NEWS FROM THE SHADOWLANDS
I'm not sure where I'm going with that title, but it's post something and I can't think of a good word that starts with the letter P.
(It's a tough thing for a writer to admit this. I'm not perfect. Hey, that's a good word. Eh, too late now.)
Memorial Day is approaching and I'm feeling sentimental. I started watching the Hunger Games movies again - yesterday was "The Hunger Games" and tonight was "Catching Fire" with Mockingjay coming around tomorrow - though I haven't decided if it'll be parts one and two or just part one.
Post Perfect? Post Panasonic? Post Panem? Nah, still too late...
It's been five days since I donned the cap and gown. My books are all turned in, the school has most of their money accounted for, and even though it's only been a week, it feels like I'm wandering a building that's been abandoned for decades.
I'm reminded of the mall at Dixie Square where The Blues Brothers was filmed in 1980. It was a dead mall, closed in 1978, left to isolation and then trashed before being forgotten to time. As Blues Brothers 2000 came out, the mall had become a living entity, filled with trees and nature growing through escalators and concourses. Moss grew upon the fountains and upper levels were filled with collapsing concrete. The place had a look of neglect and was open to nature, reclaiming it for her own.
They finally demolished the place in 2013, from what I read on the internet. It now looks like a big open field, cleared of life and ruin, fenced off from the public and controlled by none.
A few days ago, Saturday, I sat in the Baker's Square across from the vacant Ford Assembly Plant in St. Paul. I looked out at the empty quarter there. It was a place that, until 2011, made Ford Rangers. Today it is an empty field, dotted with shipping crates and piles of earth. It's fenced off with a chain link covered in black tarp to obscure the visions of emptiness. But on Google Earth, it looks a lot like the vacant parcel where that mall used to be.
In other thoughts, I think of the visions of the Capital in Panem. I think of these grand, epic landscapes that go into literature and film. I think of those places where great characters make magic happen. Where a young woman who wants to survive ends up orchestrating a rebellion that occurs whether she wishes it or not. Where anything is possible, seems possible, and is. Where a culture of excess blissfully indulges as their fellow citizens starve, bleed, and die to keep the status quo in power and decadence.
And I wonder if anything I ever create in literature will measure up.
I think of the Forest of Perpetual Rain, and the Hall of Pherenglen. It measures up. But I begin to question if anyone will ever read about such a place, since I'm hardly a household name.
I'm not depressed tonight. Just thinking.
I guess I find myself wondering about how some things are built and hoped to bring sucess and then abandoned, ignored, neglected, and ultimately allowed to return to nature when the people who built them had such high hopes in mind. Twenty years ago, I think of a time when I met a person who, had I any sense of what I was doing, I might have thought I had a chance with. As it turns out, that person is still with the person she had her eye on. There's a few kids involved now. And I don't regret my decision to let her be happy with whomever she wanted.
Again, to be fair, I never had any relationship beyond friends.
But as I think about it, I realize how time seems to grant such interesting possibilities. That person is still happily married, with a family, and dealing with family life. And I'm very happy for them all. But a small part of me paused the other day, and asked 'what if'?
Just like that guy on 60 Minutes. Mr. Safer. He said he had to set aside his life's work - his passion - to focus on his health. A week later, his health left him, and he left this world.
In the year 2000, sixteen years ago, Mr. Schulz stopped drawing his comic - his daily life's work - for his health. His retirement lasted about a week. When his final comic was being printed, he drew his last breath.
I take comfort knowing that my work is still being printed and my stories are still being told. Yet, I realize that anything I build has at least two possibilities.
Either someone will make a movie out of them, or they'll be for sale on the penny shelf at some obscure book store in a mall with declining customers. It'll be at their 'Last Gasp' sale. Two books for a penny. Proceeds will benefit the Back to School charity.
I haven't seen any of my books for sale at any book fairs yet. Still, I'm left wondering how things will work out.