Thursday, March 31, 2011
Had a night of precious solitude last night. I slept early, deeply, dreaming great dreams. I slept taking over the entire bed, framed by all the pillows. I woke up before the alarm and loved the silence of early morning. As I was falling asleep last night I heard the breathing of owls somewhere near, their cooing and soft hoots. Yesterday I saw birds of prey in their mating dance high above a canyon near where I was working. They clung to each other, cawing out and falling towards the earth; they flew apart before hitting the ground and arched back up into the sky and back together. A hawk circled, near them, at times diving at them. Lovely.
Wednesday, March 30, 2011
Getting my brain ready for National Poetry Month, for writing a poem a day. This will be the third year in a row I've done this. Last year it was cut short because I went to Mexico at the end of the month and didn't write the daily poems. This is my most productive time of the year. The first year I posted all of my poems but last year I kept the poems to myself, as I'll probably do this year.
April is almost here. April is always a strange month of beginnings and endings for me. Spring swings into step full-time and I begin shedding ideas, loves, old weights that hold me back. Last year I met a friend for ice cream in the middle of April and he laughed watching me dance around and told me he'd never seen me so happy. He had known me in the three other seasons but said that Spring suited me best. Maybe.
Oh, I have so much to say and so much holding me back from saying it. I need to learn how to un-censor myself. I'm practicing.
Tuesday, March 29, 2011
Friday, March 25, 2011
I may have posted this poem on here before, Rainer Maria Rilke, my favorite poet. This poem is from Book of Hours. It is from the section The Book of Monastic Life and is identified only as I, 13.
I am too alone in the world, yet not enough alone
to make each hour holy.
I'm too small in the world, yet not small enough
to be simply in your presence, like a thing--
just as it is.
I want to know my will
and to move with it.
And I want, in the hushed moments
when the nameless draws near,
to be among the wise ones--
I want to mirror your immensity.
I want never to be too weak or too old
to bear the heavy, lurching image of you.
I want to unfold.
Let no place in me hold itself closed,
for where I am closed, I am false.
I want to stay near in your sight.
I would describe myself
like a landscape I've studied
at length, in detail;
like a word I'm coming to understand;
like a pitcher I pour from at mealtime;
like my mother's face;
like a ship that carried me
when the waters raged.
I love this poem. I love pretty much anything Rilke ever wrote but this poem grabs me by the heart and won't let go. There is a long tradition in poetry of writing spiritual poetry, to a god, or higher being. My writing is very much grounded in the human body; when religion or spirituality appears it appears as homage to my religious upbringing or other mythologies that have influenced me. I wrote a poem to god maybe 11 years ago. It was the first poem I wrote after years of writing prose that made me want to be a poet again. All these years later I still think it's one of my strongest poems.
Even though I've moved away from religion in my life I still carry within my the residue of growing up with a looming invisible hand over my head. Religion to me was never about love, it was about becoming subversive before a malevolent, judgemental being who was constantly ready to smite me down. In my early twenties I fell in love with a very spiritual man who slowly pried me away from my apathy towards seeking a spiritual relationship with the world. He still influences how I think even though I have moved away from the practices I held onto back then. I study psychology for fun and know our thoughts effect how we live and perceive the world. Even thought I'm not Catholic or a theist I love this prayer, I love how it is set to music. It is, for a lack of a better term, a mantra I repeat to myself before I go to bed at night. If anything i reminds me to always try to be my best self.
Thursday, March 24, 2011
Spring has arrived, in rain and angled sunshine breaking through. I keep my ears tuned to the natural work when I remember to; the birds have started calling to each other Every day I see birds carrying twigs and bits and pieces that are meant for nests. Flowers are opening their faces. The crows swoop louder, I can hear their wings when they pass over me, rustling like tissue. I love this season. Not that our winters are anything violent but I appreciate the birthing season, newness, the green, and songs.
Thinking a lot these days on solitude. My attitude towards solitude is healthy but sometimes can be perceived as selfish. I'm at the age where most of my friends are coupled up, getting married, moving in, having babies. I understand it happens, I understand it will only continue to happen. I don't require companionship, even if I do enjoy it when with the right person. I've been thinking about my life in terms of my solitude and my chosen isolation. I have very few friends, I don't see this as negative. I try to only surround myself with people who will enhance my life. I'm a snob, I'm okay with that. I'm not lonely, though for a long time I thought I was because I held on to the illusion that being around people was good for me. I tire easily of trite conversation, so much of what people talk about and are interested in doesn't interest me. I'd rather be alone, contemplating, writing.
I've been wanting to dance. I haven't danced in a long time. I'm picky about dancing. The greatest dancing, in my opinion, is celebratory, at weddings, parties, those little joyous confirmations of human connectivity. Ha! The isolationist wants to dace to celebrate human connectivity. So it goes. I am human and brilliant in my inconsistency.
Wednesday, March 23, 2011
I love this picture of my dad and me. He was coming home from work and I was excited to see him. I bet he never thought thirty years from when this picture was taken I would be working like him, covered in paint everyday. (I don't know why all of this is underlined, I can't figure out how to fix it.) I love working outside with my hands. I love that everyday I'm somewhere different. I love that at the beginning of my work day I get to look at an unfinished piece of iron and know that in a few hours it will be transformed. My work makes me happy.
My dad used to sing this to me when he got home from work when I was a little girl.
Tuesday, March 22, 2011
I've been steady in my meditation practice. I'm kind of impressed with myself, though the things I'm becoming aware of are probably not things I wanted to be aware of. Know thyself, huh? The dark was also lovely. But this is nice too. My insomnia is almost easing at times.
I recently came across a journal from 3 years ago. I read the thing cover to cover, crying at a lot of the parts, smiling hugely at others. 3 years ago I moved into this apartment and I was so ready for it. Over the course of the writing in the journal I decide I want a new apartment, I find this one, I move in and I paint it blue and prange. In-between the finding and moving and painting I had my heart broken and then began to pick up the pieces. B makes a heavy appearance towards the end of the journal, swooping in to save the day with movies and beer and the beginning of his phenomenal friendship. I wonder what kind of crazy state of mind I was in back then. In the journal I write how strange it is to have a man be nice to me, how unused to it I am and how much I love it. I still love it.
Writing some. National Poetry Month is coming up and I'm considering writing a poem a day again. We'll see. Maybe. I wrote about 20 last year and the full 30 the year before. I should do it, the practice is good.
I was planning on going to Mexico this week but couldn't afford it. I need a trip, something soon, something quiet and beautiful.
Thursday, March 17, 2011
I have a poem by Steve Kowit up on the bulletin board above my desk. The title of this post is the last line of that poem. It's from his collection of amorous poetry based on ancient Indian love poetry. I read it whenever I sit at this desk.
I've been writing every morning. One page, by hand in my favorite pen. I've given up journals for a minute and write on a single white page of paper. I start with whatever is on my mind, move on to what I have been dreaming and then move into more creative writing. Writing my concerns has eased my insomnia. I've been moving back into meditation as well, slowly. Five minutes my first day, then ten. I'm up to twelve minutes of contemplative silence. From past experience I know there is a peace I can maintain if I'm consistent in my practice. Practice. I'm practicing. My mind is usually a racing machine and I make myself crazy with imagined futures and drama. I can't live well when imagined insanity is playing out in my head.
I've been sick the last few days, a sinus infection. I've been sick a lot this last season. Mostly chest colds, which I prefer over the head cold. Head colds make my brain feel half-dead.
The song I'm posting today is a favorite. It reminds me of Spring, of sitting on a porch, drinking bourbon and smoking cigarettes with old friends then crawling off to sleep in a converted attic surrounded by books. I've been singing a lot lately and dancing around. I always sing when I'm happy and for a long while I haven't been letting myself sing. I don't have a great singing voice but I don't care. Singing is something that makes me happy, a little personal thing that lifts my spirits. I've been doing my best to get away from the inner negative voice that has been breathing heavily into my ear for far too long. It's working. I'm happier.
I read a story last night online, a short fiction piece that reminded me of the style of writing I try to write in. It felt forced, as if the writer was so concerned with maintaining the voice that the story got lost along the way. It reminded me of something I know to be true in my own writing practice: the story creates the voice. It can't be forced. The story I'm percolating now has challenges in voice but if I can execute it the way I want to, I know it'll enhance the narrative.
Friday, March 11, 2011
For years I've gone to the same place in my dreams, I call it my dream-world. I could draw you a map. I have a house there, and friends who only exists in that world. I have several places within that dream world that I visit, old cities, mountains, deserts. There are trains I ride, fields I roam in. I even know where my locker is at the gym I work out at. Strange since I don't work out in real life.
Lately things have changed in my dream-world (God, writing that makes me sound like I listen to Tori Amos and have faerie wallpaper.) It has become crowded. I noticed it a few weeks ago when one night I went to visit the desert hot springs I go to and all the pools were filled with people, and not people I liked. Last night I went to visit one of my favorite dream-cities, a city similar to Paris but with canals. It was horribly crowded, even the bathrooms were a disaster and people were peeing in corners. I got on the train to get out of town and discovered I was on the quarantine train for people with typhoid. The worst part is there is a cove I always visit. A little natural harbor where I always see dolphins and whales (I know, I know; Tori and faerie). The cove is my favorite part of my dream world, I always feel serene when I wake up after having visited it. A few nights ago I went to the cove and it had been turned into a marine park, all of the dolphins and whales were in shows.
I wonder how all this came to pass, what could be going on in my subconscious to have altered my dreaming so drastically. I've battled lots of insomnia lately. This morning I've been up since 3:30. I don't feel like there is a tremendous amount of stress on my head but there must be, somewhere. Or I just need to make space in my mind, meditate more. Something.
In brighter news I have a poem appearing in a new online journal within a month or so. I'll link to it when it happens. The funny part is that it's a poem I never thought would see the light of day. The content is strongly sexual, to the point of almost being ridiculously sexual, I'm sure some (mom) will say vulgar. I concentrated on the hyperbolic whilst writing it and I guess that made it a winner. Taking risks works.
Yesterday I was looking for something when I came across an old journal from 2008. I only had a few pages filled but one page was a poem. Over the top of the page I had scribbled something about giving myself permission to write utter crap. The poem is about 18 lines, rhyming couplets. The meter is actually good, and some of the lines aren't terrible. I like when I surprise myself.
The other evening I surprised myself just by being silly. I was sitting on my balcony, looking at the moon when I decided I would try to describe the night to myself in the most ridiculous way I could. I play games with myself, the remnants of a lonely childhood. I came up with a silly line about the way fish in a net shine and then a great idea hit me over the head. I've been stuck on a short story for months, I couldn't decide on the voice. Being silly saved me. Thank you, brain.
I heard this song in a bar last night. I agree.
Wednesday, March 9, 2011
Had a few long, long discussions talks with B last night on several subjects. You know that someone is your best friend is they challenge you, prod you, and make you examine your choices. B is good at all of those, and he has a nurturing side that is unparalleled. B kicks my ass when I need it and he kicked it a little bit last night about my writing. We were playing cards, I read him a poem and he said You should be writing more things like that, you deny yourself passion. Ah sweet bestie, he knows. He's seen me through some times and knows quite well how much I don't live. I woke up at 1am thinking about what he said. I have a lot of thinking to do. And writing.
Monday, March 7, 2011
Or some other random bullshit I have scribbled on a post-it pasted to the wall above my writing desk. I took today as my day to specifically to finish one short story and to get my claws into the other. I started, as usual, with a free-write to get the blood moving through the right parts of my brain and let a deluge of brain sludge pour out instead, choking up the pipes for anything more creative. So it goes. I wrote how I feel trapped by own voice at times, that often when I try to write it comes out contrived. When I journal, tweet, blog or email I have no censor and can write my heart out. But there is something intimidating or who knows what about opening up a document and going into it with the intention of crafting something. I'm too hard on myself. I know I am. I have to give myself permission to write crap, as all the wide-eyed writing gurus say after they light purple candles and invoke the Goddess of whatever, but I can't help it. I'm hard on myself.
I mini-panicked this weekend, reading a fantasy book by an author whose work I love but whose tweets lead me to believe she is kind of an idiot in real life. I panicked wondering if the grace and generosity I have in real life sucks the mojo out of my creative self. I don't know. I'm just in one of those creative frozen zones that come. They pass, I know they do. But telling myself that and believing it while I'm awake at 3am, eating sauerkraut out of the jar to try to ease the gnawing inside is a whole other story.
Reading PUTA: My Life in Sex by Alisa Valdes-Rodriguez has made today bearable. That and walking the dog in the rain.
Friday, March 4, 2011
Much is moving in my life and I've been stuck in the eddies and whirlwinds that accompany change. I'm exhausted. My body is rebelling and not sleeping, needles have grown into my joints and I've been quietly morose. It'll pass. I haven't been very good to myself lately, too much drinking, smoking, late nights and giving. My generosity may be the death of me. On the other hand I'm selfish with the best parts of myself.
I was having a conversation a couple of nights ago with a good friend who is in mourning. My heart went out to him, knowing how devastation and heartbreak change the entire landscape of being. I told him, truthfully, that I feel I lost my best self years ago. I want to be that person but don't know if I ever can be. I've grown out of the numbness that accompanied my heartbreak, my hesitancy to love dissipated and I cautiously have been inching toward my ideal self.
32 came, a week ago. My birthday was a mixture of joy and chaos. I'm still recovering. I suppose it's fair to say the highs matched the lows. I'm left with an odd taste in my mouth. Looking forward. It was Love's birthday too and I think his birthday was rough as well.
I'm engrossed in A Discovery of Witches by Deborah Harkness. I love fantasy books and this one has me dizzy. I wouldn't have started it had I known there would be a sequel only because I can't imagine we'll be getting the sequel for a while since this was just released last month. This book has made this week un-awful.