Friday, November 23, 2012

Why I Became a Writer

        Today, I interrupt my ramblings to take part in a blogathon, in which a number of us are posting brief statements on our blogs and/or websites telling why and how we became writers.
        Please visit my friends and colleagues and leave encouraging comments on their posts.

John Brantingham and Sunny Frazier
John Lewis
Eileen Obser
Charlotte San Juan
Kyle Van Sant

           On the ride home last night, after the customary Thanksgiving Day foodfest, I asked my mom and Alan why they thought I had become a writer.
       Mama:  Because you already did everything else.
       Me:     I knew you would say that.  When I was a child, did you have any idea I'd become a writer?
       Mama:  No.  I thought maybe an artist, because you drew well.  Or, maybe a poet, because as a kid, you wrote good poetry.  Also, your sons write, so you're trying to show them you write.   
[ Huh? I thought they write because I write!? ]

~        ~         ~

        Alan:  John Steinbeck said it so many times-- writers become writers because they have something to say.  Also, they want to leave something of themselves behind.


         They're both right.  They're both wrong.  I always wanted to write.  I always did write-- journals, long letters to friends and the dreaded white person's Christmas letters.  I have the diaries, correspondences and archives to prove it.  I just didn't have the nerve to move beyond personal writing to something more general.
        I don't know that I'm a natural born storyteller, but it's never too late to become one.  As for leaving something behind, I have my two wonderful sons who represent me better than my own words ever could.
       Why do you do what you do and have you always wanted to do it?  Or did you fall into it by accident?

The Night of Writing Dangerously

       Never having been, I didn't know what to expect.  Dressed for comfort and long hours of writing, I looked like the Brawny paper towel guy.  The elevator doors opened into the vestibule of the veddy elegant Julia Morgan Ballroom on the fifteenth floor of the San Francisco Mercantile Exchange Building.
       Lindsay Grant, in full-length black gown, and Chris Baty, looking very Philip Marlowe, greeted me with generous noblesse oblige smiles. Behind them, knots of elegantly turned out writers in fishnet hose, peplumed suits and fascinators chatted in bright-eyed animation.  And that was just the men.
       There were marble floors and a roaring fire surrounded by a hearth bearing the words, "Let Friendship Warm Thee."  I grabbed my welcome packet and slunk past twenty gumshoes in trench coats and fedoras.  In the bar area, I searched the crowd for other morons like me, dressed in what we wear to Starbucks to write on a Tuesday morning.  I found them-- more than a handful-- and stuck like glue.
         Drowning my wardrobe sorrows in drink seemed appropriate, so, with my right hand, I signaled the barkeep for a Cosmonovelton while I reached for a bacon-wrapped shrimp with my left.  Next, I'd try a Noveltini.
        The bartender shook his head, and gave a warning grimace.
        "Don't do it.  They're foul.  Have a Lemondrop instead."
        I go with local knowledge, so a Lemondrop it was.  By the time they let us into the ballroom at 5PM sharp, I was dressed in a backless velvet gown, over-the-elbow red satin gloves, stiletto heels and pearls.  I staked my claim near the candy buffet (come on, people, priorities-- PRIORITIES!), and crept under my chosen table, trying to connect my laptop to the power source.  It took some time.  While I was down there, with my backside hanging out from beneath the black taffeta, floor-length tablecloth,  I made friends and influenced not a few people.

        My table of writers (The Femmes Fatales) started out seriously enough, but after dinner, photographers taking author profile shots, cupcakes and chocolate chip cookies, our group concentration on the task at hand flagged.  However, we soldiered on and excelled at word sprints and table word wars, despite the  distraction of too many writers who had the nerve to complete their 50,000 word goal at the event and call attention to themselves by ringing a very loud bell à la checkers at Trader Joe's.
        I ran into Andrew Turner, wearing a victor's crown (one more obnoxious 50,000 word guy) and he introduced me to about thirty of his closest NaNoWriMo friends.


By 11PM, I had run out of charm and my fingers were but bloody stumps.  I descended in the heavily ornamented elevators to the street, tired but satisfied, where my chariot waited.  Can't wait to go again next year.

Thursday, November 22, 2012

Lights and San Francisco

      I love lights, don't you?  Here's a photo I took from the Griffith Park Observatory a while back.  So noir.

       I wish I had been with the astronomers at the Observatory on the morning of the big quake of '71.  They got the best show in L.A.  As the city rolled and heaved before them, generators all over town snapped and exploded, giving the entire event the festive air of city-wide fireworks.
     I love fireworks, too, don't get me started.  Ooh Ahh, Ooh Ahh.  Here's some  'works I took at a Dodyers game.

       When I arrive in San Francisco, I blast Journey's song, "Lights", on the Iphone and sing along as loud as I can.  The song is about a lonely rock star, surveying the city he loves at dawn.  I never arrive at dawn, so I sing, "When the lights go on in the City, and the moon shines on the ba-a-a-a-y..."
       I was in San Francisco last weekend for the Night of Writing Dangerously, which I have renamed The Night of Eating Endlessly.  At least, that's how it was for me.  Read about that in my next post.
       You might enjoy this Youtube featuring Journey and The City we all love.  

Post Script:  4/30/13  I just checked this post for the first time in eons.  They have blocked my Youtube.  WHY?

Monday, November 19, 2012

Cleopatra, the Ho-Bag of Canopus

A month ago, May and I visited the Cleopatra exhibit.  I was going to do a bang-up job describing the dredged-up treasures on display and the things we learned, but then, in the snap of a wig, my life changed.
I was going to mention how the Romans looked down their long, well, Roman noses at Cleo.  She was a slut to them and she and her Egyptian subjects were all going to hell.  The Romans further hated Cleo for bewitching both Julius Cesar and Mark Anthony.  
     Never mind that she was brilliant, had studied at the famous library of Alexandria, and spoke at least five languages.  After the Romans destroyed her reign, they also destroyed all images of her, so that the world is left with only descriptions of what was said to be the most beautiful woman who ever lived.  
     Imagine the Romans being scandalized by the Egyptians! We think of the Romans as decadent and debauched.  Seems they were trollish little prudes compared to the party-hearty Egyptians.                 
I recommend this exhibit, but I want to tell you about my life.  I’ve been trying to lease out my home in Claremont since May.  While I was visiting Northern California with my college roommate, Joyce, I got the word -- a lovely family wanted to lease my home.  I had to be out in 12 days.

Hello, stress, good-bye Claremont.  I packed boxes, my friends and family packed boxes.  I found the Real Rock & Roll Movers on Yelp.  They put my things in Door to Door storage units and, as their name suggests, they ROCKED!  

      The day of my move was a comedy of reversals and surprises, starting with the flat tire on my van, a steady drenching rain, and continuing with the scary fact that my five storage units were filled within an hour of Robo and his Band of Merry Men’s arrival.  I needed more units.
That night, I was invited to Charlotte’s birthday and the Cleopatra in me was ready to party.  I sat at the bar of Tokyo Something, enjoying a frosty libation and congratulating myself on a day well executed despite the bumps.  Odd... no one I knew was walking through the door.  
       I texted John, who told me they were assembled at a different Tokyo Something.  I arrived stylishly late. Since there was sushi, mochi and sake, and it was John’s treat, things worked out great.
       Now I sit in Playa Del Rey.  I’m on day six here and the shell shock may be subsiding.  It’s hard to tell.  I’m living out of boxes and plan to rely on the kindness of strangers till I find a new home.  I have always wanted a vagrant, gypsy life and here it is.  Whoo-hooo!