– Henning Mankell in The return of the Dancing Master
I stare into my own eyes, at my own face, skin sallow under the glare of lights much too harsh. Age runs her silver fingers through my hair, mocking my every attempt at feigning less years than I actually own. My eyes slide across the stage behind me; men and women scurry about like rats forever chasing after some elusive deed in the simple act of looking busy, following the same old unwritten script they must follow every morning of the year. Poor souls. Those lights with their neon violence bounce off of every surface making the outside pewter gray even drearier yet somehow luminous in its natural softness; the stillness outside more infused with life and light than the living brightness inside.
Nature is by and large to be found out of doors, a location where,
it cannot be argued, there are never enough comfortable chairs.
– Fran Lebowitz
Winter never does settle in in Nantes. Not really. A midnight flurry, maybe, quite possibly, hidden from prying eyes. Wake to white in the morning and by noon it is gone. The days have been quite temperate, an early spring, and as cabin fever sets in we leave the safety and four walls of home and take to the streets.
I had one of each. Our first son, Clem, was a mother’s dream: he ate everything. From the moment our pediatrician gave us the nod, allowing us to feed him petits pots, puréed baby food, we offered him tastes of everything. Propped up on my lap or in his high chair, husband would push a fingertip smeared with fresh goat cheese, chocolate pudding, soufflé both savory and sweet, gravy, dips and sauces and everything and anything we adults happened to be eating at the moment.
Love is the condition in which the happiness of another person is essential to your own.
- Robert Heinlein
Valentine’s Day. This evokes a great philosophical debate chez nous year in and year out. Do we or don’t we? To Valentine’s Day or not to Valentine’s Day? I am led to believe by those willing to convince me that this day is no day at all, that if I surrender, give in to the commercial greed and false proclamations of so many admen, I somehow put our love at risk, laugh at the seriousness of the glue that holds our couple together, relinquish our passion to someone else who dares dictate how and when we declare our love. The sceptics surround me on every side, closing in, yet I glance up and smile sweetly, nodding in ostensible agreement all the while dreaming romantic dreams of my man.
The sky was dark and gloomy, the air was damp and raw, the streets were wet and sloppy.
The smoke hung sluggishly above the chimney-tops as if it lacked the courage to rise,
and the rain came slowly and doggedly down,
as if it had not even the spirit to pour.
– Charles Dickens, The Pickwick Papers
While the wild, furious winter carpets the northeast with snow, as my distant friends awake to yet another morning of white silence, backyards and front stoops buried beneath glorious mounds of icy brilliance, I stand in the rain under gloomy, sluggish gray skies. Again. Not one to let that hamper my mood, I channel my inner housewife and decide that nothing sparks the baking flame like a rainy day.
Writing … frees us from the mass identity we see in the making all around us.
In the end, writers will write not to be outlaw heroes of some underculture
but mainly to save themselves, to survive as individuals.
– Don Delillo
Salty, sour, bitter, sweet projects lined up on my desktop, teasing, taunting, mocking my laziness, the disorganization of my muddled mind, the disarray of my life. One story down, how many to go? Another birthday come and gone in the madness that is our life with nary a cake in sight. As I get older, I wonder if I get wiser or just crazier. But one thing I do know and can swear by; the more work that piles up on my desk, the more deadlines close in, menacing with their drawn claws and bared teeth, the more I am stimulated, the better and faster I write. I feel like Mike Mulligan and his trusty old steam shovel Mary Anne.