Saturday, December 31, 2011

2011

Today is the last day of the year.

My highlights:

Getting healthy. This last year I made a commitment to my health that has changed everything. I exercise regularly which has changed everything. My body is strong and healthy. I've gotten over insomnia for the most part and am happy with how I feel physically.

Meditating. Going into silence in the morning has centered me.

Starting and finishing the first draft of a novel that I've wanted to write has been a great accomplishment.

Work. I love what I do for a living and I've become more dedicated to it and have really built a name for myself and the unique skill set I have.

My favorite moments of the year:

My sister Deanna's engagement to a wonderful man who makes her happy. I am overjoyed for her joy. I love the man she is going to marry, he has a great family, he and his family fit right in to ours.

A night last Winter when Love and I were still together. We went out to a bar with a friend of his and on the way home we were singing loudly in the car to Stevie Wonder. It was silly and beautiful and one of the best moments of our relationship. Despite how things ended I am happy I was able to share brilliant little moments like that with someone I loved deeply.

The first wave I ever surfed. Feeling the ocean beneath me as I rode in was exhilarating beyond belief.

There were hard parts of the year, lots of grief but you can't have the good without the bad.

I look forward to 2012. I have no idea what it will bring but I look forward to looking back.

Wednesday, December 28, 2011

the spoils of a year

The end of the year is almost here and I always, most likely like everyone else, go into a period of contemplation. Actually, I lie. I've been in a period of contemplation for a while now. I go into myself, often broodingly but I enjoy the brooding. I consider it a hibernation, the incubation before a period of growth.

Looking back on the year I have much to be proud of. My body is strong, stronger than it has ever been before. I enjoy my regiment of exercise and training. I finished the first draft of my novel, something I've been wanting to do my entire life. I sent out my poetry manuscript consistently. I began teaching. I have a meditation practice, something that I haven't been able to maintain in the past. I'm more centered than I have been in a long while. I have good friends who challenge me intellectually and who make me laugh. My life is not at all boring. I have a phenomenal family, I love them more than anything and I live in constant state of gratitude for them; they are at the center of me, my everything, my base.

My challenges were not easy challenges this last year but for the most part I handled them with grace, I think. There were a few moments I am not proud of but looking back I can honestly say I was driven to my rage by actions that were not at all honorable, my reactions were honest and valid; the situations that enraged me were ones wherein I discovered dishonesty. Lessons learned; my gut feeling, intuition, doesn't lie.

I don't have big plans to bring in the New Year. I don't really care about the false celebration. Amateur night. Forced joy. Looking at the weather report for the weekend I see it is supposed to be 80 degrees on New Year's Day. I'd rather go to sleep at a decent hour then wake up early and ride my bike through the streets of what will surely be a deserted city. I don't want to waste a day of sunshine on sleep, or waste an evening of sleep on jostling and crowds. Solitude may be in order, as much as I know that will disappoint a few people who want to go out with me. I enjoy choosing solitude.

I am planning on not drinking the entire month of January. Not that I am an imbiber, but I do usually have a glass of red wine nightly. I want a month of no booze on my system. I also intend to do a vegan month. We'll see. I'm sure I can do it. I have the cooking skills to eat well whenever I want and sacrifice is a good practice, especially where health is concerned.

All in all, moving forward.

Monday, December 19, 2011

at hardest angle

Oh Winter solstice! Hurry up and come! The darker days get me in the doldrums but I'm managing it rather well with exercise and meditation with year. Still, malaise has been showing up and dumping on my head. 'Tis the season.

This week will be very interesting, no doubt. My cousin gets married on Friday so the entire family is in town. The last time we were all together was in May 2010 when my grandfather died. My favorite cousins are all in town. And my good friend Andy is in town, sleeping in my guest room as I write this. I will have no home solitude until for at least a week. Kind of chaotic but I don't mind. I love my family. I love my friends.

I've decided to start the New Year off clean. No drinking for one month and I also will have a vegan month. And lots of working out. We will see. I haven't taken a break from drinking since early 2008. I sound like a have a problem but really I'm a weekend drinker. But I want to give my body a break. Just to see what happens.

Big plans coming up. I'm pretty damn happy with all that's going on with my writing and my creative life. I am surrounded these days by invigorating people.

Wednesday, December 7, 2011

to obsess, ripen

Once, a long time ago, a nutritionist called me a mono-eater. A mono-eater makes a meal out of just one food at a time. For example: just apples, or just kale, or a just hunk of cheese. I do tend to mono-eat at times, I have a weird bit of obsessiveness to me. I'l also listen to the same song over and over again, or read the same book. These days in my meditations I am obsessed with Rilke. Of course, anyone who knows me or had read my blog for any length at time knows I have been and probably always while be a Rilke-fanatic. (Just realized that ex-Love has my copy of Rilke's letter to Lou. Shit. Shit. Shit.) Anyway, lately the poems collected in the Book of Hours are just screaming to me. I had a night of very intense dreams last night. I felt as if though I were awake and watching myself go through a series of challenges. Very odd. I actually sent away some recurring dream characters and told them not to come back. This morning when I woke up, before I meditated I opened up The Book of Hours and this was the poem on the page:

I am, you anxious one.

Don't you sense me, ready to break
into being at your touch?
My murmurings surround you like shadowy wings.
Can't you see me standing before you
cloaked in stillness?
Hasn't my longing ripened in you
from the beginning
as fruit ripens on a branch?

I am the dream you are dreaming.
When you want to awaken, I am that wanting.
I grow strong in the beauty you behold.
And with the silence of stars I enfold
your cities make by time.

I,19

Exquisite. This whole process of being a writer and going into my writing practice with more seriousness is an intense one. Rilke's images and ideas of "ripening" really do resonate. Everything is there. I am the fruit. I am part of the tree. I am ripening. Can't rush fruit, green fruit is almost always inedible and bad for digestion. My book is very much green fruit at this stage but the elements are there. I've been slowly reading through it, letting it soak through me. There is a lot of pruning to be done, lots of shaping and fertilizing. So it goes.

The weather has been unseasonably cold. It gets down to the thirties at night, which is pretty damn frigid for San Diego. I had to cover my orchids last night so the frost wouldn't kill them. I'm a wuss about the cold. I bundle up in layers and try not to leave the house. I have plans tonight with the boys so I'm already planning what I'm going to wear. I'm happy I never got rid of the thick winter coat I bought during my winter in Switzerland.

I love mornings.

Monday, December 5, 2011

the knowing comes

Insomnia returned to me last night for the first time in months but it wasn't a roving, anxious sleeplessness. No, it was more a contemplative one wherein I got up, poured myself a glass of red wine (these days for casual imbibing I am enamored of Cocobon), and took Rilke off the shelf for meditation. And as always, I read what I needed to read. This is what I opened to, from The Book of Monastic Life, in Rilke's Book of Hours:

I love the dark hours of my being.
My mind deepens into them.
There I can find, as in old letters,
the days of my life, already lived,
and held like a legend, and understood.

Then the knowing comes: I can open
to another life that's wide and timeless.

So I am sometimes like a tree
rustling over a gravesite
and making real the dream
of the one its living roots
embrace:

a dream once lost
among sorrow and songs.

I,5

The first stanza is the one that resonated. The end falls flat for me but whatever, I still love the punch of the piece.

Anyway, I stayed up readying Rilke and another poem shot out at me and will find itself in a key part of my novel, or more appropriately described, it is the epitaph of an emotion, whether it appears in the pages or not. It is an old emotion, an old story, retold. Interesting how in my recent study of mythology I'm seeing how many stories are the same, just re-imagined and reshaped. I'm taking from these stories: selecting fruit from one, a rib from another, forming from dust, breathing life into.

Write, delete. Write, delete. I write so much more in my drafts of these blog posts than I allow myself to admit or publish.

Things are moving along. I want to shout: Look at me! I'm healthy! I am. I have a busy week ahead of me. My days have become so busy. Late last night I found out I have friends coming to town later this week and I offered thme my guest room. I'm looking forward to their smiling faces. Teaching tomorrow night, I am looking forward to the kids, I love them. My life is lovely.

Also, one of the funniest, BEST compliments ever this weekend. You smile like a jaguar.

Saturday, December 3, 2011

fulfill your destiny

I could quote Star Wars all day long. It was on last weekend but for the first time in many many moons I chose not to watch it. Take from that what you will, only one of you will be right.

I finished NaNoWriMo. First draft of novel: complete. I ended on a really tense note, so tense in fact, that while I was writing it Cecil called and I jumped and screamed when the phone rang. I love the book, I do. Now I'm going to rewrite it completely because that is what writers do. I learned a lot about the world I was writing about, er, creating. I have notes for myself all over the place, next to my bed, in my purse, in my car. I was (and am) constantly working out the way the world began, the development of characters, political history, plot points. What a process. I trust myself. I trust myself.

I have been dreaming my book a lot, which is very strange and wonderful. I dream about one of the worlds I created, though really, I believe I based the world off of the place I consistently visit when I dream. I was there again last night, looking out the window of a room I was staying in and I saw one of the places I wrote into my novel and one of the creatures as well.

Last night I went to see Luis Urrea read at Warwicks in La Jolla. I met Luis and his awesome wife Cindy a couple of years ago at a Writer's Conference and we all hit it off. We tweet back and forth at each other consistently. I'm pretty damn excited to read his new book Queen of America as I loved The Hummingbird's Daughter. I did 't get to chat much with Luis as he was super busy but I had some time with his wife who is pretty much a super-smart, ass-kicking woman. I love super-smart, ass-kicking women. I think they are the best women ever.

So much to do. I found this quote on a notecard while cleaning my desk. From Rilke, of course. I wonder what it meant to me when I wrote it down. My writing is cramped and I was pressing the tip of the pen hard into the paper. Finding old writing, notes and such is a practice in emotional archeology.

Be modest now, like a thing
ripened until it is real,
so that he who began it all
can feel you when he reaches for you.

II, I.

Tuesday, November 29, 2011

magnificent beast

There is a character in my novel who hasn't made an appearance yet but he is pivotal to everything. I've been trying to figure out how to introduce him and I've been procrastinating on how to best get him into the action. He has decided he is sick of waiting for me and therefore has stared showing up in my dreams every night. What a magnificent beast. This may sound incredibly cheesy but I see him and I get chills. He is awesome. He made his first appearance in my dreams a few nights ago. He's showed up again, peripherally, but wow.

Almost done with 50,000 words. I will get there between today and tomorrow. My week is busy with work, distractions, obligations and friends. I've gotten up early the last two days to have a couple of solid hours to myself to meditate and write before the phone starts ringing and the day gets her claws into me. I love mornings. I love that as I write this the sun hasn't come up but when I look out the East-facing window next my desk, there are clouds whose backs are gray with pink bellies as we turn toward the sun for the day. The weather has been gorgeous lately.

The interesting thing about the draft of this novel is that it is nothing like the story I will end up telling. I'm exploring my characters and the world they inhabit. But more and more the plot keeps shifting in my head to something else, the world keeps transforming and I have to make notes to myself about what makes sense. (HOLY SHIT! The Eastern sky is fuchsia with electric blue trails of clouds bisecting it. I have to stop and watch the sunrise before I can write anymore. . . I'm back, no wonder so many culture worshipped the sun, with entrances like that it is almost impossible to believe the sun isn't a divine being. ) Anyway, my story is evolving. I have to make some difficult choices about the belief system of the world I'm in and see how dark I want to go. In theory, this is an young adult novel and I have to weigh in my heart what is and isn't appropriate. I'm not writing with the intention of wondering if what I have is publishable, but I want a story that is good, without too many elements of the horrific that have been threatening to creep in.

What a strange life I have at times. I'm not complaining but at times I'm baffled. Whatever, I'll ride it and enjoy it.

I woke up with this song in my head.

Friday, November 25, 2011

the sun is my enemy

Oh me! Today is supposed to be a writing day. I've spent the last two days cooking. Wednesday night I had a dinner party with friends and I cooked all day that day and did a lot of prepping for my cooking yesterday. I wrote a little because I was so busy. Wednesday night ended rather well, if you count four very drunk people dancing to Prince as a good way to end a night. But yesterday was a hangover day. And I was cooking a lot. I wrote not a word. I ate well, had a blast with family and slept early.

I want to write today but the sun is out and it is fucking gorgeous outside. Not that it isn't usually beautiful here in San Diego but today the sun is calling me. I know Sunday is supposed to be sunny and warm too but I want sunshine todaaay!! Novel or sunshine? Sunshine may win but I'll take a notebook.

Tuesday, November 22, 2011

themes, considerations

I have so many ideas for this damn novel and the trilogy it is a part of. My mind is constantly on it, thinking, wondering about what my characters are going through. I have a couple of characters I'm not sure about. I think they have the wrong intentions and may end up not as bad people, but as people who think they're right and blindly act, which is often worse than being just "bad."

I've made the choice not to read or listen to any fiction while working on the first draft of the book so that I'm not subconsciously taking ideas or plots from whatever I'm reading. But of course my lifelong reading habit is informing my work. I have so many traces of legend, fairy tale, moral story and personal history already tied up in it. I'm struggling with the mythology, the specific mythology of the world I've created. I've been listening to an audiobook on mythology and have many thoughts but am still struggling. It will happen. I think the biggest thing I've learned through this process is that I have to trust myself. I've been writing and reading my entire life. Even if I don't know where the story is going right now, I know where it ends and I have a lifetime of stories in me and imagining to help me get there.

In other news, pretty fucking healthy these days. I wouldn't say I'm a gym rat, but I love exercising. I think I may be addicted to the endorphins and even more addicted to how my legs looks in the very tiny mini skirts I've started wearing.

Monday, November 21, 2011

the writing comes in waves

I am still writing my novel. Kind of impressed. Kind of shocked. I see now how long this project is going to be. The book won't end at 50,000 words but I'm happy with what I have so far. I contradict myself all over the place as the plot keeps shifting and changing as I write. Evolution is good. Yesterday I was rereading my old chapbook Half Life of Memory and I was reminded of the language I love. I've been so interested in story and character that I've abandoned language. So it goes, there will be other drafts, I'm sure. I would never show anyone this draft. Ugh.

The book should be a nice salve against the holidays. Gloom! Get thee away! I'll go shopping today for what I will cook for Thursday. Cecil will join the Huertas. It will be a small affair compared to last year. And then I will come back to my book and write.

This week has one of my favorite nights of the year, Wednesday night at the Whistle Stop is wonderful. Everyone who has come to town for Thanksgiving shows up there and there is a huge reunion of sorts.

I've been spending time with writer friends who are completely invigorating. And hilarious, brilliant and wild. I've needed this for such a long time. Creative, intelligent people without any pretension or bullshit. We eat. We drink. We go on adventures. No judgement or drama. Pretty fucking awesome. I feel like a kid again at time, that wild abandon taking me over and propelling me forward but I enjoy it more as an adult because I'm over deconstructing my joy in my mind. Joy is rare enough in life without having to break it down and interrogate it.

This weekend I met up with some friends and a woman said "Oh look, I'm wearing the Lizz Huerta look, tight pants and knee-high boots!" And I've converted quite a few people to drinking "my drink." Tequila reposado, usually Corralejo, with three olives. Perfect amount of salt to it. Try it. You may love it.

I want to be as ass-kicking as P.J. Harvey in this video. She has the dream swagger.




Thursday, November 17, 2011

the mind, undressed, redressed

I've been experimenting with my own form of Mind Hacking; using tricks to make my brain work harder for me. I'm pretty damn impressed with the results. I know the subconscious is powerful, dangerously so and for years I've worked on unraveling old, unhealthy thought patterns and behaviors. Meditation helps, as do affirmations and the like. Setting intentions for myself. I've had a lot of conversations lately about the power of our minds. Setting small goals then rewarding myself.

As I've been working on the novel I've decided to try a different approach. The novel takes place in a fantasy world very loosely based on a time period in world history, a civilization I'm slightly fascinated with. I don't want the book to be about the civilization but the architecture, art and the spiritual practices of some of the characters are indeed informed by it. Before I go to bed at night I've been watching documentaries on said civilization. I've actually watched a couple more than once. I do that so those images and ideas are the last things I see before I go to sleep. I know my brain is processing the ideas and life and then they transform and show up in my writing in the morning! They actually show up in my dreams too.

Since they've been showing up in my dreams I've decided to try something different as well. I'm a big fan of Glenn Harrold's hyponosis recordings. I've been listening to them for years. They work. Don't judge me. I downloaded a hypnosis on Lucid Dreaming and have been listening to it as I fall asleep. Holy. Fucking. Shit. Hear ye, oh skeptics, this shit works. I am kind of in shock. I listen before I go to sleep, with the intention of figuring out plot points and such for the novel. My mind is blown. Ideas and plots just show up,literally. In this particular hypnosis (I think of more as a guided meditation), there is a part wherein the listener is guided to a garden. In that garden my characters are waiting for me, telling me what's happening to them, their histories and what they're feeling. I know it sounds like I've turned into a hocus-pocus, dolphin-worshipping, crystal gazing, wide-eyed talker but those of you who know me know I'm not. I'm still an ass-kicker. With awesome dreams.

This song is on my novel-writing playlist.

Monday, November 14, 2011

writing, living, the rest




Deep in the novel. At a point where I have to make a choice and he choice hasn't come to me yet so I've been dancing around it. So it goes, it will come.

Lovely weekend. Yesterday Cecil and I hiked into the Laguna Mountains to see the Tree Ring play. Pictures posted.

Friday, November 11, 2011

eleven eleven

A little raw this morning. I watched the football game last night with friends at a bar down the street from where I live and I had three beers and a shot of bourbon and ouuuuch. I haven't been drinking anything but wine and beer lately. And I didn't eat last night so all around bad news. I'm a little bummed at myself, I wanted to get up and write today but the hammers in my head won't let me.

Listening to 11:11 by Rufus Wainwright on repeat this morning, his voice and this song open me up a little where I've been closing up. Today I imagine grief as a body of water, most of me has come out of it but my feet are still wet. I don't notice most of the times but then I do and yeah, fucking grief.

Having a song on repeat reminds me of something I witnessed and was a part of a couple of months ago. Love and I were at the end of things, tensions were high and we were both emotionally exhausted. We went to get a slice of pizza at a local spot, next door to a flower shop. The flower shop is one I've bought flowers from for years, run by really nice Mexican guys. Love and I were sitting outside eating pizza and I noticed whoever was working at the flower shop had the same song no repeat, Paloma Negra, an absolutely heartbreaking song about the singer trying to get over a broken heart. I tried to explain the lyrics to Love but couldn't translate them correctly, they were hitting a little too close to home and I couldn't even eat my pizza. When we got up to leave I dipped my head into the flower shop to say hello to whoever was working and I saw the man inside was crying his eyes out in silence. He saw me and was embarrassed, I was embarrassed that I had walked in on such an emotionally raw moment for him. We stammered through fake pleasantries and then I rejoined Love and we went home, our own grief making our attempts at conversation awkward and obtuse. I thought about that poor man crying in the flower shop all night. How no matter how we are wounded in love and life we always go back for more.

Oh hangover philosophy, thou art a bastard. I have high hopes for writing this weekend. My novel is dragging at some points but the point is that I am on point in writing. I like my main character a lot, she has so much to learn, most of all to trust herself. I'm teaching her that as I am learning it for myself.

Wednesday, November 9, 2011

the watchers

I've been working on my novel every day. I love this. I wake up between 4am and 5am, make a cup of coffee and sit at the computer. I've realized this is the only time of day I'm not disturbed by the phone ringing or by the details of my day pressing in on me. I love watching the sky outside the window go from dark blue to the pale white of morning. And, I love my book. CRAZY! This is a story that has been inside of me for a while, I haven't even been aware of how much I was carrying until I began to set it on to to the page. I have so much learning to do, just like my character. I have so much creating to do but I'm doing it and doing it well. I come to the blank page very morning with confidence. I look to the right of my desk where there are hundreds of books on the bookshelves and think to myself If they could do it so can I.

Over and around my desk I have a collection of dolls and masks. Not creepy dolls that you buy on home shopping networks, but hand-sewn dolls I bought in Mexico about ten years ago. There are several masks from different places in my travels and a few other pieces of art that speak to me This morning as I was struggling with words I looked up and it was almost as if all these dolls and masks were watching me, and I was noticing for the first time. Kind of creepy, but also inspiring. Everything above my desk was made by creative hands, painters, artists, carvers, those who had a gift they wanted to share and I have their gifts over me as I work on mine. I especially love an Aboriginal painting my -boyfriend brought me from Australia. It is of a creation myth, something the artist learned in Dreaming, about the creation of women. And HELLO! Writing about that just helped me figure out a plot point I've been chewing on. Man, I am fucking brilliant sometimes.

My life is quiet these days, routine and lovely. I wake up early, write then go to work. In the afternoons I exercise, make dinner and in the evening I sit around in quiet contemplation, with a glass of red wine and dark chocolate. I go to bed early, thinking about my novel and the characters, the myths they are a part of. I dream deeply, no insomnia or tension in me and when the alarm goes off I'm ready to write.

Last night in my dreams I revisited my recent past and saw had I continued on the same trajectory nothing would have changed and the unclaimed, un-named pain in me would still be manifesting itself through insomnia, eczema, TMJ; all the ways my body was telling me I was suffering needlessly. And yet, nostalgia is a beast and there is one little beast in particular I miss. But, onwards and upwards, and strangely enough, joyfully.

I've started teaching creative writing to teenagers with a couple of friends. Wow. I want to cry after each class because the students are so amazing. They're smart, sharp, funny and they slay me with what they write. Last night I had them write love letters to themselves. Then, if they wanted to, they could read them aloud. Some of the things the kids wrote floored me, I had to admonish myself not to cry, remind myself that I'm not some cheesy teacher in a made-for-tv movie who is saving their lives. But, wow. We're teaching in a homeless shelter downtown, all of the students live there. They are so fucking cool, these kids. So smart. When I leave I'm high from their energy and my face hurts from smiling. As tired as I am after work I can't wait to get to them and see what they have to share.

Loving Andrea Echeverri's new album, Dos. I've always loved her and silly as this may sound, I feel like I've been growing up along with her. In my earlier years of listening to her music, both she and the music and I had sharp edges, were a little aggressive but fun. Now we've all mellowed out and are more in a state of peace with ourselves.

Tuesday, November 1, 2011

writing it out

Today is the beginning of National Novel Writing Month. I signed up and this morning I woke up at 5am and wrote 1,817 words. Not a bad start! I'm working on the fantasy novel. I have a shit-ton outlined but this morning I just let it go and let my mind take me where it wanted to go. My opening scene is different from what I thought it would be but I'm just going to let it happen. Im going to try to write more when I get home from work, get a jump-start on the word count.

Halloween weekend was good. I went to a party Saturday night and had a lovely time. I had a few great conversations, not just drunk banter/small talk. Good conversations are refreshing and necessary for me, for any sort of friendship.



Wednesday, October 26, 2011

the water table

I found another poem this morning. I wrote it in April. Not too shabby. I love finding old pieces of writing that I've lost emotional attachment to; not to say emotion isn't there, but the drive or push to write it has disappeared and I'm left with the artifact of emotion. Oh beloved little scratches on a page! I love you, sweet detritus.

Keeping extraordinarily busy. Being an adult. Kind of weird. I'm living well these days. (I wish you could see the sky from my window right now and how the undersides of the clouds are a peachy-pink and the tops gloomy., Fucking beautiful.) I'm moved quickly into my old self, social. Stepping into the swagger.

Here is the piece I read at V.A.M.P. for Say Say We All last month, "The Game." And another song I dig.



Thursday, October 20, 2011

I fill my mouth with water

Last night before bed I was digging around under my bed and I found a handwritten poem. I don't remember writing it but I must have, in the last year and a half or so. I remember one line, I remember writing the one line and immediately after I started crying and cried a good, hard cry. Reading the poem last night I had forgotten the why or how of it came to me but the emotion is there, the duende. Next to the first few lines I annotated the meter, which is very strange since I rarely ever count out the meter. I must have gone into the writing with the intention of form, the first few lines are in iambic pentameter; maybe an attempt at a sonnet? Regardless, there are parts of the poem that are fucking gorgeous, getting my mouth around them is sweet. It makes me want to write more. The ending is a lament, I almost want to go to my knees when I read it. I kind of don't want to edit it, but I will. There is a part in the middle I don't at all like but it was the gate to getting to the line I love, to the end.

I had dreams last night that left me contemplative. I suppose this is called turning the corner, seeing the light; all those cliches that attempt to assuage the mucky walk that is moving on. I am somehow reminded of the different sacrifices in the bible and ways of penance. Sackcloth and ashes. Blood offerings. Burnt offerings. How different animals were opened for different sins. I can make lists of what I have sacrificed, maybe I will. Could be the basis for some poems. Perhaps, perhaps.

I may sound morose but really, I'm not. Contemplation is different from sadness. I think the two can be confused, and of course there are times when they are dancing a moribund waltz on one's heart, but it isn't always a bad thing. Aristotle said contemplation is the highest form of human activity. Get thee to thinking! And being.

And listen to this song. I love Andrea Echeverri.

Wednesday, October 19, 2011

whoa to the whoa

In the swing of things, once again. I've been keeping myself social, spending time with those who stimulate my mind. I'm laughing a lot, singing a lot. I'm sleeping through the night and feel energized. My blues show up mostly in the morning, briefly, and sharply in the few moments before I fall asleep. But, out of a 24 hour day, that isn't bad at all.

Vermin on the Mount was awesome Saturday night. Great line-up of readers. I was pretty damn proud to be a part of the line-up. I left energized and full of awesome.

Last night was Literary Death Match. I competed in one a year and a half ago. Last night's readers were brilliant. I forget how many talented people there are, since they tend to stay home and write. The judges cracked me up, I laughed belly laughs. I met a couple of writers I look forward to getting to know better. I also started a conversation with a friend about a great plan for the near-ish future and we're both very excited about it. We're meeting tomorrow night to start on the details.

All in all, all is well.


Considering NaNoWriMo

Friday, October 14, 2011

homeward bound

Last morning here in Sayulita. I spent a couple of hours on the beach early this morning, watching the surfers and beach dogs. The tide was high. A storm was out over the Pacific but the sky over the beach was clear.

Heading to the airport in about an hour for an afternoon flight. A part of me is ready to go home, to sleep in my own bed, see my family and get back into the rhythm of things. Another part of me dreads walking into my apartment. I did a lot of cleaning before I left so I'll go home to a clean place, washed sheets. Scrubbed of memory too. No food. Flowers dying in the vase.

In my dreams last night I was underwater. I kept waking up after intense dreams and looking out the window. My dreams were near the surface of my emotional consciousness, everything going on in my life appearing and mutating into strange visions. I didn't sleep well at all and I'm in a little bit of a daze this morning. A brick of sadness sat in my belly this morning. Part vacation ennui, part other.

I'm excited to read tomorrow night at Vermin on the Mount. Vermin readings are always awesome casts of great writers/readers. The audience is always engaging and smart. I know a lot of very cool people who will be there, a lot of the So Say We All Crowd. The host's wife Nuvia is a soul-mate-friend of mine.

The best part of this trip has been discovering that Cecil and I are great travel partners. I like to travel alone since I always have a hard time playing nice with others when I'm on the road. Cecil and I laugh a lot and talk a lot of shit to each other. We bicker and snap at each other but neither one of holds on to any of the little arguments. Now I know I have a travel partner, if I want one. Neither one of us sweat small things, nor do we feel the need to be spenders whilst traveling. A very good thing.

Coming home a little damaged. forgot to put sunscreen on my face yesterday for the first time ever, and I suffered a little sunburn on my nose and cheeks. It didn't hurt but I was red and am now a little toastier than before. Last night I also forgot to put on mosquito repellant and I was a feast for the bloodsuckers. And they alway go for the parts that are not so nice to scratch, knuckles, booty, elbows. The bastards.

Thursday, October 13, 2011

doing fine






I've settled into the rhythm here in Sayulita. It took a few days as we were concerned and slightly on edge about the hurricane, which never arrived. Yesterday the arms of the storm reached the town late in the day and we had a good drenching. Everything shut down, we stayed in the hotel, writing and reading in the inner courtyard, windows open. Now I'm just in the being, letting the day happen without expectation. I'll swim today, get sun, drink beer, read.

This morning we woke up early, got coffee and sat on a log the beach. The sun finally broke through the clouds and it was idyllic. I sat on a log on the beach late yesterday afternoon as well, watching the ocean. The sea calms me, always has. I try to lock the peace into me, hold on to the moment so that when I'm frenzied I can revisit it. In the breaking waves large fish were chasing smaller fish. Pelicans sailed over the waves, skimming the water for a meal. High overhead frigates circled. I love the shape of flying frigates, black angles turning on the currents. I was surprised how empty the beach was while we were there. Except for a few surfers and workers setting up beach chairs, it was empty. If I lived his close to the beach I would spend as much time there as possible.

I haven't brushed my hair since Monday and it has reverted to curls. I rarely let my hair go natural. It looks good, away from a hair brush and taming. Vanity is a strange thing. I don't think too much about how I look and feel awkward taking pictures. But I know later in life I'll want a record. I prefer to feel good. I look forward to getting back to the gym this weekend, challenging my body.

I haven't done much writing but I've done a lot of contemplating. Good and uncomfortable contemplating. I'm in the middle of a sea change, the waves come and go as I look to what's next in my life. I have to relearn the whole being in the moment. I think too much at times, get too wrapped up in what if. The questions, I have to remind myself, are more interesting than the answers.

My dreams have been more intense here in Mexico, as they always are. More vibrant and meaningful. I go again and again to the same place in my dreams, the same landscape but the emotions have been stronger.

Ex-pat towns are always odd. People who live in another country but choose to isolate themselves in a community that has little to do with immersing oneself in the culture. Why move to another country if you don't like the people and don't want to learn the language? Yesterday Cecil snapped at a man who didn't even know how to say the name of the town we're in.

I'm reading Saturday night at Vermin on the Mount. I've not decided what I'm going to read. I have options, and am leaning toward a short fiction piece. I'm billed as a poet, which I am but I haven't written much poetry the last year. I've tried to go into storytelling. I'm contemplating reading a short story I started on Mexico a year and ago. I started it because of a song I heard sung by a family member. I have an idea for a novella based on my favorite Mexican songs.

Tonight we'll be the only guests in the hotel. I don't think either of us mind as we have isolated ourselves. I don't feel particularly social and don't feel like engaging in vacation conversation. I haven't taken many pictures, I rarely do. I don't travel to being home souvenirs or photographs, I travel to get into myself away from what I'm used to. My experiences on this trip haven't been anything extraordinary but I'm enjoying the pace of it. The days are long and slow. Heading home tomorrow. I have a little acid in my stomach over it.

Wednesday, October 12, 2011

the storm that never was



In Mexico, I've been here almost a week. Right now I'm in Sayulita, a beach town in Nayarit. A hurricane was supposed to hit last night but didn't. I waited up until I couldn't then slept. When I woke up the town was wet. I don't if the storm fizzled out or if it went somewhere else. I got the beginning of a poem out of it. Waiting for something that will change the landscape and it never arrives, or when it does, you don't notice.

I was coming to Mexico to spend some days (after another trip to the ranch) alone, on the beach, writing and getting back to myself. The day before I left my friend Cecil decided to come with me and I'm super glad he did. We've been friends for a long time. Our friendship has been through a lot, bad things I did back in the day, bad shit he did back in the day. I think that out of all of my friends he is the one I am able to be most honest with since we have no romantic history, no possibility of romantic future and we know way too much about each other. I think he knows more about me than anyone else alive on the planet and he regularly calls me out on my bullshit, which I appreciate. We don't judge each other. We have similar traveling styles and attitudes so the trip has been very laid back so far.

There have been adventures. We went to the ranch for the annual Festival de la Virgen. The village parties were lovely. This year the festival was slightly bigger, with carnival rides. There was more of a police presence than last year, probably because of the shooting last year but it was pretty calm. Great big crowds of men gather at the edge of the dance floor (basketball court) and swig beer after beer. Cecil and I set up lawn chairs in the back of my grandmother’s truck so that we could have a good view. The first night after we went to bed masked gunmen showed up and the entire town shut down rather quickly, not surprisingly.


Village life is pretty damn interesting, the relationships are complicated because everyone is very much related. Our family is especially complicated since my paternal grandfather had so many children. 52 live births with 38 of those still living. Three out of the six women he had all those children with live in the village, which isn’t very big. Fifty years after the fact those three women still don’t like to be near each other, but all of their kids are friends. People gossip non-stop. A women will walk by and my grandmother will tell me of how that women slighted her 60 years ago.


I love the pace of life at the ranch. Everything slows down. The first night is always rough, getting used to the constant flow of people, how laid back everything is. I always get a little frantic, wondering how I’m going to fill my days then at some point something in me turns off and I relax into the rhythm of it. The children in town are awesome, none of them are bratty. They all are independent, respectful and creative. They don’t have the distractions of television and computers. They don’t have schedules or strict rules about what they can or cannot do. There are no play dates. I worry that things are going to change quickly. Already everyone has cell phones. They have facebook accounts they access from school. Soon internet services will be available in town and the way of life will disappear.


The town we're in is a surf spot, filled with a lot of ex-pats. Having lived in an ex-pat Mexican town before I recognize certain archetypes, hustlers, escapees. The weather has limited our beach time but we swam in the ocean yesterday. Our hotel has a large patio outside our room where the other guests gather to chat and eat. I'm not feeling especially social these days so I haven't interacted much. We have two more days here before heading back and I'm not sure what we'll do. The outer arms of the storm have the sky clouded, rain comes and goes. I'll try to get some novel writing down, maybe. Or I'll just keep sitting on the balcony, watch the rain and think too much.


Tuesday, October 4, 2011

love, surprises, spnning




Happy 30th birthday to my sweet sister Deanna. My earliest memory is being taken to the hospital to meet her. I was two and a half. I remember my aunt lifting me up to the nursery window and pointing the baby out and saying "That's your sister!" I couldn't figure out which baby she was. I remember my parents bringing her home and how excited I was for her to be old enough to play with me. I would ask my mom every day "Can she play with me today?" We grew up pretty close, even though we fought all of the time. I loved being a big sister and having someone I could experiment on. I was always making her eat weird concoctions I made. I always invented elaborate games for us to play, based on books I was reading. I specifically remember making her play Becky to my Sara while I was reading The Little Princess. Our youngest sister arrived six years after Deanna. We're all very close. I was able to spend a lot of time with both of them this weekend.

Saturday night we had a big surprise party planned for Deanna. We flew in a bunch of her close friends from the Bay Area and rented part of a ballroom on a harbor dinner cruise. All of us arrived at the boat to pre-board and waited on the top deck. Deanna her her boyfriend Matt boarded a while later and came up to the top deck where all of us shouted "Surprise!" She was super surprised and cried like a baby. he was especially thrilled to see all of her college friends as she rarely gets to see them and they''re really close.

During dinner my sister and Matt disappeared for a little while. When they came back to the ballroom they went to talk to my parents and the screaming started. Mat had taken Deanna to the top deck and proposed to her and she said yes. I cried my eyes out, I was so happy for her. (I also almost punched an elderly relative who came up to me excited and said "Oh Lizz, we thought you'd be the first one to get married!") It was awesome. After the cruise my sisters, Matt, some friends and I went to the Whistlestop to keep drinking and dancing. It was beautiful.

I am so happy for my sister. She has always wanted to get married and have her own family. She and her fiance recently bought a house a few blocks from where I live and I get to see them all of the time. Matt is a great guy, kind, generous and he makes her truly happy. I look forward to having him as a brother-in-law.

I drank too much this weekend. I went out three nights in a row and was not completely sober until yesterday morning. It was one of the strangest weekends I've ever had. The joy of my sister's engagement coupled with the grief of my very recent break-up had my mind all over of the place. My head was spinning. I was overjoyed for my sister then sadness would sucker-punch me in the heart. Life goes on.



Friday, September 30, 2011

done and done

My reading last night went well. I was part of a line-up of great performers. My sister came out, I love when she comes out to readings. She gets so excited. After I read she came up to to tell me she thought it was the best prose piece she'd ever heard me read. Aww. The she said "It made me laugh, it made me sad, it made me think. Kind of like a Disney movie." Dork. But I was happy she liked it. Cecil showed up with a great piece of chocolate for me. Lizeth Santos of Smile Now Cry Later came by with her husband. I LOVE her music. Go buy her song.

I always get nervous after the fact. I'm fine before a performance. I'm fine during. But after I get the shakes. The weird throat palpitation isn't helping.

I danced a little. Drank a little. I knocked over a stool. I had conversations I didn't want to have. Around 11:30 I walked home alone. I was horribly sad. I slept deeply and had dreams that were comforting and odd.



Thursday, September 29, 2011

ready

My piece for tonight is finally ready. I edited it until right before my rehearsal yesterday and I'm pleased with it. It look many drafts, many line edits, lots of searching the help from a couple of writer friends but it is ready. I read it aloud yesterday for the first time since the first draft and realize there is a musicality to it that I wasn't aware of before. My performance coach asked if it was originally a poem but I said no. She said yes it is, whether you want it to be or not. Fair enough. I've been writing poetry long enough that certain rhythms and patterns are natural to me. I like the piece, a combination of dark and light. I'm going to submit it for publication when the performance is over. I just have to remember to breathe while I'm reading it. Hell, I have to remember to breathe all the time.

I like performing even though I don't do it as often as I should. I'm comfortable in front of a crowd, I'm comfortable sharing my work, intimately personal as it often is. I can honestly say I write for myself and on one else; that is a rare gift. I don't even expect or want to make a living out of writing. I've seen up close how writing for work can stifle an individual's own creative drive and passion. I don't want that to happen to me. I work for a living but I write for myself. Painting feeds my belly while writing feeds everything else.

The last few days a strange heartbeat has moved into my throat. It isn't constant, it comes and goes. It feels almost like panic even though I'm calm. I feel my heart aggressively in my throat, something moving in me.

This song is a heart-wrecker from the first piano chords.

Wednesday, September 28, 2011

"I fell in love with the burden holding me down."--Wilco

I am head over heels for the Wilco song I'm posting at the end of the blog today. I've listened to it on repeat way too many times.

Reading tomorrow night. Working on the final edits for my piece. I'm struggling because I'm writing about something I've wanted to write about for a long time. It is dark but funny. But I don't want the humor to detract from the darkness, and I don't want to dwell on the darkness and forget to laugh. Honor thy shadow or whatever the fuck they say, whoever "they" are. I sent it to a friend yesterday who gave me some good feedback. I'm lucky to have good writer friends who aren't afraid to criticize.

I have an idea for another project, a short short film. I'm going to pitch it to a good friend and see what he thinks. We have a similar sense of humor and I think it could be hilarious. And it would provide a service to a certain segment of the population.



Tuesday, September 27, 2011

Tuesday and reading

I'm reading Thursday night at the Whistlestop for V.A.M.P. Come by if you'd like.

This song slays me.

Sunday, September 25, 2011

a little joy





There have been changes in my life recently and I've been dealing with it. Not happily, not peacefully but with my jaw set and with my eyes on a horizon that that keeps receding into the distance. Whatever. I'm an adult, I've dealt with worse. I've been working myself exhausted and surrounding myself with hobbies, distractions and all the rest of the bullshit one delves into during change.

This weekend has been pretty phenomenal and I've been truly happy. Friday night I decided to treat myself to solitary dinner and drinks at Vagabond and lo and behold, someone paid for my meal and all of my drinks. After I went to the Whistlestop and they were playing cumbia. So I danced for hours. I haven't danced like that since I saw Nortec last October. And I love dancing.

Last night my wonderful, dear friend Cecil took me to the Suzie's Farm Autumnal Equinox dinner. Suzie's Far is an organic farm near the Mexican border. I've been there before and I buy their produce at the farmer's market. Pretty cool place run by awesome people. Half of Cecil's diet comes from the farm. They had an idea to make a sunflower maze and host a dinner in the center of it. Holy shit. It was awesome. We went around 5:30, just when the light was perfect and it was so damn beautiful I wanted to cry. Ren shouldered blackbirds were swooping around. Walking through the maze led us to different "rooms" where different drinks and appetizers were being served. Musicians played. At the center of the maze two long tables were set up under white string lights. It was magical, for lack of a better word. The food was good. We sat with a bunch of people from South Park and had pretty good conversations and lots of wine. I was so damn happy I thought my heart would explode and my face hurt from smiling. I forget how surprisingly beautiful the world can be. I forget to look around and appreciate the little things, plants, smiling strangers, birds.

This video is from last night, The Tree Ring performing Dreams Where I Am Sleeping.

Friday, September 23, 2011

the hours they fly

It often feels like I don't have enough hours in my day. I wake up early, write a bit, work all day, come home, exercise, eat then sleep. What about the me time? I suppose most of it is me time since I'm alone most of the day but I need to figure out who to squeeze in some time to do really nice things for myself.

This is a new goal. Do nice things for Lizz since I tend to do nice things for everyone else and neglect myself. Part of that doing nice things is spending more time submitting my work for publication. I'm a crappy submitter. Often I just have to shut my brain off and not read, not write, not watch television or listen to audiobooks. Usually I cook. Yesterday I crocheted for two hours. New temptations arise. I'm thinking about the ocean a lot and how I want to get back out there and go surfing. Then I look at my to-d0 list and know I should stay home and chip away at it. But the ocean calls.

One of my goals this weekend is to look over the manuscript of my novel. Not the novel of days of yore but the one I started earlier this year. My space above my desk is covered with notes for it and I want to see what it looks like after a couple of months of neglect.

I listened to an audiobook this week that bothered me. I was bothered by the writing, it wasn't very good but the story was compelling enough to keep me interested. And I didn't particularly like the protagonist or any of the characters, I found they fell flat and were more caricatures than fleshed out people I could connect with. But I kept listening. The story was predictable and at times tedious but something, something had me hooked. I don't know what exactly and am annoyed at myself. I think I may have been hooked by the interspersed history as it was a history I was previously unfamiliar with and curious about. I should have just read up on the history instead of wasting 12 hours listening to the hokey thing.

Currently I'm listening to Moonwalking with Einstein: The Art and Science of Remembering Everything. Right up my cognitive psychology alley. I read and listen to so many books on the brain, cognitive, behavioral and evolutionary psychology that I may start referring to myself as an armchair neurologist. I'm also starting The Night Circus since reviewers are drooling on themselves over it. And oh! The pile of books on my nightstand is ridiculous to behold. If there is a devastating earthquake one night look for my body beneath the pile of books in my bedroom.

Wednesday, September 21, 2011

work, sleep, edit, return

I've battled insomnia for a long time. I'm having the opposite of insomnia these days. I can't stay awake. The last few nights I've gone to bed before 9, last night I barely made it to 8. I sleep deeply, and wake up around 5. I don't really mind but I feel kind of like an old lady. I know my work is pretty physical and my body needs to recover but damn. I'd like to stay up at least until 10.

This week I'm working with an oil-based paint that can only be thinned with turpentine and the horrible acidic stink of it has imbedded itself into my nostrils. Ugh. I think the chemicals are burning brain cells, another reason I need to sleep so early. My brain says "waaaaahh!" I'm not particularly happy at the job site I'm working at this week, I'm actually pretty pissed at how things have transpired. I remind myself I only have to stay at this job site until my job is done. But I am pretty damn poopy pants pissed in the meantime.

I've been thinking about voice a lot and how I have several in my writing and can sway from one to another. In particular, the piece I'm working on now starts off with a particular voice, the darkly comedic narrator voice and evolves more into one of emotional introspection, with a little social justice finger-wagging thrown in. I don't know. I know what I want to say but translating that onto the page is challenging. And this, my friends, in why we have multiple drafts.



Tuesday, September 20, 2011

restoring

Saturday morning I woke up and decided I wanted to learn how to surf. I called Surf Diva, a surf school specializing in teaching women how to surf and signed up for their weekend clinic. I went to La Jolla Shores, got a board, wetsuit and started. And I loved it. There is something about the ocean that is completely restorative. Being in the water, whether the sea, a swimming pool or a bath, has always calmed me and brought me joy. I loved the weightlessness, the buoyancy, the feeling of at once being out of my element and completely immersed in it. I stood up on my first wave and was thrilled. I caught wave after wave. I crashed a lot and kept going out. I saw dolphins, sea lions and stingrays in the water. It was challenging but wonderful. My lessons lasted two days. At night when I went to bed I was exhausted in the best way. My body ached and I was bruised from where the surfboard had slammed into my body. I'm still bruised. When I was falling asleep those nights after being in the water the memory of the waves was in me and I slept dreaming I was still on the sea, floating. It was sublime. I can't wait to get back into the water.

Before waking this morning I had a dream I was a party. I was bored. I was surrounded by people I know but I had nothing to say to them. In the dream I came home and was sitting on my bed when a pregnant cat jumped through my window. I laid out old towels for her and she gave birth to twelve tiny kittens wrapped in their amniotic sacs. I'm retreating a bit from the world these days, from situations and conversations I'm tired of. Maybe the cat symbolized my creative self, my best self returning to me. Maybe I'm more philosophical before my morning coffee. I have so many stories and projects inside of me waiting to come out. The season is changing from Summer to Fall, I always get restless and nostalgic when the weather changes.

My old roommate and good friend, poet Geoff Bouvier is asleep in my guest room. He's in town for a few days and we had dinner last night. We had some conversations about writing and life that I needed. He reminds me of my best self, the creative, free-spirited artist who takes risks and is rewarded for her bravery. Geoff and I have had some great adventures, crazy shit I look back at and shake my head at, impressed at my bravery and willingness to let go. I'm lucky to have friends like him, soul-mates I don't see very often but when I do they reenergize me. And we laugh. He had me doubled over in laughter. I haven't laughed like that for a long time. I met Geoff when he was judging a poetry contest. I won first place and we met at the award ceremony and reading. I love that Geoff has always loudly supported me and he isn't afraid to yell at me when I need a little ass-kicking. I love friends like that.

I have a couple of readings coming up. Next Thursay, the 29th I'll read a short piece at So Say We All's V.A.M.P. at the Whistlestop. My piece is about a childhood game I played while growing up in Chula Vista. The piece is dark but funny. Something I've been wanting to write about for a long time. On October 15 I'll head up to L.A. to read at Vermin on the Mount. I've read at Vermin before and have always enjoyed the experience. I'm happy to be getting out there again, honing my performance skills and sharing my work. A couple of other things on the horizon for my writing. Some offers to do some writing for online publications. And, again, I'll attempt to be a better blogger.



Friday, September 2, 2011

at the end, ruminating, random memories

Labor Day weekend is here and the end of summer. The end of summer is always hard for me. I think a lot of has to do with the fact that as a child I loved my months of freedom. All I had to do was read, swim, play. My world shrunk down and expanded. My skin darkened, I always smelled like chlorine and my body was indented with the lines of the hammock I read in. There was always a road trip somewhere with my family. My mom would pack the minivan at night and sometime before dawn my father would carry my sisters and me from our beds, still asleep, and put us in a nest of blankets and pillows in the backseats of the van. I would always wake up in time to watch the sunrise. My parents would be talking quietly and I would watch the day begin, always awed at the sight since it was something I rarely witnessed.

The beginning of the school year was always incredibly bittersweet. I loved learning, and still do. I loved how the classrooms smelled of glue and books. The water at the drinking fountains was slightly sweet with the fluoride they added. The desks were polished and I would arrive in some girly outfit my mom had picked out. She was old-school from New York. You dressed up for your first day of school, to make an impression on the teacher and everyone else. I think she wanted me to dress up all year long but I was exhausting when it came to clothes and probably still am. I was always nervous and excited. I couldn't wait to start learning again but I dreaded being around other kids my age.

It was the hellish beginning of nine months of social awkwardness and deep loneliness. Recess spent in the library because I had no one to play with. Having students whisper behind my back because I always had the answer and was proud to show it, they called me a "smack," whatever that means. I retreated into books. I retreated into fantasy. I longed for summer, the time of year I wasn't an awkward nerd, emotionally raw from wanting what wasn't being offered to me, friendship and acceptance. But even when I tried to talk to the kids my age, they bored me. Even then I wanted substance in conversation.

Summers now aren't anything special. It means I wear shorts to work. I don't use my oven as much. I always entertain these great ideas about what I'm going to do; go to the beach, go camping, take a road-trip, go hiking, and I do none of it. My work is tiring, especially in the heat of summer. I love it but I also love my rest. Yet here I am, super blue at the end of summer because I didn't do anything. I suppose that isn't true. I've done many things for myself, I've expanded my business. I've taken care of my body more than I ever have before. Forest, trees, blah blah blah.

Six year ago yesterday I was on a train from Paris to Madrid. It was one of the best days of my life. I look back on my adult life and I love the woman I was on that train. I had taken a crazy risk for an adventure and it had paid off. I was radiant, at the beginning of falling in love, I was traveling. It was on that train I first read my favorite Rilke essay on Worpswede. I remember sitting alone, practically inebriated on the ideas Rilke was offering me on the role of the artist. The train passed through fields of sunflowers, their heads were heavy with seed and as the train passed it was almost as if they were nodding in acknowledgement. Cheesy, yes. Also, I had never been as happy. I began writing, madly. The poems I started on that train eventually were the seeds for my chapbook, half life of memory.

When I got to Spain it was oven-hot. I went to Valencia to visit an old friend. We were at his parent's house, trying to cool off in the pool. His mother came out. She was beautiful in a faded glory kind of way, still voluptuous and sultry but with a sadness I saw as someone trying to hold on to a youth that wasn't there anymore. She was wearing a robe and when she came to the edge of the pool she tossed off, almost defiantly and stood naked in front of us. My friend was unfazed by her drama and I pretended there was nothing weird about seeing my friend's naked mom, wearing make-up that would have been more suited for an opera star. She stared at me and asked me how old I was. I told her, 26. She was surprised, she thought I was younger for some reason. She got into the pool and floated for a bit then said to me "You're a woman, not a young girl, don't forget that." Then she went into the house. Very dramatic but it was the reason that I started thinking of myself as a woman. That was my last really good summer.



Thursday, August 11, 2011

busy, clenching, remembering

My days are endlessly busy lately. I'm on the go from waking until my head hits the pillow. I'm up before the sun and soon to bed not so long after it goes down. I'm enjoying my sleep these days, insomnia has gone away for now. I credit the weight-lifting, my body requires recovery after pushing itself to the limit and sometimes past. The writing is in the wings, waiting for stillness and a part of me aching with the effort it takes not to abandon the other responsibilities I need to focus on. The language is thick inside of me, silly as that may sound. When finally I do sit with freedom to write I know it will be a great release.

One issue issue I've been dealing with is TMJ. Never had it before until recently. My jaw has been aching for weeks and the last few days it began to make horrible crunching noises whenever I opened my mouth past a certain point Yesterday the pain was so pronounced I went to get acupuncture. Getting needles inserted and manipulated in the muscles of the jaw and neck hurts. I was yelping and groaning the entire time but I slept without clenching my jaw and this morning though there is a little bit f residual tension, I feel much better. I know I clench my jaw with stress. I have stressors I choose not to face and deal with. This has always been an issue with me, holding onto things. Apparently I hold on with my jaw, biting down so as not to let whatever is inside of me go. Writing usually helps but, not doing too much of that these days beyond the journaling and annotating what I'm reading.

I was looking at pictures of a couple of friends last night. Friends I cared deeply about but I decided my life was healthier without them in it. Sometimes that is such a fucking hard decision to make. Letting go. Outwardly our friendship with each other was great, but the strange ties and underlying tensions were going to come to a head one day and I walked away. But I miss them. I miss how they made me feel, dizzy with living, en pointe on a fine, dangerous edge.




Saturday, August 6, 2011

waxing poetic on food, movement, creativity, the brain

Bag blogger. Bad, bad, bad. Now get over it.

Very much loving Spark: The Revolutionary New Science on Exercise and the Brain. The research and findings John Ratey cites confirm oh-so-many ideas I've had brewing in my own mind for years. Exercise equals healthier everything. As much as I like what the weightlifting has done for my body, I'm always much more interested in my brain. I fucking love my brain. And apparently I'm improving my neuroplasticity and cognitive ability. This may be my favorite brain book after Jeff Warren's The Head Trip.

I recently had a conversation with Cecil about exercise and earning caloric intake. Both of us are fascinated by the research that points to why current levels of obesity and diabetes are staggering. In our evolutionary history, humans had to earn their caloric intake, in other words, you had to work for you food. You wanted a steak? You killed a cow. You wanted some tortillas? You grew, cultivated and harvested maiz, ground it into masa then you could make your tortillas. No one works for their calories anymore. I remember a good Michael Pollan essay, Out of the Kitchen, Onto the Couch, from a few years ago in the NYT Magazine, on how food has become a spectator sport. People love watching cooking shows but don't really like cooking.

I love cooking. I love chopping, marinating, seasoning. The almost-alchemical reactions of oils, fat, proteins and spices interacting with whatever base I'm adding them to. I grew up in the kitchen, with my mother, aunts and grandmothers. My emotional connection to cooking is one that goes to the core of me. Cooking equals love, comfort, story-telling. The kitchen is where I learned who I was, the history of my family, lessons in womanhood and in nurturing. Cooking is the umbilicus that threads its way back God knows how many generations of women. And I write better after I cook. After spending hours in the kitchen, usually alone, I can come to my office and create, maybe because I've already been creating.

Funnily enough, eating isn't a big deal for me. (Anyone who has seen me knows I'm pretty skinny, except in the frontal area, some friends refer to me at "t*ts on a stick.) I eat very little but I like eating. I'll eat almost anything but I have very odd little habits. For instance, if I have several different things on a plate, I have to eat them one at a time. All the beans, then the meat, then the rice, then the veggies. Weird. I own it.

Creatively I'm been in lull. But I've been focusing on my business and I've been busy pouring my energy into building a solid base of designers and contractors. I'm happy that work is busy but I look forward to delving back into the novel. I also keep sending my poetry manuscript out. Socially I've been quiet, staying home a lot. I'm at the point (and I know it can sound snooty as fuck but whatever,) that if someone isn't extraordinary or enriches my life intellectually or spiritually, I'm not really interested in spending my time with them. I'm trying to keep myself surrounded by people who enhance my life, not detract from it. Why should I go out with someone and hear about new shoes or drama when I can stay home with the phenomenal company of Dura, Fuentes, Cernuda and Rilke? I love my solitude. I do, do.

I'll leave you with this poem by Jane Hirshfield.

Knowing Nothing

Love is not the reason.
Love is the lure,
the thin goat staked out in the clearing.

The lion has stalked
the village for a long time.
It does not want the goat,
who stands thin and bleating,
tied to its bit of wood.

The goat is not the reason.
The reason is the lion,
whose one desire is to enter—
Not the goat, which is
only the lure, only excuse,
but the one burning life
it has hunted for a long time
disguised as hunger. Disguised as love.
Which is not the reason.

Or would you think
that the bones of a lion reason?
Would you think that the tongue?
The lion does not want the goat,
it wants only to live. Alone if it must.
In pain if it must. Knowing nothing.
Like the goat, it wants only to live.
Like love. Or would you think that the heart?


Friday, June 3, 2011

"Praises" and reading


A new poem of mine has been published at Toe Good Poetry. Not for prudes. I posted it to my Facebook page but had to customize the settings to hide it from family and some friends. Ahh. Funny how the most provocative work gets chosen. When the editor selected the poem he told me "It made me say HOLY SHIT!" Maybe it'll be the gateway poem to my collection, the way some drugs are supposedly gateway drugs to harder drugs, though in this case the rest of my work isn't as provocative. Or it is, in another way.

I'm reading June 11 with Raquel Gutierrez at Voz Alta. I LOVE Raquel. We met a couple of years ago during rehearsals for ProClitvities, a show about Latinas and sexuality in Santa Monica. We bonded over our love of whiskey, dark chocolate and cigarettes. I've said goodbye to cigarettes and whiskey but am still in love with dark chocolate. I'm excited to have Raquel in town, to share a stage with her again. She is a wonderful human being and writer.

I started a new project this week. Pretty damn happy about it It has been a long time coming and after years of letting it percolate I finally put pen to page. My rule this time around is to give myself permission to write utter crap, just to get the story out. When I was working on the Novel (whole other sad story going on with that,) I edited constantly and became so obsessed with the minutiae that I forgot I was supposed to be writing a story. Now I'm just writing madly, knowing it isn't my best work but that I'm getting the story out. First drafts don't count anyway.

I received my first rejection for my manuscript this week. I'm sending it out again next month to a press I really like. It will happen, damn it. Eventually. The insomnia sometimes worries itself back into my life but then I remember this from Rilke:

In deep nights I dig for you like treasure.
For all I have seen
that clutters the surface of my world
is poor and paltry substitute
for the beauty of you
that has not happened yet. . .

I've been dancing around to this a lot. I don't want to bore you with it but I love you! I love you! I love you!

Saturday, May 7, 2011

blog neglect for sure


But don't worry, kidlings, all happens for a reason. Yes I'm neglecting the blog but I'm getting lots of good living done in the interim. Interesting shift of perceptions happening in my mind. I'm more broke than I've ever been but in a strange juxtaposition I'm probably happier than I've been in a long while.

I'be been focused on physical health. Not that I've ever been particularly unhealthy but cigarettes are mainly a thing of the past (I've cheated on Saturday nights whilst out at bars, a few drinks in I'll have a smoke but barely smoke, I like the prop aspect of it.) I'm into a workout routine. I haven't worked out in years. It has effectively killed my insomnia. I'm meditating most mornings. Weekends I tend to stay in bed and choose snuggle over mindfulness when I wake up between Love and his dog. But all in all, health! A good thing too, since otherwise old patterns would be horsewhipping me emotionally right about now.

I have a reading coming up on Thursday at El Zarape. Reading with some great women. I had a reading a few days ago at Mesa College, my first in months. I had not read to instead focus on putting my manuscript together and sending it out. Reading was like taking a long drink of cold beer after getting settled on the beach in Mexico. Perfect. I was a tiny bit nervous because I hadn't expected so many people to how up. But they did and they were a fantastic audience, attentive, inquisitive and just cool. My tongue was a little clumsy, tripping over some phrases, but overall I was pleased. I had a lot of good feedback from the audience which makes the 3am roving hours of writing malaise worth it.

In other milestones Love and I have been dating for one year. It may not seem like a big deal but I dig having reached the point. I dig that after all those years single I learned how to be on my own and I was happy on my own; then out of nowhere this adoring man plopped into my lap and made it clear from the get he wanted me and only me. What a sea change from my past. I love the man and love the space between us.

My YA novel is on the forefront of my mind as of late. Incubating. Teasing. All these shifts are the precursor (I hope) to some serious writing time. My YA novel is calling. I'm getting ready to answer.

Sunday, April 10, 2011

inner

Writing a ton of poems. Still not smoking. Working out. Meditating. The blog will most likely be neglected more this month as I work on other writing. But I'm happy.