Random Thoughts #1

I have a friend from Australia coming to visit next month, and that always puts me in a “fresh eyes” state of mind.  What will he think of Southern Califunny?  Will my everyday sights and sounds seem delightful or bizarre to him?  I go through the same thing when I’m visiting a new place.  I try to soak in as much as I can, cuz (as a writer) I feel like the joy (not the devil) is in the details.  So when I was out walking this morning, these are some questions I came up with while looking at my neighborhood with “fresh eyes.”

Do these houses for sale reflect a normal market or are they a sign of the hard economic times?  What is the make-up of the concrete here that makes the sidewalk sparkle at times?  Is that plant native to California?  Are ANY of them?  What does “Got Sand?” mean?…  Is that bumper sticker a national saying or only a local in-joke?  Where are the clouds?  Do Americans like ceramic lawn animals or just this nut job?  Who delivers these newspapers… kids on bikes?  Why are all the gardeners dark-skinned?  Why is nobody else walking in the heat but me?  How many people own dogs – and do they ALL bark at strangers?

I just watched HBO’s “Hemingway and Gellhorn” bio-pic, and I thought it was interesting that Martha Gellhorn made her fame as a war correspondent NOT through writing about troop movements and military strategy, but rather about how war affected the locals.  There’s a scene where Gellhorn (Nicole Kidman) looks at a photo of some fleeing citizens and she remarks on a child’s coat.  “Look, her mother put the child’s best coat on her.  Even in the midst of shelling, she wanted the child to look good.  But in her haste, she buttoned it wrong.”  A whole human interest story in one captured war moment.  Again, it’s those details you need to catch as a writer. Image

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