Tuesday, March 30, 2010

When we tell the story of our lives

CK and I have been talking a lot about how wildly different two people's accounts of a situation can be. And how hard it is to reconcile yourself to the fact that the other person might never see things your way. Might never come to understand where you were coming from. Which reminded me of this Sacred Advertisement from Rob Brezny.

There was an indignant uproar after revelations in 2006 that James Frey's best-selling "memoir" A Million Little Pieces contains fabrications. He hadn't actually lived all of the experiences he depicted therein.

Hearing about it prompted me to ruminate on whether there's any such thing as a completely accurate account of any person's life. My conclusion: no.

In every autobiography and biography ever written, the author imaginatively strings together selectively chosen details to conjure up artificially coherent narratives rather than depicting the crazy-quilt ambiguity that actually characterizes everyone's journey.

If you and nine writers set out to tell your life story, you'd produce 10 wildly different tales, each rife with subjective interpretation, misplaced emphasis, unintentional distortions, and exorbitant extrapolations from insufficient data.

Celebrate the malleability of reality. Regale listeners with stories about the time you worked as a pirate in the Indian Ocean, or rode the rails through Kansas as a hobo, or gave a down-on-his-luck CIA agent sage advice in an elevator. When you call to get pizza delivered and the clerk who takes your order asks your name, say you're Brad Pitt or Paris Hilton. When someone you're meeting is annoyed because you're late, say you couldn't help it because you were smoking crack in the bus station bathroom with your mom's guru and lost track of time. If asked how much education you have, say you have three PhDs, one each in astrobiology, Russian literature, and whale songs. "
Rob Brezny

Give the cat a name

While chatting with L this evening, it came out that in my apt there are three places to sleep: the love seat, the twin bed, and a rolled up futon in the living room. He was mildly appalled by this and suggested that perhaps to sustain an adult relationship I might need to have a bed that could comfortably fit two people. And as a "grown ass woman" there were no acceptable excuses.

He does have a point. It's hard to feel comfortable in a room where there doesn't appear to be space for you. From my viewpoint, I always had the sense that this was a transient stop in my life. A visit. And a sense that, if I met someone who inspired in me the desire to buy a bed, I would buy a bed. That would be the sign.

Sort of the Holly Golightly thing: "If I could find a real-life place that'd make me feel like Tiffany's, then - then I'd buy some furniture and give the cat a name!"

But perhaps L has a point. Maybe Holly and I have it all backwards. Maybe you have to buy the furniture, name the cat, and put down roots. Maybe that process creates a place where you feel safe and calm and protected. Maybe I have to create "a place where me and things go together." through my own efforts. I make a place my home.

You bring in a bed and then there is space for another person to sleep in it beside you. And then you meet them.

I wonder which way it works - do you build a bed and they will come or do you wait to find the right place and then give the cat a name?

I am not sure that I have done enough traveling to say whether I've found the place. And I haven't built the bed.

It probably doesn't matter. There must be as many paths home as there are people who have homes. But I suppose it can't hurt to try.

Perhaps after three years of being here, it's time to buy a bed and give the cat a name.

Time to call it a life whether there's someone to share it with or not.

Monday, March 29, 2010

because it chose me

"If I had to choose a favourite [sentence], it would be because it chose me: for reasons I can't be sure of, although I am sure they go deep ..."

- Clive James, Cultural Amnesia

even the flowers

"[Benedetto] Croce was saying that all living things have a history: having a history and living are the same process. Even the flowers, he said, have a history, although only they know it."

- Clive James, Cultural Amnesia

Monday, March 22, 2010

The robe abides

I bought this very, very, cheap fleece bathrobe to wear to a "Big Lebowski" party. It's a horrible, fuzzy white thing with pale blue hearts all over it.

That party was in January, I am still wearing the dang thing while I putter around the house - usually with a ratty t-shirt and flip-flops. I have not worn it to the grocery store yet. But I fear that this and a lot of bowling might be in my near future.