Sidetracks to Greatness — Is God in my orange juice? A Guest- post by Mary Katzke

Screenwriter Mary Katzke, our February featured writer, is adapting Kathyrn Harrison’s The Seal Wife for the screen — a process she began describing in her last blogpost. In today’s post, we get another peek into the process…

There is a most annoying drip coming from the bath in this cheapest condo available. Corin has made surprisingly grown up sounds while attempting to ferret its source, thumping tile and scritching porcelain about the small room. Alas, it is not an easy, and so we solve it by closing the door and laying a towel in the crack on the floor. He is awake early with excitement and questions, like “If God is everywhere, then is he in my orange juice?” The ice in the parking lots down here is ridiculous. I look like one of those old women with cleats who hobbles among the boarders and skiers whose effortlessness is stinging. But I will not be flattened without health insurance, no sir. Pride aside, I shuffle him to class each morning and hide my delight at releasing him into the capable hands of some young squirt from Utah.

See you at 4, unless you call.

So back to 1912 Anchorage. Amazing things were happening then, like entire loads of caterpillars and road graders lost to misunderstood tides in our inlet. Whore houses on every corner filled with women with names like Moosehide Annie, Bunch Grass, and Nellie the Pig. Nail pounding contests feature said whores where bets were wagered. And there is our tender Bigelow, so shy and unsure of the insistent, unrelenting drive that propels him to Ada’s legs, only to be swatted away again and again. When he is not trying to understand this mysterious woman, he is building the world’s first weather kite. A magnificent 12 foot square fabric masterpiece to be launched from the bluffs, now called Government Hill. His world is about deciphering. Deciphering women who do not speak, weather which is erratic, with uncharted patterns. I’m savoring the parallels.

Today I had to move out of our condo as it is not available tonight. I am working in a coffee shop with children crawling around at will, mothers talking loudly, Dads popping by with boys and toy robots. I like the blurry bustle of sound and activity- it is comforting. Bigelow has just launched his amazing kite, and his hands are bloodied from the wind ripping the cords from his hands. He has a new object of affection- the tent movie theatre’s organist. Anything to get over the Aleut woman. She is protected by a zealous father, and together they will play a mean trick on him soon. Bigelow is horny, all the time.

I remember being 26. I remember coming to Alaska and falling in love with the light even before the plane landed. That rising feeling that I was onto something exciting and that Minnesota would just never be the same again. I remember wild and eager men. How to capture this spirit on film?

And each time I glance up at the mountain and see a speck of a child swooping toward me, I wonder if it is my son, who asks me each night if he can “fly in my dreams tonight?” And I tell him the same thing every night. “Of course you can- there are no rules in dreams.”

It reminds me of the gigantic magical kite my hero is building. A visual representation of his dreams, his quests.

Mary Katzke has produced over 30 documentaries and feature films. She was interviewed at 49 writers a year ago about her recent film, About Face.

3 thoughts on “Sidetracks to Greatness — Is God in my orange juice? A Guest- post by Mary Katzke”

  1. Oh, Mary, what a wonderful piece!
    I must say I am also in love with Kathryn Harrison's "The Seal Wife."
    It is so very haunting and slow. I interviewed Harrison for an ADN article years ago, and she was so lovely and humble and gracious.

    And the blues of Alaska–I swear that's what keeps me living here through the cruddy and long winters. Sometimes when I'm running in the mountains I look around at the lavendar light and I just feel so blessed.
    Good luck on your film. Can't wait to see it. (Enjoy your son, what a great little guy, sounds like a poet in the making, eh?)
    Cheers and take care,

  2. Children's books- what a great idea! Hold that thought- once I'm out of the historical realm. I'm enjoying Female Nomad right now- she managed to make that work for her. Thanks you both for your support. Final push this week!

Comments are closed.

Scroll to Top