passion plays

I spent the morning reading a recent draft of a play written by our friend in England. Anders puts the wunder in Wunderkind, to be sure. He's good. There is an electric charge that runs through truly good plays--a gradual tension that pulls and teases you along until the final curtain. It's a more concentrated energy than one finds in novels, sometimes; the combination of dialog, shorter scenes, and limited, forceful action makes me feel as if I'm holding a stick of dynamite in my hands. The passion I had for plays during high school and college has never left me; it's just been tucked away, I guess. But reading the play this morning brought me back. I hope he breaks through one day. It should come. People need to hear and see and feel these words.


tying it all together

I've been out of the creative writing habit for so long that I'm having a hard time figuring out how, and where, to start. Habit may be a strong word. My fingers and brain have been so occupied with what people want me and pay me to write (this outstanding Burgundy, the best you'll ever experience, from a vintage without peer, etc., etc.) that we (my fingers, my brain) feel a little pang of conscience when I actually sit down (like now, for example) to contemplate other Work, as there is always, always other "work" to do.

I like that John and I have reclaimed the word "work," at least in our world. There is "work" in the small "w" sense, which addresses the stuff we do to keep a roof over our head and sausages in our vicinity; then there is the big-W, the Work that is the expression of all the good stuff inside. At some point, perhaps, it will be an "oeuvre," but today, it is my Work.

For example: There's a woman somewhere out in Berlin riding a bicycle. Her spine is as straight as a piston, and like an engine, she peddles effortlessly. A puffy, velveteen black hat is propped on black curls; a wispy shawl flutters above shoulders as she heads down Wilhelmstrasse. It's dusk. The pavement sparkles with the day's forgotten heat. The street is empty, except for her.

This is what sticks with me. There's a catalyst in that black hat, a trigger. What this black hat set into motion was extraordinary; at least, everyone said so. But no one can remember; details are hazy, stories don't add up. This is what I have to figure out. So go, storyteller, do that thing.


falling down, and getting up

Last week, I finally did what I've been worried about doing for six months: I caught my bicycle tire in a track and flipped. It was a cool-kid skid, bounce and crash. The shock (and frayed nerves) following my spill proved much worse than the actual bruises, which total one big blue egg on my ass and a couple of randomly placed purple splotches on leg, side and chest.

Nothing broken, except a little ego that doesn't like to go bounce. But needs to. With two weeks of a antagonistic family visit, the mounting concerns over our legality here in this country, the ever-growing pile of work missives from abroad, the let-down following a full month of language lessons that left me capable but not yet chatty, I'm not surprised I kissed the pavement.

Kids have it easier. After a full day in the park, with sand and digging and swings and yelling, the tantrum is a great release. I'm exhausted! the tantrum says. There has been so much. But I want all of this. I want the energy and hours to play in 1,000 parks, to dig 1,000 holes. Today. Forever. Fists balled in defiance, tears cutting dirt-streaked rivers down flushed cheeks. We chuckle from afar and think, oh dear, meltdown.

But me, we, we're not so different. I fell down and so I cried, and realized then I really needed to cry, because the physical pain gave me the out to unload everything. Which is crap, because I shouldn't need a bruise as a prompt to be honest with myself. But, and then. Perhaps I just need to dig more holes, or have more tantrums in the park. Or write more. (Then I'll really have something to cry about.)