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.