The Pyrenees---Southern France

The Pyrenees---Southern France

Saturday, January 22, 2011

I Love a Man with a Suit!

photo by mrdavenixon

CBS News Correspondent: What happened? Tell us your story...
"Fountain Lady":  I was just walking along in the mall, and when I fell into the fountain, no one rushed over to help me. No one! (dabs at her eye with a tissue)
CBS: Where did this video come from? 
"Fountain Lady": It must have come from the mall's security department. And instead of coming and seeing if I was all right, they were watching me (sniffles) and laughing at me. I mean, the fountain could have been empty and I really could have gotten hurt. I could have been a child, or an elderly person that fell into that water.  
CBS: (thinking, But you aren't a child or a senior citizen.  What you are is an idiot!) I understand the video then went viral. You got a call from a friend two days after it happened, telling you they had seen the video on youtube.
"Fountain Lady": Yesss. (dabs at eye again, adds a quivering lip in for a bit more effect)
CBS: Let's take a look at the video.


CBS:  I noticed in the video, you had your head down as you were walking, and it looked like you were preoccupied with something in your hands.  What was going on?
"Fountain Lady": I was texting.
CBS News Correspondent: You were texting?  What were you texting that was so important?
"Fountain Lady": A friend wanted to know my birthday and husband's birthday. I know now that I should not have been texting while I was walking through the mall. But no one came to see if I was okay (manages to squeeze a tear out of one of her eyes) until twenty minutes after it happened.
CBS: I understand you're going to sue the mall? (thinking, What kind of protection for "stupid" should the mall provide?)
"Fountain Lady": Yes. (dabs at eyes) My attorney says I have a good chance of winning buckets of money.
CBS: Luckily, you weren't hurt, were you?  I mean, you fell into that fountain and then just popped up immediately and stepped out of the water.  You weren't injured, were you?
"Fountain Lady": No, I wasn't, but my Blackberry was ru-ined! (sobs some more)
CBS: I am so sorry for your loss. (Correspondent pats "Fountain Lady" on the shoulder as he turns his face away, trying to suppress his laughter.  Suddenly a colleague walks over and hands him a sheet of paper.) Uh, I just got a report that you have outstanding charges against you.  You used someone else's credit card and charged $5,000 on it?  Altogether, there are five felony charges against you and...("Fountain Lady" rips the microphone off and rushes off the stage) Ma'am! Ma'am!  Why are you running off? (turns to the camera) I guess this interview is over. We'll update you with more details when they're available.

photo by MarkScott2011

(Note:  There IS  a woman who fell into a fountain at a Pennsylvania mall while she was texting.  She DID get a lawyer and planned on suing the mall, but then 5 felony charges against HER surfaced and suddenly, the law suit was dropped. Perhaps it's just a coincidence?)

photo by Daisy.Sue

Friday, January 21, 2011

A Slower Pace

       While reading Joanne DeMaio's guest post , I was reminded that photographs can breathe life into a blog.  If you're in a blogging rut, on the brink of catching cabin fever (and your family is not in the mood to reenact Stephen King's The Shining) include a photograph and let the image inspire...

        After I read it, I thought about all my photos from my last trip to France.  (Don't!  Don't run away!  I do not have three carousels full of slides to show you. I promise!)

         Three times I've gone. Three different love affairs. (Okay, so I am just imagining that I was successful in my stalking, and only in my dreams did I find Johnny Depp. Let me hold onto this fantasy for just another few moments.)  Each trip found me deeper in love with with the countryside and the people.

         What was Paris like?  The only glimpses I've seen of Paris is what can be seen at the airport, before catching a smaller plane and heading to Toulouse or Pau.  Some Many Most would say that it's a crime to travel to a country more than once and bypass such a famous city , that Paris is a city that should not be missed.  What can I say?  The France I love is slow-paced, it's full of rolling hills and gorgeous mountains, it offers food that is meant to be enjoyed as well as warm, funny people.

         In other words, the France I love is the rural France...The France in the midst of fields of sunflowers and hay and vineyards...The France nestled at the base of the Pyrenees Mountains...That's my France.

This is my sister's sister-in-law.
This unassuming vegetable dish was delicious,
but very rustic.
          What keeps me coming back?  I could say the bread. (True!).  I could say the out-of-this-world cheese. (True! So true!)  But what pulls me the most is the people's determination to enjoy life.

           Lunch at home takes two hours. There is freshly-baked bread to cut.  Several times during the meal. There are separate courses---some fresh fruit, then the entree, some salad, and then some cheeses to choose from. 

          Dinner takes three or four hours. The food is eaten leisurely, and whether it is at the noon or the evening meal, conversation and jokes and water and wine flow liberally. 

The Pyrenees Mountains
          Their love of life is evident everywhere. Flowers dripping out of flowerboxes. The tables outside restaurants and cafes, full of people drinking beer and wine as they savor their conversation.  Salad dressings made from scratch for the about-to-be-eaten salad.  Their fondness of open markets and walking places and little specialty shops, instead of huge department stores.

the outside wall of an ordinary home, made
more beautiful with flowers

       So, if you have had snow dumped on you and you're still stuck in the house, savor the slower pace today.  And if you are able to get out and about, try to enjoy the smaller pleasures of life. Celebrate and revel in the little things!   

Thursday, January 20, 2011

Writerly Friends

       Perhaps when you share your work with friends, you want them to gush. You want an outpouring of praise. In other words, you want to be part of a mutual admiration society.

       "I love this. It's great."
       "Oh, thanks but yours is so much better. Your   
          story is absolutely incredible." 
       "Thank you...You think so? Your images are
        simply phenomenal!"
         Yadda, yadda, yadda...
        If you share your work enough with people like this, you will need a thesarus with you at all times,  so you can get some words and phrases like "earth shattering" and "life changing" and "moving" and "chilling" sprinkled in with the normal great/fabulous/wonderful.

       However, if you are serious about writing, and you genuinely want to improve your story/poem/essay, you need to share your writing with people who are armed with spears.  And when they raise their spears, you need to raise up your shield and see where the spear points land.  And you need to write down where the dents are, so you don't forget...

photo by spaceninja

       With your writing, it's good to get constructive criticism.  A friend who can pick apart your who reads with a writer's eye...a friend who is not afraid to make suggestions...That is the kind of friend a writer needs.

       Yesterday evening, Linda O'Connell , while she was busy doing the sacred "Snow Day" dance over and over again (it worked!), she made some time to look at a story of mine.  Not only did she read it, but she gave me a bunch of much-needed suggestions to improve it, she gave some specific images to jumpstart my revising, and she sent me several places for resubmitting the story.

        Now, that does not mean I agree with all her suggestions.  There is one I've got my heels dug in about, but I did not use the strategy well, so I will tweak it but keep the technique. However, when a writer re-examines their work to "make their case" about a word choice or metaphor, their writing becomes stronger. 

        Thanks, Linda.  I will resend you the story when it is revised.  And I want to know from all the blogging writers that might read this:  Who do you share your writing with when you want some real feedback?  How do they help you specifically?  After all,

    Writers do not let friends write crap.

Monday, January 17, 2011

"Talk is a Way to Warm Up..."

         Natalie Goldberg, in her brilliant Writing Down the Bones, writes that talking with friends is a great way to warm up to the task of writing.

     "I remember sitting after a concert in the New French Bar in downtown Minneapolis with a writing friend and telling her about how I became a Buddhist.  Because of the intensity of her listening, the story, which I had told many times, took on a great brilliance. I remember the light off the wineglass, the taste of my chocolate mousse. I knew then that I had to write the story--there was great material in it...
     Talk is a way to warm up for the big game--the hours you write alone with your pen and notebook. Make a list of all the stories you have told over and over. That's a lot of writing to be done."
                              ----Natalie Goldberg

photo by tianarenae3

        This came to mind recently when I was telling a colleague about a troublesome phase my daughter went through fifteen years ago.  The "phase" lasted for many years. In fact, I would often joke and say, "She's got her head so far up her butt, she...," and when she started making some sensible choices on the occasional basis, I'd say,"Once in a while, she sees something other than brown." (Now my daughter has grown into becoming the best mother I've ever seen; I'm proud of her for hundreds of reasons.)  

        After I finished telling the story, my friend said, "I"ve got goosebumps. That's quite a moving story."

         I've told this particular story countless times. But this one person's reaction made me examine my story with new eyes.  Deciding that it was indeed a story worth writing down, I clicked away on my laptop, revised it, then submitted it.  Since it was in late December when I sent it off, I'm still waiting for a response...

        Who do you get together with so you can gossip and laugh and bring stories to life?  Who do you warm up with, in preparation for the lonely task of writing?