Monday, January 14, 2008

Tacos and Enchiladas

Posted by Lisa Marnell

I claim ownership: Hockey is a Canadian game. It was invented in Montreal. I’ve been, many times, to the Montreal Amateur Athletic Association where the forbearers to the legendary Montreal Canadians started a team. Hockey is ice and cold and Maurice Richard and Guy Lafleur and tortiere and poutine and Molson.

But, now I play ice hockey in (gulp) Southern California????? I joined a women’s team and played last night, but something didn’t seem right (a lot didn’t seem right) at the rink North of Los Angeles last night.

The details of the scene were off, way, way off. Details, of course, make a scene come alive. This rink is a converted bowling alley, first of all. It’s chopped to bits; locker rooms are spread about in three different parts of the rink. One locker room is down along a hallway I walked past three times. Next, leaving the rink last night, sweaty and spent, the first thing I saw was a looming palm tree. The second thing I saw was a restaurant sign across the street that read: Tacos, Enchiladas, and something about a bull. Palm trees and Tacos? Talk about unique details.

What is memorable when we write, when we develop a scene? I know in my own writing and in other author’s writing, scenes fall flat for me when I don’t have a sense of setting. Or worse, when the setting is dull______(yawn). As I write this week, I will think of those details, those differences in my hockey experience that changed the scene and brought it alive in an enchanting way. For fifteen years, I’ve played in rinks in numerous towns in Massachusetts: Falmouth, Hingham, Kingston, Notheastern, Quincy, Rockland, Roxbury, South Boston, But what rink do you think will pop into my head when I’m eighty years old and I have a craving for Mexican food? You guessed it! The Panorama City rink north of LA.

Unique is memorable. Memorable is good writing.

By the way, my hockey team is an awesome, awesome bunch of women; our Captain brought a cooler full of ice cream sandwiches for after the game. Los Angeles ain’t so bad. In fact, go LA Kings (just kidding).


Lisa said...

That's so funny. Southern California leaves a strong impression. Whenever I think of baseball, I remember Fenway, but I also remember the Red Sox vs. Angels game I went to when I lived in So. California in the early 80's. I couldn't believe everybody around me had nachos and margaritas in plastic cups. Totally threw my whole worldview of hotdogs and cheap beer for a loop, but I'll never forget it. :)

Lisa Marnell said...

Well, it does change your assumptions, doesn't it? Last week Lynne wrote about "seeds" in writing, I have planted more seeds in the past few months living here as I have had so many different experiences, sights, etc. Met different people, different job experiences. In my work as an occupational therapist, I have been SHOCKED how I must advocate for services for children in this area as compared to MA.

It's true that writing comes from processing so many of these images, moments, the bewilderment etc.

Anonymous said...

Palm trees? We're having a nor'easter and you get to look upon palm trees? I'll think of you as I shovel.

Larramie said...

Talk about a change of perspective, Lisa. Your unique hockey experience made me smile and I'll remember it. Then Amy's comment made me LOL and I'll remember that as well.

Lisa Marnell said...

But, Amy, the more things change, the more they stay the same... Evan has a SNOW DAY on Wednesday. A Hollywood movie company brings a couple truckloads of snow to his school and the kids get to play.

The same, but different!

Larramie, it is bizarre when things are just not the way they're supposed to be. But how are things supposed to be. It goes back to writing and creating characters, doesn't it? What makes a person become the person he/she is and think the way they think.


Carleen Brice said...

Great post. That's to all the Writer's Group for hipping me to the book Word Painting. I'm reading it now and enjoying it.

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