Saturday, December 6, 2008

Today I Will Tell You Is A Day Unlike Any Other

We're taking turns being sick, like a dance of queasy stomachs, aches and pains, sneezes fevers and fantastical dreams induced by high white blood cell counts. Achoo, Can i have ice water with two ice cubes mommy, Where is the Advil, Here is your green tea, Where is the toilet paper, Use your own pillow, Don't kiss me, I'm tired, I can't read my eyes hurt, Can you make dinner tonight, Mom I need a blanket. Garlic, garlic, garlic. Yes a natural antibiotic and especially effective on the cells of the lung. Squeeze, pour boiling water, inhale for five minutes, rinse, repeat.

I am 34 and my face is starting to move slightly downward. I have a strange duality when it comes to my apperance, resulting, in part, from my experience as being highly undesirable to the opposite sex for so long (called ugly, fat faced, etc) and then morphing at 15 into a high schooler chased by boys of every age, simple changes that shocked me in their apparent significance to my social status: my face thinned, my hair thickened and grew, my body grew into itself,what used to be detriments (freckles, snub nose) became beauty marks- and I remember being so confused as to why certain boys who had tormented me in middle school (Toby Keith, you bastard) suddenly cared to talk to me with their sideways eyes. So I went from being entirely, entirely internal (book worm and tomboy extroidenaire) to a few hellish years of entirely external (miniskirts, heavy makeup, peroxide hair, wanted fake boobs, had fake nails, the whole sodden thing) to finally finding a comfortable balance of vanity without the focus of it all.

Thank GOD I never had the money for that boob job.

Harry slept on Lola's back with his head in her hair the other night. I walked in and he looked up at me with his huge yellow eyes and went back to sleep.

I cuddled Hagrid for a record ten minutes yesterday. He is the best smelling of our cats and has incredibly soft puffy fur.

Hermione is skinny scrappy and smart. She asks for egg and milk.

Kagome is pot bellied and slightly crazy. As a woman who also became a mother very (unusually) young, I can relate.

The immigrant who used to come around to my house asking for work is gone. I saw him in the mexican place down the street a while back and he told me he was going back to Tijuana. I have put him in my novel. He is one of two characters based entirely on a real person. The other is the daughter Zuzu who is based on my Lola. This man changed his name to 'Lucky'. He wore the same clothes every day and had no home and no car and nothing but work work work and he changed his name to Lucky. He had sparkly eyes and a strong back and was quick to smile and called Lola 'Lolita'. Once I had no work to offer him at all and so made up a job of picking up dog poop because he was the kind of person who would rather be paid for picking up poop than just be handed money and so he did it and I felt sick to my stomach and had him stop way before he was done and told him his food was getting cold. He ate his dinner and put his backpack on and took his bag of food I made, and he left. We did this twice a month for maybe two years and now he is gone. I hope he is all right. I hope his family has enough to be OK.

Speaking of my novel, I am more than halfway through. I can clearly see the magic in the novel now. I write like this:
write a small amount, like ten pages.
go back and relentlessly edit words, add better adjectives, and spend a lot of time staring at the words thinking about the characters.
go back even more and add details that occur to me.
time passes.
write a small amount, like ten pages.

I wrote my first novel differently and it was not half as good. 'So it goes'. Speaking of Salinger, I reread Slaughterhouse and remember how good it feels to read such an authentic voice. It is thrilling. I literally get a giddy feeling reading it, and it's about the horror of war. Hm.
It's also interesting to me how my favorite authors don't have technique in common. Only the uniqueness of voice, the ringing truth of an internal life expressed well through words. I have always believed that is the essential for good writing and it is what I move toward.

Just keep swimming, swimming, swimming.
Alexis Rivas said...

Each time I encounter an act of genuine kindness, my faith in humanity is restored. Too bad the world does not have more of you.

Maggie May said...

alexis it's a modern day Marie Antoinette situation here in SD. the middle class, upper and lower, and very wealthy are living in the same square footage as these men (they are almost always men) who have no food and no homes and it's a moral failure to live next to hunger and do nothing about it. once i met these two immigrants who i walked to my house with from the grocer and they hadn't eaten in TWO DAYS. i have this quote on my fridge that says something akin to 'what else are we here for if not to make life easier for one another'

this line of thought is a main secondary character in my novel.

Abby said...

oohhh don't be sick
it isn't any fun.

talking about garlic is making me what an extremely garlicy meal and its only 8:43 in the morning.

mmmmm delicious garlic....

I've gone of track here I think...

good day!

Annie said...

I hope you all are feeling better soon. I had Walking Pneumonia, then my son had Bronchitis, and then I caught his horrible cold, on and on...

Like you, my favorite authors or specific pieces of writing are all quite different- it is the authenticity of voice, also, that I admire, I am drawn to, and I aspire to capture in my own work.

We also seem to work in much the same way, except I write entire scenes,or chapters, rather than a certain amount of pages, and then I go back and re-read and revise endlessly, thinking about the characters and the situations, inserting new material, tweaking the old...

Two of my short stories have been about homeless men, inspired by the men I see hanging around the libraries, or bus stops, or selling newspapers on street corners; but no one I've known personally.

You are a wonderful person, Maggie, loving and giving.

Countrybelle said...

your voice is beautiful and tough. i can't wait to read your novel. and i too thought i was ugly for a long time...
would love so much if you'd come visit my new, secret blog:

The Panic Room said...

Sorry for the sniffles. Keep fighting the germ war.

I would fear any man that decided to call my daughter "Lolita" especially if a low grunt followed. Kubrick just made it so that is off limits.

Hope everyone feels better.

saracita said...

I hope you're feeling better. I'm enjoying wandering through your blog, too... I'll be adding you to my reading list. Thanks for finding me. :)

Maggie May said...

stompy* garlic is one of my favorite things. i can eat fresh guac that i make with garlic and lemon by the bucketfull.

annie*i would love to read a short you that possible?

countrybell* beautiful and tough- what a great compliment, thank you.
i will of course visit your new blog!

panic* it means little lola in spanish that's all :))) which i'm sure you know. no he did NOT grunt!

saracita* cool! i'm glad you read and i'll be back over to your blog today.

Anonymous said...

Being sick sucks. Your writing doesn't seem to be affected. COOL! Very interested in your books Mag! Was the 1st one published? DO TELL! I want one!

Annie said...

Hi Maggie, I'll send you a story soon, and a link to a story that was published online.

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