Day Four

Four days. For days. Four days. For days. Four days. For days. Four days. For days. Darlene. Darla. Darlene. Darla. Darlene. Irene. Darlene. Irene. Darlene. Irene. For the first time, I notice we share something, we both end our names with ‘-ene.’ Writing this memoir, writing about you wears me out. I feel like a wave tossed upon the shore. It’s four in the morning, and I am surprised that I have made it to day four.

I woke up at 2:59am, and my thoughts formed a disorderly queue in my mind. They were arguing over which one would get to start my morning pages. The memoir crew wanted me to write about the Dark Lady. (They mean the Dark Lagoon.) And I chide them for always correcting course, why can’t I call the movie the Dark Lady from the Lagoon, if I want to. No, no, they say you have to get it right. You have to be accurate, you can’t bend the truth. But that’s how I want to remember it. And then the present tense crew ridicules me for taking on this project at my age.

My age! I’m eighty-four, it’s about time I start! If I don’t write now, when will I ever finish. “Day Four,” I write at the top of the blank page, after finally telling myself to get out of bed, because I know from experience that I won’t get back to sleep until I get up and quiet the crowd of thoughts by writing some of them down on the page. So here I am writing very early morning pages.

I never thought I would make it this far. Four days. It’s not getting any easier. For days, for weeks, for years, I’ve told myself this same truth, “It’s not getting any easier.” Why do I believe life should get easier? Shouldn’t I have figured out the way to the easy, carefree life by now? But it’s hard, exactly because so much of my life has passed. There’s so much to tap into. So many directions I could take. And so many memories clamoring to be heard, to have their day in the spotlight. (And as I already noted, the most difficult memories sap me of energy, and I don’t feel like writing about them anymore. Like noticing that Irene has part of my name in hers, and I have part of hers in mine. I will be walking along the shore of this awareness for days looking for significance, but maybe it was just a coincidence.) I let the memory of her recede like the ebb of the sea to be washed ashore again another day.

Right now, I should go back to bed, but the memoir crew shouts at me again, “When are you going to tell them about the summer in Florida? Remember when you were in the spotlight, when you were the Lady in the Dark Lagoon? But the darkness presses in, and I yawn at them, and say, maybe tomorrow.

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Dead on Arrival

I feel dead on arrival with this writing project. I can’t keep from rereading and editing, as I go. I’m trying to follow the advice of the “morning pages” gurus. To just write and not look back. But looking back has been my ambition for so long, it’s hard to move forward.

I woke up this morning with the name, Irene, on my mind. Who are you, Irene? I know your full name now, but I never knew you. I have so much I want to tell you.

Dear Irene Langley Fields-

When I was about thirteen, I finally learned your full name and the full significance of your absence. I guess I knew you were gone when I was a little girl, but Daddy and my brothers never really made that big of a deal that it was just the four of us. I suppose I wondered why the other little girls came to the playground with mothers. I was content being raised by males, I didn’t need a female influence or companion. Even on the playground, I gravitated to the boys joining in their stick ball games or beating them at jacks under the pecan tree.

When I was about thirteen, I started my period at school. I needed something to absorb the blood flow, but you weren’t there to give me what I needed. I used some toilet paper, until I could get home. I asked Daddy to take me to the drug store. Daddy took me to the aisle in the drug store to buy sanitary pads. And I used my common sense to figure out their purpose. On the drive home, I asked a question that had been hanging between him and me for all those years.

Where is my mother?

A long silence from the driver’s seat. And then finally, with a grimace on his face, he told me that you died giving me birth. My head fell to my chin. I always thought you left us, or didn’t care. Looking back now, I don’t know how Daddy and my brothers kept me insulated from this tragic truth.

(Less than 500 words today. So be it.)

Just Write . . .

I read the introduction to the “write your memoir in thirty days” book. Did you know there were different categories for memoirs? The Disaster, The Tell-All, The Coming of Age, The Romance, The Travelogue, even one about your pet or your illness. If I had to pick just one category, I vacillate between The Romance and The Disaster. Most people think being an actress is so romantic, but I am here to tell you my personal journey was mostly a disaster with a couple cherries on top. The first chapter of the book asks you to distill your life “theme” into two or three sentences. Ugh! Writing is hard. I’m trying this three page technique in a notebook, then transferring it to the blog. It’s only my second day, and I’m ready to quit. I guess that’s why I never get to finishing…ahem, starting my memoir.

I have all kinds of excuses, like I don’t know how. So now I have a book on how, and I’m still stalling. Who wants to do something so much, but then avoids it? I guess me. Writing without worrying about editing as I go or thinking seems harder than I thought it would be. If I can’t think of anything to write, I’m supposed to keep writing: I don’t know what to write. I don’t know what to write. I don’t know what to write. Until I think of something else to write. So now, I’m thinking how boring my readers will think I am. But I’m just doing the work here, people.

Oh boy, now I’m talking to my invisible audience. Nothing new, I live alone, so I often talk out loud to myself, the cats and even the TV. I love my TV. My father bought one of the first black and white TVs in our neighborhood. I couldn’t wait to brag to the kids who hung out on the playground next to our house. I suppose they thought I was a snob, but I was proud of my father for being on the cutting edge. My brothers and I would sit in front of that small box every day after school transported to other worlds. To have the world of moving pictures right in the center of our lives seemed like such a privilege.

Don’t get me wrong, I loved going to the movies on Saturdays. My brothers would walk me the couple blocks to the theater on Main Street. They met friends, and I sat in the front row of the balcony by myself. I liked seeing the story from that vantage point. I could pan the screen and absorb every set piece, every gesture of the actors and actresses and hear the clack of the projector as the film rolled out the story and spectacle of far away worlds.

If I had to write my life in two to three sentences, here’s what I’d write:

I liked being alone, sometimes I was lonely, but I escaped loneliness by transporting myself into other people’s stories. Sometimes I absorbed the life of another person so much that I lost myself. When I lost myself, I always found a way to find myself again.

That’s enough for today.

My Name is . . .

My name is Darlene Marie Fields. Some people may remember me as Darla Piper, a not so famous actress from the sixties. I had one major role, but I don’t want to go on about that today. I had this idea to write my memoir. I recently read Sophia Loren’s memoir called Yesterday, Today and Tomorrow: My Life, and I was inspired to dust off my old dream of writing my own life story. But I get stuck. I’ve read plenty of books about writing and I keep a diary, but I just don’t know where to start. I saw a book online yesterday called Write Your Memoir in 30 Days. I don’t remember the author. You can look it up on amazon, if you want. I don’t know maybe you’ve always wanted to write about yourself, too.

I found the book through some blog that I was browsing, I think the blog writer called herself, “grandma” something. How quaint. I am not a grandmother, and never will be. I did not have any children. I guess that might be a story starter right there, but mostly I’ve wanted to capture that summer in Florida, when I had my shining moment in the galaxy of Hollywood stars. Of course, I was no Sophia Loren, and certainly not any Marilyn Monroe, but I had my moment in stardom, albeit, only a starlet in galaxy far, far away. (No not that movie.) My movie, or I should say, our movie was about a creature from a lagoon, but not the Black Lagoon. Our producer wanted to do something different, better, bigger than that movie.

Every one in Hollywood always wanted to do something bigger and better and NEW! I wasn’t going to start here, but I might as well, because you can google Darla Piper, or look me up on IMDB and it’s the only thing you’ll ever find me associated with in the film industry. I didn’t make it big. I didn’t become an actress/director/producer. But I loved being the leading lady in The Lady from the Dark Lagoon. I always thought the title should be The Dark Lady from the Lagoon, but no one was interested in my opinion at the time. I was just the newfound talent that the director wanted in his debut movie.

By wanted, I mean he wanted me around to be his “companion”. Oh, he wanted me alright. And I let him have me, because that’s the only way I believed that I could make it in the industry. Beautiful girl plus influential director equals sleeping together. Even though I think that’s what my readers want to know about, I don’t really want to write about all those gory details. I still can’t decide what my memoir should even include.

So I started this blog to try out my story on unsuspecting readers. Heck, I don’t even know if I will have any readers. But all the creativity coaches and Julia Cameron followers agree, just write 500 words a day, or three pages a morning, and you will have something to account for your work. So, here you go . . . my first 500 plus word blog post.