OPERA OF THE NIGHT.


https://www.pandora.com/station/play/1486524031572378132.

I understand how to harmonize with tragedy. Tomorrow I may be Loulou, but tonight I am all adult.  The crashing of my life is cushioned and softened by music. Thank you, Puccini. Photo of my Malibu residency, it just seems to fit the opera. Or it could be Stairway to Heaven? I can’t write any more now, the music has modified my sadness so I’m going to say goodnight and pray for South Carolina and all my fellow Americans in the path of more disaster then me.

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THE LISTS OF LIFE


WHAT ARE THESE LISTS...  the long list is the list you started as a youth without even knowing you were making plans for your future. This is the list that does not have to be in writing, keyed in a Blackberry or posted on the calendar.

The long list is about cutting out, shocking the system and coming back unharmed. It is an exceptional adventure sensation we visualize while waiting for a flight at the airport, for the neighbor to turn off the leaf blower, for the light to turn green.

All of the things we monitor in our lives, like the need to have a cavity filled or checking the coolant level is multiplying and that short list is so long we rarely have time to consider the long list.  None of those items will make any difference in ten years, not one.

The short list is a big obstacle in the way of the long list. By the time we get to the long list, we may be crippled by fear, turned into a sofa shouting grumpy cynic or, worse than all the above, we may have forgotten what we wanted.

Waiting too long to start an adventure on the long list is looking at me in the face. It is  September, t128_2887his is the month of change. It  is going to be autumn, and if you live in a seasonal climate, it is going to land on your front porch.  Before the fall is scooped up in garbage bags and placed by the dumpster, my next  adventure is moving to the short list.

SARATOGA SPRINGS  BATTLEFIELD 2010- OFF THE LONG LIST

THE THINKER – THE IMPROVISER.


I was there a few days before I noticed a figure darting from one sea-lion to another. He gestured for me to follow but I couldn’t catch him.

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He caught me by surprise from behind and wiggled over to me.
‘Let’s eat. I’m starved.” The Thinker dove down then up above my head. He cupped his fins around my head and pulled my hair.
“Where you been my Fins?” I asked.
“Why?” He said as he let go of me.
“ It’s just a normal question?”
“I don’t answer those kinds of questions. I am building my sand castle! Wait till you see it–it’s going to blow you away. Everyone will be blown away!”
“Exciting! I’m so happy for you. Will you show me?”
“ Maybe. Don’t look at me like that. Your eyes, they draw me in. It scars me. I don’t know what to do with you little one. Who are you?”
He lowered his eyes and sucked in his gills.
“I really love you. I mean I want to be with you forever!”
You should make a book of shells and tell their stories. ”
” You’re right! I know their stories too!”
” You could make a lot of money.”
” I don’t think about that. When I need money I just ask for it and it comes. All you do is count what you have. ”
” You think that!”
“Yes I said it didn’t I. ”
We carolled between starlight nights and crimson sunsets on the rock porch exploring varieties of sea mates. He used his fancy fish feet to get us into private ceremonies, and parties. The fish authorities didn’t bother us at all. We crashed into a party of penguins, and we weren’t eaten alive. My eyes were always on the thinker; as pleasurable anticipation bubbled inside.  In the morning he read to me from his bible, and watched the seagulls. He drove me in many directions, unfamiliar ideas, and habits that got me to thinking so when we swam we were always talking.
“You need to lower your voice. Make it deeper.”
“Why?”
“Trust me.”
One day he swam me to a blow-hole.
“I’m not sure I can get through as easy as you do.” I said.
“Don’t say that. Follow me.” so I followed. I’d waited a long time to see the sand castle. As we expanded our gills and soared upward, my eyes searched for the castle.
“You see it? Isn’t it spectacular?”
“I see the sand yes, but where is the castle?”
“You don’t see it? Come on—really. ”
“No my fin. I don’t see anything but piles of sand.”
“ Look beyond the piles. You have to see between the lines. You don’t get it do you? You only look at what’s right in front of you. There’s castles everywhere; huts, hideouts, back alleys. ”
“Is this what you mean by patience?”
“ No! This is conciseness of the universe. We’re not alone you know. The skeletons and ghosts are here.”
“ Have you seen them?”
“ The water of Santa Fe is as crowded as pavement. I’m telling you what no one else will. You should thank me for that. I’m handing you the key to the universe.”
“ How about the key to a warm place to rest and food?”
“ You’re such a brat. Come on. I’ll take you
to shore.”
I met his power posse; and they all assured me they could reverse or  promote anything I wanted.
“If you are ever in trouble call me. I can fix it.”  the Thinker said.
“ Like what?”
“ Whatever you ask. You want to live forever under our safety net. You have to trust me. You’re a city cougar with a Range Rover and a brick house above water. Come on–don’t you see that. Most of the fish hate you. You need me.”
His eyes narrowed into dagger like bits of darkness.
“I’m not a cougar. You are the first young exotic fish I’ve swam with.”
“ Oh really. That’s not what I heard.
“ What did you hear?”
“ I know about you?”
“ Really. Then tell me what they say?”
“ You’re impatient, aloof and swim alone. ”
“ I’m not like that always.”
“ Well I know, I’ve seen inside you.”
One day he emerged as a sea monster, holding empty bottles and wailing. I felt a rush of empathy and covered him with my body. He wrestled in pain for days and then when he surfaced, he was wearing a different face, and his touch was absent. His teddy bear eyes were like bricks of strength.
“ I’m not coming back.” He said
“ Why?” I pleaded
“ Wrong question.”
“ What did I do?”
“ You don’t see my castle. I can’t be with you. All you think about is lobster and hotel vacations.”
“ I haven’t had lobster in years, or a hotel vacation.” He swam away, just as suddenly as he appeared.
It was like a knife severing me from one place to another. He despised me. His curiosity and mischievous cleverness triumphed over affection and companionship. His splashes exploded into monsoons of tears inside of me. I returned to my brick house and closed the drapes. Every night I danced and cooked. I sat on the porch in a spray of solemn sunlight and didn’t miss the waves or blow holes. I’d missed my dance music, old movies, journal and sanctuary of comfort. I made him vanish with a vow.

As I cut his sunflower from my yard, placed it in a vase and said, ‘when the flower dies so does my love for the Thinker.’ The sunflower died yesterday. I pulled off the wrinkled yellow petals and scattered them in a planted pot. Maybe he will come back as the beautiful sunflower I once knew.  But I know he won’t. Love is in all of us. How we give it and cherish it  is unique.  I still have my love. No one can take that.                           20141122_143530[1]

 

 

*

 

THE THINKER ON MY TRAIN


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I asked the Thinker why the universe brought him to me. ‘To guide you through Santa Fe and teach patience. Without it you will find yourself where you are now.’
‘Where am I now?’ I snapped. He clasped my arms around his neck and we swam to the center of the Plaza. There he opened a porthole and asked me to look through it. Historical images emerged like a kaleidoscope and the Thinker told me stories of Santa Fe. Some were humorous; like the bank robbers who dragged a safe down Palace Avenue and left cracks in the stone sidewalk. Other stories pointed to the feuds, violence, and mysticism surrounding the Vortex. He whisked me away to a mirror, floating sideways, and asked me to look into it. The reflection was me curled up with my knees to the chin, while a school of fish surrounded me. They were talking about my mermaid skin and long fins. I was touched. Then the Thinker took me to another mirror and there I was poised on a chair; reserved and grave. I looked like I was somewhere else.
He tossed me in a circle, waved his arms in conductor fashion and said, ‘Get rid of her. She’s not liked.’
The image troubled me and so I jumped off his back and crawled behind a sunken wooden door. I was there a few days before I noticed a figure darting from one sea lion to another. He gestured for me to follow but I couldn’t catch him.

GUEST POEM BY SOARING CROW


“Message in a Bottle”

 
Floating forever, on the tides of a thousand seas…..
 
With the lives of the oceans, and all that dwell unseen…..
 
Deep in the abyss, a multitude of eyes see unheard…..
 
yet from the fingers of a writer, there echos forth some words……………
 
Words of expression, artistic and true…..
 
Deep in her mind, she writes who is who…..
 
With an internal calling, writing creative and free…..
 
That enlightens the Worlds, of both you and me…..
 
Her thoughts they are written, of magic and spells…..
 
Just open that bottle, she has a story to tell……
 
 
from an admirer of your works

ADVENTURES WITH THE TIDE OF THE THINKER


Audrey. Photograph By Edward Quinn

I asked the sky to send the Thinker.  Then it  rained in southwest furry,  small 22A65Ca5ndFhXTcktfb98jnckTJl4rZP0060[1]white knots of hail and dark feuding winds. The thinker heard and whistled to me. It was a sweet flutist tone, and he appeared in black and grey, the silver lining of his head like a crown of light. Flashing the boyish grin, he opened his wrestling toned-warm fins to my goose bumpy arms, and I swam along side tentatively. Even though it was my chime, I was unsteady, unwilling to climb on his back, so we swam on our toes, around my house, and the Plaza. We battled sharks from Beverly Hills, whose fins were frozen from love and kindness; we faced one of our own school, who would not lend a dollar on good faith and loyalty for their Merlot Cabernet fish oil, and we strung pearls around each other necks, with a clasp that is easily unhooked. The current drove us through three more days of rowing backward, sleeping quietly without intertwinement, and meeting as friends instead of lovers.
The absence of touch, struck like a lightning storm. I didn’t see it coming, and I may be wrong. To read the Thinker is to understand his language; a circumcision of predictability, logic, or reasoning. Like a tsunami, uncharitable waves of enlightenment he doesn’t even understand drown his soul.
I understood that he airbrushed my appearance, and dropped deep into my eyes as they widened for him. I blushed before he engulfed me, and pressed my undertow.
If tonight was the last swim because of a storm I didn’t see coming, or understand. It is because my eyes blurred by his presence.
The tide goes out, but it always come back. Sometimes it touches where we left off.

CANDLES OF THE MOUNTAIN-MALIBU


                                                                   CANDLES OF THE MOUNTAIN PART 3

“Ahh Nico!  Come meet LouLou.” 
A young man with cha-cha rhythm danced in and kissed me on both cheeks. He and Chantal are speaking at a galloping speed in French, embossed with the wildest sort of laughter, and then another man, Speedy, a leading Parisian graffiti artist walks in, and addresses me without movement; just eyes that seem to sum me up speedily. Behind him is Nathan, a man of composed attentiveness. Then came Fabien, although we met a few days later, I include him now because creative nonfiction allows poetic license of time and place. Fabien is a Frenchman who owns a progressive gallery in Culver city, Castanier Gallery, and shows Speedy.

If the address is Malibu on the mailbox, it is not inside the house. This party began as they all crossed the threshold. The ooh la la’s,  kisses, hugs, gifts, and food that joined the beef, chicken and my guacamole was an appetite odyssey.

The evening began as some sort of theatrical reenactment of a French film. I have longed to return to Europe; instead I found it in Chanel’s home. You must meet Bibi, and Bruce. I coined Bibi, Joplin, because when she danced on the dining table, with her flowing blond hair and abandonment to free spirit she reminded me of Janis. Bruce, her husband wears a flag of acceptance for human imperfection and relished a young Walter Matthew. He is highly educated and so grounded in realism his wife’s antics do not astound him as some husbands may disapprove of such a blooming spirit. There was a Swedish beauty and her friend Shawn, a British theater actor, who inflamed the party with the grandest authentication of the English language in conversation, and joking that turned everyone into belly aching laugher. We were also joined by  two Brits from London; superbly mannered and educated professionals, Rebecca and James, and then a French woman with delicate features and European charm.
“Let us have a toast.” Shawn raised his glass in the light of candles and softly sliding sunlight. I suggested everyone join in with their own toast. When it came to my turn I said,

“  L’ chaim”
“Oh, you are Jewish?” someone called out.
“Yes. Can I stay?” I said with a smile to encourage laughter and not the awkwardness of being the only Jew. I’d rather people know so they don’t trip up and provoke my Jewish temper.
To be myself amongst strangers is rarely so effortless for me. Like the new moon rising over the mountains; the time for full powered laughter and elation had captured all of us. I felt that we were ravenous for a few hours of relief from the catastrophic state of world affairs that we are not personally suffering. There is very little discussion of current events in public places; and I have not seen many people reading the news. My gratitude for the freedom to luxuriate in a pampered and nourishing environment enlarged every time I watch the news.

The fog today has brushed the mountains with a thick white mist almost like a snow mass; yet the temperature is warm and humid and my pores feel moisturized. The wilderness holds my attention to reflection as the natural beauty of eucalyptus trees fanning the wind and wild flowers feeding hummingbirds surpasses the perfection of model bodies and designer outfits of 92065 residents.

Malibu is not all celebrities20140718_174353[1] and rock stars as you may think. There is an abundance of families that flock to the beach, and live the art of hanging out around the Malibu Mart. The community offers weekend festivals, and fund-raisers tied to the care of the ocean, landscape and horses. They offer child and adult surf classes, book readings, hiking clubs, and even have their own Malibu Playhouse and a Movie Theater. The Santa Monica Mountains   open into a hikers paradise, and full suited black leather BMW bikers are everywhere you look .

The night life begins at Sunset when a litter of limo guests enter the driveway of Geoffreys Restaurant for glistening views and cocktails. Down at the Malibu Pier the plank boards are as weathered as I remember as a teenager; only now the restaurants are uppity scaled organic. My favorite restaurant, Malibu Seafood, is still sitting on the shoulder of Pacific Coast highway and as the locals know, you don’t get tossed for another reservation. You can bring your own wine, sit on a deck overlooking the Pacific and taste the freshest fish in California.

What I found most entertaining in a writers way, was the night Chantel and I visited NOBU; “No One Beats Us.” To be continued….

 

CANDLES OF THE MOUTAIN PART TWO


ADVENTURES IN LIVINGNENESS

“There is more enterprise in walking naked (in the Yeatsian sense) and being tough enough to survive such intensity of caring and such openness, between a driving need to share experience and the need for time to experience and that means solitude, a balance between the need to become oneself and to give of oneself…and of course they are closely related.” May Sarton.

The Journal of Solitude.

This book was one of the first of ten that injected my veins with the thirst to write. It was
1992, and while I scanned a bookshelf in Capistrano Beach, this book seemed to say, read me. Several months ago I ordered it online and began reading it after I wrote my segments on the Puzzle of Solitude. How curious that this is book I brought to read in Malibu; as I may teetering between this excerpt every moment of the day.

I landed on Pacific Coast Highway on the fourth of July and zipped up the curves of the road squinting to read the signs. This highway that was once my weekend adventure in a packed mustang filled with high school friends was now mine alone. Inhaling the salty sea breeze, and listening to Tom Petty sing, Free Fall, my heart opened to what I was about to experience. The doubt had vanished and as I crossed the lanes to turn up Encinal Canyon road, I broke out laughing.
Only a few days ago I was sobbing as my doubt and confidence were inflamed with childless fear. Just past Malibu colony the scenery seemed to sigh with relief from blaring radios in convertible Mercedes, motorcycles, and a river of beachcombers flip-flopping down to the shoreline. The terrain rises into a rugged enclave of sand crusted
boulders, as I passed the perfectly seamed and shaved lawn of Pepperdine College.

Chantal’s directions were exact as I pulled into the dirt and rock driveway and parked in front of the house. She has an alert buzzer on the gate so she was already on the flagstone steps when I got out of the car. Even before she welcomed me in words, a radiant warm aura illumined my response.
“You are LouLou, I am Chantal. Come, I will show you around.” Her effortless smile and fluid swaying hips led me through a garden of birds of paradise, palm trees, elm, succulents, pepper trees, cactus, and so many varieties of flowers that my first impression was already sealed,  I was in Shangri-La.20140712_18273120140707_175334

“This is the main house, where you come and go as you please,” and then she  continued through the open rooms sheltered in wood and glass into the living museum of the legacy of  her deceased husband, Carl Gillberg: chest- high clay pots, bronze and cherry wood sculptures, masks, paintings, and photographs.

 

Carl Gillberg

 

In the kitchen she announced, “Here, you see this shelf is for you, and here is your vegetable bin to put things, and you take what you want. Just because I bought it doesn’t mean you can’t take it. You see, we are very open and relaxed here.  You just be at home; like it is your home.”
I followed her through a gate; to an open garden. Here is where we shower, you like it?” She looked into my eyes and her mouth widened with anticipatory pleasure. I glanced at the claw foot tub, expansive banana plant, and shower head.
“Does anyone else share the shower?
No no, just you and me. You close the curtain see?” and demonstrated the act.
“You will love it,” and as she parted the corrugated sliding door to my room and I looked inside, the chime of change rang.
“What is your nationality?” she asked placing her hands on her hips.
“Russian Irish.”
“Oooh la la; very strong.”
“And you?”
“I am French Haitian.  I left Haiti when I was very young and went to France.  I will tell you more. Now, where is your luggage?”
“I’ll get it.”
“You need some help eh?”
“No, I loaded it in so I can load it out”
She chuckled.
Her cell phone rang. “ Oui, Cheri—it has been a long time since we talked. What has happened in your life?” Her fluid intoxicating French conversation sent me skipping off the flagstone steps to my car.

I was hopelessly impressed. The majestic mountains, slopping hillsides, and crusted canyons open to the faded-jean blue sea. The spring of joy rose like an orgasm as my eyes blinked with every turn of the head to capture another slice of the Santa Monica Mountains.  20140704_162840

When I returned, she was preparing espresso?
“You like a cup of coffee?”
“I love it.”
“Good. We sit on the veranda and you tell me your story. You like my house LouLou?”
“ Chantal, this is Shangrai-la.”
She threw here head back and her birch brown curls took flight.20140707_194504

Over the next week my life was an interpretation of the beginning except from May Sarton. To be continued.