I usually write about reading and writing, but today I want to expand and talk about other stuff as well—all the sources that have been sustaining me through this horrible summer. Summer of accidents, death, sadness, and grief.
Reading. I am reading Jonathan Lethem’s Motherless Brooklyn. I don’t remember meeting a more wonderful narrator—orphan-boy detective Lionel with Tourette’s syndrome. His verbal and physical tics lift this detective story out of the ordinary. Lethem gives a master class in first person narration. I am less interested in the story than in the brill narration.
Writing. I finished my seventh story. My goal is still 10. I like this one, though I don’t know if any of them are any good. Sometimes ideas emerge from a deep well I didn’t know I had access too. Sometimes the process feels like automatic writing. . . “where is this coming from?” As Elizabeth Gilbert says in Big Magic, “The work wants to be made, and it wants to be made through you.” I am not even thinking as I write. The words just come out.
The latest, “Cones and Bottles” is about a woman Angela with a shitty childhood encountering a girl named Apeshit who is in the midst of her own shitty childhood. Angela confronts some of her demons around addiction and control. Ice cream cones and chocolate milk bottles figure in the story. Angela’s new neighbours invite her over for a barbecue.
At one point, as she carefully negotiated her sawdust hamburger, Angela ventured a question, “So is Ape short for April?”
“Ha, no, actually. That’s a good story,” answered Edie, licking mustard off her pudgy fingers. Angela noticed she had letters inexpertly tattooed on each finger of her left hand, just above the knuckles: P-A-R-T-Y. “Her real name is Mariah, you know, after the singer.” And then she interjected a phrase of a Carey song. “Touch my baw-dy, put me on the fl-o-o-o-o-r,” Edie crooned in a scratchy voice, pretending her hot dog was a mic. “But when she was little and we were trying to toilet train her, she used to shit on the floor, then start throwing it at us. I kid you not. Just like the apes going apeshit in the zoo. So we started calling her Apeshit, then Ape for short.”
Hen chimed in. “She still does it from time to time.”
“No kidding,” responded Angie, her flesh crawling from this description. She didn’t want to keep that image in her mind – the kid scooping soft turds from the floor and lobbing them at her parents. She imagined the damage done to the last apartment: smelly brown stains on carpets and walls.
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Art making. I found the wooden end of an electrical spool by the side of the road, around 22 inches in diameter. I brought it home and created “Shimmer” a mixed media piece with paper, glue, watercolour, acrylic, spraypaint, coloured pencil, straws, duct tape, wire, found objects. Shimmer has two women who spin for you (well four women, but only two can spin). One expands into dance, the other has contracted into solitude. Jewels sparkle here and there from found objects. There is a little glittery holder for my own version of angel cards at the bottom. This may not be finished.
Spin the girl, pick a card. Shimmer away/ Contract/ Expand/ Change/Everything changes all the time/ pick a card any card/ you never know what life holds for you.
Sewing: Working on “full moon rising quilt.” I love the batiks. I am learning to sew curves, sometimes tricky. This quilt is for a friend that I love.
Painting and writing, sewing and drawing, reading and thinking, dreaming and loving, crying and hugging. These all sustain me during the summer of pain.
P.S. would you like me to pick a card for you? Reply below. I’ll pick it and tell you what it says.