Sunday, August 3, 2008
An A-ha Moment
Am I turning agoraphobic? Or at least becoming a dud? Because I don’t want to go anywhere. It’s not that I’m afraid to go places. Or even uncomfortable going places. After all the places I’ve been to, all the jobs I’ve had, there’s not too much that scares me. I can pretty much get along with all types—from biker dudes, farmers, police officers, accordion players, nuns, retired ladies who volunteer and Harlequin romance novelists, to hippies, transvestites and obsessive-compulsive CEOs who micromanage and have no sense of humor or conscience—I like them all and they usually like me.
Places don’t scare me either. I’ve been in ghettos, drug dens, roach-infested projects with caged light bulbs and five deadlocks on the doors, abandoned factory buildings, insane asylums, mansions, New York City penthouses, after-hours bars in the meat packing district, in cop cars, on stage, on TV, on a ranch in Oklahoma with tarantulas the size of kittens and on a roller coaster that hung me upside down until I thought my eyeballs were going to roll out of my head and I did in fact lose an earring. So that’s not the problem.
I guess I’m a dud. Because I don’t feel like going anywhere, even to do things that might be fun. Like to the Westlake Library the other night to hear an author I am interested in, Scott Loring Sanders, read from his book, “The Hanging Woods.” In fact, I was dreading it. Because I didn’t want to leave. I wanted to stay here on the farm and ride my horses, pick up rocks in the riding arena, even pick up manure, which is when I do my best thinking. I wanted to wash the red-and-white checked curtains on the kitchen windows, do the bills, paint the trim on the barn, write a story, or go out to the woods with Kelly so she could show me where she saw the blue lizard.
But I let my friend Becky (one of who I call “the writer friends,” though she is also a “horsey friend,” since she owns two of them, an over-lapper in the friend department), drag me to the library. If the author of “The Hanging Woods” ever heard this, I would hope that he wouldn’t take it personally because, in truth, I really wanted to hear him read and planned to buy the book and read it myself. I thought, if only he could come here and maybe read me passages from the old horse’s back. He could follow me around on Doc who is totally bombproof and wouldn’t care if there were disturbing and dark incidents even if they involved animals. Nothing much rattles Doc. Plus, he can’t understand English. I could work Bullet in the round pen while the author was reading and even deworm all the horses, Doc included. It would be a win-win for everybody.
But then all those lake people who came to hear him read, in their creased white trousers and open-toed sandals, would have had to come here and I don’t have enough seating. And the flies. Even though I have an electronic fly swatter (that’s another story) I don’t think they’d be happy about the flies. Plus I don’t have any bottled water. That’s one of those things I think is crazy, buying bottled water when it comes free right out of the tap. So I went to the library.
And I had a good time. I was a little nervous meeting the writer because authors are celebrities to me. That’s who impress me. I could care less about Lindsey Lohan or Britney and I can’t stomach Brangelina. One time I met Joyce Carol Oates. Now that was exciting. I still remember how she was older than I expected and how conservative she seemed, like a church lady or a school marm. It amazed me that such a savvy and disturbing story as, “Where Are You Going, Where Have You Been?” which was made into the movie, “Smooth Talk,” with Laura Dern and Treat Williams, could have come out of someone who appeared to be far removed from teenage angst and who, by the looks of her at least, couldn’t have known about sexual manipulation (or sexual molestation, depending on your tolerance). Of course, as we saw in the story, sometimes appearances are not what they seem and the mark of a great writer is the ability to create characters you think are real and stories you suspect really happened. I had to refrain from asking, “Is that you?” Because I know better.
At any rate, now I have another reason not to leave the farm. I want to sit on the porch in my rocking chair and read “The Hanging Woods.” But it is in line behind a few other books since I can’t stop buying them—I’m a real book junkie. And if I read them out of order of how I bought them, I feel guilty. So “The Hanging Woods” has to wait its turn. It is behind “Population: 485” by Michael Perry, a collection of essays about small town life and which I am almost finished with. I am also in the middle of “Writing Alone and With Others” by Pat Schneider. I always have a writing book going at the same time. After “Population: 485,” I have a couple of memoirs: “Candy Girl” by Diablo Cody, the writer of “Juno,” about when she was a go-go dancer, and “The Tender Bar” by J.R. Moehringer, both of which I was attracted to because I am writing a collection of short stories that is set in bars. One of those stories, “Onion Beach,” was published in “Mid-American Review” a few years back. Another one is out, submitted to a contest.
After the memoirs, I have “Flower Children,” a novel by Maxine Swann. Oh, and I’m not even including the horse books. Right now I’m reading, “Horses Behavin’ Badly,” because I always have a bucking horse on my hands or know someone who does. And we shouldn’t forget the magazines. “The Writer,” “Writer’s Digest,” all the country decorating magazines, the horse magazines and of course “O,” because that’s where I learn to be nice to everyone and to look for my a-ha moments.
A-ha! I can’t leave here because I have too much to read! That’s it. But sometimes I’m glad I did.
If you want to find out more about “The Hanging Woods,” go to Scott Loring Sanders’ website: www.scottloringsanders.com