22. Macnas - 4/8/2005 2:19:07 PM
This is more my speed, and its true, god help me.
Viva la raza.
Nolan, locked out of his skull, steals a bottle of raspberry cordial from the bar. We’ve always called it raza, which is a habit people of this city have, adding “-za” onto the end of things.
Anyway, that was grand, but although each of us was very drunk, we knew that it might not be such a clever idea to drink this stuff, so we warned Nolan off it and after a bit we left the bar to get a cab back to the northside.
That proved easier said, as no cabbie in his right mind would stop for a bunch of eejits like us in a fit.
So, after stopping at a chipper and eating some hot grease to feed the drink hunger, we set about walking the 3 miles or so home, or to where I was staying that night at least. We’re halfway up Summer Hill when what does Tony do but flag a cab, which given the time of night and the state of us was a wonder in and of itself.
It was only then we noticed that Nolan had started necking the raza, and had it all over his face and down his shirt. He had about half of it drank and looked really, really ill.
The cab is underway when after a few hundred yards, yer man the cabbie notices the cut of Nolan in the mirror. He brakes the cab short, turns to us and sez “that bollix is going to puke in the back of my cab, get him out!” to which we protested that no, no way, we’ll look after him, no fear, not a bother, no worries boy, it’ll be grand. “You’ll pay me 50 pounds if he gawks, alright? 50 pound!”
We looked at each other. Nolan was almost definitely going to puke and we had no more chance of coming up with 50 notes than the man in the moon. “Grand, fine, 50 quid it is” sez us.
The cab continued on for another few seconds before Tony lost the plot entirely and bursts out laughing “50 quid? Go on ya langer!”
The cab squeals to a stop and we are all turfed out on the street. The cab roars off, yer man reading us up and down as he heads away at speed. We stagger off in the direction of the northside proper.
Somehow we manage to make it back before dawn, and I head off with Tony while Jossa goes to Nolans place. Nolans Da is a fucking head the ball, and has a notorious temper, so none of us want to be there if he discovers Nolan in the state he’s in. Jossa goes with him as they are cousins, and I persuade him that Nolan is far more likely to take notice of him than he is of me.
Tony’s house is empty, his folks are away in London, so I crash out on the couch and slip into a coma.
In the morning, myself and Tony make some tea, then watch a film as neither of us wants to go out into the sun just yet. A few hours later there’s a knock on the front door, and Jossa comes in. He’s laughing fit to die.
He had spent the night in the coal shed. He quit the house after Nolan woke everyone up by staggering out of the bedroom where Jossa had put him and puking down the stairs. “Most of a bottle of raza” sez Jossa,
What was it like at all? We asked “well, live and in technicolour, it was fucking spectacular” he sez.
He got out the back door when he heard Nolans Da roaring, and kipped in the shed while the Da laid into Nolan. We found out afterwards that he’d pissed all over his brother as well, for some unknown reason.
We went down town later on, we didn’t call for Nolan, in case his old fella would shoot us or something.
After some breakfast we went for a few frames, such was the easy way of being a young fella with no other care than where the next stip would come from.
23. RickNelson - 4/8/2005 3:07:34 PM
Jen and webby, on a male level, I'm one who is at home all day, sleeps with my son 5 nights a week and I do a lot of homebody work, there is a connection to your world I'm living. Not that any male, especially myself, can be equal to the all powerful mother connection.
However, there are instances, when the circumstance of marriage are such that the role reversal not only works well, but the result may be good for all involved. Now, if I can just convince my wife! We agree, she backs away, we agree, she backs into old shit. Damn, history can sure F-up so much of a good thing. My being very well meaning, all up to the task and willing, makes no difference to the whimsy of this woman I keep trying life with. I've never, never mentioned anything regarding my relationship but, dammit, after so many years, like webby said, it just seemed I could put my fiddy-cents in.
I'll read stories and do stories now.
[hesitating], … [hesitating], … click the post button~~~~~~~
The problem is, it’s not f-in-fiction, so dammit all…
click the damn button!
24. RickNelson - 4/8/2005 3:32:33 PM
I was sitting on the hill overlooking the Rose Garden in south Minneapolis. The wind was mild, clouds above, with that clear blue we all love, moving across the sun now and again. The grass is nice I thought, and there are many trees, as this park was planned for gardens growing a wide variety. I drifted to thinking about the north fence-line adjacent to Lakewood Cemetery, resting place of Minneapolis’ dignitaries etal. Most recently the Welstones. Hubert H. Humphrey is there too. But, it’s the newness of the fence-line experimental plants that draws more attention. They’re beautiful asters, azaleas, cone flowers and a hundred more. Just south of this is the Peace Garden. And across the street east is the display garden. Then just south of that is the Rose Garden.
The entrance opens to an awesome fountain many turtles squirting into a raised round pool. This fountain is a transplant from the old Gateway of Minneapolis, which was built early in the 20th century, but fell to disrepair as the 50’s drunks took over that entire neighborhood. Eventually leading to it all being torn down, and rebuilt to much of what is now seen from the skyline. So, walking by the fountain gives rise to marking the changes of my city.
I like settling in, to see and smell the grand display, row upon row of gorgeous blooms, tall and short, bushes or trees, miniature or large, the sight and smell are always welcoming. It’s peaceful, at least while the air traffic is ebbed. Those damn planes can mess up a perfect moment and some days. If that happens, I’ll walk over to the Peace Garden. Stroll the path, and stop whining in thought. There’s always enough distraction, from the smallest pebbles amongst blooming plants or trees, and green grass at the central bridge commemorating the need for peace because of the two great bombs Japan suffered in ‘45. Then add a man-made waterfall, with myriad plantings among the pebbled path and I find I’m lost to almost anything. It’s a time to be blank, not to give into cares. Just stop, stop it all, wait until I want to and then get up and walk away. It’s just that kind of place.
There’s so much truth to be found, being alone with the gardens. Why it’s important to do what needs to be done, what’s gone on before and what might be going on, a lot of thinking. But, as needed, just pause, stop and smell a rose, look at pebbles and watch water fall.
25. Jenerator - 4/8/2005 9:45:45 PM
This is the first piece I have read of yours. You write so dreamily, I am impressed! Your daughter is very blessed.
26. Jenerator - 4/8/2005 9:49:05 PM
It is so nice to have you and Macnas contribute in here. I can't speak on behalf of Webbie, but I always find it heart warming when fathers share their feelings. You all do it so differently than we do and it's wonderful.
Tell me more about your child - how old is s/he? What has been the biggest challenge to being a stay at home dad? If you could tell the women of the world one thing, what would it be?
I like your observations about the beautiful garden, you pay such close attention to detail.
27. webfeet - 4/8/2005 11:24:30 PM
Well, they say the Irish are master storytellers and that is unarguably true.
I'm always impressed when I come across writers with such a strikingly different voice, such as yours Macnas, that is able to move about like a panoramic camera. How do they even think of those things? I ask myself. I've never been capable of projecting myself into unknown situations, of transcending the self to get into the heads and hearts of others. Or of using mythological images to expand the sense of the moment.
It's so amazing the way a culture, and the countryside itself, (in this area you have a huge advantage!) forms a particular literary sensibility that is really, instantly recognizable.
And I really identified with the 'terminal responsibility' remark. But it's sweet to let go, even if a glass of wine now and then is my cocaine.
And rick, your post kind of is staying with me. I really feel it. And with your post about the garden, I feel like I could weep. It really touched me. I can see how much the garden represents a place of peace and happiness for you. We all need those places. There is such a loneliness in raising children. It's just that in a way, adult knowledge has no place in their world. And it's hard trying to hide it from them.
Pubs and gardens, book stores and diners, anywhere we can go to be alone.
28. RickNelson - 4/9/2005 3:51:12 AM
Jen., I've one of both sexes. My daughter is 20 and my son is 10 months. No joke.
It's actually a very nice situation. Just one youngun' at a time, and the grown sister is playing and lovin' taking care of her baby brother. That is, when she's not messing with her break neck school schedule.
The working of this is a good thing for me, I'm very adept with taking care of both kids. My daughter and I talk over many of the needs, wants, issues, desires/wishes, despairs, hopes, you name it, except relationships. I give her lots of good attention, clean up after her, as if she were a toddler and cannot do dishes. I do whatever, except her room. Of course that's her domain. We're all happy she lives at home, commutes to school and works one weekend day in addition to tutoring twice a week. She maintains some friends from highschool, and they're a great bunch.
My boy is a miracle. Angels smiled upon his birth and my complete acceptance to be his daddy and likewise for his mommy. This is serious stuff, no joking. When he was born, the situation was an emergency, and my wife went through living hell for 5 days after. Three of which, the last three, were in intensive care.
Well, when she was rushed into the operating room to deliver, I was informed that I had to wait outside, in the adjacent room, which was for recovery. I was alone. I watched two different carts wheel by, and then waited. A long 4 days later, my wife was talking pretty freely with me, and told me the story.
She was laying on the operating table, and knew this, but floated out, and landed standing next to the table. She had our boy in her hands. Newborn and fresh, alive and smiling. She was very happy. She was compelled to walk out into the hall, and move toward the two swinging doors that are for the emergency corridor. She saw four beautiful, winged, white auraed angels, smiling. One gestured to her, smiling, and holding out its hands as if to take our son. She felt complete calm and peace, because these were angels, and if it was to be, then she could accept that the angels take our newborn. However, just as she walks past the door to and adjacent room, mine, a man appears, also smiling and takes the boy. The angels, accept this and halt the compelling gesture to hand over the baby. Of course the man has to be myself.
I'm always overwhelmed when I relate this story. It's a part of my son as his living body is. It will always be important and I will relate it for as long as I live.
29. judithathome - 4/9/2005 4:51:19 PM
Beautiful thoughts, Rick.
30. anomie - 4/9/2005 8:24:49 PM
Nice job everyone. I've been reading from work as time allows. Very enjoyable.
31. alistairConnor - 4/10/2005 11:09:27 AM
I hope and imagine that those of us who are not such fluent writers, are now working up their first drafts offline.
Once you've got something with a beginning, a middle, and an end, just cough it up. There is nothing like seeing it on the white page, and knowing others are reading it, to bring on second thoughts and revisions. And that's good. I'll know this thread is really working when I see a second draft.
32. Macnas - 4/11/2005 8:33:19 AM
wonk, Jen and webfeet
Thank you very much for your kind words, 'though I'd say webfeet is choking on all that corn I put in there. Nonetheless it is always nice when someone says they like what you have done, it's very pleasing.
But Jen, you hit the nail on the head when you said dreamily, as that is how I feel when I write anything like that. I have memories or notions, I see a scene or series of things, and they all kind of mix and blend and it comes out like a dream transcript.
I don't sweat blood over writing, I do it for fun and very rarely, for good or bad, change or revise anything. Sometimes, when I'm in the right mood, it just does fall out of my head and onto the page. I wrote a thing here once about a daytrip with my kids, that was such enormous craic to write and read afterwards (just for myself), that just fell onto the page in one 15 minute daydream.
And webfeet, I found your comments on a culture having recognisable literary traits interesting. There was a time when I would have scoffed at that, but the more I write (not a lot mind you) the more I agree. I don't know why, really I don't, but lots of Irish people who write have the same flavour, that "in a waking dream" thing.
Any time I think my writing is kind of good, I think of James Stephens "The Crock Of Gold", and think again.
Webfeets writing, is also, in my opinion, very markedly American. There is a line of self analysis that runs through it, a continuous sounding of the self off others, through a kind of medium thats made up of very modern, urban situations. It's a complex style, very varied and rich. When it's written as well as webfeet does it, it's very pleasurable to read.
I can't do it, couldn't even try to! My emotions as written are your basic joy, fear, anger, and empathy.
Mostly joy though.
33. Magoseph - 4/11/2005 3:46:39 PM
Once you've got something with a beginning, a middle, and an end, just cough it up.
I have a beginning, a middle, and an end and I am through with the darn thing, Ali, only I’m afraid to post it because it shows without a doubt how much past états d'âmes (so to speak) still obsess me to no end. I mean, look at the other posters, each one of them is much more imaginative than I’ll ever be--I can only post what I have lived and the best I can do as far as fictionalizing is to change places and names, even that is tricky for me.
34. alistairconnor - 4/11/2005 4:46:35 PM
It's perfectly normal to be obsessed with events in one's early life. All the more so when one is an exile.
You may just find that posting it helps with the obsession, Mago : a sort of exorcism. And then, you can try variations. A happy ending; or the villain getting just desserts; or a full-blown tragedy, for example.
35. alistairconnor - 4/11/2005 5:12:13 PM
I started writing something too. I haven't written very much of it yet. Scene-setting.
I was twenty-two, and considerably wet behind the ears. I suppose you'll think I'm offering this as an excuse. I'm not. In fact, I don't feel guilty about anything I did; and if something like it happened to me again, now, at the ripe old age of forty-four, I doubt that I would do anything differently.
It was Desdemona who started it (we used to call her Mistress Quickly : not because she was a brothel keeper or anything, it was just an ironic Shakespearean reference, and because she was so darned quick and effective at everything she did. Damn fine political activist. I was hopelessly in love with her at the time; hopelessly, because she was only seventeen, and I considered that she was far too young for me. Fool that I was. Am.) But I don't blame her, either. There is no way she could have known, either.
So. One Saturday morning, it's 10am and I'm still in bed. Wondering where my next girlfriend is coming from. Developing elaborate sexual fantasies. Same thing. Desdemona drops in, with a friend in tow. My flatmate Lizzy has opened the door to them, and even pushed my bedroom door open. Damn nice of her -- she might have knocked instead.
Hurriedly throwing on a baggy dressing gown, I leap up to make some coffee. Too late : they have entered my lair. Damn. Should have tidied it up yesterday.
Mistress Quickly has come to pick up some leaflets that I got back from the printer's yesterday. What we're going to do with them, I think neither of us really knows : hand them out to each other at the next demonstration, I suppose. It seemed important to get our indignation down on paper. She also wants to remind me of a meeting that afternoon, and another on Tuesday night. I was in no danger of forgetting : I never miss a meeting when she's going to be there.
36. webfeet - 4/11/2005 8:39:35 PM
um, now it's my turn to ask you. so where's the sex?
37. alistairConnor - 4/11/2005 8:48:39 PM
oh believe me, it's coming...
But allow me to hold the door for you... after you, my dear. Let's have some scenes from a marriage.
38. webfeet - 4/11/2005 9:01:00 PM
Hardly the stuff passion prose is made of, but here it is.
Scenes from a Marriage
Rene is home. It is a quarter to eight. I put down the copy of Organic Life and Living I’d been reading and lay it on the coffee table.
This month’s cover story, featuring get-aways in fashionably ecological destinations like British Columbia or Alaska, intersperses tales of personal triumph like a widow whose husband was eaten by a shark, with extraordinary images of nature. Whether it’s Thanksgiving tables set with bakelite in autumnal colors; a harvest day celebration at an editor’s farmhouse in the Berkshires or the formal beauty of heirloom tomatoes photographed like one of Robert Maplethorpe’s riding whips, these are my fantasies. This is my porn. Instead of ending my day with a scotch and a Playboy, I dive into a world of aesthetic perfection.
Everything is about simplicity, yet nothing looks even remotely simple to
“Hello,” Rene sings, bending down to kiss my check. “What are you reading?” he asks, glancing at the cover.
“One of those organic magazine,” I say, lazily. “We have to start buying organic grapes.”
“Regular grapes are sprayed with so many chemicals that Kelly Preston Travolta calls them pesticide pellets.”
“But aren’t all these organic products so expensive?” he asks.
I shrug as though Kelly Preston and I have more important things to worry about.
“Papa!” Charles cries, putting down his train to run toward him. After giving him a hug, Rene whirls around the apartment chasing Charles, his trench coat billowing behind him like a cape.
39. webfeet - 4/11/2005 9:02:14 PM
“Rene, can you please take off your shoes before coming into the apartment?”
“Oui, mon general,” he replies, standing to attention and saluting me, like one of DeGaulle’s lieutenants.
Imagining him trekking in the grime from the city to the rug on which Charles plays makes me crazy. “Do you want to turn the house into the subway station?”
Rene is handsome. Tall and slender with the kind of smooth black hair I used to dream of as a teenager, and dark eyes he inherited from his Basque grandfather, he has a natural elegance, one that becomes even more pronounced when he’s angry. “Can you relax?” he asks, annoyed.
I lay there on the couch in a state of pregnant paralysis, too fatigued to retaliate and too bored with what I know will come out of my mouth.
“Here’s the mail,” he says, handing it to me.
Scanning through the advertisements, my attention turns to a children’s toy catalog that arrived in the pile.It’s called Geewillikers! Turning page after page of small scale Hummers, play cellphones and mini barbecue stations I feel myself start to snigger like Archie Bunker as I read the affected copy accompanying each product description. that appeals to the narcissism of each parents your child into a prodigy.
Hoping to break the tension with Rene who, still annoyed, is sniffing as he removes his shoes, I say, “You have to look at this children’s toy catalog. It’s so pretentious. They even have a dids geosafari talking telescope.”
“Now you’re attacking children’s toys?” he asks, disgusted.
“There must be a special place in hell for people like me.”
“Charles, qu’est ce que tu as fait aujourd’hui?” Rene asks Charles who has gone back to playing with Timmy and friends, ignoring him once the French starts and the fun ends.
Repeating this ritual night after night in which Rene tries to speak French to Charles, and Charles ignores him, is the one embarrassing element in my French education and in our image as the franco-american couple. Inevitably the questions are posed: Does your son speak French? Everyone wants to know. Everyone expects us to have raised a perfectly bilingual child. Although I spoke French to Charles, reading him French stories several times a week, and play at being a French mommy during the many trips we spend in France, Charles is anti-French.
40. webfeet - 4/11/2005 9:02:53 PM
“Charles repond a ton pere.”
“NOT NOW!” Charles hollers. “I’m play-ing.”
“Actually, Charles had an incident today.”
Rene looks at me, surprised. “What are you talking about?” .
“Charles pushed a Korean baby off the stage during Mommy and Me storytime at Barnes and Noble.”
“C’est vrai?” Rene asks Charles, playfully. Perhaps sophisticated French parents sitting inside their Parisian salons at the end of the day find it amusant when their child makes a public spectacle out of hitting another. My concern over Charles’ behavior seemed overbearing somehow, even ridiculous.
“It’s not funny.”
“I don’t think it’s funny.”
“You don’t seem to be taking it very seriously,” I insist, giving the matter now, more gravitas now than it really deserves.
“What do you want from me?” Rene demands. “I come home from work, I sit down, you order me to take off my shoes and now I am supposed to be an interrogator! God!” he shouts, “Can you just relax?”
With pregnant indignation, I slowly get up to serve dinner but a part of me wonders if he is right. Why can’t I relax? Is it hormonal? All toddlers are prone to aggression. I think to myself, what would Gabrielle do? Shrug, and say “C’est comme ca,” making that French ‘pfoof’ sound at the end, indicating one shouldn’t stretch the brain cells too far in seeking an answer to a question only a fool would bother worrying about.
Standing in front of the kitchen sink a few minutes later, Rene slips behind me and cups my rear end, as I warm up the sauce.
“This is where I put my money,” he says, jokingly as he squeezes my cheeks, by way of apology. Somehow he is never more affectionate to me than when he sees me behind a stove, cooking for him.
“That’s what the Arab men say to their wives. Now I know I’m rich.” And he squeezes them again before walking away, laughing.
41. webfeet - 4/11/2005 9:06:19 PM
My weight gain is something of a joke between us. Not just the pregnancy weight gain, but the pounds I’d accumulated since having Charles and quitting my job as a writer and producer of financial conferences. I’d forgotten about the simple pleasure cookies-- happy snack time children’s cookies—afforded until Charles was old enough to eat them. What a discovery! Nutter Butters, chocolate chips, cramming one, two, three in my mouth as I went down the supermarket aisle. One for Charles, one for me. It wasn’t until we got home that I realized that half the box was devoured. I still thought, geez, that’s nothing. They are just cookies.
And then, it was as if most of my wardrobe, not just the career girl clothes-- the good suits, silk blouses and jackets-- all the frou frou treasures I wore when I studied and worked in Paris were too tight and inappropriate for this new line of work.
What did mommies wear during the day? Why couldn’t we just have rompers, the way our newborns did? That would solve the problem. Since I was getting chunky, I refused to buy a pair of jeans reasoning that just as soon as whatever this was that was happening to my body would go away, I would buy a pair. The day never came.
After weeks of wearing an old, embarrassingly snug pair of cheenos, a revelation occurred when an L.L. Bean catalog arrived in my mailbox. Comfortable, snuggly, forgiving clothes—elastic waistlines! Tunic tops! Tummy concealing rugbies! All the clothes I’d avoided during my glamorous twenties were now the only means of clothing this new mommy body of mine. And even better, I didn’t have to have them dry cleaned.
Now that stressful moment when all that lies between you and social ruin when a favorite item like a silk camisole is at the cleaners-- was not an issue. In fact, there was no issue. The only place I ever went was the park.
Later that night after Rene went to bed, I rearranged the photo album to include new ones taken of Charles. As I scanned through the photos taken of us standing outside my parents’ yard after a Sunday dinner, I could hardly recognize my self. It was as though I were looking at someone else’s picture: standing in a red fleece sweatshirt looking puffy and disheveled, I reminded myself of those women in a Before photo for a Slimfast ad. It was as if I had involuntarily metamorphosed into the sort of pudgy mommy I had seen cutting up sheets to make Halloween costumes in the back pages of my mother’s copies of Woman’s Day growing up.
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