Hearts Abroad / Hearts Abroad (Diasporas on love) / Immigrant Life / Novel / Writing

Prompts: July 2017

More Notes from the Canadian honey jar

#35: July 17, 2017

…she’s the necrophiliac of the group, digs up the corpses of old boyfriends and tries to dance with them (get them to dance with her) again. Rather than start new relationships, that is. Not that she intentionally ‘started’ the previous ones. She ‘fell into’ them, though not into love. Not that, ever. So far. One has to be capable of it?

…It’s easier to just let one thing lead to another, on the way into it, and one thing lead to another, on the way out of it. And easiest of all is the ghosts of relationships past, the ghosts of exes. They are so agreeable. They don’t say much, they don’t contradict, they make no demands, they come and go as required, and they listen for as long as you’ve got something to say, and when they do respond their response is exactly right. Hence why the relationships with the ghosts is the one she pursues long after their death. The surest way to stop this dance with ghosts is to bring in a new, live one whose reactions, responses, etc. can’t be as easily anticipated or controlled. Maybe it’s the ‘tizita’ in her genes that makes her prefer the dance with a ghost over the dance with a live one? Must be!

#39: July 22, 2017

The ‘tizita’ painting by Afewerk Tekle

The distinctive thing is that she seems to have a veil on. A black veil. Veil supposed to represent the past, looking into the past? She has the ‘typical’ face, of course: heart shaped, big almond-shaped eyes, long straight nose, and small but plump (what would be called ‘rosebud’?) mouth. I’m noticing now that her ear seems to hang rather low! And her neck is VERY long. The hair is in a kind of pile-up/up-do.

The most obviously noticeable thing about this painting, aside from the black-veil, is that she’s crying. Not the ‘ugly cry’, but one of those ‘expressionless’ cries, where you’re ‘somewhere else’, staring/gazing off into the distance, and the tears well up and tumble down because you’re so ‘not here’ that you don’t even squeeze your eyes to wring out the tears and see again. Looking back/remembering through the blur of tears. The veil is parted but the veil of tears has replaced it.

For someone who doesn’t know what ‘tizita’ is, it just looks like the painting of a pretty (beautiful) but very sad woman.

Ok so the bottom line is that this painting leaves me uninspired. She’s glaringly beautiful, glaringly sad, glaringly crying.

Beauty in sadness, the beauty of sadness.

He is known for painting Ethiopian subjects & themes, and I guess it’s proof of how major a theme ‘tizita’ is that he made a painting about it! I’m surprised it isn’t a whole series! Idea: look up what other paintings titled ‘tizita’ are out there!

#41: July 25, 2017

What if the songs we grew up listening to, heard over&over even before we knew what music or words or love were (though we felt love) what if that “marks” us & determines how we approach love later on? Doomed! Considering the tizita, etc. lyrics! (structure idea: each character grew up listening to a certain type of song = marks the characters of their relationships! I like!) What was playing in the 80s + 90s?

Hm, I’m not sure I buy it. I don’t think SCIENCE supports it! According to science, it’s the relationships we see growing up that influence the ones we have when we grow up. And in a ‘traditional’ family at least, it’s the dynamic between our mothers and fathers that we replicate…sort of.

A couple ‘communicating’ by their choice of music. Not when they’re first getting together, dedicating songs to each other, etc. But when things aren’t going well, maybe when they are not even speaking to each other. What each person chooses to play loud enough for the other one to hear. This could be a creative way to incorporate the music into the stories.

#42: July 28, 2017

…yelping her husband’s name when frightened. How did that habit begin? Who started it, and who picked it up? Or was it just something everyone did back then, like a fashion? The way certain slang terms go in an out of fashion. There was a time when using your husband’s name as an exclamation was in fashion, was the slang of the day!

Comparable today would be yelling random exclamations that have nothing to do with the situation, like a celebrity’s name or an improvisation on ‘Jesus!’ One way this could be adapted into the story: a character consciously chooses to develop this habit, only the name she exclaims with is the name of a singer, like Mahmoud. Only, in the current climate, that could cause problems! But if you think about it, people exclaim ‘God!’ or ‘Jesus!’ all the time, so why not ‘Mohamed!’? Could be a nice opening section “…she had taken to exclaiming ‘Mohamed!’ whenever something surprised or frightened her, the way her mother and aunts used to ‘summon’ their husband’s protection by exclaiming their names when she was growing up, only in today’s society, that got her in trouble, or at least some strange looks, more than once. But why shouldn’t she be able to summon her beloved?”

What was their intention in gasping their husband’s names, I wonder. Why was the man’s name the word that came to their tongue in those heightened moments? It’s a summoning, an appeal, as if that person could protect you from what was about to happen or you thought had happened, etc. As if that person could avert fear or disaster. Rather than the name of God, it’s his name I call when I am in need of assurance or aid. There was no cooing ‘I love you’ between them, never heard that, but that habit of theirs speaks volumes about the place their husbands’ held in their hearts and lives. Of course, if the man wasn’t there, there’s nothing he can do, but just the voicing of his name was appeasement enough.

And what did the husbands feel about it? Never considered that side! What could they feel but good, needed, important?

It was a time when a woman’s depending on her husband for safety was nothing shameful. It was considered natural, normal. That was their job. The woman expected it, the men provided it. Men = protection.

#34: July 5, 2017

…a sense that things would always be this way. We would always be this cool, have this much fun together, be this open and frank with each other. Even though marriage and kids were coming this dynamic would remain unchanged…couldn’t imagine any of us taking offense at another to the point of barely speaking anymore…couldn’t imagine camps with different loyalties being formed, situations where so-and-so would avoid so-and-so, or where relationships would have deteriorated so much that everything would have become just surface politenesses. In a word, couldn’t imagine that we’d ever become like our parents, holding grudges and silences for decades, secrets, appearances, etc…thought, we’re a different generation, we do and say what we mean, we keep everything authentic and uncomplicated, real, so that will never be us. That will never be us.

…been humbling to learn that we are not so different from those who came before us after all, that when the pressure really sets in, the traits that surface in us are the same ones as theirs… realize that they didn’t start out the way we know them now. They too started out all on good, or at least uncomplicated terms, and had no idea of the fault lines that lay just under the surface of their relationships and would become wide gaps as life became complicated due to shifting loyalties (kids, spouses, politics, etc.)

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