Wednesday, June 30, 2010

week

I don't have much to say this week. I lack motivation.

Friday, June 25, 2010

Friday at last

Not that I have anything excited planned for the weekend but I'm looking forward to spending time with people I haven't spent time with. Dancing wasn't an option last night. I was exhausted from a late night Wednesday and the uber-waxing moon had me achey.

I saw my friend Jim Ruland read at the Whistlestop for V.A.M.P. and hung out with his gorgeous wife, one of my besties, Nuvia. I wish I spent more time with them.

Andy sent me this link to a Sufjan Stevens remix album yesterday. I haven't really listened to much Sufjan in a while, I had my phase then moved on. There are a few songs I always return to. I really love this song, Dumb I Sound and I like the remix too. Or, how it was sampled. I like how the title makes me want to work on enjambments. Weirdly.





Thursday, June 24, 2010

taking the trash out

I am not good at taking the trash out. But I will today, and the recycling and I will clean out the fridge. I need to do some nesting to get my home happy. And tonight if all goes as planned, dancing.

I would like to go for a long walk.

Wednesday, June 23, 2010

wherein I praise the role of the fundamentally lonely

I have had the loveliest few evenings of solitude lately. Not just my nights but my days. I loved my guests but I am just not used having someone in my space all of the time. I've not called friends, not had B around, just me, books and music. Glorious, glorious solitude. Last night falling asleep I was joyful. My parents tell me that I've always loved being alone. When I was a baby they would come into my nursery in the mornings and I'd be in my crib, silently observing whatever what was going on outside the window. As a child I'd spend hours alone in the backyard. I remember how much I loved to watch ants. I could sit for hours watching the ants move back and forth, completely absorbed in their tiny lives.

This is my favorite passage from Rilke's essay on Worpswede. I typed this out by hand since I can't find it anywhere online, except in German. This is one of the pieces of writing that I turn to again and again.

Children see Nature differently; solitary children in particular, who grow up amongst adults, foregather with her by a kind of likemindedness at one with the happenings of the forest and sky and in innocent, obvious harmony with them. But just because of this, there comes later for youth and maiden that lonely period filled with deep, trembling melancholy, when they feel unutterably forlorn, just at the time of their physical maturing; when they feel that things and events in Nature have no longer, their fellow-men have not yet, any sympathy for them. Spring comes, even when they are sad, the roses bloom, and the nights are full of nightingales, even though they would like to die; and when at last they would smile once more, the autumn days are there, the heavy days of November, which seem to fall without cessation, and on which a long and sunless winter follows. And, on the other hand, they see people, equally strange to them and unconcerned, with their business, their cares, their success and joys, and they do not understand it. And finally, some of them make up their minds and join these people in order to share their work and their fate, to be useful, to be helpful, to serve the enlargement of life somehow, whilst the others, unwilling to leave the Nature they have lost, go in pursuit of her and try now, consciously and by use of their concentrated will, to come as near to her again as they were in their childhood without knowing it. It will be understood that the latter are artists: poets or painters, composers or architects, fundamentally lonely spirits who, in turning to Nature, put the eternal above the transitory, that which is most profoundly based on law above that which is fundamentally ephemeral, and who, since they cannot persuade Nature to concern herself with then, see their task to be the understanding of Nature, so that they may take their place somewhere in her great design. And the whole humanity comes nearer to Nature in these isolated and lonely ones. It is not the least and is, perhaps, the peculiar value of art, that it is the medium in which man and landscape, form and world, meet and find each other. In actuality they live beside one another, scarcely knowing aught of each other, and in the picture, the piece of architecture, the symphony, in a word, in art, they seem to come together in a high, prophetic truth, to rely upon one another, and it is as if, by completing one another, they become that perfect unity, which is the very essence of a work of art.

Fundamentally lonely spirits. Amen. Nothing wrong with that at all. I was having a conversation recently with a friend. We're both good socially, can play well with others and all of that but at heart, we're both misanthropes who prefer solitude. There is nothing wrong with loneliness, nothing at all. I think the best art comes out of it, the absence. The best times I've had in my life were when I was alone, wandering, without friend or family. I found a strength, some deep vein of sustenance that I'm thrilled to know exists.

One last line from the same essay:

They want to see a life, beside them, over them, about them, a life that lives without concerning itself with them.

I like to think Rilke and I would have had some wonderful silences between us.

It was ten years ago now that I was living in Caribbean Mexico for the first time. My lungs were brilliant, I would swim out to the reef every day and dive deep and long to see. I swam with sea turtles, barracuda; I knew how the currents ran and would sometimes let one carry me out because I knew another would bring me back in. That was the summer I met Lorna Dee Cervantes. I remember her calling me La Sirena because of how easily I swam through the water without fins or mask. I can't believe ten years have passed. But, I look at my writing, what I was writing then and what has come since and I'm pretty proud.

Tuesday, June 22, 2010

waltz

Yesterday afternoon I sat alone on the beach for a few hours, alternately reading and napping. It was sublime. I noticed that all the solo beach goers tend to scatter along the dunes. I sit by the dunes because they provide cover from the wind and there aren't as many children screaming around, throwing sand. Last night I sat alone at a bar for dinner and a glass of wine, which turned into several glasses of wine poured by the hand of the generous bartender. I slept early, dreaming strange dreams. I woke up around 2:40, freezing. I guess Spring still has her claws in the nights.

I love the movie Before Sunset. I remember seeing it in 2006. When I went to Paris later that year I spent a day trying to trace their footsteps in the movie. I loved Before Sunrise when I was a teenager but as an adult it didn't resonate with me. But the sequel. I sat in the theatre as the credits rolled, crying. The dialogue killed me. It still kills me. The tension between the characters is painfully beautiful. The song I'm posting from the movie is lovely. I am in the mood for running away from everything, packing my backpack and tearing off for one of those adventures I had when I was younger. But, it just isn't that easy anymore. I wonder if it ever will be again.

Monday, June 21, 2010

Hello Summer

Hello summer, I've been waiting so long. I hope you're filled with late, warm nights and beaches.

Friday, June 18, 2010

in love

I am in love with Elizabeth Kostova's The Historian. I'm sleepy this morning because I couldn't stop reading last night. I'm so happy vampires can still be written about in a fresh way. I've heard a ton about this book but never picked it up. Glad I picked it up. I really shouldn't have indulged in most of a bottle of red wine last night, but vampires, blood and wine seem to go really well together.

Resquiat in Pacem Jose Saramago, I've loved your work for so long.

In my dreams last night I wanted to take a bath. I went to the bathtub and turned on the water, not realizing there was already water in the tub. When I got in the water overflowed and I realized I was in dirty water. I tried to drain some of it to add fresh water but realized I needed to get out, drain the water and clean the tub before I could soak in satisfaction. Really brain? Parables while I sleep? Come on.

Thursday, June 17, 2010

somewhat

Last night was the first night I've spent alone on my apartment for weeks and I had a hard time sleeping. Falling asleep was difficult but waking up was lovely. It would be lovelier if I had something to look forward to.

Wednesday, June 16, 2010

the weirds

I'm deep in the weirds this week. I am truly struggling with money for the first time in a long time and I don't know how to feel about it. I don't really spend much money but I have expenses, rent, food, bills and I don't know how I'm going to pay them. I have a lot of time on my hands because I have no work but I'm not motivated to write. I've never had a traditional job, I don't know that I want one. But I may have to start looking for one. The thought of a normal job, clocking in, paychecks, hours of required commitment freaks me out and depresses me. I love painting, I wish I could paint every day and I wish people were hiring me. I should be more proactive about getting work. But, being in a funk doesn't help motivation. I know I'm moving towards a depressed state because I sleep way more than usual, even taking longs naps during the day. I'm going on a bike ride today to try and get my serotonin levels up. Also, I'm not eating enough fruit.

I had a long conversation with an old friend yesterday, it was comforting. He and I spent a couple of years not talking and in the last year we've reconnected and spend a few hours a month on the phone. He is into behavioral and evolutionary psychology as well and we can go off on long tangents because we have a compatible baseline knowledge of the subjects. Recently we've spent a lot of time discussing romantic love and how pop culture influences ideas of love. I confessed that when I'm feeling blue I always turn to Pride and Prejudice for comfort, even though the memes are the same I decry in popular culture. Maybe I should write a romance novel. Ick. I just grossed myself out even thinking that. But the conversation was illuminating, I even wrote down a couple of things he said to use in poems.

My nasturtiums are blooming, violet, white and pink. I have two orchid plants blooming, one indoor, one outdoor. The herbs I planted have started peeking through the earth, thread-fine shoots of dill and the little bumps of green that will unfurl into basil. I love sitting on my balcony. The hummingbirds are not too active yet, I doubt they're thirsty enough for artificial nectar when so much is naturally flowering. My rosemary is outgrowing the pot I have it in. There is a lot of color on the balcony. The crows have moved on to a neighborhood where the smaller birds aren't as aggressive, or maybe they've eaten their fill of babies. The mornings are gray.

Tuesday, June 15, 2010

shaking

I was reading in bed last night when my bed began to shake. Another earthquake. I jumped up and hid under my kitchen table. After, I was shaking for a couple of hours. It isn't that I'm scared of earthquakes but something in me was rattled.

I love this poem. This is the Stephen Mitchell translation.

Evening
The sky puts on the darkening blue coat
held for it by a row of ancient trees;
you watch: and the lands grow distant in your sight,
one journeying to heaven, one that falls;

and leave you, not at home in either one,
not quite so still and dark as the darkened houses,
not calling to eternity with the passion
of what becomes a star each night, and rises;

and leave you (inexpressibly to unravel)
your life, with its immensity and fear,
so that, now bounded, now immeasurable,
it is alternatively stone in you and star.

-- Rainer Maria Rilke

I love the last line. It is alternately stone in you and star. Aren't most things?

I went to a reading last night. My friend Jim Ruland read. He is almost finished with his novel. I am truly happy for him, his writing is great and he is a hard worker. I think of my novel, mostly abandoned. My characters unsure of where they are headed and how they can resolve their petite dramas. I think of my short stories. I have lost the thread of magic that was carrying me through the writing.

But, it will come back. Good things are on their way. My houseguest leaves tomorrow, (2 weeks of visitors! I love them but my solitary nature is suffering) and I'll have my home to myself again. I look forward to having no one here in the morning. Kind of.



Monday, June 14, 2010

long

My weekend was long and full, I am exhausted.

I've had good news in my writing. I had two poems accepted for publication. I got into Squaw Valley, with a scholarship. Yesterday out of nowhere I got an email from someone who was in a novel writing class with me four years ago. He wrote he was sitting on a train in Latvia and was thinking about my novel and how he hoped I had finished it because he wanted to read it. So, good things in my writing life. Still chopping away at this poem I started. It isn't very long, maybe 12 lines but I'm trying to hone it, make it what I want it to be. I'm being horrible about working on the short stories but, they take time and I haven't really had a lot of time.

Happy 35th wedding anniversary to my loving parents. I love you guys and how much you love each other and make each other laugh. I'm posting as my song today the first song you danced to at your wedding.



Friday, June 11, 2010

futbol and slippers

In my bathrobe and Yoda slippers watching Mexico v. South Africa. Poor, poor Nelson Mandela. My dad has put a screen in his shop and bought all of his employees Menudo this morning. This is kind of a stressful way to start the day. Sometimes big games give me anxiety. Ug. South Africa just scored and my neighbors probably think my stalker is back with the yell I just let out.

I wrote a poem yesterday that has some lines and images I really like. The poem is still very raw ad I have a lot of work to do on it but I have a good start. One image I know is the anchor, the rest of the poem may wither away but that one line is a major keeper.

Busy weekend ahead. B told me not to post my whereabouts anymore after my recent brush with danger. My sister will be in town.

Thursday, June 10, 2010

the world, the words

I'm the featured "Out of El Paso" artist at the Pluma Fronteriza blog today! Check it out.

Last night night after a long and rather crazy evening with the family I headed out to the Whistle to meet Andy for drinks. I didn't realize it was Sleepwalkers night, or old school oldies and lowrider music. Holy, holy joy of mine, I wanted to stay there all night and watch people in their finery. It was like being at a Chula Vista BBQ in the 80s. Old homeys, young homeys, women in pompadours. Very zoot suit-ish. J came and met us. Next month I'm dressing up and dancing.

On the way home J and I finally got into one of our famous spats. I was waiting to see when it would happen. It took longer than usual this time but I was for ready for it, having primed my inner chola and all earlier in the week. We paced back and forth in my apartment, circling each other like a couple of wolves, exchanging barbs. He can't hurt me the way he used to when I was in my early 20s, my milk teeth are gone and I can argue rather well. But, I can also admit when I'm wrong and last night I had to admit that I was wrong and he was right. He gave me a lot to think about.

I wish I could write a poem that made me feel the way James Brown's voice makes me feel when I hear this song.

Wednesday, June 9, 2010

Contemplating

I want another poetry tattoo. Of course I think of Rilke because when I think of something I want on my body forever, I want Rilke. I know the line too but don't know where I'd put it. Somewhere I could see it. I remember years ago I was in a mood and seriously contemplating a fig leaf tattoo. What is represented was beautiful but it changed and I'm glad I don't have the ink in me to remind me of failure.

Yesterday J and I went to the Goodwill and I bought 11 books. Some are books I'll hide so no one knows how sometimes I require really crappy books to entertain me. But I also picked up some good things, another copy of Love in the Time of Cholera (I've had a Fermina Daza poem fermenting in me for years, I can't wait until it comes out), a ZZ Packer book I've been wanting, and on a whim I picked up Harper's Anthology of 20th Century Native American Poetry. The anthology is mind-blowing. I sat up last night in bed, awake beyond when my body began begging for sleep, losing myself in the language. I was drunk on it.

My dreams were beautiful last night.

I've had an interesting couple of days. Highs and lows but mainly I'm good. My body is extraordinarily tired today because yesterday and the night before I was tense. I let go of the tension last night but the muscles in my back and neck are sore. I may go walk on the beach this afternoon. Take some silence.



Tuesday, June 8, 2010

things that go bump

Last night I learned that I have an inner chola who is loud and mean. And fast. A poem revisited me, though there really wasn't anything poetic about it. I am grateful for the company I keep.

I like the lyrics in this song. J showed it to me. He arrived this morning.

Monday, June 7, 2010

1

My goal this week is to continue to work on a short story that I’ve been thinking about. I have a hard time figuring out how many characters to use and how central they need to be to the narrative. Since I’ve been trying to work in the vein of Magical Realism I’ve realized that in general I’m a minimalist in my prose. Trying to weave together a story like the one I’m writing requires an abundance that I’m not sure I have yet. But I’m trying. When last I left my protagonist she was peeing on her dead husband’s grave.


I'm in a hell of a mood. Scattered as fuck, I can't hold a thought in my head and my heart is a roving, salivating beast.


Saturday, June 5, 2010

cavemen, again

There is an article on PsychCentral rehashing something that has been written about extensively already. Social rejection causes physical pain.

Well, duh. I have been struggling to write a poem on this for years. The poem's working title has been Standing Outside the Cave, Screaming. As I understand the research, and it makes total sense, we are hard-wired to behave in social groups because in our evolutionary development, survival depended on being able to work in the group. If an individual acted outside of accepted group norms and was thus rejected from the cave, (always, I bring it back to cavemen), that individual would die. Evolution made it so that when an individual is feeling rejected they would have a physical reaction as well to warn the caveman "Hey Buddy, this hurts and if you keep acting in a way that keeps you hurting, you're going to be expelled from the cave and die." Join the group. Behave.

Hm, thinking as I write this, I actually wrote a poem recently about living in my own cave and not being part of the group, addressing another cave-dweller. The poem was started off as romantic but went in a different direction. I must explore this whole cave thing more deeply since I reacted so strongly when I read the article, as I do when science gives us something allegedly new to chew on. I'm fascinated by human interaction, social groups and how biology informs our social development. I have a lot to say on the subject but don't know if poetry is the best place to say it. Flinging mud at the walls. Standing outside the cave, screaming. I need to find something new to read since I've read so much of the same crap on social and evolutionary psychology. Challenge me already.

lights out


My good friend Adam is in town for the weekend. We had a pretty great evening, I dragged him out with me even though he wanted to stay in and draw. We went to visit his old high school best friend and she offered him an art show in August. I'm thrilled for him, while he is terrified. We ate at the taco truck then went to the bar for a drink. When we got back to my place were here for about 5 minutes when the power went out. I forgot there was a scheduled outage but was prepared anyway. I brought out my camping lantern, lit candles and made the best out of it.

We sat in my office, listening to Dead Can Dance. I drank wine while Adam sketched silently. It was lovely. Adam asked if he could draw me and I of course said yes, who doesn't want to be drawn? He did several studies of my face, in his particular style while I daydreamed, drank wine and composed a poem in my head. Lisa Gerard's and Brendan Perry's gorgeous voices in the room with us. I read from the book of Thomas Merton Adam carries as his favorite and I learned a thing or two.

I was thinking of our 17 years of friendship, meeting at the drama room in high school and all that has passed between us. Adam was my first love, the young, sweet inexperienced joy that only comes once in a lifetime. We were such weird kids, spending hours together on the phone in silence while he drew and I wrote. We didn't even really see each other much back then, Adam had already graduated high school and I was 14/15. Our relationship consisted of phone calls and notes. I'm glad it was that way instead of the connected-at-the-hip typical high school romance. I learned early on (though I've certainly back-slided more than once) about having space in a relationship. Adam was (and is) extremely well-read and he introduced me to a world of books and music I didn't know existed. Our break-up was amicable and we've remained good friends. Last night while he was drawing me , (which he hasn't done since we were teenagers) he told me the last time I drew your eyes they were innocent. I asked him if I looked jaded and he said no, that I looked like I have lived. True.

The lights came back on eventually and the spell of the evening faded. I went to bed and slept deeply, dreaming of someone I know. I slept in for once and woke up rested. I rearranged the furniture in my bedroom yesterday and I am so happy with how it looks and feels. I'm happy with how I feel.

Friday, June 4, 2010

poesia

There is some writing going on. And, possible interest in my writing. Waiting patiently to see if I got into Squaw Valley. I really, really, really want to work with Luis Urrea. I also really want to pick up his new graphic novel, Mr. Mendoza's Paintbrush but I'm broke. It takes place in Rosario, where my father was born. Then my grandparents moved close to the river, by the bomba and the river gods tried to steal my father's soul. One day I'll write that story.

I have three friends coming to stay with me, Adam arrives today and leaves Sunday. J arrives Tuesday for a week. And Reina arrives Wednesday for a few days. They're all incredibly creative people so I hope to be inspired.

Digging this song. Not digging my headache.

Thursday, June 3, 2010

thoughts on thoughts

I see my blog hits are up. It must be because of the CityBeat article. Pretty cool. Thank you Seth Combs, I'm pretty thrilled. I hope you enjoy your new life as a, uh, farmer.

This blog is where I deposit thoughts. Sometimes on writing, sometimes on the process or just randomness. The post below this has a couple of videos of me reading, including "Birds," the story the article mentioned.

Last night I lost myself in Rilke's Duino Elegies. There is no collection of poetry I turn to more than this one. The copy I was reading last night is the Edward Snow translation, my favorite.

For beauty is nothing
but the beginning of terror, which we can just barely endure,
and we stand in awe of it as cooly disdains to destroy us.

-the First Elegy

That line does something to my heart whenever I read it. The whole First Elegy kills me. I can't read it without wanting to fly out my window. I originally read the Duino Elegies in Switzerland one cold winter. Rilke finished the Elegies in Switzerland, though he started them in Italy. Winter was cold, I was isolated and often in dark places. and Rilke soothed. I look to see the passages I underlined then and I wouldn't choose the same ones now. It makes me wonder if I should date when I read something so that I can see what was resonating at that point in my life.

Last night I noticed something I may have noticed before and forgotten. My slowly dying novel mirrors the poems. One of my main characters is a poet who writes a collection of poems addressing another character "Angel." Rilke addresses his poems to "Angel" as well, though his Angel is a celestial being, while the one in my book is flesh and bones. *sigh* I miss my novel but working on it hurts.

Oh how strangely the drinker slips from the sacrament.
-First Elegy
Rilke



Wednesday, June 2, 2010

readings

I've posted a couple of videos of readings. I've made myself watch them, even though I don't like watching myself read. But I like the work and am proud of it so here it is.


This is a non-fiction piece called "The Note" that I read at So Say We All's V.A.M.P. last Thursday at the Whistlestop.


This is a short fiction piece called "Birds" that I read at Literary Death Match in April.

And this song is in my head. I love it.

Tuesday, June 1, 2010

thoughts on orbiting friends

In my dreams last night I was leaving Key West. It makes sense since before bed I was talking to my good friend Tioti who lives down there. Last night I spent a good part of the evening editing poems. I was working on a poem that started off with a trip T and I took to a nude beach in Key West. The poem evolved into something else completely but the heart of it was true to the kind of friendship Tioti and I have. In Key West we sat on his deck nightly looking out over the canals and talked intimately for hours. He gave me one of the best looks a human being has ever given me. I remember thinking This is how I always want to be looked at. Last night he told me an emotional darkness has landed on everyone in Key West and they walk around dazed, waiting for the oil. Town meetings are being held every night. People are crying openly in the streets. I can't imagine. My heart hurts for him and his family, everyone who is affected by the disaster. He has a wonderful girlfriend and beautiful twin boys who are keeping him grounded but still, my friend is hurting.

I find out about Squaw Valley next week, I hope I get in and hope if I do, I can some financial aide. I need something to look forward to.

My old mentor and friend J from Mexico emailed me yesterday to tell me he is coming for a visit. I haven't seen him in 2 years. He found out recently he has cancer but the treatments are going well and he can travel. It will be good to see him though I wonder about the dynamic. We tend to fight after being together for more than a few hours. The night we met I was housesitting in San Miguel. It was December and cold, and the owner of the house/art studio had forewarned me a friend of his was coming to stay and that he was a bit of a rake. I was sitting in front of the fire, playing with a kitten when Jeffrey thundered in wearing jeans, a suit jacket and bright red Converse. He came up, grabbed a handful of paint from the palette I had next to me smeared it on his face then offered to buy me dinner. He is a brilliant artist. He introduced me to Rilke and for that (and so many other reasons) I will be forever grateful.

Another brilliant artist is coming to stay with me this weekend. My friend Adam is coming from San Francisco. We're going to paint a mural in my bathroom. Or, Adam will paint it while I watch. I've known Adam since I was 14. He was my first boyfriend. I have drawings of his from way back then, as he has poems of mine from those days. I look forward to the sea creature he will paint in my bathroom.