31 October 2005

Ghosts, Forgiveness and All Hallow's Eve

Today, appropriately enough, I am thinking about ghosts. I went to a poetry reading at Beyond Baroque last night. Several poets read from a recently published anthology edited by Gloria Vando and Philip Miller called Chance of a Ghost and all of the pieces have to do with ghosts or hauntings. It was put out by Helicon Nine Editions and its proceeds go to The Writers Place, a non-profit literary community in Kansas City. This book has an incredible collection of writing and truly all of the readers last night did a great job.

The point though is that, of course, it did get me thinking about ghosts. Yesterday afternoon, I watched the movie Magnolia for the first time and so on my way to Venice, I was thinking about forgiveness. So now, the two subjects are linked in my mind. What is forgivable, have I completely forgiven myself for past transgressions and is there anyone out there from whom I should seek forgiveness? In the meantime, I think about actual ghosts who have haunted me in a home that saw the end of my first marriage.

I suppose the first ghost that comes to mind is the man in brown wing tip shoes who held me when I was sick with the flu shortly after my marriage ended. He wore wool pants and stayed with me for two weeks until one morning I woke up and felt, for the first time in several days, healthy. He left me that morning and I haven't seen him since. I wonder about him sometimes, wonder if he was always a caregiver or if, in tending to me, he was working off some karmic debt. In any event, I'm glad he was there and was not afraid of his presence.

The second ghost is, of course, Dean. A man I lived with in 2000 who died while he was here. I found him. He was too young to go and the interesting thing is that when someone dies of no "apparent" cause, the coroner takes over where the police left off in the interrogation process. Probably more information than should be shared here but I think I'm working toward something. He died of alcohol abuse. He was literally hours from his 32 birthday. Dean haunted me for five years and then I put together a chapbook of poetry, dedicated to his memory, and I haven't seen or heard from him since. Perhaps he knew in the culmination of that project that there was forgiveness and could move on. Perhaps he sensed that I had finally forgiven myself. There is a great line in one of the poems by Cathy Colman called Sex Ghost that was read, not by the poet because she was too ill to attend, but by her best friend, Elena Karina Byrne (a wonderful poet as well) that goes:

The questions://do I want time to move faster so that the pain might decrease?//Or more slowly, so that I will be closer to the instant you still took breath?

I asked those questions for a long time. Then I met Carl. All time began to move forward and it moved without pain. Now my only ghost is the muse I meet at 4 a.m. in moments of insomnia. Which brings me to Elena's poem called The Mask of Insomnia. It's about those wee hours and the spirit that takes over when we are alone in our thoughts. Brilliantly written, it begins with an epigraph that goes: There are two gates of Sleep...but deceptive are the visions the Underworld sends that way to the light. --Virgil 893. The last several stanzas are:

Look at you: you are inside--
out, all eyes, wide-awake

with the precise ticking heart
in your ankles, strung-out on words, brought in
on the one underwater wave of the refrigerator noise.
The windows look back lightless in disapproval.

You can't predict the clacking of the teacups
coming from all the clocks
or the church smell of your own skin. Prolonging
sleep, the clairvoyant stranger
you have invited to stay, cleans house.

The night is young. Yes, You can invent more
ways to be afraid than this.

And perhaps that is all these ghosts are, inventions of fear so that we can avoid thoughts of our own mortality and the tick, tick, tick of time passing and the Autumn days that now bring darkness with the dinner hour. Happy Halloween everyone and tomorrow All Soul's Day/The Day of the Dead brings a new Scorpio moon, sign of secrets and underworld marked by a new lunar cycle, a way to start fresh. Forgive yourself, forgive your ghosts and move forward in your reality, it will all be vapor soon enough.

30 October 2005

Poetry Readings

Yesterday I went to a poetry reading by Steve Goldman at the Abbott Kinney branch of the Venice Public Library. If you've never heard of Stephen Goldman, there's a reason why. He just had his first book of poetry published at 66. Stephen has been a tireless supporter of poetry in the Los Angeles area and has set up, promoted and run poetry readings in the Venice area for years. He's originally from Brooklyn and he's one of dose rough and tumble gruff guys complete wid da accent but with a twist, he has a vocabulary like he has swallowed on OED which catches you off guard and makes you smile at your own inane assumptions. The book by Steve Goldman has been published by Sybaritic Press and is called The Canon of the Lone Ranger (A Hymn in Dysfunction; An American Life; and The Autobiography of Just About Everybody) and its pieces are humorous and poignant and well, just great. I congratulate Steve for his book and for giving an entertaining reading yesterday afternoon.

Tonight I'll be going to a Halloween Party given at Beyond Baroque and featuring some of my favorite local poets, Eloise Klein Healy, Cathy Colman and Elena Karina Byrnes among others. I love poetry readings. I love the play with words and the poet's ability to coax an emotion up to the base of my throat and with one final twist of an image pull it out of me in a gasp.

27 October 2005

Checking In

A friend of mine called this morning because although we generally try to get together every week, we hadn't touched base for awhile. She told me that she said to herself "gee I haven't heard from Sam in awhile, I'll just check her blog to see what's up with her" Of course, not much has been added since I saw her two weeks ago so she gave me a call. Now this friend would have called anyway, but I find it interesting that she went to my blog first. Which brings up another point, one of my blogger acquaintances emailed me the other day to say (and I paraphrase), "haven't seen you post for awhile, you must have written two screenplays and a novel by now". I emailed him back and gave him a quick synopsis of what I've been up to. He didn't reply. So was he just being sarcastic with his suggestion that I've been creatively tied up? I guess so.

Anyway, for those of you who don't call or email, here's what I've been up to: (1) the first two weeks of October were occupied with workshopping my full poetry manuscript. It was well-received although I have some re-ordering of the pieces to do and am working on re-titling the sections. I'd like to be done with a close to final draft by December. It is not due until next spring so I will have the ability to work in any stuff I write between now and March or not depending on whether I write anything of import between now and then. (Import, of course, being a relative term.) (2) I had a friend from Canada come to stay with me and to show her a good time, I roped her into the 48 hour film contest that I participated in this last weekend. It was one of those contests where they email you with a line (that you must use word for word), a character, a prop and a genre. Our line was "Where on earth is your faith?", our character was Chris Wiffle, a DJ, our prop was a boat and our genre was action/adventure. I co-wrote the script with David Kopp. Chris Miller directed and, of course, Carl shot it. My Canadian friend, Sarah, was our script supervisor, keeping track of shots and which take we wanted to use (key to quick editing on Sunday). We shot it on Saturday, I was 1st AD on the set. Chris and David (who also starred in it) got it edited Sunday night and sent it off Monday. I haven't seen the final film yet but am looking forward to it. (3) I have revised and honed the first 30 pages of my screenplay and am now writing up 3X5 cards for Act 2. (4) I am in the process of writing a short that I'd like to shoot in December and have completed by the new year.

In the meantime, I've been going to my poetry workshop (Tuesdays) and screenplay class (Wednesdays) and running my writers' group (Thursdays).

Now, I know that you all have equally busy lives and somehow manage to blog on a daily basis and I applaud your tenacity. I sometimes feel sitting in my little back room that I am a bit hermit like and therefore my life is just not as interesting as one would think a writer's should be. I guess that's why there are sometimes gaps in time between posts....not apologizing, just explaining. Thanks for the calls and emails. You keep me aware there is a whole wide world out there.

13 October 2005

Naked Man Dance

A little story about my husband that took place shortly after he moved in (before we were married)...

One Sunday morning I was in the yard inspecting the recent bougainvillea trimming done by a new yard man. Carl was in the shower.

Now, if you're not a southwestern native or have never been there, let me describe a bougainvillea bush. They start out small and pretty, medium sized green leaves, red or orange or purple or white blossoms that appear year round. Two drawbacks to the lovely bougainvillea...(1) it is essentially a well evolved weed which means it grows like a son of a buck; and (2) its lovely, forever sprouting branches have one to one and a half-inch slender thorns to protect the bush and to help it climb and entwine any structure. Back to the story...

So I'm walking around barefoot in my jammies when I step on one of the slender branches that was missed by the rake. One-inch thorn goes deep into the ball of my foot. Suffice it to say I let out a scream that would have made Hitchcock proud and proceed to hop to the cement patio/veranda and sit on the edge, still yelping, to survey the damage. Behind me I hear Carl's voice "Baby are you alright?" I continue to yell..."Baby, come in the house, are you okay? Come in the house..." I continue to whimper. "Baby, what's wrong..." Carl is now a few feet behind me. I continue to whimper "Ow, Ow, Ow!" trying to pull three inch thorn from foot (well, it felt like it had grown!) Carl is now frantically pulling at my shoulder trying to get me to get up and come into house....."Baby, I'm naked." I look up behind me at Carl, who is doing a naked man dance (moving back and forth from one foot to the other, glancing over his shoulder at the neighbor's window and alternating between covering his penis and reaching for me). I watch, completely stunned for a moment and then pop the thorn out, hop in through the back door, where I collapse in laughter on the kitchen floor.

I decided then and there that I had chosen the right man because anyone who would hear their loved one in pain, drop their towel and run to their aid is a mensch.

We were married in front of friends and family in our backyard two months later.

07 October 2005

He takes such pretty pictures...

Look at previous post to figure out where we are:

he's an amazingly talented photographer...that goes without saying except that not enough people say it. I say it, anyone who has seen any of his black and whites says it and by the way, Runner's World and Sports Illustrated has said it in the past. Yup, this boy has Dr. J and Larry Bird in his portfolio. (did I spell either of those right? because I'm not a sports fan....) and also judging by the sports stars mentioned you know he is no 2o-something - but of course, you already know that I'm not either....anyway, great talent hard knock kind of guy...did I ever tell you the story about his starvation days when he showed up on the set as second unit? No? Okay, so the dude hasn't gotten work in a few months...so he puts his light meter around his neck, figures out where a big shoot is, shows up at lunch, gets in line....the caterer looks at him and says "I don't think we've met" and he replies, without skipping a beat, "2nd Unit"...and eats....for free...I know it's technically stealing but I can't help but smile at his ingenuity...anyway...more to come....

The Husband

I realized today that other than mentioning (probably several times in different contexts) that my husband is a cinematographer, I have never really talked about him. I have devoted a whole blog to my wonderful ex-husband and yet, somehow, I missed talking about Carl.

First of all, you should know that tonight in writers' group, we were supposed to write from our Fairy Godmother's P.O.V. describing ourselves. My last line was... "I gave her the prince too soon and now she can't figure out what to do with happily-ever-after." Which probably, unfortunately, describes me to a tee. (If I do say so myself ... and I do... as a matter of fact, I write it.)

Carl is truly a prince. In the next few entries, I have decided to introduce you to this prince of a man.

Second of all, everyone who personally knows me probably believes that I am the luckiest woman alive and that Carl puts up with A LOT. Please note, Steve Brady, that I have realized (after you pointed it out) that "a lot" are two separate words and no where in the English dictionary do they appear as a single word...I may be a wench, but I am not stubborn. More on the men in my life later but right now it is 12:59 a.m. and I should head for bed. By the way, my dear husband is on splits on his current job and I won't see him until he stumbles in at 2:00 a.m. or so, kisses me on the temple and tells me he's home, but buzzed (from work, not anything artificial) and then tomorrow late morning, we'll have a half a cup of coffee together before he has to go again.

It's a hard knock life for us and I wouldn't trade it for the world.

03 October 2005

New Moon in Libra - Solar Eclipse

This morning (3 a.m. on the west coast) was the Libra new moon and solar eclipse. One of my personal favorites because I'm a Libra rising. For the Jewish community, Libra new moon brings in Rosh Hashana, their new year. For me, it brings my new lunar year, especially potent this year because the new moon is conjunct my rising and the solar eclipse only happens once every 19 years in any given sign and so it marks the end of a cycle. Now, this probably all seems like so much new age gobbledy gook but the truth is I've been thinking about what is ending for me today. I will say that 19 years ago this week, I moved to Los Angeles with thoughts of being an actor. That dream was put by the wayside a long time ago (about 10 years) and at that time, I began to concentrate on my writing. But the writing was all poetry.

Recently, I started to resuscitate my dreams of being involved in the film world but my new focus is writing and directing. So today, I am being brave and putting it out publicly in the world that my aspiration is to direct a film I have written and that my husband, Carl, will shoot it. Carl and I worked on a documentary together a few years ago and found that we work quite well together even under less than ideal circumstances.
So there you go Universe, it's in black and white, all spelled out for you....send a little new moon magic my way!