Thursday, February 25, 2010

Wednesday, February 24, 2010

brief reflections on the end of 30

Not a bad year.

The Highs:
Key West Literary Seminar
Riding my bike more
B & Cecil best local besties
Many, many new poems
some interesting new experiences I can't talk about on the internet.


The Lows:
Saying goodbye to Shadow
Saying goodbye to Leonard
Only two new chapters to the novel (but I did rewrite everything at one point)
Work slowing down to almost nothing

Not a bad year, much better than the previous two. It would have been much worse. Tomorrow B and I are going to Disneyland. Friday night Raquel and Reina are coming down from L.A. to go see Robert Karimi's new show. Saturday is Kat's bachelorette party ( I really hope no male strippers are involved. . .) Sunday is my mama's birthday. Monday is Cecil's birthday. And the first. So busy. I look forward to Tuesday.

Monday, February 22, 2010

I prefer

I prefer my dreams to waking these days, because I go to great places. Last night I visited my favorite cove, I have a house on the water there. The light is great, windows clean.

I'm scattered some right now but will come around again. I have many big ideas in my head competing for space. I wonder if something is going on with my brain since I tend to forget things and mismatch a lot.

I would like to go to Tijuana soon to buy some oilcloth and practice sewing with it. Make a couple of little things. I love working with my hands and I'm not doing much right now. Sewing will be a good way to get my thoughts focused.

Oh, and that second brain is in the stomach! Who knew?

Saturday, February 20, 2010

calming


First all, I have the best bestie in the world. B takes better care of me than any non-family member ever has. I over-indulged last night at the Whistlestop with Andy and was pretty ill this morning. B came over with gatorade, made me toast, tea and totally took care of me. He is a winner. This is why I'm single, I sometimes doubt I could find a partner who would pamper me the way B does. I'm not complaining, I'm just sayin'.

Last week I ordered a hiking belt (pictured above) off of etsy and it came in the mail today. I LOVE IT! I needed something for riding my bike, and I wanted it to be cute. The belt is perfect. Check out Stichaline, the vendor. That picture is not of my booty, obviously. My ass is so flat is practically reflects light. I can't wait to wear it.

Things are still shaky in my head over the family business situation but I'm trying to keep the big picture in mind. Yes, it would be a tragedy but my family is strong, has a great sense of humor and we will be fine. Positivity, Lizz, positivity.

Happiest of birthday to Kenji Liu, poet extraordinaire. Kenji and I met years ago at VONA. I love his poetry. Here is a link to one of his poems. Happy birthday Kenji!

Ever since I mentioned it in a post earlier in the week I've had Perfect Day stuck in my head. I know I've posted it before but it is a damn good song.




Friday, February 19, 2010

apocalyspe

I keep dreaming of the end of the world. I wake up thinking I should stock up on dry goods, water, batteries. It passes.

Yesterday I was dealt a blow that is the end of the world for me. The family business is in very poor shape, things are dire. In 30 years, it has never been this bad. I cried for a good part of the evening. My parents are the best human beings I know, they've worked hard their entire lives to have the business and they're good at what they do. It kills me that it could fail. My dad is an honest man, almost to a fault and I've watched him be taken advantage of over and over again but in the end he believes that people are inherently good and he will come out on top for all of his hard work. I cried for him most of the evening, he is such a good human, the hardest working, and generous person I've ever met, he has never harmed a soul in his life. It isn't fair that someone with so much integrity and love for the world could be devastated by it. I don't know what they would do. My sister and I are young enough to start over and figure things out. My parents have put their entire lives into this business, I don't know if they have the kind of skills today's world demands to enter the work force anew. If I were a believer I would offer anything, everything, to make it okay. I would sacrifice most futures for them, become a flagellant, offer my fertility away, shave my head, I love them so much. I called my dad last night, upset, to tell him I love him. He assured me things will be okay. He is an optimist. I don't think he has any other choice. I'm going to try to be one with him.

Thursday, February 18, 2010

submitting

The goal this morning is to send some work out. I went through poems last night and kind of have an idea of where to send them. I wrote a few poems for the List Anthology that I'll be sending out. I was editing a couple of them last night; they're oddly sad and I cried after working on them. I will probably send work to journals I haven't submitted to before. I'll go through the books of poems I like and see where the poets have published their work and I'll send the poems there. I also have to finish my Breadloaf application. May the financial aid gods smile upon me, may the flying spaghetti monster of talent be with me.

I applied for a scholarship to study in San Miguel de Allende this summer. It may be a longshot but I would love to go back to my old stomping grounds and reclaim that wildness. I miss those days, crazy and uncomfortable as they sometimes were. In my mind I am still that free-spirited young thing that took all sorts of risks with an open heart. The gradual closing of my heart has been a bad thing. I often feel like I'm standing inside of it looking for the doorway, or a window out. I'd like to get to trusting people again and trusting myself. Scary. I was lamenting my old self yesterday while walking through the marsh with Cecil, he said youth is wasted on the young. Is it? It shouldn't be. How incredibly lame. I'm feeling like I've moved from young into "still young." What a difference those five letters make, still.

Going through some boxes earlier this week I came across the Anthology of Poetry by Young Americans and found a poem I had published in it. I'd completely forgotten I'd written or published it and I was kind of impressed at my young mind. Many of the poems in the collection were cute, sweet poems by children. I wrote a poem called The Ocean, in abab rhyme. Here it is, straight from my 12 year old self:

The Ocean

Endless stretch of mass confusion,
fathoms of life and time.
Awesome world of complication
so often said in rhyme.
Life and death so simply stated,
in our friend and foe.
'Tis so crass and beautiful,
with the more we do not know.
Endless waves and waveless ends,
collide in this simple motion.
Free your thoughts and thoughts run free,
in this spectacle, the ocean.

Twelve year old Lizz may have something to teach me. In my office I have the first poem I ever wrote called Poetry, in a frame. I'll post it here one day. I was seven when I wrote it. I consecrated myself to this art early. I've never stopped. There is probably no turning back now. I wonder if any other life would make me happy. I'm not going to try and find out.


Wednesday, February 17, 2010

all over the place


I am coveting these oilskin bicycle panniers. These lovelies are from the UK. They don't ship here, sad face. I may just have to whip out the sewing machine, put on a heavy duty needle and attempt to make them myself.

I was surprised last night during the Olympics (male ice-skating and didn't the Russian guy look like Adrien Brody in a blonde wig?) to hear Perfect Day by Lou Reed in a commercial. With astronauts. I'm not sure how I feel about that. But it reminded me of the great Halloween costume I have planned for next year.

My amazing and odd dream world is back in full swing. I really am fascinated by the places I go, since I go to them again and again. Last night I was in a peninsular village on the coast somewhere near the equator. It was dusk and some killer mollusk was on the loose and I was the only one who knew the remedy. My beautiful Icarus Kitty made a guest appearance. There was a weird otherworld-ness to my other world last night, a little bit of sadness but nostalgic sadness, not the weepy let me listen to Tom Waits and drink whiskey sadness.

The last 24 hours have been good, gorgeous weather. I spent most of yesterday with Cecil having one of our great wandering days involving Asian grocery stores, the beach and dinner. I told him how when I first saw him at a poetry reading years ago I was terrified of him because he was (and is) kind of mean to certain people. I had no idea he would become one of the greatest friends I've ever had. Looks like a new project is in the works for his garden. I look forward to the work.

I have poems to submit. I've run out of excuses. Sending my little babies out into the world to see if they can stand on their own, terrifying.

Here is a link to a GREAT poem, Jolene by Sherman Alexie. The answer Mr. Alexie, unfortunately, is yes and all too often.

Tuesday, February 16, 2010

pick it up

Last night I read for San Diego Writers, Ink A Year in Ink Vol III Anthology release party. I read a poem I wrote last April for the poem-a-day challenge called all I want is to stop wanting. I dig the poem, particularly the line the emotional inhabitants of never-never land. The anthology has some very strong writing in it. I had a couple of drinks beforehand with my friend Tammy, whose memoir, when she finishes it, will be a best-seller. I read excerpts of it almost a year ago and I still think about it.

I'm looking for something really good to read. I'm craving a strong narrative with complex characters. Lately (okay, always), I've been on a fantasy kick and have reread many favorites by Charles de Lint and tons of Neil Gaiman. A few years ago a friend of mine was reading a book about pirates in space fighting dragons and I loved the cover of the book but forgot what it was called and my friend is too famous to talk to me anymore so I may never find out. *sigh*

I'm supposed to go to Key West next month but the friend I'm to stay with is embroiled in some personal things and I may cancel my trip. My father has offered to buy my plane ticket to send me to La Pedregosa, the little village he was born in in Mexico, to visit my grandparents. I may go, even though I always feel incredibly awkward when I'm there. But, I can collect stories. If I go I want to take a video camera and interview everyone for their home-remedies and for the odd bits of family history that fascinate me. And I really should collect my grandfather's WWII stories.

This poem has been in heavy rotation on my reading list and probably will be for a while. I worked with Jane Hirshfield in January and it was everything I hoped it would be. I came away from the workshop with tools that will serve me again and again in my writing.

EACH MOMENT A WHITE BULL STEPS SHINING INTO THE WORLD
by Jane Hirschfield

If the gods bring to you
a strange and frightening creature,
accept the gift
as if it were one you had chosen.

Say the accustomed prayers,
oil the hooves well,
caress the small ears with praise.

Have the new halter of woven silver
embedded with jewels.
Spare no expense, pay what is asked,
when a gift arrives from the sea.

Treat it as you yourself
would be treated, brought speechless and naked
into the court of a king.

And when the request finally comes,
do not hesitate even an instant –

stroke the white throat,
the heavy, trembling dewlaps
you’d come to believe were yours,
and plunge in the knife.

Not once
did you enter the pasture
without pause,
without yourself trembling,
that you came to love it, that was the gift.

Let the envious gods take back what they can.


Monday, February 15, 2010

I'm back, perhaps

I know, world's worst blogger. December had me cranky, January I froze in Key West and then my lazy switch was flipped and there was nothing I could do about it. Since last I wrote I had a roommate and lost him. I met and hung out with Judy Blume. I made Billy Collins laugh hard at something I said whilst tipsy. I introduced Paul Muldoon to the wonderful world of duct tact competitions. I wrote many poems, a few I really like. I've discovered Tofu House and love it. I've practiced cooking with seitan. My beautiful old dog Shadow passed; a few days before that I was with Cecil as he put beloved old Leonard down. It was been a rough year for old dogs. I had a reading at Voz Alta for the first time in years and realized I'm more or less grown up. I've let go of old ghosts or demons. B got me a deep fryer for Christmas and I'm hoping the honeymoon stage of that gorgeous beast of an appliance is almost over. A new Elliott Smith song was released, I cried. The new Sade came out and I've already memorized it. I've walked away from something mostly wonderful because I saw the writing on the wall. I've planted nasturtiums. I cut down the dying jasmine. My circadian rhythm is swinging back into a normal phase. I've held friends as they cried. I've gone to the zoo a lot. I've been tipsy and had some tipsy adventures. I've met some people I hope to know a long time. I learned how to body paint. I've ridden my bike more. I cut the tip of my thumb off but it grew back surprisingly fast. I've been an enabler. I've been enabled. I made orange juice from the trees in my parent's back yard. I'm moving into better things, better living. I'm ten days away from 31. I'm digging my life.

Cecilia/Amanda
Elliott Smith