Saturday, June 27, 2009

a memoir for larry

I gotta get my life some writers.—Bill Watterson (Calvin&Hobbes)

Out of all the taxis waiting on Front Street in Hamilton, Bermuda, I happened to get into Larry’s. Larry has skin the color of coffee, eyes more ice-blue than my own, a ready laugh, and a deep Bermudan accent (think British, but warmed and mellowed by the island sun and waves).

Taxicab philosopher, he’s a self-proclaimed expert on the weather, life, love ... and names, as I quickly find out.

“Well, good afternoon, Melissa,” he says, after I tell him where we’re going. “Wait—what’s your name?” “Jenn,” I answer.

“No. You look like a Melissa. All nice and sweet. Melissas are always sweet.”

I grin out at the Hamilton harbor, trying to hide my smile. “Well, I’m also Jennifer, if that’s any better.”

No, that’s worse!” he says. “All the Jennifers I’ve met were wicked, wicked women!” He says this with utter confidence, then looks hard at me. “Are you wicked?”

I’m choking now, trying not to laugh too hard.

“Or you could be a Lisa—maybe. You’re almost a Lisa,” he continues, as we pass a dozen brilliantly red trees—the Royal Poincianas, which seemed to bloom specially for my week there. “All Lisas are beautiful and sweet.” He shrugs. “But they’re not very smart. They’re 99 cents of a dollar, if you know what I mean.”

“Well, I guess I’m too smart to be a Lisa,” I say, still laughing. The Lisas I know are thoroughly capable, but maybe things are different in Bermuda…

“People with the same names are always the same,” he says. “It’ll be the same for you, Melissa. You’ll meet someone who spoils a name for you forever: like Yvonne. I can never be with another Yvonne.”

We hurtle across another bridge, and I stare out at pumpkin-colored houses. “Wait and see—you’ll be attracted to men with the same-sounding names, for the rest of your life.” (Sorry, Larry. But so far, this is absolutely not true.)

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Posted by Jenn Langefeld on 06/27 at 06:55 PM
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Wednesday, June 17, 2009

where i am right now

My deplorable mania for analysis exhausts me.—Gustave Flaubert

What a heavy thing is a pen!—Emile Zola

This is where I am:

* A chair (navy, with wheels)

* Hamilton, Bermuda

* the third floor of an office building

* in the middle of a week-long stay

* next to a stack of books I schlepped out here: The Book of Lost Things, Fire in Fiction, The Creative Habit, Sailing Around the Room, Samuel Johnson’s Dictionary

* within sight of (through a window): nine palm trees and a Royal Poinciana tree; a cluster of office buildings (hundreds of windows!); the Cathedral of the Most Holy Trinity; a pink and white house on a distant hill (peeking between buildings); and an unending stream of taxis, buses, trucks, motorbikes…

* nearing a better perspective, I hope. After a hectic, harried, and emotional spring, my writing life limped to the side of the road and collapsed. Poor writing life, lying there and breathing shallowly… So many things came undone this spring that I’m not entirely sure how (or what) to put back together again.

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Posted by Jenn Langefeld on 06/17 at 05:45 PM
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Friday, June 12, 2009

guests

They’re in the house.

I know this, even without opening my eyes, or raising my forehead from where it rests on the desk. I know it in some place in the back of my brain, the same way I know everything else about them: an instinct. It’s what tells me how they eat, and their nervous tics, and what makes them insecure or happy. Now it tells me: they’re in the house.

They make their way slowly down the hall, pausing often because they think it’s such an odd place to live, my house. (Especially at the moment, as we’re redoing our living room. Books everywhere, a piano in the hallway…)

This time, only three of them have come. Three characters. There’s my heroine, taking careful and incredulous steps, leading the way. Following her—she must have pushed past him, because he’s not the type to follow—is the man she loves, with his fierce and beautiful smile. They shouldn’t have turned their back on the third figure, one of many villains peppering their story. But he’s not harming anyone at the moment, admiring instead the color of our walls.

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Posted by Jenn Langefeld on 06/12 at 05:12 PM
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Tuesday, June 02, 2009

epilogue: what do i look like to you?

I was born not knowing and have only had a little time to change that here and there.—Nobel Laureate Richard Feynman

Oddly enough, just a day after my graduation post, I was at an event, and a guy asked: So, do you go to the local high school?

To which—after a stricken silence, and a moment when I resisted the need to laugh—I said: Well, I graduated from that high school… seven years ago…

He wasn’t at all alarmed by this, but I was. I got home and stared at my face in the mirror for a while. Do I look like I’m sixteen? Seventeen?

I guess the good news is: I’ll turn forty and still have people assuming I’m thirty-one… So I suppose this is good. Unsettling, maybe, but good.—jl

Posted by Jenn Langefeld on 06/02 at 02:30 PM
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