Thursday, March 17, 2011

Home again, bacon's cooking

On the plane coming back from Spain, I made a list on my arm of Things to Blog About, and if I recall correctly, it looked a little like this:

1. Crazy frenchman chase
2. The Day of the Hats
3. French Bacon: croissants aren't all that's for breakfast
4. Farmers markets and gypsy ladies
5. Wine and the Seine
6. An Accordionist, Clarinetist, and Hand drum man sell rugs
7. Free tapas.
8. Outdoor laundry vs. Indoor voices (my thought: everyone in Europe is really quiet when they talk to each other.  You can sit one table over and not hear a word they say all night, but it isn't because they aren't having an animated conversation.  Also, I don't think this was just the language barrier -- people don't want to strike up a conversation with a stranger in the street.  They have huge fences and tree screens around even the tiniest lawns.  A rather private people.  Yet they string their laundry out their windows, including panties, for all the world to see.  What kind of privacy is this?)
9. Diesel jeans?
10. Chicken joints are universally difficult
11. Kids in Europe are just cuter (my thought: they wear grown up clothes, sized small.  No goofy cartoon stuff for them, oh no.)
12. Quietness and the power of words
13. Intention in dressing shows respect; note: buy pantyhose
14. Learning French
15. My aunt's a whippersnapper!

This is my closest approximation of the list.  But, you see, between all the gchatting and studying, test-taking and eating, driving and volunteering I've been doing since I left Spain, none of those posts have gotten written.  And since I'm now a projectionist on a show, I genuinely want to write, and I'm possibly getting a job tomorrow, I don't see them getting written.  But I did want to share the thoughts.

Virginia has changed.  It's not just the superficial bits, like where people live and who is here, it's deeper; people who I remember having a great peace about them can, in fact, be ruffled; my little brother is a Man; there's no bacon in the fridge -- or there wasn't.

I'm the same, though I suppose I am completely different.  This is how I know that change is spiral: when I walked into Live Arts the other day, someone I used to know described me as a person and a half (omg he remembered me at all!) and then a person I'd only tangentially known kind of entrusted me with an exciting, serious task.  A creative linchpin.  I feel like... this is not them being complimentary anymore.  I feel like these things are honest reflections of their honest opinion of my character, which means that I'm not a kid.  This isn't something I get to fail at and then say, "Oh, oops, I'm twelve."  Of course, I never did that when I could, which is, I suppose, why this is happening now.  It's not something I can mess up, this work I'm doing on this show; it's an artistic partnership.  I'm a partner in making art happen.  I never felt that I had that, if I did.  So I'm doing the same things on the same reputation, but I'm different.  I'm committed to the art, not the act of working.  It feels good.

But I must confess: I haven't written since I've been back.  Well, I did last night between performances at the talent show (yeah, I went to a talent show in a bar), but I haven't yet used my big beautiful writing room.  It's got a desk and a yoga mat, boxes upon boxes of books, and a stereo system.  I haven't even completely unpacked my clothes, though I've been here three days.  I'm starting to feel guilty.  I came back to write my book.  I need to write my book!

There has to be a balance between the pressures, though.  I came back, in part to write, because I want to write.   If I have to push myself a little to get it done, that's a good thing -- inertia is a terrifyingly powerful force.  It is part of the artist's job to battle it.  But I have to battle inertia without battling myself.  I have to hear myself that I want to write and defend that time from everything -- from babysitting, from volunteering, from my friends, from my procrastination -- but also, I have to know that there's a reason that I'm three days in and have half my evening scheduled until the end of April.  I love Live Arts.  I love to make art.  I love working with people who are so openly appreciative of me.  I think it's good to do what I love.  I also think it's good to not live in fear of my writing, and, therefore, to do it.

I came back to do the things I want to do.  I just have to learn to get out of the way.  It's like cooking bacon: if you tend it too closely, it won't get crispy, you'll let it alone a moment, and it will burn.  But if you let it do it's thing and turn it when it smells right, it's perfect.  Just watch for the smoke.  I need to spend more time listening to the crackling and watching for the smoke, I think.

So I'm sitting here, the morning sunshine warming my fingers as I type, thinking about talking less about my art and making more of it; I'm thinking about how I can fall back into the trappings of my old life, but I'll never live it again -- I'm quieter; I know what it feels like to fail, so I fear that; I have priorities and a center.

I am here until the end of June.  This is what I want to do:

1. Wake early and write daily
2. Have lots of family dinners
3. Kick some ass as a projectionist and sound person
4. Reconnect with old friends
5. Eat better food: no more non-organic meat, no more fast food of really any kind
6. Talk less, create more

That last thing may mean that I spend less time blogging and more time writing my book, but... when the pen starts going, sometimes you can't stop it, and it turns right back on you.  Autobiographies, I imagine, are called 'auto' for a reason.

Haikus, however, don't count as procrastination from creation, so here are some on my trip, written upon reflection:

The Passport Haikus:

laundry strung over tile
mimics tripas, breezes love
wing'd starlit laughter.

shabby violins
float higher, sing softer, play
stories older'n time.

cozy cave, tests teach
if we hear ourselves singing
of light through the stones.

I'm no better than
normal; cobbled together
quilted hopes, I love.

sweet port of hope melts
all -- harbors peace, stories
the long journey back.

The Fellini's Haiku (yeah, I wrote a poem in a bar, get over it):

On Tuesday, I
opened mail I'd avoided.  I
found myself insured.

This Morning:

Sunshine showers, long
moments before breakfast, like
bacon for the soul.

A List of Things That Are Different In Europe

gluten free bread: it's more stretchy and crusty and not so crumbly
butter comes in different sizes
in Porto, appetizers (like bread and cheese) are NOT free, and come a bit packaged (I assume this facilitates passing them off to the next customer)
the cars are all tiny; the ones that are like American cars are miniature versions
the eggs come in smaller packages
there are gypsies
the internet
the showers are showerheads on long cords
there are models on planes (no, really)
quiet talking
the subways are not radial systems
there are train stations with grass roofs
people dress intentionally
there is very little casual attire
everything comes in smaller portions
if it ain't cobbled, it ain't... something, but there are enough cobbles to be legit snobbish about it.  also, on this one street in Paris, there were cobbles UNDER the pavement, whcih had been ripped up a bit.
everybody wears pantyhose.

Tuesday, March 1, 2011

Some Haikus on Europe

I sat in a really old restaurant eating a tortilla yesterday, and this is what I wrote:

So, cold tortillas
are better, lighter bar food
than American's.

Layered egg, golden
warm, soft, onioned patatas.
Sum of parts?  Lighter.

Brits are not better
At being English Speaking
In Spain.  [Take that, snobs!]*

* alternate ending: [AMERICA!]

Haphazard streets, paved
with care, crevices cobbled
attain intention.

Portugese sunshine
reflected in tile colors
kissed my face tender.

Mallard topped canes, men
made gentler by wives, pipes, time -- smile
from eyes to cuff-links.

A List of Things That Don't Need Words

I'm full
you've got nutella on your face
port? wine?
I'm a tourist, take a picture of me and my friend?
cute car
cute dog
cute baby
I'm having an asthma attack
up the hill
down the hill
flip flops are not appropriate footwear, you stupid american
dammit, we lost the football match
no! my team is better than your team!
I hate Palma Mallorca, dammit, but I hate Barcelona more!
check, please
heeeey, he's cute. [thumbs up]
I need a needle and thread to fix the hole in my jacket.  Help?
I want these shoes
where do I buy stockings?
I am terrified of heights, but the view is amazing
wow, this is old. 1282 for REALZ?
Velasquez, you have a funny look on your face.
my throat hurts.
suck on this lozenge every 3 hours. (amazing what miming can do!)