a wandering woman writes

Monday, April 21, 2008

Life in 6 words

Qaminante doesn't post everyday, but ah, when she does, she delights me.

Today Feedblitz served up breakfast with this gem from my favorite blogger in Brussels:

"I was just reading about a book collecting six-word memoirs, entitled "
Not quite what I was planning". The one I liked best was "Me see world! Me write stories!" (Elizabeth Gilbert, who seems to me to have been on much the same track already with the title of her book "Eat, Pray, Love", about stays in Italy, India and Bali). I also liked "Am I lost or just wandering?"
It seems the inspiration was an ultra-short story by Hemingway: “For sale: baby shoes, never worn.” "

Read an NPR article about the book here.

Qaminante set me to thinking. How might I write my life story in 6 words?

A few drafts are well underway, on this vesper of vacation-time for me...

The first draft is a response to one of the original titles quoted by Qaminante:

I'm not lost, I am wandering...

Or how do you like:

Wandered well. Wondered whether. ..Wrote while...

Alliteration, eh? Suits me. But then again, there's:

But I like what's behind EVERY door.

And this title for me, all 7 delicious words:

Never did play by the rules, much.

Or more likely, a good description of my winding road, so far:

Just one good turn after another.

I'd hope to quote Yogi Berra but he ran long:

When you come to a fork, take it.

So I went back to basics:

Have grin, will travel.

See? I don't need no stinking 6 words.

Hmm... or there's:

For our next act, Erin will...


What's next? Well I thought I'd...

And there's this, a blissful response to my fellow salmantinos:

Sí, rubia, guapa y tu niña.

Or let's be realistic:

Ask me later, I'm still living.

No? Ah...

From rat race to pata negra.

True. But so is this:

What d'ya mean, just choose one?

What d'ya mean d'ya is two words? I'm a RhoDylander, people. Let me say the same thing about my life another way:

I'll take one of each please.


Albergue to albergue, just cruising between.

and I like:

Talked fast, ate slow, smiled wide.

I'm sure I'll be working in this for a while. What about you? Got a 6 word memoir, any language?

Wednesday, April 16, 2008

Columns of the Knights Templar, Hervás

All the tourist maps list the Columnas Templarias, a series of columns left from a Templar church, as a must-see in Hervás, a city once protected by the Knights. After an ardent and fruitless search, we stumbled onto the columns, unobtrusively leading visitors into a series of small businesses in a building alongside the town hall. I've decided I've snapped a soldier here, do you think?

Rings a bell

I did a brief but energetic jota last week when I read that a story I blogged back in April about Joshua Bell's poor earnings as a busker in a DC metro station had earned a Pulitzer.

As I told the story in my original post:

"El País told me last week that during one hour in the metro station at L'Enfant Plaza in Washington DC, 1070 people rushed right by the violinist playing in his heart out. Twenty seven people threw him a coin, nickels, the odd quarter. He made a little over 32 dollars in that hour. Rush hour. One woman, a young employee of the US Commerce Department stopped, stared and listened. For an hour.

She recognized the violinist, since she'd seen him perform 3 weeks before in the Library of Congress.

The violin was a 1713 Stradivarius, and the 40ish man playing it, in baseball cap and jeans, was Joshua Bell.

Leonard Slatkin lost a bet in the whole deal, according to El País. He was sure a crowd would form, and 50 and 100 dollar bills would hit Bell's violin case.

Made me wonder what prodigies and wonders I walk by every day, going where I have to go, without ever knowing......"

I hadn't read the original story, Pearls Before Breakfast, written by Gene Weingarten for the Washington Post, but I'm delighted the prize led me to it.

Seems the Washington Post was behind the whole experiment:

"His performance was arranged by The Washington Post as an experiment in context, perception and priorities -- as well as an unblinking assessment of public taste: In a banal setting at an inconvenient time, would beauty transcend?"

The original article looks at the results from all sorts of view points and includes video clips of Bell playing while the harried crowd hurries by him and interviews with both Bell and manuy of the commuters who passed through the station that morning. It's pure pleasure to read and plenty of fun to chew on, afterwards, as well.

Heads up. There's beauty all around.

Tuesday, April 15, 2008

A door in Candelario

Improvisation, and fateful encounters

"A walk, following your intuitive promptings, down the streets of a foreign city holds rewards far beyond a planned tour of the tried and tested.

Such a walk is totally different from random drifting. Leaving your eyes and ears wide open, you allow your likes and dislikes, your conscious and unconscious desires and irritations, your irrational hunches, to guide you whenever there is a choice of turning left or right.

You cut a path through the city that is yours alone, which brings you face to face with surprises destined for you alone. You discover conversations and friendships, meetings with remarkable people.

When you travel in this way you are free; there are no have-tos and shoulds. You are structured at first only, perhaps by the date of the plane departure. As the pattern of people and places unfolds, the trip, like an improvised piece of music, reveals its own inner structure and rhythm.

Thus you set the stage for fateful encounters. "

-Stephen Nachmanovitch, Free Play: Improvisation in Life and Art (Line breaks mine.)

I can't recommend Nachmanovitch's book highly enough, for anyone who wishes to bring improvisation to music, or writing, or pottery... or travel. A poet, improvisational violinist and computer artist, he delighted me with images and lyrical prose while giving me new insight into my creativity -and the many masterful improvisers I have watched, among them my father, a professional musician.

And yes, yes, I say, travel, in a foreign city, along a pilgrim's path or just round your own hometown with a new pair of eyes, is improvisation. It doesn't flow from such a different creative surrender than art or music do, does it?

This passage reminded me of how I got started wandering. When I was in grade school I would ride my bike through strange neighborhoods, pushing myself a little further afield every time I reached familiarity, continually scouting out places and streets I hadn't yet explored. Every day I rode out of our garage with one goal: to get lost. I loved to be lost, with no idea what lay beyond those woods, or at the end of that street, free to head any old way I'd like at every intersection. Sooner or later, I'd reach a recognizable main street, and wend my way home.

The photo is Prats de Mollo, in the French Pyrenees. The fact that I inexplicably snapped the sign as a mirror image, from behind? Improvisation, I guess. The odd photo did lead to a memorable Spanish to Catalan conversation with the lovely old woman who owned the charcuterie.

Saturday, April 12, 2008

Daily dose of exercise, and Lorca

Ah, how the graffiti greeting me on my daily walk along Salamanca's riverside bike path continues to inspire.

The other night, walking at sunset, I found myself facing García Lorca.

A spray paint bard has scribbled "Media Luna" from García Lorca's Primeras Canciones across a vacant building, just underneath a rusting door with ragged, broken windows:

Media luna

La luna va por el agua.
¡Cómo está el cielo tranquilo!
Va segando lentamente
el temblor viejo del río
mientras que una rama joven
la toma por espejito.

Federico García Lorca

Because I can't bring myself to post a homemade translation of García Lorca and have yet to locate an English translation of this poem, I'll simply share the image.

Imagine the moon moving across the Tormes, not 50 yards from the graffiti poem. From a still, tranquil sky the moon leaves its reflection on the shivering water (the ripple of the water) and a small branch sees (that reflection as) a tiny mirror.

Just a moment along the Tormes.
Muchísimas gracias, bard of spray paint. I await your next post.

Thanks to an anonymous commenter for correcting a whopper of an error in my original post.