Saturday, April 08, 2006

"Mind as Pure as the Driven Snow - Not Violated By A Single Thought"

During my last stay in St. Louis I had the opportunity to do some reading in between my various responsibilities. My sister was preparing a lecture she was to teach in an Intro to Fiction class that dealt with defining genre fiction and one of the readings she assigned was a short story by Neil Gaiman. I had never read the Sandman graphic novel series that Gaiman is best known for, nor had I actually read anything else by him. I had some time at the hospital during one of my sister's treatments to read his anthology, Smoke and Mirrors and admit to being completely drawn in, hooked, and wanting to read everything the man has ever written.

Now, I admit to being somewhat of a novice to the whole writing thing. Aside from the blog, I have written a couple short one-act plays that have been produced, which was a rewarding experience both times – but I have never really done more than dabble at it. I like it however, and the blog has given me a certain “permission to write.”

So, imagine my horror to find out that not only am I a bit of a novice – but apparently I’m a bit of a plagiarist, without ever knowing it. I have apparently been stealing from Neil Gaiman. Here's a little sentence I wrote in my blog back in January:

"As the beginning of 2006 unfolds along with the characteristic January rains that occur in California; rains that are not really rains, but more like gallons of water in giant barrels that are dumped suddenly upon one’s head; rains that kill anyone unfortunate enough to be homeless and seeking shelter in the concrete architectural mystery that calls itself the Los Angeles River; rains that cause people’s homes to go careening down hillsides into other people’s yards, only to be rebuilt by the insurance companies so that they may slide another year – I am brought to think about . . . " it goes on from there.

I have recently been reading Neil Gaiman’s American Gods (published in 2001): He writes:

"A week ago the rains began in Los Angeles, slicking the streets into road accidents, crumbling the mud from the hillsides and toppling houses into canyons, washing the world into the gutters and storm drains, drowning the bums and the homeless camped down in the concrete channel of the river. When the rains come in Los Angeles they always take people by surprise."

I'm horrified. I have once again seen example that there is nary an original thought in my head - even if I think I'm saying something new - it was said before, and by someone with better sentence structure.

Patience dear, it’ll come.

Life is a constant lesson in patience and tolerance. Some choose to sit in class and take in the lesson; some choose to look out the window and think about that 5 pounds they would like to lose, or fantasize about confronting various human objects of one’s hostility. I have been guilty of the latter at numerous times during my life. To speak in California-ese for a moment, I am a Virgo with Capricorn rising – which means that aside from loving to obsessively clean whilst entertaining thoughts of suicide, I am also guilty of, at times, having a large stick up my ass when it comes to patience with other people. There are those events in one’s life however, that put the importance of paying attention in class into harsh perspective.

I was standing in line in Trader Joes a week or so ago, behind a gentleman that was making a rather large purchase of assorted wines. They sent the box kid to go collect the various choices and put them in a case for the gentleman. It was taking a bit of time, and the man made the comment to the cashier that “obviously he’s not a wine buyer if he’s taking this long to find them.” The cashier politely explained that the kid was 16 years old and would not be experienced with that sort of thing. The gentleman took in that bit of information and adjusted his attitude, saying to the clerk, “would it help if I went over and helped him find them?” The clerk said he thought that would be great if he wished to do that. I stood there, in the Zen zone, staring at the various choices in organic dark chocolate near the cash register, wondering which was better – 70% dark chocolate or 90% dark chocolate? People in line started shifting their weight, grumbling to each other. A woman in the next line over caught my eye and rolled her eyes conspiratorially. I smiled, thinking to myself that I really liked her hair. I wasn’t actually thinking about the man holding up the line. I realized that I wasn’t feeling anxious or impatient at all. I was actually thinking – “try sitting in a cancer ward for 7 ½ hours watching someone get their weekly chemo treatment. Standing in line for a few minutes at Trader Joes is nothing. . .” and followed that with the thought – “I hope none of you ever have to do that.” It’s all about perspective I guess.

An added lesson to my L.A. socialization that is – people is St. Louis, MO are not in a hurry. They do things at a different rhythm and one must adjust to that rhythm if one means to have any peace of mind at all. Nor do they seem to have the same kind of understanding of caustic wit or sarcasm that we use regularly here as a form of banter – they just look at you quizzically – the subtext of that look being “why are you being an asshole?” Patience. Tolerance. When in Rome.

I’m not sure what the point of this is – other than to understand that in all things, including one’s creativity; patience, tolerance and a wicked sense of humor are absolutely essential.

4 Comments:

Blogger R said...

Wow. You should write more often!
Yes, midwesterners are not real big on sarcasm. I've had to learn that lesson over and over again. We learn much from YOU milli. Please continue to teach us.

09 April, 2006 11:42  
Blogger Seamus said...

This was a lesson we had to re-learn while we were traveling - that of patience and tolerance. Hard to switch from the 9-5 get it get it get it.
Well written Mille - glad to see you posting again! :)

12 April, 2006 10:07  
Blogger Catharine said...

There are no original ideas -- just slightly varying points of view. I'm just finishing my first Thomas Hardy novel, written in 1878, and all I keep thinking is, all of our invention, technology, information, advancement -- and nothing really changes. Nothing important, that is. Its all the same story, happening again, and again, and again. I love me some Neil Gaiman, but you do just fine on your own.

Welcome back, dearest. In earnest, this time.

~C~

12 April, 2006 12:21  
Anonymous pia said...

Yes you have been greatly missed

Don't believe that there is an original thought--just original ways to state things, and you do.

Have had kitchen designers look at my kitchen and run out. It's adorable looking, just not functional.

Compared to NY, LA is laid back--that is sad

23 April, 2006 10:44  

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