Friday, March 15, 2013

For Rent: Writer's Retreat/Rabbit Hole. Two Rooms w/vu

After all these many years, you can still see the Chairman of the English Department, standing before the lectern, his notes spread, his hands brought together in a dramatic clap as he asked a question that seemed to come from the world of Lewis Carroll.  "How did the little girl get into the rabbit hole?

You well know the answer.  You've fallen through a great many rabbit holes and into worlds of odd, eccentric, driven characters who were the rival of those Alice discovered.  Among the rabbit holes were passages into unbelievable worlds of television, worlds of publishing, and perhaps the most rabbit hole rabbit hole of all rabbit holes, the world of the university.

You had no particular thoughts that portals would play such an important role in your publishing career, your university career, or your writing career when Dr. Ewing stood before the lecture hall, vested, flamboyant in his elegant jacket and trousers, sporting everything except perhaps a pocket watch on a chain that linked its way through his vest.

The more you read fantasy fiction, the more examples of portals, doors, rabbit holes, store fronts, and most recent of your fantasy reading ventures, a bench at a fanciful version of Oxford University, complete with dirigible service to London.

Like Alice, you were at the time of your exposure to the rabbit hole an innocent abroad, although you think the better metaphor is sponge.  You tried to soak up knowledge, wisdom, whiskey, music, certainly girls, and certainly what it meant to be a writer.  In a sense, you've failed in your quests, although you did think, while working on your last book, that the recognition of Wile E. Coyote as embodiment of all characters represented a nice level of awareness.  You saw--and still see--traces of the coyote within you.  As well you see Sir John Falstaff, but the one who has begun to haunt you these days is that gentleman from La Mancha, Don Quixote.  Perhaps--and this is a hope--as your meditations on character and counterpart (there, you see; you've just tumbled down the academic rabbit hole with those two terms, allowing you entry visa into the world of scholarship and scholarly publishing as well as the world of self-satire.  Character and Counterpart:  A Postmodern Vision of the Writer in Text.  What a splendid title for submission to a fictional scholarly journal in a novel about life in the university rabbit hole.) will lead you to additional and yet more revelatory descriptions of your seeking self.

Two of your closest chums had themselves tumbled down rabbit holes, each of his own, complete with a cast of Wonderland-like sidekicks (of which you were one) and agendas.  No question that this provided an attraction.  Your surviving friends are indeed occupants of rabbit holes, some found on the literary equivalent of Craig's List, other rabbit holes stumbled into by accident.

From time to time, you find yourself telling your cranky, notional, control freak dog, Sally, that you are each other's life vest in a swirling sea at the bottom of a rabbit hole.  Not to overindulge anthropomorphizing Sally, but she does tend to reflect to you that this may be a rabbit hole but it is one of your own choosing and of your own making.  The order takers at The Habit seem to know which to-go order is for you and which for Sally.  Ditto Carlos, the chef at Cafe Luna, who presents you with two containers, specifying as he does,  "Thees ees for jhou, ahnd thees one is for aSally."

Thus portals as doors to other worlds, perhaps even other times,  A student of yours just sold her novel in a genre you'd not heard of before, nor even suspected, until you read it.  Perhaps, in your attempts to find your way home--into your own rabbit hole--you on occasion stumble into the rabbit hole of steam punk.

You have looked for any number of things on Craig's List, including one adventure of high whim, a ladyfriend.  To date, there have been no listings for steam punk venues or sensitivities, an observation that brings you full circle to the understanding--and perhaps wisdom--that you are not suited for just any rabbit hole; you must make, maintain, and populate your own.  From time to time, certain of your friends and acquaintances will invite you to visit their rabbit hole.  This is often pleasing.

But when you return to your own...

For all the years you commuted to Los Angeles, sometimes twice a week, sometimes more, there was always a special moment when you'd have been back into Santa Barbara County for about five miles.  The ocean was on your left.  At Loon Point, you often saw it, a slice of moon in the night sky, perhaps even a moon at full orb, both in the sky and shimmering in its reflection in the water.  You could feel your breath, a slow hiss, a tire with a slow leak, a sigh of relief at being home.

Your own rabbit hole is a notional, eccentric world, populated with individuals who make Alice's world of wonder seem demonstrable in weak comparison.  Few rational things happen herein, and you are most glad of the fact.  For these years, you've been trying places and things and ideas held before you as beau ideals and conventions of your time.

Alice got into and down her rabbit hole by the accidental design of a charming man.  You found your rabbit hold by listening to the likes of Sir John Falstaff, Don Quixote, and Wile E. Coyote.  Quite snug here.  Quite to your liking.


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