ADVENTURES IN EXPECTATIONS


“It has been a time of writing for me. The doctors have all decided that my crippled leg must be amputated. They cannot do it right away because the hospitals are so full. So, in the nights of glare I just cuss out the doctors for making me wait, and cuss out my leg for hurting. I have read Sarah Bernhardt and her superb gallantry and courage have comforted me.” From “Illumination & Night Glare” by Carson McCullers.

More on the adventure in expectations.
I wonder how all of us really accept this incongruity of life. If we experience continuous disappointment, our inner oars, the ones that carry us over the tidal waves, must be accessible so we can bash back at the unsettling news, the absence of truth, the winter storms, the lagging economy, the pain of puttering, and expectations unrealized.
At a window table of Il Piatto, a favorite Italian bistro in Santa Fe, my friend Baron, (www.fotobaron.com) John (no website) and I fervently discussed the state of the people. What we observe, think, fear, and ruminate over at home when the lights are out, the street silent as a meadow, and shadows from winds through the winter branches play like puppets on the walls.
“Baron, if something doesn’t break soon—I’m going to need anti-depressants, or heroin.”
“Have you ever tried it?”
“Heroin? No, never. I tried Prozac for a few weeks years ago. It was ineffective.”
“Look, things are tough everywhere; the shops are closing, and the restaurants empty– look around. This is weird. And where’s the god damn snow?”
“It’s in New York. Rudy was there for a few days.”
“What the hell for?”
“Court. And guess what? He flies across country on Monday, appears in court the next morning, and is asked, ‘Why are you here?’ So you can see Rudy standing there in a cotton zip-up jacket, his face flushed with snow and wind. The judge informs Rudy he didn’t have to come to court.”
“How’s business for you?” I asked.
“Terrible! I keep inventing new prints, new sizes, new shows, a book, you just gotta keep it going, LouLou.”
“I keep it going; but it is beginning to feel like neat little circles.”
John tipped his head, the tip of understanding between two writers whose fingers are bleeding, amongst a country of bloggers, Twitters, and Facebook fetish writing. We wait, as all writers and artists, and in these times, everyone must wait, until our soil is fertile, and the illumination returns.
“Any bites on the script?”
“Yes, we get them, and then you wait, you may wait two or three months to hear anything.”
“Let me explain,” John interjected. “ It’s because ninety-nine percent of the scripts submitted are passed on, and the reason for that is the executive of creative development puts his job on the line when he green lights a script, so it had better be good!”
“In the interim, I repurpose the house as a vacation rental.”
“Then where will you go?”
“I don’t know.”
“LouLou!”
We talked about Egypt, Fox News, CNN, Tunisia, mobsters, photographers, business strategy, and the next Gallery LouLou event, a work in progress. There is visceral nourishment when you congregate over the same obdurate situations. The singular frustration festering inside is softened when commingled. We lingered over coffee, still unloading the burdens of a questionable wintry month.
That night John and I rushed through the front door, seeking warmth. I was on my way upstairs when I noticed a man with long black hair seated at my porch table. I could see his whole upper body through the drapeless French windows. His hand seemed as close to the door knob as my fingers are to this laptop.
“JOHNNNNNNNNNNN, there’s a man on the porch!”
Five “hurry up’s” later, John came running into the living room.
He opened the front door and announced in his radio deep broadcast voice, “We’re closed.” John nodded several times, and closed the door.
“What were they doing?”
“Attempting to light your kerosene lamp.”
“Why?”
“They thought the porch was charming.”
A few days later, another man appeared on the porch, this one wandering back and forth. After all the times a wanderer has been loose on the porch, in the garden, at the front door asking where someone lived (they do that in Santa Fe), and then the night someone climbed on the porch and ripped off the Stratocaster guitar from the hook on the eaves (a rock n roll prop), I had to apply more caution than negligence. If someone wanted to assault me, my defense would be worthless. When all the girls started learning self-defense, and carrying tear gas in their purses, I started locking the doors. Though I am not expecting intruders and assaults, it feels like it is time to take responsibility for myself. The fear of being alone is more tormenting than loneliness.
“I brought the shot-gun. Are you ready to learn?”
“Yes.”
TO BE CONTINUED

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LYRICAL JIM MARSHALL


JIM MARSHALL AT THE OPENING OF GALLERY LOULOU TAOS. 2006

“Americas ‘true romantics will be the jazz musicians and jazz writers, living by their lyrical emotions, senses.”

From The Diary of Anais Nin volume Six.”

The throw of the dice this week lands on mysteries of character. We all have our closet of masks that we reach for when we need to camouflage our fear, insecurity, disdain, or judgment.

I wore a mask the day I went to pick up Jim Marshall at the Albuquerque airport. I didn’t want to appear unprepared, inexperienced, or effusive. As soon as I recognized Jim taking his last step off the escalator, my mask cracked. I ran to him, hugged him, and clichés poured out of my mouth: I’m so happy to see you, how was the flight, welcome to New Mexico. He nodded, smiled with closed lips, and asked,

“How long does it take to get to Taos?”

“An hour and a half.” Jim’s lips tightened.

In the car, Rudy and I whisked up conversation, but the results were drippy. Jim stared out at the window. We were in the valley of lunar like scrub rush, broken down sheds, and absentee human life.

“WHERE THE FUCK ARE WE?” Jim growled

“We’re almost there, another half-hour.”

“WHERE THE FUCK ARE THE PEOPLE?”

I tried, unsuccessfully to assure Jim, there were lots of people in Taos.  I read his mind; why did he make the decision to exhibit his iconic rock and roll photography in a gallery in  boon-dust Taos. How much longer before he can unwind with a scotch, and call home for a taste of civility.  Who are these morons driving this car anyway?

Inside the B & B suite we’d rented for Jim, I breezed across to the adobe terrace, and opened the curtains, “You like it?”

“THERE’S NO FUCKING HAIR DRYER?”

“You can borrow mine.”

“Are you hungry Jim?”

“No.”

“I have a bottle of your favorite scotch.” He picked it up, and looked for a glass. I ran to the bathroom and brought him a glass.

“See you tomorrow. “ He growled.

“What time?”

“I’ll call.”

The next day, I waited for Jim’s call. Instead I heard from Dave Brolan, Jim’s operator to the world; friend, translator, mediator and stabilizer.

“Dave, is Jim all right?”

“He’ll be all right. He’s tired and cranky. He’ll be fine tomorrow night.

“What can I do anything?”

“No, just take care of your opening business. I take care of Jim.”

I sighed deeply, and returned to the chaotic events preceding the grand opening of our gallery. Jim agreed to exhibit along with Baron Wolman and Michael Zagaris, because they hadn’t been together in a long time. I was about to ease-drop on history, with three distinguished rock and roll photographers.

My heart raced ahead of me, until 6 o’clock when Jim and Dave walked into the gallery.

“How are you Jim?” I followed behind him as he viewed the exhibition.

“Looks good.” He said. Then he was swallowed up into a crowd of guests. He stood patiently for photographs, greeted strangers with a boyish smile and brotherly handshake. He sat down at my desk and began to sign books for a tickly line of buyers.  I filled his glass with scotch and he said, “Thanks sweetheart.” My heart returned to my chest. The evening transcended into a kinetic overture of rock n roll music, reminiscing of the sixties, and feverish excitement. Around midnight, after being the center of 250 to 300 Taosaneos, Jim said, “Let’s eat.” It was snowing and pitch black outside.

Our party of seven charged in and rearranged the vibe of the banal atmosphere. Once inside the dining room Michael Z, was exhibiting impersonations of Jim, while we all laughed. Marshall didn’t twitch, or sneer; he accepted being the force of raucous laughter.

A young professional looking man approached our table.

“I apologize for interrupting. When I got to the opening, you all were leaving.  I’m really sorry I missed it; I’m a huge fan of your work Jim.

“How did you know we were here? I interrupted.

“I followed you.” He said.

“Join us.”

That night and the next three nights, Jim was host to a crowd of fans that followed him around.  I watched the mystery of his character, revealed, untouched, in focus, on what the photographs brought back to him. He was anointed by their admiration, without becoming inflated.

At the airport, Jim took me into his arms, “You did good LouLou.”

Two Years later.

I am in Santa Fe, and my social life is Camus strange. While I try to sell my photographs and write, my life is stifled by the absence of friends and parties. Jim called one afternoon.

“Loulou, my friends just moved to Santa Fe. Take down their number and call them.”

I called these new friends of Jim’s, and a week later, a man drove up, and leaped out of his car.

“Hi LouLou, I’m Jock.”  He sat down, but his spirit was an unbolted kinetic burst of energy.

“I brought this for you.” He handed me a beautifully hand crafted book of his Cuban Series photographs.

A month or so later, I received a party invitation from Jock and his wife, Annaliese. The evening was lyrical, as friends circulated between the portals, while Jock mixed  molita’s and Annaliese served Cuban food. That night, I was introduced to their friends. Now, a year later, I consider them my friends.

I called Jim after the party.

“I called to thank you.”

“What for baby?”

“For introducing me to Jock and Annaliese. Now I have friends.” Jim chuckled.

Jim passed away March 23, 2010. He was a romantic and lived by lyrical emotions and senses.

THE SUN RISES ON HARDSHIP


 The throw of the dice this week falls on the sunrise of hardship, for all of us.

     In my home there is one staircase window that faces east. Each morning before I descend the stairs I stop at the landing, to watch the day begin. The sun must rise above an assortment of tree limbs and trunks, and up over the mountains. By the time I’ve had my coffee, the sun has risen above these obstructions. I am now jerked awake, like a slight nudge a parent might give you, ‘Come on–wake up! You have school.”  

I begin writing, but that shameless sunlight in my eyes and the dance of the birds are tempting me to step outdoors.  When you live in seasonal climate, summer days and nights lure you out of your wits; why stay inside when there’s moonlight, a sage brush breeze, and merriment across the street.

The gradual awakening unfolds layers of thoughts, beginning with the anxiety of the times. The impending hardship of thousands, my friends, and neighbors, oozes out like a bad smell. Everyone seems to be slanting in new directions; some are going home where they came from, others take on another job, or moving out and leasing their homes.    

 

Some mornings I can’t even look at the newspaper. The headlines read like Sunday’s promotional movie advertisements: BANKRUPT, FORECLOSURE, and SUICIDE. The shocking prick of national disaster is a surgical awakening of a disease untreated.  There’s no time to waste, no money to squander, it is a time of reduction and refusal.

     As minor calamities knock on my door, and creditors calling from India, I turn my head to the sunlight and resume what I have to do, and that is write. If you know me, then you know I’ve vanished. It’s the only way I can work, and I’m standing on my head happy that I have the solitude to do it. 

 Last week while I was upstairs, prone on the sofa figuring out a transition between two scenes, someone knocked at the door. Then they fiercely rang the bell. Oh what it is now I thought.   

     “Yes,” I asked the man standing outside. He stared at me while twirling a toothpick in his mouth.

“Are you all right? I’m from Safeguard Security we haven’t had any signal on your alarm.  We came to check on you.”

I stood there expressionless. I assured him I wasn’t held captive or about to throw myself out the window, but he didn’t seem convinced, he lingered and kept looking over my shoulder.  I hastily sent him on his way, and returned to the desk.  I’d been rude; I didn’t even thank the guy.  This is some kind of message, next time he’ll slam the door in my face.      

Later in the day, if I haven’t ventured outdoors yet, I take a walk around the Plaza, and muse over the herds of tourists. I look for revealing expressions and conversations.  I didn’t see panic and anxiety, I observed relief. Couples shuffled together, maybe holding hands, dragging shopping bags, and aiming directionless for a new snapshot. They stand gaping at the churches and shoot photographs while standing in the middle of the street. Vacation is bliss in the middle of discontent. 

When I return to my desk, it is time to print the days work. This is always a ritual of great expectation, filled with disappointments, surprise, and sometimes a whiff of elation.

 By now the sun has made its journey to the other side of the house. The back porch is like starched light, it burns the eyes and flesh, the immediate effect is callous. Now is the time to slouch in the chair, close my eyes, and rewind a few scenes back.

Hardship is like the sun, unmerciful when it is met face to face, and transforming when we are protected. The sunlight is absorbed into our bodies; the effect is invigorating when taken in increments. The light changes the color of the world, we see things differently, and so it is with hardship, we feel intensely, our senses are sharpened, and we appreciate the treats more so than in times of prosperity.

It all translates into less spending and more creating. 

While I lounge in this old house, one track of time keeps re-appearing. It was when my living space was limited to one tiny room, finances on a string as long as my finger and uncertainty a nightmare that turned into a lullaby. It is that time again; and what we all must do is keep the adventures above the circumstances. Any dice to throw:

Folliesls@aol.com 

TUNE TO SPRING


 

At three in the morning the walls of reality merge with dreams, timelessness, restlessness, and an alertness of unspoken needs.

What I think of at three in the morning is never the same at ten o’ clock in the morning.  The labyrinth of safety, colliding with the unknown, seems to be the most innocent of emotions. It is also a time that  springs bright eyed realizations, recognitions, and a time when our mirrors move toward us.  I see my looks fading. All I ever wanted was to see myself as pretty as my mother was.

The wind is sudden as it whips through the spruce tree outside my window.

I get up and wander downstairs, listening to the wood floors crackle at my footstep.  I walk outdoors onto the back porch.  The wind is like a mirror to me. This sound, so clear and unmixed in Santa Fe,  brings me back to the years in Hollywood. The nights my father went out allowing me the freedom to explore outside. I would run down Doheny Drive to Santa Monica Boulevard and just keep running.  It was on those windy Santa Ana nights that I’d run the longest.

I was running because the need to express something was bulging through my body.   Back then I didn’t keep a journal at home. My father had discovered it and then questioned me about everything I’d written.

This night is like that, only I don’t feel like running, I am listening to the sound of the chime and the wind. I am thinking of the music of Charles Lloyd, and the shadows that look like people, and the clouds that appear to have message,  and how everything is different when you are alone.

I dine without pause and usually finish before I’ve even wiped my mouth. I have extended conversations with the cats, Bugsy and Alice,  and moments are elongated.  I sit down at the counter and this wind and chime continues to circulate the house. It is an announcement- it is expectant of spring.  I jotted down some notes and knew what I wished to write about today.

April is expectant- there is expectancy everywhere you look. The buds on the stark tree limbs are about to bloom, the birds have evacuated their nests and begin singing early in the morning, and insects eject themselves from their hidden corners. I don’t know what spring is like for a man, I’ve never asked any man, but I am going to tell you what spring is like for one woman. The essence of spring is sensuous, and for a woman it is an overture.

We strip down the layers of clothing; replacing socks with sandals, and sweaters with t-shirts.  When I hear birds and watch them in the trees, I think of babies, and innocence. There are flowers about to shoot through the heavy clasp of winter dormancy, and when they do, the colors remind me to replace all the black pants and turtlenecks with pastel shades of peach and blue.

English: Spring Daffodlils Roadside Daffodils ...

Image via Wikipedia

The sunlight radiates through my skin and warms every thing. My heart  feels like it has been through a tune up.  My body wants to dowse in sea  water, and to eat less, and to run up canyon road, and listen to music, and dine al fresco, and get pedicures. Men, do notice your woman’s new pedicure, it will make her very happy.  All of this preparation is to tune up the romantic notes,  and to get YOUR ATTENTION. It is time to bring you out of the garage, or wherever you go in spring, and to notice that we are blooming. This is what I felt the night I heard the Charles Lloyd Quartet;  I heard him blooming.

 

Surprise us with flowers, a new hat, or a picnic on the banks of the Rio Grande.  Spring is time to redirect your attention to woman because we are at our best in spring.  Our attention is on our surroundings; we will want to buy flowers, and baskets and new cushions for the patio furniture.   We change our lipstick color, comb our hair different, and we look for new ways of expressing how good we feel.

 

Today I see cherry blossoms in my neighbors’ yard.  They remind me of

a day in April at Golden Gate Park.  Then I feel young again, like I was in the park that day, when I was in love with a man who would prove to be one of the great adventures of my life.

If you live in Santa Fe then you understand when I say-hurry up spring and start undressing.

 

“Is there any feeling in a woman stronger than curiosity? Fancy seeing, knowing, touching what one has dreamed about. What would a woman not do for that? Once a woman’s eager curiosity is aroused, she will be guilty of any folly, commit any imprudence, venture upon anything, and recoil from nothing.”

Guy De Maupassant, “An Adventure in Paris.”

 My responsibility as a writer is to assure people taking a chance in life is the only   way to live, and so … I throw the dice.