Tuesday, June 28, 2011

life

life is light
life is a morning
life is a container for joy and regret
life is butter on toast
and the memory of butter.

Monday, June 27, 2011

Dedicated

According to the Pimsleur Advanced Spanish Conversation CD, the proper way to ask people what sort of work they do is “¿A quĂ© se dedica?”

This phrase has been running through my mind all week. I wonder to what I will dedicate myself in this new stage of my life, after I have held my final garage sale and moved with my little motorhome to Miami for the winter.

Why the change? What moved me to spend the price of a small condo on a 21st century version of the old hippie VW bus and begin the process of de-thinging my life? The answer is that two feelings predominated the long, long grey Oregon winter: I was too cold and I was too possessed by my possessions.

So to what will I dedicate the coming winter, now that all my energy won’t be taken up with complaining about the weather?

This could be a time for work on the Great American Unfinished Novel (which at this rate will be classified as historical fiction), or on the folder of Great American Unfinished Short Stories, perhaps adding some plot twists to the myriad versions of one particular never-ending story that I’ve been working on for 30 years.

I’m looking forward to those projects, mostly because all the tedious work has already been done. I’m not a facile writer, but I think I was born an editor.

A writer is not painting a picture, which is flat. The best writing resembles sculpture. Sculpture is arrived at in one of two basic ways: material is added, as in clay modeling, or material is removed, as in work with marble. To me, the best writing is subtractive. Editing the written word is like cutting a diamond, reducing the lumpy brown rock of your prose to the smallest possible example of clarity and symmetry.

And so I’m writing this blog not to amuse or amaze some imagined legion of followers, but to flex my writing muscles, to get back to the habit of applying butt to chair until my words please me. To become familiar again with the heft of that hammer, and to keep chipping away at those stones.

Wednesday, June 22, 2011

Stardust

About the title of this blog: In 1985, I was overnight program host at a small big-band station in central Florida. A radio station in the pre-dawn quiet is a magical place, and as I idly spun the rack of commercials at my elbow my eye was caught by a label for a product I had never noticed before: “Stardust Bed.”

Five hours into my shift, it was easy to imagine a lovely gossamer bed, a bed of clouds; I pictured myself weightlessly floating through space on a bed made of stardust.

Knowing the reality was probably much less enticing, I held on to my fantasy and avoided playing the tape for two days. Then a script appeared in my production box for Star Heating and Air Conditioning. The script gave the words I was to read over what is called in radio a musical “bed.” The music would be Haogy Carmichael’s old tune Stardust. “Look in rack,” said the sales manager’s note. And I learned that two minutes of instrumental music was the only “Stardust Bed” that awaited me.

Yet that phrase, so full of possibilities, stayed with me over the years: in a short story about a fat girl’s hunger for weightlessness, in a poem about an itinerant jazz trumpeter, and finally, last year, in a blog about death, that bed on which we will all ultimately float among the stars.

First my father had died, then my husband, then my mother. Death surrounded me, leering like the villain in an old horror movie. Death was also holding out its hand to another person I cared about very much, and as the Oregon winter got grayer and grayer so did my viewpoint, my poems, my blog.

But life is what we have, not death. And life is good. Of course, it probably helps that I just spent five weeks in the sunshine of Miami.

And so I embark upon my newest life, selling or giving away as much as I can bear to part with, and even a bit more, ready to see what life offers next to a 66-year-old with a whole lot of been-there-done-that, a powerful storehouse of memories, a small white motorhome, and the warmth of Florida in her heart.

Stay tuned.
This blog will be about life and not death.