Friday, February 27, 2009


Last night I went to SDSU to hear Ana Castillo read and left feeling at peace and inspired.

I've been reading AC for about ten years. My friend Imelda introduced me to her writing. Imelda had written an Ana Castillo "after," a poem inspired by the work of another poem. Imelda read me her poem sitting in her car one afternoon while we waited to cross the border, we had a weekly Tijuana sushi habit back then. I remember being a surprised at how openly erotic and sensual the poem was. It was a lesson in writing provocatively. Imelda died a few years ago of leukemia. We were out of touch by then, I had just come back from my winter in Switzerland and was out of touch with almost everyone I knew. I have her poem, somewhere, and will one day come across it and find a way to honor her with it.

Tomorrow I'm taking a one-day memoir workshop with AC and am pretty excited about it. I haven't been in a classroom in a while and look forward to the stretching and such. There are so many stories in my head, an over-crowded aquarium, I have to let some out. I hear so many great stories. The other night at the Vag my cousin had my friends and I rolling with stories about managing the graveyard he works out. Those are tales I can cull for my characters.

I started two books last night and hope they balance each other out. I've started Edwidge Danticat's Brother, I'm Dying. Haunting already, dark, sad and beautiful. A wickedly difficult combination. I also started Chuck Klostermans's Downtown Owl and am pretty giddy over it. I dig Klosterman's humor. He is a truly observant writer, getting at things just under the surface of what's really going on.

Thanks and love for the birthday wishes via email and comments. I was actually surprised at some of you who read my blog! Thanks!

Give Me Love (Give Me Peace On Earth)
George Harrison

Tuesday, February 24, 2009

Saying Goodbye to my Twenties

Today is my last day in my twenties. Just another day, I woke up sleepy from staying up late and hit snooze too many times. I took a long nap this afternoon and since I woke up I have been in a contemplative daze, thinking about the last decade of my life.

I had this vision of my twenties when I was starting out, a decade of adventure and success, love and discovery. I didn't think about the other sides of those things; disappointments, failures, heartbreaks, etc. Looking back today I have few regrets but am pretty damn happy my twenties are over. I'm ready fora fresh start, even if that beginning is a number attached to my experiences. I've heard over and over that the thirties blow the twenties out of the water in terms of confidence and living. Yet one of things I've learned is not to pay too much attention to broad generalizations. I hope I'm wrong on this one.

I’ve learned how to live alone and have come to love it. I love painting my living space in bright colors. I cook myself elaborate meals I eat accompanied by the quiet singer/songwriter music I love. I sometimes wonder if I am pathetic in the eyes of others but realize I don't really care. I write in my journals and when I look back through them I see the evolution of my views, how they've changed but at the heart of it all I am still Lizz the secretly romantic woman who wants an extraordinary life. It is just that the extraordinary things have prices that seem too high.

I am somewhat cynical. There is no hiding that. The few wounds I have received have been deep. I sometimes I wonder if I am capable of living with the open heart I entered this decade with. It is a difficult thought to wrestle with and I ignore it, though it never truly goes away. It hovers ghost-like creepy around my bed before I go to sleep and I have to Hail Mary or mantra it away. Last week while having beers I told B (and he emailed the quote back to me) "It is easier to be cynical than it is to be vulnerable. At least when you're cynical you know you're going to be disappointed." If someone would have said that to me even two years ago. I would have felt sorry for them. But for the moment, it is true.

I’ve come to appreciate my family more and love my parents with a fierceness that comes from being more aware of mortality. I am terrified of not having my parents or other family members in my life. I sometimes feel guilty about not having the life they imagined for me. They, of course, want me to be happy but don't understand that my version of happiness doesn't necessarily include a life partner or children. The thought of those things are anathema to me, so far.

I wonder if I'll ever be a mother or a wife. My selfish self gets scared that I won't have time to read or write. My fears were once confirmed by a writer I know. She lived freely until she fell in love and became a wife and mother. During an alcohol-lubricated conversation she confessed that even though she loved her husband and children, if she could go back she would have stayed single and concentrated on her passion for writing. That conversation that struck fear into my heart and I haven't stopped thinking about it. There is a nurturing instinct in me that gets stronger ever year but I don't see myself giving into it. Not yet, not for a while.

I fear aging. I love my body and all of the things it is capable of but I feel it changing. I know it is not feminist or realistic of me but I am disappointed in the slow changes occuring . There are faint lines now around my mouth and I know they are not anything that will go away. The elasticity in my skin is easing up. My body takes faster to heal and there are the beginning of creaks in my knees if I keep my legs bent too long. I am hyper-aware of mortality when I wake up in the middle of the night. I feel my heart and have mini-existential crises knowing one day it will stop beating.

I have years left, I know, of youth and its privileges. I don’t look my age but I feel it more very day. There is a heaviness to me that has settled in the last couple of years and it is experience. The optimism has been chipped away at. I know there are others who have more difficult lives but this is my life and sometime I panic and how blase it is and how often I feel like a failure.

I try to face things with fear or attachment but fail more often than not. My sister Deanna and I had a good conversation a few days ago about expectations. I've struggled with this mind set of not having expectations, some sort of lingering ghost from my early twenties when I was more spiritual and into ideals that have turned out to be only ideals. Deanna said "You can stand on train tracks and say you don't expect the train to hit you it comes but it doesn't change the fact you're standing on train tracks and the train is coming." I've spent a too much time on those train tracks. Time to move off them.

I have also had great experiences that have shaped me, changed me. I have taken big risks in how I choose to live. Living in Mexico was one of the greatest choices I made. I was away from family and everyone who knew me and I survived and thrived. I wrote and painted and wandered colonial streets at night alive and blazing in the joy of my tiny bohemian-like existence. That is when I truly threw myself into my writing. I wrote very day of my experiences and discoveries, documenting the insects that crawled on my page. I learned how to be alone without being lonely which was one of the greatest lessons on all. My poetic self was more alive than it has been since.

I have loved. Stupidly at times and brilliantly at others. I learned that I am a difficult person to be with because of my lone wolf tendencies coupled with all sorts of other crap. I have a lot to say on the subject but won't. May the lessons I have learned save me from my disastrous instincts.

I've become a more serious writer though I'm still pretty lame about submitting my work. I like the voice I have developed though I definitely want to keep improving it. I lack discipline and get myself into cycles of despair. I read the biographies of writers and talk to writer friends and know this is common. I can't imagine not being an artist. I don't understand how people can go through life without the desire to document and create, express and explore.

Despite the malaise of the last year or so I am still an optimist. I'm glad to be done with this last decade of learning and trying to define myself. This morning I sat on the edge of a canyon. Because of the recent rain the slope I sat on was lush with spring greens and the air smelled loamy and of sage. Optimism crept in. Thinking about who I am I surprised myself with the answer that I don't know and am okay with that. I'm a poet. I write poetry. I am a daughter, I have parents. But the core of me is this ever-evolving spirit (for lack of a better word) that is capable of creating and loving.

So welcome thirties! I come to you with a semi-open heart and then some.

Invisible Ink
Aimee Mann

Sunday, February 22, 2009

on fire

My birthday party was a success despite the fact while I was blowing out my candles I set my hair on fire.

Saturday, February 21, 2009

I'm already shaking it

No Hay Nadie Como Tu
Calle 13

When I first this I thought it was Manu Chau but I was wrong. I like Calle 13. Their first album is very vulgar but danceable. I burned some reggaeton music for my friend Kristin in Kansas. She tells me her two young sons love it but she's glad they don't understand what they are singing about. I totally agree.

Much love to Marcos Soriano for reviewing half life of memory on his blog. I haven't really had anyone review it yet so this review made my night last night.

I'm hydrating like crazy in to prepare for tonight. I love family parties and am especially thrilled that so many of the clan have decided to show up for my thirtieth. Yay family!

Friday, February 20, 2009

this is how it starts

Going to start my weekend with a little bit of this to get myself excited.

Que Lío
Hector Lavoe

Wednesday, February 18, 2009

song for a morning

I was just introduced to this artist. Simple lyrics, guitar but the voice does something to me. I could sit in the dark and listen to this with a glass of wine and go to lovely places.

The End
Sibylle Baier

Countdown to thirty, seven days. I had one of those dreaded conversations this last weekend with a relative. I was warned. Men get harder to find the older I get. I was counseled not to be too picky. Yeah. . . Because I forgot the part where I attach my self-worth to whether or not I am in a relationship or spawning. Settling for something is better than being alone. I avoid family gatherings to a certain extent because of those conversations. I know a big part of it cultural, Latinos are about family and the old-school relatives just don't get how a woman can be happy without a man at her side and a womb full of limbs. My dad looks at me with something akin to pity or fear at my content solitude. His whole life has been about family and he wants grandchildren. My babies are my my poems and stories. My love goes there first. If anything else comes along, cool. If not, cool. There is a big family gathering this weekend, my birthday party. The first child of this generation blazing her way, alone, into another decade. There will be raised eyebrows and pity. Whatever. I'll eat the food but I certainly won't drink the kool-aid.

Tuesday, February 17, 2009

nothing like poetry

I've had this song stuck in my head for days and I don't know why.

Home Sweet Home
Motley Crue

Playing and replaying with the new poem. It feels incredibly sexy to be writing poetry again.

I think I may paint my orange apartment green. I painted it orange when I moved in last year because I needed the brightness and silliness of it. But now the brightness may be too much.

Monday, February 16, 2009

I heart my funny family

I think my sisters may have started a new genre in reenactments. My mom took a picture last week of Buddy the Poodle and Icarus the Kitty playing. Pretty funny stuff since Buddy is very dramatic. Here is the original shot:

And here are my sisters reenacting it:

I got a good laugh out of that.

How about that rain?

Promises of rain all weekend. No rain yet though the sky looks promising. They say it is a bad storm. But they always say a great many things that don't make any sense.

Yesterday I went to Room to Write at the Ink Spot and was pretty happy to get some work done. I worked on a couple of different things and out of nowhere I wrote a poem. Damn it. The second poem I've written in a year. Just one of those years. But I dig it, playing with new form and such and I have been a happy kid because of it. I also gnawed on an essay that has been kicking my butt.

She Keeps Bees

Beau introduced me to this fantastic band in the habit he has of introducing me to great music. Thanks B!

Sunday, February 8, 2009


I love waking up early on Sundays. I make coffee and read the New York Times on the floor in front of my sliding door. The morning light is perfect in that particular spot, not too bright. Outside on the balcony my plants are still dripping from last nights rain.

I've been working through The Art of the Personal Essay for a few months now. Long beautiful narrative.

I've been very isolated the last week or two. Not going out much, not even spending time with my family. One of those solitary periods of deep silence. I'm working on motivating myself to be more productive when it comes to my writing but some old grief or fear swells up in me when I try to write anything other than my journal entry. Maybe more of a panic. It will pass. It has to.

I Don't Know What I Can Save You From
Kings of Convenience

Saturday, February 7, 2009


It is pounding rain. I am sick of most people.

Waltz #2
Elliott Smith

Friday, February 6, 2009

Garbage & things

Last night I woke up at some late hour and listened to the rain pounding on my windows; in my half-dream state I believed it sounded better than trains. I said that to myself. It sounds better than trains.

The year has come to an odd start but there are worse things. I'm taking steps to dip back into the writing. I'm applying for several workshops/fellowships. I'm writing again in the mornings. I make my coffee and sit with a yellow legal pad and write a couple of pages of thoughts in brown ink while I sip and listen to folk in the alley rummaging through the garbage.

I too am rummaging through the garbage in a way, figuring out what, if anything, is salvageable. I'm eating lots of brussel sprouts these days and other green things. I've started going for long walks on the beach in the afternoons. Often I see dolphins and even though I feel silly getting giddy over something as natural as sea creatures in the sea, I get giddy anyway.

Listening to a lot of Elliott Smith these days. In the morning, driving and such. Last night I got a massage at Aqua Day Spa and was singing Elliott to myself the entire time I was on the plastic table getting exfoliated and kneaded.

Elliott Smith

Sunday, February 1, 2009

I can't help myself

Optimism is seeing back, slowly. Connecting and reconnecting is lovely. I've had a rough couple of months but think the hump is over. My twenties are just about over and I look forward to my thirties. I am filling out applications for things. Working through some essays with a critical eye. Going over patterns with a critical eye. Slowly, slowly.

I can't help myself
The Four Tops