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The Dashing Life and Exuberant Times of Brian Harrison....And Other Rare Anecdotes

Saturday, March 13, 2010

The Blue Parakeet

The below publication was an accident. What I mean by that is that I tend to write ficitional stories and save them in this blog without publishing them. Mainly because this blog is great at automatically saving, so if something goes wrong as it always does with computers. My writing is usually already saved. In this case, I was writing a short story for another blog that had to be about "coffee". So I wrote the following fictional piece and then when I finished, I, without thinking pressed the published button. Though, instead of deleting it, I decided just to keep it here.

Demetri stared and squinted at the dicey production his paintbrush had given birth to. He had been trying to paint the same blue parakeet for weeks now. A trying time he was having; he couldn't make what was ordinarily a striking color within nature zing on the canvas. It was as though the blueness was a mystery, the depths that ranged in the skies or down in the swelling seas, and he could not gather one little drop of it from either place and fill this two-dimensional parakeet with that revitalizing color of serenity and grandeur. It seemed that with every other brushstroke, the painter, was saying, "There you are. Now, go! Fly, little birdie." But the birdie never flew, it only stood there perched inside the drawing as though oblivious to the fact that it had wings. Perhaps the fact that it was an attempt at capturing the essence of the bird, caused the work of art to be caged.

The tropics, one would think, should be inspiring. That was why Demetri had moved down to Central America. He had grown helplessly exhausted of the suburban sprawl of indulgent America. He had to break free from where the people's main cause of excitement was the opening of a shopping complex. Like Ganguin sick of Paris and embarking for Tahiti, Demetri was intent on finding that perennial Eden with his oils and pastels. And so, he found himself in Costa Rica among the coffee plantations.

Though, search he did, he never could find the correct inner vision that was necessary to transform basic rudimentaries from the earth (common pigments, flinseed oils, etc.) to an ecstatic vision and union with Paradise. The irony was bittersweet for Demetri was surrounded by the most inspiring visages of wild beauty. But such is the artist's agony, converting the dazzling ecstasy of the eye and soul to that blank, white, ominous canvas. -Transforming a love and observance of beauty into the flame of creation.

In the meantime, Demetri was growing haggard and thin. His was a fasting from practicality which left him scarce means of procuring food. Here he was, the exotic scarecrow, the epitome of the starving artist with rags, with bony knees and knuckles, wild-eyed, and wild-hair having abandoned society before it even had time to abandon him. He had all the requisites for being a great artist, except for great art.

Nourishment consisted of a few plaintains and bananas a day. All this, and he would constantly chew on coffee beans to ward off any severe craving for a hamburger. And also because he had heard that the author Balzac had done so to keep himself audaciously prolific.

But at all times, sitting to the side of his painting endeavors, he had this lone, rusty coffee mug, half-full of the richest, blackest drip, ground from the best coffee beans that that region had to offer. And Demetri detested this cup of coffee. Oh sure, he was diligent in his pursuit of draining that cup, and, of course, he'd fill it up again with that dark ambrosia, each and every time only half full. But for some reason, even though it coursed through his veins; he hated the stuff. No, not the taste, nor the aroma. These were beyond a doubt, wonderful. Maybe it was just the fact that that was all there was to drink. The coffee was much safer to drink than the water. Maybe, it was his reliance for physical sustenance that made his spirit resent its dependency on such a thing. But for somehow for whatever reason, it irked him to look down and see before him a black-as-night pool in that old, rusted, tin cup. Perhaps, if he would fill the cup up to the top that would've made all the difference. But most artists never think of solutions such as that.

It was the dull blackness of the coffee. For him, subconsciously, it represented all the drabness in the world, all the mundanity, all the triteness that he had attempted to escape from. And for some reason he equated it all to this half-cup of coffee, a cup that he had to drink from or perish.

Then one day, it befell his poor, ragamuffin, painter's lot, to run out of painter's materials stuck inside this little hut in rural Costa Rica. He had plenty of pigments, to give the painting color. He just lacked the necessary linseed oil to make it stick properly. It happened like this.

It a was another bold and beautiful day, the sun slashing its way through the leafy canopy. Bathing the portions of the inside of his hut in this golden light, sometimes tinged with a slight green from the rainforest canopy. He was mixing his paints and was reaching in this jar for the appropriate oil when he noticed there was not hardly a drop left. He could not paint without this oil for it was what kept the paint from running and dripping down the painting. This was the last straw. All his frustration broke loose in this moment and he flew into a rage. Angry that this was a symbol for his own soul, that his creative well had run dry. And in the middle of his wild temper tantrum, he flung the can with all his paintbrushes across the room. With a resounding ding, they hit his loathsome cup of coffee and it toppled over and flecked dark coffee onto his tiring work of art, the flightless Blue Parakeet. At first, this was about to cause a further eruption at the result of this coffee and how it and what it represented had immersed he and his aspirations. When, a slight pause of emotion, caused him to notice something peculair about the painting with the coffee stains on it. The coffee had combined with the bright blue color, causing it to reveal this accentuating hue. It was as though just a bit of shadow caused it to become real. Demetri marvelled at this. Picked up the portrait and held it in the light pouring in from the window.

"Yes, this is it." he thought. It would actually be the appropriate oil to keep the pigments from running. He ran to his coffee pot and this time filled up his abused coffee cup to the brink. And began mixing the coffee into his pigments. And then he began to paint.

All the rest of that day, he painted, and all the rest of that night he painted as well. The next morning about 10 o clock, he slept and then he woke up again and returned to his easel. There was no increments to his day other than the projects he was working on. Other than that. He sleep when he had to and ate when he had to, while continually sipping the black coffee that had made his revelation. He had finished the blue parakeet. And it was astonishing. The potrait hung majestically over his bed, ravishing in the tropical sunbeams that came cascading into his room. He began to go further afield within himself finding ample archetypal themes and epic stories, Theseus in the Cretan labyrinth killing the Minotaur, Odysseus in Polyphemus' lair, King Arthur's confrontation with Morgan Le Fey, King David mourning over Absalom. Down into the stories did Dmitri dare to go, capturing the images and the power of the drama. His use of shadowing opened the cage that he was stuck inside. His spilled coffee freeing his inner vision. And this vision flew, between the heights of the skies and the depths of the sea, magnificently between Paradise and the world that is.

Wednesday, March 03, 2010

How My Whole Life is Pointing at Me to be a Cheesy, Romance Trash Novelist

...simply because of that fine, quizzical, curious feature on Craigslist called "Missed Connections". For those of you familiar with this feature, I am sure your eyebrows raise in jocular arcs above your knowing and anticipatory eyes.

For those of you unaware, let me put it like this...picture if you will, that you are about your daily business in the throes of mundanity, you could be in the dairy section getting milk at Publix or some such scenario. And you could very well catch the eye of someone across the aisle getting their orange juice, or they could instead be catching your eye. And still, ideally, as we'd all would have it ...you, the "milk boy" and they, the "orange juice girl" would catch each other's eyes. Of course, as experience tends to proclaim, it is extremely awkward to strike up conversation with the Orange Juice Girl. There being not much to talk about other than preference of breakfast beverages. -But yet, something still remains as you walk back towards the check out line. A sort of residue of possibility. It is sort of a light feeling, though sometimes heavy. And you may not be aware of it, and it is only when you are waiting in the checkout line in between the packs of gum and the tabloids, then it suddenly becomes known and hits you that, "Yes, I could possibly fall in love with the Orange Juice Girl." And if anyone has a pestilent and feverish imagination like myself, then a whole string of flickering scenarios of intimacy, of fights, of make ups, of babies born, of retirement fall out. And it is only when you get home, with the fridge door ajar, placing that very carton of milk which caused the whole thing away, that you realize that she was a complete stranger and you'll probably never see that beautiful damsel, the Fair Lady of the Squeezed Oranges ever again. -What distress and a sinking feeling falls. You'll forever drink that carton of milk with slight indigestion.

Unless of course, you have what the brilliant makers of Craigslist put on their website. This Missed Connection feature allows you the chance, the slight chance however slim, to make the connection that didn't happen admist the waxed floors and the rattling shopping carts in Publix. And if you are given to words as a sort of expression then you can describe as colorfully as you'd like the feeling you got, when you saw her on aisle 7, the particular song that was converted to elevator music playing overhead during that moment, even venturing to describe the other items in her cart. And that you too like celery sticks and yogurt. (or at least can tolerate them if ever the two of you ever hooked up.) And of course, if you are lucky and the stars are aligned in this situation, even better than expressing your own take on this fateful encounter in the dairy/juice department, what if you should find that she had beaten you to the punch. What a sublime feeling to scan through the posts of the day and find the title, "Got Milk?" and this little piece to be nothing other than an ad about you.

Well, Craigslists Missed Connections allows you to do this. My sister had told me about it years ago. But I haven't looked into it until recently. And I found it to be true. I showed it to a friend of mine and she immediately thought that it would be funny to post a fake ad where someone was looking for me. http://bham.craigslist.org/mis/1615301748.html
And I was curious to see if anybody responded. Which lo and behold only in a few days, another friend of mine had noticed it.

But then, something interesting happened with myself. I began to notice that I was making my own missed connections in chance circumstances with mysterious women. That every day or two there was a beautiful lady in the midst of a common life that was worthy of a shout out So, I, of course, could not resist the newfangled ability to publish my own passing, fanciful crushes on females that I probably will never see again. I wrote two ads, and, oh, I indulged in cheesiness, abounded in lameness in both letters. Just for experiment's sake and because it was so much fun to do. As a game, let's see if anybody can guess which 2 posts are mine. It was only in the past week that I published them and I'll only give you the hint of "Nature" that sums up both of them. http://bham.craigslist.org/search/mis/?query=m4w

Both incidents actually occurred. And at this rate, I think if I really forced myself I could fall in love with a different stranger every day. Leisurely, as least once a week. Now you can easily see how I can be writing snippets of what could one day be romance trash novels that are supplied in those very Publix stores where Orange Juice and Milk exist together in starry-eyed bliss.