Updated Note: I forgot to mention, the skateboarding CEO who pissed me off near the end of this post is some loser (got tossed out right away) from Donald Trump's "Apprentice" show.
For Sunday Scribblings prompt: Writing (officially my longest post ever, two weeks worth)
Here's a summary of what little writing I've accomplished in two weeks:
March 1st, Saturday- I planned on writing after picking my daughter up at the train station. She spent two days visiting a friend near Santa Barbara. About 8:30 am, my daughter called from Santa Barbara to say she was just getting a ride to the train station. I told her to call me when she's on the train. The train was to leave at 9am. By 9:15 am, I still hadn't heard from my daughter.
I called her cell phone. No answer. She's always so good about picking up soon or calling right back. So I waited. But she didn't call. I called her again and again. Still, no answer. About 9:40 I started hyperventilating. My husband and I called her friend in Santa Barbara. The friend told us that she took a cab and that she hadn't heard from my daughter either. I then started to officially freak out (pacing, talking to the walls, mumbling prayers). I called the cab company, spoke to the dispatcher and asked if any of their drivers have criminal records. Do they check that sort of thing? The cab guy snapped at me. I snapped back. "Hey, I'm a worried mother." My husband tried my daughter's cell phone. There was an answer... oh, what a relief. I finally breathed. What?! Wrong number? He was yelling at a strange woman. In short, more drama for another painfully long twenty minutes. We finally reached my daughter. She was on the train sleeping and didn't hear the phone.
My nerves were so jangled, I decided to write later. I picked her up at the station, just happy to see her face.
Sunday - My husband and I went to the Los Angeles County Museum of Art. Kandinsky. Miro. Picasso! They're all so inspiring. In the evening, we watched "La Vie En Rose" about Edith Piaf's tragic life. It's amazing. Yes, I want to create something, too. Tomorrow, I'll put off my tax preparations and write.
Monday - It's a beautiful day. Morning sun is shining slanted through the floor to celing window in my office. I decide to use the Time Machine prompt from Sunday Scribblings, and start rambling about the scent of Coppertone making all my sea-salty childhood summers tumble by like the ocean waves... Then I hear my dog in a frenzy - growling, claws scraping the pavement. I look through the window. What's she doing? I hear my little cat meow weakly.
Oh my God!! My feet barely hit the ground and my legs feel like rubber as I run frantically through my house and into the backyard, screaming my dog's name. She had my cat in her mouth and dropped her when I screamed.
My cat was a lump. Her mouth and eyes were open in shock. I grabbed her and wrapped her in a towel. My daughter and I drove her to the nearest vet.
The morning went by in a blur; literally, I couldn't see through my tears. Don't even remember driving home from the vet. My cat had to stay there overnight in an oxygen tent. The doctor warned that because she may be paralyzed, she might have to... I can't even write the words.
I cried. No. Just the day before I was admiring how nothing gets by my cat. she takes nothing for granted - the trees are for climbing, bugs are for chasing, the sun is for sprawling. I've even thought I wouldn't mind changing places with her. She has no bills and sleeps half the day - who wouldn't want that life? If only cats could get passports and eat in five star restaurants...
Convinced my cat will get better, I try to write. I can't. I Google "Edith Piaf" to see photos of her. If Edith could live through what she did, I should be able to function this day. What's the first thing I see when I Google? Her stuffed cat sitting in a Parisian window.
Tuesday - First thing in the morning, my husband and my daughter told me to call the vet. I dialed as they stood there to hear the news. "What? Her tail's moving and she can move one leg?" All our shoulders relax. Later, I pick her up and bring her home to rest. Still, the doctor doesn't know if she'll ever move her right leg.
Wednesday - Ok, later I will do my tax prep. But first a little writing, I tell myself. No, first I'll check my email. A while ago I sent essays off to Smithsonian Magazine and Geek Monthly (they sounded like my kind of people). Nope. Still nothing. I stare at the computer screen. I'm empty. I wish I were like Jack Kerouac and all those other writers who use/used negative stuff as fuel. Poverty? Alcoholism? No problem! They pour out their souls on a scroll. But me, all the urge is there, pent up inside - but there's so much swirling around, bouncing against the sides of my skull like bumper cars, lots of noise and slamming around, but the ideas don't go far... and like those carnival rides, once the cars stand still, the electrical sparks stop... so I go and make a sandwich to gather my thoughts.
Thursday, Friday, Saturday - Writing? Not so much.
Sunday - I cleaned the yard. It's a good excuse for having a cold beer. Plus, I can think about writing.
Monday - In the evening, my husband and I planned to go to a classical concert downtown at the Colburn school of music, across from Disney Hall. So I ran to Target to buy some lipgloss and other girly things I don't get to use when writing alone at my computer. Because I am watching pennies, I took a long time picking items and using coupons. After paying for all that stuff and some household items, I got to my car and realized I had none of my make-up and hair products. I ran back to the store. The cashier shrugged her shoulders. I went to stand in the long customer service line and began worrying that I wouldn't have time to get ready. After waiting nearly ten minutes, I felt a tap on my shoulder. The man who was standing beside me in line earlier accidentally got my bag. He didn't notice until he got home. I patted him on the back. "You are a good, good man for coming all the way back here." I thank him so profusely, he must've thought "But it's only makeup, lady." I just appreciate when people take time to do the right thing. He could've just waited to return the items later. I told his daughter, "Your dad is a really nice guy." She smiled.
The concert was beautiful. "Is this corny to say?" I asked my husband. "But the way the bass player is using his bow... moving so fluidly and cradling the bass, almost like he's holding a woman, it's like a dance."
"Yeah, that's corny. But you're right. It is like a dance," my bass player husband said. I just knew no other way to describe the movement. Again, I am inspired. I love watching people who are passionate about what they do and do it well.
Tuesday - Until this day, my cat has been dragging her leg and hopping on her others. My family has started calling her tripod. That makes me sad. She should be jumping around. Her limp foot is getting dingy from scraping the floor. Not only am I not writing, but I'm not doing not much cleaning either. But today she's putting pressure on the right foot. I've been having to keep my dog separate from the cats. From now on, I always will.
Wednesday - My writer friend, Donna, got me on the list to preview a new Nintendo fitness training game, called Wii Fit, she's writing about. We were to meet at the Hollywood Roosevelt Hotel. I get there a little late, thinking it was going to be a large conference type deal. I didn't see Donna. The concierge gave me an electronic key and directed me to the elevator to go to the twelfth floor. I push the button and get up to the 10th floor, where an English guy got in and we both went back down to the lobby. "Hey, what's going on?" I said. He doesn't know. Maybe I didn't push the button. But I did. "Oh well, at least it's a nice elevator," I said, and push the button again. At the fifth floor, a group of young women got in. And back down I went. What?
I got back in. This time a hotel employee got in and told me I need to use the electronic key for the 12th floor. Oh.... good thing. I was beginning to feel like I was in some sort of video game myself, like Super Mario Brothers or Frogger..... up, down and spit back out again. I lose!
I enter the room, and other than the Nintendo people who were expecting me - Ooops... if I'd known that, I would've left my house earlier - there's only Donna and two of her friends. They're having a blast trying out the Wii Fit program. It is extremely cool. As Donna bends, the sensor on the foot pad can detect if she is out of alignment. Apparently, you gain points and keep track of your weight and progress as you workout overtime. Very cool.
I try the downhill skiing game. If I were really on skis, I would have been in pain from all the mogul flag poles I ran into.
Afterward, Donna, her friends and I left our cars at the Roosevelt Hotel and walked across Hollywood Boulevard for lunch. We ate outside and watched tourists take photos of the Hollywood sign. It was a beautiful day. As we were leaving, I realized I needed to break a twenty dollar bill to give a tip to the hotel valet. Donna suggested I buy a cookie at the nearby Tollhouse store. I did. I munched on it as we walked down the boulevard. I noticed the Johnny Depp look-a-like (well, if you squint) pirate eyeing my cookie. "Want some?" I asked, not thinking he'd take me up on it. I mean, I did already bite it. "Yes, I'd like some cookie," he said. So I gave it to him.
"Hey, Donna, a pirate took my cookie!"
"Well, there's your blog post title right there."
We blog-writers are always thinking that way. Anything can be blog-worthy, especially when it has a catchy title.
Thursday - My cat is now limping like Ratzo Rizzo from "Midnight Cowboy". "Poor thing" I say. "She's alive!" my husband reminds me.
I check my e-mail, still no love letters from Oprah Magazine for the essay I wrote about how one of my best friends is my husband's ex-wife. I thought for sure, that was a match for that magazine. I could practically hear Oprah whooping as she read my tale of an unusual friendship. Is it possible her editors take this many months to respond? Or should I consider doing something else for a living? What am I thinking? I know Oprah seems to run the world, but she can't stop me from writing... that is, from thinking about writing.
Whatever I'm doing lately, it's sure not writing. I'm cat-sitting, crying, accusing and yelling at cab drivers, feeding pirates, skiing badly down electronic moguls, cleaning the yard and sipping beer, gushing over the kindness of strangers at Target, listening to music, watching movies and enjoying the art of people who may be dead but at least have created something.
What I'm saying is, I'm no Jack Kerouac spilling my guts in one long spew. Lately, I cough. I sputter. I wonder. But, write? Not in the last little while.
So.... today - Well, I've been self-employed most of my adult life - except for a momentary period of cubicle asylum - but today I went on an interview. I've been thinking it would be nice to get in some more income. Extra money! I love when I see ads that say "Would you like EXTRA money?" Extra money is not something I can relate to. As in, oh... what should I do with all this extra money? Paste it on the walls?
So I put on a skirt and heels, grabbed my resume and portfolio, and went to a place in West Hollywood. Things seemed to be going well until the CEO of the company came in wearing a t-shirt, shaggy hair and black rimmed glasses.
"In ten words or less, what perspective do you write from?" He asked.
"Well, it's my perspective... but if it's an interview piece, for instance..."
"Nuh uh... in ten words. If you can't tell me in ten words, how can you convey what it is you write?
"Well, it depends. I write non-fiction. But if it's an interview, I'm not writing with "Me" or "I" usually, I am writing..."
"You can't explain your perpspective?"
(Now, if he had actually read my resume and portfolio I emailed, he would have seen my over-ten-word, but still concise profile, and saved me the gas, time and annoyance.)
"Well, whatever I write, it's from my perspective. Like I say in my resume..."
"Uh uh... in ten words."
"... It's a fresh, offbeat perspective, I guess you could say."
"I still don't know what you write."
"Nonfiction: memoir pieces, op-eds, essays, interviews, reviews. Sometimes poems, sometimes fiction. Always with my own look at life. I avoid what's already been said before. For instance..."
"Mostly nonfiction? Ok. But I had to get that out of you."
Hmmm... I was frustrated and not hiding it well.
This is what I was thinking: Nonfiction is what I write. It's not my perspective, which would be my view, my slant... And if he means style, well, If I always had the same style, for me, that would be like wearing beige everyday. I don't get up in the morning and put on one-size-fits-all khakis. Why would I want to write that way? I write like me, me - a person who can be upbeat or cranky; motherly or flirty; practical or outrageous; sometimes optimistic, sometimes cynical. I mean, who among us is mood-less? I write in my moods, and those change often according to the writing material and the ideas I am responding to. I can start an interview with an idea of the story, and then realize it went in another direction. That's exciting. Keeping my views the same is not. So, no, my perspective isn't always the same. My philosophies, my values, my experiences... those are steady. And my style? Well, that changes. Try writing about September 11th with humor. It doesn't work. Try writing about raising a teenager without humor... it's painful.
When I write, I just want my words to always, always, come from my own honest way of looking at things. But that wasn't the answer he was looking for. I didn't care.
"Look, I can't say my perspective is always the same. But I can tell you this, I see no point in writing what someone has already written. That's what never changes."
Not that I am making up new words and ideas, just that I make sure I say them in my own way.
The idea of coming up with a ten-word perspective for myself sounds about as appealing to me as wearing a big label on my ass that says "Suburban Woman". Yeah, I'm a woman. But not all women think alike. Yeah, I live in the suburbs. But not all Suburban-dwellers have the same views. That's why I like to write about life in the California suburbs, because we don't all roam the malls and consider shopping to be a hobby.
He started walking out the door and shrugged, as if to say: Whatever, it might be good enough for you but not for me. He was adamant I describe my "perspective" (a word which, I believe, we disagree about the meaning) in ten words.
"You don't like my answer, but I'm sticking to it. The only thing that stays the same is that I don't want to write what I've already seen written."
Again, he shrugged and went out the door.
I gathered my things, said goodbye to the others and left. As I walked, I thought about this guy's need for ideas in ten-words, and chalked it up to Hollywood speak - where some guy (usually in a suit) wants to hear a movie pitch in one breath.
Screenwriter: "Rambo Goes Green. Just think of all the product placements - rather than tanks there'll be priuses."
Suit Guy: Eh... (shakes his head) That's over ten words. Next!!
Before I reached my car, I spotted "the ten-word-perpective-CEO" rolling across the street on his skateboard.
Maybe I'm better off on my own. Just me. My computer. My cat. And all my bumper-car thoughts waiting to go for a ride.
Hey, I wrote something!