Love Chart: Mapping the Ride!

In the spirit of Valentine’s day/ leap year/ the month of February . . . I wish to offer my public installation Love Chart: Mapping the Ride!

What is this? Over the course of seventeen days, I will post original songs as evidence of the peaks and valleys spanning Ideal Love to Heartbreak, the harrowing turns and fateful descents and ascents leading from Obsession to Hope and back again.

Please be my guest for a tumultuous ride through the stages and phases of Desire!

 
Love Chart

Baba yaga and the awkwardness of the present

“It is quite true what Philosophy says: that Life must be understood backwards. But that makes one forget the other saying: that it must be lived – forwards. The more one ponders this, the more it comes to mean that life in the temporal existence never becomes quite intelligible, precisely because at no moment can I find complete quiet to take the backward-looking position.” – The Diary of Soren Kierkegaard

“We delight in our sensuous involvement with the materials of language, we long to join words to the world – to close the gap between ourselves and things – and we suffer from doubt and anxiety because of our inability to do so.” Lyn Hejinian

It occurs to her in this space, in these particular white walls (only in the bedroom did a smell briefly hearken her back to her past; she did not pursue it), in this, present – (though it isn’t anything like that – i.e. static, rather like a conveyance it keeps moving) is a vastness, though a rather awkward gift it is since it is hard to put to any good use. She thinks it could be pleasant to play You Belong To Me by Patsy Cline on a phonograph but she has neither record nor device so there’s little point in that. How to describe it? A ribbon of butter churning in a fairy tale in which she keeps lifting her face up from the masher or grinder or pulverizer, her task to count the granules, to turn the quernstone, to harness the powderiness, to order the pebbles. Right now the best her story can offer is the company of the baba yaga hag; the trolls always hide their spoils behind the wood shed. Of course, in reality she is not lifting a finger, nor is she dropping crumbs to awaiting mice; it’s just that it’s something to fill the void with, the idea of the scraggly heroine in raggy shawls. And her benefactors and tormentors (like baba yaga one and the same), they are threads leading in all directions. If she only knew how the story unravels.

Flashdance: what a feeling!

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.

Flashdance-not-ballet-shoes

The Man Who Can Forget Anything, a response to a performance by the same name

Preface

I do not trust my mind to remember anything. Thus I incessantly scribble ideas down on whatever I have on hand. A passport. A handbill. A ticket stub even.

Lofty beginnings

They took a very small boy and put him on top of a high high ladder in the old Eagles Auditorium. That was my son. And he sung a song from up there. It was a very long time ago so I can’t remember exactly what song it was, although it was a song from the musical Suessical.

A brush with the divine

I was trying on a dress in the vintage shop Mike’s Old Clothes, in a version of Seattle no one remembers anymore. The dress had a peculiar sash which I found myself frankly at odds with. I emerged from the dressing room with the two ends akimbo. A man leapt out from the shadows and tied it with a flourish. I recognized him as the dancer Mark Morris. I was too timid to tell him it was I!-the girl-child he had dedicated his solo Jealousy to at Bagley Wright some 5 years earlier. I was aware of the irony of needing more time to pull myself together when it was my inchoate state he had found so refreshing in the first place.

Diminutive yet stong men

I saw Mikhail Baryshnikov not in Moscow but here, on this very stage, dancing to Ivor Cutler. From the front row where I gratefully sat, having procured a ticket from a stranger, he appeared quite small in stature though wonderfully expressive. His face above all was a superbly malleable instrument which crowned his divine proportions.

Waistcoat and angel wings

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Outside of Seattle’s new opera house, I shot Kepler and Charlie in a candid pose before a performance of the ballet A Midsummer’s Night Dream. The balancing act, with children, is not being too strident in passing on one’s own predilections or occupations. Thus, the pitter patter of my heart when my son choose the donning of a costume free of my suggestion.

Snowman

The dancers filing out of Cornish gathered around to watch my boy-child nimbly mold a snowman. The way their giggles rushed out of them, only to be squelched by the frosty air, reminded me that though young, they had little knowledge of, or time for, the pursuits of childhood.

Nothing but regrets dept.

I am remorseful that I failed to see the production of Three Sisters when it came recently despite reading glowing reviews. I am contrite.

More of the same

I would also like to express regret for failing to see Ezra’s site specific dance piece exploring mental health and mother – son relations. I sensed the value of his work with every pore and yet failed to get my sorry ass to the street where it unfolded. I am ashamed and unabashedly penitent.

In case anything should happen. . . . .

We ought to have the manuals for every obsolete technology we’ve ever used to articulate our ideas uploaded into a chip and inserted into our skull cavity, to be removed upon our demise.

Memory palace

One day my son came home and said that they had learned something extraordinary at school. They had been taught they could remember anything if they hid it away in a crevice born of imagination.

The Entr’acte

Silence. Foot steps. A scuffle. The world is created sound bite by bite, each stab or slap or stomp or shuffle or shove another layer of scaffolding, the culmination of which is the tinkling of a grand piano and a man in a hat saying enjoy the show.

Time passing

The train is pulling into the station. My son boards the train. From the viewing platform I see him moving about the dining car where as a minor he is required to exist. I am a voyeur, drinking in his autonomous form as it readies itself for the exhilaration of travel. I am also gazing into a time capsule, reliving my own rail adventures from my stationary post. “All aboard!” the lady cries deafeningly as time rattles on for us both.

My heart is like an expensive piano

Two words overlapping inscribe something new. Two distinct time frames interposed jolt the audience into accepting the murkiness of the time-space continuum. Sitting in Room #608 and watching the high jinxes of silent film unfold as the clatter of feet – at first faint – grows in volume until, at last! the characters from the film are made flesh and burst into the room with the audacity of time bandits!

Concluding comments by two Vladimirs

“Memory is repetition.” Those words were spoken by my character Vladimir in A Warehouse Dream. Beckett’s Vladimir said, “Habit is a great deadener.”

Disclaimer

I apologize for having seemingly used the space here to write about my life, instead of reporting on the show as expected. In some sense, the performance was a blank canvas which I utilized for my own memories, some of which had much to do with the show, while others had less.

Epilogue

My son and I traveled the long route up Denny (unhampered by snow). Our fellow bus passengers (including a man carrying a dustpan and a pickaxe with bike locks hanging from his pockets) enhanced our understanding of our fellow man while the revolving floor tested my sense of gravity. We arrived home safe, greeted by the smell of apples, with the work through the night before us.

Time travel, present tense; or, wake up!

Each morning it hung there, the gnawing sense that things had always been this way. A dull throb in brain and bowels. Stumbling about. Slurping hot tea to flush the body with fever; then, rustling up breakfast. A sandwich slap-dashed together and wrapped for travel. It was all quite unremarkably routine. She had to remind herself that it had once been different, that one day in the near or distant future it would switch again, that whenever she convinced herself that the arrangement of her life was static she risked missing the point, the unique kernel contained in the moment, which she was certain to apotheosize as time swept her immutably closer to oblivion.

Prospect St. Seattle, 1984

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 Prospect St.  Seattle, 1984.  Girl-child leaning on a pole marked Prospect.  Languid like the curve of the cornerstone. Eyes downturned, passions curbed for the time being.  Loneliness leaving pock-marks on the present and the future firmament.  Meeting glamour with hands in pockets.  At some point there will be a sense of deja vu; this thing that I am doing I surely attempted before.  Is it a boon that I cannot remember my failures?