Mastering the Art of Detailed Memories

I finally got My Life in France by Julia Child a few weeks ago.  I picked it up on a Sunday afternoon and honestly had to force myself to put it down because I had read through a hundred pages in one sitting! And I still wanted to keep on going.  I did not grow up with Julia Child like a lot of people did, besides noticing her cookbook in my mom’s extensive recipe book collection I had no idea who she was.  I saw Julie & Julia a few years ago and enjoyed it, but I didn’t really feel the need to find out more about her until recently.  Since I have gotten into cooking more I have wanted to try some of her famous recipes and see what the big deal about French food is.  To be honest I haven’t really had any French meals before, not for lack of desire but because I never really hear anyone talk about a great French restaurant they had been to lately.  I’m sure there are wonderful French restaurants in SoCal but you hear people gushing more about certain Thai, Indian, Mexican, and Italian food restaurants out here.

So after I had finished the book in about four sittings, I handed it over to Honey who also has been thoroughly enjoying it and reading it way past his “bed time”.  What can I say it is an enjoyable book, it is almost a pleasure to read someone so happy and inspired by their surroundings.  The incredible thing is that it was “written” with her husband’s grand nephew in 2003, when she was in her 90’s.  With the excitement and detailed feelings you would have thought it was something that happened one or two years ago, not 55!  And you know how they were able to piece together the details? Letters, photographs, and date books.  Both Julia and her husband Paul had written faithfully to their families over the years and in great detail. That is how she could remember all of the little things, like what incredible meals she had on which occasions, what their first apartment was like in Paris, and all of the testing she had to do to make her recipes perfect. Paul use to take time out every week to write letters, and the weren’t little “how ya doings?” we’re talking about six page long letters.  Incredible! Letter writing is definitely a lost art, I hear kids don’t even write notes to each other in class now-they text.  Damn, I’m old.

This got me thinking about my own lack of commitment to writing down the daily stuff of my life, here and elsewhere.  I probably won’t end up being like Julia Child and publishing a memoir, but think of what memories she could have forgotten if she hadn’t written it down.  I know that I and all of the other people that have read and enjoyed her book, would have missed out on a great story.  And even just as an individual being able to go back and read something you wrote decades ago and be reminded of all of the little things that made things great (or not so great) enhances your memory of the experience.  So I’m going to start keeping a better record of what I’m up to, because though I might think it is just the daily happenings and not very interesting- in five years I might forget what the heck I was up to around this time in my life.

So here is what happened yesterday, I finally broke down and bought a book that I had wanted for years but always talked myself out of getting.

Don’t worry I’m not going to go all Julie Powell on you guys.

The Not-So Perfect Host

Last night we watched The Perfect Host.  When I saw this movie pop-up on imdb I was instantly intrigued, it came out to a few selected theaters a while back, but we don’t really go out to movies so I waited for it on NetFlix.  The basic premise is that a guy who just robbed a bank needs a place to hide for the night.  He finds himself in a nice neighborhood and on his second try of conning his way into a house he meets Warwick, who is about to have a dinner party.  Warwick is played by David Hyde Pierce, his character has initial similarities of the character he played in “Frasier”, Dr. Niles Crane-but he turns out to be psycho.  A yummy premise to any old “Frasier” fan.  I usually only talk about movies I like, because I don’t like to knock on someone’s hard work, but I have mixed feeling about this one.  I am happy I got to see it, but it isn’t going on my DVD wishlist.

To be honest I enjoyed a good portion of the movie. David Hyde Pierce was excellent, the tension built relatively well, and the cinematography was great.  I am pleased to say there is an aspect of the movie that I did not initially catch on the preview, now watching it again they hint at it a little.  I have a thing about giving the whole story away in the preview.  It was a good aspect to keep hidden, you thought you were going to see one type of move and then got another.  But it went somewhere I didn’t want it go after the door bell rang.

This was originally based off of an Australian short.  The director said he thought about it for five years and then they shot the American version in 17 days.  Sometimes that combination is great, but this time I think it didn’t work.

General Spoilers:

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Early to Bed, Early to Rise…

Lately we have adopted a new sleeping schedule during the week.  We head to bed at 9 pm then read (or something) until 10 pm.  Our dueling alarms sound off at 6 am, and Bailey chimes in with yowling or repeated head-butting around 6:04 am if we have not stirred to his liking.  It use to be that if the alarms did not go off, for example on the weekend, the cats would give us me a little extra time to sleep, say until 7 am.  Not anymore.  Bailey demands his breakfast at 6am, no matter the day, weather conditions, or nationally observed holiday status.  Hence why I am awake now.  Now that he is the only cat, less food gets put into the bowl, and now it is the weight control kind.  He is not pleased.

It’s funny that the writer of another blog I follow just recently reviewed Goodfellas, because with the way Bailey gets in the morning a certain movie scene popped in my head a few weeks back. For those that have not seen the movie our main character wakes up to a huge ass revolver in his face, held by his wife.  That is how I feel when Bailey angrily meows at me when I wake up, because until he loses some pounds he could still hut us.  He’s threatened to break my ribs a few times by stepping on them. Aw, our little gangster.

Besides Bailey’s hunger issues I have enjoyed getting to bed earlier and having a set time to read.  John had been blazing through my Stieg Larsson books while I have been trotting away on Neil Giaman’s American Gods on his Kindle.  I am still not use to that thing.  I like the concept of this space saving electronic device but I don’t like the the intangible nature of it.  For example I am 90% done with the book and I put it down last night!  I am not getting that feeling of the 10-15 pages pinched between the fingers of my right hand enticing me to to keep on going.  It is just a number at the bottom of the page, a percentage at that-not even a whole number.   I am already 30% along the way to adapting. =P

Mysteries Solved

One of the books I picked up from the library is called The Feast of Love.  I enjoyed reading it, the writing wasn’t too heavy and the characters took turns narrating chapters so you got to see different perspectives on the events that transpired.  Well, after I reached the half way mark some things started sounding familiar.  Silly things.  Like that the Physic told the girl to go pick up two hamburgers for her boyfriend, and the description of a shirt that one character wore.  I have a pretty good memory for the books that I have read but I couldn’t remember ever reading this.  It was unsettling.  Honey thought maybe I read some of it in a creative writing class, which was possible but the things I remembered were chapters apart.  I read on and realized I knew what the climax of the book was going to be, I read on and enjoyed it though it was kind-of creepy anticipating the end.

Once I finished it I googled it, I habit I know do upon completing any book.  The first thing that pops up on the search is an imdb page. Hmmm, I said to myself.  I clicked on it and it was a movie made a few years ago with Morgan Freeman and Greg Kinnear.  I realized when I watched the trailer I had seen part of it. Probabyl a year or two ago it had been one of those lazy afternoons when you turn on the tv and HBO has a film going that is already half way through but you watch it anyway…  It can’t be all bad because it has Morgan Freeman in it.  I must have not like it very much if it didn’t get saved in my memory banks.  But that explains why I knew certain things while other plot point were being introduced to me for the first time.  Thank goodness I thought I was going crazy, well crazier.

The second mysteries’ solution involves that wrong number from early Sunday morning, the one that was from San Francisco.  I got a text message this afternoon from that number

What up (side note: Probably 1% of my friends would text that to me)

Me: Who is this?

Henry.  This is Ashley right?

Me: Sorry, wrong number

My bad

a few minutes later…

Hey if this the wrong number. why does my phone automatically link this with ur Ashley’s Facebook? (exact message)

Me: She probably made a typo

a few minutes later….

So who is this?

Me:Not Ashley

So, great my cell number is listed on this girl Ashley’s facebook page, hopefully dear Henry will tell her and I won’t get any drunk dials this weekend.  There -mysteries solved.

Howl if you love City Lights

Over the weekend John and I watch a movie called Howl, it is a film about the obsenity trial surrounding the book Howl and a snippet of the life of Allen Ginsberg.  I loved it, it was interlaced with animations depicting the poem itself and it seemed as though it was a real labor of love project.  I found it truly moving and inspiring, my last post was written after I watched that movie and I found it inspired me to get more descriptive than I usually am in this blogsphere.  It made me really want to go spend a few hours in City Lights Bookstore.

James Franco plays Allen Ginsberg quite well and the movie is sprinkled with cameos throughout, though as far as I know only modern day celebrities-not any from the actual time depicted.  With recently watching Naked Lunch and John reading the book, which one of the characters is based off of Ginsberg, you can imagine our NetFlix streaming list has gotten a little heavy with movies about or during the “beat generation”. As per usual I recommended the film to my father, who has always had that streak of bohemian in him.  Now I know this all happened before my Dad approached teenagehood and the 60s but it was a step in a direction that would begin the counterculture that happened in the 60s.  My Dad has never sugar coated the 60s and never referred to them “as the good ole days”, quite the opposite in fact.  His generation had to attempt to handle so much, a government that thought they were disposable, a culture caught in the middle of a suburban puppet show and rebellion of emancipation, and then a breakdown of the utopia they thought they were going to sustain.  It was inspiring times for artist and thinkers and maybe it was because they had to make it that.

I sometimes wonder how this time in the world will be depicted in films and in books, decades from now.  There could be an amazing counterculture going on (please don’t let it be the modern-day Hipsters 😛 ) and I am too insulated to notice it- but it scares me that the films they make about my generation are things like The Social Network.   Which granted ,changed the way we communicate, blah, blah, blah-but I hope my generation can show more than that in our lives and in our (artistic) work.  Or maybe I was just raised by a couple of hippies and my perception of the world is bit off from my generation, who knows? 🙂

With the story I am writing I am hoping to capture a residual of what the world is like and how it feels in this moment, and maybe a certain optimism that is slowly growing back…we shall see.

“You must never be afraid to go there”

My motivation to do anything today has been missing.  It is one of those hazy days again and I have done nothing with it.  I have come to the conclusion I must be cold-blooded, reptilian woman.  What would happen if I did move to Oregon or Washington?  I would become a slug!

Met with two former co-workers on Thursday and caught up a bit.  I had to leave my writing to go meet them, which sucked because I was on a bit of a roll in Chapter 3 with the skeleton rose bushes.  It was probably because I had plans at a specific time.  Maybe I should start planning to do things in the afternoon instead of getting them done in the morning, then I have a looming end time that makes me feel like I must accomplish something.  Usually I try and get things done in the morning and write, paint, and do other pet projects in the afternoon.  I am self described morning person, but who knows maybe I am wrong and I am a midday person?  I will try my new formula next week, with the exception of Tuesday.  I will be taking my lake walk with someone I haven’t seen since I was 17, but thanks to the social media and blogging world, I have a general picture of her life and she has mine.  Should be interesting, hopefully I do not bore her to death by mile 2.

Yesterday John vetoed my pasta plans (which has been moved to tonight) and we got a pizza.  An evening of odd NetFlix films ensued.  I will just tell you of the two highlights.  First we watched a really weird film called Antichrist, it’s not what you think.  Generally speaking it is a film about a married couple that go to their cabin in the woods to help get over the death of their toddler child who died in a few months earlier by falling out of a window.  This is not an Eric Clapton song.  I will not give away too much, but it is an arty film made by a man who just got out of a mental hospital for depression.  It is hard, uncomfortable, beautiful, haunting movie; it has John and I still talking about it today.  Proceed at your own risk.

After that we watched a documentary of sorts about Harlan Ellison, the writer.  I was blown away by him, he said some very interesting things about writing, writers, social politics, and of course science fiction and fanboys.  When it was filmed he was 72, he looked and acted like he was in his mid 50s.  He has all kinds of quotes posted up where he writes, I am thinking of doing the same thing.  Many of the things he said resignated with me, but here is one that I have been repeating to myself today:

“You must never be afraid to go there.”

Obviously Lars Von Trier, the director of Antichrist believes the same.  When I chewed on that piece of thought for a while I found myself adding onto what I have already written for my “book” (in my mind 😉 ).  I tend to self-edit myself a lot, and worry what others will think of the thoughts and beliefs I put into life and stories.  For the first chapter alone I have thought of cutting up a paragraph or two. I am talking about things that most people don’t know I talk about and if they do know, they quietly hum to themselves until I shut up.  It has been very freeing and terrifying to finally write these things down where the intention is for someone to read them someday.  Technically speaking it has also been hard writing it, finding a good substitute for the word vagina that is neither clinical or misogynistic sounding can be a challenge.  An online thesaurus had that their were no results found when I typed in vagina.  And no I am not writing a romance novel.  And I am not writing this for my High School English class, so really I need to just get over it. =P  Also any suggestions for a substitute word are welcome.