Memoirian Highlights: Part One

Sunday, March 22, 2009

I think I am going to do a monstro-post after I finish with my theater presentation outline - hold on a second.
Back! Alright, so I was debating all day whether I should post an omnibus post about the weekend or if I should split it up into specific days [I know, why do I think about these things that much? Probably because I'm a crazy person] and finally decided that I can suffer through writing a longer post as long as I split it into sections. So... here it goes!

*DISCLAIMER* After a conviction of the heart on Friday, I have decided to write personal narratives in a style I call "Memoirian" because it combines my metaphoric-physical perception of self with the true events [a.k.a. my fictitious life and my real one intersect - sweet!]

I woke with a stutter. My lips pursed together and I let out a long wheeze - like the slow death of an old car. I rolled over once, buried my nose into the red pillow before tossing off the sheets. I woke up too early, I thought, though, truly, my issue was going to bed too late. After a week of WASLing, I had grown accustomed to 9am wakeup calls and elaborate mango smoothie breakfasts.
As I stumbled into a simple dress and tanktop, pressing a comb haphazardly through frizzy hair, my stomach howled for morning food, which today meant a buttered English muffin. I groaned.
After riding into the back parking lot, circling hawk-like for an exclusive space near the tennis courts, I grudgingly put my hand on the parking brake and stepped into the school. Catcalls and curses in the hallway over waking up at this godforsaken hour passed by and, all of a sudden, it was 7:30am and we were herded into the cafeteria for a special project.
"Welcome to Group IV!" called Sheriff O'Byrne, once Principal Principal now morphed into a solidly built cowboy with a megaphone. Interlake's day of forensic crime scene investigation was about to be underway. As we huddled with friends, muttering about our misfortune, the Sheriff rounded us up and separated us into hesitant groups.
I found myself sitting at Table 3 of Group IV, waiting with a surly expression as other layabouts congealed around me. I was not pleased - though I suppose it beat going to English class. We were then given our case (armed robbery of the accountant) and were shuttled off to prescribed classrooms.
The remainder of the day was a blur of mindless activity; from H.Q. Thompson's, we fingerprinted suspects, used bullet trajectory to recreate the scene, and took an extended lunch break (at which we went to buy cupcakes for Ms. Dossett and other burned out children). Just like true lawmen, by the end of the day we were ready to crash and I took refuge in Madame's just in time to catch the conclusion of
Though it wasn't a poor day, it was extremely dull. I was charged up to go to tennis practice (after mistakenly missing it the day before - eck) but then "LA PLUIE DES DIEUX!" came crashing down. Hail feathered our courts in a blanket of white quickly swept away by rain - I stood outside and laughed, pseudo-searching for the coach while truly just watching the macho baseball guys jump away in fright of the falling stones.
Needless to say, practice was canceled.
So, I went instead to chill at Kita's for about an hour and a half, talking as we do, and then gracefully left to my own home in preparedness for the evening. I was ecstatic to be going to see Vikram Chandra at My Avatar (the final leg of the Hugo House Literary Series this year) but, as in previous literary series, I was blown away by the entirety of the show.
We got into downtown Seattle and went to the Town Hall; once I got inside, the columns and church-like windows, the pews covered in teal upholstery, and the semi-circular amphitheatrical feel got my pen moving as people migrated to their seats. First came The Maldives, a pretty awesome folk band that was the source of jokes all throughout the night (from the director at Hugo House, commenting on numbers [8], their instruments [banjos and harmonicas], and their beards [5/8 of them had beards!]) As they calmed down the audience, the Hugo House director pranced up on stage and joyfully opened for the winner of the Youth New Works contest - a senior at Roosevelt who was more than a little nervous. As she read her work, I considered my own writing dream and the trials and failures that would come with it. Though the smear of jealousy painted my face for a second (ok, maybe a minute) it passed as I eased into her story and thought of how many great writers are coming into being.
The next thing I noticed: patterns. The winner of the New Works contest for adults, a bubbly woman with an acting frame of mind and stock-straight posture, was wearing a patterned dress that matched the jacquard (maybe?) print of the carpeting. The director at Hugo House was also wearing a patterned outfit - complete with stockings that looked more Urban Outfitters than Armani Exchange. I appreciated the color and life as each of the winners completed their stories (both about growing up, both wildly different in every way) and the Maldives were asked back to the stage to intro for the next amazing personality - Christa Bell.
I didn't know what I was getting into when I first came to the show. I really didn't. Maybe it's because, in the back of my mind, literary readings still connotate to coffee shops and dive bars where people snap instead of applaud and everyone is smoking. No! Christa Bell, a beautiful black feminist poet, taught us heartily about Sheism that night, taking her new scripture continuing on CoochieMagik and playing with the audience. She experimented with singing, vaginal hand gestures, and coochieomancy (the art of asking a question and then opening up a woman's legs to - surprise! - know the answer). I wish I could say I was that confidant on stage - but I honestly can't.
As she left the stage to applause and scattered standing ovations, in between wondering about what the older couple in front of me had thought (they hadn't responded at all throughout the entire thing) and trying to jot down mental notes about technique for my graduation speech, the Hugo House director announced that "she felt sorry for the guy who had to follow that!" And here, coming out on stage, was Vikram Chandra.
I had not seen him clean-shaven or with glasses before, nor had I envisioned him as a portly man. But he was all of these things, and he was still brilliant. I believe that some writers are also performers and others are less so - Vikram is of the latter category. But his prose sang, a draft worthy of my praise (and Da's hard-earned cash, as I bought another of his novels outside at intermission). I closed my eyes part of the way through to envision the glittering red trapeze artist falling to her death.
That moment was when I felt my dream as a writer legitimized. It was inspirational.
Vikram segued into the intermission, retreated into the audience with a kind smile, and I began to jot down more notes. That was when I decided to work in Memoirian style - I didn't have to be literal all the time. Memoirs could be flashy and fun and whatever I wanted (plus, I much consider this style more like reality; we combine countless portions of fiction into our daily lives anyway). I briefly looked up from the page I was scribbling, which consisted of the conversation of two women behind me talking about language barriers and general oddballities, and there were The Maldives, gracing the stage with their gangly limbs. They introduced Cheap Wine and Poetry (which I might go to this week!) and then sashayed into playing two more songs before the final reader stepped out on stage: Jennifer Finney Boylan.
A transgendered man who became a woman, Jennifer from James, read a portion of memoir about her life in two worlds. She had apparently known Vikram Chandra at Johns Hopkins in grad school and read about him in her story (and made me smile at the strange synergy between my bringing a Hopkins bag with me from the shoe cage and their stories) as well as a porcupine in an engine and a convention of ventriloquists. She also played electric harp and the piano, sang a song that she hadn't ever performed for an audience, and generally lit up the stage with wonder. I was just so in awe of all the guests that night, I came home exclaiming that things were awesome and ready to start writing for miles and miles of paper.
Unfortunately, I fell asleep.

Ok, ok, I know... I was going to make this a monstro-post, but that didn't seem to work out once I got in the groove of Memoirian language. So, there. I have officially changed the name of this post to Part One and will hence commence with Part Two - Samedi [a.k.a. Saturday in French, in case you didn't realize that Vendredi meant Friday in French and that this was the logical next step of a Part Two post]. See you there!

Check out some more posts featuring my photography.