Friday, August 27, 2010

A Connected Day

I have often thought to myself that I wished I had asked more questions of my grandmother sooner, but I wouldn’t have understood it all because I didn’t know all the Spanish words she used. She spoke in Spanish only, and I in Spanish with her when I could, and English when I couldn’t find the Spanish words. I told myself that I would learn Spanish fluently before she died, but I didn’t try hard enough. I thought time would keep going. I’m not hard on myself about it. I know that if I wanted to I could, but perhaps it was not my time to learn it more fluently. I wouldn’t have anyone to speak with and practice. There may be other things waiting for me.

I tried to ask her about our Indian origins, because I figured we had them, and she told me of two tribe names: Coras and Huichole. I know that though she was a devout Catholic, from stories that my uncle has conveyed, she also possibly consulted “nature doctors” to combat an ailment that he once had as a young boy. I don’t recall the name he used. He remembers the experience well and said it most certainly did not work. Eventually they took him to a regular doctor.

I do know that part of my love of nature stems from my grandmother and though I’m not born into a tribe, I very much feel that I belong to one—to the tribe of Nature in all her glory. It is a feeling inside. Sometimes these feelings come out, and sometimes they show themselves in the glance of an eye, in the way a person stops to bend over and look at the beautiful intricacies of the soil, the twigs, branches, birds—and how when one looks up into the sky and remembers this is the great temple—all of it.

I am a feeler, as we know, and in the end it’s unimportant to me what “I know” or what “they” say. What’s important to me is that I can feel my pulse in the pulse of this great world and that I can feel my pulse in others and that I tread lightly and take in the moments—and even when I’m feeling sad or angry, honor those moments too—honor all feelings and know that nature is there with open arms.


I bid you a wonderful day and weekend, always.


Here is an Indian poem that I love that beats with my heart.

From “The Literature of California: Writings from the Golden State.” Edited by Jack Hicks, James D. Houston, Maxine Hong Kingston, Al Young.

Prayer for Good Fortune (Yokuts)

My words are tied in one
With the great mountains,
With the great rocks,
With the great trees,
In one with my body
And my heart.
Do you all help me
With supernatural power,
And you, day,
And you, night!
All of you see me
One with this world!

Tuesday, August 24, 2010

Beginning Scriptwriting ~ Notes/Reflections I

First class I arrived 10 minutes early and took a seat in the front center row. Students began piling in and soon all the seats were taken. I couldn’t see everyone, since they were all behind me, but I did see lots of young faces, some older. The instructor sidled in through the tight desks. An older gentleman, up in his years. I seem to keep finding myself amongst the matures. That suits me just fine. This day he was wearing one of those caps, the sort I could see a writer wearing in a French cafĂ©.

We began talking about character. He said that, “Most people think they can visualize film, but it does not happen in the obvious description, but in the character—the character’s wants and desires.”

I thought it interesting too that he said most cultures go through the emotions, that is except for the French. They tend to go through the mind. It made me think about the few French movies I have seen. Yes, I can see that—the mind.

A character chooses to go for something or is forced into something—forced into an adventure. We are reminded that, “Characters are not people.”

Another reminder, and something that most storytellers and writers know is, “First thing is to grab an audience and have something that ‘pays off’ in the end.”

Why do we see films? He says that everyone goes to see a film for the emotional experience. Some people like the same experience over and over, while other’s like new experiences.

We talk about the differences between characterization and character. Simply put, characterization is what we can observe in other people. As he says, they are the “External accoutrements of our life.” A character is what a person or a character will do under pressure. We need to put a character under stress to see how they will react.

The book for our class is Robert McKee’s, Story: Substance, Structure, Style, and the Principles of Screenwriting. I’ve had this book on my shelves for about 12 years when a friend mentioned it back then. I only read a few passages here and there and it stayed on the shelves collecting dust. Now, the book reenters my consciousness. Everything is going along fine in reading up to the point of when McKee talks about story, which is early on. I realize I’m in over my head, but hell, I’m here, so I may as well stay and get what I can out of the ride. I’m a reflective writer, a journaler, an observer. Sometimes an essay, a poem, maybe a story. But, I don’t believe I’m a natural storyteller in the sense of creating characters. I observe characters, but I’m afraid to put them through conflict. I’m afraid because I feel out of control with this scriptwriting business, but I feel that I’m right where I’m supposed to be. I can already get glimpses that my prose writing is going to pose conflicts to fit myself into this container that seems so precise, where I need to dig deep into my characters who don’t even exist right now. What I’m finding is I keep coming back to my own experiences and I don’t want to do that. My personal material usually finds its way into my reflective and essay writing. But to bring it to this container feels naked, feels scary. It’s difficult to explain, especially since the class has only begun, but I can feel a resistance within myself. And even McKee cautions against the “personal story.”

I only know how to write truth, with the few exceptions where a tale has come out of me.

Two statements that McKee makes in his book that ring loud in my ears and make me ask myself if I’ve got what it takes are: “A storyteller is a life poet” and “Story talent is primary, literary talent secondary but essential.” I am hopeful that I at least get a glimmer of what it takes.

In the end, will I be able to create a story with characters that are real, multi-dimensional, and make the audience feel? I operate from my emotions, but I don’t know that this will be enough to help me with the story aspect.

Saturday, August 21, 2010

A Man In Wheat Colored Slacks

We board the shuttle for our destination and the mature gentleman who is our driver welcomes us and tells us where we are going. I am fixated on him and his words—steady and kind. He is tall, but not too tall and stands upright. He has silver hair topped with a ranger style hat. It’s his light blue eyes contrasted against the maturity of his silver hair and the comfort he finds in his own body that draws me in. When he’s finished speaking, my eyes are glassy and I look to my friend and say how beautiful that man is and I feel a lump in my throat. She agrees. She is equally mesmerized.

It is then that a recent image comes to mind and I recount it to her. I am sitting at the stoplight that is parallel with a shopping center. Waiting, I see a mature gentleman crossing the walk moderately with a slight limp in his leg. Each step he takes, he has to bring the right one around with just a little extra effort. He is clad in wheat colored slacks and matching hat and jacket—this man rests upon my eyes as if the sun is shining brightly on a wheat field. In his arms he is carrying a large bouquet of wrapped flowers, yellows and reds peek out from the wrap. I am nearly brought to tears at the sight. Where is he going I wonder. I imagine, he is headed to present some lucky someone with this lovely bouquet and looking dapper.

If he were a young man, dressed causally, or even a man in a business suit, would I have the same emotional response? There is something about those in their mature years that touches a part of me, humbles me and also brings me a sad happiness. Something more profound is brought to his gesture.

I was thankful the light was a long one. When it turned green, I crooked my neck, soaking in one last breath of that moment.

Friday, August 20, 2010

Moments with Squirrel

There is something about the openings of trees such as this. They conjure images of little worlds to be discovered, of the unknown.

This was a great oak, old and wise. "There aren't any critters here. Keep walking."

I walk in the other direction and see this squirrel blending into the grass and leaves. He is one with his surroundings I watch him dig in the crusted soil.

When I walk back, he's more alert.

And then he becomes aware of me and peers, dropping what he was nibbling. We are aware of each other.

This one was on the other side. There one moment,
gone the next.

Wednesday, August 18, 2010


Hawks circle the mountain top, hunting. In the years that I’ve been here, it is the first that I’ve noted so many hawks in one spot on a regular basis. They circle by morning and dusk and it is quite a sight. I see them on my drive to town, over the hill, I do look and I keep my eyes on the road, but I keep stealing glances because I want this moment to stay with me, of the wheat colored grass, against the sky—whatever shade of blue or grey it is that day—and the freedom and strength of these massive creatures, that hunt with grace, that fly with ease and circle round and then swoop down. They cooperate with each other, circle round each other.

In my own little space, one hawk does fly and swoop—hunts to stay alive.

Monday, August 16, 2010

Stillness of the Mind

It began with a song, a classical piece that I heard streaming through the classical radio station at work a few weeks ago. It was new to me. I clicked to see who the composer was, what the song was, and wrote them both down: Korzeniowski, A single man. Stillness of the mind. At home, I entered the composer and song into Google to see if there was a YouTube and there it was. It turns out this piece is from the soundtrack for a movie called, A Single Man. I minimized the short clip, and each time it would stop, I would replay and replay over and over, to stay in the haunting beauty that Korzeniowski created—this composer whom I had never heard of, a movie unknown to me. I wrote while I listened and I felt that his music infused my writing, entered into my veins and touched what I wrote.

I wasn’t interested in the movie for some reason. It was the song I was after. A few days went by, and I kept coming back to this piece of music at different moments. I finally clicked to expand and read what the movie was about. It sounded promising. A movie that deals with the loss of the male protagonist’s male significant other. It turned out to be the most elegant portrayal of grief and life. It also felt as if the first time where I listened to the director speak about the movie after I finished watching it, and what he described is exactly what I felt. He, Tom Ford, fashion designer, accomplished his task, in this—his directorial debut. This isn’t always the case. Often it seems a director tries to take on too much, and the nuances are lost—the message isn’t fully conveyed. I don’t want to say much more. If you are curious and listen to the clip below, you can read a small synopsis of the movie. If you have not seen the movie, I think you will be moved in some way.

When I added the movie to my queue, and it arrived, I held onto it for days, a week, before I found just the right time to watch it because I knew it would be sad. It would bring me to a place that I had to be prepared for. Do other’s do that, I wonder? Hold onto things until they are ready to submit to a sadness that they know will be found on the screen? Or do others altogether avoid it and stick with other types of movies?

I have not read the book. Perhaps one day I will.

Here is the beautiful song below that captivated me and brought this movie to my awareness.

Friday, August 13, 2010

The Shining Moon

On one of my walks close to a year ago, I saw the moon still out in the morning and this airplane. The combination of the two moved me to take this photo. Usually, I will snap away, snap, snap, snap, until I have several photos to choose from. But on this day, I only took this one. There is something about this photo. It could be that the moon looks alive, three dimensional, not flat as I would have imagined it to show up on the screen. I feel the moon smiling upon me. This photo belongs to a series that I call, "Connecting with Nature." It is a very personal and universal connection.

Right now, as I type this, the Sun has decided to come out and play. She shines deeply from the hillside through the branches of Great Redwood and pours in. The branches turn from dark green to a glistening green kissed by the light of the sun. As the morning progresses, she will be shining right in my face. When she does this, I close my eyes and allow her rays to drench me with love.

Today is Friday, August, 13, 2010. For some reason, I enjoy it when it is Friday the 13th, so I bid you a magical day for today and always.

Thursday, August 12, 2010

Rebb’s New Look

Rebb woke up this morning and went about her morning rituals. She thought she saw a news blip on Yahoo of some celebrities that have recently cut their hair into various pixie cuts. I looked at the four or five that were posted and I thought, hmm, maybe I should cut my hair. I had done a pixie around 2004 and then in 2008. My hair has been bothering me lately. It was getting long, but I just don't like to do much with it and putting it up all the time was making it break off. So, as so happens, when I get the bug to do something, especially a hair cut, I need to do it now. I've always been that way with hair cuts, particularly a drastic one. I made a call to the salon I would normally use. I ask for anyone that is comfortable cutting short hair. Some people really are not and some stylists try to talk you out of it. No one was available on that short of notice. I went off to work and as I was walking down the street, I popped into one of two salons on the other side from the office. No one was at the counter, so I almost gave up, but heard voices and got the gals attention. I asked if anyone was available to do a pixie.

"A what," she said.

"A pixie, short like Halle Barry," I replied.

"Let me get someone that can help you. I'm just the receptionist."

So out comes a beautiful woman dressed in red with long hair and bangs framing her face. I told her what I wanted and asked if she's done many pixies. She said yes and she had a slot open that afternoon. Great. I was thrilled. It's not always easy getting an appointment spontaneously like that.

Even better, when I sat in her chair and showed her two photos, she said the cut would look great on me. This is always nice to hear because stylists could easily say the opposite or look at you tightlipped and say nothing.

I wanted to take a photo to capture how the stylist also styled my hair afterward. She put many products in it, which is fine. I may not use so many and may not achieve the look quite like she did, but I'll try. So this is my new look. Once I’ve found the right photo, I’ll probably replace the one that shows up now.

I must say that it feels great to have gone short again. It's nice to be able to feel the air on the back of my neck and I look forward to not having to spend so much time getting the soap out of it when I shampoo. I have a feeling I may keep it short for a while. Last time I cut it short, I couldn't wait for it to grow back, but something feels different this time--good different.

Wednesday, August 11, 2010

Little Clues from the Universe

On this day, a friend and I just finished lunch. I walked over to the marigolds to admire them. We both sat there stooped over to see them closely and then she saw the grasshopper that I almost missed. I wish there was more sunshine in the photo, but it was shady. I thought this would be a good photo for this blog, for the luck symbolism of the humble grasshopper.

Friday, August 6, 2010

The Strangeness of Help

I thought about my experience when I was driving the truck and how I was reflecting on my first Aiki-Jujitsu session on Monday and how I was half in reverie down a quiet road that runs parallel to the freeway and how there were no other cars in sight. I was visualizing the falls and tumbles that I learned on Monday and trying to do the right sequences and body positions in my mind as I drove down this vacant stretch of road. Then, I saw a car coming out of a drive right toward my small truck. I knew by how he was coming at me, he didn’t even see me. My instinct was to speed up and out of it and I pushed on the horn, which sounds more like a little hatchling. It’s not a loud thunderous horn, more like a squeak. Thank goodness he didn’t overreact, otherwise we may have collided. I would have run into the chain link fence on my right, but I don’t know how it would have turned out. I was upset. I yelled out loud. I wanted to say something to this driver who was acting like a maniac, pulling out at cars. How could he have not seen me? The part of the road I was on was just about to loop around to an intersection with a set of stoplights. I waited for him to pull behind me, so I could do something, give him a gesture to reinforce his stupidity. The light was red. I turned my head around and his hand was up as if in surrender to say he knew he did wrong. I then just put up one finger, but not the middle one, just the pointing one. I shot it up high, just to say, “you almost caused a really bad accident—watch yourself!” My hands were trembling on the steering wheel and my legs felt a little soft. I am a very defensive driver, but on this particular drive, there is usually no reason to be that defensive. I’m thankful that I was able to miss him hitting me, but the feeling of coming that close left me feeling shaken.

A few days after my Aiki-Jujitsu class, I was actually contemplating not going back. I signed up for a 5-week session. The draw was that the emphasis was on self-defense and building confidence. I’ve always wanted to take a martial arts class for these reasons and this seemed a manageable option through adult education. When I arrived, the class before mine was finishing up. It was a children’s class, and from what I could see as I peeked around a few times, it looked great. I wasn’t sure if anyone else had showed up for my class because I didn’t see anyone in the waiting room. I didn’t realize, however, that they were waiting behind the wall. It was time, one of the sensei’s called me forward. In bare feet I entered through the doorway onto the mat to see five tall men clad in traditional white uniforms with belts. My 5’1 petite frame, dressed in stretch pants, and a pullover was taken aback. It turns out these men were green and brown belts. I thought I was signing up for a beginners class.

After a brief introduction. We had two sensei’s that had been teaching for 20 plus years, the men broke out into their learning groups and the older sensei worked with me one-on-one. He asked me to lie on the mat as if I had fallen. He then demonstrated the proper way that my body should be when it hits the ground. Chin tucked in—very important—to lessen the impact on the neck and head upon hitting the ground. I once forgot to tuck my chin in and I felt it. He said it hurt him just watching me. It was interesting, for what physically felt to me, like pounding my body into the mat. I felt bad that Sensei had to demonstrate a few additional times how to fall because I simply wasn’t picking it up. It takes getting used to training the body to do anything.

We tried to find common physical ground for me to work with, so I told him the activities I had done when I was young. Gymnastics was our spring board.

“Do you remember how to do a summersault,” he asked.

“Yes, I think I can still do one.”

“Let me see.”

“I feel a little lightheaded.”

“You rolled on your head. Did you feel it? If you feel lightheaded, stamp it out with your feet.”

We then went on to work on the proper way to do a roll. He showed me hand placement and how to roll my whole body over, so that my arms are used instead of my head to roll over.

“How did that feel?,” he asked.

“That felt pretty good, and I didn’t feel lightheaded.”

“I’ll be right back. I’m going to go get a drink of water,” he said. “I want you to think about how you fear getting attacked the most.”

I must say the thought was eerie. Here I was openly trying to prepare myself for what could be. As much as I love the world, I know sometimes, one never knows. So I thought and came up with two.

“I fear a gun being pointed at me and being chocked from behind,” I said.

First we dealt with some moves that I would do to get out of a choke, both by someone latching onto my hair and then by someone wrapping their whole arm around my neck.

“I’ll be right back. I need to get something,” he said.

I waited and when he came back, he pointed a fake gun at me. I must say, it felt weird. First time I’ve had a gun pointed at me and I froze. It would be our prop. We worked on this scenario and I didn’t like the feeling of being so helpless.

Now in reflection, toying with the idea of not going back to class because I feel very out of my element with the black and greenbelts, I feel that I have a new fear. And I think it’s enough to go back to explore it with the sensei. The fear is of knowing just enough to get me into a more dangerous situation. If I am attacked, the moment happens so quickly, that I could cause more damage to myself by having only a little knowledge. Again, it comes back to knowing something so well that you breathe it in and out as thought it’s a part of you. Is it plausible for me to learn enough, for my body to kick in and remember in such a short period of time, or am I doing myself more harm? The gun situation feels out of control. The moves feel too complicated—the whole scenario is too much for me to handle. I do, however, feel that I would be able to get out of a rear choke. So with that being said, yes, I think that even learning the few things that I have so far has benefited me. Now, I’d like to work on the confidence part and not buckle under in the heat of a moment when my words fail me. I want to be able to think quicker on my feet. Often, I find that if confronted by someone I’m not familiar with—and here I’m speaking of normal situations—but I want to not be the mouse that sometimes comes out. I want to be that strong tree. I don’t want to back down. I’m not saying that I want to go butting heads with everyone, which I do quite well with those I know very well, and those that appreciate this about me—we get a long very well. But, I mean just normal situations. I want to exude confidence, not fear. And for the most part I think I do OK, but I want a little more internal development. I think that is half the battle.

So, back at the scene of what could have been a bad accident, when it was all over and I proceeded to drive on to work, I thought to myself, how ironic it was that I was visualizing and going through the moves of a prelude to self-defense, of getting out of precarious situations; at the same time imagining my new concerns and of wondering if I would go back and it felt that in that moment with the car coming at me, the time spent with the sensei seemed—help seemed to be present, if even in the strangest way.


The blog topic at Red Room this week was on help. It inspired the parallels of this set of events in the form of this blog.

Wednesday, August 4, 2010


As I stand outside on the small deck this morning, I feel like I am in the bird’s playground. A potpourri of chatter fills my ears with playful laughter. Slightly overcast—the blue patches of sky play peek-a-boo with the trailing fog. The hills are pale yellow as they should be in the Summertime. The bamboo leaves me with surprise. I had forgotten that this past winter it was withered and yellow like the hills. I had forgotten that it seems to thrive under the sun, not the rain, at least here that is how it acts. It seems to die into itself in the winter months, but now as I look out at the bamboo, I see that it is vibrant and green, reaching up. If I were a tree, I would be a bamboo.


Photo taken August 2009 on a clear blue summer day.

Sunday, August 1, 2010


I’ve baked cream puffs and other more involved cookeries in the past, but I have never taken the flesh from a pineapple. Silly, I know, but yesterday I bought a small pineapple and decided that I would have to tackle it. I got out my big knife, and lucky for me it was sharp. I cut right through the tough skin with ease, cutting carefully the top, bottom, and all the sides, as the juices trickled down my fingers and down my hands. Not thin juices, but with just the right amount of viscosity and slipperiness.

The smell of a pineapple is an instant transport. I can imagine the warm sun and calm tides, palm trees, orange skies, sand in my toes. With each cut I make, the scent enraptures me. A large chunk slips from my hand and falls to the floor. I take a bite size piece from the bowl of pieces that I have already cut up and pop it into my mouth. I reach down and pick up the large chunk, laughing quietly at my lack of grace in tackling this beautiful fruit; I rinse it under cold water and finish my task.

How could it be that I’ve been missing out on this simple pleasure?