Sunday, May 31, 2009

Hello South, See You in Two Weeks ... and a Look at "Sin Nombre"

It was a big, long week, this last one. Three days spent in the theaters, five hours spent with a film critic in the Sony Pictures building, whose stories and experiences made me want to curl up in a little ball of unworthiness, a freelancing interview, annnnnnd my idea of tooling around the South for a bit is now going to be a reality, come the middle of June. Tickets are bought.

Per the last part, Mama G and Little Morgan Grice are coming with me.

I was rambling on the phone to Mother Grice, as I'm wont to do, about how I wanted to take this trip, how I hated being idle -- especially here in New York -- and how I thought it might be nice and kind of me to help old Brother Grice out by taking his little Heathen Child off his hands for a bit this summer by making her listen to me howl in the car along to whatever songs I'd like (the Grices take sort of a Top-Down approach to our pop culture sensibilities -- I was never allowed to touch the radio, so neither would she. Hmph.)

So, on I'm going about what towns I'd like to take her to, how I was made to go on a road trip through the South with Papa and Brother G when I was just her age (though, Back Then, Father Grice was so cheap that we camped most of the time -- even in the rain, where I nearly caught pneumonia ... a self-diagnosis). I also took one with Grandmother Grice and my Aunt, which is one of my enduring favorite memories -- a lot of swimming in eel-infested waters, driving golf carts, mimicking Southern drawls, listening to racist tales told by ladies of leisure, all the good stuff.

"Were you not even going to invite me?" said this voice which hadn't had a chance to speak for fifteen minutes, as I spoke so rudely of my upcoming Adventure.

"Ahhh ... What?"

"You weren't even going to invite me?!!!?" The shock, the horror.

"I ... I ... well, don't you have to work???" I said, falling back to my childhood mentality where She'd complain about finances, and I'd look up and say, well, why don't you just work more? This, from a spoiled child to a Mother who was already working 70 hours a week on her feet lifting and turning patients, feeding and caring for them, only to come home to this Worthless Rat of a child, me -- and even worse, my brother.

"Ooohhh, Burra [donkey girl], I should slap you. [Internal: I always used to outrun you when I heard those words.] I can ask for time off! Ahh, Mija, it could be an Adventure. [Ahh, Mama, I love your genes.] I've always wanted to take my time and go through the South, just wander and look at things. Remember when we drove to New York, but we had to go so fast because I HAD TO GET TO WORK, so YOU could live there and explore??? When you were 18, and I was an OLD WOMAN, whose BONES were already tired??? [I could sense the capitalizations -- and hear them.]"

"Do you want to come, Mama?"

I feel a little bad for Little Morgan -- when Mama Grice and I are together with her, oof, if we're tough critics of her when dealing with her separately, it's ... well, it's something when we're tag-teaming; I often think that I'm going soft on her just to counterbalance Mother G's iron fist -- that coming from someone who goes over Baby Grice's homework with her and stares at her with a furrowed brow and asks, simply: "Morgan, what's wrong with you?" Hey, just want her to be the best she can be. (?)

First stop will be Columbus, TX, which is pictured above. Every year from age 8 until ... 16, 17? we'd stop in Columbus on our way to San Marcus, TX for my piano competitions in the early summer; I'd had to go to the bathroom the first year, and Mama G accidentally got off on an exit too soon and we stumbled into this quaint, tiny town. For years, I'd claim with the utmost of certainty, that I was going to live there when I grew up; you could tell that everyone knew everyone and they were always hosting a big arts and crafts fair on the weekend of the piano tourneys, so I thought it was the greatest.

After that, I think we'll go tubing in the Hill Country, then off to my Grandma's place in the woods of Mississippi; she lives there in this beautiful little home, 9 miles deep into the woods, with her husband -- surrounded by her sisters' homes.

When she moved there a few years back, she filed for a formal changing of the name of her street (a street that isn't really a street -- it's a dust road in the middle of the woods) to Patriot's Way (Poplarville, Mississippi). She then adorned the last 3 miles of the 9-mile labyrinth of woods with American flags.

We have interesting conversations, and I started transcribing them a couple Christmases ago to use in my short stories; people often ask me if I have to do it in secret, her fearing that I'll make her look bad somewhere down the line.

Please, the woman will even recite, rote, it seems, the stories back to me to make sure I got every (awful, but great) detail right ... last time, she scurried her tiny little self upstairs to get a printout of an email she recently had written to my grandfather (her ex-husband, twice removed -- a man who left her years ago to move to Brazil with a woman one year older than my own mother ... who later had a son [my 11-year old uncle] who he named Charles, my own father's name -- and worthless Brother G's name, to be thorough -- which we all found out on an "It's a Boy!" card, Grandmother Grice included]). The e-mail contents were hilarious, and she made a copy of it for me, without my asking, so I could keep it and use it whenever I decided to write about it.

This could be as fun as the Colombia Adventure.

Oh, and the movies I saw were: "Sin Nombre" (jury's still out ... maybe a little too close to home, maybe great, maybe a little slow.), "Soul Power" (saw it with the movie reviewer, who I now have quite the crush on) and "Drag Me to Hell."

More on that, later.

A look at "Sin Nombre."

"A psychic once told me ... You'll make it to the U.S.A. not in God's hands, but in the hands of the devil."