Tuesday, October 27, 2009

Thursday, October 22, 2009

Fall, Fell, Fallen, Falling

It's easy to forget a past emotional state. When your heart hurts so bad you wonder if you might actually have broken your breastbone or fractured a rib, who wants to recall the nitty-gritty details of how the hurt really felt?
Songs have a way of bringing those states back to us, I think--whether we want to be reminded or not. A couple of nights ago I was sitting in the kitchen of the man who loves me when he began playing Lucinda Williams' album Little Honey. I listened to this album everyday last October (in fact, I blogged about one of the songs here-- http://hisbigfatindianwedding.blogspot.com/2008/10/taxman.html when I was doing a writer's residency at the Virginia Center of the Creative Arts. And if you had asked me recently to recall how I was doing during that month on the slow trajectory of divorce recovery, I would have said,"Oh, I was pretty much over it. I was concentrating on my work... blah, blah." But hearing those songs again this October while sharing the kitchen table of the man I love, I saw the night and day of these 2 Octobers.
Which says something about memory and trauma and music. And love.
And I think it might say something about writing, too--how to get at what it was we were really feeling in a past moment.
Anyhow. If wishes were horses, I'd have...an empty pasture right now. There isn't anything I am really, really aching for.

The Not Poisoned Pen

I bought Mr. Ex a pen. A Mont Blanc pen. At the airport in Paris.
A peace offering, I thought. What could be more appropriate than a pen with which he could at long last sign the agreement on the division of our joint assets? Not that I thought we were particularly close to that moment, mind you. But I think if you want something to happen, you might as well see it, I mean really visualize it and so I imagined that fancy pen--shiny black with delicate silver trim in his hands.
I agonized over it a bit. Why buy a gift for the person who has caused me so much misery? Why offer peace? I thought about it over a glass of rosé and then walked back to the boutique where I'd stood staring into the case an hour earlier. I tried out two or three of the pens and bought the one that had the heft and feel of a pen I bought him at the airport in Paris about a decade ago. I'd been there for a week with a girlfriend and when I came home, I wanted to bring him something special. He told me right off the bat that there was something about it that wasn't his style, but eventually he decided he liked it and carried it in his shirt pocket until it broke just a couple of months before we did.

Mont Blanc, in addition to being a pricy pen, is also the name of a mountain in the Alps--the highest peak in Western Europe, in fact. The French like to call this mountain, La Dame Blanche (The White Lady) which has a certain peaceful ring to it.
There's a tunnel that runs beneath Mont Blanc and I like that image, too. The idea of something huge and immovable with a passageway that connects one country to another.

La Dame Blanche, in France, is also the name of a very popular ice cream dessert. Vanilla ice cream with chocolate sauce and whipped cream on top. Mr. Ex would like that. Of course, Mr Ex will have no idea about these images running merrily through my head.
But I hope he likes the pen.

Tuesday, October 20, 2009

Becoming a Writer

A friend sent me this link today to an interview with a writer named Ben Fountain. You can click to read the whole thing--
But my favorite part is below.

Many writers are hardly "overnight success" stories. How long did it take for you to get where you are today? Any rejection-slip horror stories or inspirational anecdotes?

It's embarrassing, but I'll go ahead and say it in the hopes that it will help keep some people going who should keep going -- I wrote for 17 years before getting a book contract. During that time I spent the better part of five years writing a novel about Haiti that never sold, and got enough rejections from magazines to fill a mid-size car. Had an agent who dropped me in the classic way, by not returning phone calls, never answering mail. It took about ten years of getting beat down for me to decide why I was writing, which was: I wanted to write. I wanted to get better, to write something that pleased me -- that struck me as authentic and real and artful. And it seems as if I had to burn through all expectations of worldly success before I could start doing that kind of work.

I've been working at my writing almost full-time since my marriage ended. A couple of years before that, I had begun to dabble. A coffee house writing group segued into classes at UCLA Extension (which were excellent.) Then the night that my now 20-year-old daughter and I stood next to her computer and pushed the send button on the last of her college applications, I was flooded with a sense of my own possibilities. In the two years since then--which pretty much coincides with the moment Mr. Ex and I split, I've set out to create a kind of writer's resume for myself (fellowships, getting some short pieces published) and to get my MFA. I love to read about writers who have found themselves on the long and winding road.

Monday, October 19, 2009

It might have been the full moon that made me do it. I called Mr. Ex while I was in France. I was begging for mercy, I sobbed to his voicemail--asking him to please co-operate in the division of our joint assets. I'd been waiting for weeks for a response to an email I'd sent him in which we went dancing around again over how things should be divided--but there was no response and I was feeling desperate. Maybe you'd like to suggest a revision because I simply have no more steam for this, I wrote in the email. I want all of this to be over, I want a life where I don't ever have to discuss dividing anything with you again. So, please, you propose something, please. Soon, please. I ask you to imagine what it would be like, really really like for you if the tables were turned. Go ahead imagine it. Somewhere between the email and the phone call, I depression-dialed my sister-in-law and it was 4 a.m. and luckily she didn't have her phone turned on. I think it's the lack of engagement that makes me feel so crazy--the silence, the nothing.
So all I hear is the clock ticking.
Time elapsed since Mr. Ex left: 2 years, 2 months, 3 weeks, 1 day and approximately 6 hours.
My attorney fees so far: Roughly $15,000.00

Sunday, October 11, 2009

The Norman Hole

"Le troue Normand," said the wonderful French sculptor who'd made a delicious lunch at her house just outside the tiny village of Saint-Sixte yesterday. She was explaining that sometimes in between the courses of a big meal, it's traditional in the French region of Normandy to have a shot of Calvados. The theory is that it aids digestion and opens up a place in one's stomach for the rest of the food. I remembered exactly when and where I'd heard first heard this expression and its explanation. It was 1985-- May to be exact. In a restaurant having dinner with with Mr. Ex as we traveled through Normandy. The owner came over to us with 2 glasses of Calvados and a little while later we were able to finish the delicious pork chops on our plates.
So yesterday, in the midst of devouring a salad laden with duck gizzards and dried duck breast, I fell into sort of a hole. But I climbed right out.

Friday, October 9, 2009


I might have thought the word "monetize" had something to do with Monet before I started blogging. I ignored the possibility of blogging for bread for a long time, but succumbed after I got anxious about paying my taxes. (I have no idea yet if I've made a single penny.) I like seeing which ads show up on the two of my three blogs that I've monetized. At first, His Big Fat Indian Wedding had ads pertaining to weddings--which was amusing. And there are always ads that might interest writers--which I like a lot. Today, for a short while there was an ad for a divorce lawyer. Now I'm fascinated. Wouldn't it amazing if Mr. Ex's law firm actually had an ad on my blog? I'll need to work some appropriate key words into future posts!

My French Underpants has quite a few ads actually in French!--which I think gives me a lot of credibility as a blogger writing about France. Of course that also means I can't actually read every word on my own blog which is weird. But I might learn a little more French that way.
My third blog, which I won't even name here out of fear that the title could be used as a key word for ad targeting is not monetized. I know what would be hawked there.

Thursday, October 8, 2009

The Water is Wide

As my writer's residency in France draws to a close, I'm thinking about the flow of this river called divorce. Where's the damn boat so I can just row across and get to the other side? Everything in my life is changing, flowing, transforming except where I am with Mr. Ex.
The division of our joint assets is a stagnant mess with something that looks like progress poking up out of the depths every now and then, but it turns out to be an illusion.
This bridge across the Garonne is the last thing I look at every evening as I sit outside on our quiet patio in Auvillar. At night it's all lit up and I've ventured across the road to it a time or two. Standing on the narrow footpath along its railing is an eerie experience.
Bridges make great metaphors. From here to there. From this to that. Wife to writer.
I'd just like to make my break from Mr. Ex before it's time to tip the boatman for the last ride to the other side.