Tundra.

December 26, 2006 at 1:05 am (Uncategorized)

Merry Christmas, everyone.  Or now it’s not Christmas, it’s Boxing Day.  Well, all right.

Here comes a counterintuitive yuletide post. It’s not a merry post, but it’s a peaceful one. There’s some stark peace in it.

tent

I was just reading the interview with Angelina Jolie in the current issue of Vogue. I’ve never been like, Angelina Jolie…me…kindred spirits. My surface is warm and cozy, I’m not any kind of adventurer. But there was a segment of the interview that had to do with trust. Angelina Jolie doesn’t trust anybody, basically. I normally greet that kind of revelation with some kind of dismissal, like, oooh, tough. Aren’t you tough? But tonight I read that and a light went on in my head. Holy shit, I realized, neither do I.

This isn’t an absolute, by any means. First of all, there’s my husband. He’s one person that I trust inside and out. And he’s the measure against which I can gauge my trust for anybody else. There are a couple of other people who have just truly been there at what turned out to be key moments, like little deaths and rebirths along the course of my life, and they’ve been imprinted on my consciousness as solid. And there are lots of dear friends that I have that I trust, of course, in the sense that I believe in their goodness and love and esteem for me and their ethical natures. And I love them.

But this isn’t love I’m talking about. It’s trust. And it’s not about other people and their deservingness of my trust. It’s about the mechanism of trust within me. And I saw it tonight, I caught a glimpse of the mechanism, out of the blue.

I’m not quite exactly who I thought I was.

It’s not like I’ve had no idea about this part of myself. I have lots of memories of holding myself in reserve out of fear with this or that person – men, largely. And I’m a very friendly person, but I know I hold something essential in reserve with people I don’t know well. That’s totally normal, I know, but…I’m trying to get at something here. It’s to do with my habitual surface, my persona. It’s sunny. It’s a sunny persona I have going on. And I think I just got struck with the dichotomy of the climate/topography of the outer persona and a deeper, hidden climate and topography.

Outerly, it’s sunny and it maybe takes place in a small, fertile garden. Nice topsoil. Many pansies. Very welcoming. Innerly, no. The sky is white, the ground is hard. Tundra. Not welcoming.

I’m not putting myself down by saying this. I’m not saying I’m not liveable. But in the first image, there’s a little house and there’s coming and going of guests and it’s very cozy, and in the second image, it’s really just me and a small fire I’ve built and there’s no house and I just have a tin pan and I’m just keeping my own self alive. There’s no one else I’m relying on. At that level, there’s no one else I would dream of relying on, with the exception of my husband.

(I’m sure there’s a level beneath those two – at least in my belief system, there is. I believe that there’s a basic soul underneath all of this stuff that is bright and aware and loving and deeply welcoming and liveable. And I’m sure I get glimpses of it sometimes. I do, I know I do. With my son, and with my husband, and here and there elsewhere. But in my daily activities, I think I probably bounce back and forth between the surface and the layer just beneath it, with only the occasional transcendent moment.)

I had an acting teacher once, a Russian man, who on one of the first days I went to his class said something to the class that translated closely to, “You don’t have to bring your smile here.” And as soon as I heard that, I felt so relieved that I started to weep. Before he said that, I’d been smiling that smile of a good student, you know what I mean? Like, yes, yes, I’m showing you that I’m listening. “You don’t have to bring your smile here” cut some essential string for me…yeah, that’s right. Like Pinocchio. Some kind of other truth was allowed to enter the room.

And tonight a similar string was cut for me. It’s nice, it’s bracing to realize what my actual levels of trust are for my fellow travelers. I hold a lot in reserve, all the time, with the most unlikely people. I feel real, like I’m tapping into something closer to my actual lifestream. Or at least tapping into something I habitually ignore.

Outer layer: Sunny garden. I trust everyone! I believe in something divine and I feel the warmth on my skin.

Inner layer: Chilly tundra. I don’t trust anyone. Not because people are untrustworthy. It’s because there aren’t any other people. No one except for my husband is there. God is also not there.

Layer underneath that: ? Maybe like a graveyard of all the old pains.

Layer underneath that: ?? Is God in this one?

This also tells me why as an actor I love and gravitate towards roles that are more like the tundra layer. Darker roles, more guarded and cynical and independent characters. They’re the me that doesn’t get so much air.

I feel relieved, like I’ve just opened the window in a stuffy room.

Bloom Status: I don’t feel like categorizing this one.

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Drop City 101.

December 5, 2006 at 4:24 pm (Bloom Status: Upward, Uncategorized)

Post NaNoWriMo, I’m all aflame about writing. And I have, by picking up this novel, inadvertenly enrolled in writing school. Oh, mama! MaMA.

drop city

Holy hell, T.C. Boyle! Man, god damn it. I have a vague recollection of his visiting my college when I was a junior, and I was like, huh? T. Corraghessan Who? Does he teach here? Wha? Never mind. I’ve just lost my virginity. Can’t be bothered.

Son of a bitch, man. I wish I could have flashed 18 years into the future and understood how much I wouldn’t have wanted to miss that. I wish I could barrel back in time and demand I yank my head out of my ass and head on over to Olin Hall or wherever he was talking and go there and listen like a wizard. Soak it all up into all me molecules.

Well, all right. It’s all right. He’s in my living room right now in book form. I’ve never read any of his stuff before, and now I’m reading Drop City. I picked it up after traveling back through old archived NY Times 10 Best Books of the Year lists. Man. Every sentence is a master freaking class! The writing is so physical. Everything is floating and washed and slick and jagged and silken. And the story goes along all languid and luxurious and then suddenly before you know it you’ve taken a sidewinder to your temple and you’re wide awake and muttering, what the fuck? What just happened? These bracing, icy, cruel turns of event slide into place as subtle as can be. It’s amazing.

I want to study every sentence. I am. I’m studying this bastard. It’s inspiring. I want to take my little fetal novelina and grow it with as much integrity as I can. Every sentence of this guy’s is some kind of nascent writer’s prenatal vitamin. I haven’t studied writing with any formality – I mean, I’ve taken wonderful writing classes for many years from a dear friend, Writing as a Therapeutic and Spiritual Practice. And that’ s been glorious, but that’s not about writing as a craft. I mean, it’s a wonderland in there, totally free of criticism. Dreamy. That’s about dipping a cup into the river of your _______* and seeing what you pull up. And I’ve learned about letting whatever floats up live to be considered before the bloodthirsty editor kills it on the spot. So, that is just great. Thank you, Vicky! Invaluable. But I want to learn now about crafting stories that are sound to the core, big ones, stories that ring and wake you up and delight you and rattle your mind, and I want to learn about how to build them, the carpentry of them, and I want to learn how to finish them with sentences that arrive in all new shapes so you’re awake to read the thing, sentences that are as unexpected as a close-up of curly elf shoes on Donald Trump’s feet under the board room table**. And I have to learn how to be cold-blooded with myself, how to look at the lumps of raw material and assess what is worth keeping alive and what doe-eyed, sweetly blinking hunk of beloved text must be killed. (Like this one, Fruity McFloridson.) I feel ambitious!

*Soul? Heart? Unconscious? Body? Past? Intuition? Whatever and however many you like.

**God help me.
Yeah, this is all very embarrassing, but it’s sincere. I’m going to be like this now for a while. Avid and studenty. Thank you for your patience.

Bloom Status: Learning is good, even if you come across like an ass while you’re doing it. Upward. *

*I wonder what it’s gonna take out of me to give myself a Downward. Rose-colored glasses are the main kind of glasses I own. But, you know, meanwhile….whoo! Movin’ on up.

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