Tag Archives: love

Inspiration Through a Blue Lens

I ran away from my life this weekend and it felt wonderful. I admire people who can stay put for decades in their lives, I do, but I can only take it for so long. I suppose I always find myself running away to a hotel alone because I’m searching for–what? Maybe it’s the closest thing to parents I have. Isn’t that sad you are thinking. Not really. I was an orphan by the time I was 30 and hotels for me have always been a place I felt comforted and at ease. It may also be I can have guaranteed uninterrupted silence and writing time in a hotel room. Ironically, that is harder and harder to come by it seems now that I write for a living during daylight hours.

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But perhaps it isn’t so much as running away as a kind of returning. Returning to what is nudging me from under the surface while I race around life, never stopping long enough to listen to what is calling to me. For a writer, it is impossible not to start to resent all the noise keeping you from the stories that are quietly whispering for your attention. It was heaven to stare out at the city, think about my novel and lose track of time

At the end of my little tryst with myself, I didn’t feel like going back to real life  just yet and instead went to see the Palme d’Or winning movie, Blue is the Warmest Colour. I’m still in a state of speechlessness from this movie but all I can say is if you want to see a brilliant exploration of human love and the complex, interior landscape of what a broken heart looks like laid open in all its fragmented, shattered pieces, then rush to your theatre and see it before it goes to the small screen. There are few movies where an entire theatre weeps in unison with understanding and sorrow over the protagonist’s fate; this is one of them. Adèle Exarchopoulos and Léa Seydoux who play the couple in the movie, clearly suffered during the making of it. After the production they would both comment on the horrendous conditions, the grueling emotional toll of the love scenes, and the uncharted territory of making a film about love between two women when both were heterosexual. In an unprecedented move, the jury at Cannes awarded both actresses and the director with the best picture award. When you see this story you will understand why. Here is a scene that captures their first kiss, which anyone can relate to as it contains all the emotions of new love so poignantly in a simple moment.

Seeing Blue is the Warmest Colour reminded me that nothing of real artistic worth comes without some suffering. If it is fluid, easy to buy, grab, consume, take or give away, it is a story that can’t affect you. When I left the theatre , still wiping my face from my tears, I realized that story would stay with me forever. I hope life gives me the time to write something of worth. I won’t mind suffering for it.

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A Cheap Red-Eye with a Sliver of Lemon Please

An excerpt from my novel I’m sloooowwwwllly working on, feel free to read some earlier excerpts here.

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Sam looked out at the darkening horizon. She had been up since 4 am, stopped in three airports, been frisked down in security and curled her hair in a hallway in the Kansas airport. And yet she felt she hadn’t arrived yet. She was stuck in mid-air, her own halting hope that this dalliance was moving towards a relationship and her own nauseous fear that this dalliance was moving towards a relationship. She sat alone, surrounded by what looked like the who’s who of Washington, DC. Everyone seemed to have a wired ear and a Brooks Brothers suit on or be slithering towards one another in a Diane Von Furstenberg wrap and Jimmy Choo heels trying to look effortless and not succeeding. Her date had gone to the washroom and she realized there was nothing tying her here–not a reservation, not a phone number, itinerary, or address. She cringed as a voice in her head boomed: “Or boyfriend, get it? Get it? You just traveled across the continent for a date. Fuck this shit.” It sounded like a clip of dialogue from Entourage playing over and over like a film reel with a tick in it that wouldn’t let go.

Her instincts twitched around her ankles, shifting down to the tips of her toes, then back to her heels. She crossed and uncrossed her legs. She was like a runner at the beginning of a race only she was in Valentino, not leaning over her knees on a track but in a velvet booth casually leaning back as though she had not a care in the world.

Run. Run. Run. 

“There you are, I didn’t realize you’d snuck back to the table. Here are two more, just in case that first one didn’t hit the spot.” He placed the oysters on the table in front of her, their opalescent innards shaking slightly in the candlelight. He put his hand under the table and slipped it over her kneecap. She leaned into it; she wasn’t brave enough to go in the other direction.

“I am sorry, I can’t eat these. I really…I..” she stuttered while gently pushing the oyster towards him.

“But you just sucked that one back like –”

She cut him off so she wouldn’t have to hear him finish the sentence. It was easier if she just spoke the lines. His dialogue became so much better if she wrote it.

“Like a woman who is desperate for dinner!” She smiled encouragingly up into his face and pushed the menu into his fingers. He suddenly put his fingers up to her neck and stroked her skin. His hands seemed immense. Could he circle his fingers around, index to thumb, if he tried? She didn’t want to think about it. His largeness was something she always wanted to step away from, as if by sidestepping it she could avoid the truth which was she wasn’t attracted to him.

As she looked at the menu and concentrated on what she could stomach, she tried to ignore the fact–which now seemed to tap on her shoulder repeatedly like a kind of holier-than-thou referee–that all this might amount to was a cheap red-eye in the middle of the night.

“Martini. Dry. Sliver of lemon.” It was a perfunctory order that she softened with a smile. She slipped her hand into his, her small fingers disappearing into his oversized palm. She decided to just enjoy the view out over the city, the taste of expensive appetizers, a doting waiter and ice-cold vodka. She closed the door to her internal analysis and stepped into the make-believe world she willed to be real.

And he would come along with her. They always did.

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Unplug and burn it to the ground

An excerpt near the end of my fiction novel about a woman named Sam who is in her late 20’s and a techno-crazed mess who gets herself in all kinds of crazy trouble on a grand scale, tentatively titled ‘Based on True Tweets’. Some of you may remember her and posts on this blog from that piece. I’m threading it together in my head, albeit in tiny slices of moments in a workday when I’m not deluged with minutiae of tasks but she’s still there, trying to work her way through me!

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She unplugged herself. She pulled the power bar out, yanking in an abrupt, angry pull so everything went black all at once.  Then she picked up her iPhone and deleted her Twitter account. “Are you sure?” Yes. I’m fucking sure.

She sat in the silence that followed. She heard a small dog bark repeat itself like an apartment minuet and she realized she’d never heard the dog that lived above her before. Tweets had obfuscated her ability to be aware of her surroundings. Digital noise had filled her mind with clutter and in her hampster-wheel life, she’d mistaken the noise for a kind of promise. She had dulled the sharp points of her judgement with replies, retweets, and a kind of sharing that had led her as far away from her self as an information highway possibly could.

In that moment, Sam realized she had to move. Everything about her apartment reeked of desperation. She would have liked to burn it to the ground and stand in the ashes so her feet smelled of smoke and effort and survival. She’d have to settle for a storage locker and a suitcase. Slightly less dramatic, but she would at least know there were ashes where they should be: in her heart, snuffing out the danger that had lit her world on fire in the first place.

She shook her head in disbelief. It all seemed so simple in this moment. At what point had she woken up? She found it hard to believe she could have been so asleep, so utterly unaware of her own destruction. She had to acknowledge she alone had chosen to walk that road to find love, that she had led herself into those places,  kissed men not to find love but to prove it didn’t exist. She only wished she could run down that road now and pull her self back, tug on the coat sleeve of her misjudgment and prevent the inevitable moment when her illusion had turned on her, revealing its true dysmorphic disorder in all its glory. She wanted to whisper to that self: This isn’t what you think it is.  It never will be.

She stood still in the middle of her apartment unwillingly turning back to the past one last time for a look at his face.

Over. Get on with it. Stand up. Move. Pack. Burn it all down. Get your shoes on for chrissakes said an instructive voice in her head suddenly. For some reason, it sounded like Holly Hunter and it was kicking her ass. She left her laptop on the table, her iPhone still plugged into it and wrapped a scarf around her neck absently as she fumbled for her keys in the glass bowl. She’d waited for this moment, when she finally stepped in and saved herself. It felt like tap-dance happy. It felt like salvation. It tasted like a communion wafer that never melted. She wondered, as she closed the door, what her father would think then realized she didn’t care anymore.

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Mrs. Everett Goes to Italy

She had grown tired of dressing up. Somewhere — maybe in Pisa? — it had stopped being for her and started to be for an imaginary audience she couldn’t name.  Was it an expectation that hung in the air? An expectation or was it loneliness? She felt sad as she roiled in her own self-doubt, suddenly aware of how far she had journeyed out into the world alone with no lifeboat to take her back to a familiar dock. Gone. She was at sea in a makeshift identity that was taking on water fast.

She slipped on simple cotton flats instead of heels and pulled an A-line shift over her head that she had found in a market in Rome. It was a little tighter now through her ribcage but no matter–she wasn’t going out to impress anyone. She was going out to eat.

Italy had been good to her. She had left Eze and taken the Corail Lunéa night train to Nice then traveled Ventimiglia and on to Rome. Rome had been overwhelming and she had chosen the safe but predictable tours to explore the city: the Uffizi, Coliseum, Spanish Steps, and the Vatican. Tours that most people save a lifetime for had made her feel like a garish advertisement in her own life. “Look! Middle-aged woman in freshly-bought Italian shoes admires art!”. She had become a cliche in her own story.

With no plan other than to escape her tourist persona, she traveled to Puglia, landing in Bari and realizing at once she’d made a mistake. After the spectacle of Rome, Bari seemed like a working man in overalls. That wasn’t entirely fair; her stay at the Palace Hotel had been quite lovely and the staff, through a lot of gesticulation and broken english, were able to make one of her dreams come true: Drive a vintage MG. When she was a girl, her grandmother had a friend–they all knew it was a lover but no one was crass enough to name it as such–who would sometimes come by her school to pick her up in an old MG. On rainy days the snaps would drip down soaking the sides of the car and leaching into the ratty carpet that smelled of mould. She had loved it. She would ask  him to drive past her house and circle the block before dropping her off. The smell of gas, old leather, and burning oil was one that comforted her. She had always dreamed of owning an MG but Edward had crinkled his nose in disdain whenever she had approached him about the idea. “Why would you want to own a piece of shit when you can drive a car worth more than most people’s houses?” Always the pragmatist Edward, she said out loud and shook her head, remembering his sharp, condescending tone.

In an act of defiance against her old limitations, she’d rented a 1960 MG Midget and driven out of the mad traffic of Bari towards the Cilento Coast.

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Car from Sprintage, the most fabulous way to get around Italy. http://www.sprintage.it/en/tourism.phtml

She had driven in abject terror of being run over by trucks and aggressive drivers that honked at her, alternately gesturing for her to pull over or some absurd sexual reference. She had questioned her course of action up until she entered the Campania region, where the whir of Cyprus trees, smell of crisp, salt air and empty roads welcomed her road-weary little MG and rattled nerves. She drove down Route 267, a two-lane road that follows the Cilento coast, a far cry from the glamour and glitz of the south of France but it offered her a chance to slip into a new self she was yearning to become.

She stopped wearing makeup and simply wrapped a scarf around her head as she drove. She would pull over and look out at the fisherman dotting the shore beside centuries-old crumbling vestiges of history and buy a simple lunch of artichokes, mozzarella, tomato and olives. Something was cracking open inside her and she felt her calls with Edward were less Mr. and Mrs. Everett and more what? Prue and Edward, a thread of humanness emerging she hoped would grow back between them, though not into the rope that had once been their shared marital noose.

By the time she had reached the Amalfi Coast, she’d desperately needed to stop driving and take stock of what was next in her travel plans. Edward’s sister Mara had invited her down to Australia and she had to respond and consider what that might mean to her, to Edward, and for Mara whose relationship with Edward was amicable at best. Which is how she ended up at the Hotel Caruso in Ravello. She’d received some raised eyebrows as she pulled up in her now dust-covered little road warrior, headdress of matted hair and windblown scarf, olive-stained shorts and flip-flops. But it was an Orient-Express hotel and one thing she could count on was a refreshing welcome that was curious but not judgemental. It likely helped she’d paid up front for a week’s stay in cash.

Her room felt like a safe cave nestled into the side of the mountain. Similar to Eze, there was a strong Moorish influence everywhere: high pointed arches throughout her room and faded fresco painting on the ceiling and exposed stone gave her the feeling she was in a five-star museum. Until she lay on the bed. After a week of hard beds and utilitarian amenities, she luxuriated in the comfort of an Orient Express bed story. She longed to fall into sleep but knew she couldn’t until she found something to eat.

She didn’t feel like dressing up to out to dine; it was true, her days on the road had given her freedom from her years of a pristine couture uniform. Her Valentino heels now felt painful and awkward her feet. She wriggled her toes and flexed them against her simple cotton flats bought at a roadside stand and decided take a walk and explore the hotel in her, what Edward would likely call it, ‘hippie chic’ attire.

She could hear music coming from the restaurant as she walked towards the terrace. The sun was cuddling up to the ocean and everything seemed to have a softly blurred layer over it; even the white wrought-iron fence that lined the terrace seemed to dissolve into the blue of the ocean below and beyond. She could smell lemon and fresh-cut rosemary and realized she ached for a long, complicated meal to take her through the night. Blue twilight gave the tablecloths a graphic look, as they’d only now been illustrated and were waiting for characters. Dinner was clearly over she noticed with a tinge of panic. She felt her stomach lurch with hunger and wondered if she would get a conciliatory offer of what was still available from the chef.  That was when she saw Ludano.

(Here’s a little video from the Hotel Caruso to give you a feel for where Prue is at. Escape. Enjoy! Note the full transmedia version of this chapter will be posted soon at http://www.whatisyourstory.ca so keep an eye out!)

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September 8

The full harvest moon is coming.

The culling, the bounty, the closing of doors,

and covering of skin.

A waft of blue light coils like smoke

in the air, marking

the end of summer and the

beginning of fall, a stasis,

windless and undecided.

 

It contains our first kiss.

It contains our fingertips electric with intent.

 

It contains the momento mori of moments that once lived

as a lithesome golden body at the end of summer,

never able to give itself entirely to the commitment of winter.

We were like a boat methodically created in a glass jar,

always causing  the same reaction in the viewer of

both awe followed by why?

Had the wind blown a different way or

a waitress stood between us at the moment our eyes met

this in-between place would only ever have been marked by the

muted drop of leaves,

the harbinger of black whispery branches scratching

over white houses.

 

I told you once you were my muse.

I suppose you still are at this time of year.

A wisp of coloured smoke,

a sharp intake of breath, held,

forever.

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When Life Comes For You

Sometimes life comes for you. You are minding your own business. You are checking off boxes. Done. Done. Done. You have some semblance of balance going on. The large goal on the horizon is there, as it ever was, each day and you work towards it slowly, bit by bit. Life is neither good nor bad. There’s very little hyperbole. You do what you have to do.

Then one day life comes for you and says, in a slightly foreign accent, because all big changes have a certain character to them: “You aren’t going there. You’re going here.”

Oh.

And suddenly you get it. All those nights you dreamt of what it would feel like to have your heart’s desire. What it would look like. Taste like. It’s come to you. Not as you planned. Not as you expected. Not in the shape or form or sound you thought it would. And then you see the genius of life–the unfolding of an origami design that you could never have imagined–this is the thing some people call fate. I don’t know that I have a word for it other then to call it life.

So. Life has come for me. And I’ve said yes.

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A Slow Flame to Victory

A year ago I was getting ready to go to Paris by myself. I had a broken heart. I was cupping my hands around it like it was the top of a newborn’s head. I was praying I could protect it long enough for it to grow back together. I wanted to escape on a plane, far, far away from the dreams I had been certain were plans waiting to be realized. Part of me was also hoping the person I loved, who lived in Germany, would show up at my hotel room and hold me in his arms.

But our hearts never really grow back to what they were before they were broken. They heal, but the broken bits are in there, like shards of glass, still fragile, still shatterable, but our skin has thickened and wizened and regenerated over top.

It was a long road to May of this year. It had a lot of forks. It took me down a lot of valleys, chasms, and then an abyss. I tried to light hope but it was a thin flame without much heat. And yet, somehow, here is May, in all its glorious flirtation and I am alive. I could regret things that happened or, I could be delighted I have a chance to live the life I want to live, on my own terms.

Desire has a funny way of bringing you face to face with choice. In the end, happiness isn’t in your heart’s desire but in the choice you made when you found it.

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Winged Victory of Samothrace, taken at the Louvre, Paris, May 2012. By moi of course.

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