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Bird's Blog

Poetry, musings, observations, commentary, rants, confessions...and who knows what else!

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Location: San Francisco Bay Area

Teacher, writer, poet, grandmother, lover, wine-drinker, chocolate eater, beach comber, hiker, traveler, Giants fan, San Franciscan. All work on this blog is copyrighted material.

Wednesday, January 07, 2009

The Woman Who Fell to The Moon

I've joined a new writing group, Shut Up and Write. We meet in cafes. Introduce ourselves, and then we shut up and write for an hour. Here's the results of last night's Shut Up and Write Session:

“What page are you going to start on?” said the young bookstore clerk in white go-go boots. Her voice, high and clear, reverberating throughout the small bookstore cafe - one of many, one of a million ubiquitous bookstore cafes . Latte sippers, book browsers, and the curious people in the corner writing in notebooks or click-clack-clacking on their laptop keyboards looked in her direction. They knew her question was really for them.

“What page are you going to start on?” she says holding the print-out of the inventory in her hand, her hand with long, dark, elegant fingers. Fingers that thumb through book pages and sheaves of computer print out. Fingers that grip the metal bars running across the seat in front of her on the T bus on her way to and from work. Fingers that sometimes drum quietly on her crossed leg as her head nods to the sounds in her iPod, the sounds in her head - the sounds she imagines are out in the world out there. The sounds she can’t hear.

What page are you going to start on? A good question for which I am not sure I have an answer. What page should I start on?

She wears a white sweater over a grey T-shirt, glasses, and corn rows. Dark thick black glasses you would expect to see on a man in a 50s movie, no a teenaged boy who has not only entered the science fair, but has won first place and is on his way to the state sponsored fair which he will also win. Eventually this teenaged boy with the dark, thick-framed glasses will be one of those clean cut guys you see in movies like Apollo 13 and The Right Stuff - wearing a white collar shirt with short sleeves and a few pens stuffed into the shirt’s pocket. He will have a degree in space travel and one or two masters degrees and Ph.D. in physics. He’ll have built rockets, know all about quarks and mass and the universal gravitational constant.

But what page ARE you going to start on? Where should you start? Would page 15 be a good place to start? What would happen if you walked into a bookstore, browsed the shelves, and every book you pulled out started not on page one, but on page 15, or 28, maybe even page 62. That might be a bit too far, starting on page 62. You’d be dropped right into, perhaps, a dull moment in the book, in the story, a lull in which the protagonist is sitting in a bookstore/cafe - one of the many ubiquitous bookstore-cafes, just sitting there, sipping a decaf nonfat latte, wondering on what page her story will get going again, wondering on what page her car will break down on a back country road, changing her life, and the plot, irrevocably.

What page are you going to start on? You pull another book, because you don’t want to start on page 62, surely there’s another option - so you pull another book. This one starts on page 12. A woman has just stumbled, tripped in the grate of a busy city street (perhaps she was crossing the street to get to the other side, to get to one of those ubiquitous bookstore/cafes we’ve heard so much about of late). She has stumbled, skinned her bare knee, broken the nail of her big toe so the beautiful white line from her French manicure is ruined. And her purse has spilled - so classic, so cliche. And as she gathers her possession, a handsome man with sharp white teeth and dashingly well-trimmed mustache and beard, driving one of the buses, rolls up and runs her over flat. That would be a good page to start at. Page 12. But what will happen next, on page 13? Wouldn’t the story have ended on page 12 already? Start and stop on the same page. Not much of a book that.

You put that book back on the shelf. No, you don’t want to start on page 61 or 12. What else? You pull out yet another book, a thick, stubby book with a blue cover. You open it to page 3 and read:

Strolling down the street, wondering if she had let the cat out, she fell.
She landed upside down on the moon, grey-green moon-dust shoved up her nose.

She had always wanted a nose job. Now NASA could pay for it.

She took the gum out of her mouth and made a cast of the impression her nose had left on the surface of the moon.

In court, the lawyer showed enlarged before and after photos of her nose, and handed the jury the bubblegum fossil of her nose as it landed on the moon. A small baggy of moon dust was also handed over to the jurors, each Each one dipping a finger into the dust before passing it reluctantly along to the juror in the box.

Half the jury were women with long, hook-like noses that gleamed under the artificial light of the courtroom. Though they were jealous of of the woman’s options and didn’t buy her story, they were inclined to side with her.

In the courtroom sat that man with the close-cropped hair, wearing dark, thick-framed glasses and short-sleeved, white collar shirt. Yes, the teenager who had won one science fair after another and gone to work at NASA. Now he sat in the courtroom, listening carefully to the expert witness who discussed he universal gravitational constant, the moon’s earthquakes, its dust particles and the affects of a gravity-less environment on the nose. The man analyzed the evidence at hand. Then his eyes glazed over and in his head he saw equations

F net = m * a


F grav = G*m1*m2/d2

He ran the calculations swiftly in his head, determining the gravitational pull between the woman and the moon, Between himself and the woman. He wanted to know. And when he finished his calculations, he opened his eyes. The woman with the moon-dust nose was surely the girl of his dreams. His calculations could not be wrong. And she had been there, to that place he had, so long ago, designed rocket ships to reach. And she had arrived there simply by falling down.


Blogger Jack K. said...

“What page are you going to start on?”

What an interesting question.

Do I begin writing on page 12?

Do I begin reading on page 12?

Will I meet someone?

Will I want to meet someone?

What other questions should I ask?

You do have a talent. Thank you for sharing.

Glad to know you have returned to writing. I have missed your posts.

January 08, 2009 7:05 AM  
Blogger Bird said...

Hi Jack!

NIce to see you!

I've been writing steadily all along - just not posting. I often wonder if I should just shut the blog down.

But I'm too addicted (even though I post so infrequently). SOmething about blogging still holds me. Probably have to write about that someday.

January 08, 2009 8:13 AM  
Blogger CJ said...

That kinda scared me!

January 09, 2009 7:18 AM  
Blogger Jack K. said...

bird, I gotta let you know that I eagerly look forward to your posts.

I, too, think about not posting at times. However, I just wait a few days before I post again. It is addiction? Probably. But, that's OK with me.

As you can probably can tell from my blog, I know when my favorite bloggers have posted. It is a great gadget.

Please consider adding the "followers" gadget to your blog. I will be the first to sign on.

Make it a great one.

Your fan in Kansas.

January 09, 2009 4:32 PM  
Blogger K9 said...

i loved this! it might be one of my favorites of yours now. really lovely free association beginning and then bringing the boy science and she together. you romantic! loved it.

and, i read at /t's you went to mac?!?!? welcome aboard boyed. welcome aboard!

January 10, 2009 11:37 AM  
Blogger K9 said...

i will follow too. if you promise to post all the shut up and writes

January 10, 2009 11:38 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Don't be scared CJ - the scientist will protect us all...

Hey K9 - nice to see you and thanks! i will post my SUAW stuff when it's good enough to post. you know, sometimes when you just pour it out - it's not that good - but i do like this piece and hope to develop the story between the scientist and the woman.

yes, i've gone mac. lots to learn - so different than a PC, but so many more possibilities. i'm playing around with garageband - want to make a podcost of my poetry with music and photos - big project and probably won't be anywhere near finished by the time the semester starts up again.

i will have to check out this "followers" gadget thing.


January 10, 2009 1:39 PM  
Blogger K9 said...

lemme tell you i love podcasts. i listened to the history of rome and 12 byzantine kings as well as highly entertaining conspiracy radio shows and the onions comedy station. all free!

i like imovie so much. but not the 08 version so i went back to the older one.

screen is pretty isnt it? the big dog bought me one for my 50th birthday. oh yes my friend i am firmly in hagland. grrrrrrherhahahahaha

January 10, 2009 4:19 PM  

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