Star Crossed Love — A Beautiful Sadness

disco-ball

Daily Prompt BYOB(ookworm) Write the blurb for the book jacket of the book you’d write, if only you had the time and inclination.

Shakespeare’s Romeo and Juliet has nothing on Martha Kennedy’s new novel, A Beautiful Sadness, when it comes to star-crossed love. A Beautiful Sadness tells the twin stories of the love between Adrienne and Mark, and Adrienne’s coming of age as a writer.

Set in Denver during the late 1970s, after the Stonewall Riots but still during time a when homosexuality was regarded as mental illness, Mark and Adrienne, twenty-something graduate students, struggle with the reality of Mark’s sexual identity and their love for each other. Set against the whirling disco-ball of the era, Adrienne’s first person narrative is interspersed with works of short fiction Adrienne writes as a way to make sense of their very real but hopeless love.

As Laurence Durrell wrote in Justine, “Wrestling with the impossible grows a writer up,” in contending with her relationship with Mark, Adrienne discovers who she is.

—————

Finally a prompt I can use. :)

https://dailypost.wordpress.com/dp_prompt/byobookworm/

Scatology Now, Daily Prompt?

Acorn-Oak

Daily Prompt Ring of Fire Do you love hot and spicy foods or do you avoid them for fear of what tomorrow might bring? “In medicine and biology, scatology or coprology is the study of feces. Scatological studies allow one to determine a wide range of biological information about a creature, including its diet (and thus where it has been), health, and diseases such as tapeworms.”

————

“Seriously, Lamont?”

“I know, right? I’m sure I’m not going to write about spicy food etc. Gross.”

“Yep. I knew you’d say that.”

“Tell me, Dude. What’s the purpose of a blogging platform if people don’t like the offerings?

“I don’t know. You’re having some good luck on Medium.”

“In a way — it’s a nice interface, really easy to use. Then, you might get ‘absorbed’ into a community as I did with some of the articles about teaching. Your work really gets read then, but the site has a strange feel to it.”

“What’s that?”

“Can’t quite put my finger on it. But… Same problems over there, though. The same tug-o-war between ‘us’ and ‘them’.”

“Us and them?”

“The young and old. Baby Boomers are not going easily ‘into that goodnight’.”

“Did you expect they would?”

“No. I read a woman’s rant yesterday on Medium about how Medium isn’t serving the ‘needs’ of the ‘Boomer’ community.”

“Why should they? Boomers are not the future.”

“No, we’re not. We’re not all that interesting, either. Same song, different day.”

“What about you?”

“I never identified with ‘my generation’. I always felt that was just one more ghetto. I wanted a bigger world. I felt segregated in school. But there were a lot of things I didn’t understand about human life. One of those is that at a certain point, people born within a certain 20 year period are going to be MOST of the people out there in the workforce. They’re going to be having the kids, making the money and casting the votes. There’s something in the word ‘generation,’ too. It means to make offspring, or, more generally, making something new, production.”

“Ah. So what?”

“Then as now, the important thing is to do your own work well. It’s the most useful thing we can do for ourselves and the future. There’s no point whining because we’re on the shady side of the mountain. The top was beautiful, but there’s a sweetness here, too.”

https://dailypost.wordpress.com/dp_prompt/ring-of-fire/

Apples

Honey+Crisp

Daily Prompt The Satisfaction of a List Who doesn’t love a list? So write one! Top five slices of pizza in your town, ten reasons disco will never die, the three secrets to happiness — go silly or go deep, just go list-y.

I don’t do lists… But I love apples and through a happy congruence of the stars, this (lame) daily prompt appeared in my email just below a promotional email from a company that would like to sell me honeycrisp apples wholesale. That email had a list. So, in honor of apples (honeycrisp) and this lame prompt, I give you…

1. Apples contain powerful antioxidants
Apples are plentiful in one of the most powerful antioxidants, quercetin, which helps combat free radical damage, boost your immune system and prevent different kinds of diseases.
2. Apples keep your eyes healthy
Due to their high antioxidant content, apples help keep your eyes healthy, if you eat at least one apple each day.
Apples boast fantastic eye health benefits and may help prevent cataracts.
Numerous studies show that people who consume antioxidant-rich fruits, like apples, are less likely to develop cataracts.
3. Apples are rich in fiber
Apples are an excellent source of fiber that helps regulate digestive system, and overall keeps your intestinal system healthy.
Fiber can also help control your hunger and keep you full for longer, making it a great and healthy snack between meals.
Fiber found in apples can help reduce cholesterol levels.
4. Apples help detoxify your liver
Apples are good for your liver too.
When your liver is healthy, it’s able to keep harmful toxins out of the body.
5. Apples keep your heart healthy
One of the best benefits of eating apples each day is that they help keep your heart healthy.
As mentioned before, the fiber found in apples helps reduce cholesterol levels, which reduces your risk of heart disease.
Apples can aid in preventing the buildup of plaque in your arteries, which lowers your risk of having a heart attack.
6. Apples boost your endurance
Eating an apple before exercising can boost your endurance.
Apples help to make oxygen more accessible to the lungs, making your workout session easier and longer.
7. Apples help lose weight
Apples are low in calories and can help suppress your appetite.
When you feel hungry, instead of reaching for a candy bar or potato chips, munch on an apple and reap all of its health benefits.

https://dailypost.wordpress.com/dp_prompt/the-satisfaction-of-a-list/

Love Story, continued

IMG_1715

Daily Prompt Slash and Burn Write 500 words on any topic you like. Now remove 250 of them without changing the essence of your post.

My problem as a writer is the opposite; I learned to edit from the best, Truman Capote. In my fiction I’m challenged to write MORE words, not fewer.

So…here’s a bit more from the Love Story. It seems people enjoyed reading the little excerpts I’ve put up. Below is a chapter toward the middle of the story. This is the protagonist writing in her voice about herself. What is all this? Well, once upon a time, a long time ago, I wrote a love story. At the end of the real life version of the love story, I began to wonder what else there was to life, what other challenges, what larger loves, that might end in something worth taking away. Still, I wrote the love story — as a novel about becoming a writer. If you like it, let me know and every time there’s a crappy daily prompt I’ll post more. The protagonista has several names and various plot lines. It’s an exploration of how a story can be an exploration of alternative futures. If you want to read the other two bits I’ve posted, I think you can use the search feature for Love Story.

Lost in Devoid

Snarling at the lousy weather, the hanging gray cold, and all the people, I pushed through the crowd on Seventeenth Street. After two blocks, I caught up to a crippled blind guy banging his cane against the two-by-four supports of the narrow entrance to a construction sidewalk.

“What is it? What is it?” he screamed frantically, “Would somebody please help me? Help me!”

“Damn it,” I thought.

“It’s a new building,” I said to him, catching up. “The sidewalk is like a tunnel. Here, take my hand and we can go through it together.”

He told me he was catching the Colfax bus which was a block behind us, loading passengers. He was about five feet tall, if that. He was a little shorter than I. Every aspect of him was wrong. His watery pale sightless eyes, his pinkish hair flattened from sleep, his crooked, red, too-large nose, his feet twisting toward each other just enough to make his stride unsteady. Some of his teeth were gone and his fingers were gnarled, but he seemed to be only in his mid twenties. His helplessness compelled his trust. “Can you run?” I asked. “Your bus is at the stop before this one. I’ll hold your hand. I think we can make it. There’s no ice on the sidewalk here.” We had a half a block and the bus was at a the traffic light behind us and it had just turned green.

“OK,” he said, and we ran to the bus. “This is fun!” he laughed a snorting little laugh. The bus driver must have known the blind guy because he waited at the corner. The man struggled up the steps and showed his pass to the driver. “Merry Christmas!” he said, “See you again!”

I raised my hand to wave goodbye, but at the last minute, I put it in my pocket. “Merry Christmas!” I said.

6240568025_3136811f8d

I reached the Presbyterian church on top of the hill just as the carillon began “It Came upon a Midnight Clear, that glorious song of old, of angels bending near the earth, to touch their harps of gold. Peace on the earth, goodwill to men, the Heavenly host proclaimed. The world in solemn stillness lay to hear the angels sing.” Suddenly my grandmother was alive, singing in her kitchen and I was only four years old, stretching awake on the bed made for me of two easy chairs pushed together. A Christmas tree stood in the corner of the tiny living room. My mind’s eye saw her in the dark Montana morning still wearing her egg-gathering jacket and hat, putting wood in the stove. “Merry Christmas, Adrienne. You’re up early.”

Tears streamed down my cheeks. I looked into the chasm of life between that Montana Christmas and this moment. What did I have to show for it? More than a year had passed since the October morning in Albuquerque when I’d watched the mass ascension of balloons. I had written and submitted lots of stories and all had been rejected. My brother insisted that I had “missed the public pulse.”

In the middle of the night, I woke up feverish and knew I’d caught the flu. It was not an ordinary flu, either. Before it was over, it would possess me completely. Not know about the end at the beginning, I got up at my usual time the next morning and went to work. After a day made surreal by fever, I ate supper with my friend Anne and went with her to a bookstore. Anne looked for presents while I stood in one place fascinated by the way the titles changed into small, printed surrealistic rainbows.

“Anne, let’s go. I’m sick. I feel awful.”

“Was it the spaghetti?”

“No. It’s the flu.”

“Your face is really flushed,” she said. “Well I don’t want it.”

I dropped her off and went home. I got into bed and watched a brightly colored halo form around my ceiling light.

“Shit,” I thought. “This can’t be good.”

Sunday night my mom cooked me the supper I appreciated most when I was sick as a kid. I hoped I would wake up feeling well enough for work the next morning, but it was not to be. I felt worse. I went to work anyway because that night a man I’d been seeing was taking me to see “The Elephant Man.” Steve – his name — was older by something like eleven years which bothered him, but I liked him very much. He was intelligent, funny, cynical, heterosexual and good-looking in a New York kind of way. Sitting in a booth at Zack’s, waiting for dinner, we looked around at the paintings hanging on the walls.

“What do you think of these?” asked Steve.

“They’re OK if you like Matisse-Lautrec,” I said.

“That’s what I like about you. You say things like that. I don’t know anyone else who says things like that. We have something in common. Weltschmerze.”

“What?”

“It’s German. It means ‘world weariness’.”

I didn’t see myself as “world weary.” I liked the world. I couldn’t think of a better pace to be, but that didn’t mean I liked that paintings or thought they were original, deep or meaningful. “I don’t feel world weary,” I said. “I just have the flu.”

“Weltschmerze isn’t bad. It just means that the common lot of things which satisfy people doesn’t satisfy you.”

All I could think of was my brother’s public pulse remark. I wanted to be on the public pulse. I rated quality of effort with success in the public market. I had no interest in “art for art’s sake” hoo-ha or any other artsy-fartsy twaddle. Matisse-Lautrec was hot in the market place and I had not been able to write stories in the Matisse-Lautrec style. This “weltschmerze” thing was too much for my flu inhabited brain. “Can we go home? I really feel like shit.”

“We have to talk,” said Steve once we were in the car. He started the engine. It was two blocks to my apartment. Apparently we were going to discuss our “relationship.” I didn’t feel like “talk.” My flu had left no energy for one of Steve’s Woody Allenesque discussions.

“Is it serious?” I asked.

“Yes. It’s serious.”

“Well, if it’s serious,” I said as we walked the living room. I” guess you’d better take the chair.” I had only one comfortable piece of furniture in my apartment. Until my aunt gave me that, a big red over-stuffed wing chair, I had done most of my reading in the bathtub. I gestured toward it and perched on my desk.

Steve looked guilty. “No,” he said, “you have the chair. You’re sick.”

“I’m fine. Sit down. Talk.”

“Listen,” he said, pacing rather than sitting. “The fact is, there’s this person I’ve been seeing for two years. We had a good relationship. Until I met you, I’ve been with her exclusively. Do you understand?”

“Yeah. You have another girlfriend and you don’t want to mess it up, so you want to bag it, right?”

“Well, I don’t know if I want to ‘bag it.”

“It’s OK. We can bag it.”

“You mean, that’s it? That’s all you have to say?”

“Sure.” My one thought was that if he left I could go to bed. “So, why don’t you leave now? Goodnight.” I began herding him to the door.

“You mean that’s all?”

“It’s OK. Don’t worry about it,” I said as I pushed him past my bicycle which took up half the hallway. When he left, I took my temperature. 101.

I woke up the next morning two hours late for work. I was on fire. I stayed home for the rest of the week. Christmas Eve I spent stretched out on my mother’s living room floor, waiting to go home. Christmas Day was very cold; I knew going out only made the flu worse, but there was no escape from Christmas dinner. When I arrived at my aunt’s house, I laid down in front of the fire and tried to be good company, but my mom was on my case for “always being sick on Christmas.” I think it was my dad she was thinking of but I didn’t fight back. I wondered if I would ever be healthy again. As soon as I could, I went back home and back to bed where I stayed for the next few days.Luckily, the law firm was closed for Christmas week, so I wasn’t missing any pay or pissing anyone off.

Four days after Christmas I’d started to feel better, but still exhausted, not right. The phone rang, waking me from a nap. It was Mark’s father, inviting me to meet them in Aspen. I didn’t want to see Mark. “I wish you’d come,” Frank said. “It’ll be so much more fun if you are here. Mark will get here tonight; he was hoping you’d meet his plane!”

“Why didn’t he call me?” I asked Frank.

“You know how he is. He thought I would be more persuasive.”

“I can’t come up. I’ve had the flu for almost two weeks and I’m just starting to get better. If I skied even one day, I’d be sick all over again.”

“Sweetheart, you don’t have to ski. You can just come up and keep Elizabeth company and cheer us up at the end of the day.”

“Oh, Frank, it would be horrible to be up there and not ski. Besides. I’m terrible company. All I want to do is sleep.”

“We got a little apartment. You can rest as much as you want!”

“It sounds wonderful, but I have to stay here. I’m afraid to drive that far. I’m really sorry.” I was, too. I loved them and free trips to Aspen didn’t happen every day. I wondered if I were having a mid-nap fever dream.

“You really don’t sound like yourself,” said Frank. “I can hear some congestion in your voice. Are you still running a fever?” Frank was a psychiatrist, actively interested in the medical side of his job. But, the fact was, I’d started to cry.

“Maybe a little.”

“You poor thing! I know Mark will be disappointed, but you’d better take care of yourself. Happy New Year! We love you, honey. There’s next year, right? Bye-bye.”

I loved Mark’s dad. I began to cry in earnest. I was no writer. I was a failure at loving people. I went back to bed and resumed my nap. When I awakened again, two hours later, something happened which had not happened in all my adult life. I started painting. I painted a small picture of a woman looking into the ground. It was brightly colored, painted with linoleum ink, watercolors and lace paper. After I finished that, I painted another, a picture of a round man, pushed against the side of the paper, as if he were trapped in the rectangle that held him. The paintings were vivid, spontaneous, free.

Late New Years Eve, Steve called. “Adrienne?”

“Hi, what’s up?”

“I just wanted to talk.”

“OK.” I didn’t feel hostile; I felt radiant. I was in love with my paintings.

“Are you mad at me?”

“No. Why?”

“You were so abrupt the other night. I thought we’d at least talk about it.”

“I was sick. Don’t worry about it.”

“We can still be friends, right?”

“I don’t see why not.” I had a little practice with this. I was “friends” with an ex-husband.

“So we’re still friends?”

This was noxious. “As far as I can tell, Steve. Don’t worry about it. Goodnight!” I hung up.

The next day I got up and started painting. I painted from a photo I’d taken of my reflection in my bathroom mirror. Just before noon, Wes showed up. He stood at the door, carefully nonchalant, in worn jeans, a black sweater, white shirt and tie. His cigarette hung provocatively from his lips. Wes was young enough to play dress-ups. His pale straight hair was parted on the side, a long lock hung across his forehead. His beard had finally grown in, thick and ash-blond. “Don’t you think I look like Hemingway?”

“Well, yes,” I had to admit, “but you look like Hemingway in 1960 when he was an old, depressed man thinking of suicide. You’d have to shave the beard and dye your hair to look like Hemingway at your age.” The young Hemingway looked something like Charlie, but the mention of Charlie’s name was enough to put Wes in a snit for a week.

young_hemingway

Young Hemingway

“How was Christmas?” he asked, putting his arms around me and giving me a sweet mouth kiss with a little — but not much — tongue.

“Well,” I said, “I had the fucking flu the whole time.”

“Sounds like fun,” he said, winking.

“Ha ha.”

“You mean you’ve been sick since I left for Looooosiana?”

“Yeah. I missed a lot of work. I don’t know if I even have a job now, but I’m going tomorrow. Joe will be pissed.”

“Who cares? Joe’s an asshole anyway.”

“That’s true, but I’m up for a raise.”

“I’m quitting. Maybe I’ll go back to school.”

“Well,” I said, diving into the revelation of my strange new reality. “Get a load of this. I’ve been painting.”

Wes was an artist, a good one, not Matisse-Lautrec. In spite of his spacey personality and romanticized appearance, he was productive. He was the “real gen” as Hemingway would have said. Before he went home for Christmas, he had been looking for a place to show his work. He looked down at me indulgently. He had to be nice because I often loaned him money and cooked him supper. “Cool,” he said, “let me see them”

I went into the bedroom and got my three paintings.

“I didn’t know you did this,” he said, startled, leaning them against the living room wall.

“I was an art major, but I haven’t painted since college, I mean, not really painting. I just started yesterday.”

“They’re good.” He got very silent. Like my brother, also an artist, Wes was not happy with “sibling” rivalry.

“Let’s go get breakfast,” he said, changing the subject. It was a cold, sunny day and we went to a cafe on Broadway, newly opened, where you could get good coffee and read the Sunday paper. After breakfast I dropped him off at his place and went to buy art supplies. I bought several heavy sheets of cold pressed paper, five tubes of gouache, and a couple of large, flat, camel hair brushes.
When I got home, the sun was streaming in the beautiful big south windows of my apartment. I felt so good, terrifically good, invulnerable, rapturous. I cleaned the living room, putting my useless typewriter under the bed, and stuffing sheets of clean typing paper into desk drawers. I found something I could always use as a palette, an old, white enameled oven tray, in one of the drawers of my old stove. I wash bedding and towels, clothes, underwear dancing up and down the steps to the cantaloupe colored laundry room in the basement. By dark, everything was clean and ready for work the next day. I sat down on the floor in front of Cosmos with a sandwich of turkey leftover and a glass of milk, my first real taste of what had been Christmas dinner.

I watched Cosmos because Charlie watched it. But Carl Sagan was a paradox to me. At times he insisted we were accidental flotsam and jetsam, relics of the cosmological accident; other times we were miraculous “star stuff,” the ultimate lucky break of the universe.

https://dailypost.wordpress.com/dp_prompt/slash-and-burn/

Spring? Why?

Bulb Garden

I’m experiencing my first spring in 30 years and, honestly, I think the season is over-rated. No snow to speak of (I love snow). The golf course has golfers on it (the NERVE!) It’s not safe to open the sprinklers (which I can’t find and want to find before I set down the raised beds) and it’s not safe to plant anything and we badly need rain and what’s the point of this noncommittal silliness? Spring is for patient people who are in love with possibility or who have bulb plants and flowering trees.  I’m all about realization and I didn’t get here in time to plan spring bulb plants.

Wondering if I were all alone in this odium de printemps, I googled “I hate spring,” and I read an article just now (“Confession: I Hate Spring in Philadelphia.  For a season that’s barely pleasant, spring is plenty smug. What has it done for you lately?”) It hit my nail on the head, especially here:

“If you’re having a bad day in January, you haven’t necessarily failed — everyone is having all of the bad days in January. If you’re having a bad day in April? You’re in a party-of-one rut that’s not in line with the prescribed cheeriness of the season.”

Well, nature’s nature and it doesn’t avail much for me to hate this since I have to wait it out, but…I do.

Love Story: Ronald Reagan (?)

2397778141_18d4b1e823_o

Daily Prompt Polite Company “It’s never a good idea to discuss religion or politics with people you don’t really know.” Agree or disagree?

Since my opinion MEANS SO MUCH here, I’d say it’s never good to discuss religion or politics PERIOD. Why? No one really cares what you think, and no one opens this subject without the goal of persuading the other person. Right now I’m sure no one reading this wants to know what I think, even about this consuming captivating topic.

So…here’s a bit more from the Love Story. It seems people enjoyed reading the little excerpts I’ve put up. Below is a chapter toward the middle of the story. This is the protagonist writing in her voice about herself. What is all this? Well, once upon a time, a long time ago, I wrote a love story. At the end of the real life version of the love story, I began to wonder what else there was to life, what other challenges, what larger loves, that might end in something worth taking away. Still, I wrote the love story — as a novel about becoming a writer. If you like it, let me know and every time there’s a crappy daily prompt I’ll post more. The protagonista has several names and various plot lines. It’s an exploration of how a story can be an exploration of alternative futures. If you want to read the other two bits I’ve posted, I think you can use the search feature for Love Story.

Longer Days

Inauguration Day with a small crowd of people held together by a temporary allegiance to an idealistic intellectual with no political future. The best we could hope would be that the buttons with his name on them would become valuable collector’s items. I had severed ties soon after election night, not wanting to whip a dead horse, but for others the month of close association could not be dropped immediately. They preferred to let things diminish rather than merely stop.

At six o’clock I opened my front door to a three-piece suit carrying a color TV. At six fifteen, a young, eager earnest couple came with a cooler of beer and sodas. Six seventeen brought a forty-five year old real estate broker and her twelve-year-old son. A single nurse, around twenty-seven, showed up later, parking her new Japanese car in front of my window so she could “keep an eye on it.” Following the nurse came a flash and aggressive thirtyish freelance advertising man. They all came. At six forty-five someone ordered pizzas, one cheese only, one pepperoni, one vegetarian. At six fifty Wes appeared at the door with two dozen yellow lilies. At six fifty-two Anne appeared with her latest boyfriend who looked a little worse for booze and cigarettes. At seven Steve showed up with a single rose and a bottle of champagne. We were all there and the three-piece suit had actually succeeded in summoning PBS and Bedtime for Bonzo to my little corner of Capitol Hill. Let the party begin!

It was some night. Most of the group stretched out on the cold, hard, unrelenting, unforgiving wood floor watching a movie that even in its best days had to have been incomprehensibly stupid. I stood in the kitchen with Ann, Wes and Steve and drank. We drank the champagne. We moved onto a bottle of white wine I found in the back of my refrigerator, something German and sweet. When that was finished, I was drunk enough to discover myself lecturing on Walt Whitman. Steve was drunk enough to look amazed and say, over and over, “I don’t see what you mean!” and “You’re quoting out of context!”

I was trying to make everyone see that nothing mattered except art, and the art that was most important was, of course, writing. I was reading “Scented Herbage of My Breast,” a part in which I had found particular consolation after reading the impersonal and distant postcard Charlie had sent from Canada. “Arrived fine. Climb up Grand Teton was fun. Slept on a picnic table. Hope all is well with you. Thanks for putting me up in Devoid. Yours, Charlie.”

“Give me yourself—for I see that you belong to me now above all and are folded inseparably together—for you love and death are.
That you, beyond them, come forth to remain, the real reality,
That behind the mask of materials you patiently wait, no matter how long
That you will, one day, perhaps take control of all,
That you will perhaps dissipate this entire shadow show of appearances
That maybe you are what it is all for — but it does not last very long.
But you will last very long.” (Walt Whitman)

“I don’t see it,” said Anne. “I don’t get who’s the ‘you’ and what’s the ‘it.’ What’s the ‘it’?”

“He’s writing the poem to his own poetry, that is the ‘scented herbage of his breast’ part of the leaves of grass, part of his effort, the leaves that will outlast him, see? His poetry is the ‘you.’ ‘It’ is his poetry.’ He thinks that love, time, life, broken hearts, war, everything is for art, is for his poetry, See? Isn’t that great?”

I was wrong about Whitman, though. He wasn’t writing about writing. He was writing about death, still, I argued convincingly for a drunk.

“Wow,” said Wes, flaming from champagne and Whitman and me.

“There’s more there’s more, oh, where is it?” I madly turned pages in the old book of Whitman’s poems. “Here, here, this; this is really tough, listen!”

Whoever you are, holding me now in hand
Without one thing, all will be useless,
I give you fair warning, before you attempt me further,
I am not what you supposed, but far different.

“This is it! Without everything, he wants nothing. You see?” I was excited, but drunk, and drunkenly I decided to sit down and as I dropped myself onto my kitchen floor, I banged my head hard against the cabinet under the sink. It made a terrible, loud noise and everyone looked frightened. I said it didn’t matter, only listen, and I read the whole thing ending with “Isn’t it incredible?”

“Whitman was just an old fairy,” said Steve.

“So what? What does that have to do with his poetry?” cried Anne, defending me and American literature.

“You have to remember it when you read his poetry. Everything had two meanings. Maybe this is all some faggot love poetry to some boy we don’t know about, and we think it’s profound. You know? Have you considered that?”

“Fuck that. I had enough of that shit in school. I don’t think it matters very much. Who cares? What we have are the words Whitman wrote. We don’t have the boy, if there was one. All I care about is what the poem can do, say, to me right now at this moment, this time, this night or when I’m sitting in there, in the fucking bathtub with a broken heart.” Wine.

“Why in the bathtub?” asked Wes.

“I don’t know. I just like to sit in hot water when I have a broken heart. Whitman at least had broken hearts and, my god, it’s true. You write your words, your pain, and it isn’t there any more.”

“Well, I think there’s more to art than mere catharsis,” replied Steve.

“It was reason enough for Aristotle.”

“Jackie Kennedy’s husband?” asked Anne’s boyfriend.

Steve doubled over in laughter. “Now THAT’S funny.”

Anne’s boyfriend didn’t know what was funny, but he was glad to be funny, so he laughed, too.

“I think it’s enough. If I do a painting and someone likes it and hangs it up, I figure they understood it even if they don’t know exactly what I had in mind when I painted it,” said Wes. But, Wes was very, very loyal.

“I don’t know,” said Steve. “I love literature as much as the next guy, but I don’t think you can find any answers there.”

“Why not?”

“It’s just a bunch of words.”

“So where do you look for answers?”

“I don’t. I just live my life. That’s it. I don’t look forward. I don’t look back. I don’t look around.”

The mood was gone, but we were still drunk. I left the kitchen and went into the living room to see how the new president was managing with his chimpanzee offspring. He seemed to be doing rather well considering that the plot called for a lot of gratuitous hysteria. “Perhaps,” I thought, “his term in office will be like this.”

“How’s the party?” I asked.

“Why aren’t you watching with us?” asked the three-piece suit.

“Yeah, we’d like to hear all your snide remarks,” said the advertising man.

“I don’t have any snide remarks tonight, sorry. What could anyone say to equal this?” I pointed at the screen where the chimp was jumping up and down while Ronald Regan laughed. “It would be like saying mountains are high to say this movie is stupid.”

“Stupid?”

“Uh, yeah.”

“Can you believe this guy is our president?”

“Yeah.”

“You can?”

“Sure. Why not? He’s better than old peanut butter,” said the three-piece suit.

The liberal element was ignited by the remark about Carter and the factions began to form on the floor. This would serve to split this idiotic group asunder.

“Well, anyway, at least Reagan has been a governor.”

“Of California! Do you know what this means for environmental issues?”

“Don’t give me all your rhetoric. I wrote a lot of it, remember?” I said to the earnest young man, smiling. I’d been the speech writer for Anderson’s campaign in Colorado.

“Yeah, you’re right. You know, we’re all upset. We need some kind of release.”

“I think we thought this movie would be funny,” said the nurse, “but it’s just depressing.”

“Catharsis, Steve. These guys out here are demanding catharsis.” I turned to Steve who’d followed me to the living room. He shrugged and walked into the bedroom.

I stayed with the larger group for nearly an hour, kind of enjoying the jumping, shrieking, prancing occasioned by a chimpanzee in a twin bed being raised by marginally less simian creatures in an American suburb. I leaned against Wes’ leg and we both watched and drank beer. Anne and her boyfriend left to go to another party at the Libertarian Headquarters. After a while, I noticed that I hadn’t seen Steve in a while. I got up and went looking for him. I found him sitting on top of the radiator in my bedroom, the window open behind him, January swirling around his head.

https://dailypost.wordpress.com/dp_prompt/polite-company/

Rainbow

twin

Daily Prompt Roy G. Biv Write about anything you’d like, but make sure that all seven colors of the rainbow — red, orange, yellow, green, blue, indigo, violet — make an appearance in the post, either through word or image.

It’s a summer night in 1957 and I lie on the back seat of the 55 Ford with my three year old brother. Together we about fill it with our sleeping bodies. The car has stopped. I wake up. “Where are we, mom?”

“Wheatland, honey.”

My Uncle Hank says, “I’ll go see if he’ll open up and sell me gas. The store lights are on. He can’t have been closed long.” The green neon Sinclair dinosaur in the window lights the parking stalls in front of the station. Pink and white neon lines the roof-line.

Once the car has stopped I sit up look out the window at the Wyoming night. Beyond the gas station, the city park, soft, summer darkness, out across the plains forever.

Suddenly there is a burst of girls in long frothy dresses, running and laughing. They run past us, their dresses lit momentarily by the neon of the gas station lights.

“Rainbow girls,” says my mom, thoughtfully. “The Lodge must be nearby.”

“What are rainbow girls?” I ask.

“It’s a club for teenage girls, honey. Your Aunt Dickie was a member.”

“They’re wearing long dresses!” I am five and in love with long dresses.

tumblr_mvyeu1S9Lu1rr50bxo1_400

“Formals. They wear formals at their meetings.”

Uncle Hank comes back with the service station owner who unlocks the pumps and fills the tank. We’ll make it to Billings. My grandfather has died and my dad flew up that morning to be with his mother. I’m sure my uncle explained all this to the man.

Life prophesies itself.

1965, Bellevue, Nebraska. My dad has become a Mason and I am about to become a Rainbow Girl. My mom and I go to a Rainbow Installation of new officers. Installations are open to the public. I like the ceremony. I’m surrounded by girls in long dresses. I haven’t forgotten the night in Wheatland.

“An international Masonic organization for girls of teen age,” says the booklet I take home with me that gives me information about the group.

The Installation is beautiful. Each color of the rainbow represents a quality of life and of the spirit. Red, orange, yellow, green, blue, indigo and violet are the names of the first seven offices and then there are three more that are white — the color made by all the colors together in the light spectrum.  Red = love, orange = religion, yellow = nature, green = immortality, blue = fidelity, indigo = patriotism, violet = service. The white ones? Faith, Hope and Charity.

I hold two offices before I move away. I am yellow, nature, and violet, service. Oddly enough, the qualities represented by those two colors will describe my life as it turns out to be. My frothy dresses? I only have two. I sew one of them during my Gone With the Wind phase. It is white dotted Swiss with a big skirt and a sash. My mom makes the other, white lace fused on pale green backing. Very early 60s.

I loved it. I loved the pageantry and the colors and the ritual — and I learned something about music. The processional march we used was the March from Aida. Years and years later, at the Arena in Verona, I saw Aida and when the march began I was, for a moment, a girl in Bellevue, Nebraska watching the officers enter the room in their long dresses while a record played.

https://dailypost.wordpress.com/dp_prompt/roy-g-biv/

Dogs…

Yesterday, Susannah, whose blog I follow, posted about her family’s dog, Gannon, a big, handsome Malamute whom they had had to put to sleep. Of course, since just a month ago I had to do the same with my dog, Lily, my heart went out to Susannah and her family. But it would have anyway.

Bella

Bella

Two days ago, I found a great dog at the local shelter — a white Siberian husky/German shepherd mix, a two year-old female named Bella. Wow, I thought, that’s my kind of dog and she’s RIGHT HERE and the adoption fee is so low and I’ll have so much fun with her! Yay! But I’ve learned not to make serious decisions on impulse, so though I contacted the shelter, and a couple of friends about the beautiful dog, I did not rush down and adopt her. I slept on it.

When morning came I realized that the person I WAS fifteen years ago wanted that dog. That person ran trails every single day and the greatest companion possible was a free active young herding/snow dog. I saw so clearly that the person I am now could not give that dog the home she should have and that I would want to give her. I contacted the shelter right away and told them. Later on that day I went to the vet to pick up pain meds for Mindy, my sweet, arthritic elderly Aussie. I noticed how I walked and was pleased that it wasn’t lopsided or painful. And then I noticed that I pay attention to that.

I thought about Bella off and on all day. I knew I’d made the right decision for the right reasons though part of me thought, “But the dog needs a home and you understand dogs like her!” Understanding her wouldn’t be enough. I would have to be able to act on that understanding in exactly the same way I act on understanding that Mindy has pain from her arthritis, can’t walk too far and needs medication.

I decided not to look at snow dogs any more because it just makes me feel sad that I can’t be a snow dog person now because of physical limitations. It seems that getting older means saying good-bye to lots of things that I couldn’t have imagined. I decided that what I have to do is just close the door on what I cannot do and open the door to what I can. But…Dusty is lonely. All his life he’s had at least two dog-girlfriends. He’s stopped looking for Lily which is a good sign. Still, he needs a pal. Mindy is just not the kind of dog that cares about playing with another dog. Dusty’s very active and lively and Mindy just isn’t.

Today I went online to look at Australian shepherds that need rescue. I found two beautiful Aussies who could live in my life. One is five years old and suffered some injuries that caused her to have arthritis in her back legs. She’s on pain meds and needs a house with no stairs. She’s beautiful and smart, she looks a lot like Mindy — a black, white and brown tricolor. Her name is Sophie — which means wisdom. I thought about that, too. I am being…wise.

I have filled out the adoption application and now we’ll see! I hope I get to have her!

Sophie

Sophie

Mindy

Mindy

Love Story: Opening

MARQUEES_DIRECT_GLITTERBALL_PINSPOTS

Daily Prompt Four Stars Write a review of your life — or the life of someone close to you — as if it were a movie or a book.

Sorry, WP, mine is a five-star life and I’m not writing a review. It seems people enjoyed reading the little excerpt I put up yesterday. Below is the opening of the story. What is it? Well, once upon a time, a long time ago, I wrote a love story. At the end of the real life version of the love story, I began to wonder what else there was to life, what other challenges, what larger loves, that might end in something worth taking away. Still, I wrote the love story — as a novel about becoming a writer. If you like it, let me know and every time there’s a crappy daily prompt I’ll post more. The protagonista has several names and various plot lines. It’s an exploration of how a story can be an exploration of alternative futures.

“El tiempo se bifurca perpetuamente hacia innumerables futuros.” Jorge Luis Borges

I sit at the desk which was my father’s. Elisabetta, my wife, has just handed me a steaming mug of Caffe Latte. Snow falls in big dry flakes outside my window. Never was there a man more comfortable than I am, more secure, happier. Phillip’s letter sits open on my desk. “Cold and miserable here in Chicago. If nothing else, at least snow is better where you are. Have you been skiing?”

Everything speaks to me of my obligation to write Phillip’s story. I crank a long sheet of yellow legal paper through the carriage of my typewriter, the archaic tool I’ve chosen for this story. With more than a little reluctance, I begin my new career, the distillation of the inexplicable.

Hemingway — about whom I wrote my dissertation — is famous for having called a blank white sheet of paper the “white bull.” I don’t see my paper in that light. I prefer to regard it as the void, as the empty space from which the future is fulfilled. Every minute, every second of life, resembles that empty sheet. It’s a convincing metaphor for reality. It may be the only place where I can do justice to my two friends. It’s true that Kate’s death made Phillips choices easier. Still, I believe Phillip would return to the difficulty if he could. I sip some coffee and begin.

***

Sorting through the clutter of events that made up their relationship, it’s difficult to know what makes the “story.” Maybe logic will have to be imposed — but that could be why people write. Imposed logic isn’t any less real.

Maybe there isn’t anything to do with Phillip and Kate but to turn them into fiction, create a form for their accidental love. A plant growing in a house can suffocate if it isn’t dusted. There are no breezes to keep the leaves clean. Fiction is not a forest; it is a house plant.

For all of us it was a time of unknowns. We stood on the brink of our futures, all of us. Whatever syndicated sophist said, “The only certainty is uncertainty” had lived through a time like that. The certain of Kate’s marriage dissolved only because she wanted it to. The fact that something as solid as a marriage could be destroyed because of her will surprised her. From the been a terrible marriage. Divorce was just a matter of extrication. Phillip unwittingly gave her an ultimatum. One night, listening to Phillip’s analysis of an obscure poem by Yeats, Kate realized that if she were really free of the man she was married to, a silent, moody, brutal boy who took after his own father in his way of treating women, she could spend her evenings with men like Phillip. The next day she drove to Laramie and gave her husband the papers she had had prepared months earlier.

Charisma. There is no charm like that of a person who is, at best, ambivalent. Sitting in crowded rooms, even class, I felt a power emanate from them, from the connection that separated them from the rest of us. If I were Scott Fitzgerald (who had the guts I don’t, to stay drunk all the time) I would tenderly, with antiseptic passion, analyze their relationship, from even to event, the events rather minor, actually; the dialogues meaningful and intense. “I wrote a poem about this frenzy, Phillip. Don’t ever think I like it. I feel eaten up by it, by my own intensity,” she said one winter afternoon, sitting on the couch in his small apartment.

“I have read that poem in you,” Phillip answered, smiling. “You put your arms straight out behind you and look as if any moment you could fly away.”

“But I can’t fly!” she said, almost in tears.

“You try, though. There’s something very gallant in the way you sometimes try.”

A true gambler plays his hunches and doesn’t worry too much about losing. “Well, at least I didn’t sell out. I gave it my all.” If he loses, he can still walk away proud of his Quixoticism. That was Kate’s attitude toward Phillip; it was much more important to play than it was to win.

To Phillip, most people were nothing more than mannequins in store windows; only Kate was real.

There is music I cannot hear without seeing them. At the symphony, El Amor Brujo, Kate sat far forward in her seat, rapt, tense. “Beautiful, beautiful,” said Phillip leaving at the end of the concert. “The mixture of the occidental and the oriental,” not realizing he was speaking ot an old woman in a mink coat, and Kate was still in her seat, watching the musicians leave the stage.

Kate described his hands with their long, slender fingers. The hands and fingers didn’t fit with the rest of him. There was something vulnerable, fragile, sensitive about them; something shy. He sat there, wearing a tight, blue T-shirt which outlined his muscles. (“I go to the spa for me,” he told her once, defensively, as if she cared, which she didn’t. “It’s the only thing I do for ME.”) She said his hands posed a contradiction, made him a liar.

I am no Fitzgerald. I have been left with this love story and I have no language for transmitting it. They were islands that imitated the “should be” rather than the “is” in each other. Hot afternoons, Kate AWOL from work, stretched out, oiled, in the sun, smelling like a pina colada. They talked about life and literature, both believing that one enhanced the other; what was there to interpret but life, after all? And yet, the blue-nosed types in our field lived so far away from the life Kate and Phillip lived that they didn’t know that this was true. At department parties, Kate and Phillip drank the best, and held it like gentlemen (occasionally, a little more drunk than she appeared, Kate would pay with Phillip under the tables). They brought names into the conversation, authors from the fringes of “literature,” books the professors stored in their basements, if they kept them at all. “There will never be another XXX,” the professors insisted, harping on their personal hobby-horse, unaware that a real story, a great plot, a piece of living literature, was unfolding in front of them, arguing with them.

“Life is flux,” Kate responded. “One thing springs from another. To embrace a new age doesn’t mean you have to discard the past. It means you are making love to its children.” It was heresy, but appealing to me. Naturally, there was talk about kicking Kate out of the department long before that actually happened. Kate and Phillip saw things through different eyes; they went to classes, speeches, presentations with the rest of us, but at office meetings they hesitated. Talented they were, yes, but fearful they wouldn’t come through, knowing at heart they were not dependable in the usual sense. They worried about what we thought, yet knew that it really didn’t matter. Life had the power of final evaluation and it is my duty now to rescue them from obscurity.

They left every party before it was over. Behind them remained a cavity, a place where a light had gone out. Usually they went dancing, sometimes taking me with them. They attempted, with their bodies, the physical transformation of the world. Under the blast of cold air, the spinning mirrored disco ball — yes, disco — next to a blonde boy in a white suit with a magenta tie, they danced, dervishes restrained too long from prayer. Secrets told and forgiven, not forgotten. More than anything else, their secrets had the power to destroy them.

Kate danced with her shirt off, stuffed into the back of her jeans. “Put it on,” said a voice in her ear, the voice of a large man hired to prevent or end disturbances in the disco. He didn’t see that her shirt had been taken by someone in the crowd. When she reached behind to comply, she found her shirt gone. Phillip draped his own sweaty flannel shirt over her shoulders. As they walked out, a stranger’s hand reached behind Kate and straightened her collar. “You are so beautiful,” he said. “I have never seen anyone like you. Who ARE you?”

Phillip hit the boy in the face. “She’s mine,” he said, simply, as if anything else were preposterous.

Seven years ago, Phillip wrote, “It’s hard to be a writer in America in 1979. One thing cancels the next. Lines wander. Knowledge, once won, cannot be evaded. It’s impossible to ignore — or pretend — that things which ought to exclude each other don’t.”

Kate seldom spoke to anyone at school. She didn’t care about making friends. Her life was a mess and she knew it. She spent her time with an undergraduate who had been her student, a beautiful rich girl from the East Coast whom Phillip hated. The day she met Phillip was the second meeting of our class. He walked in with his friend, Carla. Kate told me that from the first moment, she thought he would be trouble. She avoided him for most of the quarter, but in the midst of a Yeats seminar, they finally connected. “I have had passionate affairs with both men and women,” Phillip proclaimed as he walked her to her car.

“So? she answered.

https://dailypost.wordpress.com/dp_prompt/four-stars/