Saturday, January 12, 2013

serpents, snakes, little venomous mouths

This last month I've been dreaming of serpents, snakes. I was walking through a field of high grasses when two long snakes leapt out, each biting me on the wrist. I felt the poison enter my body to the rhythm of my heart beating but my body took it in, I was joyous. I was driving, the steering wheel in my hand turn into serpents, winding their way up my arms. I carried two blinded snakes, their eyes bandaged, I pitied them. Last night I was walking home, my novel in my hand when I came across a burlap sack on the road, filled with hatchling rattlesnakes. I made the bag my bed, I lay down in the road and let the snakes curl around me. One snake tried to be playful, it bit my novel and the book began to swell up, it turned gold, disappeared.

Friday, January 11, 2013

Album Review: Carla Morrison "Dejenmer Llorar"

Had a brief email exchange about this album with a friend, I quickly wrote this review to send him and he wrote back and suggested I post it on my blog. Here it is:

Listening to this album makes me wish it was around in 2002, when I  was a 23 year old Fridaphile Chicana, my hair in braids, marching every protest, falling in love with brown boys who proudly wore scruffy goatees, Che obsessions and soccer shoes. The songs are young in their emotional truths, saccharine sweet at times. In my imagination I am listening to this album while making out Gael Garcial Bernal before he started doing Gillette commercials. It makes me want to time travel back to the days of obsessive innocence, when everything I wrote down was meaningful, in italics. What I'm trying to say is that this album reminds of being young, which is very different from what I am now: "still" young. It reminds me how fucking fast time goes by, how the years become a skin thickening against vulnerablity. This album peels that skin back a little, lets in those old feelings I keep forgetting to remember.

epiphany, engaging spirit, work

My morning ritual is specific. I wake up, put water to boil for coffee and immediately come into my office to write down my dreams. I'm a vivid dreamer, I go to the same "world" each night. Over the years I've gotten to know the place rather well, down to the parking garage where I sometimes park my car. After I write down my dreams I write a page in another journal, usually I start with whatever I'm grateful for and then into whatever else is on my mind. I grind the coffee beans and start my coffee in the french press. Then I read poetry. Rumi, Rilke, Gibran, I always choose a poet who uplifts, reminds me what is essential. I meditate. I do all this before checking email, internet, anything. I find when I start my day with silence and poetry they fit better.

Yesterday I had a hellish editing day. I sat with the same page for hours. It was a teeth-pulling writing day. I finally gave up around sunset and retreated to eating unhealthy snacks and internet wormholes.

This morning I went into my meditation after having reread for the 70 millionth time a passage from The Prophet. This morning I read the passage On Work. The phrase Work is love made visible was stuck in me, interrupting my usual mantra. Finally, I settled into the place I love to get to in meditation, the floating, the color eruptions, the silence and then it blossomed, the big "duh!" or epiphany.

Write like the poet you are. Boom.

I think I've danced around this idea before. I've been a poet for years, working almost exclusively in poetry, publishing poetry, writing hundreds of poems. That voice is one I've worked and worked on, honed, sharpened. My love made visible. I've exacted my language until it satisfied me. And somewhere in my crazy-brain, when I sat down to work on this novel, I ignored that language, I put the poetry away. No wonder I'm struggling! I'm attempting to write in an entirely new voice. I think back to the short stories I've written that I love the most, The Half-Wife, Blood, Days of Sainthood, and they were all written in my poetry voice.

This means more work. *sigh* I'm okay with that. Making my love visible. So it is.

Speaking of languages, read this gorgeous piece by Louise Erdrich Two Languages in the Mind, One in the Heart. Something like that, yes, yes.

Thursday, January 10, 2013

the January slowing

January is always a little strange for me. Work always slows down to an almost standstill and I find myself freaking out a little, wondering if I chose the wrong career. I have remind myself that January is always a slow month. The work will pick up again. I'm really good at what I do. I love my job. I love that I have slow periods that allow me to concentrate on my writing. I love that I can work all day, interact with no one, listen to audio books and come home inspired to write. I have a few bids out, work that is coming my way and invoices out for work completed. And it is still early in the month.

One of my favorite things to paint these days are electrical outlet plates. My clients usually have big, beautiful kitchens and powder rooms with tile or marble back splashes. The outlets and switch plates stick out. I come in and make them disappear. It isn't a big money maker but I enjoy the detail work, layers upon layers. I get to use my tiny brushes. I learned from another faux finish painter years ago but just started doing the work a couple of years ago.

Yesterday a designer gave me a project that is waaaay different than anything I've ever done but I'm excited to do it. Big, bold, crazy color. I won't do the work for months yet but still, it'll be fun.

Solitary days. Much editing. Staying in as much as possible to avoid the flu plague. 6 days until my gorgeous, brilliant, romantic boyfriend is in town. Pretty sure I won't get much editing done while he's here and why would I?

Wednesday, January 9, 2013

savage simplicities

My editing experiment yesterday was fruitful. I suffered through it at times but new practices often contain suffering. I took a dance class last weekend that had my thighs suffering for days but I'm going back because despite the pain, I loved it.

My editing took hours. I was distracted several times by the internet. I was also distracted by an old book I found at the swap meet last summer, An Encyclooaedia of Occultism. What a strange book. When I first opened it I went directly to the passage about Mexico. The section begins : Occult science among the ancient Mexicans may be said to have been in that stage between savage simplicities of medicine men and the more sophisticated magical practices of the mediaeval sorcerer.  Ah yes, savage simplicities, well aware of those; complicated astronomical calculations, feats of architecture that can barely be replicated today, the motherfucking invention of zero. . . Savages.

This morning during my meditation I saw a scene I really wanted to jump up and write down, but I was meditating, so I didn't. It was a scene involving the parents of my protagonist. It was beautiful, I felt the ache of it, the pull of the characters toward each other despite circumstances that said no. But my book isn't about them, not really. They're story is peripheral. I struggle. I wrote out maybe fifty pages of their story during my planning out stages, of the the events that lead up to where my book starts. I'm kind of obsessed with the parents, the place they live, their challenges. Oh Lizz. Focus. This brain, fertile indeed.

Tuesday, January 8, 2013

the brave

This morning when I signed into Facebook I received a shock. A friend of mine, a rather close friend who I knew to be single, posted a picture of himself kissing a woman, with the caption Spoiler alert: I got married. Jaw dropped, awed, confused, I sent him a message then we talked on the phone. Done. Married. After a three week whirlwind courtship. There was no doubt in his voice, no fear. He was full of love, amazement at the women he had fallen in love with. There are naysayers, there will always be naysayers. I told him I was happy for him, and I am. I told him I was proud of him for taking a risk, for doing what felt right. I thought about him all morning. What a crazy brave thing to do.

Today I'm experimenting with a different kind of editing. We'll see. I'm trying my best to be brave and not give into the fear voice, the one that mentions all the things that can go wrong, all the ways there are to fail. But failure isn't a terrible thing. I loved this Brene Brown TED talk on Shame. I watched it this weekend and it was pretty damn inspiring. I keep reminding myself that failure isn't the worst thing in the world. Not trying is worse. And bravery is supposed to be action in spite of fear.

I called my mom to tell her about my friend getting marriage and she said That's wonderful! Don't elope. Ha! Even if I eloped I don't think a wedding could be avoided. Too much family.

So many dreams of swimming these days. Dreams of communing with underwater mammals. Lolling against the largesse and warmth of a wet velvet sea lion. Dreams of learning how to angle my body to ride tidal waves safely in to shore. Dreams of curling up in a current of heat while the waters around me shifted into stained glass.

Now, to write.

Monday, January 7, 2013

voice, consistency, body

Going through my manuscript this weekend I had to keep reminding myself this is a draft, this is a draft. There are parts wherein the voice I intend to use sings out, is complete on the page; and there are parts where it falls completely flat. Ugh. But again, this is a draft. I have to remember not to be too hard on myself and to just do the work. I was also rereading one of my favorite books this weekend, Ahab's Wife. The voice the author uses in her writing slays, kills, is ridiculously gorgeous. Do not compare, Lizz, do not compare.

Yesterday morning I went down to my childhood home for breakfast with my parents. I had fresh oranges and pomegranates from their trees. I am so incredibly blessed to have my parents still living in the home I was born and grew up in. Going home each weekend to spend time with them is beautiful. Eating oranges off their trees as I've been doing my entire life. I remember my dad planting the pomegranate tree when I was younger and I remember looking at the scraggy thing and being skeptical it would ever give fruit. Now the tree is taller than the house and each year bends over under the weight of all the ripe fruit. Patience. Appreciation.

I've been hearing a lot of talk these days about the flu. I had several long conversations about this this weekend with various family members. An aunt who works for the county told me she had to get it, the county said there were no exemptions this year for religious or other beliefs.  My sister, who is super organic and anti-medicine is getting the flu shot, which blew my mind. But she suffers from really bad asthma. My dad, a diabetic, is getting it. I refuse, as does my mom. I've never had the flu. I'm pretty healthy these days. I am a miserable sick person, when I'm sick, but I have a lot of misgivings about having a virus, albeit a dead one, injected into my body.

Friday, January 4, 2013


Yesterday morning I read my journal entry from a year ago, January 3, 2012.  I was at the beginning of change. I wasn't unhappy, I was mostly at peace, but I wanted more out of life. I wanted more peace. I wanted to go inward. I wanted to stop playing small. I had also had a horrible night of insomnia the evening before the journal entry, and bad dreams. Yesterday morning I woke up after a night of insomnia, bad dreams and general feelings of blah. I wrote about it in my journal, then curious, I opened my journal to see where I had been a year earlier. I was surprised to see I had also had insomnia and bad dreams the same night a year before. But my journal entry yesterday was all about gratitude, about how much my life has changed in the last year and how at peace and I am with my life. And the joy.

Last night I finished reading my first book of 2013, Seraphina by Rachel Hartman. The author created a world that was incredibly well-developed; the history and invented culture were believable, intricate, nuanced. A world where dragons and humans co-exist in a fragile peace is a great setting for a story, great tension. The main character was wonderful, her flaws and fears balancing out as strengths when they could have just as easily been annoying to the reader. As a writer I was intrigued by the language. Gorgeous sentence construction, descriptions that blossomed in the mind, pacing and tension played out beautifully. It made me wonder what kind of books the author likes to read, who her favorite writers are, what music runs through her mind as she writes. Language like that isn't an accident, it builds over years.

I'm printing out my full book manuscript later today for the first time ever. I've had it on my computer, and printed out the first half almost a year ago. I've been neglecting the book, life has been busy. But signs keep showing up that I have to work on it. I went hiking on Monday, a fallen log on my path looked exactly like a jaguar leaping out at me. I stopped and took a picture. A new hypnosis track I purchased and was listening to exactly described a scene I had written a few months ago. And yesterday my baby sister called to ask about my book. She read the first couple of chapters last year and told me she has been wondering about my characters ever since. So, yes. Here we go.

Wednesday, January 2, 2013

begin again

I've taken a break from blogging the last few months. Three family deaths is three months, a lot of death, mourning, time with family. On top of that I was super busy with work, I worked six days a week for months. I didn't have a Saturday off until the weekend before Christmas. I was exhausted. I was in survival, work, sleep, eat, console. It was good. I kept my head on, I didn't lose focus. I knew it wasn't going to last forever.

2012 was my best year in years. It started off strangely but transformed. I took month to detox from food and alcohol. I started my consistent meditation practice. I let go of a lot. I messed up some things then realized that messing up is not always the worst thing. I took a shot at a second chance, something I had always wondered "What if?" over and had that pesky question answered. Whew. I drove long distances. I fell head over heels in love, deep love, crazy love, transformational love. I wrote some poems. I wrote the second, scarier half of my novel. I laughed until I cried. I watched the sun rise. I outgrew things/people that were a weight in my life. I spent more time with family and have become closer to my extended family. I met incredible new friends, people who are wise, gracious, intelligent and good. Intuition a beast I'm learning to ride better. I'm happy.

I read many books last year. Mostly YA. My favorites were:

The Fault in Our Stars
The Miseducation of Cameron Post
Shadow of Night
Daughter of Smoke and Bone
The Descendants
Song of Achilles
State of Wonder

This next year my intentions are to deepen my commitment to my creative spirit; spend more time with family, especially documenting family stories with elders; practice compassion daily; continue to grow with my loved ones; begin to prepare my body/life for motherhood (I'm not knocked up, don't trip); and to love.

I am so incredibly grateful for everything in my life. Onward.