Last night, running son and his friend spent the entire night editing a video project for his film-making class. I just had a sneak preview--its debut is officially at the school film festival tonight. Let me say that it is a David Lynchian, fractured narrative that is hilarious and features Pikachu as a character and also a purloined candy bar. Its final scene shows the protagonist trying to buy a new candybar with a $1,000,000 bill (U.S. currency) in a vending machine, in rising frustration, and some amazing imagery to provide a visual correlative for the frustration (protagonist crying like a baby, a guy spinning around on the floor, another guy doing pushups . . .).
My main concern, to tell you the truth, was that they be quiet so they wouldn't disturb the historian's, or my, sleep. I also, of course, wanted them to finish the film so they'd have an entry for the film festival, so he could get a good grade (what is this "good grade" you speak of?), etc. I heard some doors closing at about six this morning. At 7:30, I went downstairs and asked him if he planned to go to school. "Huh?" he said. "Yes."
When I drove him, I asked what time they had finished. "You don't want to know, mom," he said.
"Was it around six?" I pressed, heartlessly.
"Possibly," he said. They had to come home during second period ("What's second period?" "A.P. Psychology." "Do you need me to check you out?" "What? No.") to burn the DVD.
And now, this wonderful, idiosyncratic, homemade little piece of art. On the DVD title screen, the film's called "Don't lay a finger on my Butterfinger," but on the film festival program, the film teacher, Mrs. Weiler, called it "Experimental Narrative." Running son got her to say it was the best film in the class, but that was when only he and his collaborator were in the room, so who knows if she meant it. It's nine minutes long and pretty much funny and inventive throughout. In a couple of weeks, high school will be over, he will graduate, and the days for the basement film lab will be numbered if not actually over. (That's until I take it over, of course.)
When I first started telling myself the story of my life, there was a lot of improvisation in the narrative. I clearly didn't know how to project a narrative arc. I invited/invented way too many characters for the story to have a clean shape to it. Look at it this way: I'm in the last part of the "raising the kids till they leave home" part of the narration, but there's a sloppy overlap in the "hello! Grandkids!" narrative thread. Moreover, there's a "young woman making her fortune in the world" strand that really got twisted and interrupted, a couple of love stories, and this afternoon, I felt possibly so exhausted by all of it that I had to go to bed with the beginnings of a cold, a couple of DayQuil my momentary stay against confusion.
That was after the morning, when I went over to my daughter's, the brand new mom's, house to hold the baby--my grandson--while she slept. I held him while he slept, fitted my hand over his soft round skull, touched his feet, tucked him beside me and slept with him. The three of us, sleeping on the couch, along with a dachshund, and letting the story be no story, just the quiet of our breathing. I will be repeating this scene with some variations for the next few weeks, getting to know the baby, watching over my daughter a little (this never ends, by the way), with no particular denouement in sight.