Sunday, September 29, 2019

What's Elusive

"The Unicorn"
Los Angeles Metro Bus

Here's the good thing. My old friend Bill Martin has this new show out -- a comedy on Thursday nights called "The Unicorn." I went to UNC with Bill, and he is still the sweet, incredibly funny man I knew more than thirty years ago. Ya'll should watch his show because it's also sweet and very, very funny and we all need funny, right?

Here's the bad thing. I need a lot of funny these days. I am not going to mince words. There's a lot of shit going down in these parts -- most of it unbloggable. I guess I am going to mince words. There's a tremendous amount of hate and rage roiling around me personally. I need all your positive juju and miracle-making, please. The other night I got into my car at 10:30 at night and drove all the way to Venice Beach in my robe and nightgown. I screamed in the car and then listened to Van Morrison sing "And It Stoned Me." I listened to Bob Marley sing "No Woman No Cry." Sophie's fine. The Brothers are good. I am not fine or good. I am digging deep to find my way back to the calm and peace that I know is somewhere within, still.

I love this poem:

Before Winter by Kwame Davis

Tuesday, September 17, 2019

The Things We Do

I'm sitting in my dining room, eating an apple from my backyard tree, some salami and provolone and crackers. I just taught the short story "The Things They Carried" to a tenth grade boy at a small, specialized private school and am getting ready to read and grade a slew of essays on the "American Dream." These were written by my eleventh grade girls who are all part of a very conservative Jewish community. The apple is from the first crop of this little tree. It is green and blushed, tart yet sweet when it counts. The salami and cheese tastes a bit like packaging, and the crackers are banana-flavored, something I didn't notice when I bought them, but all together it hits the spot. As they say. It's all connected, in the end, maybe even by me. An apple tree in southern California, packaged salami and cheese, banana nut-flavored crackers, the Vietnam War and a boy who hasn't heard of it, the American Dream and a bunch of sheltered girls dreaming. That man sleeping on the sidewalk around the corner from my house with the apple tree in the backyard, his dirty feet and that woman walking, the crease where her ass hits her leg, a cup of bright red juice, the photo itself, me in my dining room, eating and reading, looking up at a small orchid, its magenta petals tipped by sun and the sound of leaves outside rustling a bit in a new fall wind.

Monday, September 9, 2019

Weird Empty Nestish Stuff (plus a poem)

The night before the Empty Nest, as photographed by Leonardo da Vinci 

It's official. Sophie and I have an empty nest. I drove Henry to the airport last Thursday, and he took a flight to Italy where he'll be spending the fall semester. Poor boy. Afterward I kept my shit together and taught my classes for the second day, but when I got home I had what I am now thinking, in retrospect, was a collapse. Honestly, I know I am dramatic at times and prone to hyperbole, but I tell you this, Reader. Having both boys gone flown the coop off to college off to Italy beginning new lives as young men you know the rest was obliterating. It's honestly felt, at times, like something ripped from me and that something is the whole of it. I feel slightly embarrassed writing this out because Henry and Oliver are strappingly healthy and alive and happy and hell, they profess their love for me so I have nothing absolutely to complain about but let's go back to the ripping sensation. Yeah. I imploded on Thursday night, I think, and if it weren't for the Bird Photographer (interesting and ironic and synchronous, no?) -- well -- thank you, Carl. I'll add that Sophie is with me, that we both have an empty nest. The atmosphere around these parts is mighty different, and we'll get used to it. Until the getting used to it, though, it's plain weird and takes my breath away. I ate a tomato sandwich tonight with spinach and mayo on some whole grain bread. I put on a pair of compression socks (my GOD!) and organized all the paperwork for my four classes of high school girls. I opened the dishwasher and it was EMPTY. There's toilet paper in the holder in the bathroom, and the towels are folded on the rack and dry. It's very, very quiet.

Here's a poem my friend Andrea sent me:

The House Was Quiet And The World Was Calm

The house was quiet and the world was calm.
The reader became the book; and summer night

Was like the conscious being of the book.
The house was quiet and the world was calm.

The words were spoken as if there was no book,
Except that the reader leaned above the page,

Wanted to lean, wanted much most to be
The scholar to whom his book is true, to whom

The summer night is like a perfection of thought.
The house was quiet because it had to be.

The quiet was part of the meaning, part of the mind:
The access of perfection to the page.

And the world was calm. The truth in a calm world,
In which there is no other meaning, itself

Is calm, itself is summer and night, itself
Is the reader leaning late and reading there.

Wallace Stevens

Monday, September 2, 2019

Mushroom Spaceship

I don't even know how to write in this space anymore. I don't know how to write in any space anymore. I don't know what space I'm actually occupying anymore. I don't know if I'm even a writer at all anymore. My best writer friends are always so very busy writing.  I am busy not writing or should I say (write) not busy writing. It's only words. I might be beginning my life as not a writer.  I didn't write for ten years when baby Sophie was diagnosed and maybe I'm on another ten-year bender that I'm hard put to blame on anyone but possibly it's the pospotus and possibly it's because there are members of my family who are still devoted to him and the republican party and possibly it's just because I turned 56 the other day and my hips started hurting in the middle of the night to mark the occasion and make a mockery of my otherwise robust physical health that I've taken for granted by never exercising and eating cake without regrets. I went for a vigorous walk today, though, on the second of September in the two thousand twentieth year of our lord jesus and came upon a mushroom spaceship  (speaking of space) that had just landed, and a tiny door opened on the underside and I saw a tiny little creature inside and a vast world beyond, beckoning, and I almost did it, almost left.

Maybe it's because I miss Oliver and will soon miss Henry as he's off to a semester in Italy later this week.

I don't want to lose touch here, though, lose the community of beloveds. So, I'm here doing what's not really writing but was it ever really writing anyway?

See, I've nothing to write that isn't a whine. Or is it whinge? Does anyone use the word whinge? Reader, look it up and just listen to how it's pronounced! God, I do love words even though I'm not writing them.

As per the history of my fifty-six years on the planet, I'm still reading words. Right now it's Valeria Luiselli's Lost Children Archive (it's a slow read but good and has a rad structure that would be inspiring if I were a writer) and Darcy Steinke's Flash Count Diary (menopause and orcas) and an amazing graphic memoir called Good Talk by Mira Jacob.

Reading, she said, is my only constant.

In other news, my job as Teacher of English Literature begins this week, and I am so excited. I've missed the girls over the summer and am not even whinging about the hosiery I'll have to put on despite the dog days heat.

I should have always been a teacher instead of writer.


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