One of the “as-yet-untitled” screenplays I’m working on began its life as a novel. The idea for which came to me in much the same way as the poems and story vignettes I wrote about in Summoning the Muse. It was a month or so after the 911 attacks and I had recently miscarried what would have been my first child. As often happens during times of stress or hormonal fluctuations (e.g., the phenomenon of post-partum hair loss), my hair had begun to fall out. In clumps.
In retrospect I’m sure my thinning hair didn’t even warrant a second glance from passersby, but to me, my visible scalp shone like a beacon, announcing to the world that I, a woman in her early thirties, was, in fact, going bald.
We live in earthquake country. I’ve felt small tremors and medium-sized ones, and live with a healthy dose of fear that the long-predicted “big one” will hit California any day now. And yet, if it did, we would be woefully unprepared. It’s really easy to forget you live in earthquake country, until, that is, one strikes, and then it’s hard to imagine you’ll ever forget again. But then you do. You vow to get that earthquake kit together. You swear you’ll replace that funky water stored under three inches of dust in your garage. Really, you will. Right after you tend to something else which seems way more important because it’s actually happening, not theoretically happening.
But the thing about earthquakes is that they are unpredictable. It’s almost crazy not to be always prepared for them to strike because we never have any warning that they will.
Which brings me to two separate but equal events today that led me to drink down that healthy dose of fear I mentioned earlier. One has to do with imagining an earthquake won’t happen; the other has to do with imaging one has.