Thursday, June 26, 2014

Planning for December Part I

Artist opportunities, for artists of all kinds . . .

Two Houston churches, Grace Lutheran and St Stephen's Episcopal, are teaming up to sponsor an advent season (the church season before Christmas) art event. Of some kind. We're keeping it somewhat undefined for the moment. We only know we want to engage the themes of advent: hope, anticipation, anxiety, expectation. We want artists of faith and of no faith to explore these themes, hopefully without recycling old images but by bringing new vision.

What's happening now: A workshop/playdate/brainstorming session.

Saturday, July 26
10:00am - 1:00pm
Grace Lutheran Church
2515 Waugh Dr, Houston, Texas 77006
This will be a combination of structured exercises and intentional play. We're planning on doing one of these each month, just to explore what's possible 
Musicians, performers, installation artists, visual artists . . . no medium turned away! 
No commitment is assumed by participating in this workshop. In fact, I'd be happy to have people who just want a creative play day to show up. I won't be asking for commitments until October or early November. 

And if you can't make this one, you're not ruled out---as I say, we plan to have one of these monthly until we make the thing. 

Three is a Facebook event page for this, so if you're on Facebook, feel free to go HERE and ask questions or join up there. If you're not on Facebook, feel free to email me at neilellisorts <at> yahoo dot com. 

Please share this with other artists who might be interested. 

Monday, June 16, 2014

Cary & John Sample Chapter

This blog is usually about my performance work (and I'm much behind in documenting a couple of pieces), but tonight I'm using it for my literary endeavors.

At this moment, my novella, Cary and John is being released. You can order a copy directly from the publisher by click here.

I've also been asked if I could post a sample of the book. So here it is. It alternates between a straight forward narrative---and afternoon between two lifelong friends---and a series of letters written in the early 1970s. Cathy is telling Gloria about a stack of letters their fathers left behind that reveal a romance they never knew existed.

I chose a chapter and a couple of letters about a third of the way in. I hope it whets your appetite for the entire novella.

Chapter 6

"Oh Glory Glory," Cathy said and then said no more. Gloria couldn't see her face and leaned forward, elbows to her knees, the last half of a snicker doodle in her clasped hands.

"Cathy, why don't you come sit down?" Somewhere they learned to never ask a question that would result in a lie. No "what's wrong?" to be answered with "nothing."

"Isn't it funny how different things can be?" Cathy asked, turning. "I mean, all the appearances. You think you know how things are, but they're only appearances."

"We see through a veil. One day we'll see face to face."

Cathy made a face that she corrected quickly. Gloria knew it was either Cathy's dislike for scriptural responses—"trite," she called them—or else Cathy was about to tell a secret. Cathy sat down next to her big shoulder bag on the couch.

"It just becomes clearer after the fact," Cathy said. "It all makes sense, eventually. Mysteries you didn't even know existed get solved."

Gloria considered Cathy's words before speaking. "Do you think things weren't as happy as they appeared that day?"

"Oh, no," Cathy said. "That was such a good day, all of us together. Look at that picture. Uncle Cary and Aunt Phyllis so quiet but so—loyal to each other. Mom and Daddy, cutting up as always." Cathy smiled. "Do you know they were both over sometimes, after their divorce? You know, something for the girls or whatever. They laughed together just like in that picture, right up until the day Daddy dropped over dead."

"Well, that's what I never understood," Gloria said. "They always seemed so happy, got along so well." She finished off her cookie.

"They were," Cathy said. "To a large extent, they were. But, well, with hindsight . . . Cathy began to pick on a button on her blouse. "Well, I guess in retrospect I'd have to say they were more like college roommates who happened to raise a daughter together."

"Oh now, Cathy. What makes you say something like that?"

"My marriage isn't like that," Cathy said, and added before Gloria could say anything, "and neither is yours."

"Every marriage is different, Cathy. Every person is different."

"Of course," Cathy said and waved her hand. "But Gloria—I look at you and Fred and there's—what's the word? You know, not always but you can tell with people. You're not 'just friends' as we used to say in high school."

"Cathy Cat, you're talking in riddles today. We're husband and wife."

"But there's more than just words to it with you. You're attracted to each other." Cathy looked away and said quickly, "I mean, you're lovers."

Gloria blushed and giggled. "Well, yes, but I hope we're not staring wantonly across the room at each other!"

"Oh, nothing so obvious," Cathy said. "But—Oh Gloria, you know what I mean. You're the one who started the game back in high school!"

Gloria's face felt hot, but she couldn't help laughing. Back in those days, when they were high school girls remaining pure and chaste, they played an off-color game, guessing which couples they knew were or were not having sex regularly. It got to where they couldn't look at each other during church services if certain couples sat nearby, or else they'd dissolve into silent, quaking laughter. "Oh Cathy, stop!"

"Don't go getting all bashful about it now. How many times have I heard you talk about the importance of the marriage bed?"

"Well, yes, I do believe it is one of the greater gifts of marriage." Gloria tried to regain her composure.

"I mean, that couples retreat we went to that time?"

"Oh now, Pastor asked Fred and me to lead that session—"

"Because it's obvious you two are doing it!" Both women laughed. "With regularity!"

"Stop it!" Gloria's face was red from the laughter and embarrassment. She pulled herself together briefly and said demurely, "I'm simply a woman who takes her wifely duties seriously." And both women laughed again.

Cathy wiped at her eyes. "I was trying to have a serious conversation somewhere in here."

"Okay," Gloria said and touched her lips. "Serious again."

"All I'm saying is, I don't think our parents had that kind of relationship. They liked each other, even loved each other, but—"

"Oh, Cathy, what's wrong with you? No one likes to think about their parents and sex!"

Cathy smiled but her eyes drifted to the portrait. "I guess not, but it's a part of life."

Gloria rolled her eyes in fun. "As far as I'm concerned, it's enough that they had us. That's all the evidence I need on that subject." Gloria flashed on overhearing her mother speak of a sexless marriage, but pushed it away.

Cathy turned more serious and looked at her purse. "This is going to be harder than I thought."

"What?" Here, Gloria thought, is the heart of the matter.

"Gloria, I've been going through Daddy's things."

"Of course," Gloria said soberly. She knew the weight of the task.

"Daddy left a stack of letters."

February 3, 1971
Dear John,
A month has already passed. Sorry I haven't written. I start letters and then I get interrupted.

Phyllis and Gloria were so glad to see you all come and sad after you left. I wondered how Gloria would be. She's getting involved at school, making friends. I thought she might have moved on. When you left, she said, "I don't think I'll ever have another friend like Cathy."

I'm not sure about camping. I don't have any vacation time yet. I wouldn't be able to leave until after work on a Friday and I'd have to be back Sunday. Is just 2 nights worth it?

It was good to see you at New Year's.

Dear Cary,
You make me crazy with waiting for a letter and then you write so little. Beggars can't be choosers, though. I take what I can get!

Yes, two nights with you is worth it! What are you talking about? Two hours with you is worth it!

I called up to the park. They have a cabin available the second weekend of March. I went ahead and reserved it, put down a deposit. I haven't said anything to Maddie, yet, but if you just can't I'll take her and Cathy up—they don't really like it, but since I already paid for it, they'll go. So save me from a weekend in the woods with two unhappy girls! Arrange it so you can go! Ha!

In fact, tell Phyllis and Gloria to come this far with you. They can stay with Maddie and Cathy and they'll have an all-girls weekend.

Look, I know it's not ideal, but you'll get off work at 5:00, right? Pick up your women and be on the road by 6:00, and you'll be here a little after 9:00. We'll be at the cabin easily by 11:00. So it'll be a little late. We won't have to get up early on Saturday. Or at all! Ha!

Maddie and Cathy have talked a lot about how much fun they had New Year's. I'm convinced we—you and me—had the best time of all.

Your letters are so reserved. I guess I hesitate to get too graphic myself. Is it too much to admit that just thinking about you—about New Year's and going camping—has me very excited right now? I'm so excited it hurts to keep sitting down! Ha!