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


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


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.