Friday, November 13, 2009

I Leap

~~ Living is a form of not being sure, not knowing what next or how. The moment you know how, you begin to die a little. The artist never entirely knows. We guess. We may be wrong, but we take leap after leap in the dark. ~~ Agnes De Mille

I won’t say every single time I sit down to write I’m forced to bat away pesky insecurities (wouldn’t that sound puny?) but I will say this, on off days I am forced to confront out and out fear. Fear that I’ll make an idiot out of myself, fear that nobody will ever choose my book over another, fear that I will have forgotten how to string sentences together to make paragraphs that tell a story worthy of spent time and effort.

If we are not willing to risk doing something badly we will never produce anything worthwhile as artists. We procrastinate and find shelter when we attempt to avoid running the risk of failure, don’t we? In times gone by there was no such thing as the Internet to distract us, but there was always something, always something to temp us away from the typewriter or canvas. Not to mention all those tiresome responsibilities and chores. How might I ever overcome that self-doubting-Thomas-of-a-nagging-voice?

I always start with an idea. But, hasn’t this idea been used in one form or another, over and over again? My mother used to tell me, "Elizabeth, there's nothing new under the sun." She loathed the term
old-fashioned, liked to point out how each new generation feels they have the market on sex/etc. cornered. When in fact, it’s all been done before. If you don’t agree, check out The Bible and the account of Sodom and Gomorrah. Debauchery is so passĂ©, or is it?

Another quote of substance ~~ Two things make a story. The net and the air that falls through the net. ~~ Pablo Neruda

I aim to allow ideas and inspiration to fall through the figurative net, as they may. I’ll catch and gather those sparks and do my best to turn chaos into order. I aspire to direct them into place on the page in a fashion worthy of the reader’s time and attention. It’s all I can do at the moment.

I snapped this picture of my office this afternoon. We’ve lived here for six months and I haven’t bothered to put this room together, which is so unlike me. I sit amongst a willy-nilly mess, and it does not hinder me in the least. How very odd.

All Rights Reserved. © 2009 by Elizabeth Bradley.

Wednesday, November 11, 2009

18 Pounds of Beautiful Baby Flesh

I've been MIA from my blog the last couple of days. My daughter and her husband are moving so I'm baby sitting my six month old granddaughter. As I look after her, I'm wondering, how did I give birth naturally, (no drugs--no stitches), and raise five kids? The enormity of the thing hits me over the head and I marvel at my younger self. I truly do. I had boundless energy. All those children to care for, and I used to garden like a maniac, redecorate the house every third year or so--top to bottom, I managed to run several businesses, and still had time to romance The Husband. Raising children is a job for the younger set. I couldn't, or wouldn't want to do it now. My arm muscles are KILLING me, after one lousy day of carting eighteen pounds of beautiful baby flesh around, (she has a cold and isn't happy to be put down right now.) Wish me well, I only have about 10 hrs to go!

I snapped the above picture of her when I got her interested in a set of plastic measuring spoons yesterday.

All Rights Reserved. © 2009 by Elizabeth Bradley.

Sunday, November 8, 2009

Who's Calling?

I sure would like to know who’s calling and hanging up on me! Last night, the first crank call came in just as I reached that pleasing limbo state between consciousness and sleep—I was so rattled! Then, this morning the shrill ring of the kitchen phone, right at the crucial moment when I went to flip my egg over-easy, causing me to break the yoke. I answered the phone, meantime the broken yolk cooked all hard in the hot pan, and I like them runny. On the third call, the culprit rang my BlackBerry. I was driving down Sunset Boulevard, and answered despite the new law, which forbids a person from talking in a car without a headset. I kept saying hello over and over, like an idiot, not realizing it was the same jerk. Nobody answered. Just air. From one of those restricted numbers—the worst. Good thing some diligent cop eager to write a ticket didn’t spot me holding that BlackBerry to my ear.

Could it be that guy I met at the party the other night? No way, we obviously hit it off. He said I was exactly what he was looking for, and then asked for my number. Why on earth would he go through all the trouble of calling, just to hang up?

It might be that ghastly Chelsea Topper. The woman I’ve repeatedly snubbed, the tub of lard that recently joined my power-walking group. Her cheery inquisitiveness is beyond annoying. I hate it when she asks if I’d like to tag along to charity functions that I could never be the least bit interested in, when she pesters me to tell her where I buy my clothes and rudely asks how much I paid. Tacky questions that I give the wrong answers to. I don’t want to show up and find that frumpy woman wearing the same outfit as me! Anyway, it’s not Chelsea’s style to keep her mouth shut. It can’t be her!

Maybe it’s Gloria Smythe from work. I’m sure she’s more than a little fed up with me because I continue to outshine her on a daily basis. Since she’s my boss with access to my file and telephone numbers—that would explain a lot. It hasn’t escaped my attention how totally jealous Gloria is about all the attention others in the office give me because they prefer my company to hers. I’m always invited out for lunch and for drinks after hours, while she sits alone at her computer doing God only knows what. It just might be her.

My big sister is perfectly capable of this kind of behavior. I shouldn’t rule her out either. Clare wouldn’t be above picking up the phone, dialing my number, and hanging up just for the heck of it. It’s her mission in life to poke holes through my supremacy in the sibling pecking order. I’ve always been a thorn in her side, since the day I was born. It’s not my fault that I’m Daddy’s little girl. That I turned out to be four inches taller and at least twenty-five pounds thinner than she is. It’s not anybody’s fault but her own, (my son’s an entertainment lawyer with a lovely high-rise condo in Century City), while her children are a pair of losers with a capital L. Her daughter’s practically a crack whore out in Yucca Valley, and her son mows lawns and trims trees for a living out in The Valley somewhere. No wonder she’s bitter.

I don’t know what I’m going to do if this keeps up, I really don’t. It’s a terrible thing when I answer that ring and meet dead silence on the other end of the line, a terrible, terrible thing. I’m barely able to tolerate this quiet house. Since my husband had a mid-life crisis, (I call it a nervous breakdown), and gave up his career as a TV commercial director to dump me for Jesus and move down to El Salvador to become some kind of goody-two-shoes missionary, I’ve been forced to live alone up here in the hills above the city. I leave the radio on at night. It’s just too damn scary without some kind of noise in the background besides crickets chirping and the furnace going on and off and water pipes banging and clanging. I think I’ll sell this drafty old house, (even though it's a perfect example of early Los Angeles glamor and was once owned by film actress Etta Dawson.) I'll buy a high-rise condo in my son’s building, where I can feel safe.

Whoever’s making these calls is diabolical, not a good person at all. They’re trying to throw me off, trying to scare me. It’ll take a lot more that a few hang up calls to freak me out, I can tell you that. A woman living alone is such a target, and I am getting older, but am still extremely attractive. This isn’t funny at all, the idea that someone is having a good old time at my expense. I suppose I could change my numbers. But that would be an inconvenience—so why should I? I don’t intend to give this prankster the satisfaction. I just won’t.

The next time the phone rings I’m going to scream BUG OFF ASSHOLE into the receiver at the top of my lungs. That ought to fix who’s calling!

(A work of fiction, based on a client from my past--not autobiographical by any means!)

All Rights Reserved. © 2009 by Elizabeth Bradley.