No, I Won’t Have a Heart Attack

When I know that they… And I know that I… There is a space in between where something happens and… But what if the shoe was on the other hand, tied tight with a sock puppet buried inside, casketed? Some things are best left unexplained, unexamined, unreliable, unrefined, underwater, undefined.

So when they… And I… And we together… And if only they wouldn’t… If only I couldn’t… There is a space in between where nothing needs to happen but… And what if the sock was in the laundry hamper, with a pair of jeans with tissue inside a pocket, and the washer/dryer at the laundromat covered all your shirts with white puffballs? Nothing would be clean, holy, sanctified, refined, defined, examined, but it would be explained: tissue in your jeans’ pocket.

And where do you… and they… How do we all… Doing things isn’t as hard as the space between where nothing happens and nothing proceeds and movement is restricted to peripheral limbs only, creating a vacuum of the face, an inability to speak or hear or see the evil, if it is evil, or the good, if it is good, or the grey, the in between, which most things are.

When you know that I… And that they… Correct me if I’m wrong, but shouldn’t I be working on things other than midnight lyrics and fortune cookie lines running through my head at a speed too fast to keep track of? So when my coffee gets… And I want to… Because there’s more but not enough… What then? What do I do then?

In the morning afterlight, the spaces in between come close together, the light drains out the Dark Matter, and a face as light as air and heavy as a stone is yours or theirs and… But maybe… Because… And after all… You understand me, don’t you?

Don’t word things at me, hurl them if you must but don’t be delicate. Remember I am not a poet. I am a straightforward mess of a manchild and my expressions are few and far between. So if… And I know that if also… Am I here with you or am I alone? Where are the spaces in between where I found you?

Because… And here I’m being serious, take my words for it, because what if… And that actually… And you aren’t… And I’m not… But what about them? And my jeans? And where is my coffee and my running shoes and sock puppet? Where are my underwear and where is my jersey, where are my shorts and where are my headphones. I’m going out to… I’ll be back when…

No, I won’t have a heart attack. Don’t worry, Mom. I’ll be home for dinner.

Quiet Space Spills

The sound of spilling in a quiet space is never a positive one. Either someone has peed their pants, or their drink has poured all over their computer, or else they’ve vomited up the vodka from last night onto the front of their expensive thrift store sweater.

The quiet space makes every nanosecond, every inch, every gram of noise carry across the ceiling and in between the cubicles like the measles virus. It is a bad place to be clumsy. It is a bad place to have a cold. It is a bad place to let rip a heroic fart or a miscalculated burp.

Our coats spill onto one another, hung over the sides of cubicles and backs of chairs. Boots tumble sideways from their tucked in nooks when the door opens and the entire place shakes. It is a bad place to be heavy. It is inaccessible to people in wheelchairs. It is discriminating.

Compassion and jealousy and hatred permeate one another. Who has an agent, who has a book deal, who has a publicist. It’s the loud voices that have the most, or maybe the least. How can we tell when we are all so full of hubris as to think we belong?

It’s a paradox, an anachronism, something like that. It’s impossible. A quiet space full of so much noise.

This is Why You Became a Writer

You crave punishment. You don’t go so far as to sit on top of the railroad tracks, but you hold your hand out, waiting for the honking train to rush by and break it.
You crave rejection. You seek out men who will banish you and women whose hearts you will break and you succumb to the sweetness of the chase even long after the black t-shirted back is out of sight. They have run on ahead without a thought to you struggling for breath, jogging in heels you despise, mouth smeared with redness from hurried, forceful kisses.
You crave a world of goodness, where people peer into one another’s minds and consider the feelings and emotions of others. You write them, and you destroy them, because perfect people are boring. You give them flaws and bruises and illicit desires and you kill them, mutilate them, smash them into tiny closet corners and down mine-shafts and into irretrievable peril. You are like a child tearing the heads of dolls because she cannot look as pretty as them. You are like a songbird, rising every morning to chirp at the sun with absolute faith that it will rise. But in your world, the sun does not rise, has not risen since your own glow was snuffed out. You keep chirping, pill beneath your trilling tongue, and you hope.
You crave order that is chaotic and chaos that is orderly. You crave the paradox to make sense: for the boy to kill his time-traveling grandfather and still live, for Achilles to beat the tortoise while the tortoise triumphs. When asked if you are this or that, you want to simply answer YES.

Frivolicking, a writers’ retreat

Swamping a small space inside an inn that is surely not in Surrey despite its name are several dozen frozen faces, dripping in the heat lamps. Masked in social-butterfly expressions, they eat brownies, pretzels and sip white and red wine. A few of the brave clutch bottles of cool green beer, proving their ability to think outside the box, which in this case is the social gathering they have gathered socially for.
A white man with white hair speaks from a podium to a room of mostly white faces. He is shrivelling up like an acorn’s shell left in the corner of the room during several seasons; the signs of decay are barely there but if you chip the exterior with a fingernail, all the little outside triangles will dust right off and you’ll be left with a wrinkled and broken thing that used to hold a seed of something great.
Polite claps. The writers flee as politely and unobtrusively as they can, in groups of three or four, pretending that their greatest desire isn’t to hide under the covers with their antidepressants, whether in bottle, pill, teddy-bear, book, television, or person form.
It is the beginning of what promises to be a gruelling, frightening and terribly – in all the disparate meanings of the word – illuminating two weeks

Apologies and The Tale of the Book Fair

First of all, I want to apologize to you all – I haven’t had time to read any of your wonderful posts yesterday and today, and I feel awful about it. I always do, you know. I feel such a respect and appreciation for all of you who post so faithfully and who make me laugh, think, weep, and smile in turns – and I hate not having the time both to comment and to read your posts for my own pleasure. I do, however, have a good reason for not having had time yesterday and today to catch up.

I’ve had a rush of doctor’s appointments, ultrasounds [stomach and throat – I’m not pregnant or anything!] and errands in the past two days. On top of all that, starting yesterday, June 2, I’ve been working at the Hebrew Book Fair, which has been one of my goals since I was tiny tot.

Now, I don’t want to be too discriminatory, nor too prejudiced, but Israelis are often not the easiest crowd to deal with. This is common knowledge amongst Israelis, too, and as I am one, I’m allowed to say it. But Hebrew Book Week is ten full days in which fairs go up all over the country – fairs dedicated to BOOKS [yeah, I know, why call it a week when it’s ten days? It’s one of the grand mysteries of the world.] If you don’t know already, books are my life in more than one sense. They’ve been calming, comforting presences, friends when I needed them, entertainers when I needed a laugh and teachers when I wanted to learn. I love books. I love their smell, their feel, the crack in the spine when you first start reading a book… I love books.

So finally, this year, I’m working at the biggest of the fairs – the one that goes up right in the center of Tel Aviv – and I’m working for one of the major publishers. I never thought that I’d actually manage to work there, and I’m so glad that I have! I was tiny when I started going to the annual book fair, and I remember the excitement of leaving with bags laden with books [there’s 20% off all books during this time, of course, plus numerous other deals] and reading one of the books right that night. I remember going to the children’s corner to hear storytellers or writers reading their books.

And now I’m there, looking at it all from the other side. It’s an interesting experience, seeing famous Israeli writers or not so famous ones; seeing the way different writers deal with their own books [some, for instance, promote them shamelessly and aggressively. I can’t imagine ever being able to do that with anything I’d create…] ; seeing the different buyers, whether they’re families or couples or friends; meeting the people who work with me who are just as into books as I am… It’s an education, and the time flies.

The fair is in the evenings and into the night. I just managed to get out tonight by fifteen after midnight, and I’m exhausted. This may explain the non-existent eloquence of the post, as well as the not-so-pervading neatness and flow. Forgive me, for I’ve been on my feet for seven hours, and I think my brain might have dripped down meanwhile. Tomorrow, and Saturday, I will have freer days and will finally get back on track with y’all.

Perfect Phrases

Part of what I enjoy so much about reading is finding new descriptions and phrases that writers coin. I always tell myself to write them down as I read them, but I never do. Still, some stick with me and are then forever stuck in my mind as a way of thinking about or describing something.

The color of blood at midnight: Jacqueline Carey used this phrase to describe the color of red so dark, it’s nearly black. It’s always sounded beautiful to me.

Dusk, when the world goes soft around the edges: I believe that Sarah Dessen used this in one of her books and that’s where I remember it from, but honestly I’m not entirely sure. It may be from somewhere entirely different. Still, it seems like a perfect description to me of what dusk feels like on certain days.

A thing can be true and not true: This, I believe, is used in Charles de Lint’s stories quite often. As his tales are urban-fantasy, it feels extremely fitting.

These are just a few that I can remember off the top of my head. There have been, at the very least, a few dozen more phrases that I’ve read and loved – but I didn’t write them down, so I’ll just have to reread my books to discover them again!

Anyone else have any favorite phrases that they’ve found in books?

Letter to the Author

I am a great and loyal fan of many writers: Neil Gaiman, Terry Pratchett, Tamora Pierce, Jacqueline Carey, Kate Elliot, Libba Bray, Sarah Dessen… the list goes on and on. These are authors who are living and writing and creating today. These are authors whose books I can look forward to, whose careers I can actively follow (what with the wonders of the online community these days). I treat these people with as much reverence as I treat my favorite bands – more so, perhaps, because their fame is often less materially rewarding and their renown is limited to the community who enjoy their particular genre; meaning my respect for them and awe of them grows because of the difficulties they face in pursuing their chosen careers.

I’ve met Neil Gaiman. He was a darling, and managed not to seem the least bit bored during the two signings of his in which I participated. He is an incredible public speaker. He is extremely popular, though, and I have never felt the urge to write to him. So, also, with many other of the authors I love.

I wrote to Jacqueline Carey though. I wrote of my passion for her books and my admiration for both her literary style and her imagination, for her beautifully-wrought characters and her intricate plots. She wrote back. She really did. It was a while after I had written, but she did write back.

Which is why, I suppose, I’ve been struggling for days with trying to find the perfect wording for a second letter – this time to Tamora Pierce. I grew up on her books – I own every single one of them, and there are many, believe me. The smell of the pages of those well-thumbed novels of hers bring back memories from countless instances, and I’ve read and reread her books endlessly. I hope that once I find the words to write to her properly, she’ll respond. I shouldn’t expect it, but I can’t help but hope.

It’s overwhelming, sometimes, to love and admire people with such creative minds and incredible determination. But it’s often inspiring too.