The "Brit a Day" series

What does a months-long parade of attractive British men have to do with fiction, you might well ask? These gentlemen have inspired some lovely scenes, part of the life I live in my head. Over time, some of these scenes reach out to one another and begin to form a story. For the present, each one of these pictures provides a writing prompt for me, a way to keep me writing with a sense of passion and narrative, even when the stories are not yet fully formed.

Thursday, July 31, 2008

Church Cay, part 1

Some men who came into Baraterre today tell me that the little church my father built decades ago has fallen off the edge of Church Cay into the sea. A church that had been there before it, built in the eighteenth century, did the same thing a long time ago. The news has started me thinking. We want so desperately to believe that our lives are uplifted lines, like pistons below our feet that we fight to balance on as we are sent soaring, always higher, out of the crude depths of our origins. But they aren’t. Each life is a spiral, a series of concentric revolutions that brings us within arm’s lengths of our past, again and again.

This is the story of my spiraling life, and I’ll try to be brief. Maybe you can make something out of it. My story, that is, up to this point.

I was born on an island in the Exuma chain in the Caribbean. My parents were white missionaries, southerners. I was born about as close to godlessness as I possibly could be, under the circumstances, above a bar in Baraterre called Fat Billy’s Ball ‘n’ Chain. My mother was living there above the bar in a rented room, but my father was on another island by himself building a church with no windows, no doors, and no prospect of a congregation. In other words, a house of God that not even God would set foot in, if he could find a way inside.

Thursday, July 24, 2008

In the moment, in the past

I had coffee with my friend Michele this morning. Neither of us grew up here in Southern California, but both of us feel that we are supposed to be here. I think we were talking about clothes when Michele said, "It's always summer here." It is, and, you know, it isn't. You have to really look, but you start to be able to discern the seasons here in ways mostly having to do with the angle of sunlight at noon. I find myself thinking, "In a month it will be twilight at this time of day, not mid-afternoon," and "Where did the middle of July go?"

I told her a little about some stuff that's going on at work, and then I came home and got reflective. My summers used to be defined by design deadlines, my busiest season, preparing to roll out new sets for tours each fall. I had to be super productive. In my own parallel universe, I had both of my babies in summer. Summer is what kids anticipate nine months out of the year.

What I have loved about summers, a visual list--the outer banks of North Carolina

Islay in Scotland

thinking about getting a dog

not gaining weight

reading slutty books or Nancy Drew

not reading Joyce

riding around with my uncle who knows all the good stories
getting the filter removed from my vena cava

the tour de France

reading about the festivals in NME in the aisles of Borders

designing sets for operas.

Thursday, July 3, 2008

We Are Scientists

Disclaimer to photograph: We Are Scientists did not lip synch, and the audience was not composed of dogs.

I went to the Casbah to see We Are Scientists last night. I'd seen them in 2006 at the House of Blues (which seems ridiculously large to me now). I much prefer a sold-out crowd in a small venue like the Casbah; that is, if I have tickets. Anyway, I have an aquaintance in the band that opened for them, The Blood Arm. So I really went to see them, and they were smashing. I went in believing that I only liked We Are Scientists, but I left the Casbah knowing I loved them.
I don't take video at shows, and even if I did, it wouldn't be very good. So I'm putting in this link to something more polished. The dog is gorgeous, and it's a great song, too.

Tuesday, July 1, 2008

Poor Sid, conclusion

Part 6

I slept for the remaining two hours that Diedre guided us in climate-controlled comfort through the countryside. We arrived at the first antique store, all a little groggy from the long car ride. My mother paused outside the car in the overbearing heat to powder her face with her little compact, while the humidity was already varnishing my hair to the sides of my face. But we returned to air conditioning as soon as we filed into the front of the store. Just inside the door, an item caught my eye, a heavy dark oak chair with a severe, straight back and thick arms. I touched it tenderly, like it was familiar to me, imagining it embellished with leather straps stained with years of nervous sweat, copper plates smeared with handprints, hand-tightened nuts and bolts. Aunt Cookie saw me and said, “I thought you’d like that. It’s a lot like that Mission style of furniture you saw so much of out in California, isn’t it?” I just smiled at her and nodded. She had no idea what she was talking about and even less what I was thinking.

I sat down in the chair and felt the leather straps tightening in swift jerks across my chest. In my own way, I’d killed a couple of people, too, avoiding eye contact with anyone who might have the smell of gas on his hands, or wear the scent of cheap musk cologne or the scent of my past. I thought of poor Sid, how for years until today I remembered him as nothing more than the stupidest kid in school, and how liberating it was to admit that by doing so, I had sort of helped the world to kill him. Back in high school, we were already examining the moist, hanging bits of bruised flesh of other people, trying to find someone else’s deformity, hopefully worse than our own.

Now Sid’s bones would be scraped clean, and he could simply be no one. A condemned man, once he is past his fear, most know that good feeling. I saw my aunt in the back of the store, talking to the owner, pointing my way and laughing. I heard her tell him about me in the chair, “Look, Wendell, I do believe she’ll take it.”