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.