trish bendix

Was it only by dreaming or writing that I could find out what I thought?

Posted in Uncategorized by trishbendix on February 12, 2008

It’s eerie and odd when everything in your life begins to relate on a completely subconscious level. Suddenly, it hit me this morning that I’ve been surrounded by some facets of life and death that have tied themselves together in a knot around me, and it’s all been chance, or subconscious (I’m inclined to believe the latter).

Jamie has been working on a story for a few weeks now about the relationship between literature and liquor, specifically in Chicago. Good old Chicago with writerly types that like to drink, and drinkers that like to write. I never drink when writing, but I’m much more of a social drinker, really. I’m not opposed to trying out a glass of wine sometime, but I’m usually accompanied by a coffee.

So when one of us is working on a story–especially a longer piece like this one–the other is also involved in that story as a listener, an editor, sometimes the Devil’s Advocate. It really does help both of us, though, especially because my biggest flaw is writing so quickly that sometimes I know exactly what I’ve said but Jamie assures me no one else will understand what it is that I am saying. I write as quick as I think, and that’s not necessarily a good thing.

I’ve been immersed in this idea of drinking and writing for a few weeks, then, and it just so happened this theme showed up in the movie I had Netflixed and put off watching. After transcribing an interview last night (in which I was subsequently drinking and interviewing) Jamie and I watched Winter Passing, a film starring Zooey Deschanel as Reese, an actress living in New York City that is vapidly moving through life with meaningless sex and a cocaine habit. A book publisher attends one of her plays and seeks her out to pay her for the lost love letters between Reese’s father and mother, both famous novelists. Her mother recently committed suicide, and her father is in Michigan, living alone and without having published anything in twenty years. He’s a drunk, living in his garage when Reese comes to visit him, and in sum, she finds the letters as well as a novel her father has written but never sent to be published. He tries to off himself, but survives, and Reese stops resenting her parents for their lack of interest in her growing up. 

One of my favorite sequences in the film is between Reese and a former writing student of her father’s that lives in his house:

Shelley: Would he ever show you his stuff?
Reese Holdin: I had to buy every book he has written.
Shelley: Must have been an interesting childhood.
Reese Holdin: Yeah. Competing for attention with twin No.3 Underwood typewriters won’t do too much for your self-esteem.

There are several times in the movie when Reese discusses her relationship with her parents, and their own relationship, which she claims wasn’t as competitive as everyone would suggest. This oddly tied into the book I’m reading–Joan Didion’s The Year of Magical Thinking. Regarding the death of her husband, Didion reflects on their relationship as writers and as lovers:

      “I never had to finish sentences because he would finish them for me, … I never got why. What was good for him was good for me. What was good for me was good for him. I don’t understand what school of marriage they’re thinking about.”

Her husband, John Gregory Dunne, passed away one evening after she fixed him a drink. I’m engrossed in her discussions on grief and life changing in an instant, and establishing what kind of significance these common themes are having in my life right now.

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