Tuesday, October 7, 2008

Lileks went to DisneyWorld again!

I know I was as surprised as you were when I heard the news, certain he had just returned from there only a couple months ago, but he explains it all in his deft, entertaining, clever prose. I love hearing him tell of DisneyWorld. I feel exactly the same way about the place (except I like the roller coasters.) I think his writing is terrific, of course, especially when he uses words like "conturbated" and "Brobdignagian" -which I had to look up. Still wondering about "conturbated" though. If you have a sufficient context, I guess you can make up all the words you want, and if you have sufficient time, I guess you can write on your blog all you want and edit beautiful little videos of your vacation all you want, too. That is, if you also have time enough for vacation.

I shouldn't complain, but I have one question for Mr. Lileks, if I meet him: when do you find time to build aluminum patio covers? Poor guy. His covers must all be a stilted, dented morass ready to topple on the lawyer drafting the litigation measure to get his contractor's license revoked. I mean, seriously, I had a lot to say about Legoland last week, and plenty of footage to cut together for the sweet memories of my toddler's youth, currently slipping away, but there is so much aluminum piled around, and no other words for it. (Unless I decide to refer to it herewith as "the chemical element of atomic number 13," which I may start doing out of desperation.)

I suppose my writing would start to look professional if I lived in a van down by the river and wrote all day, but years ago, just before I started to get it, I got sick of the van and gave up. (The river I can handle.) There are always stories and metaphors, however, and they still arrive looking for someone competent enough to put them down. Just yesterday, at my morning appointment, I was meeting with a guy who was referred by another customer of ours from years ago. I asked about the other customer, who I heard had had some health problems, and then this man -whom I had just met- relayed a story to me of how this best friend (my old customer) had nearly, and literally, died in his arms. A heart attack on the golf course. And then the man flatlined twice in the hospital. But he came back, retired, and is sitting under his aluminum patio cover right now thinking about his next golf game.

And an hour or so later I was at the current job site, chatting with the customer. She told me about the fire that had swept through a year ago. They have a nice view of an adjacent hillside, and she told me how her husband had awoken at four in the morning from the noise of the howling wind itself, and had looked out the window to see flames bearing down on them and their entire cul-de-sac. She said 911 was a busy signal, and she ran around the house grabbing important items, while her husband ran up the block to wake the neighbors. They got in both cars, met at a supermarket parking lot, and she suddenly realized she was still carrying the phone from the house. (I could write all day about this stuff!)

But it's the overlooked items of wonder, the ordinary things in life that are hard to write about, and it's what Lileks does so well. You have to have a well-placed passion, for starters, and then you have to pretend that there's someone out there who cares (and I mean really pretend, lest it get the best of your fragile creative ego.) It also helps if you have an unusual abstract representation to string everything along. (For example: I gave the cat a bath last weekend, and if that's not a metaphor for life, what is?) As for the writing, if you're good enough, and persistent enough, you'll never have to mess around with the chemical element of atomic number 13. As for me, right now, I have floundered under the weight of heady, incessant distractions. And it would just be enough if I could get the Little Ditchman's room painted. (It's all I ask!)