Wednesday, February 27, 2008

mothers, babies

I exaggerate a bit, but these days I am only driven to write when thinking of my mother. It is what it is, right?

So here is the paragraph in Dancing on Coral that got to me:

"As she closed the door, the baby woke up and began to cry. For a moment, Lark rested her head against the door, then went in to her little girl. "You woke up," she said softly, taking the soft, happy baby in her arms and kissing her."

My mother is not fully Lark (Dancing on Coral as autobiographical elements, but is certainly not an autobiography). But, damn it, I am that baby. Yes, I am in this novel, crying, a baby, much like my own little 8-month-old Az (who is asleep as I write -- not crying). (See, I can write about my baby, too. Ha!)

So there are some words from my mother, "You woke up." And a kiss.

Sometimes I feel warm and fuzzy when my baby wakes up crying. Sometimes I think "Oh, damn." Sometimes I want to run screaming from the house. I'm sure my mother felt all these about me as a baby. But she preserved the sweet. I needed that. Oh, and it made me cry.

Friday, February 22, 2008

dream of my mother

I dreamt about my mother last night. Only my second about her since she died on July 11, 2007. I crave these dreams -- as if they were some kind of real contact (which I don't think I believe).

I was standing near a wall with mirrors of all different sizes and shapes. My profile was to the mirrors, and I was talking to someone (don't recall to whom) about nothing important. I turned to face a mirror, a medium-sized square one. I saw my face full on, and it slowly turned into my mother's face, bit by bit. Cheekbones, eyes and all. I looked away quickly. I looked into a different mirror and my face was my own. I didn't think I looked like my mother, I thought. Then I stepped back to face the first mirror, and my face again turned into my mother's.

I turned my back to the mirror. and found myself looking out the familiar French doors of my childhood New York City apartment. It was night. And there was my mother, with huge angel's wings, flying outside the doors (five floors up). She waved and smiled. We didn't talk.

In the other dream, which I had months ago now, she also didn't talk. She was sitting on a hospital bed in one of her blue and white, Asian-style cotton weave robes. She looked like herself, alert, full of face, hair present in her short, layered bob haircut. (Not what she must have looked like at the end -- gaunt, without hair, lying down -- I did not see her at the end; I was in the States with a newborn; she was in Sydney, Australia.) She just smiled at me. I wanted her to talk.

I suppose I don't know what she would say -- and these are my dreams. That is what I crave -- some words from her, even if they are of my subconsciousness's creation.

You know, those French doors and the wrought iron balcony outside figured in another visitation from the dead dream. My cat Clark, who died when I was 17, came out of what appeared to be a tunnel with an opening in the middle of the wrought iron. He did talk, but I cannot recall what he said. I used to believe he looked out for me. I wish I could believe my mother has joined him.

Wednesday, February 20, 2008

that novel...

...that I've been planning to write. Intending to write. I know it will be fantastic! A work of art! A bestseller!

Okay, how many people who maintain blogs are novel-writers to be? Millions, I'm sure. Makes me feel less special.

The inspiration for my memoir/novel thing (oh, I am so clear on what I am doing here, no?) is my mother's novel, The Tempest of Clemenza. Before my mother died, even before she was diagnosed with ovarian cancer, I have been jotting things down. But her death -- and her wishes for me to write -- have compelled me to do more.

I re-read The Tempest of Clemenza, my favorite of her novels, soon after she died. It is fiction, but the frame story is about a single mother and her only daughter, Clemenza, who is 13 and has some unnamed terminal illness. Clemenza has a lot of me in her, my fashion sense (wearing gold, high-heeled sandals on a hike) and my stories (that friend who lost her virginity in a sandbox in Washington Square Park). And I am the only child of my single mother.

The mother-daugher relationship has inspired me. Though my memoir will be about much more, that relationship will be my frame. The idea that my mother knew me better than anyone, while I ran around trying to define myself (I still run around trying to define myself), is the one I want to carry through (without being too heavy-handed about it, of course).

All very concrete, right?

Tuesday, February 05, 2008

be a grown up

I was on a business call today -- about the editing I do. And I was afraid of geting in trouble. Of all things! I'm 36 years old!

"Be a grown up!" I wrote in the middle of my notes as I sat on the conference call.

And I wasn't in trouble anyway. But what the hell is up with my childish nervousness? Even the phrase "in trouble" is juvenile. I'm no different from when I was 16.

So "be a grown up" is my mantra for the day.