Tuesday, April 29, 2008

Guest of Guest of a Guest

I was a guest of honour.

Me! GuestofaGuest asked me to be a Guest of GuestofaGuest (say that a few times..) and write a blog entry...

I was floored, to be honest.. I mean, they are on the pulse of what is what in New York, and I'm slogging down in the tunnels and on the decks of the Ferry and avoiding crazy people. However, I took up their offer, and had a great time giving my version of life in New York.

I'd be honoured if you'd read it... I'm off to early bed, so I can early rise, and head off to my Mama's.

Y'all take care now, heah?

Sunday, April 27, 2008

The Drift of Time

There are places you remember.

Wednesday, I head back to one of those places.... a place of heavy air, sweet tea, front porches, people who say, "Why, look! It's QuinAnne!"...who have known me since before I was born--who know my Mama, my Mawma, my Pawpa, his Daddy, his Daddy's Daddy, and so on back generations. They know the family secrets (why we never plowed in that back corner in great Grandpa's land), who married who and why... they talk about how both of Duck's boys were "he-shes, don't you know...and moved to live in the Quarter, leaving Alice in that big ol' house with her Momma"... it's the interwoven fabric of time and family, as tight as the moonflower and honeysuckle vines that cover the sides of houses.

I'm going back to asphalt roads, red clay, huge oak and pecan trees....to heavy meals, long Sunday afternoons, slow strolls in the ease of the dusk when it's cool enough to move, green grass, flowers tumbling, train whistles in the far distance...where sugar coats everything from the crust of a cobbler made with freshly picked blackberries to the words that take their time leaving the speakers mouth.

Back country Mississippi.

There is something to be said for that part of my world... I remember weekends spent there, chickens slaughtered by Aunt Id and my grandmother and the Volkswagon, drinking Coke out of bottles with a hole punched in the cap by the ice pick, waiting for the train to swoop through and throw out the bag of mail--the wind of it's passing swallowing up our screams of delight as we waited for it to race on, allowing my brothers and I to not only look for that thin mail bag holding the goods of the mysterious Uncle Sam, but, to see if our pennies had stayed on the track... gone from good currency to flattened bits of copper....always, always, as the train moved over the spot where the pennies were... we grabbed each other, our stomaches dropping in fear, our screams rising to a fevered pitch... would our three bits of metal really throw all of those boxcars off the track, causing chaos and destruction? The combination of fear and hope churned in our souls, devil fighting good until the train passed... relief fighting disappointment as the caboose passed, the waves that came our way met with a fair-weather wave from us as we climbed down to seek our goods.

Just once, just one time.... we sorta kinda wished maybe perhaps a few cars could slide off the tracks, please?

I hold whispers of memory... my tiny grandfather, white hair, large cigars, thick glasses...hearing aid turned up to catch my voice. Holding my hand, walking down to the Post Office--pointing out trees and bushes and flowers--" That's an azalea.. and that's a beech. Over there, it's a magnolia, baby. Look! Quick...see the hummingbirds??" I always wanted to hold one of those...and he'd say they were just too quick for that to happen. I wore railroad overalls, because he worked for the railroad, and thus, I wanted to look like I worked on a railroad. When we walked, he'd wear crisp grey pants with a white shirt my grandmother had washed and line dried and ironed. My hand fit into his as we walked along, unlike my other grandfather, who was large....I could only grasp his fingers when we walked. We were a pair-- his white, white hair smoothed over from a side part, my brown hair brushed into curls, he'd curve down, speaking to me. Those are my memories of him... those walks. I carried that to my own children; I do it now with C... "See? Those are tulips. Over there is a rosebush. That is an apple tree, see the flowers? They will become apples!" Bonding time, teaching time. A way of showing love. For me, the smell of cigar smoke brings me back to those long walks with a man who reduced his quick pace to my slow one, and would bend over to my size to discuss whatever it was I wanted to discuss, pointing out things with that hand holding the cigar, his soft drawl holding me tight, he listened to me, as if whatever my four year old voice said held the weight of great importance. Patience and love were his gifts to me.

His wedding ring fits my pinky... he was a big man in every way but his size.

I'm going back to help my Mom for a bit.... a week of slow times, family, the terrier will be there. Mother and I will share a bed, a small house, she'll get on my nerves, I'll baby her, she'll fuss, but, she'll love every minute of the time.

We'll drive out to the old home, which is owned by others now...go over and look where Aunt Id's house used to be, until it finally collapsed under the weight of it's memories and termite damage. I'll put flowers on my Papaw's grave. My Mawma isn't buried there, even though her name is on the headstone. She said she had her time in Mississippi... she didn't want to lie for eternity with that "....damn red mud in her face."

I'll drink sweet tea, smell the roses in mother's garden, the mint and the herbs, and half listen while she gossips about people she knows and I have no interest in... fall into that half somnolent state you live in when you are there.

Think about what I've got to do, know I should be doing it, and then... well, I'll have some more sweet tea.

Some places, you simply don't move very fast....unless you are a hummingbird. Even then, you can come to rest, if you choose.

Wednesday, April 23, 2008

Bless the Children

Sometimes, you hear something, and you realise you can actually take that knowledge and use it.

I read Guest of a Guest. I like to pretend I would actually know what to do at one of the events they attend, to wear an über chic dress and mingle, when I am more at home in clothing that is more retro than über and would be pretty tongue tied, or say something totally unsuited for the event. Still, it's nice to dream, so, I live vicariously though ModelBehaviour and Guest of a Guest.

On April 8th, GoG published a great article on Somaly Mam, an extraordinary young woman who survived being sold into prostitution by her family as a young girl. Not as a teen or a young woman--as a young girl. Survived is the key word. That she has a smile which reaches out to those around her gives faith in the resilience of the inner being.

One line in the article stood out, in a heartfelt, beautifully written article that was full of words we should never have to discuss, about a subject that shouldn't exist...but does...

“Child and pimp should never be used in the same sentence,” exclaimed Petra Němcová. (the model founded Happy Hearts Fund for disadvantaged children worldwide).

We can help. We can make a dent in keeping the human race from forgetting children, we can remember children are not something to be tossed aside with less thought than given the pets so many have. I don't begrudge the rights animals have... when I think many eat better, have better homes, more rights than a huge number of third world children... it worries me.

As a race, we have to step up and protect our young. Treat them with respect, love, care, concern...

Right now, you can do a small bit, here in New York, with a special showing of the film, Holly.
The paypal link on Guest of a Guest will direct you on how to buy the tickets.

This is a film everyone should see, I feel...but, those two special screenings that allow you not only a viewing of this amazing film, but, a chance to contribute to a cause we should hold near and dear to our hearts...

Saving our children.

Monday, April 21, 2008

Torso Divine

Our Neville had a secret of his own.

After the portentous meeting with Margaret that first time, when she thought she alone knew of their future, before she took herself off for Her Adventure, before settling down to her life with Neville--he, too, had taken one look at Margaret, watched her as she came across the Fitzmorgan's lawn that day... her pale rose summer dress floating around her slim legs, wide mouth smiling at something that silly prat Duddy Lindsey-Gordon was saying to her....he saw the sun glinting on her soft brown curls, saw the high cheekbones, those intense eyes...he could see the hint of the warmth of the woman she would one day become, and he was lost.

Margaret thought she knew all, but, Neville understood full well she would be settling when she married him. That she had it in her to draw in anyone she wanted, so, he decided to give her the best he could; he never wanted her to regret being with him, a middle class English man whose middle class family went back hundreds of years into the green grass and soft air of Devon history.

He put her on the train, and took himself off to his last year at University. He read her letters, seeing between the lines, and not begrudging her whatever good times she was having...he trusted her solid good sense and he knew in the end, she'd be with him for the rest of their days. He was willing to give her that year to remember.

In the meantime, he needed to make enough money to buy her That Ring. The one to show her his devotion, love and admiration. One that she could wear with pride when she showed it to her mates, who were marrying doctors and lawyers. Neville was a dear, sweet man...solid, kind,clever, but, not terribly smart, and he was clever enough to know this. He took the courses open to him that allowed him a career where he'd be well placed, give him a tidy retirement, and give them both a good standing in the community.

Agriculture was the way to go.

It did not, however, give him a large amount of cash to start his marriage. The family funds were going to buy them a nice little house....three bedroom detached cottage with a large back garden, a sitting room, a lounge, nice fitted kitchen and a garage. He had no money left over for That Ring.

He answered Margaret's letters with easy going letters of his own, talking of his swimming on the University team, the rowing he did, and his gymnastic competitions. All of these, along with the work on the farms, had given Neville a splendid physique.

A very splendid physique.

Along with this physique, kind manner, loyal, loving and dear behaviour, Neville was..... shy. If not for his unwavering belief that he was destined to marry Margaret, he'd never had said a word to her, and remained by the arbor, hidden by the wisteria. Neville was happiest in the barnyards with the farmers, talking cows and milk production... he never understood why their wives and daughters, and on occasion a son or one of the hired hands, wanted to be in his presence.

Neville didn't see himself as they did.... his lean arms, and muscled broad chest were usually covered by a thin white shirt when he went out to help. Trousers clung to his well built legs. He had a strong face, used to laughing, and crinkles already were forming around his deep blue eyes. Yes, Our Neville was quite the man. Quite the very, very shy man. He dodged invitations to dinners, church fêtes, country dances or any other form of social gathering.

He spent his time wondering how to get the money needed.... what would he do?

One day, it happened. While climbing out of the pool, he was approached. A woman gave him her card... she was a sculptor, she said. She lived in Cornwall with her husband, she said... and was visiting friends. She would like to sculpt him, and would pay him to model for her. The price she gave him was enough for That Ring, and a plain band to go with it.

Neville never gave it a second thought, and accepted. A time and date were set, they shook hands, and he was committed to the deed.

A week later, he arrived at her studio, set inside the gardens at her home.... it was there he found out the cavet... it was to be a nude. Neville was a man of his word, however, with a bit of discussion, he removed his clothing, getting ready to take his place, he discovered not only his benefactor was to going to sculpt him, but, a few students of hers were going to also take advantage of his, as she put it, ".....ancient Greek proportioned body." Peeking out, he saw two of the students who attended his University in attendance.

This was a pickle. He motioned Dame Barbara over, and explained his very real concerns. How could he finish his degree? He'd be mortified. These people would be at his wedding!! Neville was a shade of red not seen before on this planet. Dame Barbara only half listened, secretly wishing she had her paints at hand, to try and capture just that shade of scarlet.

A compromise was reached... Neville would pose... the study would be done, the statues and paintings could be completed...

Neville stepped onto the stage. As he removed his robe, a gasp went up as the students were overwhelmed not only by his body, but, by.... his Great Package.

So awed were they, the fact he had a pillowcase over his head with eyeholes cut out was ignored.

"We are doing a headless torso!", announced Dame Barbara. Pencils flew across sketch pads, oils were put onto canvas, students moved around him. Neville was allowed time to stretch, a break was called for lunch, each time, he robed, and stepped behind the curtain. No one ever saw his face.

For a month, every weekend, he journeyed over to Dame Barbara's place, and posed. Every month, the students gasped, never getting over either Neville's musculature nor the Great Package. At the end, only Dame Barbara created a sculpture that captured Neville in his glory. It was displayed in a show of hers at the Tate, one Neville was invited to see, an invitation he chose to ignore.

Margaret loved her ring, the carat sized deep red ruby sunk in a channel of gold, with two diamonds on either side. It was an Art Deco setting, something Neville had seen in an antique dealers, something he felt matched her, going with a quote from the Bible, that a good woman is worth more than rubies. She showed it to all, turning her hand this way and that, letting the sun catch it, sending sparks of light.

Neville never spoke of the job he'd taken, saying only he'd earned the money doing this and that. Among all the other things Neville was, he was also an innocent of sorts. On their fifth anniversary, he took Margaret to Cornwall, where they visited the local branch of the Tate, set in Dame Barbara's former studio, walking the Sculpture Gardens.... passing one piece called "Torso Divine". Neville thought nothing of it, walking past with his brochure, eyes scanning for the next piece.

Margaret took one look, and smiled with that wide mouth of hers, recognising not only the small mole on a right hip, but, the left curve to the generous heft of The Package. She hurried after Neville, slipping a gloved hand into the crook of his arm, loving him for the sacrifice he'd made to give her the ring she wore, never letting on she knew.

On occasion, for the rest of her life, she'd glance down at her left hand, turn it in the sun, letting the ruby and diamonds send sparks of light out and think to herself she was wearing a cock rock... she'd chuckle as she sought out her husband, to thank him for what he'd done. Neville always thought these odd bursts of laughing passion were the best times he and Margaret had in their private lives. He never understood what brought them about.

And he wasn't about to stop and figure it out--why fix what isn't broken?

Saturday, April 19, 2008

Say Cheese

I don't own a camera.

Okay, I do. In fact, I own tw..thre..four of them. None of them work, which will surprise no one that knows me well, or who has read this journal for any amount of time. I tend to kill anything that has a battery or is digital or that has beyond your basic wind up innards. I like to consider it a gift. I know I receive thank you cards from a number of company's that I personally keep in business. Currently, Apple is rubbing it's hands in glee with me as a customer.

My friends and family politely keep me away from all of their electrical gizmo's. The Weather Guy wouldn't even let me carry his newly purchased iPod out of the C word when he purchased it in January.

I mean, really.

Looking back on it, smart move.

My last camera was your basic PhD camera... Push Here Dummy. I managed to kill it fairly quickly.... however, it wasn't ME per se, it was when I poured a bottle of water by accident when I was carrying it in my purse that caused it's death. Therefore, you really can't blame me... I mean, you can...but, you can't.

I digress.

I've realised, however, with all the cameras I've owned, I never took photos... I'm not sure I have more than 47 photos of HRH, and she's 20.

I ride the Ferry or walk the city or look over London... I scan faces, landscapes, sunsets, cathedrals, see the juxtaposition of various objects that catches my eye... a million things zip past me... I know I don't have the eye of an artist to capture this thing...

It's why there are people like Miss S, who is a master with a camera.

This is why postcards were invented, for people like me. I go on holidays, and buy them, and pretend I took that perfect picture of the changing of the Guard at Buckingham Palace (that I've only driven past) or of the London Eye (that I've still never been on, thanks to a hangover after a looooooong gin game) or gone to the top of the Empire State Building. I take lots of photos of people I don't know, posed against the backdrop of the city or the Statue of Liberty (please, can someone take a brush and clean it?) for the tourists who strain to hold their arm out to get all of them in the picture. People and places I know? Not so much.

In the end, I know this--I'd rather live the event, they lose it while focusing a camera.

That's my line, and I'm not going to move away from it...

Our Neville Fact:

Tomorrow, Neville's life while Margaret was away on Her Adventure.

Friday, April 18, 2008

Hey, Ma! Look At Me! I Can Fly!

The Jarhead called.

He had me take a look at the video below.... he said it's all about his job.. and the men (pilots) he works with. He said, "Listen to the words, it's what we think about those guys who fly."

I laughed very hard, then. But, you know, I worry about who is up there-- in those big flying machines.

And decided I won't be visiting him on base any time soon.

Tuesday, April 15, 2008

Congratulations! It's a Book!

Six Sentences published it's first volume of writers today.

People who have far better things to say than I do put in a great deal of work... visit the site, if you would, and see how you, too, can get a copy.


Monday, April 14, 2008

Margaret and Johnny Were Lovers

It's something she never talks about.

Long ago, and far away, our Margaret had a secret life. It started the summer before she and Neville married. They had met at a mutual friend's home...she found him dear and sweet, and knew from the moment they shook hands he would be her future husband--a man of stability and kindness and, she knew, never ending British middle classness; she knew and accepted that would be her place in the world.

She yearned for one bit of life to hold on to, the thing she knew in her bones she'd been created for, the something to take out of her memory chest late at night in her old age... that she could roll over in her mind, so crisp and clean she'd again be able to taste and smell and touch all that occurred in that time.

Our Margaret wanted An Adventure.

So, in her Gap Year, she took her future in her hands, packed her bags, and hopped the train and boat to Paris with her best friend, Amanda Smythe-Barnes of the Malmsbury Smythe-Barnes', going there to seek their fortunes.

Amanda fancied herself an artist, and our Margaret was svelte, and blessed with clear skin and intense eyes. They roomed in a garret in Saint-Germain-des-Pres, surrounded by students, artists, and jazz clubs. They absorbed everything around them, dwelling in that place of living forever you have only once in your life. They were alive and careless of that fact and nothing could touch them.

Margaret found modeling for the House of Dior and Oleg Cassini along with other famous designers, she was never a top model, still, she made enough to make her portion of the monthly bills. She and "Mellie" spent their nights dancing with the various friends they made or being taken out to dinner and being wooed by a few of those older, wealthy men who purchased the designer clothing for wives and mistresses; this was, of course, Paris.

Margaret wrote Neville, who was slogging out at University, light frothy letters telling him of the art work and simple things, never mentioning the men who asked her to be their mistress, or the artists who begged her to become their lover, men she laughingly refused. Her way of defusing the situation was always so light, egos were never damaged, friendships ensued, she carried on immersed in all that was young, free and Paris. This was going to be a part of her life she would never share, a part that would shape her, changing her from the untrained dabs of Mellie's art to the defined intensity of Dali.

Tragedy struck, and Mellie was called home, her Father had gout, and her Mother needed help getting the dogs ready for the round of shows coming up, the spaniels always listened to Mellie's brash voice, and off she went, her time done, ready to face life as a country wife. With a month left on their lease, Margaret chose to stay on, to finish out Spring in Paris.

It was two weeks later, on the 14th of April, it happened. Walking down the street, the last of her modeling done, determined to do nothing more but enjoy Paris as a tourist, the heel of her shoe broke, she tripped... and fell into the arms of a man so beautiful, her breath caught in her throat... He tried to speak to her in terrible French, and she laughingly told him in her clean British tones she was fine. He insisted on giving her a taxi ride to her flat... by the time they reached it, they were in each others arms, something a small portion of Margaret's mind told her was very, very wrong. The larger portion said, "Fuck it." and she sank into the world she'd waited for, prepared for, longed for--this was what she had been created to find.

They spent the next two weeks lounging about, talking, touching, passion interspersed with laughter as it should be... doing all the things you do when you are young and in love and in Paris. Sprawled on her bed, drinking wine, strolling the City of Lights in the dark, holding hands. They spoke of their lives before each other, but, never mentioned a future--they knew they didn't have one. It was the now that consumed them.

One afternoon, she went to meet him, and their embrace was so intense, so telling of a couple bound to each other, a photographer snapped it, giving them a copy that Margaret keeps hidden away; it is the essence of all they were to each other.

Time is not always our friend, it was not theirs, and, like all love stories, this one has a sad ending. The man had to go on to his future, mapped out for him long before he met Margaret. She closed up the flat, touching the sheets, looking out over the roofs, breathing in the last of him in the air around her.

A month later, Neville proposed, she accepted, they married with a beautifully done wedding, her dress a gift from Cassini. They waited to have children... she wanted to see if she'd ever find the same layers of knowledge in this man that she found in the other in those 14 days... Although they found comfort and a deep respect, with Neville adoring Margaret, and her initial knowledge of who he was in her life settling into an abiding love... she never understood him in the same way, and he found her looking over the garden at times, wondering what she was thinking about.

He wondered about the interest she took in American politics for a time, and supported her belief the bright young President would change how America took on the world. He was puzzled by her deep grief and depression following that day in November, putting it to her pregnancy and her soft heart.

She thinks on those days in Paris, and feels his presence, waiting for her.

Friday, April 11, 2008

"You Are Ashamed Of Me!"

When I first saw this man, I thought what an amusing entry he would make on my journal.

Standing on the ferry, he spoke far to loudly into his phone, his one-sided argument spilling over into the crowd around him, as he leaned against the outside hull, a paper bag in one hand, the other holding that phone to his ear, and his voice... strident, sliding from strident to coaxing as he paced back and forth along the wall.

"You are my everything. My whole family knows about you and NO ONE IN YOUR FAMILY KNOWS ABOUT ME!! You have me in a closet. You are ASHAMED OF ME!!"

He went on and on, lacing the sentences with a variety of expletives. I stood by the door going out to the deck with a young woman...we exchanged glances and giggles. As the boat docked, he announced to his unknown to us love he would call them back, and my newly bonded friend and I strained to see who this voice belonged to, betting each other he would end up with the other one on the journey home.

There he was, pushing past everyone, anger personified. Tattoos covered his neck and arms, his pants in the low riding position favoured by younger men, dark jacket... his face looked like a blurred Michael J. Pollard, overlaid with bitterness.

We all moved from the boat, rushing to our connecting points, and...he stepped down the stairs to my train. My new found friend pointed at me and laughed.

I walked as quickly as possible to pass him and get into a car... he chose the same car.

Stray dogs and sad people tend to follow me.

Once settled, he flipped open the phone again, dialing the number, and picking up the conversation where he'd left off--again in that loud voice, the full vocabulary of expletives, only now...I could hear the pleading tone underlying it all.

He asked her to move from where ever she was so she could talk to him... If she couldn't hear him, just give him a few minutes, move to another room. Didn't he mean anything to her? Remember that night they went out in the City and had such a great time? He loved her, didn't that mean anything? Why did she hide him away from people, was she ashamed of him? He knew he didn't deserve her, but, he'd do whatever he could to make her feel proud.

The battery in his phone was dying, he said... he'd call her again from his house. "Why not? Are you dumping me? But...."

Everyone around was focused on newspapers, the night outside the windows, the floor. All while we listened to his life fall apart in such a public place.

My stop was called, I stood up opposite him, as he opened the bottle in the paper bag and started to drink from it... I didn't know where to look.

Days later, writing about this as amusing--his mannerisms, the wild phone call, the drinking from the paper bag--is eclipsed by the memory of his face, as he understood he wasn't good enough.

Empathy will change your perspective on how you decide to write a story.

Our Neville Fact:

This weekend, due to the high demand* for Neville and Margaret information, there will be an entire post to catch you up.

*okay, one person...still.

Thursday, April 10, 2008

Not My Six

This grabbed me.

Jina Moore, who lives and writes out of South Africa, wrote a Six Sentence that simply floored me in it's intensity, it's depth, it's truth.

I've also linked her blog, which has the same piece on it....

We see things, we are stunned by what we do, and far too often, we turn out heads and move on, doing nothing.

It's time we stop, take a stand, and do something, somewhere.

Find your cause, stand strong, and fight.

Thank you, Jina.

Monday, April 7, 2008

Slacking Off

Yes, I am a slacker.

And, I don't just mean some parts of my body slack, I mean I've slacked off in putting down words and thoughts and blatherings... from what I've seen, many a person has hit this wall. A feeling of, "Well, what do I say?"

I'm ashamed of myself, to be honest... I ride a Ferry full of people to look at, listen to, a bigass City that has something going on at every moment, I have the Boys to fill in the cracks, friends around... and I've not written a word.

Ich bein ein slacker.

Or something along those lines.

Tons going on in the lives that interlink with mine... Miss Sof is going off to France to work on an art project, to finish out the circle of a story in her family... I'm looking forward to hearing the ending. GW had a birthday yesterday, which we celebrated with that ManofHers, Sortamom, a good friend of the Widow's, and lots of lovely Chinese food. I was taken to MalWart, where I purchased left over Easter goodies.


Not as if I'd mailed the kids their Easter baskets yet... now, they'll have more.

C. has been filling me in on the many kinds of animals of all kinds that are going extinct. We have a daily discussion, which takes up the hour of his homework, and is a great bargaining tool in getting said homework done. One animal, five words on his practice sheet. Eventually, it's all completed and we can play.

The Investment has his car back, working on repairs and blah blah blah... I tuned out when he and Doppleganger were in chat together. Oil...gas... wait! There I go again.

MrsS told me the peach trees bloomed, then, it snowed, so, we'll have peachacots this year... woot!

Godmother is rocking along on chemo... I rang, and she was peddling along on her exercise bike. That woman amazes me. And, she'll outlive us all.

Austere sent me a poem, so beautiful... I treasure it. I printed it and framed it and it hangs on my wall. It soothed me in times of sorrow.

Peter and GW and Doppleganger and I have Gizoogled every page we can find. Try it. Prepare to laugh.

Spring is here, the bums are coming out of the train stations and seeing their shadows... pretty soon, they'll move into the parks... this is when you know it's spring in New York.

There, I've babbled... I'm off to snoop around, and actually find something worth writing and reading.

No more slacking off, it's boring, isn't it?