Tuesday, August 31, 2010

The Black Box - and the Unified Theory of Couches

It's always there.

At the Beginning, shortly after the Big Bang there must have been this one Couch to symbolize all the couches that ever were or ever would be. It is the same couch every time, locked in every black box anywhere.

It will be busted and old, and made of the odd paisley-like muted floral pattern that seems both timeless and trapped in the type of time labeled "past"

And then it will come into the the Black Box and pretend to be
a loveseat,
a swing,
an entire penthouse apartment all by itself,
a chaise,
a restaurant booth,
waiting room furniture,
a bus stop bench,
a bed,
a crib,
a psychiatrists couch
a designer couch.

Sometimes it will branch out and be a car, or a sculpture, or even a tree.

But it always looks the same. It's always looming somewhere near the curtains waiting for its moment. It is terribly accommodating during the rehearsals or workshops or class, absorbing the hung over, or the unserious in its broken, warm, springless embraces.

The serious are usually pacing, or sitting in hard chairs looking to keep the energy they will need for becoming:

the lovers,
the kids on the swing,
the divorcing couple in the penthouse,
the crying woman,
the man waiting for his date that will not come to the restaurant that night,
the woman waiting for her test results alone,
Marilyn Monroe,
the sleeper,
the baby,
the psychiatrist,
the designer,
the driver,
the artist,
a bird.

I wonder about who gives the Couch to the black boxes. When they shopped for it and first bought it and put it in the place of pride in the living room did they think -" This looks like the shiny new version of every old couch I ever saw backstage?"

Is it a cult ritual to buy couches like this and keep them until they are too worn for the living room and sent to the family room, and then to the weird uncle's den, and then finally the young man's first apartment from which he then donates it to the Black Box to impress the hot starving actress chick he'd like to have sex with? Does that first purchase happen because they hope it might be the One True Couch, destined to be in the Black Box?

There is a whole journey in this Couch that silently works just as hard as we do at becoming.

It is jarring to see the same couch through time and space no matter which box I am in, trying to be something plus what I already am. There is a lesson in it's effortless becoming, which only happens after it's epic journey before the Box.

Here in this box, at this time, the couch collects my box mates, they are sleepy, they are unsure and do not appreciate hard surfaces. They like the couch better when it is not expected to be other than what it is. But it's distorted now - it's been so many things it can hardly hold the shape of a couch at all. It's holding all of the shapes it could be, making it amorphous.

I wonder- when the Couch forgets it's shape altogether, where it will go? Does it ever really leave? Does it go out into the world, or is it like a phoenix where it will become ashes and then reform as the next shiny new version of itself to live through the whole life cycle again?

Just so it can be beaten and worn and universal enough to be back in the box again.

Inside the Black Box the couch is Everything.

Outside the Black Box, it is only a worn out, dated couch.

Couchy Phoenixes.


Phoenixy Couches.

It's the only answer.

Friday, August 27, 2010

Vacation Timelines

There are things I need to write. I've been postponing them. I only made the space to write what other people asked for.

There are things I need to build and do, books I have to read because I promised myself.

But I am on vacation for a bit.

Which seems a little odd since I am not at a regular place of employment. But I'm just a silly human. Vacations are about different spaces not different definitions of work.

School counts as work too. I'm not being fair to myself. I should step back and allow myself to be an observer.

But maybe, I can be an observer up close.

OK. Vacation.

Then I'll get back to all the jumbled words and see about sorting them out.

Do you guys need this ball back?

Thursday, August 12, 2010

Personal Hell

Tell me how the Frack I am supposed to answer this to make an " artist's statement"?
My gut reaction, first round answers will not be appropriate:

QUESTIONS TO ASK: Writing an Artist’s Statement

Consider the following questions when writing about your own work, whether for self-reflection or for someone else.

1. Will you take another writing class?

  • Not unless one of my children is being threatened.
  • And even then, when the kids are safe, the people who forced me to take the class better watch their backs.

2. Have your goals as a writer changed?

  • No, I still want to be a better writer purely for the sake of craft and not go anywhere near publication.
  • This goal is apparently not supported in any writing class.

3. What’s the most important thing you have learned?

4. What do you wish you had learned that you didn’t?

  • Anything remotely like creative writing.

5. What do you want to say about your work?

  • I'm sorry.

6. What would you write if you had the time and talent to write anything?

  • A heartbreaking work of staggering genius - or something happy that an audience of three will appreciate and start a small cult based around it.
  • Oooh - or an action/buddy film that starred Angelina Jolie and Sophia Loren kicking everyone's ass. I'd need to be a time traveller as well as a talented writer with unlimited time - but hey - I'd have unlimited time to work out little technical details like that.

7. What have you learned about your writing habits?

  • I do not work and play well with online creative writing courses.
  • I can indeed write from a place of anger, solely to reach the goal of pleasing a mediocre critic who only likes things that are less than 2000 words, and favors powerpoint presentations as opposed to instructional feedback.

8. Do you see yourself as part of a writing community? Do you prefer to work in isolation, focusing on the work, and reading?

  • Not unless the writing community has the crazy lady that lives in the house on the hill and tells other writers to get off her lawn. In that case, I am a member of that community, and I am on that lawn brandishing a chainsaw and calling "Here, kitty, kitty . . . ."

9. What’s the most important thing you learned about getting and giving feedback about work in progress?

  • People have very, very low reading comprehension. This low level of reading comprehension is exacerbated by last millennia's GUI formats and a horrible bulletin board structure leaving me unsure whether to rant at the software developers or the readers, thus encouraging my silence.
  • Oh! and that the instructor will not correct a classmate when they have obviously not read the same story we are commenting on, even when said classmate thinks the guy being kidnapped in the shower is committing suicide instead. . .

10. What techniques, authors, or exercises have been most useful to you?

  • Since we were exposed to almost no techniques or authors, and the exercises were all castrated into pseudo "work-for-hire" things slanted towards generating hack pieces, I would say that the most useful exercise was my exposure to flash fiction. That exercise has now created a deep seated hatred for the form that can only be compared to my core hatred of vampire fiction.

11. What insights have you gained into the practice and art of creative writing?

  • See 10.
  • Oh and rage. I've gotten a lot of insight into irrational rage.

12. Has your voice changed? Is your writing truer, deeper, better?

  • Are you suggesting I go through puberty or a sex change and start writing porn?
  • Would you be forcing me to write this porn from a memoir perspective while playing Daft Punk or Kanye?
  • I've always suspected that about you. . . .

13. What authors do you want to read now (has that changed)? Do you have writer role models?

  • I am desperate to get back to clear writing and entertaining fiction. I shall cleanse my palate with some nice Andrew M. Greeley, reread some Heinlein and Gaiman, and studiously avoid anything that won a Pulitzer or was lauded by the New Yorker circa 1978. I will immerse myself in some Karen Armstrong thought experiments and some David McCoullough, just because he's awesome.
  • My writer role model is Esther M. Friesner who was also my photographer once when I was covering Toy Fair. When I hit my second childhood I want to be just like her.

14. What’s your best piece from the semester?

Ok - so this isn't going to help me write a "extended piece of non-fiction where the writer explores process, inspiration, and artistic progress." which is supposedly the goal of an "Artist's Statement".

The thing I really learned is that this class is not the way for me to break through to my former creativity - however it's doing wonders for my extended studies in curmudgeonliness.

Please - if anyone out there knows the value or has successfully written an Artist's Statement - please, please share- I'm dyin' here . . . . .

Thursday, August 5, 2010

Birthday Poppet Picks a Cake

The Boy is having one of those important birthdays this summer. So the Birthday Poppet and I went shopping to find the perfect cake to take up to him, because he visits someone else's world in the the summer. This will be his last birthday as a visitor to that world. If he goes back after this birthday, it will be because he is working there.

If he works there, it will be because he's pretty good with bow and arrow.

Back to the cake.

There are lots of rules for visiting the visitors of the Other World and we have a system - we bring sushi, we pack enough to feed the natives, and like all good Red Queens I make sure that we can serve high tea.

Then we bring out the gift and the cake.

Because there are no candles allowed in this world ( they apparently do not trust me or my clan with fire - yet they supply my offspring with weaponry - I find this inconsistent) the Birthday Poppet, which belongs to the Boy, sits upon the cake and pretends to be a candle. The boy makes the Birthday wish and blows on the Birthday Poppet and then we all sing to him in two or three languages.

We no longer sing charmingly off key like we're supposed to because of the habit we have gotten into of singing Tom Lehrer songs together. We've lost the knack of not harmonizing.

We have been doing this since the Birthday Poppet arrived, this is third Birthday since he was first given to the Boy. That first time he was the gift. Here is this year's cake - a tiramisu cheesecake.

The Birthday Poppet was surprised I had considered anything else. The Boy discovered this cheesecake in November and talked about it fondly many times since.

The boy made his wish, we shared our food and a lovely time was had by all until the gatekeepers of the world caught on to the fact that we were still there longer than we were supposed to be - but time runs differently there, so we told them it was Time's fault.

And a lovely time was had by all - and the leftover tiramisu cheesecake came back home with the Birthday Poppet who was quite happy to celebrate with the leftovers at home. He is already planning things to celebrate the Boy's major birthday when he comes back to us, however I'm pretty sure it will be with the same cake.