Monday, June 21, 2010

Neighborly inspiration

I had a lot of *stuff* on my mind Saturday, and I decided the best thing to do was to run down to the Gulf, flop out on the sand, close my eyes and just listen to the pounding surf.

The little ladies could run and play in the water, and I'd watch them, breathing in and out until it was all better...

(insert swearword)

So I threw on my running gear and took off around the neighborhood instead.

There's a eucalyptus tree in one of the yards here, and it is the most amazing sight. I'm totally nearsighted, and at times my lenses get out of place throwing everything into a Monet-style relief. Saturday the tree seemed to grow in a haze of bluish-silver but as I got closer, I could make out the round leaves.

I think eucalyptus is the coolest tree--it's so strange and alien-looking, and I want one in my yard so bad.

Two doors down is this incredibly annoying little black and white dog that chases me, teeth bared, barking like the house is on fire the whole way from that driveway to the end of the cul-de-sac and back to eucalyptus yard.

Little over a year ago, an old man shot a dog in our neighborhood. He claimed it was chasing him and threatening to bite him, and it was a big stink--so big it made the paper.

I read the story one morning after it happened. The rage and sorrow of the young couple who owned the dog and claimed it would never hurt anyone, the defensiveness and embarrassment of the old man who insisted the dog chased him into his yard and wouldn't let him leave his house, the neighbors who explained they didn't let their sons go near that yard because the dog had bit one of them...

Of course, being a writer, I was in all their heads imagining their emotions and mental dialogues.

Two days later when firehouse dog chased me (again), I thought of that story.

LTM: Go away little dog before somebody shoots you.
FD: Bark! Bark! Bark! snarl snarl... Bark! Bark!
LTM: Find a happy place, find a happy place.

Now, a year later, I'm friends with FD's owner. I like her very much but I'm still not sure how I feel about her owning such a pest. I try not to judge pet owners by their pets, but it's so hard...

Continuing on Saturday, I passed a house where an elderly gentleman once squirted me with his garden hose as I jogged past. I jumped and then giggled the rest of my run.

Later that winter (jogging again) I saw an ambulance at his house and watched as they rolled him out on a gurney and took him away. I never knew his name, but his house is for sale now.

As I rounded the last curve and headed back to the house, I thought of the Gulf again, and again I felt the ongoing helplessness at the oil that's filling her body and threatening to kill her and everything in her.

I thought of all the times I ran down to the shore to sit and listen, letting the breeze blow on my face until all the stress was gone. Then, when it got too hot, I'd jump into the salty water and splash around with the kids.

Where will I go to release the stress and find inspiration now?

18 comments:

Portia said...

I hope you find a new thinking spot! It's so important to have your own space to give your brain a chance to take over ...

LTM said...

Thanks, Portia! :o)
I was teasing a little, too, b/c I saw on Sat. how much inspiration I pull from right here in the 'hood.
In my current WIP, MC's depressed b/c her security is taken away and she's cast adrift--then finds an unlikely anchor waiting right under her nose... I realized where that idea came from when I wanted to go to the Gulf so bad and couldn't. It's funny. :o)

Scarlett said...

Sometimes, I find inspiration in the strangest of places too. Lately some of my neighbors have been a portal of discovery for helping me form a few of my supporting characters! I wouldn't be surprised if that yappy dog didn't find itself somewhere in your story!
My oldest son and I were watching the LIFE series on the animal planet last night and he said to me, "Mom, our ocean life won't live like this for long will it?" So sad, b/c I fear he is right.

LTM said...

It's true, Scarlett! But I usually don't realize they're in there til after the fact. And it's never anything exact, just similarities I see because I know what's going on around me.
Bluh--can't think about the Gulf right now. What is this? Day 65? must stop the spill... :o|

Watery Tart said...

It's so sad--I wish there was a way to reverse time and make it not happen, or short of that--just adequately clean up.

I love the little connections you've made though, in your neighborhood--thee is one kind of interaction, then some time later another--that is the rich stuff you can definitely use for books... It is stuff I seem too oblivious to notice usually, though there is a street I call Cat Street (about 6 outside cats, so I always get in a good conversation)--I talk to the pet... I seem to never notice the people. Probably because my nose is usually in a book.

LTM said...

It's funny you said that about the cat house--we had one of those, but the neighbors must've complained.
It's all subconscious connections--I bet you do it, too. I'm typically just running around w/the iPod going, passing stuff. I never know what's going to stick. (Or jump out at me!) ;p

JRichard said...

Go ahead, judge a pet owner by his pet.

James Baron said...

I’m not much of a jogger—flat feet—but I do on occasion go for long walks along the Bow River in Calgary. It’s that time of year when you can see rafters drifting down the river, laughing and shouting and having fun. I’d hate to think of something like what is happening to the Gulf occurring here…

Rayna M. Iyer said...

Okay, a comment full of digressions.

When I read your post, I was filled with images of the Tart's first book. Some elements are common, but more importantly, the atmosphere is identical!

And I LOVE ecalyputus trees (even if I can't spell them). We used to live next to a (man made) ecalyputus forest when I was a kid, and the smell was divine!

LTM said...

Hi, James! Never been to Canada, but it sounds amazing... As for what's going on down here, on Day 65, I've adopted the "try to stop thinking about it" mentality. It's all we can do. :o|
You're a laff-riot, btw! I'm totally rooting for you--good luck w/your mission!

LTM said...

Rayna! My long lost Indian twin! I actually graduated HS w/two girls having the same b'day as me. So clearly a lot of beautiful, intelligent, stylish coffee lovers were born on this day.
Oh! A eucalyptus forest! It must've seemed enchanted... Ahhh~ :D

Odie said...

File a claim against BP for PTSD!!! File one against Goldman-Sachs and Obama while you're at it, they were all in on it!
HUGE play to promote cap & trade and raise the roof on taxes.

Okay, political tirade over. Thought about a pool in the back yard, one of those with a huge water fall type thing at one end? It doesn't have to be huge like the Kendricks had in their back yard. Could be a little kidney shaped thing that the girls could easily play in!!

Odie said...

Wasn't finished - the sound of the waterfall would help soothe away the "stuff" in your head!
Just a thought!

LTM said...

@Odie--you & JRM w/the pool already. While that sounds really (really) nice, I think I'll settle for my little backyard fountain. :o)
I have a theory that pools get used A LOT the first and maybe second summers you have them. Then they become a giant pain in the tushie you have to maintain every year... but that's just my theory~

Odie said...

I think you're theory is correct, that is why I said a small kidney shaped lagoon type pool! Something small-ish, not so big of a pain, and if you'll buy me a round trip ticket, I'll come clean if for you every summer! ;p

Pam said...

just thought I'd chime in....we went the pool investigating route this summer....too darn pricey of a toy (for all the maintenance that I'D have to be doing). Darn hubby won't spring for a pool boy....rats! So my oasis is the Y pool...and all it's glory.

Becca said...

Well I'll tell you where you can come, to my backyard of course, duh! And you can still watch the kiddos splash around. :-) BUT, I know what you mean about the Gulf. I miss it too!! :-(

LTM said...

@Odie--uhh... huh?

@Pam--as I suspected. And I even HAVE a hunkey, hunkey pool boy... ;p

@Becca--you are a wonderful neighbor. <3 U xoxo :o)