Thursday, September 18, 2014

The Meaning of Cuernavaca

The city of memory, the city of nostalgia, of everything that's been lost, and found, forgotten, remembered.

We--my father, my mother, and I--moved from Mexico City to Cuernavaca in December 1975, when I was two months shy of three years old. I have fragmented memories of that December. For instance, walking around the pool wearing corduroy pants and a woolen sweater (yes, winters in the central altiplano of México can be cold), but my parents were wearing swimming suits, and I remember remarking on that, briefly, internally.

View of the house I grew up in, from the carport. The deep end of the pool is just off-frame to the right.
In the back you can see half of the sandbox I played in for hours, the tree where I had my treehouse
(long gone, rotted or something, before this photo was made), and a corner of the tennis court
(you have to look hard).
My father made this photo five months before he died.

Wednesday, September 10, 2014

A brief intro to my life in #Mexico

Visitors to this blog might wonder why Derain's "Bathers" get place of honor on the header of this blog. What do three nude women have to do with Quiet Laughter? For those familiar with fauvism, the connection might seem even more bizarre--or, maybe, not.

Neither the nude women, or fauvism--or even Derain--is the connection. This is a photo of the living room in the house where I grew up in. I just took it today. That painting--a copy, obviously--has been hanging in that spot for as long as I can remember--and we moved into this house when I was three. That painting--not even the original, but the copy--symbolizes this house for me, and everything in it: the memories, the drama, the fun times, the losses, the safe haven, the letting go. That painting is, at a profoundly personal level, my history.

One day, it--like me--will have to leave Cuernavaca (Mexico) behind and move to Curaçao.

We'll have to build it a special wall, though.

Thursday, August 28, 2014

The House of Six Doors (a novel about Curaçao)

For eleven years, ever since I came--by accident--to live in Curaçao, I've been looking for books about this island's rich history and people. And for eleven years I found nothing. There's plenty in Dutch or Papiamentu, neither of which I read, and even if I did, most of it is non-fiction, drab and clinical, that doesn't come close to doing this magical, surreal place justice.

And then I found Patricia Selbert's House of Six Doors. The book has flaws--it is, after all, a debut novel--but richness of setting isn't one of them. Neither is emotional charge, which comes across clear and sharp, without drama, without falling into maudlin o-woe-is-me. I teared up twice, the second time uncontrollably (yeah, near the end). But I laughed, too.

And I learned so much about this place I've called home for over a decade.

Sunday, August 24, 2014

Loss

Tina Downey, of Life Is Good, passed away last night. I knew her briefly, intermittently, but I always enjoyed her posts. Her family have posted a goodbye of sorts on her blog; if you can, stop by and leave a verbal handful of rose petals.

Much light to you, Tina, wherever you are. And thank you. For everything.

Wednesday, August 20, 2014

Not dead, just...

Well... working, I guess. Yes, there's that new job--which I love--*love*--to bits (more on that below). But also the end of the Pure Slush 2014 Year In Stories project. I finally delivered my December story earlier this month--story which, by the way, was due at the end of May. Yep. Two months late. And I wasn't even the last writer to wrap up the cycle.

It's official: Matt Potter, Pure Slush editor, is a saint.

It was hard, wrapping up. I didn't expect it to be that hard. Saying goodbye to characters is always sad; "The End" is a production achievement, sure, but it's also The End--of a creativity moment, of a period of our lives, of our shared story with these characters.

Perhaps if I wrote happy--happier--endings I'd have more feel-good afterwards. From a creative production standpoint I'm pleased when I achieve the perfect ending for a story. In terms of craft it gives me a boost of satisfaction to wrap things up, to bring the story to its crescendo, to let the notes crash and bang and make their statement, and then fade.

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