Saturday, June 30, 2007

Ill-Fated Lovers That Would Always End Up Together


One of the first stories I ever got published was about a heartbroken ballerina with an eating disorder of sorts who went on a mysterious date that didn't change her life. It was as good as it sounds, and I can see how my lack of knowledge of ballet (a childhood crush on Mikhail Barishinikov doesn't count for much) and my desire to thinly veil reality (I was heartbroken beyond belief) worked to create something that while stilted and artificial, still had some effectiveness. I had labored over that story, draft after draft, until I came up with some lines that shown through the pretentious set-up and inexperience. When I read it, I didn't cringe all the way through so I knew I had made some progress.

For a couple of years after my grandfather died, my mother's mother lived with my family. My mother and her mother did not get along so well, but my grandmother was partially deaf from being beaten by my grandfather and always medicated with a cocktail of booze and cigarettes, those terrific anecdotes to strong emotion, and she read Barbara Cartland romances by the grocery bag that my rich best friend schlepped over after she'd finished them. I can still see her, sitting in a haze of smoke and reading about those ill-fated lovers who would always end up together. She never read anything I wrote -- even at a young age, she found me a little depressing. But I daresay the ballerina story would have done something for her. After all, she made an appearance in it, near the end, where she's reading cards, regular playing ones, at the kitchen table, all those queens and kings telling her about the future. The cards were thin and worn, some of them almost see-through, and you could tell that she would never switch decks, that the magic was in those cards, the ones she'd been dealt and would deal to tell you what would happen next.

Michelle's Spell of the Day
"How strange are the tricks of memory, which, often hazy as a dream about the most important events of a man's life, religiously preserve the merest trifles. " Richard Burton

Cocktail Hour
Drinking novel suggestion: Free Food For Millionaires Min Jin Lee

Benedictions and Maledictions
Happy Saturday! Rest in peace, Joel Siegel!

13 comments:

Charles Gramlich said...

The first story I sold was about a suicidal schizophrenic and the woman who had left him because of his madness.

JLCGULL said...

Siegel was a good cgull.

Romeo said...

Hark! What light through yonder window breaks!

Harry Carey said...

I won't say "Holy Cow!" because, well, just because. It, however, is a great phrase, as anyone from Chicago knows.

the walking man said...

problem is once the cards are dealt an experienced player knows the end result of the hand.

peace

Anonymous said...

My grandmother always lived near us or with us. She had 7 kids, one died at age 3 and then she was widowed at an early age. My grandfather died in the flu epidemic. She could cook, sew, crochet, knit but none of those talents were inherited by me. I don't think she ever drank or smoked. She was more of the Ladie's Aid Society type so not much material for a novel or story.

eric313 said...

None of us can make it up whole cloth and sound convincing. Everything is rooted in experience, ballerinas of all forms require both a strong body and an artistic mind. That's why you knew enough to get published.

My favorite memories are home made wine and tarrot readings in the haunted neighborhoods up in Capac MI. My friend Lauren, who I haven't seen in ten years now would do five or six readings each person. Ah, home made wine was nice. Now what to do with all those tower and death and devil cards. Too much delight in the willful belief of a magic that could help you know a path, but trully only taught me to look for myself. Too much of my girlfriend at the time and all my friends telling each other that we could hear the footsteps of ancient death's charges. Of course we all saw ghosts before the night was over. We were believers in youth and drunk on home made wine. We wanted to know the future and look at the dead in spirit and in the real. We were too young to know that the dead are alive if we will them to be, and too young to know that the future lied not in those rough edged cards with their cleanlined drawing of symbols that we hope will tell us our destiny, if we give over enough control. Because what is faith but the relinquishing of control over that which we cannot change? Our memories among them. Of course faith is many things; it's its own metaphor--you won't know it if you don't have it.

John Ricci said...

Dear Michelle lovely view and post as always. Your grandmother sounds like an interesting person living in difficult circimstances. I see Chicago on your top. That is one hell of a town Chicago and one of my very favorite places. I enjoy driving there to see old college friends and party, watch baseball and roam around the Loop. To your lovely spells, Bravo!

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