I saw a sign pasted against an electrical box on the sidewalk of my local village. It said, “Habits are Not Needs”. We seem unconscious to this reality.
Consumption. Greed. Want. Waste. We’re coming to that time of year again, where “wants” become “needs” that all seem “important”. But they are usually not. It’s time we wake up are realize we are filled with abundance. Even when things are rough – we have it all going on inside. But sometimes we fall into the pit of internet chatter, social media sink holes and the belief that we are happy because someone we like on Twitter re-tweeted us.
Let’s wake up a bit.
I’m thankful I’m a writer. I’m grateful for the people I’ve touched through my essays and blog posts. I’m also grateful for the friends I’ve made by writing those words.
Thanks to you all on WordPress! Thank you for following me through this strange and wondrous journey. I hope you enjoy reading my blogs as much as I enjoy reading yours.
Happy Thanksgiving to my USA followers. And to all around the world- may the start of the holiday season be joyful.
NaNoWriMo on the brain. Still can’t write. Searching for clues. I’m the one who tells people to just write, not judge it. Just pour it out and the ball of clay can be whittled down to a story.
But I’m not feeling it. I don’t want that ball of clay to be a mishmash of dried dirt and useless material I can’t carve into the story I want to tell.
The fact it’s a biography about the search for my piano teacher makes it even more difficult.
Fiction is freer, more powerful for the writer. You create a story that never existed. You are in control of where your imagination takes you. There’s hardly any limits.
In biography, you’re dealing with reality, with history and with a human being who left behind a loving family whose memories are very clear. You don’t want to disturb the balance or create a fictional situation unless it’s part of the creative license you acquire that allows you to deepen meaning and human themes. With fictional flourishes, in the end, you have to show readers that this is just a passage of fancy, and how it connects to the real story.
So, as I sit here and thing of how to start my writing up again (after three days of being writing-less), I try to fill up the tank with art and music.
As I continue to sit and think and fill the well, I listen to the great Allen Toussaint – a true artist who passed away this week. Maybe a little ‘Tipitina and Me’ will get me going.
To any NaNoWriMo writers who come across this blog post – don’t try these at home. Write, write away. Don’t let social media and digital distractions slow you down. I’m already stuck in the rabbit hole and can’t get out. Run! Write! Save yourselves!
Here are the five things I’ve done this morning that have distracted me from writing 1600+ words for NaNoWriMo (note that as of this writing, I’m at 26,303 words, and some of that are lyrics to songs and research material I’ve posted as references I plan on removing during editing.)
1) A YouTube video of dogs playing in a pool at The Lucky Puppy doggy day care in Maybee, Michigan. It’s deemed the “Happiest Place on Earth” and I really needed to see that now since all my dreams of writing something amazing to get me out of my nine to six office day job rut has screeched to a stand still.
2) Twitter, where I’ve been in discussion with another writer about those scammy, cheap online dress shops that show up in AdSense side bars in Facebook that are from overseas and are a rip off.
3) Instagram, where a friend of mine has run into two identical Maltese dogs who wear little tiny bowling shoes on their feet. These dogs happen to belong to my neighbor, and for some reason – seeing dogs look like little dapper bowlers pisses me off.
4) Facebook, where I keep checking up to see if something really interesting has happened in the last five minutes since I last checked it. (Nope. Nothing interesting and I’m still in an argument with a family member which I thought ended last night).
5) Reading some fascinating material sent by the family of the subject whose bio I am writing for NaNoWriMo. Heart wrenching. Beautiful. The ideas are coming along.
But the kicker is…National Novel Writing Month really makes me want to write so many words in a day that the daily word count makes me sit still and not know where to begin.
I’m wondering if writing a novel in one month is a challenge that squashed my desire to write. Thinking I must write to catch up on lost days feels so daunting.
Don’t get me wrong, I love the challenge, but it’s difficult to the point where I’m a little lost in the process.
Is anyone else feeling intimated by the daily word count? Does it stop you from writing?
I’m participating in NaNoWriMo – National Novel Writing Month. I was doing well. I really was. The first two days of the month were write-less due to travel, but as the days carried on, I was able to start a novel and catch up – writing an average of 1660 words a day, on my way to the 50,000 words that maketh a novel.
Yet, here’s the deal: I’m stuck. I’m writing the same thing over again just to have a word count. I’m jotting ideas down, but there aren’t enough ideas to build upon. I’ve missed two days of writing, and I’m once again behind track.
It’s not that I’m not writing – it’s that I’m writing so much that it’s becoming a mishmash of the same idea written in different ways.
This is in spite of an already prepared outline.
However, I’m trying not to judge the actual writing. I am pouring out more thoughts and ideas, putting up the big blob of clay – the mishmash of paragraphs and visuals that come pouring from my imagination. It doesn’t have to make sense right now. Re-writes and editing is what chisels down the story into the form we view with the human eye and transforms words into visuals of story. I’m just frustrated with the days that are unproductive.
Undertaking this challenge reminds me a bit of my old Track and Cross Country days in high school. I was determined to tackle the sport of running. Something about it terrified me – standing at the starting blocks, hearing the gun, running my slow ass off – that made me want to do it. I also loved how running made me feel. The freedom. The effects of good fitness. The fact I did not have a runners body or form did not deter me.
I came in last on all the events I participated in. Yet, in the end, I finished them. All of them. There was one time in a Cross Country race when my body grew weak from over training and lack of food. (I was a silly teenager who thought a bottle of water was lunch). I walked it in – in tears. I wasn’t just physically tired, I was emotionally tired of being so determined and dedicated to a sport where I busted my body everyday yet came in last every race while my team mates, who had finished earlier and already had their pants on, cheered for me. Call it pity, but it was really annoying to keep losing when I worked so hard (but not intelligently).
Despite the challenge of writing a book in a month – just finishing is the goal. If it’s not on November 30th, but rather on December 10th – then so be it. At least it’s done. At least the mound of clay is there to be formed into a story.
So what if you’re team mates have walked through the finish line, pulled on their track pants and gone home. This is your personal challenge.
We’re all individuals just trying to add something good in this world.
France is my father’s homeland. He was born in Strasbourg, and lived in Paris at one point as a child, running away from Nazis hellbent on destroying Europe.
My father left Europe as a teenager and became an American citizen; however, France was never far from memory.
I share the same uncommon surname as distant relatives who still live in Paris. We are part of a different branch of our sprawling family tree. We don’t know each other, but I send hope for peace and safety.
Prayers of strength to the people of dear, beautiful Paris – home of my ancestors. Home of many who are in pain. You are strong.
Last weekend, I attended an off-Broadway show called ‘Daddy Long Legs’. It’s a little charmer, now running at the Davenport – a small intimate theater with a big heart on the edge of the Great White Way.
The show is about an orphaned girl – now a young woman on the verge of adulthood – and the young wealthy man who anonymously pays for her education. Through letter writing, they fall in love. Megan McGinnis (who plays Jerusha) and Will Reynolds (who played Jervis the day I was there) are so wonderful in bringing on the heart ache.
It’s a divine little play, and I highly recommend it! But there was something that really intrigued me – so much so, I was compelled to do something…odd.
The crew of ‘Daddy Long Legs’ has a little marketing plan that was equally has sweet, and indeed – charming.
Within the show program, there was a postcard promoting the show with a little note encouraging audience members to write to a loved one to tell them how much they loved it. They would pay for postage. The little mailbox was in the lobby for posting.
I didn’t know of any addresses off hand – despite my dying iPhone containing a bunch of contact info barely accessible since my battery kept going flat twice a day.
So, I thought of the one address that is forever ingrained in my head. The one address I used since the day I was born until the year I graduated college and my family moved somewhere else.
My childhood home.
It’s always been something I’ve wanted to do – to write to the inhabitants of the house where I grew up to say hello and to mention how it’s always been in my dreams.
The house was small, not entirely well kept, and could have been loved more than it was. There were so many things going on with my parents and there were times it wasn’t a very bright and wondrous place. Family issues, arguments, dark times and bleak corners.
But I loved the home. I loved the village that remains the center of town. No matter what – I always felt safe and loved in that house. I’ve longed for that feeling since. I’ve moved and moved and transferred across country — yet never found that same sense of home.
Our next door neighbors – the ones who lived there when my family was in the house – still reside there. I continue to be friends with their eldest son – one of my best friends during our young days. Apparently the family who moved in after us are still there – having moved in when we moved out — 1986.
Which means – they have lived in my childhood home longer than we did. Yet, my memories and dreams still linger within it’s old walls. Walls that have now been expanded and updated as far as I can see via Google.
So, hopefully that strange little postcard I sent from this small little theater just off-Broadway was a little bright spot in their day. I simply wrote, “I don’t know why I’m doing this, but I used to live in your house and still love it today. Hope it still contains a little of that love.”
Strange! Theater inspires us in ways we least expect. Writing that anonymous postcard was congruent to Jarvis and Jerusha’s correspondence. Both were acts based on universal love.
If you’re in New York and want to see ‘Hamilton’. Forget it. That show is sold out forever. There are other wonderful opportunities to see great intimate and emotionally moving theater – like ‘Daddy Long Legs’ at the Davenport Theater.
Please check it out. It just might inspire you to do something amazing.
A few weeks ago, my uncle Charles – brother of my dad – called to say he was making the entire month of October his birthday celebration month. October 29th, 2015 would be his 83rd birthday. So, he spent the entire month traveling around New England and parts of Canada, finally landing in Brooklyn where he stayed with his friend Eleanor Kupencow in her glorious DUMBO apartment, and then off to spend another four or five days in Greenwich Village in another friend’s apartment (while they were off in Majorca building their dream home) where he and my aunt Cathryn would stay and apartment/dog sit.
I can’t remember if I invited myself or if they invited me. But there was a sofa with my name on it, and I grabbed the chance to get to NYC without having to pay for a hotel.
It turned out, the weekend of October 30th through November 1st was a perfect storm of New York City happenings. It was my uncle’s birthday. It was Halloween. It was the NYC Marathon. It was the end of Daylight Savings time. And then…my NY Mets were in the World Series and they were hosting the Royals at home.
Add the fact I have to see every off Broadway show I can in three days, and I had myself a jammed pack weekend of World Series proportions.
I can pontificate through literary prose how my weekend went, but I will list everything discovered and done:
Fell in LOVE with Maison Kayser on Bleecker and Christopher Street. It’s the Bakery from the fluffiest, wondrous part of heaven where the Brahma of baked goods smiles upon you. Croissants that are dense and gooey. Chocolate tarts are stacked with incredible chocolate surprises and a regular menu where you can eat breakfast lunch and dinner. We were only there for dessert, so please – go there – eat a meal and tell me what you had. I won’t be back until December.
Went to Morgan Library and viewed the Hemingway and Matisse exhibition.
Ceiling at Morgan Library, Matisse and Hemingway exhibits. NYC.
Went to matinee of an adorable musical off-broadway at the small but big hearted Davenport Theater. “Daddy Long Legs”. So sweet, heartbreaking and the music is lovely and also available on iTunes.
Went to Greenwich Village Halloween Parade. Couldn’t see much, but what I saw was really cool. Crazy giant skeletons and a big old white spider hanging from the Six Avenue church. Wanted to see drag and basic lunacy, but really only saw suburban people dressed up like Heath Ledger’s joker.
West 11th Street Halloween Association.
Went to Below 54 where I saw a Halloween Sondheim cabaret featuring the music of “Sweeney Todd” and “Into the Woods”. Lush. Spectacular. Food was yum, and they had this incredible Halloween drink that was tangy and had enough zoomph to make me forget the bitchy couple who sat next to me and gave me the stink eye because I had to share the high top bar with them. “Swing your razor high, Sweeney…” Oh, boo to you two.
Stopped by Circle in the Square on my way to 1 Train on 50th to bask in the happiness of the “Fun Home” marquis. Hello Bruce! Hello Alison! They keep welcoming me to their house on Maple Avenue and I can’t resist. They put the “Fun” in Dys-“fun”-ctional. See you again on my birthday in December.
Early Sunday. Can’t live without my spin class. 8:30am in the fucking morning, but wow it feels good to get it done early. Chelsea Flywheel on 17th. Took Zach’s class again! Had him over at Flatiron location in September. (Okay, that read like a girly diary entry.)
Tired of my iPhone5 battery dying every three hours, so I bit the bullet and bought a new iPhone6.
Matinee of my friend Diana’s show “Songbird: A Tennessee Story“. Great music! Story is based on Chekov’s “The Seagull”. The show is at 59E59 Theater
Walked through Marathon people covered in Marathon blankets before heading to the above.
King Kitty, the royal cat of Greenwich Village. Adorable, regal and somewhat creepy on the side table where I slept.
Went to Citifield for game 5 of the World Series. Finishing off a championship weekend with my boys in the big show. The friend who offered them to me hates me because I accepted and then backed out because I didn’t want to spent $400 to watch the Mets possibly lose. Changed my mind again and went to the game. Walked around marathon people on Madison Avenue to get to Grand Central. Yes, I went to the game. Yes, I spent the $400 bucks. Yes, we lost the game. But I went home content – sad – but content. The Mets had a great season.
I’ve walked through the closet door to Narnia. World Series. Mets Versus Royals. Game 5. The Royals won. My hat off to them. Worthy opponents. Mets 2016!
Early morning flight back to LAX, quivery at all the money I’m losing and trying to get the motivation and strength to start working for myself to earn self gratification in a job I love and is of my doing – plus make more money so I can finally move back to New York.
Throughout all of this, I saw my wonderful, crazy uncle and my aunt Cathryn. I spent time with my beautiful cousin Michele. And I am thoroughly exhausted. Plus, I spent lots of time falling in love with this lovely creature…
Sasha, the abominable dog. White as snow. Black button eyes. Heart of gold. Gentle pup.
Time to get ready for another trip. Oh New York. I miss you so. Can I flip the table of the Joni Mitchell song “California”? New York…I’m coming home. Will you take me as I am?
As a true New Yorker (shut up Time Out. I’m a New Yorker)…I say….you fuckin’ better!