November 11, 2014 is significant for me. Today marks my acceptance into the NW institute of literary arts residency program (quite a mouthful!). My first round of courses will include the study of short prose forms such as flash fiction, prose poems, and brief literary non-fiction, just the kind of thing I’ve been tinkering with this autumn on my blog, Heart Improvement.
I’m quite bowled over by this turn of events. It has been a few months since I started pushing the publish button to see what would happen, to find out how presenting my writing might change me, and therefore transform the world.
When I casually mentioned my blog to a friend who runs a performance venue, she insisted that I come to the shows and blog about them. It was thrilling, like I was on assignment! The first time, I stayed up until 4 am writing my piece, even though I had to wake at 6 for work. I felt that a suspension bridge had unfurled before me, providing the opportunity to connect my imagination with something of merit and weight in space and time.
On the subject of time, I have had the boldness lately to watch movies previously unseen. Thelma and Louise, viewed 23 years after its release, moved me, and filled in pieces of my back story. Like why I purchased for my first car, a turquoise 1963 four door Ford Falcon, and posed behind the driver’s wheel with blue eyeshadow and curlers. And savored the desolation of late night excursions through backwater haunts and train graveyards.
Why did I wait so long to watch a film so seminal and thematic to my generation? I don’t know; though, perhaps like a bottle, waiting brought out the complexities in the wine, and in me, and in our secret, overlapping histories. Why does it take many of us so long to pursue our dreams?
Last night I watched Flashdance, the movie. I had never seen it, though it came out when I was in high school and I was one of the trailblazers who took scissors to the neckline of her sweatshirts in response to it. That movie lodged itself inside of me, sight unseen. I knew it was about a dancer, that she lived in a warehouse, that she worked as a welder. I also may have heard that there was some sex, though I would have turned 17 shortly after it came out in 1983, so I could have seen it despite its R rating.
It is like me to choose the route in the dark where you just have to feel your way. It’s not as if Flashdance is a flawless work of art, but in some ways it was the manual for folk like me, who quit formal ballet and worked as a cook at the OK Hotel, then as an industrial tile baker, living in a warehouse above train yards and fruit trucks and horse carriages with a midwestern photographer, both of us supplementing our day jobs with nude modeling.
And the guy in the movie, he’s really a dud, though he does have the pivotal line, “When you give up your dream, you die.” I guess that’s reason enough for him to exist.
The movie’s climax is the try-out at the stodgy ballet school, when Alex goes berserk and delivers the performance of a life-time, the new-wave music blaring and the old farts’ feet tapping. In spite of the long-shot of achieving her dream (and why she would give up her bad-ass, decadent life-style for the prim world of the academy is beyond me and beyond the scope of the movie), she is going for it with every fiber of her hard body. “Take your passion and make it happen!” It’s a message worth revisiting, or, if you’re like me, it’s not too late to take it to heart.