Dita Parker

Tuesday, March 30, 2010

Waters of March

Yes, I've been redecorating. Kind of psychedelic, isn't it? Borderline claustrophobic also, not having that airy outdoors view, so I'm not quite sure this is it. They went Joni Mitchell on the pier, paved paradise and put up a parking lot. It was bye to the den in the lighthouse, the caravan rolls on. I needed more room anyway so here we are, wherever I lay my hat and so on.

The view isn't particularly inviting or inspiring at the moment anyway. It's raining but I've never been more pleased with the weather lords. As wonderful as it was having a Real Winter, as they called this one, it's now supposed to be spring and I wouldn't mind if the weather matched the calendar. Rain to melt the snow is fine by me, the Waters of March signaling the end of winter. You may have heard that song by Tom Jobim, in English or Brazilian Portuguese, except the lyrics differ depending on the language. In Brazil, and the original version, the rains signal the end of summer. 

Meanwhile, back in the northern hemisphere, I haven't forgotten you, dearest denizens, I think about you all the time. Are you happy? Content? Zinged or Zen? Lost, dazed and confused? Come here, sweetie daaarlings, let me kiss it better. Don't let the growls or the looks fool you, I only pack a tight package to keep the pink gooey stuff from oozing out, you know. 

I have been busy trying to buy some more time to write. The logical thing to do was to take that job I was offered, right? It's only part-time and it's all about balance, the one on my bank account and keeping this pencil of mine sharpened, putting skills to good use. These projects help my writing since they're more often than not language-related. You gotta keep those muscles flexed or they will shrivel. I can't have that now can I? What a waste that would be.

I remember a time when a project like this one would have required everyone flying and working on location. Yes, I'm that old. Is that a problem? Now we all sit at our respective homes all over the globe and still manage to work together and discuss and negotiate things without necessarily ever meeting in person. Kind of awful and wonderful at the same time. Kind of like my writing career. I'm not tied to a place, I'm not tied to certain hours. As long as I do what I was contracted to do, it doesn't matter where or when I'm at it.

There's a price to such freedom, of course; the temporary nature, the need to be super organized and self-motivated. And if anyone knows where I could purchase a day with 72 or even 48 hours in it, I'd pay a handsome finder's fee for that. I'm not writing as much as I would like to be, but I've been taking steps in that direction, one after the other.

I met two dear friends over the weekend, women I hadn't seen for a long time, women in a situation a lot like mine. We had to laugh at the insane schedules we juggle, dog-tired at times but sporting a grin, the kind only that freedom can give you. Not money, not safety, but the knowledge you're being true to yourself. The choices we've made have been ours. We haven't sacrificed our families but we haven't sacrificed ourselves, either. We feel privileged to be doing what we love and know and do best, proud of what we have achieved and the risks we've taken. 

It hasn't always been easy. I'm sure it hasn't always looked like the most sensible course of action when we could have played it safe, but it's been worth it. No guarantees, no safety nets, no regrets. Tomorrow will be here whether we worry about it or not, and the day after. But even ten years from now none of us will think looking back on this rainy Tuesday that "I wish I had..."

I have said this before and I'll never tire singing it, in particular to all the women out there, Special Mention those whining and worrying men are doing this and that and who do they think they are and the nerve! Why aren't you up there going for that job or asking for that raise? You do know your own worth, don't you?

Go. Before it's too late. It's never too late. Do it. Try it. It is that simple. It is damn hard. I won't say it isn't, and I can't do it for you, but I'll love you for it. Respect you even more. Best of all, you'll respect yourself. It's not a bad place to be on a rainy day in March.

The bed of the well,
The end of the line,
The dismay in the face,
It's a loss, it's a find

And the riverbank talks
Of the waters of March,
It's the end of all strain,
It's the joy in your heart. 

Thursday, March 25, 2010

Horndogs and gentlemen, players and player haters

May I have the attention of the class, please. Today's lesson: The art of giving a sincere compliment.

Do not, I repeat, do not start out by saying "You're not my type." Bad intro. Baaad bad bad. Heard yourself saying so? Sweet baby Jesus, do not repeat what you just said. Believe me, that's an opening line sure to catch her attention, and I don't mean in a good way. I mean the Okay-Getting-back-to-my-drink-now-I-think-I-need-another-Thanks-for-the-compliment-If-you-don't-have-anything-nice-to-say-you-have-the-right-to-shut-the-hell-up kind of way.

So. Do not follow up by stressing how "You're really not my type." Yes. Thank you. She heard you fine the first time and is now waiting for a list on all the ways in which she really isn't your type/for that drink to arrive/to see if she'll waste it on the insides of your pocket because the thought crossed her mind/for her friend to get back from the ladies', and what the hell do other women do there anyway, it's taking forever.

Two wrongs don't make a right, gentlemen. "But you're a very sexy woman," after you've just told her you're not that into her, won't turn the game in your favor. Since you don't really fancy her, that was probably not your objective to start with, but, and I can't stress this enough, if your intention was to let her know you do find her attractive, despite all the ways in which you don't, enough to approach her and speak your mind, why oh why oh why didn't you just say so?

Class dismissed. Behave.

Friday, March 19, 2010

All the things she said

I went to see her. Postponed the hour of going to postpone the hour of leaving. "Don't be sad, I love you."

She read me her poems. I listened and recorded, not sure I'll ever be able to listen to them, but at least I know they'll exist when she no longer does. 

I read the entire trip there not to think. I wrote my way back to think it through. Shorthand, tight, panicked almost, as if I couldn't get it down fast enough. "It's really happening."

Why am I not paralyzed? What sort of monster steps outside herself midgrief like a war photographer extracts himself from the scene to snap a shot, one moment frozen in time? The scene will roll on. It's really happening to you. "Heads I'll live."

Is it strength or numbness, the shocking detachment? Is it courage or a selfish attempt to take cover? So extreme you don't think you can speak about it. Are you afraid of who you are or only what you feel? What you will feel. Someday. Every single one of us. "We don't have to talk about it."

You may find yourself with a pain in your gut. Or not pain. Not nausea, awareness. You indeed have a gut. It becomes a substitute for sustenance, that awareness. You may find your heart and head still function, send you off to work, let you smile back at your child, live your life. "It's not you he's come for." 

You may find yourself holding your breath, holding your breath without realizing, in an unconscious stupid futile attempt to postpone the hour of leaving. You will find the heart caves in next, that the head shot comes last, when the hour is long gone.

Don't run. It will give chase on a horse that never tires. Do not run. Face it take it feel it all of it. The monster. It's you. It's there to pull you through. Don't be scared. It's only you. "Show me a smile."

"Don't be sad, I love you." Six words to break and mend the heart.

Saturday, March 13, 2010

Spring fling

Doing anything interesting this Sunday? Great! Cancel, right now, and come chat with and spy on Ellora's Cave authors in action on the Yahoo EC Readers loop [to reserve your seat, if you don't already have one, click here] starting at 12:00 EST and going until we're done.

Lise Fuller will be your host for the afternoon. Mari Carr, Lynne Connolly, Aileen Fish, Desiree Holt, Kelly Jamieson, and Nina Pierce will be there. 

Come meet Elle Amour, Paige Tyler, Nara Malone, Michelle Polaris, Paisley Smith, Ari Thatcher, and that Parker girl, Dita I think her name was. 

[Program subject to change. If I forgot someone, bash me when I get there around 1:00.]

We have hot excerpts and cool prizes lined up, book talk, girl talk, and a military man talking heroes and everything else we can squeeze and tease out of him. You do not want to miss that.

Tomorrow. Jot it down!

Thursday, March 11, 2010

The Slaughterhouse Rules

Dearest denizens, how are you, sweetie daaarlings?! I had to step out for a couple of days to take care of business and suddenly it's Thursday. How did that happen? All recovered from having to fear how the votes fell and who won? Al Jazeera and Iraqi voters, my bouncing buns. You were glued to the Oscars, weren't you?

Have you had a chance to pick up Alex yet? All those running for cover: Bad boys and girls! Go to my room!! A nekkid reading, perhaps, to get you in the mood for love? Would your pulse start to rush and all kinds of misunderstandings ensue? I'm pretty sure Hubby would object even though it's just skin. We're all covered with it head to toe. What if I wish to be seen and treated as all woman and not just a brain? I'm more than a head, you know. It comes with a body attached! That didn't come out quite right, did it? Where were we?

The project I was asked to do? Mucho interesting. I'm doing it. Just this one, okay? I'm good at it. Please? I do have books lined up for you, oh yes I do. I'll still write and love you, promise! I've also been chasing after You-Know-Who. Pointless, you say? Cut a head and three grow back? We'll see. I happen to enjoy me a little cat and mouse, Itchy and Scratchy style in their case. I don't have to make their life any cushier than it already is, do I?

I was told to be cool and not dignify their sordid business with any mention or reaction whatsoever. But come on, I know they're out there. You know they're out there. They know we know. Search most any author and all kinds of possibilities open up. 

Dearest denizens, do not dignify the dark side by even glancing their way. Don't think Darth Vader's smelly armpits, think festering Sith crotch (and you've all seen that airtight suit). That's what and where they are. Nas-ty. They raise a deep contempt in this writer's heart, a heart she all too often and maybe unwisely wears on her sleeve, but said writer never claimed to be after wisdom, did she, merely justice. 

I knew it would be bad, I only had no idea it would feel this awful. Really really really really really really really really really really awful. Yes, the spate of the just and true, this burning in my belly. Better get used to it, I was told. I cut myself out of the game and three other writers get posted. We are quite expendable to Those-Who-Must-Not-Be-Named. 

I'm not bitter, just a little green and idiotically idealistic and angry. Forget hate, it's pointless; worse still, paralyzing. But anger, yes anger can fuel little engines that could into superhuman feats. I shall tell you all about mine in my memoirs, The Slaughterhouse Rules, not to be written any time soon for I am still a young and untried soldier of love with many battles to wage and books to write.

It's still Read an eBook and Universal Women's Week. Ooh, and Optimism Month, kryptonite for the cynics and the occasional realist. Let's mess with both the cynics and You-Know-Who, shall we, and buy an eBook, and keep it all to ourselves. Because we can afford one. Because our favorite authors are worth it. Because we're not going to go or see very far standing on the shoulders of mental midgets and sitting inside stale Sith suits. 

Now, if you'll excuse me, I have a date with Those-Who-Must-Not-Be-Named disguised as a punching bag. Step back. Things will get ugly fast. Never fear for my sanity or peace of mind, sweetie daaarlings, I've found the perfect means to get my, hmm, reactions under constructive and creative wraps, thoroughly enjoying every second of it. See you in my room after carnage then. You can leave your hat on. 

Wednesday, March 3, 2010

Flawed to perfection

I like mixing up things, things with a touch of anarchy and chaos in their positive connotation of creative destruction. I've been thinking about two performances I saw earlier this year. Some things hit you like a hammer, these two have been bubbling under on a slow simmer, tickling my mind, and I think I found the cure to that prickling sensation in the connection I made between them. 

I had the pleasure of watching and listening to my father-in-law rehearse with the philharmonic orchestra he plays with for a concert where movie scores were played to stills from those classic movies. It was an odd and compelling combination, the decades old films in suspended motion, the music coming live and raw, experienced together that one time only.

I recognized the tunes; I easily identified the male leads; but the silver screen sirens looked so much alike I couldn't recognize some of them. "She looks like so and so, who looks exactly like the actress in that other movie. They were probably operated on by the same plastic surgeon." They did that, a lot. The actresses on those stills were everything they were expected to be: luminous, ethereal, perfect.

They could have been the same woman wearing perhaps wigs of different colors, except they weren't and I knew it. Like the flawless flowers in The Little Prince, they were beautiful but empty of anything that would have distinguished them from one another, a touch of the real, something tangible to grasp. 

A woman synonymous with perfection was in town, prima ballerina Sylvie Guillem. It wasn't immaculate Sylvie as Giselle or Odette/Odile but Sylvie as Sylvie who stepped on stage to perform the contemporary Sacred Monsters with dancer and choreographer Akram Khan. Ballet and Indian Kathak in eclectic dialogue, opposites pushing and pulling. Phe-nom-e-nal.

Khan was interviewed by the local media. I caught him talking about how he realized early on he was nowhere near as flawless in his technique as most other dancers in his class. Then it hit him. They were perfect, yes, but they all performed alike. His imperfections made him stand out, made his dancing unique.

Khan is right. Flawless execution can't give you that. It can put you up there with the rest of the Sacred Monsters, the divas, the stars, but where there is perfection, there is nothing to hold onto or engage with. It shines right back at you, self-contained and glaring. Where do you go from there? How can you make your mark without marring all that excellence? 

Wouldn't that be the most rigid state and position imaginable, the most fragile one, always under threat and scrutiny? The performers may change but the perfect performance stays forever the same. Those make me want to claw at the pristine surface to see if it bleeds, if it's alive.

I'm not saying I don't admire the pinnacles of human achievement, but I'd rather take them with some air around them, with some room to move, with the promise of dialogue, of identification. As hard as it sometimes is to live with your imperfections and idiosyncrasies, they distinguish us from all others while uniting us in their universality. They don't have to be your shameful downfall; they could well be your strength and saving grace.