Monday, May 30, 2005

Permanent Flux

Paul Davis and I talked about dismantling my house today. My house. He thought he might number some of the pieces and place them in storage for a time the firm would build another version of it. Then he said, “Maybe we should let it go and just remember it.” I thought my friend Esther, who works for the organization Women for Afghan Women, might need some lumber for their new office in Queens. She said they were set. Most likely my house will become a pile of stuff people can cart away, and some will be donated to Materials for the Arts.

The rubber smell of a library stool I climb up to my bed with triggered an image I used in the comic novel I’m writing about death and sex. When I was feeling doubtful one day, a friend advised, “Oh, just make sure you put sex in the book, and it will be fine.” I did.

Photographers from publications have taken pictures of the house and some with me in it, but I don’t have copies. Paul was going to take some shots, but it turns out he won’t be able to before he goes out of town this week. I said I didn’t mind, and I don’t.

Last Saturday, we gave our third reading, and a trio of regulars showed up again, wanting the next installment. One is a filmmaker who wrote and shot a movie in a month, so he’s particularly amused by our challenge. We had the biggest turn-out yet, and I think the three of us delivered our most relaxed performances.

After the guests left, Grant, Ranbir, and I sat in our loft by the open window. Actually, it’s a missing window pane, but never mind. Grant hung out of it, sucking on one of his last cigarettes, since quitting happens post-box. Ranbir snapped his fingers and talked about a man he used to sit on a bench with not talking. Occasionally one of them would grunt and look up and point to the dive across the street and say, “Looks like they need to fix the masonry.” The other would say, “Yeah, they do.” He said, in his mock-heroic murmuring delivery, “We had connection. We had an experience.”

We hear each other grunting sometimes in our loft. We were strangers, then neighbors, now, to me, collaborators on a book I hadn’t imagined before the installation began and is now a novel-in-progress. I have stolen bits of conversation and mannerisms from my mates for scenes. Talks I’ve had with several regulars who attend Flux Thursdays (weekly dinner/presentations) moved me to deepen one of the plots I’m weaving, involving a character who survives the attacks of 9/11 and decides to go missing, jettisoning a culture that has made him feel passive and enervated.

Before entering, I was asked if I’d feel nervous about reading raw work aloud and whether I felt competitive with the other writers. Were we in a contest? If one of us finished something or found a publisher first, would that matter? Glibly, I said no. But I did feel vulnerable after readings. Was my prose weary, stale, flat, and unprofitable? Grant has already finished a novel draft and is working on another. Ranbir intends to have a completed draft by closing. I’m ahead of schedule in that I’ve composed more than twenty pages and haven’t vomited. I’m spurred by their productivity and inspired by (also larcenously inclined toward) their accomplishments.

Today a journalist asked if I missed anything. I said I didn’t. I am happier here than in the life I left, partly because I’m part of a community rather than alone. I’m not saying I would like to live this way indefinitely. Nothing about the experience will be duplicable. But having a gaggle of people whose minds excite you to bounce ideas off and make work with—as do the Fluxies and the Flux extensions—is enviable.

I told Stefany I was sad my house would be dismantled. She shot me one her dry-eyed, get-real looks and said, “Everything at Flux Factory dies, like us.”

Some things are nowhere near dead, but you have to leave them anyway.

15 Comments:

At 10:18 PM, Anonymous sara c. said...

oh, laurie.

it's true that everything at flux dies, but then it's not. your house, yes, it will go away. but what you did here won't. and i don't think you will, either. you'll come back and see us. and i don't know about anyone else, but i'll come and see you. nobody ever really leaves flux factory.

 
At 3:08 AM, Blogger Laurie Stone said...

beautifully stated, of course I'll come back--Laurie

 
At 12:04 AM, Anonymous Elaine Meis said...

"I’m not saying I would like to live this way indefinitely. Nothing about the experience will be duplicable. But having a gaggle of people whose minds excite you to bounce ideas off and make work with—as do the Fluxies and the Flux extensions—is enviable."

Laurie,
I had to write when I saw this...I'm Morgan's Mom and just had the best time reading all of your entries. The way you describe Flux is exactly the way I feel when I'm there. I couldn't live there either but what an experience. I'm in California or I would have come by to meet you. I hope I get to some day. Your "voice" is so appealing. I'm saving your novel for my next sitting...

 
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