Tennessee Williams and a Happy New year

“Luck is believing you are lucky.” Tennessee Williams (lifted from a recently read cooking blog…)

(Apparently most people that use this quote do not reference it or know where it comes from…sorry for this research gaff . I will now continue to be obsessed by its origin…)

I have been a Tennessee Williams fan for as long as I can remember. He was my favorite writer in high school where I wrote the final paper for my advanced English class on TW after seeing his then latest play with Lynn Redgrave – I do not at the moment remember the name of the play (nor know the origin of this above quote) — which has elements of an earlier play of his called Orpheus Descending the movie known as Fugitive Kind. After a little googling I’ve discovered it is called The Seven Descents of Myrtle. What Williams has always offered me is deep insight to human behavior. He could make the most ridiculous, unsavory, unfamiliar characters come to real life soundly with human frailties and strengths – the intimate intricacies we often miss because we are so wrapped up in our own bullshit. Is it any surprise that Brando portrayed his characters so very well…with a total depth of feeling and understanding??? Is it any mistake that those characters are often ridiculous-seeming; far on the fringe of society yet perfectly relatable to every one of us through viable emotions???

The most interesting thing about writing a paper on Tennessee Williams was that there was then ONLY a single article available as biographic material. I remember clearly those pages written in Time Magazine in March of 1959. I was mesmerized. Using a modern writer so intrigued me. I was not researching or reading about an old, dead “still relevant” person but someone living who was well-versed in modern problems; issues facing my world.

In my recent college stint I read a speech from A Streetcar Named Desire in a theater class that spoke to Tennessee Williams preternatural understanding of women’s issues – being treated like second-class citizens like Afro-Americans and homosexuals/lesbians. That speech is hidden on the page (I am not sure it was used in the film) boasted as a message about young gay men (another key theme of TW’s) but when you read the play it pops out as a hidden jewel. In The Roman Spring of Mrs. Stone his empathy with the sexuality of older women mirrors Streetcar somewhat, but addresses fear of abandon more than fear of sex and/or mental illness as Streetcar and Summer and Smoke do.

I literally just watched Fugitive Kind with Marlon Brando, Anna Magnani, Joanne Woodward, Maureen Stapleton and Victor Jory – what a cast!! Two key female characters – both on the fringe of society, one trying to enter mainstream the other just trying to stay alive – and two key male characters: one totally out of the ordinary yet bespeaking common humanity; the other a sick, mean old man filled with intolerance/Southern pride.

Now I really know why I liked Tennessee Williams. The above quote is simple and clear. He knew people; he also knew life – how truly simple it can/should be/is…a simple belief that you are lucky makes it happen. It only took me 60 years to get to that concept. This is the first time I’ve read it, despite reading almost everything the man ever wrote including his poetry…

I had some friends over last week just to share some food and hang out. After having so many parties at my sister’s in Virginia I felt party-deprived here so I created one – as much to test my physical mettle (could I clean and get the place ready??) as to my emotional fortitude. Everyone kept telling me to sit down while I was happily preparing food for the table and generally being a Pearl Mesta like hostess of DC legend. I was happy as a clam – truly. I worked hard for three days and did not feel fatigued; rather I felt energized and happy to be so. The challenge was essential to my well-being – it is propelling me forward into this new year – 2011. Numerologists would call this year one for creating a foundation, something for building. Fours (2+0+1+1=4) are foundations…But I digress…Nor did I feel fatigued the next day. OK — I took a nap but the cat insisted –SHE was worn out from all her socializing.

Several people commented on my balcony “garden” and the status of my plants. I tend to kill delicate plants so I have in recent years opted to find living things that can withstand being ignored and a western exposure in LA which can be deadly esp. in a drought or very hot summers, of which we’ve had many in the last decade. My plants are very happy right now –the last few weeks has really been wonderful. Friend Michael said, “Mother Nature has really given them a boost, eh????

“Yes,” I replied to the first inquiry. Each pant is flowering — from the several “Christmas” cacti. The geraniums of each color – red, pale pink, bright pink, middle pink, white, fuchsia, and the coral-red shade called geranium; the kalenchoe all from the same mother plant; even the grandmotherly jade plant is flowering…The only plants not showing their gorgeous flowers are the succulents that bloom so radiantly in April/May…

“I am really thrilled when I open the blinds every day. Bursts of color greet me each morning…”

Someone asked, ”How did you get your plants to be so happy?? You feed them right??” “No, I told them to…I told my plants they had to mirror my health progress…and they did.”

I could see the looks on the faces of everyone. Even the most nuts of my friends thought that was nuts. But hey, I talk to my plants, and they listen; they were ignored for the better part of one plus year when I was anemic because I could barely fill let alone lift the watering can to care for them:  they nearly all died. Monica actually watered them for me a few times because she felt so badly about their near demise…she concurred about their previous state at the party.

So like Tennessee Williams said, “Luck is believing you are lucky.” I wish you all that kind of luck for year 2011 – please believe in yourselves. And may this bring you enjoyment, peace, health, happiness and whatever else you desire.

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About Vendela Vents!

A natural born kvetch with a skill in writing, I've decided to start a blog to share my elemental reality, hoping to tap into some univeral truths.
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6 Responses to Tennessee Williams and a Happy New year

  1. chele welsh says:

    Happy New Year Warrior Woman!
    And that goes for your amazing cat, Fortune, too!

  2. cousin wilma says:

    YOU SOUND GREAT AND MAY THE NEW YEAR BE GREAT TO YOU–AND YOU TO IT. MUCH LOVE, COUSIN WILMA

  3. monica says:

    Hi Wendy. I am so happy that the New Year has started out blooming for you! It was so beautiful to look out on your balcony
    with all those rich bright colors but better than that was to see you look amazing and strong!!
    Love and many blessings to you in 2011.

  4. Eileen Mandell says:

    I love the quote and love that you’re feeling lucky. I live by that kind of thinking—i.e. you’re lonely if you think you’re lonely, capable of great things if you believe it to be so and so on. I don’t know how long it took me to get there, but I’m glad you’ve arrived. Have a colorful, blooming and healthy 2011!

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