Saturday, July 01, 2017

Sorting out

Relative calm. Sitting in my favorite place on my favorite island in the Oslo fjord. Only a few geese, some seagulls, the distant rumble of a plane, the clanking of the moorings on the public jetty. Even the house next door, who partied from 2 to 11 last night, is quiet. July 1 marked the beginning of the three week holiday all Norwegians enjoy and marked the beginning of a long weekend in the US, a lovely four days off, a respite from the madness of a four plus week press tour. Yesterday the fatigue was so intense I could hardly move. Bought multivitamins at the local store just in case, drank water, swam in the ocean, half read, half slept through the day, in an effort to feel like myself again. And bees, I can hear the bees, a low, low hum of bees, underneath the other sounds, probably in the wild roses (Charlie calls them cabbage roses, maybe they are cabbage, but they are fuchsia pink, blowsy) or perhaps the climbing hydrangea that scatters its pollen, a sand yellow, all over the steps. But the bees are there, you just have to tune in your hearing.

When you don't write you forget how. Like anything it's a habit, a rhythm, a way of thinking. For the last month, longer perhaps, I've thought what I'd write, I've had the thoughts that flicker brightly at the time and then go because they are not transferred from head to hand, or even scribbled into a note pad in my bag. My bag has been full of schedules and business cards and quotes from journalists and ways of thinking about cinema. Of German hotel keys (a huge, fat, solid Bavarian brass one, nicked with permission from a Grand Hotel in Munich) and flat credit card shaped ones from hot, characterless hotels in New York, biscuits I've wrapped in napkins for later, clear plastic pouches from Muji I hoped would be useful when I became an organized person, notebooks filled with strategy, to do lists falling out of them, because rather there than in my head. But the other things, the important things to remember, the things that you think briefly, the ephemera that might some day connect the dots to make sense of All Of This, not even a scratch. Nothing. All gone. Fireflies.

Catch lightning in a bottle, my old boss used to say. A lot. So much that when I saw a photograph of a bottle lit up with fireflies, in a respectable Manhattan gallery, I laughed. Mirthlessly. But these things should be captured. That's why people walk around with notebooks entitled "Great Thoughts" and not, as mine does, "People I'd Like To Punch In The Face."

The tremendously rewarding thing about the work I do, and the work that a lot of my friends do, is the removal of ego. There is no ego involved. It is entirely transferred to the client. For two or three weeks, there is no "I."  I think I even behave differently with people I meet while wearing my press agent hat. There is one step back when usually I would step forward. There is deferral. There is a pause before answering. After too long I begin to dislike it, truthfully. I see people doing it, people who do what I do, when they step right back from the conversation and look around as if it's not happening to them. I hate it. I tell people who work with me not to do it. Engage, I say. You have as much right to be there as anyone else. You have things to add to the conversation. I dislike the back foot stance. Step in. Stand forward. Lean in. Ask questions. Ugh, I hate it. Passivity. Not engaging in the moment.

Chattering magpies now. Two for joy.

But it is an honor and a privilege to spend so much time with one person that you get to know them really, really well. I regret this is not something I do with my friends. There is no real getting to know anyone during a dinner party, where the conversation is either general or lofty or point-scoring. Perhaps all girlfriends should go on a Thelma and Louise style road trip.

We lived, truth be told, on the rosé and french fry diet. Too much bread, too much red meat. Not enough vegetables or fresh air or trees or grass underfoot. But we laughed and laughed and laughed. It's the only way to survive An Epic Press Tour.

This island is small and it feels small. It reduces thought, encapsulates it, not necessarily to its detriment. Like children on holiday without too many distractions - like our holidays as children with a little boat, the sea and things that live in it, some cherry trees, a few books - it's good for thinking. Los Angeles feels too big, too lofty, too many possibilities, too much potential. The box of a small island, even an island surrounded by oceans that reach far into other lands, means that you can sort out your thinking, focus on the important things, draw out the essence of things.

And the bees keep humming.

I think this week is for sorting things out, for walking around with a note book, for writing things down that seem to be important, for creating links between things, for not ignoring the voice inside that has been buried and tamped down. For paying attention and observing and holding on to the observations, not letting them go. For giving thanks for my teacher, Mr Williams, whose most important lesson, apart from teaching us the Kings & Queens of England in an easy to remember little rhyme,  was imploring us to not just merely look at things but to observe them and to remember the name and the characteristics of the thing we had seen. This is a creative child's most useful tool.


Katherine C. James said...

How lovely to find this in my evening email. Earlier today I was thinking how much I've been missing your posts. And you who I've not yet met, but feel I've met. I know what you mean about not letting the observations get away, and what Mr. Williams meant about observing and remembering. There are times I'm so taken with a feeling, a thought, an idea expressed by someone, who a person seems to be and why, I feel almost like I am eating the idea up. You have a beautiful voice; distinctive and inspiring. Keep jotting things down. I'll read them on your blog or in a book. Or both. Enjoy your holiday. xo.

Lou said...

Beautifully written and yes, writing is a habit, a way of thinking. You seem to do it so well regardless of keeping the habit. Love the description of hotel keys and the wrong diet, this encapsulates all those who travel and entertain for work. How wonderful to be back in the calm. Lou x

LPC said...