Playlists for Plays and Prosetry – Installment 1: As the Day is Long
by Selene Santiago
Music is my writing go-to. Before I sit myself down to write, I begin a playlist. Atmosphere, lyric, tone – I create a world of sound that becomes my writing companion. Although the process of creating, and listening to, music is personal, I thought it would be fun to begin a monthly writing prompt set to music.
For the duration of 2014, I will create playlists on our PITC spotify account that will have a certain theme and use the music as inspiration to create a new piece – a poem, a journal entry, a feeling, a story – whatever is aroused by the music.
This first installment is in the key of atmospheric chill: songs that lead my mind to a dreamy state of pensive peacefulness, the kind of place where I absorb the state of presence in being present, where memories are created, recorded, stored.
If you’d like to share your creation as inspired by this playlist, we’d love to see/hear/publish it! Send it to firstname.lastname@example.org by 5/15/14 and we’ll include it in the next installment of Playlists for Plays & Prosetry.
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Memory is a Home Recording
These are all video recordings…don’t let the numbering fool you, this is in no particular order.
[the film quality is 1970s golden saturate.]
After a long pause of silence and darkness, the space is illuminated by projection and sound.
There is a flicker as the projection blurs, then focuses and rotates quickly. It swings from rorschach wet cement, then lifts to eye level. In the journey we catch young feet running and tanned limbs.
The camera lands on a woman standing in front of a pool that breathes splashing children. Under the umbrella of a pink smile and yellow swim cap, she wears a neon floral bathing suit and half kimono in green. With nails that mirror her lips, she raises her cocktailed hand and waves with an arm hula-hooping mixed bangles of gold and bamboo. Those pink lips reveal two rows of perfectly white teeth that let loose a laugh we can’t hear. The camera laughs with her. Someone says something that pulls her attention away from the camera. She turns to the distraction and listens. Responds. She looks back at the camera and smiles wanly. She steps out of frame.
The camera pans from left to right and takes in the scene: kids run, one slips; a boy adjusts his goggles before he cannonballs in his red shorts over the heads of girls screaming in joyous terror as they cover their slick heads with wet arms. A mother at the edge of the pool towels off her kid and checks his diaper. Adults talk in twos and threes and fours, all with drinks in their hands. Some smoke. The woman in the floral bathing suit stands in one of these packs and laughs.
The camera lands on a man in a Hawaiian shirt, beige shorts, and sandals. He grills food on a brick barbecue pit. He pulls foil off of a glass platter revealing red, glistening hamburger patties in perfectly shaped discs. He scoops up each patty and they sizzle on the hot wire rack. The grill smokes vigorously and its plumes grow. The camera follows the smoke past the grill. Past the man. Past the green foliage that surrounds the perimeter of this moment and into the black power lines contrasted by blue sky. The smoke melts into white clouds and the camera settles for a moment, as if trying to distinguish…smoke…or cloud? before it cuts out.
[the film quality is early cell phone recording. Grainy and dark.]
The camera jiggles on and we see a pair of purple unicorn slippers and a pair of mismatched socks. Hushed, childish giggles are heard. The lens manifests two rolling balls of fur, one crème-brown, the other, calico black orange and white. Two cats are play-fighting vigorously—tumbling, clawing, biting, back pawing at soft underbellies. The giggling camera operator tries to keep the thrashing animals in frame but it’s impossible.
A woman’s voice off camera shouts, “Maya, have you seen my phone?!” and the little, giggling voices add in hushed commands of: “turn it off!” “I told you not to—” “hurry up!” The cats yowl and continue to rumble on in the background until the screen goes black.
[the film quality is high res cell phone recording. Crisp and bright.]
A world of various greens cut with white light and kaleidoscope blues. In between deep intakes of breath, there is the low murmur of natural life being crunched by quick booted feet.
The camera captures things as quick as the walking. Brush, trees, trail, cabins, passersby, birds, sounds.
“We’re almost there, buddy…”
The camera swivels to the upturned face of a caramel colored, happy dog trotting beside brown legs. The dog licks its nose and, open-mouthed, looks forward as if sensing the destination is near.
The camera turns from tall, dry grass to a wall of rock in various warm shades of topaz streaked with rust, to an open space of water falling into a pool. The camera pauses then proceeds slowly but the dog continues at full speed, right into the collection of wetness beneath the falls. There is a low, satisfied laugh. The ground alters its sound from crisp to warm. A rock is found and sat upon.
The camera steadies intently and closely on the ground – there is life. A rollie-pollie cruises by and is picked up with two fingers. It instinctually rolls into the palm of the hand and we watch it balled in the creases until it unfurls its wriggling legs and it kicks backside up. It travels the length of the palm and traverses the fleshy landscape to the back of the hand. Fingers outstretched, the hand rests on the ground and the rollie-pollie descends back to earth.
An intake of breath – the kind that reaches to the tips of your lungs and says, “I’m here… I’m present…” – whispers into the recording and the camera slowly ingests time. Zoom in on the dog tromping and splashing through the pond, ecstatically mixing his doggy saliva with mountain water. Zoom out on the water falling. Strangers arriving, departing. Strong legs ending in wool socks and worn hiking boots stretch out. The camera is set on a beating chest and breathes in three before it goes out.