Monday, July 27, 2009

and the weekend kills

I am exhausted.  

My weekend was great.  I spent time with my favorite people, Cecil, Beau, La Creep and an old friend Adam.  I was go go go and am now paying the price.  The reading on Saturday evening was truly lovely.  I read with 5 other fine poets.  The audience was gracious and the event was well-attended. I read poems I never had before and was very happy with they flowed.

Yesterday B and I went to the Comic-Con, even though we had a late night the night before. Comic-Con was out of control.  I've really never seen it so crowded.  I love the Con and hope it stays in San Diego.  I also hope they figure out a way to make it less congested or to expand the convention center. We walked around for a few hours in hopes of finding any True Blood booth but failed and left drained.  We both kept sniffing ourselves thinking we stank but it was everyone around us.  Seriously nerds, soap. Do I need to make soap into an action figure to get you to pay attention to it?  yeeesh.

I didn't get any work done this weekend but figure the reading kind of cancelled out my needing to write since I was honoring my work anyway.  Or thats the excuse I'll use.  But not excuses for the week!  I have to bang out a chapter that has been eating my soul. 

This morning my favorite singer, Ray Lamontagne announced his fall tour dates!  He'll be in LA in November.  Not going to miss him this time, not at all.  B, La Creep and I are all buying pre-sale tickets.  I am going to lose my shit when I see him live.  I'll probably cry.

Saturday, July 25, 2009


I am one of six poets reading tonight at St. Paul's Cathedral. I look forward to it.  I think I may wear a new and exciting dress since I've had no other occasion to wear a new and exciting dress.

La Creep is in town and we've had our usual hard laughs over morning coffee.  Our friendship has spanned many years and many interesting events.  We're probably both at the healthiest we've both been at the same time.  Nice.

Loving and loving Steering the Craft.  I'm reminded of crafting gorgeous sentences.  Reading lots of Garcia-Marquez, Cernuda and Jeter-Naslund to keep the rhythms resonating within. There is a great Virginia Woolfe quote in the book that may be the new anthem: Style is a very simple matter; it is all rhythm.  Once you get that, you can't use the wrong words.  Like many truths, it is a pretty simple statement.  Craft beauty.  On it, working towards it. Each sentence leading the reader to the next gracefully.

I ate this morning a blood-red cherry heirloom off of one of the plants on the balcony.  It was a perfect explosion of acidity and sugar.  Last night at Cecil's we devoured a plate of heirlooms from his garden.  He has a sweet yellow kind that tastes like candy.  I can't wait until my Mr. Stripeys are ready to eat.  They're already large on the vines.  My peppermint is suffering but at least the orchids and jasmine are thriving, even if I can't eat them, they're lovely to look at.  I also love the spicy scent the tomatoes release when I water them at night.  I leave the window open to let the scent take over my living room.  I am a nerd about my senses.

Going to spend the day preparing for tonight.  Selecting the poems and in which order I'll read them, trying to get them in my head as much as I can.  Two Jonah poems,  John writing Revelation poem, an Abraham poem, one Mary Magdalene and I'll probably throw in one of the more overtly sexual pieces too.  Nothing like sinning to get you feeling holy.

The Engine Driver
The Decemberists

Thursday, July 23, 2009

I behave

Today I put together my manuscript for Poets & Writers California Writer Exchange Award. I ended up submitting some poems I wrote during National Poetry Month. I spent most of the day revising and rewriting the poems I submitted. I know its a long shot but at least I'm putting things in the mail.  I'm also getting some work together for some other magazines.  I have such a backlog of poems that I really have to have more out in the mail.

Tuesday B and I went to Free Museum Tuesday at Balboa Park.  We went to the Museum of Man (waaay too many kids, I wanted to bathe in anti-bacterial gel afterward) and the Museum of Art to check out the Richard Avedon: Portraits of Power exhibit.  Pretty brilliant exhibit.  I wanted to wander around the Museum more but it was closing.  The best part of the day was meeting a man who works at the park and having a lively conversation with him about the history of the park.  He told us some ghost stories, random but interesting facts and showed us a chapel that is somewhat hidden.  

I have a reading this Saturday night at St. Paul's Cathedral.  I look forward to it.  I haven't read in a while.  Since I'l be reading at a church I'm going through the picking out all of the poems I have with Biblical allusions.  Sad face about the reading is that I'll miss the True Blood panel at the Comic-Con.  True nerd.

Completo Incompleto
Jarabe de Palo

Tuesday, July 21, 2009

the seals are safe, my sanity is flawed

The seals at La Jolla Cove won't be chased away.  I've been watching the seals on the beach since I was a kid.  The little beach they rest on is called the Children's Pool and its was originally designed to be a safe place for kids to swim but the seals took over.  People have been up in arms over it for years, saying the beach belongs to the kid.  Really?  Do their mothers swim up on shore to give birth to them and breast-feed them there the way the seals do  What a ridiculous argument.  I'm thrilled the seals will stay.

I have stress on my head.  I have been trying to get work done on my book since I am really into it but I just can't seem to get enough time for myself.  I feel like a kind of an asshole since I have been ignoring my friends phone calls, text messages and emails but I need Lizz time!  Something always seems to come up.  Yesterday I had the entire day to write and just as I sat down the doorbell rang.  The apartment complex handyman came to switch our my electrical outlets.  He had to turn off the electricity, then turn it back on several times.  Meanwhile I had to move my bed, my sofas and other furniture so he could get to the outlets.  When he was done my father called and needed me to run some errands.  

I don't understand how people who have lives more "real" than mine get any writing done at all.  I have guests coming to stay with me every weekend for the next month, I don't mind that, but I am trying to get writing done during the week and it isn't happening.  Lame. The Comic-Con is this weekend and well, I can't miss that either.  Ay.

Everyone's Gone to the Moon
Jonathan King

Sunday, July 19, 2009

week end(ure)

Yesterday Cecil and I rode our bikes to the City Heights Farmers Market.  I dig riding my bike, I need to do it more.  It was a morning ride but by the time we got back at 10:30 it was already way too hot for words.

I started Ursula Le Guin's Steering the Craft yesterday.  Digging it so far, lots of cool exercises to get me thinking about voice, structure and my sentences.  I've focused on poetry for long now that I sometimes find it difficult to get into my prose head.  Years ago I used to write only prose then realized my poetry was horrible so I gave up prose to concentrate on the poesia and now I have to switch back.  I have no problems writing poetry at all now but the prose is sometimes a struggle and I find myself looking at my work and thinking "trite, trite."  Bad thoughts must erase them.

My baby sister comes to town to day and my dad is excited to take all his girls to the Sandcastle Competition in Imperial Beach  We used to go every year when we were kids.  The last few years my dad had been getting sentimental and enjoys revisiting things we did when we were very young. I love him so damn much, he is adorable.  I ran into an old high school friend last night and as we were reminiscing he mentioned how cool it was to hang out with my dad back in the day .  I am quite the lucky human to have such a phenomenal family.

Friday, July 17, 2009

june bugs crashing

June bugs are back, crashing blindly around.  

I went to see Away We Go last night. It could have been worse.  It was actually cute and sweet with some funny moments.  I dig John Krasinski, from The Office.  I felt the movie had a idea of where it wanted to be and but struggled to get there.  Also, I'm not really into romance or love so all of the romance and love had me rolling my eyes.  The music had me happy.  The soundtrack was Alexi Murdoch, a singer/songwriter whose work I love.  He reminds me of Nick Drake.

Last night as I was falling asleep I was thinking about a poem I wrote for National Poetry Month but forget which one.  I still really haven't gone over them.  Another project to add to the list.  The good thing is that I'm actually checking things off the list. 

Orange Sky
Alexi Murdoch

Wednesday, July 15, 2009

whoop whoop

Brief break from the novel to distract myself with blogging.  Yes folks, I am working away. Tapping at the keyboard.  Actually sitting at my desk with a three-pound bang of peanut m&ms, working.  Working.   I ran out of excuses,  Laundry is done.  The apartment in shiny clean.  The plants are watered and I dislike daytime television. I'm learning that when I work on the novel I am super-happy with myself.  So here's to joy.  And transcribing.

Rilkean Heart
Cocteau Twins

Saturday, July 11, 2009

animal sides and such

with La Creep last night

I woke up early for a Saturday, around 7am, for no particular reason.  I felt on edge, my heart racing a bit and my senses were hyper-aware. The night had been humid and I opened up the balcony door but for once, no hummingbirds were swooping around the feeder or salvias.  I sat for a minute wondering why I was so wide-awake since last night I imbibed some.  I made a cup of coffee and sat down and all of a sudden the entire entire apartment jolted with a resonating bang.  I leapt to the window to see if a car had struck my building.  A neighbor looked up from his bike.  I heard La Creep stirring from where she slept in the guest room.  Was that an earthquake?  I called out.  Yes she said. Maybe my little recent adventures in meditation have tuned my senses into a different frequency. Or, maybe the itty-bitty hangover required I rise early to hydrate. As soon as the little 4.0 tremor passed (it was off the coast of Coronado, just about four miles away) I fell back asleep for another three hours. I like earthquakes, little ones at least.

Summer is summer, breathing a heavy breath of humidity that is not really normal in this irrigated desert.  The sky is that electric blue that promises the day will be a scorcher.  I have the fans going and hope to get out of the house for an outdoor adventure.  I'm not sure its yet warm enough for the a/c.  A little more writhing this morning then I'll reward myself by digging to the pint of Phish Food in the freezer.  Mmmmm.

Beber De Tu Sangre
Los Amantes de Lola
(dumb video, great song)

Friday, July 10, 2009

how to translate and not kill orchids

Last night while B cooked another one of his creative meals, I sat at the dining room table "translating" my novel from first-person to third.  *sigh*  What work, but I think it works.  I've had to dip into the writing of other authors who are successful omniscient narrators.  Some Garcia-Marquez, Isabel Allende, Carlos Fuentes.  I know they are the greats and I am no where near them but if you surround yourself with greatness, maybe some will rub off. There are specific challenges in this new style that I am struggling with, that internal voice that is often the easiest to reach for in storytelling.  But, this is only a test.  We'll see how it goes.  

What was most interesting  about transcribing is that it was actually transcribing.  I had a printed copy of what I was rewriting and I hand-typed it, none of this copy and paste laziness. Typing out each word, each turn of phrase, gave me perspective that I wasn't owning before.  I am a pretty damn good writer.  When I'm writing, I'm so in my head that I don't even think about my syntax of manipulation of language.  But in careful rereading, I impress myself.

Speaking of impressed Beau and I have been watching Deadwood on dvd. Pretty brilliant.  The characters are genius and their language is mind-blowing, even all the excessive cocksuckers. I've never seen a show with such complex characters. They have monologues!  When was the last time you saw a monologue in a television show?  We're only on season one but way addicted.  Cecil and I, on the other hand, have been watching Weeds. Brilliant in a whole different way.

My balcony garden is lush as fuck.  I sit out evenings breathing in the slightly acrid scent of the tomato plants.  I have heirlooms growing and can't wait to taste them.  I also have sage, basil, peppermint in my edibles.  My succulents are bright and happy in the sun, the African fire sticks looking fiery.  My jasmine is about to bloom again and has started climbing the bamboo stakes I erected around it.  I also have a few orchids I bought for a dollar each at at orchid show last fall in Balboa park.  I didn't expect that  would keep them alive but they made it through the winter. The balcony is crowded with all the plants but a couple of nights ago B was moving a chair out there and he brushed aside an arm of jasmine.  I cried out in joy.  One of my orchids is about to bloom. I am not an orchid killer.  I am thrilled.

Be My Husband
Nina Simone

Thursday, July 9, 2009

Real and Not So Real

My baby sister's best friend Ayiiia is currently on MTV's Real World Cancun. Ayiiia was voted in on the MTV website.  She was super excited to be on the show and we all cautiously supported her, letting her know that she had no control over how they would edit the content and how she would perceived by the public. After all of the warnings, we supported her 100%. Ayiiia has been on our lives for years.  Now we get to watch her on television.

Even though Teena, my baby sis is in Las Vegas my mom has been hosting Real World parties at her house each Wednesday for Teena's friends.  The last couple of weeks Ayiiia has come by to watch as well.  I've been out of town so last night was the first time I went to one of the parties. When I arrived Ayiiia was already there. While she helped my mom cook she was super nervous explaining that last night's episode did not cast her in the best light.  I kind of knew what was coming since Miss No Consonants had emailed me several times from Cancun while she was filming.  She was stressed out and worried about how folks would see her at home after witnessing her wildness.  I sent her long emails back and tried to give her some perspective, though I have never been a public entertainment persona so I didn't know if my advice was relevant. 

The time came and we watched. Poor Ayiiia was so nervous.  In the episode (as she explained) she had crazy PMS. We watched as she got very inebriated.  We watched as made sexy time with one of her female roommates.  (Cecil texted me your mom is watching this with you?)We watched as she then fought with her previously amorous female roommate and then isolated herself from the rest of the roomies.  If we had watched the show without her, Ayiiia would have come across as a conflicted & not very nice person. It was illuminating to have her there with us as she explained how the editing of the show omitted her making up with her roommates right after the debacles.  But niceties don't make for good ratings.   We watched and teased her mercilessly about her choices.  She was mortified but knew it was all in jest. We love her no matter what.  I can't imagine being in that kind of situation with that many people in the house and cameras recording every move.

Ayiiia talking about her nerves before watching the episode.

After the RW party I met up with Elena Velasquez for drinks at Vagabond.  Elena and I have known each other for years.  She was a member of the now-defunct Brujas y Bellas Writing Group at Voz Alta.  I've loved Elena's writing since then.  We don't run in the same circles but always end up running into each other.  She lives a mile away.  Elena was at VONA last week and she was also in the residency.  Ana Castillo wanted to make sure that once back in San Diego, we would make more of an effort to connect and keep each other up to task in our writing lives.  Last night we gushed and ruminated over the time in SF and how it changed our lives.  Elena was conflicted about where she wanted to go in her writing and I was on the fence about my novel.  We both came out high on inspiration and are both more dedicated to our projects.  

I now have a deadline to turn over some new pages of the novel for critique.  I made a choice to switch up the narration a bit and it is a daunting task. There is a voice I am trying to recapture and it will be hard work.  But it will be gratifying once I get there.

La Creep and Baby D will arrive tomorrow so today is my writing day!  Yikes.

Monday, July 6, 2009

home and other facts

I arrived back on Saturday, exhausted but mentally energized.  The last few days were intense. I was functioning on very little sleep but had so much adrenaline that it didn't matter. Friday night we had our student reading.  I read an excerpt from my novel, I've never read it aloud before.  After the student reading we had a dance party.  I danced my booty off.  I hadn't danced in a while and was pretty to be shaking it.  At one point in the evening I requested some New Wave and when it came on, only one other person and me were the ones dancing.  Whiskey was involved.

Now comes the work.  During a panel on publishing ZZ Packer said something that has stuck in my brain.  She said even if we only write one page a day at the end of the year we'll have 365 pages.  I can do that, I ca do better.  I've been living with my characters for so long now, they really deserve to have their damn story told already.  Daunting daunting daunting.  There are so many layers to this damn thing but I started the journey and can't abandon it, I'd never forgive myself anyway.

I am in love out of my head with a book I purchased at City Lights.  Written in Water: The Prose Poems of Luis Cernuda.  I've loved Cernuda for years since I discovered his work during a very odd night in Valencia, Spain, involving Matt Dillon movies, hashish and a woman showing me some very awkward sexual self-portrait masturbating on piles of garbage.  I escaped the madness by scooping up a Cernuda book and was blown away.  In certain respects, some of his writing reminds of me of Rilke.   I've only read him in Spanish as well, besides my attempts at translating his work.  *sigh*  I've found when I read writers I really love something happens to my own writing.  It is influenced by the lyricism, music and something magic that exists in the writers I find myself coming to over and over again.

What If I Do?
Foo Fighters

Friday, July 3, 2009

the crying will come

at dinner with classmates
some of the students in the residency with Ana Castillo
Ana Castillo and Lizz Huerta

Oh what life!  I've been up to my ears in inspiration, consternation and love.  I had my residency with Ana Castillo this week and what a week it has been.  I really haven't shown my novel to anyone for criticism and after working with Ana this week I feel I am on the path. I know what I need to do.  As exhilarating as it has been I am also a little bit scared.  I didn't realize how many layers there are to this process of writing. We had two one hour meetings and I spent a lot of time writing in-between them.  What a labour of love and pain it is going to be, no doubt.

Things here are always emotionally intense.  We joke, are you a second day crier or a fourth day crier? because inevitably the crying will come.  I don't cry here but I do get anxious and have problems sleeping.  I know what comes next, the VONA decompression.  When I get home tomorrow I will most likely get the blues since I will be away from the people I have been being nurtured along side of the last 12 days.  I'll weep a little, sleep a lot and be in a daze for some daze.

I've met some fascinating people this week.  I told a friend of mine who interviewed me for an article she is writing about VONA that I feel I have always known a lot of the people I've met here, I've just been waiting to meet them.  There is an energy here that is rare.  Everyone is supportive of each other but we also party.  We laugh until our stomachs hurt and we also cry like babies.  The faculty is accessible and always available to discuss writing, life or the new fabulous shoes I purchased on Haight Street.

The other night I had dinner and drinks with Adam, who was my very first boyfriend when I was 15.  It was really great to see him, we are essentially the same people we were 15/16 years ago.  Adam is a very talented artist.  When we were dating I was in high school and I was writing a lot.  Adam was always very supportive of my work and encouraged me to show it to other people.  I did and was encouraged by those people and my confidence in my writing really grew out of that.  I told him that this week, that he was very important in my development as a writer and he influenced the way I saw myself as an artist and creative human being.

I've done an obscene amount of shopping up here as well.  Haight has a lot of great vintage stores and I went a little crazy getting my shop on.  I love clothing from the 40s and 50s, I feel my body looks best in those elegant lines.  I bought three vintage dresses, a gold vintage top and a hand painted Mexican circle skirt.  Also, a couple of pairs of shoes.  *sigh*  B (I miss B!) mentioned to me a couple of weeks ago that my spending habits have gotten a little bit out of control lately but whatever. My new fabulous shoes will make walking this new path a little easier since I will be so dang confidant in them.