Archive | March, 2012

busy monsters

29 Mar

“You’ve always dabbled in hyperbole, Charlie.”

Last January I decided to join in on the GoodReads.com 2011 book challenge, pledging to read 100 books over the course of the year. Not too difficult, or so I thought, before I realized just how leisurely I tend to read without other forces spurring me on (that means you, syllabus of every lit class ever). I did not make it in 2011, but this year I am up and running with a plan: nine books every month.

Easy enough to say when it gets dark at 4pm everyday and the weekends are shitty enough that staying in makes sense, but I think I’m gonna keep it up even when the sun (finally!) shines in. Because the best part of reading nine or more books a month is that at any given time I’m certain to be in the middle of at least two or three really good books (and the occasional not so great one since I can’t seem to walk away once I’ve started). To boil it down to the central draw, lemme put it this way: ideas, ideas, ideas. A book, after all, is like any other art piece – it’s a comment on the state of things and an invitation to conversation, if only with yourself. For a writer looking to get into better practice, every good book I read reminds me of why I feel compelled to write in the first place.

My reading list tends to fill out with the latest offerings by authors or presses that interest me (-slash- wish I knew or wish I were published by), books garnering enough ink/airtime in places like The Nervous Breakdown or NPR to convince me they would be worth my time and, under the heading of ‘because it’s good for you’, books from the 1001 Books You Must Read Before You Die list – because why fall short of just one goal when you could fall short of two? I think I’m gonna start revisiting old favorites, too, since it’s been years since I’ve read books like Henderson the Rain King or House of Leaves.

I mention Henderson since the book I just finished, Busy Monsters by William Giraldi, reminded me so strongly of one of the best parts of Bellow’s work – the language. Giraldi’s hero, Charles Homar, is a lot like Eugene Henderson. He’s flawed and he knows it but he wants to do better, he’s unflappable yet emotional, and words in his mouth or his mind are a constant, surprising delight. Take this for example, as Charlie describes his lady-love Gillian’s jealous ex-boyfriend: “From Gillian’s pictures and videos I knew this vulgarian was a colossus of a gent whose voice and testicular presence could hush the human flotsam in any riled-up room.” Over the top? Yes. Completely infections and a joy to read? Indeed. And he keeps it up throughout the whole book without seeming strained or watered down.

Advertisements

I intend…

29 Mar

I intend.  I intend.  I intend.  I believe in my intuitive abilities.  I alone create my reality.  I am creator.  My reason for living is to evolve creatively and spiritually, and to bring light and understanding to this world, my world, this layer of reality that I am presently existing within.  These are concepts I’ve been exploring in efforts to become effective and complete.  All of these ideas will come.  I understand that they must come effortlessly, fluidly, naturally.  I am opening, like petals of a flower, organic and true.  I am listening.  I am watching.  I am still.

My dreams whisper a story, my story.  Like a sweet child’s breath, my ear tingles and I know the words.  Where is this place?  What shall I do?  Please guide me.

Thank you.

I recently read “The Bringers of the Dawn” a book by Barbara Marciniak.  It was written in the early 1990s.  Many of the concepts are far out.  But I found the book to be a beacon.  A route to self-discovery.  A spark.  A support.  And a welcome tool full of encouragement to think freely.  To own your actions.  To take back power.  To break free of one’s accepted concepts and unchallenged, core fundamentals.  And to suspend thought long enough…  To fly.  To float.  To fall.  To awaken.  To rise.  To recreate.

There are many moments, images, memories or projections that I remember.  That I have carried with me on my journey.  Sometimes it’s a smell, a feel, a flicker of light or a sense.  Some have been with me since I was a child.  Others have accumulated with my experiences.  Until now, I have guessed at their meaning.  The sun beaming through me.  My feet in the cool wet sand.  I am young.  And I’m holding someone’s hand.  I’m enveloped and it’s gone.  Sometimes there’s no visual, just the sense of that moment.  A smell of the salt in the ocean air.  The warmth and protection.  The love.

I dream things that happen in my life before they happen.  I call that Deja Vu.  And when I get these feelings or Deja Vu, I have come to accept it as a sign that I’m taking the right path.  I’m going in the right direction.  This has been a comfort.  The only real way to check myself.  But then I read “Bringers” and at a crucial moment in the book, all of these seemingly random events collided and strung together like DNA connecting into a helix.  The gravity of a thought catapulted me through time, collapsing sheets of dimensions into one.  Could it be that this book was written for me?  Dawn?  Taking all of these multitudes of people, passing the book from person to person, until it finally reached me?  Until the moment in time when I might be receptive to the concept?  Using all of the words that I use, that speak directly to my sense of self?  Willing it.  Remembering that I am a renegade.  I am here to to break the system.  To bring the dawn.  To ground the message.  A tidal wave of light that will bring enlightenment, finally, and destruction of old ideologies.  We have all been working on this. I am not that ego-centric.  But my role is in the last chapter.  And now I am the main character.  And those memories and unplaceable experiences that have floated just out of reach of my comprehension have meaning.  Grave meaning.  Being born with all of the knowledge.  Only needing the understanding that I must trust myself.  My four year-old voice “No regrets.”  My six year-old voice, “Mom, the magic is gone.”  Born a healer.  A self-proclaimed old soul.  “This will be my last life, ” thinks the two year-old.  This is why Peter killed himself.  This is why Grandpa Jack died.  All soldiers.  Bringing.

My son was to be named Orion.  I was to be named Dawn.  This is our disguise.  Hurdles.  Thwarted.  Almost lost.  And one book.  Many voices channelled by one.  This is my journey.  This is why I am here.  I am a renegade.  I am Dawn.

—Real thoughts by Leigh Stimolo ©2012 and the beginning of my next creative work.  Novel or screenplay?  Still to be decided.

The Playlist Plot

14 Mar

It started as a game over dirty martinis. I’d pick a song, then Charles would pick one, but with two writers playing it lasted all of one round before we had characters and a story playing out before us, one song choice at a time.

I started with “Bang, Bang” by Nancy Sinatra and Charles answered with “Rock On” by David Essex. So: Nancy  killed someone and she and her boyfriend David took to the road. Sure, the lyrics can literally tell the story but it was the music even more than the words that drew us on.

When words are your medium, I think it’s inevitable that you feel the enormity of possibilities offered in other intense, emotional, but inarticulate art forms like music, visual art – even film, as much a visual as it is words in a script. In writing you are tied to the linear lines of the sentences used to draw characters, plots and scenes. But the music, the image – so much can be communicated in that fraction of a second it takes the brain to interpret light or sound and so much more directly and open to interpretation of the viewer, listener.

Of course there is a voice when it comes to music or images – someone decided which notes in what key, someone decided which object and the depth of light and shadow – but the voice is so much more overt in writing where there’s a narrator (even a disembodied, omniscient one) telling you what and how things are happening. No matter how subtly you write, the voice is the mediator between reader and story. And I could write reams, grinding the narrative to a halt, and still miss some of the wordless connections that are communicated in just one frame of film, the blink of an eye.

But the fact is, the viewer, listener, reader supplies their own narrative over the image, sound or prose in front of them. For the writer, the challenge is to tell the story so as to leave enough room for the reader’s own parallel story as they process the words in front of them. As the playlist grew, it was exciting to see how we layered our stories, our characters’ stories, over the lyrics and music.

In the end, we’d decided to work out a screenplay which should prove to be an interesting exercise in collaboration. I’ve read some of Charles’ work and am excited to get a window into his process.  Until then, here’s our raw material. It makes for good, atmospheric listening and trust me, it is gonna be a great story.

“Bang, Bang” by Nancy Sinatra
“Rock On” by David Essex
“Dancing in the Moonlight” by The Smashing Pumpkins
“Atlantic City” by Bruce Springsteen
“Never Let Me Down Again” by The Smashing Pumpkins
“You Said Something” by PJ Harvey
“Milton Road” by Mice Parade
“I Wanna Be Adored” by The Stone Roses
“I’m Your Man” by Leonard Cohen
“Hamlet (Bang Bang Bang)” by The Birthday Party (Nick Cave!)
“Love Is Blind” by Alicia Keys
“My Sword Hand’s Anger” by Apostle of Hustle
“In Spite of Me” by Morphine
“Becoming” (the piano version) by Nine Inch Nails
“Strange” by Patsy Cline
“You Were Always on My Mind” by Elvis Presley
“Club Foot” by Kassabian
“Long Snake Moan” by PJ Harvey
Three different songs, all by the Black Keys, for three different endings (for now you’ll just have to guess which one we went with):
“The Go-Getter”
“The Sinister Kid”
“Ten Cent Pistol”

Sharing

9 Mar

Destruction in motion (deceptively cute mode)

At the risk of turning this blog into all cats, all the time, I have another cat-related episode to relate.

Lola is great, by the way. She knows how to fetch, she’s constantly talking (which is equal parts charming and obnoxious). She doesn’t snuggle and is definitely not a lap cat, but she’s always nearby and always entertaining. She knows her name, the phrases “Don’t scratch!”, “Get out of the bathtub!”, “Get out of the sink!”, “Quit wrecking that bench!” and actually obeys every once in a while. I no longer need an alarm clock since she is set to go off sometime between 4:30-7AM every morning. Noah has christened her a “dat”. My little dog-cat.

I even recycled the cardboard carton the shelter gave me to carry her home – finally – after using it as my own Ralph Kramdon-style threat, “one of these days, kitty…” (although the significance of this was largely lost on her).

So when Lo started scratching herself obsessively, sometimes using her teeth on certain points of her legs and tail, I’d gotten to know her well enough to realize this was a Very Bad Thing. Then I started to find a few bumps on my arms and it became An Even Worse Thing. To borrow another Noah-phrase, we were now living in a third-world condo, flea-bitten and infested (hyperbole being my first response).

I got Lo a vet appointment for today, Friday, but this was a Monday night. If this was a bug of some kind, I had to act (life at the grad pad taught me that). I tore apart the bedroom, cleaning and vacuuming every surface. I laundered everything that would fit in the machine. I pinned poor Lo down most nights and went over her coat with a fine-tooth comb.

What kept me sane in the midst of this mania was this fantasy: me, my belongings crammed in the back of a classic convertible, Lola in her cat carrier on the passenger seat, driving the fuck out of Boston. I could always do it, and could still, no matter how ill-advised or rash. I could always just get away. (Buyer’s remorse is a really tenacious emotion, I’m finding. Bad things that happen in my life all point back to the condo. The rational facts – that it’s cheaper than a comparable rental in Boston, that I get to live alone, that I get to do whatever I want with the space – don’t matter. The condo is out to get me.)

I got good news this morning – otherwise I would be packing up the rental right now – but it is a little ridiculous. After all this, the verdict is that Lo and I are probably allergic to something in the house (new detergent? new household cleaner? pollen and god knows what else has been unleashed due to the lack of winter this year?) and now we are gonna be sharing a box of antihistamines. Thanks, CVS. And thank you, Lola, for nudging me even further into the crazy cat lady column – which is completely unfair considering you don’t even act like a cat yourself.