Tuesday, December 22, 2009

from the outside

I've been a bad blogger. 'Tis the season. My dislike for the holidays is exacerbated by the dark days. I get in a funk and do nothing. Yesterday was the shortest day of the year, today we begin our swing closer to the sun and I am grateful.

In my dreams last night I was a little girl and looking through the window at a Christmas tree. In my heart all the old hurt woke up and when I woke up, the longing of the child I was was in bed with me. Yesterday I spent the day with my cousin Michael who is in town for the holidays and we had a long conversation about faith and how the religion of my childhood, The Jehovah's Witnesses, was the anti-faith. Even while I was in it, I hated my religion. The god I was supposed to believe in was an unreachable absence instead of a presence. Even as a child I doubted the existence of a greater power and in my mind mocked the religious around me. I wanted to believe because my family was made of believers and a part of me was scared that when the end of the world came, I would be left in the fire storm and my family would be lost to be forever.

I think of as a child looking through the windows of houses with Christmas trees and feeling guilty for wanting one so badly. I loved the smell of the pine needles and the way the ornaments reflected the flashing lights. I wanted to know what is was like to shake gifts and try to guess what was inside. My parents explained to me why we didn't celebrate but it made no sense to me. I couldn't figure out why the god I was supposed to love and fear was such a mean dude who didn't want little kids to have any joy. I dreaded the holidays every year, knowing that my jealousy and sadness were things I had to keep to myself lest I was found out in Jehovah's eyes and damned to not be in the "new order." I knew all the words to Christmas Carols and sang them in my head.

When as a teenager we finally left the religion, there was enough of the indoctrination left in me to make our attempts are entering a life of holiday celebration painful. I remember receiving gifts for the first time publicly (I always had family members who would sneak X-Mas gifts to me. I would feel guilty and excited about taking them), and how it somehow made me feel dirty and fake. I believed in nothing. I was more comfortable standing outside the looking in, unobserved, on the joy of others.

I still have a little of that as an adult. Or, a lot of it. I love that family members are in town right now and that in the evenings this week we'll go make tamales with my grandmother. But once January second arrive I'll feel more alive and responsive.

Thursday, December 10, 2009

the featured artist

I am the artist of the month at The Latent Print. Check it out.

More rain is on the way so I should get outdoors today. Walk a little. Enjoy the blue of the sky while I can. I look forward to the Winter Solstice. The sky darkening so early throws me into a hibernating mood. I really am a summer/spring person. I was talking to my friend Ilya the other day about how much I hate December and he told me that the poet Anna Akhmatova hated the month of August. Last year my December was a boozy blur. The year before that I spent my December at the boxing gym, exhausting myself. This year I'm dealing.

My grandfather is in the hospital. He's 84 years old, a World War II vet. His mind seems to be slipping. He told me the other day I'm 84 years old, I survived World War II, your poetry is really something, they're doing everything they can do. Sad as it was to hear his rambling, there was something poetic about it.

I made Shepherd Pies last night for Beau and Cecil. Cecil is vegan, Beau is gluten-free. I had quite the culinary adventure yesterday making two different batches of food at the same time . I had the vegan spoon and the gluten-free spoon. I had the vegan gravy and potatoes and the g-free batch. It drove me a little crazy but the result was that B & C loved the meal. Cooking is soothing to me. I really love being in the kitchen and creating meals from scratch. It satisfies me.

Tuesday, December 8, 2009

after the rain

The storm yesterday was gorgeous and sometimes scary. I don't remember the last time there was wind like that.

My mom called this morning to tell me about tree damages at their house. A large palm tree toppled and sadly, my favorite tree, the Jacaranda, is damaged and leaning to one side. I love that tree. I climbed it as a child and even when I got older I would sit in it. My parents have swings and hammocks hanging from it. Every Spring the tree is covered in thousands of tiny violent flowers that like like little horns. As soon as then fall they begin to brown at the edges and carpet the front lawn. I think the reason purple is my favorite color is because of that tree. The seed pods from the tree are rock-hard and shaped like oysters, but chocolate brown. If you can get one to open the seeds are tiny and covered in a papery sheath. My old chapbook The Papered Seed Inside the Stone directly referenced those seed pods. The tree trunk rises about six feet before splitting. Right at the split it forms a saddle. When we were young my dad would sit us in the saddle. I don't know it that was so much fun, but it was. We'd sit and my dad would run around the tree. I hope the tree can be saved. I talked to my dad, he's going to see if it can be saved. Mourning a tree before it has even fallen. It is one of those mornings. No matter what I do, December always punches me in the gut.

Monday, December 7, 2009


It was lovely to wake up to rain this morning. I plan on staying in and finishing edits on my Home for the Holidays piece for So Say We All.

I woke up after dreams of long-distance travel. My horoscope this morning said to stop daydreaming about travel and make some plans. I wish. I am at the weird point of having no idea what's coming next in my life. I know I'm going to Key West. I know my friend Geoff is moving in with me next month. That's about it. In the fantasy camp of my mind I imagine putting everything in storage and taking off for a long time. I wonder if I've become comfortable in my life or if I'm just scared of taking risks because the last few times I have, things have not gone too well in the end. I was talking to my friend Andy last week about how in my mind I have this idea of who I am and how I live but I don't really actualize that self. Or, it's just December and I always get the existential blues this time of year.

Saturday, December 5, 2009


I don't know how my life ends up so damn busy and I really have very little to show for it. Last night I went out for drinks with my good friend E. He thinks I should write a book. Excellent. As I am trying and not completely succeeding. Arg. I haven't touched the novel in some weeks. But I have been working on some poems and other random things. E thinks I should write a book a out my life and just tell funny stories since I am apparently am full of them. We'll see.

I'm going to a publishing panel this morning.

'tis the season for getting this song stuck in my head. I get it stuck in my head every damn year. Weirdly, I kind of like it.

Thursday, December 3, 2009

what the doctor said

I had dinner the other night with my dad. Our family doctors are a father-son team. The father doctor is nearing 80 and very old-school in his thinking. My dad had lunch with the father doctor last week and my father was voicing his usual concern that his daughters won't ever get married or reproduce. The father doctor told my dad "Elizabeth will always be single. She, like women who ride horses, obtains her sexual satisfaction from her hobby, writing poetry." Wow. I would write a lot more often if that was the case.

Monday, November 30, 2009

holiday madness

Not really.  The holiday weekend was very mellow.  I spent much of it on the sofa engrossed in the new Barbara Kingsolver book The Lacuna. I dig it so far.  I'm not as into it as I was Prodigal Summer but I have a lot of respect for the work that went into it.  In style it really does remind me of Latin American literature. Much of it takes place in Mexico and there is a bit of Spanish thrown in.  I've found one mistake so far.  Early in the book the narrator describes the horns of a mariachi band but at the time the narration is set, horns hadn't yet been introduced to mariachi bands.  Hollywood did that in the 30s.  I can't find any documentation of this on the internet but I remember my old mariachi teacher telling me this when I played in the the group. So it must be true.

I've been in a quiet place, contemplative.  The holiday season always does this to me, the same sad song.  I'm over all of my old holiday angst but the part that is still a little girl hates the holidays as much as she did as a child.  It was the season of alienation back then.  Of all the things I endured as a Jehovah's Witness child, holidays were the worst.  It's like muscle memory, but with emotions.  I feel slightly panicked and want to hibernate. And I have been.  I think over the weekend I left the apartment twice.  But I did do some writing so I don't feel too guilty.  And I save money when I stay home.

Bon Iver

Monday, November 23, 2009

new new new

A new idea is brewing and I dig it very much.  Been taking notes on it all weekend, and I think it will be a winner.  I've been changing how I see things a bit. Last night (as I watched the AMAs, rock on Adam Lambert and what were you thinking J-Lo?) I wrote down my ideas, started a new folder. I'm excited.

I cried through night two of Ray Lamontagne at the Orpheum Saturday night.  His show was slightly different Saturday night, not as chatty and way more emotional. The blues came out in his voice, husky, thrilling. Our seats we better, in the mezzanine.  We could almost see his facial features as he sang.

Open Heart Surgery
Brian Jonestown Massacre

Saturday, November 21, 2009

sung out, wrung out

Last night I finally got to see Ray Lamontagne for the first time, at the Orpheum in LA. I wept. I was also incredibly tired so extra emotional. I loved the show. Just him and his guitar and that voice that enters me like a ghost or knife and tears me up inside. The theatre was gorgeous, but I didn't care. All I cared about was seeing the man whose voice has had me entranced for years. He was chattier than I thought he would be. He was funny in a quiet way and seemed not as shy as I imagined him to be. B and I had seats way up high, almost at the back of the theatre. I wanted at several points to punch people in the crowd who were shouting out idiotic things. It may be one of my pet peeves at concerts, though I know it comes with the territory of live music. But he was soft-spoken and when the crowd was shouting and yelling out their absurdities I couldn't hear him and was annoyed. He sang almost all of my favorite songs. I cried through at least half the set, with joy, and some deep sorrow his voice brings out in me. The collar of my shirt was soaking wet by the time we left. The people we were with wanted to go out after for a drink but I needed to be in my solitude and contemplation, I still am in it. Holy crap. I'm thrilled we get to see him again tonight and that our seats are better. We're still rather high up but not as high up as last night. I was emotionally exhausted after the show and slept deeply. I wish poetry had the same effect on crowds of people. It should, but people don't know how to listen.

This morning I've been sitting with some Alberto Rios poems and getting lost in the language:

The curious lavender attentions to itself of the jacaranda
Stopped me, as through the leaves and small avenues

In late summer I made my way in love toward you.
The trees flowering was an intimacy I had not earned,

I can barely breathe when language like that is before me. I wish I could wear it as perfume, put it on my wrists so all day I could stop to smell it pulsing along the vein there.

I am so ready for more life.

Friday, November 20, 2009

friday I'm in love

Super excited to see Ray Lamontagne tonight! I woke up at six like a kid going to Disneyland.  Yay!!!

Thursday, November 19, 2009

bah, morning

Note to self: no red wine on weeknights.

Last night The Latent Print had their submission party at the Whistle Stop.  It sounds very kinky and all but no such wonderment.  It was a about getting people to submit to the journal.  They premiered the art film of my poem love poem to myself since no one else has bothered to write one. I was really nervous about seeing it and slurped down two glasses of wine rather quickly and am paying the price for it this morning,  Don't do that. But the little film was great!  It was weird seeing myself on screen but totally kind of cool too.  I may have to go into acting. 

There was also a late-night adventure involving being locked out of my apartment.  Because of recent nocturnal activity that has me hyper-vigilant, there was no way to break in. I considered putting a ladder on the roof of my car to break into the kitchen window but instead was able to wake up my apartment manager for the spare key.

Last night at the Whistle they also showed a short film called Fishbowl, directed by the late Kayo Hatta.  It was pretty damn good.  I enjoyed the writing in it a lot.  Very much had a sense of place and time and the characters were rockin'.

Yesterday was a good day.  It has been a good week.  Going to LA tomorrow for the weekend and I'm crazy excited to see Ray Lamontagne.  How about a little Ray for the blog today? Sounds goof, sounds very good.  I love him.  I'm going to cry my eyes out if he sings this song.

Tuesday, November 17, 2009


My heart broke  yesterday when a friend posted a link on her Facebook page about the death of a 19 year old gay man, Jorge Steven Lopez Mercado.  He was found burned, dismembered and decapitated outside of his hometown of Cagua, Puerto Rico.  As horrifying as this hate crime was, the comments of police investigator Angel Rodriguez were horrendous: people who lead this type of lifestyle need to be aware that this will happen. I woke up a few times last night thinking of poor Jorge and what he had suffered. I thought of his family and cried.  I called my grandmother in Puerto Rico and she hadn't even heard about the crime, which is strange because PR is the kind of island (in my experience) where news and gossip flies faster than light.  

It was a horrible day for news yesterday, I had many reasons to cry.  I cried over the death of Shaniya Davis.  I cried for Jorge. I used to have a rule to not watch or read the news because I am overly sensitive and will have nightmares. 

My heart goes out to the families of Jorge and Shaniya.

Monday, November 16, 2009

driving backwards

I keep having dreams about driving in reverse. I'm good at it my dreams but it makes me uncomfortable.  According to an online dream dictionary: To dream that you are driving a car in reverse, suggests that you are experiencing major setbacks in your goals. I feel pretty good about my goals. I'm slacking on a few projects I should be taking care of but that's nothing new. 

Busy week.  Sleep hasn't been coming easy but I'm working on it. The weather is beautiful.  I'm looking for things and more often than not, finding them. 

Saturday, November 14, 2009

work, more work, and then some

Things are taking off in lovely ways.  I haven't blogged in a few but only because I've been so damn busy and have been writing a lot in the mornings. Since I've blogged last I had my reading at Open Door Books, I read with the love Diane Gage.  Last night I read at Freedoms of Expression, a new event sponsored by the So Say We All, Train of Thought and the ACLU.  I was blown away by how many people showed up!  It was a packed house. There were singers, slam poets, prose writers and me..  The uber-talented Rob Williams read a great piece about marriage equality. The event may be a regular thing and it should be. 

I went to LA on Thursday to see a reading at the central library and ran into Lorna Dee Cervantes. We hung out afterward for a few hours and had some beautiful conversations.  I love her, I love her work and I love everything about her.  Yeah, I'm gushing, but how freaking rad is it to get to hang out with one of your favorite poets?  Juan Felipe Herrera 

Tonight I filmed a piece for the Latent Print.  We filmed one of my poems for their show at the Whistle Stop on Wednesday.  I am damn excited.  Pretty much it will look like I have a twin sister but that's all I can say, you'll have to watch it. I love performing, I can't lie. The show starts at 8, it will be brilliant. Brilliant!! Come.

Still having sleep issues from my intruder, I wrote a poem about it trying to move through it, around it, to get to the other side.  I fall asleep fine but if there are any other noises in the apartment I lose my shit and have mini panic attacks. It will get better.

Spent some loving time yesterday at the Peace School with La Creep and Baby D.  Peace school is pretty damn cool.  I got to be a pre-schooler again.  I painted rocks, sat in a tiny, tiny chair and had a lot of fun reading the kiddies Chika Chika Boom Boom. I used different voices.  Love kids, but being around so many I think my ovaries sealed themselves shut.  In loving news, Baby D has decided he is a super hero.  When asked what he is fighting for he says social justice. Hell. Yeah.


Sunday, November 8, 2009

come to me

I have reading today at 3pm at Open Door Books with poet Diane Gage.  An open mic will follow.

Feeling alive, there is so much color around me.

Friday, November 6, 2009

Thursday, November 5, 2009

I attempt to catch up

I have been weirdly busy but not really busy at all.  I've been working on new writing all week, some new poems and a couple of longer pieces.  My life fills up quickly too, with all the friends I attempt to keep up with and then the down time I try (and often fail) to take for myself.  

I have been having trouble sleeping.  I had an unfortunate incident a couple of weeks ago with an intruder in my home in the middle of the night and ever since I've been very jumpy.  Every little noise wakes me up and as a result I have been exhausted during the days.  I wasn't hurt, only terrified, there are worse things.

I didn't get a scholarship to Key West Literary Seminar but I did get a very nice financial aid package.  I have to pay for my own airfare and it is pretty dang expensive.  I have a decision to make, car insurance or Key West?  Key West wins.  

I have a reading this Sunday at 3pm at Open Door Books in Pacific Beach.  An open mic will follow.  I will debut some new stuff I dig, try it on, see how it feels. The reading starts at 3pm. Come on down, say hello!

I just heard Cafe Tacuba is coming to House of Blues on the 25th of this month.  Can I handle it?  Can I?!?!

Tuesday, November 3, 2009

the dead, the living, other incidentals.

I made my Day of the Dead altar this weekend.  On the altar I have my grandfather, Michael Jackson, Patrick Swayze, B's grandmothers and a couple of friends of his who passed last year.  I love the ritual of creating the altar.  Last night I lit the candles and sat in front of it for a long time remembering my grandfather.  Pretty beautiful.  The full moon had me a little crazy last night  Full moon and Day of the Dead, intense.

Halloween was a blast.  I can't post my entire costume because it was pretty racy.  B was the Joker in the nurse uniform which people loved. I never saw the Dark Night so it was out of context for me.  We had people over to my place for dinner and then took the crowd the the Whistle where we danced our booties off.  Pretty great Halloween, today, Tuesday, I may finally have recovered.  There were a couple of minor adventures including a man who followed me out of the bar screaming Latina! Latina! He then told B You want to keep your Latina happy?  Keep her in the kitchen! I am no one's Latina.  I belong to me, quite happily.

Lots of writing planned today.  Locking myself in my office until this afternoon.  I'm reading my Heroes poem at the opening of the Chula Vista City Council Meeting today at 4.

Thursday, October 29, 2009

whoa, stripes

My Halloween costume is amazing.  I don't know if I can post pictures of it but I tried it on last night and it blew my mind.  My chaps: rad.  The gloves: rad.  My tail: RAD!!!!! Last year I was quite prudish with my Virgin Mary costume, this year, I look like a stripper on safari.  But whatever, I look amazing. 

Te Voy a Mostrar
Julieta Venegas

Tuesday, October 27, 2009

holy bovines

And then I get busy, way busy, super busy, wonderful busy and forget to blog. Or, just don't have the energy.  My tweets stay strong because I am kind of addicted to twitter.

I've been translating the poetry of Nara Manur and digging it very much. I've been attempting to do one rough translation a day.  I picked up her book in Cuba a couple years ago.  For some reason I had it on the shelf on my bookshelf I keep for books I'm embarrassed to have read. Pretty good shit.  I called my friend Laura in Cuba and she is putting me in touch with Mansur, I hope, so that I can run a few things by her. 

I've been asked to read the poem I wrote for KPBS Local Hispanic Hero Awards at the Chula Vista City Council meeting next week.  Pretty cool.  

Working on my Halloween costume with my friend Andy's girlfriend who is a costumer.  Today I should finish the zebra chaps and start designing the make-up.  I don't now what we're doing yet for Halloween but I'm sure it will be brilliant.  We can't drink as much this year because B has to work Sunday morning but that is probably a good thing considering the hangover last November 1.  I love my costume, I love it!! I was prancing around the apartment complex last night showing it off to the neighbors.  I make a damn good zebra and kind of love having a tail.

I miss La Creep and haven't seen her since the Cat Power concert almost 2 months ago.  We talk daily but I miss her in my guest room  and I miss her on my sofa watching bad reality dating shows on VH1, she is wonderful to feel morally superior with. She may be coming down November 8 for a reading I think I'm doing.  The bookstore that scheduled it scheduled it last year and I've never heard from them again.   

Love Will Tear Us Apart
Joy Division

Thursday, October 22, 2009

the heart is not a parking garage with attendants

Last night I sat on the balcony looking to see if any meteors were straggling from the shower the night before.  I've spent many important moments on that little balcony.  When I first moved in to this place, my heart broken, I remember not being able to sleep.  I hadn't set up my bed yet or anything that all.  The entire apartment was in disarray and my heartbeat was a gong of fail, fail. I sat on the little balcony for hours, from the middle of the night until dawn, wrapped in a blanket wondering what this new home would bring me.  Great things, shelter and a kind of softness.

Thinking this morning on leaps of faith and bravery.  I used to be braver than I am now. I wasn't ever afraid of taking risks. I may be swinging back.  I forgot the flip side of joy is terror, what makes the joy intoxicating and dangerous. Something to think about, not just on my balcony, not just waiting for things to fall out of the sky.

Perfect Day
Lou Reed

Tuesday, October 20, 2009

heh, heh, balls

Bad blogger! I'm tired, very very tired and haven't yet fully recovered from my Berkeley days.  I have to get to the Korean Spa in the next couple of days and sweat out the tired, naked.

Yesterday was my dad's birthday. Last night we went bowling and watched the Chargers get desroyed by the Broncos. We were at a bowling alley in Chula Vista, everyone wore Charger gear, even me.  Walking into the bar/bowling alley I felt like I was back in high school and all of the Charger gear-wearing people were the people who made me feel like a total freak and weirdo.  I mentioned that to Cecil and he reminded me I probably annoyed the crap out of them with my freak and weirdness, fair enough.

B and Cecil were with me, I love them and love having them as my male besties.  When they get together they speak a language I really can't comprehend, the language of sports nerds. I'm still figuring out what they meant by someone having a glimmer. They talk about coaches and players as if they know them, I am fascinated. One of the few times I have nothing to say.

Bowling with the family was good.  My baby sister flew in from Las Vegas to surprise my dad for his birthday and he was overjoyed to see her and have all of his "babies" together.  I am the worst bowler in the world.  I also yell at my bowling ball.  My beautiful family has fun together. I am very, very lucky.

Some years I care about football, some years I don't.  This year I don't care, although I still kind of follow along and get disappointed when the Chargers lose.  This Sunday the Chargers will play the Chiefs and I'm trying to figure out a good bet for me and my friend R to have on the outcome of the game. Humiliation is key but now that the Chargers are sucking ass so brilliantly and without remorse, I fear I may be the one humiliated.

Sufjan Stevens

Sunday, October 18, 2009

thanks for the crazy and the love

Back from my days with Geoff Bouvier in Berkely, very tired and very happy.  I really do wonderful friends and my time with Geoff was wonderful.  We had many many great conversations about poetry and such and also spent a great amount of time in comfortable silence together, a sign of true friendship, at least for me. Home I have a lot running through my mind and it will take a few days to decompress from the experience.  But it was great. I have so much to think about.

Home and happy, B picked me up last night, made me a great dinner while I did my best to meld my body into the sofa.  He is coming back in a few to make me waffles.  My life is pretty kick-ass. This afternoon I have my novel group and am looking forward to the minds coming together.  This evening quiet time.

she was only in it for the rain
Rocky Votolato

Friday, October 16, 2009

language, self, work

I hit the weather jackpot here in Berkeley.  It is gorgeous out, even warm. Yesterday I spent a few hours in the sunshine with my darling-est friend Sharline.  Last night my friend Geoff had a poetry salon at his borrowed house and a few people came over to discuss his manuscript of poetry and I did a whole lot of thinking.

Anyone who knows me knows I'm usually pretty chatty and have an opinion or comment about everything.  Last night was very different and I spent as much time observing myself as I did the group dynamic and conversation around me.  In the group discussion a very specific language was being spoken, academic and informed by years of studying the same kinds of language and how to dissect said language; and at the heart if it, poetry.  I don't speak that language of criticism or academics.  That isn't to say that I don't have critical thoughts or opinions but because of how I live and how I have lived the years when I could have been in school, my relationship to poetry and the language surrounding it is very much my own.  

Last night after the group left I mentioned to Geoff how I felt about being a kind of outsider. He was of the opinion that if I go back to school now I'll be able to adopt that language but keep what makes me Lizz. I don't know. I don't know if I want it.  I love my life and my experiences, how they've shaped me.  Maybe a part of me is a little scared of school but I'm not completely sure. I really am at peace and enjoy the physicality of my work.  Working with my body satisfies me.  Climbing ladders and scaffolding makes me happy.  At the end of each work day I have product, you can see what I've done, the progress and transformation.  I don't know that I'm ready to give that up. 

I've thought about going back to school lately, especially with there being so little work.  I have all these weird conflicting thoughts about it.  Something I'm going to have to think about for a long time. I've been out of school for a decade.  I could use the money I would spend on school traveling.  I don't want to be in debt.  Maybe these are all lame excuses.

I was having another conversation with a poet recently about physical work.  I mentioned my little philosophy of how for centuries we as humans have had very physical relationships with living; how life had in it very physical acts just so as a species we could survive the elements and ourselves. More recently in history physical labor and work haven't been as necessary; we drive, pick our fruit at markets, live in homes already built, travel sitting down. A restlessness has also risen in humans; distractions abound, extreme distraction, extreme dissatisfaction.  I think humans miss work but most aren't aware of it yet.  Biologically, we are made for work and few of us satisfy that biological need. I satisfy that need in me almost daily.  But my mind often goes hungry.

Getting back to language.  I thought for a long time last night before I finally fell into a weird sleep and strange dreams.  Do I want the language spoken around me last night?  Not really.  I'd maybe like to understand it better but I don't really want to be fluent in it.  The languages I'm fluent in are enough for me, at this point.  I'm intimate with the language of self and desire.  I'm pretty damn fluent in joy, if that makes any sense.  Rhythm and a type of meter are in my blood, gifted through the songs my parents sang to us growing up.  And Spanish of course, the language my emotions are in.  

Also, freaking small world.  Last night I sat next to a man at the salon who smelled like someone I used to love which was distracting as hell.  Chatting afterwards it turns out he knows two people I know and love.  Yes universe, you have my attention and thank you for the details.

Thursday, October 15, 2009


I am so damn happy.  Not jumping up and down happy or even happy-dance happy but a bone-deep happy that comes with a great peace. I've been on the verge of this for some time I think. Berkeley makes it sing it me.  Last night after a quiet evening of food and conversation I was sitting outside under some trees looking at the sky and I realized how much I love my life and how much I love the people in it. This is where I want to be in my life, this happy place of appreciation. May it last.

Wednesday, October 14, 2009

off to berkeley

I'm off to Berkeley this morning, full of anti-inflammatory meds.  I've chosen not to take anti-biotics because I think when I went to the doctor yesterday it was a little late in the game.  I don't need those harsh drugs in my body. 

Looking forward to my trip to Berkeley to visit Geoff Bouvier, I've been looking forward to it for weeks.  I met Geoff a few years ago at the awards ceremony  for a poetry contest he was judging; I was the winner. We hit it off immediately and dove into a dynamic friendship of poetry, philosophy, food and hilarity.  Geoff is one of those people I can call after not having spoken to for months and we will start off where we left off and it feels like no time has passed.

And lucky me!  It turns out one of my best friends, Sharline Chiang, a Pan Dulce writer, will be in the Bay this week too!  The last time I saw Sharline it was about 2am in the morning, we were exchanging funeral stories about our grandparents and laughing our asses off.  It sounds bad but we were both part of cultural traditions we didn't really feel comfortable in and our observations were killer.  It was probably one of the best laughs of my life.

I'm loving reading about my friend James Bowden and his adventures in Patagonia studying & tracking pumas.  It makes me want to be a cowgirl.  Also on my reading list, still, is Cecil's bicycle adventure including a recent run-in with a drunk driver.  All of this writing about travel and moving has me itching for adventure.  Soon, soon.

I discovered this artist, Gentleman, in Switzerland my season there years ago. I saw him in concert about this time of year.  Thinking of my Swiss adventures, in language, food, culture and isolation, love.  I had some beautiful moments out there.   And I learned I like German reggae.

I need to go dancing soon.  Dancing around my apartment is fine but I want to shake it on a dance floor.

Tuesday, October 13, 2009

it moves

Interesting how illness moves through the body.  Last night on the sofa I thought of the journey of this crap infection and how it started as an itch in my nose, moved to my throat and sat in my sinuses for a couple of days.  It then transformed into an itch in my throat and now it is a burning in my lungs.  My sinuses are better, my throat fine but my breathing hurts.  I know this is the last stage and it somehow is the hardest.  I remembered something my acupuncturist said to me about lungs being the organs of grief and it makes sense to me, especially when my lungs are aching.  

In late June at VONA I met a vibrant woman and had lunch with her a few times.  She looked me straight in the eye when we spoke, never faltering, I loved it. We chatted for hours about travel and writing, swapping funny stories and giving each other advice on where to go.  She convinced me I need to visit the Middle East and told me wonderful stories about the markets in Syria and how I would be enchanted. We told funny stories about our fathers.  It was an easy and quick camaraderie, rare.  She was completely present in every moment. She passed away last week after a battle with breast cancer.  My heart and thoughts go out to the family of Leila Abu Sala.  She was beautiful, she made me laugh.

Monday, October 12, 2009


I'm sick still.  Head aches, body aches, cough, sniffles, I'm hot then cold and am grateful for the kleenex with the lotion in it. 

The Wind Cried Mary
Jimi Hendrix

Saturday, October 10, 2009

the body says rest

And I rest, without choice.  I have my first and hope only cold of the season.  In bed last night by 8, slept on and off through the night, with a sore throat and sneezes and the sinus thing.  Yech.  At one point I think I may have had a fever and in my delirious sate thought I was composing some really interesting lines.  I started at the laptop in bed beside me and wished I had the energy to write them down.  I didn't and of course, this morning they are gone.

So I am sofa sitting all day, wrapped in a thick Mexican blanket, a pot of ginger-lemon tea and herbal remedies. My mom is bringing by chicken soup later.  I have books to read, hours to sleep, phone calls not answer, emails not to write. Rest says my body, I obey.

The Swell Season

Friday, October 9, 2009


Bendita is a term I've heard my entire life.  It means little blessed one, or blessing.  If something unfortunate happened my grandmother would say Ay, pobre bendita, poor blessed one.  I've had a poem circulating in the veins for a a few weeks with the word.  It may come out soon, or not.

This week has been a lesson on how things can change in an instant.  The whole last month has. I've somehow kept smiling, maybe this shi-eating grin is the way I keep sane.

Bendita La Luz

Thursday, October 8, 2009

night swimming

Last night in my dreams I was swimming at dusk in my favorite lake, a place I don't recognize from this world but I go there every once in a while in my dreams. I swam underwater with my eyes open. I was glad in my heart to be there.

Opie's Funeral Song
Sufjan Steven

Wednesday, October 7, 2009

waking wide

I woke up before the alarm this morning, excited.  The day feels full of wonderful things already. I had a night full of intense dreams, revisiting a place I love to visit.  I fell asleep with a belly full of incredible food cooked with lerve by B. I am re-reading one of my favorite trilogies and am on the book that will make me cry.  I'm also going through the poetry manuscript of a friend and coming to that process with joy as well. 

I wish I could take a picture of the morning light in my neighborhood but I doubt any film would do it justice.  This time of year, at the shoulder, the light softens and bends its way around everything it touches, especially at dawn and dusk. Even the birds are subdued, they sing but without the fervor of summer or spring.

Listening to lots of Tammi Terrel & Marvin Gaye these days.  What a duo!  What voices. They say after she died he wouldn't sing for two years. 

If This World Were Mine
Tammi Terrel & Marvin Gaye

Tuesday, October 6, 2009

more morning

My dead grandfather was in my dreams this morning, he was my favorite person in the world.  In the dream I called him on whatever island death had taken him to, maybe Puerto Rico, where he was from, but in the dream I imagined a much older place. Since he died seven years ago, my grandfather has come to me in many dreams, sometimes asking me to deliver messages to my mother or grandmother which makes always make me uncomfortable, my subconscious asking me to play messenger to the dead.  But somehow the "messages" I deliver always make sense to my grandmother and mother.  On one occasion my dead grandfather asked me to tell my grandmother he had written her a letter but couldn't deliver it, he wanted me to tell her he loved her.  I relayed the message to my grandmother who burst into tears.  It was their anniversary and unbeknownst to me, he always wrote her a love letter on their anniversary.

Loving my good friend Cecil's blogging about his cycling journey.  

Fall is here, no hinting around anymore.  The nights and mornings are cool, I should go buy socks.

Cool, bright mornings like this remind me of living in Mexico.  I spoke to a good friend of mine in Mexico a couple of days ago.  This is the time of year for fireworks all night, parties in the streets, the weather is cool, mornings perfect for going to the hot springs. Mornings like this I remember going to the little coffee shop I'd go to every morning, having a coffee and egg while an old famous poet nearby grumbled and sometimes said hello.  I'd journal.  After breakfast I'd walk across town over the cobblestones with street dogs following me, to the house of the painting master I studied with.  I'd get there usually before he was even out of bed.  I'd make coffee, start the fire in the art studio and warm-up sketching.  I loved the smell of oil paints. Fanny, the resident dog, would lean against my legs as I stood at the easel.  I didn't care that I was a lousy painter.  I loved my life.  I miss Mexico.  

Como Te Extrano
Cafe Tacuba

Monday, October 5, 2009

the morning after a family party

Yesterday was my beautiful sister Deanna's 28th birthday.
My sisters and aunts and I took shots

Over 100 people showed up

We let the boy cousins work the grill my dad made out of an oil drum.

I love love love my family.  What a crazy group of people.  Everyone laughs with , argues with talks shit about, forgives, teases, supports, and adores each other.  There were so many people at the party that I kept sneaking away to my old bedroom to sit with Shadow the Beast of a dog and relax away from the noise and crowd.  

I've finally given enough family members the death eye that they don't ask anymore why I'm not married, dating or knocked up. They ask polite questions about my writing (even thought no one has ever asked to see anything I've written), and they ask about my travels, always assuming I'm off on adventures.  Sometimes they ask about old flames of mine saying things like He was so nice, then ask how old I am and raise their eyebrows.  Oh culture.

Good things are happening.  Is it the famed Saturn return my dolphin-worshipping friends speak so highly of? 

B and Cecil have both been out of town and yesterday my car broke down and I realized I had no one to come rescue me.  Lesson learned, I now own my own jumper cables.

Saturday, October 3, 2009

wanting v. happening

I really do exhaust myself at times.  Last night my plan was to go to the City College Book Fair, see Ana Castillo read, say hello to her, get home and to bed early with a book.  I don't regret what really happened and my sleepy head this morning wonders when I will learn to shut off the ringer on my phone since my dad loves to assume I've died of an aneurysm if I don't call him by 9am and is sure to call, worried.

Last night I went for Sushi with Elena Velasquez, a member of my So Cal Writing group, I don't know how we managed to get any food in our mouths we were so excited talking about what's going on in our writing practices.  We went to see Ana read and ran into New York poet Willie Perdomo and chatted for a while.  After the reading I ended up going to the Whistle with Willie for a couple of beers and after he left I ended up in a very intense conversation with the editor of a literary magazine that has accepted my work.  It was actually pretty fun to have a debate with someone who was willing to go to bat for their beliefs.  I didn't make it home before midnight, sleepy and had no energy for the book on my nightstand.

Heading to the City College Book Fair later this morning and then to my parent's house to paint their fence in preparation for a huge party they're having tomorrow. 

I have so many things I want to write and work on but life, man, life just takes over sometimes. I love my life, my family and friends but need some ass-kicking to get into the writing sometimes.

Lovely writing and photographs on my friend Cecil's site.  I hope he continues writing about his journey from Oregon to San Diego on bicycle.  

In my odd dreams I had a baby I called Plum, she was tiny, clung to me sweetly and for some reason a secret.  It was really strange but kind of beautiful.

I am not your carpet ride. No, you're not, but you would be lovely if you were. . .

I am the Highway
(future husband) Chris Cornell

Friday, October 2, 2009

err on the side of love

Or so said my dear friend at the bar last night.  I am happy happy for this friend, we met a year ago at the Whistle, we were both un-sober, ended up exchanging information and have become very good friends.  He is in love, I somehow played a small hand in it.  It is beautiful to see someone transform under the influence of another person who enhances their life.  My friend glows.

Love, more love and luck to my good friend Cecil who is on a long bike journey from Ashland, Oregon to San Diego.  He has been planning this trip for a while, it is his first long bike journey. I look forward to hearing about his adventures.

I finally had a chance to do some reading last night and then slept dreaming of the book I read. Having a little space is lovely.  Going to bed early is wonderful. 

Thank You
Led Zepellin 

Thursday, October 1, 2009

I welcome October

This is me, in hair and make-up last night for the Hispanic Heritage Awards.  I must say it went swimmingly!  I had a great time.  My poem was well-received, I met many interesting people at the reception after, including a woman who wants to interview me for her radio show.  The recipients were gracious, the master of ceremonies entertaining and it will air October 11.  I really am completely comfortable on stage.

Hello October, I love you and all you will bring. You arrived with a stunning sunrise, thank you.

The days will be less busy with outside obligations but the personal ones, to myself, family and writing are still looming.  

Tout Le Monde
Carla Bruni

Wednesday, September 30, 2009

planet of the earthquakes

Good morning shaky planet.  So much damage in the shifting plates the last few, the raining and the flooding.   Autumn is letting us know. . .  Morning fog, cooler evenings, people wearing jeans.  I closed the window before bed for the first time last night since May.  I don't need to refill the hummingbird feeder every few days, they aren't dehydrated anymore. All the little signs in the shift.

If you'd like to see me live on the internets tonight I will be reading the poem I was commissioned to write by the local PBS station for the Hispanic Heritage Awards Ceremony.  It will be streaming live around 6pm California time.  I'll be reading my poem, Among Heroes, at the end of the program.  It will be archived as well and air on KPBS on Saturday October 10.  My current dilemma is: vintage Mexican sequined circle skirt and gold blouse with red shoes or vintage black/red smock dress with the patent leather black strappy heels?

Yesterday at the rehearsal I felt SO comfortable on stage!  All that rehearsing last week for ProClitvities and then performing in the skimpy little slip I wore, I don't think anything can faze me now.  (famous last words)

I'm excited about heading up to Berkeley in a couple of weeks to visit Geoff Bouvier. We've been chatting and planning a couple of days meals with other poets and used-book shopping.  I miss having him in San Diego. I'm sure we'll bicker half the time but as long as good conversations fill the rest, I'm fine with that.

Days are good.  I'm happy and at peace.  Last night B made tacos while I worked on editing poems.  At a few points I stopped to check in with myself to see if I was holding any tension or anything else in my body, I wasn't.  I am in a very good place.  Yay!

Mazzy Star

Tuesday, September 29, 2009

we are bound by symmetry

I didn't drink coffee all day yesterday, I don't think I'll try that again. I was so cranky I could hardly stand myself.  Until I took a 2 hour nap.

Only two days left until my week is less crazy, I can't wait. I have a full plate and am not hungry at all for any of it.

I wonder if my life will rattle when my outside obligations are fulfilled.  I've been busier than I have been in a very long time. A part of me enjoys the frenzy, another part of me misses staring at the popcorn ceiling above my sofa. I also miss evening drinks at the Whistle Stop or Hamiltons with the friends I've been neglecting.  Andy, Sh'Beck, drinks forthcoming!

After the obligations, I still have much to do.  Rewriting some danged poems, getting my novel ready for the critique group, putting things in the mail.  The Book Fair is this weekend.  I have a pile of books I'm dying to read.  I have some new things in my head that are begging to be written. But first I'll require many hours of nothing, of baths, of B making me waffles & tea, of dancing around the apartment with the windows open.

Also, BEST drunk dial ever last night from my ex-boyfriend's best friend, calling, mumbling about missing me & something about brown babies. I could hear the x laughing in the background.  Happy I am to inspire late night, whiskey fueled calls.  I almost wish I could have kept the x for his friends, almost.

Sunday, September 27, 2009

floating, in sleep, in joy

I just got home.  What. A. Weekend.  First of all SO MUCH LOVE to everyone who came out to the shows Friday ad Saturday night.  I can't believe how beautiful it was, I am in awe.  Thank you fellow performers, thank you director, Virginia Grise, thank you producer Reina Prado.  Thank you Highways.  OKay, now I feel like an acceptance speech but THANK YOU phenomenal audience.  The love coming at us was mind-blowing.  I am delirious with joy.  Last night the performance was brilliant. I felt completely at peace in my body and work.

Today after the best best  night of sleep (and I was exhausted), I met with S. Erin Batiste and Elena Velasquez, my So Cal writing group.  We workshopped for a few hours at S. Erin's cottage and got a lot of work done.  I left energized and excited to re-write.

Then, I went straight to see La Bruja perform at the Centro Cultural de la Raza.  I am disappointed that San Diego turned out so few people to see her. But the audience that was there had a blast. Her performance was one of the best I've seen in years.  She was really funny, heartbreaking and inspiring.  I wish she was performing another night so I could tell everyone I know to go see her.  I'll never be able to head Rihanna's "Umbrella" again without transposing La Bruja's hilarious lyrics over it. 

*sigh*  What a life.  It doesn't end.  I have a ton of work to do this week too and haven't even thought about it.  More poetry.  More applications.   But tonight, a hot bath, a glass of wine and well-deserved, and needed solitude.

Que Te Besen

Saturday, September 26, 2009

world, hello

What a night! Last night was the first performance of ProClitvities at HIghways and it went well.  I went the space early to meditate for an hour before call to get my mind where it needed to be. I've neglected meditation and need to get more disciplined about it.  The show was great, everyone was on.  My friend V and his wife came which made me very happy because I didn't know anyone else in the audience.  I have a few friends and family coming tonight.  Note: the show WILL sell out tonight, there is no doubt in my mind.   So if you're planning on coming RESERVE a ticket.

Years ago, another lifetime really, I was very into theatre. It started in high school.  I was a dorky as hell freshman who decided on a whim to audition for a play and was given one of the leads. I fell in love.  It also helped that the nerdy theatre kids gave me a community.  They were creative, passionate, a little weird and welcomed me into their fold.  I needed that at that age, just having left the cult I was raised it.  I had no idea how to interact (I sometimes still falter) and the thespians totally made me feel loved and appreciated.  We were all freaks and outcasts. We wore black and smelled of patchouli. It also gave me a place to channel all that teenage angst.   Through the theatre dorks, I met other friends who started a club called Starving Artists, a collective of writers who would meet once a week at lunch to share our poetry, fiction and songs.  I'm happy to say at least four of us are still in touch and we have all continued to be creative and follow our passions.  One guy is doing comic books, another is writing and publishing academically, I'm doing my poetry and another woman is making a name for herself as a visual and performance artist.  I don't know what I would have done with myself had these seeds not been sown 16 years ago. 

I thought about this last night as I drove back to my aunt's house from Highways. I forgot the energy that comes with a performance.  Poetry readings are very different.  I usually sit in the audience before I go up, I read my poems, I get off stage, I only use my body as a mode of transportation: seat, stage, seat.  Last night as I moved through my pieces I felt centered and in it.  All of the performers shared that intense energy.  I felt connected to every single one of them. What an intimacy. Afterwards we laughed together and shared in the afterglow.  Even though I've only known these women less than a week (with the exception of Reina), I feel very connected to them.  I know its the same connectedness that comes from a new lover, all that adrenaline and excitement, but nonetheless, I'm happy to be feeling it.

I was drained last night after the show and slept deeply.  I'm staying in my cousin's bedroom and she has a life-sized cardboard cut-out of a certain male vampire (not Vampire Eric, alas!) at the foot of her bed.  When I woke up I thought someone was really standing at the foot of the bed and sat straight up to confront him.  Do not confront cardboard, it is weird.

I am excited about tonight.  I love the show.  I have my aunt and her friend coming tonight, two San Diego friends and one LA friend.  Yay!

Tonight, Tonight
The Smashing Pumpkins

Friday, September 25, 2009

from Los Angeles

Writing this morning from my aunt's house in Hermosa Beach. I woke up refreshed this morning and the first thing I thought was I need to get a new mattress.  What a difference a nice mattress makes.

Last night was the last proclitvities rehearsal. I'm pretty damn excited for the show.  I'm reading( I mean performing) many more pieces than I had originally planned but I'm okay with that. I'm very impressed with the other artists in the show.  The pieces are funny, emotional and provocative. I'm reading (performing!) eight poems.  If you can, please come.

It was lovely to come to my aunt's house last night after rehearsal.  She made me dinner, we had a bottle of wine and chatted (read: gossiped) about the family for a couple of hours.  Her husband was listening to a podcast on Seattle sports and I again told him how much he and B will get along since both are Seattle sports fanatics. (B--I got us tickets! Pho real, baby!)  I slept well and woke up refreshed.  

I had plans to work on some other poems today but forgot my notebook with notes/poems at the rehearsal space so I may just walk on the beach, do some reading and mentally prepare for tonight.

Girls! Girls! Girls!
Liz Phair

Thursday, September 24, 2009

Wednesday, September 23, 2009


So very, very tired this morning. Exhausted really.  I really shouldn't have driven home from LA so late last night.  But I have to help my dad out today and family comes first, in this case, before rest.  I'm a damn good daughter and a mostly good woman.

I have a lot of work to do on memorizing more pieces than I originally had planned, but I welcome the challenge. I also will welcome a nap later on today and maybe an hour at the spa.

I'm a fool to want you
Billie Holiday

Tuesday, September 22, 2009

Twitter has gone nuts on my gadget. You can follow me at Twitter.com/lizzhuerta until this stuff gets figured out.

my bottle full of charms

In San Diego this morning but heading back up to LA early this afternoon for more proClitvities rehearsals.

I am pretty damn happy this morning. Exhausted but happy.  I'm dancing around to PJ Harvey as instructed. Great lyrics. I love the term "dirty pillows."  They're called breasts mama! (my favorite line from Carrie)

Oh autumnal equinox!  You bring out the pagan in me!  On a day of the equinox, the centre of the Sun spends a roughly equal amount of time above and below the horizon at every location on the Earth, night and day being of roughly the same length. 

PJ Harvey

Monday, September 21, 2009

red cage

Hello insomnia!  Goodbye appetite!  What gives?

Yesterday I went to the Body World exhibit at the Museum of Natural History. Now every time I look in the mirror I imagine a red cage of blood vessels just below the surface of my skin. (And yes Cecil, I noticed what you noticed, we are third graders on the inside.)  The transparent fetuses in jars were pretty damn incredible.  I took notes as I always do in museums. I never realized how testicles beneath the skin have long stems and look like inverted tulips hanging from a man's abdomen.  I guess anything can be beautiful if you look at it the right way.

On my way to LA this morning for proClitvities rehearsals.  A part of me wants to come home every night but I know that is a lot of driving.  But, I have audiobooks and am into Allison Gopnik's The Philosophical Baby. Can I handle six hours in a car daily?  Maybe. Can my back handle it? Probably not.

Oh Damien, I give my gun away when its loaded too. . .

9 Crimes
Damien Rice

Sunday, September 20, 2009

someone save temptation

I've loved Iron & Wine for years,  Listening to The Trapeze Swinger tonight I heard the lyrics for the first time.  His voice hypnotizes and I forget to listen to what he is saying.  Here are a couple of my favorite stanzas:

But please remember me, fondly
I heard from someone you're still pretty
And then they went on to say that the Pearly Gates
Had some eloquent graffiti

Like 'We'll meet again' and 'Fuck the man'
And 'Tell my mother not to worry'
And angels with their great handshakes
But always done in such a hurry


Gleam and resonate just like the gates
Around the Holy Kingdom
With words like, 'Lost and found' and 'Don't look down'
And 'Someone save temptation'


So please remember me, finally
And all my uphill clawing
My dear, but if I make the Pearly Gates
I'll do my best to make a drawing

Of God and Lucifer, a boy and girl
An angel kissing on a sinner
A monkey and a man, a marching band
All around the frightened trapeze swinger

Mother of Pearl, I can't get enough.

Also friends, Costco toilet paper is from now on to only be used as a last resort.  I'm just saying. 

Saturday, September 19, 2009


Going through my photo files yesterday I came across a couple dozen shots of possible half life of memory covers. Some are horrible, others are funny, a couple wildly inappropriate.  I think at some point I'll post some of the best and worst on the blog.  My second favorite is currently the desktop image.

It was about a year ago I decided to get the title of the chapbook faux-tattooed on me.  I thought it would look great and I was right.  I went to a little tattoo shop in Chula Vista, explained what I wanted and somehow charmed the owner into letting one of his artists write on me.  They didn't even charge me.  I came home and took a bunch of shots myself, a couple came out great but they weren't what I wanted.  I called B, he came over and was pure business; within ten shots he had taken the one I wanted.  The "tattoo" on my collarbones made me really want to get a tattoo on my collarbones but I probably never will.

I love this song.  It doesn't start until 50 seconds into the video.  When I saw Eddie Vedder a year and half ago he played this song and it made me cry, on the inside.

Throw Your Arms Around Me
Eddie Vedder