Thursday, October 29, 2009


I want to do some thinking. Some imagining, if you will.

I see myself --- well, not myself, really, but a character --- in a mall, maybe in the food court. Yeah, in the food court. That's it. Sitting down, having lunch. Taking a break from work.

A worker named Mary Lou. Not necessarily a worker in the food court, but often there, taking a break from her job in one of the mall stores. Maybe she's even a manager of one of the stores. But in the food court, she is an observer. She at always have her nose in a book --- although she is a reader and occasionally has a book or a magazine with her to look at and read a bit. She doesn't always sit down with somebody else to exchange pleasantries as she eats, although she isn't antisocial or anything like it either. She is just comfortable with her own company and an observer of mankind. This female is in her thirties. She has dark hair, nicely coiffed, and she sports a very pleasant smile. She watches her weight and applies her makeup carefully.

Over the long haul, she has observed two women in the food court quite often when she is there; one, she thinks, is the mother of the other one. They are both Latinas, she thinks. [You need a good description of two women who are Latinas.] In fact, if she had to guess, she would surmise that they are both undocumented individuals, in the United States without a legal reason to be there. [Why does she think that?]

The younger of the two is handicapped, while the other one is not.

The younger one appears to be partially paralyzed on her right side. She can walk okay, although she has a slight limp, and she can use her right hand, although only in a limited way. She also is epileptic. Mary Lou has observed the girl, who she guesses is in her twenties, a multitude of times for over a period of several months now. She has watched her sit there with a soft drink at a table while the older of the two goes off, scrounging for piecemeal work in a fast food eating establishments there and, perhaps, at times, even handouts. Sometimes, the younger of the two has a seizure. She has a variety of different kinds: from simply blanking out momentarily --- from Mary Lou's observation, the most common ---, to making faces and writhing --- which Mary Lou has seen a couple of times, to an all-out grand mal feature --- which Mary Lou has observed just once.

The older woman's name is Isabel and the younger woman, the handicapped one, is Lucia.

I really need to think about where I want to set this. It seems like if I set it in Utah, the place I know best, it gets rejected automatically by agents and editors. Maybe that's just paranoid, but that type of paranoia and seems to have some justification from what I've heard and experienced. Where else might I set it? It seems to me, stories set in New York City seem to have the greatest play in the literary world. I suppose that comes from the prejudices of those who market literature in America, literary agents, who for the most part live in New York.

I've never really lived in New York and don't have a flavor for it. I've lived in Germany. However, that was many many years ago and the premise for this story isn't conducive with setting it there. I've lived in Chicago, temporarily, for only a few months, so I don't have a great deal of experience there, although I have some. Again, that was over thirty years ago, though. After that, I lived in Rockford for a couple of years and then in California for less than a year. Then I lived in Idaho in two cities, Twin Falls for a couple of years and then Boise for six. Otherwise, I've lived in Utah. I lived here growing up and it's looking like I'll live here to die. I like Utah, but maybe it's just because it's familiar. I've had stints in various cities around the nation. Los Angeles. Miami. Dallas and Houston. San Antonio. Portland and Seattle. Minneapolis. Baltimore. Philadelphia and many others I probably haven't remembered.

One place I'm not very familiar with is the American South. You know, places like Alabama and Tennessee. The South is such a vivid setting for so many successful authors. Harper Lee and William Faulkner. So many others. John Grisham. I have been to Atlanta Georgia and to North Carolina. I've also been to Maine --- can't mention the name without thinking of Stephen King --- and New Hampshire. Beautiful territory.

All of these places, yet the place I want to really set my story is here in this valley in this city. Why is that? I guess it's just my nature. Too bad there is such prejudice about this place and its people, justified or not.

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