Tuesday, May 31, 2005

Day 15 - 7:15 p.m. - word count: 21,109 (and yea close to giving up...)

The last few days have been really rough for me. I can’t seem to get out of this funk.

I started writing something else today – a portion of the book that happens later. I think I’ve been trying to write everything as it chronologically happens in the book. I’m being too strict perhaps.

I think it’s also I miss my family so much. I dream about popzilla and kidzilla every night. Sometimes, I get so tired in the writing studio that I go to my room to take a nap and I end up vividly dreaming about them again. I’ve enjoyed my time here immensely and the thought of leaving really depresses me. But, I’m also ready to go home, to be surrounded by the people I love. I especially miss getting and giving unsolicited hugs. :(

It was a very busy weekend here. On Saturday, Ines hosted a party at her beach house (fact – you can lease a beach house (steps from the water, the dolphins, etc) here in New Smyrna for under $600 a month). I didn’t go to the party but the majority of the associates attended and apparently the party went on until the next day. They left here around 4:30 on Saturday and didn’t arrive back here until about that time the next day. You could see it was worth it on everyone’s faces. They all looked so tanned, happy and relaxed.

Sunday, Jessica hosted a dinner for the writers & visual artists and Davy hosted another dinner for the composers. It was a lovely dinner. I helped to crush garlic again. I am an excellent crusher of garlic. I should list it in my resume as one of my hobbies. After dinner, everyone walked over to the theatre to watch the Aquatic Life of Steve Zissou. I was there for the first half hour and then, I turned into a pumpkin. I figure it’s on my netflix queue…

5 days to go… my goal is still to finish the first draft of this book… but I won’t be disappointed or surprised if I don’t accomplish that. What I have completed I’m quite proud of and today I mentioned to Jessica that I feel very humbled when I’m around every body or even one writers associate who compliments my work because I haven’t done any formal academic coursework on the fiction/creative writing. I really just think people are blowing sunshine up my ass. To which she responded with more compliments about my writing and the theory that maybe my poetry background plays a bigger part in my writing than I give it credit for…

Anyhoo. the associates are headed en masse to sing karaoke at a tavern in town tomorrow and then, possibly to watch the film “Crash”. I want to see this movie but not at the expense of singing a song. I can wait for it on netflix. Wednesday, a handful are going to look for alligators in a rented pontoon. One or two of the other master artists is doing their outreach in the area on Thursday or Friday. Then, Saturday, the associates are showing their work at an interdisciplinary show here at ACA – open studios, mini concerts and readings. It’s going to go by so fast…

Friday, May 27, 2005

Day 12 - 7:36 am - word count: 17,860 (crap!)

Yesterday, I got stuck in that writerly way....

So, I did some research and I sorta got unstuck but now I’m sorta just writing aimlessly until I find my way… it’s very uncommitted…

I learned a lot about the 70s though or rather I was reminded of a lot of the 70s which facilitated a few openings and connections for me. It’ll be interesting to see where I go today. Especially since another excerpt is being critiqued in workshop today. (!)

I don’t think I mentioned it earlier but I did bring a few books with me to serve as guides during my residency: John Irving’s Cider House Rules, Zadie Smith’s White Teeth, Ursula Hegi’s Stones from the River and Jeffrey Eugenides’ Middlesex. ACA also has a pretty good library – I picked up Calvino’s Italian Folktales and Geek Love by... ?

I read a bit of these books right before I go to bed and last night I picked up Middlesex and paged through it. That book is fascinating to me. His way of maintaining that first person narrative is provocative and fascinating to me. I want to stay with the narrator, Cal, the whole way through even though I don’t like him all the time and I don’t like his story some of the time…

So, I’m just leafing through and I wonder if there is a small bio about the author at the back of the book. There’s nothing, just the end of the book. But, halfway down I see the words “New Smyrna Beach”. Three of the characters retire to new Smyrna Beach. The narrator informs us earlier that the family were on the run from the Turks in the 20s. They left their small island town by way of a harbor town called Smyrna on a boat headed for America.

I can’t help but wonder if Eugenides did a residency here.

Jessica’s reading was a success yesterday. There was a good sized audience and there were actually some Filipinos who came all the way from Orlando. She read some poetry and then she read from Dream Jungle. We all went out to dinner at this Italian restaurant. I still smell and taste garlic…. Yummmmmm….

Ok, I have to get out of this and write…. Goal for today: at least 20,000 words.

FRACK! I locked myself out of my room!!!!

Thursday, May 26, 2005

Day 10 - word count: 16,311 (i know, i'm not done writing today)

I have to write a short post if humanly possibly now… because as I mentioned above… I have more to write.

There have a number of highlights in the past two days…

Two nights ago, we watched Almodovar’s All About My Mother – which absolutely killed me… I ended up having nightmares all night that kidzilla had… well… you’ve probably seen the movie.

The next morning, a handful of associates went to the beach around six am. It was marvelous, truly. The moon was still in the sky and the sun was a small red orange dot. The water looked inviting. I stayed on the beach and just relaxed while everyone else, jogged, biked or swam. There were dolphins swimming pretty close to shore and pelicans swooping over them.

Workshop again was really great. I think Chris had just returned and we read an extended version of something he had read to us earlier. Again, he pretty much blew me away. It was interesting, he has this talent to put you somewhere, in a moment and with this uncanny and quirky precision. It’s very entertaining. His characters are especially entertaining. You want to hang out with them. Stare at them through window when they floss their teeth or choose a book from a shelf. Today, we read the continuation of what we read yesterday – “something he wrote today” he said, “the bastard”, I thought. ;) again, it was amazing.

John also had something for us to read, an excerpt of a short story. It was very different from the excerpt of his book that he read. I admire his ablity to write in different voices. It’s something that I am definitely struggling with. After all the questions that came up, it turned out it would be a better idea if we could read the actual short story – which we did today, where it was summarily decided it should be fleshed out into another novel. (HA!) SO glad, I’m NOT John today! ;)

Dina read a short story she also just completed while here. (everyone is getting something done while I’m freaking out over my measley word count!!!!) It was as Jessica said a tour de force. We all agreed that it was awesome and that she should be sending it out. I can’t imagine what I would do if Jessica said something I wrote was a tour de force. She already said something I wrote was elegant – I almost passed out.

Jessica read an introduction or preface written by Edward Albee about his play, “Three Tall Women.” If I can find it online, I’ll link to it because it really resonated with me. It was about how and why he wrote the play and how/if he was responsible with the memories of his adoptive mother. Albee discussed memory and its use in fiction or playwriting. Very interesting… I’ll do my best to find it tomorrow. If you’re writing anything, I think it will prove useful.

Last night, I went to the movies with Steed, Del and Chris. We saw Revenge of the Sith. I totally need to hang with those guys more often. I really enjoyed the movie first of all. It was the best of the three films by a L O N G shot. I still think Padme and Anikin/Darth Vader were stiff as boards, but the Wookie planet, Obi Wan, Yoda – totally worth the price of admission. Did anyone else notice how the movie started with these amazing special effects and then ended with the original Darth Vader – with the square of LED lights on his chest that looked like a simplified simple simon? BRILLIANT!!! I almost peed in my pants that time…

Ok, I think that’s it. Tomorrow, Jessica is reading at a local library. Oh yeah, the local paper came by and took pictures of us during workshop. If I show up in any (doubtful) I’ll post a pic. I just gave a 20+ page excerpt to everyone to read and hack at for Friday. Wish me Luck.

p.s. I have a fucking mosquito bite on my fucking eyelid. The one place I don’t stick the bug repellent. My Achilles heel turns out to be my fucking eyelid. And word count update: 16,981. I may have to attend the superfun dance party this evening to celebrate… I wish I had a bubble to protect me from the mosquitoes from here to there though.

Monday, May 23, 2005

Day 8 - word count: 11,121 (so embarassed)

So, yeah, yesterday turned out to be another horribly unproductive day… well, writing wise anyway…

I saw that blue tailed lizard again. I have GOT to get my sh*t together and have my camera ready…

Del and I did managed to locate each other in the sprawling compound that is the ACA. So, we made our way to the sacred heart catholic church that’s near here. I wasn’t sure what to expect.

I was reminded of making a pilgrimage of sorts as a child with my mother and a gaggle of grandmothers to a church somewhere in florida known for other similar pilgrimages and miraculous healings… can’t remember the name of it or where it was… such a peculilar summer road trip – my mother and I literally chaperoned a small tour group of my grandmothers friends from Chicago to the southeast coast hitting all these churches that they’d heard granted miracles for some. We ate truck stop food and stayed at seedy motels because my mom had the brilliant idea that we should bring the dog too. I remember when we stayed in towns without truck stops, my mom would break out the rice cooker (yes, she brought the rice cooker) and my grandmother would skillfully make ramen noodles or some other soups or rice dishes. She was quite ingenious.

Anyway, sacred heart church was one of those modern architecture buildings that really hasn’t aged well (imho). However, the congregation itself was large and LOUD. I was having trouble hearing myself sing to be perfectly honest. The priest who delivered the homily was really good. He had a point! Finally, a priest who can deliver a message with a point. After communion, I got all hella sad… I really miss popzilla and kidzilla who are usually beside me in a pew. I have to admit that I dread Sundays usually because kidzilla is still only two and so, acts like a normal, bored, rambunctious two year old at church. I miss my kid. L

Del and I found a big K because he was feeling the need for some diversions, namely magazines. I found a funny little card for Jessica’s birthday which was yesterday. The weird thing about shopping for cards is that in the Birthday for Her section – they had these horrible cards that had to do with getting old and accepting it like – “Good thing grey is your color.” Or “The firemen are standing by to extinguish your cake.” Then, there were the horribly sentimental cards. The ones that said stuff like, “Hope your day is wonderful as you.” I couldn’t find one card that I thought had any value whatsoever. Then I walked over to the Birthday for Him section. That section had the cards with the dead pan humor about partying forever and dying old and happy which actually made sense and the card I bought for Jessica was there. Who knew the greeting industry was so ageist and sexist? (I’m joking)

So, when we got back, I had a meager lunch and ran around looking for signatures for jessica’s card. That took a good chunk of time. Then, I FINALLY (3 pm) went over to the studio to get something done (please refer to lame word count). I went over to Jessica’s around 4:30 to help cook dinner. She’d already started and boy did it smell good while I walked over. YUMMMM!!!

While Jessica and I were manning the stove, Felipe and Smooke actually came by and sang Happy Birthday to Jessica from her deck as she stood at the window. SO CUTE! J I got to do my laundry at Jessica’s. I’m convinced that will be my claim to fame, my singular brush with greatness. What book? ;)

The writing associates started to show up around 6. David Rakowski was hosting a similar party at his cottage so, the two parties were mingling and sharing food. Which was excellent, by the way, we cooked adobo chicken, Spanish rice with pigeon peas, a mixed green salad (that was made by Ines) and for dessert, cantaloupe with dulce de leche (ines, again). The parties started to cottage hop and at one point we all sang happy birthday to Jessica in david’s cottage.
Eventually, the visual artists showed up and by then, I was too tired to continue.

As I walked past Jane’s dark cottage, I thought how different, but I guess expected, the master artists mentor their associates. For myself, I feel like Jessica has been very open and generous with her time, knowledge and experience and it sounds like the only difference between her and David is he likes to give out homework. But, it seems like the visual artists don’t spend much time with Jane and vice versa. No one really complains about it. It seems very matter of fact. So, maybe this is status quo for visual artists at residency. I’m so glad that this residency is turning out how I had hoped it would be. ACA provides such a wonderful place to create. I highly recommend artists of any discipline to apply for residency here.

This is how tired I was last night. I actually heard another armadillo digging around outside of jessica’s house. I was too tired to care, first of all and too tired to lift my camera to my eye and take a pic of it. so, I’m on a mission – I have two more weeks to catch an armadillo on film, national geopgraphic style. “Armadillo, YOU are MIIIIIIIIIIIIIIINE!!!! *strikes WWF pose*

Sunday, May 22, 2005

day 7 - word count: 11,116

(can i just say before i write this that i'm totally paranoid about who's reading this now that the blog's been outed...)

ok, so yesterday was probably the most unproductive day... my own fault...

i wrote a teeny tiny little bit. there were plans in the making to visit the road tattoo that Steed made in front of city hall. it was on the front page of the town newspaper and everything. :)

so, by the time 12:30 rolled around, i had to go meet everyone and we drove over there. there was a non-denominational prayer and we all drew the names of hurricanes inside the hurricane charm. i did two actually - Gert and Arlene. I was so glad to finally be a part of this whole project. I wasn't feeling well the day that most of the tattoo was being plotted and painted. I was so bummed.

then, we went over to this funky little seafood shack to get some fried seafood. i think it was called seafood harvest. i had a crab cake sandwich and i stole scallops and french fries from my neighboring diners. yum-o-rama! yumyumyumyum....

dina had invited us over to her father's place to hold workshop. the house was huge and multi-tiered like a tall hollow wedding cake. it was located just one row of houses away from the ocean. we sat down to workshop and some freak storm fell on the house.

crap. i just looked out the window and it's storming again. :( and i didn't bring my umbrella to the common area. i've been f*cking toting that thing everywhere and haven't used it yet!

anyway, at the workshop, martha read one of her stories and the idea was brought up that one of her main characters could be a poc instead of white. it was interesting to me that martha thought she couldn't write that character/story because that wasn't "her story". it kinda sounded like she was worried that she would marginalize her audience and that maybe she couldn't give credence to a poc voice. admittedly, i could be totally wrong about the exact issue that surrounded martha's story but that what i was hearing. I could also have been hearing it since in my story, im really concerned about writing lebanese, polish and puerto rican characters. I feel totally incapable of doing so. I'm going to attempt it but the process will most likely resemble carving into stone.

finally, we all got to hear an excerpt from what john is working on. his work is very interesting to me because i hear it as a good marriage between a poet and a fiction writer. he has a very unique style and mastery of language and vocabulary and a wonderful pace. I find that i struggle with that all the time. the poet in me is constantly trying to enconomize what i'm trying to write and i think it makes my work more and more inaccessible. it will be a great lesson for me to listen and read more of john's work.

after the workshop, some other associates came over and there was pool playing and pina colada drinking (neither of which i took advantage of). we all ended up going to a restaurant that had more on its menu besides fried goods. the street that the flagler tavern was located on was blocked off for a motorcycle show and rally. there were hundred of bikes lining the streets and there were some really beautifully painted ones. there was this far out bike that was really squat and wide. it was silver and painted with characters from a movie... i can't remember if it was the wizard of oz or the oompa loompas from willy wonka... it's was trippy. i talked to a bike about what was going on and he explained that this was a new thing the city had cooked up to draw tourists back to new smyrna beach which had been heavily damaged from a hurricane. he was so nice and was telling me about where to go in new smyrna and that i should really go and see st. augustine. apparently, the architecture is very old - sounds interesting. i think he said it was only a half hour away.

the flagler tavern serves good food but the service is SO F*CKING SLOW. jessica and i were running on fumes and we still had to prepare for tonight's dinner. after a long circuitous drive, we all finally arrived back at "the ranch".

jessica and i marinated the chicken and pork for the adobo. we talked about our lolas (grandmothers), filipino resturants and our favorite filipino foods. it was beyond surreal. i kept thinking, is this real? am i dreaming? seriously, i could be cathecting this whole world in my teeny tiny head while the reality is i'm living underneath the L tracks somewhere in downtown chicago... after the food prep, i had a cup of tea and i noticed jessica's eyelids were getting lower and lower. so, i headed off and ran into a dance party that was happening inside the theatre.

it was very entertaining to watch the other associates get happy on red stripe, kylie minogue and house music. :)

i really should go now and find Del and see if he still wants to go to church today... either that or actually catch up on that writing.

Saturday, May 21, 2005

Day 6 - 7:51 am - word count: 10,630

I have so many mosquito bites… I will be a walking collage of welts by the last week… maybe i should switch and become a performance artist....

My mother’s birthday was yesterday. YAY MOM! She’s very excited about my being here. (Well, I suppose anyone would be if it turned out they figured prominently into my book.)

I called her to congratulate her and she was still insisting that if by some miracle this book gets optioned for a film that Sophia Loren play her. HA! Right, mom. Sophia Loren (Italian, tall, D cup) cast as you (Filipino, short, A cup).

I’ve never been to Sweden but I wonder if this is what it feels like. The days and nights come and go. I see the rising and the setting of the sun but time really has no meaning here. It’s very discombobulating. When it’s light out, it could be 7 or 12 or 4 and when it’s dark it could be 7 or 12 or 4. We are all working and playing diligently at so many different hours.

Martha said something so true the other night. She said that if we were all scientists, the writers would be the anthropologists, the composers would be the physicists and the visual artists would be the chemists. Talking to the writers does seem like a study in people and culture – we’re always talking about the dynamics of ACA and new Smyrna, the parallels between people of large cosmopolitan cities and small insular towns, movies, music, etc.... We talk around and around in circles and we challenge each others perspectives and theories of what motivates us, people and groups, etc…

I have talked to most of the other associates except for the visual artists who kinda intimidate me, just like they did in art school.

The composers are very friendly and curious and they’re always very inviting, “come sit with us” or “I can’t wait to read your final draft.” But, soon the composers conversations turn to theories and their vocabulary becomes so dense and almost ethereal that personally, I get completely lost. It’s almost like they're literally speaking in experimental music around me. Their voices are their instruments. They rest and pause, speed up and show emotion just as they would in an actual compostion. Their syllables are the notes and sounds. It's quite lyrical.

The visual artists are mostly mixed media or collage artists except for Steed it seems. But, what little experience I’ve had with them. It’s amazing what small things inspire them and how everything seems to influence and make their presence known in their work – dancing, music, prose, reality, fantasy, found object, craft, emotions, etc.. To me, it does seem like they have the ability to take anything and everything and mix it all together and then systematically shave away at their creation and distill it down to a final statement.

Anyway, writing went really well yesterday. I still feel like I’m walking around in the dark but every once in a while a light turns on for a second so I can see where I’m going. My brain was so knackered yesterday with plot twists and characters that I really needed to veg out in front of the tv. I can’t believe I missed Alias and totally forgot about it. Not that there’s a tv in the "island colony" to watch it on. But, still…

You’ll be happy to know that I found out about the whole manuscript thing –btw. Jessica asked me if my work was double or single spaced. I said single not knowing why she was asking. So, I asked Mae and now I feel like an idiot. Most of the writers here are really putting the finishing touches on pretty much final drafts or at least that’s my impression… So, there are a few associate writers here with 200+ pages of work. So, I’m thinking this whole time that everyone is single spacing like me… Not so, grasshopper. So, I double spaced my work and switched fonts to Times New Roman and Eureka! I had something ridiculous like twice or three times the # of pages… I no longer feel like a slug on the associate writers evolutionary chain. I think I may have developed into a reptile of some sort.

I was feeling a little dizzy yesterday so, I bowed out of going to Jessica and David’s appearance in town. I just needed some Mamazilla time. I borrowed a movie from Jessica that I’ve been dying to see, Almodovar’s Talk to Her. What a lovely film. But I have to admit I was waiting and waiting for some crazy background story and the film continued it’s story arc and ended. That was the most “normal” almodovar movie I think I’ve ever seen - maybe "accessible" is the right word. Which is not said to insult the movie or imply that the movie was lacking in some way – I LOVED this movie. It was so moving and beautiful and hopeful. I marvel at how almodovar can make me sympathize with his characters especially the character Benigno in this film. His movies always tease me into contemplating life as a homeless person in Barcelona without hesitation or complaint.

By the time the movie ended it was 2 am or so and f*ck if I was going to write a journal post then. Anyway, it’s time for me to shower and get my day underway. I think were actually holding workshop at the beach today! I will endeavor to keep sand away from my laptop here and most importantly away from any bodily crevices. OLE!

hours later.... i've been outed. the blog has been read by some associates... pray i don't get my *ss kicked.

Friday, May 20, 2005

Day 4 - 12:14 am - word count 7,290

Everyday, I think, “This residency can’t get any better, today was the perfect day.”
And I’m proven wrong.

I got more sleep last night and I owe it all to that walk on the beach… I’m still having trouble sleeping because I miss popzilla and kidzilla terribly.

After breakfast, I wrote from 9-12. I ate lunch. I wrote a little more…. The more and more I write the better I feel about where the story is going and my use of language. I feel like I am remembering how to ride a bike – not just any bike – but a bike of my own making. It’s familiar and comfortable and welcoming…

Yesterday, Mae, Mia and I planned to meet up with Jessica at her cottage to talk about issues specific to asian american women writers. I had a few questions to ask but when we got started talking, I have to admit that I actually got sorta star-struck and totally blanked my questions.

The only question I could remember was as an asian American writer should you take responsibility for the asian American community and write to empower them or should you just write? I didn’t really phrase it that way but sorta like that… I kinda thought I knew what she would say. I mean the title of her book is “dogeaters”. But, I was curious. And she was honest - she doesn’t write to please others. She doesn’t write to hurt others either. She just writes. She’s sensitive and sympathetic to people who read the book and are still hurt by it, but that’s her book. She’s not going to apologize for it. She’s not going to force you to read and support it. But, she’s not going to suppress who she is for a larger agenda. This is pretty much what I thought she would say and what I had hoped to hear. I needed to hear that. This work that I’m creating is so important to me and I know it’s not going to please everyone who reads it, but I am sensitive to the asian American people and what hurts them, hurts me. But, I have to be true to who I am and what my experiences are.

Jessica talked to us about who her audiences are and how her work is perceived by Filipinos and non-filipinos. It was so interesting to listen to her stories of past readings and the past productions of plays. She’s lived such an amazing life and has met extraordinary people and experience life so passionately. I really can’t believe I’m here spending time with this force of nature… I’m getting so tired now, I’ll try to elaborate on what else we talked about some other time.

The other thing that happened today that blew my mind… I had to read my excerpt from my little work in progress. I read about 6 pages. The group seemed to really like it. Of course there’s that part of me that thinks everyone is just so freaking nice and supportive here that they’re just blowing sunshine up my *ss… But, my associates seemed genuinely interested in what I had written and where I was going. If I remember right, Jessica said it was “elegant”. (woo hoo! J) I think she mentioned there were a few places where I wrote some intricate details about events and characters that really moved her.

I got some really great feedback and advice re: questions I had about narrative in the 1st person vs. the 3rd person. For example, I really love the 1st person that eugenides uses in Middlesex. The original draft that I sent to Jessica was in the first person. But, as I wrote it I began to feel really self conscious and uncomfortable with it. So, I started another draft in the third person and it really is much better. The group seemed to agree that I should indulge myself and try it when I felt it was necessary – not to push it for external reasons like an audience. Stephanie said it best when she said, “Write the book that you want to read.”

I’m still struggling with deciding if the work will ultimately be a memoir, a fiction novel or a collection of short stories. Again, the group was pretty much in agreement in that I should just go with the flow and cross that bridge when I got there.

Lastly, I’ve been worried about the cast of characters and whether or not I can handle their different immigrant voices with care and complexity. Again, the group was satisfied with what I had to show so, I will just have to wait and see.

Such a great day… *sigh* J

Tomorrow sounds pretty busy around here. In the morning, a bunch of the associates (all disciplines) are going to help steed with his installation of a road tattoo in town. Although I would love to help, I really have to keep on writing. After some deliberation, I had to eliminate three characters which was a setback. I’m glad I did it. It needed to get done but I have to catch up.

After lunch, we’re all going back into town to shop for provisions for the weekend. The chef is off on the weekends so we have to fend for ourselves. Jessica thought it might be a good idea to go out on Saturday night and cook Filipino food on Sunday night.

After shopping, I’ll probably write some more and then we have to go to dinner off ACA. Apparently a gallery in town is holding an opening for david rakowski and Jessica. Should be interesting. J

Thursday, May 19, 2005

Day 3 - 12:02 am

Just got back from a local bar where the writers associates could be found drinking and playing pool… for a group of writers – I know it looks as if we’re not doing a whole lot of writing. In fact, we really are. I think we’re all writing so intensely that we need an equal amount of time away from writing.

Let’s see… the day started out kinda rough for me. There was the whole spider fiasco last night and the subsequent lack of uninterrupted sleep…

I had a nice breakfast this morning and was able to thank my spider killer again and again profusely. I really have to find out his name – spider killer seems a little presumptive, no?

I realized today that I keep forgetting to mention my handy laptop… so, I guess about a week or so ago, I was writing on my other brother in law’s old laptop. I went to save the novel and the laptop crashed during the save and LOST about ¼ to ½ of what I had written. So, after a good long cry I endeavored to write what I lost or at least try to outline what I could remember and went to save again and the laptop crashed again and lost more of what I wrote!

So, I gave myself the ultimatum – either you buy a laptop or you forget the whole thing.

I came really close to forgetting the whole thing.

But, I really felt like I had to come and follow the path that was being dimly lit for me… so glad, I’m here and so glad, for this wonder of technology sitting in my lap.

Anyhoo… I wrote and edited from 9 until 12:30. I still don’t feel like I’m being very productive, but I do feel like I’m accomplishing a little goal every time. I was feeling very dismissive of my novel, novella or short story collection… now, I’m feeling more confident about it and the subject.

After that, lunch was served and I ate with the some of the associate writers. I’m really enjoying the company of all the associates. Mostly everyone here is interesting and funny – I need to really get over the whole shyness thing. It’s killin’ my social butterfly rep. (ha)

After lunch, we had to finish all the associate introductions. We were expected to give a five minute introduction that talked about our backgrounds as well as what we were working on at ACA. Again, the presentations were phenomenal. The level of artistry and professionalism is intense here. I really am the only associate at my level. Most of the visual artists, composers and writers hold graduate school degrees, have taught or are currently teaching in their disciplines, they are published or have had one person shows. The depth of their works and their theories is mind boggling.

I’m so out of my water and loving every minute of it. I feel like I’m back in high school but I am so part of the IN crowd. It’s hilarious!

I was the second to last presenter. I admit that I did some practicing in my room beforehand. I gave my short schpiel about how I had studied fine arts (specifically fashion design) and poetry/creative writing in school. And how immediately after school I got a job in the garment business and stayed in the business for a decade. I explained that I got married and then got laid off again and decided that journey was over and I needed to start on a new one, which led me to Chicago and the resulting birth of my daughter. I talked about how I had come to the decision that I really needed to revisit and explore the poetry and fiction that I had left behind to pursue a career. And how the move and the birth profoundly affected me and my life , my perspective, my relationships. And how I was inspired to write possibly a memoir or a collection of short stories based on the neighborhood where I was raised. Then, I totally caved and read poetry not an excerpt of my latest work because, I wasn’t comfortable reading something in such an early stage of writing and because the poems were already published. To my happy surprise, the poems were received very well. They all laughed in the right places. J I was congratulated by many of my fellow associates in all the disciplines too. Yay!

The presentations finished early and so I went back to the writing studio to write a little more. Dinner wasn’t going to be ready until 6ish and it was only 4. I realize now I should’ve grabbed a cat nap.

When I got to dinner, one of the music associates, david, the other Chicagoan, actually pulled me aside to tell me how much he enjoyed my poems and how interested he was in what I was writing now. He was very complimentary. It was so nice to hear and at the same time I was very cognizant of feeling so unworthy of such high praise... L I ate dinner with the music associates tonight. They’re a wiry funny bunch – I really enjoy hanging out with them. They have this wonderfully sophisticated vocabulary to me – like being in a room with mathematical brainiacs.

After dinner, we took some pics of the writing associates. Mae is leaving on Monday and Chris is leaving tomorrow for a few days. After the pictures, we all got into separate cars and went to the beach.

The Atlantic was beautiful and warm tonight. I was so content to stand in the sinking sand, my ankles being stroked by the waves. When we arrived, it was still light out. We finally left when we could barely see our feet when we looked down. Then, off we went to a local bar where I had the most enlightening conversation with another music composer, Del. His focus here is to write modern sacred music. So, we talked about faith and comparative religion. We talked about denominational history and current issues facing Christians today, etc… He is absolutely brilliant. Those students at Boston College are SO lucky to have Del as an instructor!

Our talk was so great that we agreed to find a church and attend together on Sunday. He was happy to attend a catholic mass but of course, I offered to attend a Congregationalist service or even Episcopalian, in case we wanted to meet halfway. J

So, I have something to look forward to on Sunday. Anyway, my eyelids are really getting heavy now. Must. Sleep. Now.

Wednesday, May 18, 2005

Day 2 – 11:39 p.m.

I don’t even know where to start this journal entry.

I just saw an armadillo and an owl.

I trapped a big black spider in a drawer in my room. I pull the gender card and asked a composer to do something. He smoooshed it but i was wracked with guilt all night about it. functioning on little to no sleep.

I discovered WiFi. EUREKA!!!

I just shared wine with great company and wonderful music at Jessica Hagedorn’s house.
The former ACA master artists in residence autographed the inside of Jessica’s closet – Spalding Grey, Anne Waldeman, Diane Di Prima, too many to name (especially after such an exhausting day and a glass of wine). I also got chewed to death by random biting insects.

So many things happened today… so many things that I want to write about… so tired…

I had a lovely breakfast.

I did some more writing (editing really - i know SO BAD... must. imprison. internal. editor.)

I went shopping in the small hamlet of new smyrna beach. I bought snacks and fruit and vitamins. Everyone else bought hard liquor and olive tapenade.

I made it through my first official meeting of associate writing residents – chris, martha, dina and mae read what they are working on and talked about their backgrounds and goals. chris blew my freaking mind away. after he read his work, i was seriously considering dropping out entirely. Thursday, i will have to read an excerpt along with johnathan, stephanie and mia. What's worse is tomorrow, i'll actually have to read something to the entire residency program. i knew about this beforehand and brought some poetry, but still... not even remotely prepared to read a f*cking shopping list in public.

One of the many highlights last night were the Master artist introductions by jessica hagedorn, david rakowski, jayne hammond. They are all such inspiring artists.

the associate artist introductions were also very inspiring especially the composer works which were performed by pianist amy dissenyaka and the road tattoos of steed taylor.

more later...

Tuesday, May 17, 2005

day 1 - ACA residency - New Smyrna Beach

I feel like today started a few days ago really…

I started missing kidzilla & popzilla many many moons ago and regretting my decision to come almost immediately after accepting.

This morning was not as tough as I had thought. I think the short emotional talk I had with popzilla about being afraid to die in a fiery loud messy plane crash and feeling incapable of protecting my small precious family as I feel I do on a daily basis helped to intellectually ease me out the door and onto the plane.

The ride to the airport was actually enjoyable. I was expecting a terrifically surly BILzilla (very cool brother in law who recently came to live with us.) . I was instead greeted and driven by a very awake and breakfasted BILzilla.

The plane ride to Atlanta was smooth and I had a funny feeling that my recently departed and well loved FILzilla (father in law) had something to do with that. And I don’t feel remotely cheesy in thanking the ol’ guy for it either.

The flight to Daytona on the tiny little plane with 30 seats was slightly more disconcerting and turbulent. I actually had to walk out on the tarmac at Atlanta to board the plane. SO 70s television...

I can’t believe I paid a cab $75.00 to get to the artists colony. I was f*cking robbed.

But I was not disappointed when I finally arrived at ACA.

It’s really quite beautiful here. The landscape is gnarly and lush and vibrating with squirrely lizards and enormous butterflies and skittish birds with songs so unfamiliar to me. No standard robins or cardinals to be found.

The room itself is simple, clean, quiet and spare – a bed, a radio, a bathroom, a refrigerator, a closet, lights, etc…

When I first arrived, I unpacked and ate the subway sandwich I bought at the airport.

Then, I took a look around. I met Mia first - i'm not the token filipino! She is also in the writing residency and had already walked around and met some people. She met another filipino writer, Mae. We talked for a bit but I was interrupting her lunch so I walked around finishing my self guided tour. I met Ines, one of the ACA staff, who is originally from Argentina. She’s so pretty and reminds me of one of my best friends who is also argentinian and a knock out. Ines brought me back to the library where I saw Mia again and saw another writer in residence, Johnathan.

I left there and went back to my room to kill time before our dinner at 7 p.m. Florida FM radio sucks *ss.

There are two large housing units the eagle wing and the patron wing. The patron wing sounds like the party wing. of course, i'm in the eagle wing.

Finally, 7 o’clock rolled around and I headed out. I met my next door neighbor, Suzanne, who is here for the composer residency.

She is very friendly and actually studied at the university of Chicago. She introduced me to other people with Chicago ties. Small. World.

On our way to dinner, we ran into Mia, Jessica Hagedorn and Dina (another associate writer in residence). Jessica seems very friendly and welcoming. I’m so relieved.

I met a few more people at dinner. Amy, an accomplished pianist who is here to help the composer residents. David, another Chicagoan, is also here for the composer residency. Thomas, an artist from London, is here for the visual artist residency. Suzanne and I sat down at a table with Johnathan who just recently arrived back in the states from a few months in argentina. He was just there to write. How cool is that… he’s written a few books it sounds like and has an agent in new york. He’s pretty nomadic.

After dinner, which was delicious – salmon with veggies and saffron rice, we introduced ourselves to each other. I f*cking HATE introducing myself to people.

Then, we took a tour of the different studios. Admittedly, the studios for all the other disciplines were impressive compared to the writing groups couches and table. But, the group itself seems laid back, easy going and fun. So, I’m really looking forward to interacting and learning these next three weeks. If only, I didn’t have to actually contribute through writing! :P

After our tour, the writing group sat around and ate brownies and talked about how we might schedule our days/weeks, etc… it’s sounds like it’ll be pretty free form. I really wish I could’ve said goodnight to ellie and dj but by the time the tour was over it was much too late to call.

11:45 p.m. - time to call it quits. Early day tomorrow and lots of writing to catch up on. Sorry for the long hiatus in blogging. i've been trying to get ready for this residency and i was also setting up the drawing club. i've missed reading my favorite blogs, hopefully, i'll have some time to catch up with all of you.


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