Yoda’s coat


Trader Joe’s, SE Portland, Father’s Day promotion

The vet with eyes a bit out of proportion to the rest of her head, a cartoon owl who talks too fast at high tones, she takes us through what we missed this past winter when we were in the UK and the temperatures were so mild the hookworms are more aggressive now, which means we have to augment our monthly parasite medication with a liquid, banana-flavored treatment that’s given orally but doesn’t taste so bad her assistant says, she had it by accident treating a dog who just spit some right in her mouth and she swallowed it, tasted alright! The vet describes the symptoms of hookworm, not much worse than a skin irritation but it does have a serpentine quality, which reminds me of Harry Potter and the Dark Mark when Voldemort summons his followers, a tattoo along the wrist with a skull and a snake in its mouth: and it’s true what our German vet said about Ginger’s incontinence stemming from being spayed too young, her vulva didn’t come out right that first heat cycle (they leave them intact there longer, she says).

I finally got the nerve to open the Moleskins from Europe, the two I used to rewrite my memoir starting in Galway mid-December, that thins out once we return to Germany mid-March, and starts stream-of-consciousness with mind maps and not much white space; it takes me back to that apartment in Galway so sparse and fitting for our moods, how we were coming apart as a family and the weather was especially bad, the mid-point of 12 weeks on the road around the UK homeschooling, too much of each other and not enough routine — how I got lost on a short walk by our flat that first day, lost in the folds of Salthill outside Galway but too proud and stubborn to ask for help, I just kept going until I found a strip of retail that felt strangely like the Jersey shore, how I remembered the boardwalk, an arcade with kids’ games, ice cream for sale, still open in December — that’s when I decided to try the memoir with a fiction wrapper instead and switch the perspective from first person to third, and it’s freeing me up to pull in more from my past (all with the help of a mask).

But I put it on hold after that first week to take time off for Christmas and let it incubate, and thought with The Force Awakens debut, the fact we’d emerged on the west side of the Ring of Kerry, where they’d filmed the final scene for the movie and it really does feel like another planet — that it meant something auspicious but at the same time unreal, all of it tied somehow to me, our lives, our story.

The Moleskins had dust on them they’d sat so long, they kind of scowled at me, neglected, months without sunlight or water — and though I’d written every day in January throughout England, I’d found a hundred reasons to put it off once we got back to Germany: February was a month of transition settling back into my mom’s; March, already imagining ourselves back in the States; May, another transition at my mother-in-law’s waiting to get back into our house — June, settling back in — and now with it July, I’d run out of excuses. I told myself I should wait until I get a new job, but I think I want to do that even less than rewrite my novel.

I had no expectation of ever making money with it, couldn’t even imagine that, wasn’t sure I wanted to. But I wanted to write something people would relate to, that would make them reconsider themselves and how they live, to fulfill something good in me I imagined, and the only way to do that was to write it, and let it go.

The one Moleskin has a Harry Potter theme I bought at the studio outside London that’s embossed with symbols from The Deathly Hallows on the covera triangle with a circle in the center, a wand dividing it in half. It has the artwork from the film on the inside cover, the three brothers who cheated Death, that’s done in the style of the 1930s filmmaker Lotte Reiniger, black and white films with spidery figures, the ones we brought our kids up on, Hansel and Gretel, ‘Aschenputtel.’

Loren visits with his 4-year-old son Arthur and gets into my Star Wars figures, the ones I keep in the Darth Vader case where the head opens when you undo the clasp and there’s a spot for each figure inside, 1980 original edition. But Yoda’s lost his staff, the orange snake around his neck; Obi-Wan, his light saber, all of them in fact: there’s just a hollow spot in the arms where they hid their sticks, pink, orange, red, and blue — and the color of the sabers means something I’ve heard, I get the sense it’s like Harry Potter where the wand chooses you, there’s some connection between the weapon and its master, the stories hidden inside stories.

Arthur appears with a bow he’s made from a plastic clothes hanger and an elastic hairband from one of my girls as a string, rubber erasers for arrows, and he’s dragging something across the garage floor with the bow that looks balled up and matted, hairy like a dead shrew, but Loren just smiles and says, it’s Yoda’s coat.

Categories: musings, travel, writing

Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , ,

16 replies

  1. Yes, the power to just make something, un-selfconsciously. I keep saying to myself, “After this, I’ll start.” But then there’s a that.


    • There was some good advice I read by other writers somewhere who said don’t wait until you’re ready. The unselfconsciously part is the trick; at least mine is complicated by the money factor, not now anyways. I’m looking forward to finding the joy in it and holding onto that, to make the story.


  2. Now you mention it, Bill, and not to be flippant – the writer angst you describe – the fear of/resistance to returning to put-aside work is a bit akin to being infested by parasites. Clearly a good dose of banana flavoured something or other is called for, though preferably not second-mouth from a dog. Needed over here in Sheinton Street too. I’ve got into a cycle of writing new beginnings to my book. Why don’t I start here, I think. Or maybe again, there. Or I could begin with a flashback. Duh! The work gets ever longer and longer – the false starts mounting up. A book of beginnings then. All of which is to say – apart from the need for banana fix-it – perhaps something in the conceptualisation of the work (yours and/or mine) is not quite cooked yet. Could be something as mechanistic as the structure. In fact I think structure is too much overlooked. It’s then too easy to fall into the trap of writing ABOUT the work, instead of creating the work. Just riffing here. To avoid going back to my latest new beginning. ‘Once upon a time…’ truly has much to be said for it. Perhaps I’ll use it. But whatever – keep writing – if only in your head. Lots of good incubating going on there.


    • No, that’s not being flippant with the parasites — I’m a good host. I try not to take time here talking about writing (or worse, talking about not writing) because I try to keep this blog about the writing, and whatever I work on here I can rethink for somewhere else, sometime. But the structure thing is important and being baked, as you say — for me, have to keep putting it in the oven and taking it out, which I’m going to start again and feels good. That’s why I was curious to hear your thoughts on outlining and if that’s worked for you. If my memory’s right, it was a time-traveling shaman who was giving you problems with your story back in January. Those buggers…yes, I write a lot in my head when I’m not writing, don’t mind it, it’s good. When I was working and couldn’t stop thinking about work afterwards I compared it to the after-effects of staring at a light bulb; I prefer this light to that.

      Liked by 1 person

  3. I can’t do the fiction and blog at the same time.I end up taking blogging breaks to work on stuff that is percolating in my head.


    • Yeah, I turn off mail and everything if/when I ‘really’ write. Have to straighten all the picture frames, light incense, meditate, drink a shot of wheat grass, anything to keep me from starting.

      Liked by 1 person

  4. Oh the Darth Vader case, and those actions figures, pined for objects in my childhood. Born in 1983, so was a little out of my reach, but remember one night hanging out around a campfire with my Grandma, one of her friends grandson’s had the whole stash, so awesome.

    On the writing, turn back, danger ahead, take up sour-dough up or making kraut. No pleasure can come from these activities. It’s a Sisyphus like trap. You will waste away, working harder then your ever worked before, and when you reach the top of the hill, the boulder will roll back down, life. Kidding, not kidding, why is writing so goddamn hard?

    Hope you’re finding the Pacific Northwest full of sunshine, wild faeries, and percolating ideas!

    Liked by 1 person

    • That’s great Austin — glad you had your taste of those figures in the 80s and some memories to go with it. I was born in 70, so it hit me at the perfect time. I’m glad I held on to the case of course, but don’t really have cause to go back there and guys I’ve known who do, well, they’re weird.
      The writing is hard, I think you know better than I from the sounds of your blog, and the analogy of punching a bag (or heavy bag days, as you say). My kids go in and out of deep fascination with Greek myths and it’s fun to apply those to our lives, they were on to something, those Greeks. And it seems our politicians aren’t much different than their gods, they’d eat their own kids I think.
      You helped interest me some in the color symbology thing I still need to dip into there with the Star Wars, it’s cool-sounding stuff. And thanks for the PNW wishes, it’s drop-dead gorgeous here. Though some are likely to wilt from direct sun.

      Liked by 1 person

  5. “That’s when I decided to try the memoir with a fiction wrapper instead and switch the perspective from first person to third, and it’s freeing me up to pull in more from my past (all with the help of a mask).”

    That the beauty of it, for me. The freedom and the mask. I highly recommend it. But then you also get the 0eauty of letting people in on the thing. Sometimes. On occasion. You know. When they ‘get it.’


    • I get it, I thought of you with the mask and thought you’d appreciate that. But then I go back and forth, we’ll see: best to just do it, right? I try to avoid getting into talking about the writing because it becomes its own illusion that you’re doing it. And with that — going out to my friend Brad’s cabin for a few days where there is nary a signal, nary a bar, only the drinkin’ kind.


      • That’s where you and I a bit different – I could talk craft all day. But I get the not wanting to, and getting out of the way of it, too. Enjoy your cabin in the woods, but watch out for anyone in a mask out there.

        Liked by 1 person

      • That’s good. Chain saws, too: no, I like talking craft but have to take care I’m still doing the craft, too. I can find any excuse to drift from the hardest parts. Peace out Walt.

        Liked by 1 person

  6. I’m reminded of of a piece of advice I heard somewhere. Find a big audacious goal to avoid and get everything else done.


Leave a comment!

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.

%d bloggers like this: