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A Novel Approach

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My dear Jack:

News? Well, there was great flurry of excitement the other day. A bank robbery. Details are sketchy. Sylvia says she saw the Financia cops pulling up in their Alfa Romeos and then shutting down traffic on the main island road. The two robbers took off in a rubber boat from Forio Porto, but then they ran out of petrol a few kilometers short of Procida. The loot was recovered, except for one bag, which they dropped as they rushed down the street. When I learn more, I’ll fill you in.

Not much is going on with Vittoria. She may come, she may not. We’ve settled into another status quo, one day leads to the next. When nothing really happens between us, the trivial occupies my attention. For instance:

I get seriously bent out of shape when Vittoria makes promises she doesn’t keep. Before she left for the shore last weekend she wrote in an e-mail that she missed the sound of my voice and would call. But then she didn’t.

Yesterday, she said she knows I’m not too happy with her but that something happened that she hoped would never happen again, and now all she can do is cry. I wasn’t moved. I thought it was just another of her lame excuses.

Turns out that she had a dream about Giancarlo’s brother being in a fire before a wedding, and guess what? It came true! She told Giancarlo about it beforehand, and he insisted she call the guy, because when Vittoria dreams something like this it usually happens. Her grandmother once told her, “Never dream about me, little one. Please.”

When Vittoria learned that Giancarlo’s brother actually had been in a fire and had been burned, exactly as she dreamed, well, she knew “it” had returned after being absent for 10 years. And it scared her, since she has a lot on her mind these days, and what would she do if she dreams she’s going to die? This, I presume, was an oblique reference to the undisclosed medical problem she has, but I can’t be sure.

Well, I wasn’t in the mood to hear any of this. To me it was just an elaborate rationalization for her thoughtless behavior, and I told her so. She replied I just didn’t understand.
“You promised to call,” I said. “but you didn’t. What’s there to understand?”
“Maybe it was because you didn’t want your family to know you are talking to me.”
“That’s not true,” she said. “Everyone knows about you. And wait a minute. I called you at Easter when they ALL were around. Remember?”
“No, I don’t.”
“Look it up in your diary. It’s in there. You write everything down, don’t you?”
Finally she said, “Well, I knew you were mad at me and so I picked up the phone. Even though I don’t feel like talking right now.”
More silence.
“Okay,” I said. “When you do, let me know. Goodbye.”

Half an hour later I called her back, because I realized I had once again fallen into the trap of believing her behavior is intentional and calculated, when in fact she probably is in the grip of ancient superstition, or worried about something, or pressed down by ten centuries of Italian culture, or whatever.

My Private Theory: Being unable or unwilling to articulate her mental state, all she can say is, “You don’t understand.”
Or, she’ll say, “Sure. You’re right. You’re always right.”
Or, “You will never get inside my head.”
Or, “I’m evil.”

A repeating cycle: Her behavior—which she does not plan and is largely unaware of—gets everyone upset. Since she genuinely does not intend to make people unhappy or disappointed in her, she has to believe some malevolent force controls her actions. But she doesn’t know how to explain it, how to put it in words.

Now, if there are no words for it, then she has to settle for the ones that come close.

This speculation makes my head ache. The man/woman, Venus/Mars thing. It’s all pointless. I’ll never fully understand her. Maybe it’s time to give up, and just accept her exactly as she is. I can see you smile, Jack. You’re thinking: “For James acceptance would be a novel approach!”

But enough. By now you must be thoroughly bored with this melodrama!

I’m so glad to hear that Lucy has recovered from her flu, and that Jennifer had such a lovely birthday party. The video was a joy. Please send me more. I can’t believe those kids have grown so much. Just the other day they were infants.

More later…my love to you all.

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Breaking my silence to tell that your userpic is even better than the old one. Your old pic was outstanding - I picked it from 200 others after making search on "Italy" (the way I discovered your journal). But this one suits your prose even better, i.m.h.o. It is more down-to-earth, or something like that.

It is sad when you cannot really understand someone who you love. This is part of the reason it became too distressing for me to wander in the LJ. The russian-speaking network brings up very interesting, thought-provoking discussions, but it hurts me too much in the end to touch some of it. Not to tell that the more you take it to the heart, the more time it devours that could be spent for something essential. May be there is no point telling that here; reading your journal soothes those feelings. :)

Many thanks, again, for your generous comments. Your mentioning that it's painful to experience some of the Russian-speaking folks' journals reminds me of my first encounters with Dostoyevski, Turgenev, etc. Those passionate writers made my heart ache and my head swim! It was reassuring to realize I was not alone in having wild extremes of emotion!

Turns out that she had a dream about Giancarlo’s brother ...You’re thinking: “For James acceptance would be a novel approach!”

Man, does this ever resonate... My story is using a main charcater who is "fey" like this, and in resonance with the other characters... but the weird thing is a girlfriend who started LIVING what I was writing before she even knew I'd finally started a novel, not the autobiographical
"My Horses Call Me 'Mommy'" that everyone, myself included, thought would be my first book, but a for-real fiction story. She was laying her soul bare one day, and I couldn't believe what she was telling me. I jumped up and brought out my journal, showing her places in it that described what she was telling me. She's still doing it. Nothing as dark and tragic as you have happen, but spookier because it is REAL.

Here's a chapter that gets into the magic realism pretty heavily, the first time people are asked to suspend their disbelief and go along with incredible happenings. She supplied some of the Indian ritual for me...

Now, my heroine is teaching on an Indian reservation during summer. I happen to be a teacher, as is my friend, so I wanted to make my heroine be ANYTHING but a teacher. That old chestnut, "write what you know" got me, though. I tried to make her be a doctor, a lawyer, work in a factory, be a farmer's wife... I couldn't do it and make it seem real. I didn't know enough of the internal dialog of those people. Finally I yielded. I'd rather have people think a purely fictional story is autobiographical than write cardboard cut-outs with no individual personalities that seem "real" to readers, charcaters you can care about, love, hate, be fascinated with.

Last week, she called to tell me about the job opportunities in New Mexico, a part of the country she's thinking of moving to... she was laughing uproariously -- all three were on INDIAN RESERVATIONS. They were the only things she was qualified to teach that were still open. She told me I had to write a happy ending, but the stuff I've come up with so far is Greek tradgey or leaving room for a sequel at best.

My heroine, like yours, is torn between two loves -- one comfortable like an old shoe, one fiery and doomed... gradually she realizes that she fell in love with TWO men from the letters she received, but she thought she was writing to one cool guy, in two different languages.

The struggles your character is going through are the flip side of the coin to the ones I've been dealing with.

http://www.livejournal.com/talkread.bml?journal=pandemo&itemid=54760 is part that discusses the other character's reaction to the events, offering a "logical" explanation, albiet one with a few factual holes in it...

http://www.livejournal.com/talkread.bml?journal=pandemo&itemid=27394 is another burst of the magic realism. This one's placement in the flow of things is undetermined at present.

Your "voice" is more polished, honed, sophisticated than mine, but the thoughts, ah the thoughts. Intriguing. The resonances are exciting.

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