Saturday, May 18, 2013


Your next door neighbor, at 415 E. Sola Street, is Fire Station Number 3.  Construction was begun in 1918.  By 1929, it was completed, following the architectural footprint of Santa Barbara whereby it had an unmistakable Spanish appearance.  A long driveway to its northern side leads to a spacious back yard in which an adjunct of the animal shelter shares occupancy.

Although you've visited the Fire Station on numerous occasions, the result of conversations and greetings initiated while you were entering or leaving your car, you've never had occasion to visit the animal shelter.  You hear dogs from time to time.  Because of the location of your apartment and the configuration of the Animal Shelter, there is a potential for you hearing dogs from time to time.  Difficult to imagine circumstances where any given dog would welcome being a guest at the animal shelter, thus much of what you hear is in the nature of a canine complaint.

Thursday, at about five in the afternoon, when you were leaving for your six o'clock class at the University, you heard such a dog from the Animal Shelter, bark twice.  It was the type of bark Sally was wont to make when she was impatient with you for not doing something she'd have preferred you to have done with more dispatch.  Not only was it the type of irritation, it was the sound of her irritation.  For a moment, you were stranded in time by the sound and the memory of Sally's barks, which seemed to you to be saying the equivalent of "Hey, you forgot me."

You stopped, a step or two beyond your gate.  Sally had been gone only a month.  Aural hallucinations need no explanation when only a month out.  Aural hallucinations in fact need no explanations at any remove.

Often, particularly at night, when you are aware of a fire engine moving out onto Sola Street and then toward its assigned target, you are no longer on 409 East Sola Street, and the Fire Station is no longer at 415.  You are instead in your room on Calle Mesones (big tables) in the section of Districto Federal known as El Centro, hearing las lloronas, the criers, of fire engines, rushing to nearby targets, to the clatter and nightly attitudes of a narrow-but-busy city street.  Spanish words you forgot you knew return to you, and you are transported.

Much is made of visual hallucinations; you are indeed one of the makers, attempting to create visual impressions through your writing and, in case you hadn't realized it, through your reading.  You're fond of announcing to various of your students how there are two basic types of stories, and two basic approaches to the perception of story.  The two basic types are The Hero's Journey and The Stranger in Town.  The two basic perceptions are visual and aural.  Some individuals see the story they are in the process of writing.  When they read their own work or the work of other writers, they see the events.  Other individuals, such as you, hear voices.  You hear a disembodied narrative voice, just as often female as male.  The gender is the least important aspect; the tone of the voice, hurried, nervous, sarcastic, angry, ebullient--all these are the important factor; they are the tone of the story.

Much of your non-writing time is spent in some kind of preparation for writing.  You look about you for small things, not knowing where they will take you in your associative state which seems to you to be the equivalent of your muse.  You listen for sounds about you, aware from your frequent visits to these blog notes of the numerous times you're made aware of disagreeable voices in the background of whatever reality you happen to be inhabiting at the moment.

You look for and achieve visions of individuals real and imagined doing things they might not do in Reality, thus their attraction for you.  The moment they seem movable from Reality to your Suppose landscape, they are in fact auditioning, playing scenes for you, improvising to see if there is chemistry between them and, of course between them and you.

You hear voices, a sign thought at one time to be a leading indicator of a tendency toward insanity.  Didn't Joan hear voices?  Didn't many of your fictional heroes and heroines hear voices?  Didn't your mentor, Rachel, tell you she heard voices?  And didn't your eyes well up when you heard this because you also heard them and were relieved to know there was yet another connection between what you wanted to do and someone who was already doing what you wanted to do?

Seeing visions and hearing voices may break your heart, but your chosen craft has broken your heart any number of times, often for real reasons but as often for reasons you'd inflated beyond the norm.

Hearing Sally the other day, asking if you'd deliberately forgotten her was the kind of heartbreak these aural hallucinations provide.  Sometimes, in your dreams, you get the equivalent of a sound track, a musical track.  Years after the fact, in dreams, you are at Ken's Hula Hut on Beverly Boulevard, with your pal, Sonny Criss on alto, Teddy Edwards on tenor, Hamp Hawes on piano, Clark Terry trumpet, playing what seemed to you quintessential '50s bebop, "Sunset Eyes."  This, too, breaks your heart, in part because you'd remembered the sound and the drive.  Bebop and youth and throwing away the then harmonic conventions of swing and late 40s jazz--added heartbreak.

Not long ago, you are walking down State Street toward The French Press for a quick latte.  A woman stops you.  "Where,"  she asks, "do I know you from, because I know that I know you?"

She is old enough to be a contemporary, so you go to the A-mantra.  Fairfax (for high school), City College (on the off chance) UCLA(on the larger chance).  "Of course,"  she says.  Then she tells you your name and she's spoken enough words and you've started the search and identify process which brings forth her name.  She nods and tells you what her name has become, but you are seeing and hearing hallucinations of her, the same kind of her as the music of your bebop dreams and your heart, for a moment, experiences a wrench because when you'd first known her, you recall now, there was your hallucination, not hers, that there could have been something between you.

"Did you come here to retire?"  she asks.  Not an unusual question.  People do come here to retire.

"What ever became of you?"  she asks.  "What did you end up doing?"

And you tell her, you've been exerting all your efforts to discover the answer to that very question.

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