Saturday, September 26, 2009

Some Answers Questioned

This was a freewrite I did a while ago, as-is... i.e. unedited. I re-read it recently and it still interests me. I was just asking questions and coming up with answers on the fly. Not knowing who the characters were beforehand made this a very fun exercise.

q: when were you born?
a: In 1967 I was already a 5 year old girl. My mother picked me up after school, she would wear a light blue scarf around her head, that is how I spotted her immediately. Back then the roads didn't yet have names and all you could do was count the trees before the next block.
q: did you like doing that?
a: a little. It wasn't a matter of liking it. Time made me more aware of my surroundings.
q: what do you mean?
a: I should say that I was incredibly precocious. Because of that, I felt like I only had a few more weeks to live. I felt old.
q: do you still feel old?
a: no
q: go on
a: I don't. I feel out of time. But back then, back then we would go to the green grocers after school. The man who sold us large stalks of celery was called Mr. Lobsterlove.
q: you remember his name?
a: oh yeah. I loved Mr. Lobsterlove. He had this train collection, model trains mind you. Some nights I would go over to his house, he lived just next door, and mother would sometimes tell me to deliver some money for previous purchases.
q: it was a credit system?
a: well yeah. We didn't always carry around the heavy coins. Anyway, I remember his door was unfinished wood, this was the second floor right above his business. I'd knock and he'd open and inside was a city made of traintracks. The trains would go in and out of the bookcases, through the vents, come back out the other side and into the bathroom. Mr. Lobsterlove always had classical music playing in the background. Usually Bach. Sometimes Mozart. At first he would talk to me, try to ask me questions. Then he would say "you're pretty smart for a little girl" and soon he would be lost in his music, moving his hands like that of a conductor, his eyes closed.
q: tell me about your mother
a: my mother was severe. She was nice too, but she had a very specific set of beliefs.
q: like what?
a: well... she kept to herself, a very quiet woman, but she wasn't shy. I don't know why she kept to herself. Somehow she always knew what was happening, she'd tell me who Mrs. Greenberg was having an affair with. I don't know how she knew this. Also, she liked to play mindgames with me, but for no particular reason.
q: mind games?
a: like, she'd say "I'm going out to get some milk" and then she wouldn't. She would act like she never said anything. I never figured that out.
q: what did you do after school?
a: We would have the window open all the time, and underneath our apartment was a cafe. I would sit in my bedroom and listen to all the conversations people had. Sometimes I would write them down, if they were interesting enough, but most times they weren't very interesting. People falling in love and out of love, that kind of stuff is so boring to me even then.
q: you're not interested in love?
a: I wouldn't say I'm not intersted in it. It's interesting, yes, it is. It's interesting the way organized religion is interesting, it's just a thing. You know? Like, it's interesting in an anthropologic way. It's interesting in that it helps you understand people. But it's not very useful.
q: useful?
a: hmm.. maybe that doesn't make sense. I guess it is useful, but it doesn't really go anywhere. Anyway, once you decide on it, that's that.
q: what else did you like to do?
a: I went up to the roof sometimes, after dinner. Mother wouldn't let me, but sometimes when she was on the phone
q: with whom?
a: my father. My father was overseas. I think I've seen him twice in my life. Not a very interesting man.
q: you mean you aren't interested IN him...
a: yeah, that too. No, that's not entirely true. I WAS interested, but I figured him out in the first half hour.
q: what did you figure out?
a: well, a lot of things. He was a hopeless romantic.
q: why was he overseas?
a: I'm getting to that. My father was a very skinny man. He was tender, I'll give him that. Not one to raise his voice ever. He was also completely loyal. He's from the small island of Tuvalo where they make fishing nets. His whole family did I mean. Anyway, I don't know why he ever left, but after he got married, his mother got really sick. He couldn't stand not being by her side.
q: what did you do up on the roof?
a: I cataloged.
q: Cataloged?
a: yes. I was making lists. It is easier to make a list comprehensive when you're up high. You can see more things. You FELT more comprehensive because of what you could see. All the buildings were the same height back then, or similiar heights, and you could see for miles, all the different roofs with vines growing and the stuff people stored up there, boxes, bicycles, bird cages.
q: what did you wish to accomplish with your lists?
a: I don't understand that question.
q: what was the purpose of those lists.
a: there is no purpose. To make a list is to make a statement. A statement with no purpose, other than that of existence.
q: what were they lists of?
a: everything inside my hometown. A list of all the widows. A list of shops that sold fishing line. A list of dates that were considered auspicious for marriages and childbirths. The locals were very superstitious.
q: were you?
a: never.
q: did you have a favorite number?
a: well, yes. But that's not a superstition.
q: what was your favorite number?
a: one.

Tuesday, September 8, 2009

The Story of Mary MacLane by Herself

The Story of Mary Maclane"Napoleon was a man, and though sensitive, his flesh was safely covered"

Yes, but who was Mary MacLane? Mary MacLane was a truly extraordinary nineteen-year old with a "fine young body that is feminine in every fiber" and a brain that is "a conglomeration of aggressive versatility". She is "a fantasy--absurdity--a genius!" with no parallel, "a genius, with a wondrous liver within". But she lives in Butte Montana in 1901, and stuck there, she writes this "Portrayal" of herself, in which she is very honest (though she is also "a liar") about her obsession with the devil, her desire for Fame and Happiness (always the Devil brings Happiness), her seventeen pictures of Napoleon that she stares at daily, her (then, and even now) unconventional views of marriage, her liver, her crush on the "anemone lady" and so on.

Mary MacLane circa 1911It may be tempting find her exaggerated way of phrasing things amusing and quirky, but they also communicate some incredible and unique insights. I do think she was a genius, in her own odd way, and I found myself agreeing to (and feeling deeply with) a lot of what she says. Her repetition bordered on poetic at times, and her mysterious use of certain phrases (her heart is always a "wooden heart" and her philosophy is always "peripatetic", she lives in perpetual "sand and barrenness" and always the "red red line of the sky" is a symbol of Happiness to come). Mostly, she writes about how lonely she is, stuck in Butte Montana, and how she would give anything for 3 days of Happiness. For some more history on Mary MacLane's life before and after this book, visit this website.

"But no matter how ferociously pitiable is the dried up graveyard, the sand and barrenness and the sluggish little stream have their own persistent individual damnation. The world is at least so constructed that its treasures may be damned each in a different manner and degree." p.16

Thursday, September 3, 2009

Should I Call Alex?

Saw this the other day at a coffeeshop:

I think Alex would make a pretty picture of Wendell.

I blurred out the phone number since I'm not sure Alex wants his phone number all over the internet. If you want to call Alex, e-mail me privately and I can get you in touch!