my backyard on Fieldstone building adobe villages out of mud (???). When I moved to Vegas, I spent a lot of time in bedroom listening to music. So I've always had a lot of imaginary friends. 

Not in the looney way. Just hypothetical people in hypothetical situations keeping me company when there wasn't much of an alternative. Musicians and novel writers have always been my best imaginary friends. And even when I've been fortunate enough to meet or know these imaginary friends in real life, it's not on the same level as how I'm friends with their work. 

My best creative friends...they somehow seem to know what I need even when I don't know what I need. Whatever I'm missing, whatever challenge I walk into, whatever I need at that moment, there they'll be with the perfect thing. John Mayer always shows up with the album I need when I need it. And I remember standing in the Pittsburgh airport after some devastating news and Wally Lamb sent me a huge hug (After almost 10 years) with his new novel The Hour I First Believed, and it kept me company through my first winter of living alone in Queens, with no TV, and no man from Alaska, whom I'd really loved. 

The Indigo Girls in particular have been the most reliable. Every single time I felt some kind of hopelessness or trauma, there they were. 1200 Curfews when I was flailing to stay above water after YTI.  Come on Now Social at the end of high school, Become You while I was in Japan, All That We Let In at the end of college, etc etc etc. And now, this lovely two disc live album. And just...always with the poetry these guys. Which is literally why you can pull almost any lyric from almost any song and set it in a Keats poem. 

We've been staring down the brilliant dream
The Sun burns our eyes
We've been fighting for the love of our lives

Tuesday, June 29, 2010

really: colon: a novel???

Does EVERY novel HONESTLY have to be Something: A Novel anymore? Like, actually as part of the title?? I understand if you want to put it somewhere on the cover (I suppose. I guess that's how it's done these days.) But do publishers have to list the actual official title that way? As though we don't understand?

A Thread of Sky:  A Novel
Pretention: A Novel (no, just kidding, I made that one up)

An Invisible Sign of My Own: A Novel
a title so fatuous I forgot it simply clicking back to this page from Amazon.
sadly, this next one is also by the same author (not a good track record, lady)....

The Particular Sadness of Lemon Cake: A Novel (although... I mean, let's be real...that one is in trouble to begin with...and, along with A Hatred For Tulips [mercifully spared the : A Novel pretentious treatment] [further HA! it's on sale for ONE CENT] share the title of WORST TITLE EVER (Preposterous!).  These might even be excellent books, for all I know, but while I may not judge a book by its cover, I do judge by its title (at least a little) and I can't even bring myself to read the synopses of these eye-rollers.

They even jacked with my beloved The Imperfectionists (more on  this later) which (I still refuse to believe) is actually a part of the title but sometimes shows up on amazon and also on my kindle copy which makes me a little grossed out considering aside from this, it might be a perfect book.

I feel about this phenomenon the way I feel about JUICY: COUTURE.

If I could get rid of a grammatical unit (that's not to say rule-- if we're talking about rules, I'd jettison the deal with ending a sentence with a preposition. I purposefully do that one all the time, just because 90% of the time, there's no good reason not to. (ha!) and when you rearrange your whole sentence to fix it, you sound like a douche. But if I could get rid of  a mark, a unit, I'd get rid of the colon. Semi colons I kind of dig, but colons are...


I don't like to feel mean about things. But I've had about enough of this. Was it always like this? I see no Great Expectations: A Novel, Gone With The Wind: A Novel, Moby Dick: A Novel, not even my dear teach, Cronin, shows up as The Passage: A Novel. (Or The Summer Guest or Mary and O'Neill for that matter!) Sure it's on the cover, but it's not a part of the title. But perhaps there's something I'm missing. Some special purpose for calling EVERY NOVEL ON THE PLANET WHATEVER COLON A NOVEL that has somehow escaped me. Please, enlighten me? Anyone? Anyone in publishing?

Happy 3rd B-day, Andrew's Blog!

For so many obvious reasons, we love Andrew and everything about his blog. As referenced on many occasions, if he ran for president, I'd Vote for him. A first-rate film maker, an astute and insightful thinker. And I can't think of a better friend and advocate for any artistic project or cause. Every way that I could gush about his talent is just subsumed by what there really is to say about what kind of fantastic person he is. He's quite simply one of the glowy people.

Monday, June 28, 2010

everything you want, I have- an excerpt from Rise

this is an older section-- written somewhere between 2002-2003. 
November, 1999
Lubbock, Texas 
On the way out Kate's front door, they saw David getting into his car in the next driveway. He said nothing, but winked, and while Kate and Meg drove away, he stayed to let his hunk of metal truck warm up. It was the first cold morning since she had been in Lubbock and it was dry like winter in the desert. It reminded her of a Christmas she and her dad had decided to spend in the Grand Canyon. The chill in the desert-- it seemed more final and more concrete than any other cold she had felt before. Lubbock wasn’t the desert, but this morning, it felt just like the way Christmas morning had felt in the Grand Canyon. And the whole merciless day seemed to span out before her, like the canyon.

Sunday, June 27, 2010

up, up, always up- an excerpt from Rise

at the wedding rehearsal dinner of Meg & David's best friends-- that they set up

Thank God Meg was separated at dinner from everyone that was really close to her. Lindsey was with her family and David was with his. This gave Meg the opportunity to freak out in peace at a table near by with the drunkest members of Lindsey and James’s friend. These were some people Meg had never met before named Sammy and Joshua, who spent the whole slide show and dinner process making out with each other and narrowly avoiding letting a glimpse of Sammy’s nipple show.

Saturday, June 26, 2010


** Ah, I can't believe I didn't post yesterday! I wasn't feeling well and could barely get it together to eventually go into work and get stuff done. :) Anyhow...

As you know, attending the weddings of my friends is one of my prime past-times. In a cruel twist of fate, my schedule for arriving in Scotland is going to force me to miss the wedding of my dear friend, Harold, and I'm a bit heartbroken by it.

I met Harold at a speech and debate tournament my sophomore year in high school and he was one of my first experiences of meeting someone that was universally respected on all sides of the tracks. He was serious, collected, discerning, a championship debater, and far far smarter than 17 year olds were supposed to be. He was, for all you can be in high school, sort of famous. I was totally intrigued by him.

He was who taught me how to drive and how to spin my pen around my fingers. It used to be our joke that I would count the number of times he said "How-ever" in a debate round (it was a lot). From him, I learned about all the modern philosophers. And I stood in awe of his moral and ethical compass which always seemed perfectly accurate.

At some point, Harold also became my boyfriend. But I was far far too fifteen years old and stupid to appreciate him. Something I've spent the last 13 years correcting.

He was the first person I was ever cavalier with about his feelings. I learned a lot about how I never wanted to make people feel ever again and have tried to keep that up. Until I met him, I didn't really know I had it in me to be so mean.

And to someone so universally respected as a wise man, especially by me.

Everyone said I was the biggest fool and that he would never ever forgive me. But Harold was always a gracious and classy guy. Luckily for me, he did eventually forgive me for being a stupid fifteen year old. And we've been wonderful friends ever since.

After he went away to college, we'd still hang out on breaks and sit in his car talking about the world until the wee hours. We'd go see movies-- he'd always kindly agree to see the artsy girly movie I wanted to see-- Amelie, once we even saw that awful Phantom of the Opera movie.

Out of all the people in my travels, he is still the smartest person I've ever met. He is one of the glowy people. He continues to teach me what it means to be a respected person.

I am sending love to him and his lovely bride on what will surely be a beautiful September day. Wishing I could be there to celebrate with you.

Thursday, June 24, 2010

mid afternoon happiness

The new Sia "We Are Born" is a perfect summer album. Just the right amount of bubble-gummy mixed with the fact that Sia is nobody's pop princess, even if she does reeeeally like pink. I just wanna strut the NYC sidewalks in short shorts and platforms, which is exactly what I did this morning.

Other fun things about this album
1. The cover of Madonna's "Oh, Father." It's a very different song when Sia does it.
2. "Never Gonna Leave Me-" if the theme song from "The Office" were a pop song. Seriously. Check it.

Sia certainly has a unique sensibility. I've never seen a video of hers that was less than totally weird, and this one is no exception. I love it. Listen, and feel wacky.

where I've been, where I'm going

My story of how I ended up at Rice is long and mildly hilarious. I won't tell it now-- I'll just say that it's a magical place that allowed me to completely break down from what I had been before I got there and rebuild into something else that probably didn't even really gel until I got to New York. (I remember being pretty awful towards the end of college, and definitely that first year afterwards-- but then again, aren't all 22 year olds awful?)

I used to give tours of Rice (I was really good-- I had a lot of jokes in my tours.) and I loved to give them-- the combination of joke telling, story telling and historical myth-making to a captive audience... it was great! There's pieces of history all over Rice. The Berlin Wall, Willy, The NASA stuff. One of my favorite things was that Kennedy delivered his September 12, 1962 "We Will Go to the Moon"" Speech at Rice's massive stadium. It was a great speech in that it talked about the infinites of where we would go, but never forgot where we were all standing at the moment. Bringing it back to the actual people he was addressing. From Rice to the moon. 

But why, some say, the moon? Why choose this as our goal? And they may well ask why climb the highest mountain? Why, 35 years ago, fly the Atlantic? Why does Rice play Texas?
     We choose to go to the moon. We choose to go to the moon in this decade and do the other things, not because they are easy, but because they are hard, because that goal will serve to organize and measure the best of our energies and skills, because that challenge is one that we are willing to accept, one we are unwilling to postpone, and one which we intend to win, and the others, too.
Full speech after the jump:

Wednesday, June 23, 2010

The Button Pusher, the Best Fourth Thing

It might be sort of dated to bring up Fight Club, but even now, it seems like the only way to discuss the inimitable Brandon Blackwell.

Our senior year in high school, after four zany years of friendship, he described me in an article as "the most mysterious open book he ever met." But I think that's just as true of him as it is of me. Which is perhaps why the Fight Club comparison is always the most apt.

In high school, when I was particularly sunny (and uptight-- ask anyone, I was Biz.ness.) he used to infuriate me. He was rebellious and irreverent-- which was often hilarious and fun, but sometimes it just seemed  like a stunt. Like you needed to be suspicious because the image he was presenting wasn't all real. He made people uncomfortable. He made me squirm.

He "borrowed" my car to go on a date while I was at the movies and never came back to get me. Okay, not never... but let's just say standing in front of a movie theater with your government teacher (who you were never supposed to be at the movies with alone in the first place, but your ENTIRE class bailed, leaving just you and Fowler)  every minute waiting for your ride can feel like an eternity.

When he received two senior superlatives, Best Dressed & Best Hair, and they didn't let him pick which one he wanted, Brandon took matters into his own hands. (Can you guess which one I got??) They decided for him that he'd get to keep Best Hair (he'd have preferred best dressed) so the night before the photo shoot for the yearbook, Brandon shaved his head. Which would have been plain annoying if he'd stopped there. But Brandon's a bit more creative than that, and clearly recognized the importance of the hair to shoot, so he kept it. And came to school the next day with all the hair in a plastic ziplock bag, ready to display it in the photo. "I still HAVE the best hair..."

Tuesday, June 22, 2010

glitter & philosophy

This is simply an effing masterclass:
So is this below.  (I played this role my senior year at Rice and won the Rice version of a Tony :) Maybe if you're reallll sweet to me, I'll tell you about the time I fell off the stage during "Rabbit Chasing" and stopped the show for almost 2 minutes. ANYTHING to make 'em laugh. )
Either way, when I think of nuanced comedy, when I think of all the reasons I moved to NYC to work in theatre, this lady comes up pretty much at the top of the list. 

just proving my point...

I write a blog post, and I get this amazing encouragement back from my dad. Obsessed. It's so easy to be. See?

There is only Now! And its always enough. Even tho we can't get enough of the people we love, in the end it is always enough, and will be the lauching pad that hurls us into our destiny and becomes the warm bed that welcomes us when we need to rest. From the moment you were born you were zooming across the universe and I knew we wouldn't have a lot of time with you physically. You have a profound mission that only you can fulfill and you must do it. We will always be here for you, if not physically, at least metaphorically. So, go little wow, go and awaken and inspire those you are with and those you left behind. There is no space, there is no away, there is only love and its expression. We cannot fail, we can only fail to try, to go, to do, to be.

Monday, June 21, 2010

watch my back & light my way

Now's when it happens. The part of myself, always on the go, that I rarely admit to. Now's the part when I comprehend all I'm leaving behind, allow it to fill up the space in my body and then I just ache. All the people I'm going to leave. In all the states and all the cities. All the people I've met so far on my constant-moving journey, but have clung to in my own way,  on my way. My life has pretty much always been characterized by the inability to be with all the people I love all the time. I mean, when you're bouncing around the planet, there's no way to keep them all in the same room with you.

But there's something colder and bleaker about an international separation.

Knowing that no matter how far North I head, some unknown-ly huge part of my soul belongs to the South, is her property and always will be. Where my family will always be.

And I think about all my newest friends. The people that I only came to in the last year, when I already knew I was leaving. Oh, I think, I'm not ready to leave you! I want more time with you and  you and you. And there's never enough time. Not with any of them.

Now's when I stop thinking of the excitement that awaits me (my castle, all the new friends I'll make and what I'll learn--the thing I've had to focus on in fantasy for the last 6 months to keep me going) and these few days,  I can only seem to think of what I'm giving up. And it's quite a lot.

As a child, I used to practically short circuit realizing you actually have to make choices that lead you down paths that cannot be undone. That negate the option of doing something else. It was a big crater in my whole invincible 8 or 9 year old child philosophy  that I would not actually be able to do everything all at once, be in 5 places at one time. I'm almost 30 now, and I still don't think I'll ever get over that.

Because if there was enough of me or enough time or money for it all, I'd split myself up and go be with everyone I love all over this insane planet so we could tell jokes and play bluegrass together and dance and sing and stay up so late we drift off while still talking and laugh and laugh and laugh as we speed down the road to  the next place, always together.

Watch my back and light my way. Watch over all those born St. Christopher's Day. I find it sort of funny that St. Christopher is both the saint of bachelors and of travelers.

Sunday, June 20, 2010

shower. the. people. - happy father's day!

Father's Day is my favorite holiday. More than Christmas, more than Thanksgiving, I love Father's Day. Seeing fathers and their children is my favorite thing. This is  because of my father and my grandfather. It's no secret that I'm totally totally obsessed with my dad. I think he's easily the coolest living person. One of the things I always feel proud of is how much everyone else loves my dad. How almost without exception, all my friends have a really memorable story about my dad-- something wise he said to them, or funny. A piece of advice, a joke he played on them, some memory that stays with them.  So, obviously happy father's day to dad. He's the guy. When I don't think anyone likes me or would ever care to know what I think, Dad does. And I'd pretty much cut off my arm to make his wishes come true. 

But there's also my grandfather. I called him Papoo, which I only found out when I was about 18 years old that he never liked, but tolerated because it came from me. And he called me Madame. Out of everyone in my whole family, perhaps my whole life, Jim Ferguson had an emotional temperament most similar to my own. I don't think I realized that until I was in my late teens, how similar we were, largely because I was too in awe of him to actually analyze him. But he was complicated. Often quiet and inward, intimidatingly so, but gregarious, hilarious. He always thought of what he could do for other people. How he could support other people's dreams. Especially if he had originally been unsupportive, and then realized he was wrong. He'd make the phone calls, he'd do surprise things for people.

He loved to tell stories and it would seem like he was really worked up when he would tell  them. People would tell him to calm down and  he hated it. When he found out how much I hated that too, we had a long conversation about how people didn't understand our energy. "People are always telling me to calm down, like I'm upset when I'm telling the story...but I'm not! I'm just trying to tell a good story!" He was stubborn and ornery and sentimental and emotional and when he died in 2002, he took with him my ideas of a world where everything was in it's proper place.

I was in Japan when he died and unable to get back for his funeral, which is the single biggest sore spot in my life. Right before I left for Japan, I went to stay with my grandparents in Perry. I didn't want to leave them anyhow, because I knew his last good days were numbered. And when I started to head towards my car in the cold early morning, to drive back to Texas, he followed me out. And told me to hug him on the neck as good as I could, because it was most likely the last time I was going to see him. I can't describe how paralyzed that made me. I was physically unable to move from the steps for a long time. I hugged his neck,  but then we just stood there, under the blinking nose of the Rudolf that hung in the car port, for a long long time.

It was around Father's Day 8 years ago that I woke up in Tokyo with a gripping fear that I had not fully told him everything I needed to say to him. And that I would soon lose my chance. I needed to tell him that I believed it was possible for people to love each other their whole lives, thanks to his marriage with my grandmother, that I believed in just doing it because of him--- just get on the phone-- that's how you'll make it happen! Thank him for teaching me to make perfect Bloody Mary Mix, how doing things with precision was the only way, how to cut my own hair, start my own business, how to pick the right friends and keep them your whole life, how to love the people around you-- both loud and sloppy and quietly and selflessly, when to have pride and when not to, how to pay attention to people, and how to know who you don't need to pay any attention to, and how to always always find common ground with someone you love, even if it seems like you disagree. 

I wrote him like a 12 page letter that day and ran to the mailbox to mail it, just sending up prayers that he got it before it was too late. He did. The night before Father's Day, about 10 days before he died. 

I wandered around Tokyo for weeks after he died, just miserable that I couldn't be with my family during that time. But I always found him in strange places. And I still do.

I miss him everyday, still. I feel the lack of him. And yet, I really think he was tucked himself in pockets of things I love, in little moments he's left for me to find, to know he's there. They always show up when I don't expect them. Certain things just smack of him, and I look around thinking, "Ok, Old Man, I  know that was you..." On the very top of Mt. Fuji, When Rice won the world series, moments in the theatre sometimes, certainly last weekend at the Steamboat Springs Reunion, and this last Christmas when I was alone in NYC, writing. I was listening to James Taylor One Man Band and the version of "Shower The People" from that album came on. It's a good version. But then, suddenly, there was something extra...there grandfather. 

In the lines:
You can run but you cannot hide
This is widely known
And what you plan to do with your foolish pride
When you're all by yourself alone
Once you tell somebody the way that you feel
You can feel it beginning to ease
I think it's true what they say about the squeaky wheel...

then there was an add lib, simple, but heart-stopping... "RASCAL'S always getting the grease..."
Blink and you'd miss it. But he was there. All of a sudden, my whole apartment was filled with the extraordinary man who was my grandfather, letting me know he was still making phone calls on my behalf, thinking of me on Christmas, joking and carousing and teasing me and loving me. It seems silly right? The one-word addition of the word Rascal to that song, but it was so like him, it could have been him singing for all I knew. Maybe you need to hear it for yourself to understand. So here it is. 

This song is my personal motto. I believe in every lyric in here to a fault. Sometimes, I have showered the people I love with love so much that they have shown up to the party drenched and almost drown-out, but I'd rather do  that than the opposite.  It's what, at the end of the day, people loved about Jim Ferguson. And what, if I'm lucky, people will say they loved about me. If I'm truly lucky, they'll say they could see him in me. That would be a moment I'd feel safe to feel proud over. 

Happy Father's Day to all the fantastic fathers out there who guide and support their families. And for those no longer with us, I hope you're all living tucked away in moments for us to find and remember everything you gave us. 

ironing it all out

I'm deep in writing and reading (which is both more rewarding and also more lonely than I remember, the last time I went this deep down the hole) so I wanted to not forget about poetry. And leave you with some more of my favorite stuff from another of my favorite Scottish poets, Vicki Feaver,  that I was lucky enough to hear read during Scottish week 4 years ago, when I hatched my plot to move to Scotland.

Here is the exquisite Ironing, taken from The Poetry Archive (poem published in Girl in Red and Other Poems). And an interview she did. She's my model for what Scottish women are like.

by Vicki Feaver
I used to iron everything:
my iron flying over sheets and towels
like a sledge chased by wolves over snow;

the flex twisting and crinking
until the sheath frayed, exposing
wires like nerves. I stood like a horse

with a smoking hoof,
inviting anyone who dared
to lie on my silver padded board,

to be pressed to the thinness
of dolls cut from paper.
I’d have commandeered a crane

if I could, got the welders at Jarrow
to heat me an iron the size of a tug
to flatten the house.

Then for years I ironed nothing.
I put the iron in a high cupboard.
I converted to crumpledness.

And now I iron again: shaking
dark spots of water onto wrinkled
silk, nosing into sleeves, round

buttons, breathing the sweet heated smell
hot metal draws from newly-washed
cloth, until my blouse dries

to a shining, creaseless blue,
an airy shape with room to push
my arms, breasts, lungs, heart into.

Friday, June 18, 2010

Are You There, Liz Gilbert? it's me, Ryann!

Happy Friday! I’m having a dinner & brunch-filled catch up weekend with some lovely ladies in my life.  I’m very much looking forward to it. I also plan on reading on my new kindle! And working on my new novel, which I wrote about 30 pages of last night. En fuego!

For the weekend, I want to leave you with this TED interview from Elizabeth Gilbert about creativity. Now. Once, someone told me that I write like Elizabeth Gilbert. At the time, I had read nothing of hers. I didn’t recognize her name, even, because when she really blew up, I was less focused on novels and drastically, manic-ly focused on Broadway.

So I replied to this person who told me I wrote like Elizabeth Gilbert, “I’ve been writing like this my whole life. Maybe Elizabeth Gilbert writes like me.”

This interview was actually my first contact with her and it made me love her. It made me want to be friends with her. And it re-opened a philosophical conversation with myself that I mention here. And she was discussing what I was writing about here when I was 17 and truly disturbed by the artists' lot.

She did remind me of me a bit. So then I read Stern Men, then The Last American Man, and now finally, just yesterday on my kindle (god bless this thing, something about the way it’s easy on my eyes, I can just tear through books!) I read over half of eat pray love. And…I get it. I get the comparison. (Though Emily, saint that she is, says I’m funnier.)

Are you out there, Liz Gilbert? I think we should be friends!

She’s drawn to a lot of things I’m drawn to—mystery or mysticism, philosophy, geography & travel, spirituality, what it means to be a woman, what it means to be a man, how religion affects romance, openness in revealing faults—not to mention, self-deprecating humor, weird metaphors, alliteration, and talking to yourself in a tear-filled frenzy late at night. Not to even kind of mention that whole questioning whether you're supposed to be alone thing.  I like her. And the way the prose reads a golden/yellowy color. How she's sunny or funny even when she's most miserably depressed. I get it. 

But what I admire most about her, I think, is her readability. Even if you don’t agree with her, (this kind of backlash, I discuss here and here) even if plot or moral isn't the soundest, even if she doesn't wrap it up nicely enough (or she wraps it up too nicely depending on who you talk to) the shit just flows. That’s what I’m striving for all the time. Not popularity-readability (though that’s good too) but that way that prose just moves. As Cronin often said, “at the level of the sentence.” I still have lots of issues with structure. That’s why I’m going to school. But I’m ok if that’s never going to be my strongest suit. Because it’s not my top priority and I don’t know that it ever will be. But I’ve read a lot of good books with amazing and honorable structures, plots, moral codes. But a lot of them don’t read half as well as Liz Gilbert. She gets it. Just watch this speech. It’s long, but worth the whole listen. 

"Becoming a published writer is sort of like trying to find a cheap apartment in New York City: it’s impossible. And yet…every single day, somebody manages to find a cheap apartment in New York City." 

They were never alone, they were never that far apart

Tonight, my new novel was born. The project that I feel, almost immediately, will be the project of the next several years of my life. It feels good. It's called Reunion. (Wild, there's no real book of note called that).

 I have the first line and the last line... and some stuff in between. But knowing exactly how it begins and exactly how it ends feels like good start to me. What it will grow up to become is anyone's guess.

But I know it's populated with people to love-- people who fight to put right what destiny somehow seemed to get wrong so many years ago. So even if it took them longer than thwy thought, they'd get to making it happen in the end. People exotic in their eccentricities and inner worlds, both known and unknown. Different in every way possible except one: They were glued together body and soul/That much more with their backs up against the wall.

My whole life, I've been practically pathological about doing the impossible. And with finding some kind of peace or plan of action that allowed for the steep and conflicting marching orders I gave myself. I think the guys in this book are feeling that way for many years too. And that's in this song too. Never give up, never slow down, never grow old, but never ever die young. How do you do that? Well, like Peter Block says, "The answer to how is yes."
Never give up, never slow down
Never grow old, never ever die young

Synchronized with the rising moon
Even with the evening star
They were true love written in stone
They were never alone, they were never that far apart

And we who couldn't bear to believe they might make it
We got to close our eyes
Cut up our losses into doable doses
Ration our tears and sighs

You could see them on the street on a Saturday night
Everyone used to run them down
They're a little too sweet, they're a little too tight
Not enough tough for this town

We couldn't touch them with a ten-foot pole
No, it didn't seem to rattle at all
They were glued together body and soul
That much more with their backs up against the wall

Oh, hold them up, hold them up
Never do let them fall
Pray to the dust and the rust and the ruin
That names us and claims us and shames us all

I guess it had to happen someday soon
wasn't nothing to hold them down
They would rise from among us like a big balloon
Take to the sky, forsake the ground

Oh, yes, other hearts were broken
Yeah, other dreams ran dry
But our golden ones sail on, sail on
To another land beneath another sky

But our golden ones sail on, sail on
To another land beneath another sky

Thursday, June 17, 2010

a lovely surprise

Proving that sometimes, the most unexpected people do the most thoughtful things, last night, I received a lovely surprise! A family friend (and avid reader of Fergie & Fife), knowing my love of the book, and general obsession with all rare books,  alerted me that she had found and purchased at auction a second edition copy of Gone With The Wind for me! Thanks, Dena!!

Published just 7 months after the initial printing, it's easily the crown jewel of my collection. My week has been made. Sometimes, when I'm feeling blue, I'll read just a bit of it, or watch some of the film, and instantly remember how magical it is. Sometimes, art knows what you need and gives it to you, even when you don't know what you need!

coco & boy capel

While I normally see theatre before everyone else, I tend to be way behind on seeing movies. I almost never see anything in the theatres and even when I finally get it on Netflix, it'll just sit there since I don't have time to watch it (often because I'm at the theatre, go figure.) I finally got around to watching Coco Avant Chanel last night. I'd been meaning to see it for several reasons. Of course, because I've spent a whole lot of time imagining what her friendship with my aunt must have been like. Ainee was so very traditional, even though she was groundbreaking in her way. (Funny side note, I was discussing her with my Aunt Emily this weekend, who told me she had the most unruly hair-- family trait-- and simply had no idea how to style it, so she always wore a hat in public.) Both of them were complicated pioneers of what it would come to mean to be a modern woman.
Coco never married and insisted that it was the only way she could retain her identity, but men sure did break her heart when they cheated on her and married other people. And Ainee had a very traditional, or maybe that's not the right word, because they were much more equal than most marriages of the day. And yet, even being a very traditional Southern woman, she was head of an empire.

Second reason for my interest in the movie, I love Audrey Tatou. Clearly, I'm no pioneer in loving that lady. Doesn't everyone? She's so sexy/not sexy. But speaking of sexy, I think the real reason I wanted to see the movie was for Alessandro Nivola as Boy Capel. Alessandro has just got to be about the sexiest, most sophisticated guy I can think of. American, but constantly confused for British (possibly because he's married to Emily Mortimer), he's both Italian and Blonde, he speaks fluent French and there's something simultaneously gentle & mischievous about him.  Worldly and sort of naive.
My love of him dates back to Mansfield Park-- a movie almost universally panned (largely due to it's unfaithfulness to the book) but I say, it's a gem. And Alessandro in it is practically divine. It's young Redford, Alexander Skarsgard, and Alessandro Nivola for me.

Wednesday, June 16, 2010

wallowing in willy- an excerpt from Rise

 I've decided not to continue on with RISE in Scotland. I think it's time to spend my energy on a new story. I don't know yet what that story will be, but I'm opening myself up to the creative energy out there in the cosmos.  I do love so much of this though, so I'll be posting a few more of my favorite parts here & we'll see if I have any bright ideas of how to  make use of some or all 450 pages of this neverending story. I'd love your thoughts and any genius ideas you might have! xo

Lubbock, Texas
August 2003
Meg wallowed in the grass at the West Texas amphitheatre-- a fresh beer in one hand, a rum and coke in the other--praising God. She loved her life so much in that moment, Willy Nelson washing over her. David’s hand was next to hers and her eyes seemed to expand and become just another part of the blue cakey sky. The color of her eyes seemed to fade into that soft pastel hugeness and she was…out.

Meg awoke in different clothes on a stripped down bed. At first, she was unsure of her surroundings. She was facing the window, but her first thought was where David was. Her throat hurt and she felt very small.
Meg suddenly felt alone, remorseful and certain David had gone off with that Brandee chick.
But when Meg rolled over, she saw that David was right next to her.

He was shirtless and blanketless and curled so beautifully. Meg looked at him for a moment-- her glorious boy. She 

could feel the heat rising from his smooth, tan skin.
--Shit for Brains, she called herself, in a whisper.
This was her last night in Lubbock and she had gone and gotten sick-drunk. Now she would surely miss another chance to kiss him. Maybe it would be her last. Were they really not meant to be? After all this?
But God was merciful. Why did the night have to be over? she wondered. It was only… well, five A.M., but so what? She was awake and sober and not even really hung over.
So Meg got up and brushed her teeth with determination, marching from the bed to her suitcase, from the suitcase to the bathroom.
She also took the time to gauge that, for the first time all weekend, she and David were alone in the house together. Just the two of them, finally. This was actually the only time in her life that David and Meg were totally alone in their four years together and apart.
The whole room seemed lit up anew when Meg realized that this was maybe the most beautiful moment of her life.
She was a Buddha-- with the sun rising and peeking through the shades of David’s room. Little bits of light were reflecting off the pool and she could see it through the window as she brushed away at her teeth, dancing a little. Meg took an extra moment to twirl around with her arms outstretched before launching her toothbrush back into the suitcase.
Meg looked around the bedroom that had evolved from Her Love’s nursery. The sound of Steve Miller Band seemed to echo through the room and the backyard at all hours.  This had been David’s private place his whole life.
David had seen the world from this view and it had shaped him into the man she loved. Each morning, he awoke to the sun glittering across that pool and the Texas flag across from his bed. He had slept to the sound of his mother’s  cuckoo clock.
Beer cans and his t-shirts and photos were lying around everywhere as reminders of the fun that was his life-- and hers, so long as she was with him.
The blue and white 1980’s mattress was so naked. Meg had revealed herself at her most uncontrollable, her sickest. She imagined herself puking all over his stuff and him and yet somehow, in this life, it had earned her a spot on that bare bed next to him.
And Meg knew right then that this was life, as God intended it.
She knew what would happen next, even as he slept so peacefully. Meg knew the next moment was hers, long earned, so she savored this time alone.
And then she climbed back into bed, hovering over him, and woke him up with a nudge. He stirred for a moment and then smiled, eyes full of mischief, when he really saw her.
--You’re alive, huh? We weren’t sure you would make it. You caused some damage here on the bed, he laughed.
--Was I bad?
--You booted on my leg… Twice.
--No I didn’t.
--Oh yes, you did. Once when we were in line at the bar, and once when we got home.
Meg buried her face in her hands, in embarrassment, and dove into the naked mattress to hide. He grabbed at her ribs, at her one ticklish spot. His arms were so warm, hot even, and she was in them.
Meg wrestled free and played as if she were fighting back. Finally, she mounted his stomach in victory.
--I win! she called, throwing her arms in the air.
David tried to sit up, but failed. He did grab Meg’s arms and pulled them down to her sides. Her torso followed her arms in surrender until their faces were the closest to each other that they had ever been. Meg couldn’t say who kissed first, but within an instant,  David’s hands were searching her long hair. 
He was the one who liked it curly better. That was the first thing she had truly liked about him.  Meg thought (at least a few seconds into it, when she realized it was going to last—that he was going to kiss her and kiss her back) of the fourth of July in 1999, when she had fallen in love with him. Just like that night, his bedroom now seemed so loud and hot to her, but she didn’t notice with all the color everywhere. 

Why Stop Now?

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