Friday, December 26, 2008

I had a session with Syd

or something approximating a session, and am feeling much better now. Eating powdered Alfredo patsta and watching Sex and the City before bed...XO.

X-mas in Dallas

AH, the blog. Perpetual home of my loneliness. It is embarrassing how I come here when I haven't another place to go. I am stuck at my sister's house - alone. This is a strange place to be when no one is around. The electricity went out in the kitchen for about 8 hours and so I had to unplug the microwave from the kitchen and move it to the hallway so I could cook scrambled eggs for dinner. Plus, I scrapped my bare big toe on the concrete of the driveway as my sister left to go out of town to visit her friend. It took a big chunk of toenail and skin off and it still hurts like hell. I left toe-blood on the hood of her car before she pulled out and left me with no band aids and no car and my youngest niece who cried because I had promised to take her to the park up the road. I wanted to go for a walk so badly. I need those endorphins today. But my toe is fucked.
I was supposed to be going to my high school reunion tonight, but my old friends were all too drunk to pick me up from the suburbs by the time I got my niece off with her dad. My older niece is at her friend's lake house and now I am alone here after a week and a half of constant family time. I am in for the night, make-up done, new Christmas clothes on, a box of wine for company, and I feel like shit. My toe hurts. I can hardly remember who or what I am.
Two weeks is a damn long time, friends. Not having the money to pay rent is on my mind. I forget how much work there still is to do in Cali. I feel like a particularly large failure right now. I mean, I don't even have a car, much less any savings. I am single. I've never been published. I am overweight and too reliant on feeling intoxicated. I picked up and left all the people I love in Colorado. My phone doesn't work right and so phone conversations suck on so many levels. Yes, this is the after-Christmas blues. This is the "feeling sorry for myself" post. This sucks. Plus, my grandma's dead. And I miss her. It feels like Dallas isn't mine anymore. I feel like a fake. But I'm no Coloradan or Californian either. How did this happen?
I had the most wonderful day with my mom and sister when I first got here. We went to the movies and they paid for me, without even arguing about it. It was like heaven. I kept wondering what had changed. No fights. Just generosity and relaxation. Folks, it lasted one whole day. And while Amee and I have had more fun together than any time in recent history, it has all gone to hell. My mother is pretty much the most depressed person I have ever known. My friends here don't seem to give a damn about me anymore. Correction: not in a way they can show. And everyone drinks so fucking much. I'm drunk right now, for God's sake! Oh, I am a miserable Dallas bitch right now. I cannot wait to go home and be in my own room with my own journal and my own altar and my own bed. My life feels pretty silly from this spot here. I don't know what makes sense, is worth while, counts for anything.
More wine now. And the cuddly kitten my sister recently adopted. I try not to watch cable. Please get me home quickly! Christmas *cheer*.
Michelle

Thursday, December 11, 2008

1/4 down, 3/4 to go

schools out Pictures, Images and Photos
Hi, my people. I just finished my first semester of grad school. (little booty dance). I turned in 55 pages of writing in the past week. I'm rockin' in a way I ain't ever seen myself do. It's, kind of cool. But now, after all that work, I feel crazy not knowing what to do with myself. I feel lonesome for my classes (and classmates!) already. My poetry class would've been tonight, but it's over. I was telling Meg in class yesterday that I was always crying on the last day of school when I was a kid because I was gonna miss my teachers and friends. Yep. I was born to be a student. I don't think I've ever liked anything as much as school in my whole life. Except, of course, for the bodies and minds of the people I love. Nothing can beat that. But OTHER than that, well, it's no question. I'm glad I've realized that I wanna write and teach. That was a smart decision. Is one.
I am also watching another year come to an end in which I have no partner. I don't like this one bit, but I'm STILL not exactly sure what to do about it. I know ya'll think I'm crazy, but dammit, this shit is hard for me! And I'm not just talking about some ass. That's not how I roll. I think Ima do some hoodoo on it. I have been so far away from my spirituality this semester. But I did get a dressed love candle from Miss Cat Yronwode for my birfday so I suppose it's a good time to get all up on that. I try to be patient, and then I wonder if that's the very problem.
I'm heading to Dallas next week for Christmas. Gonna see those baby girls I fuckin adore. One is twelve. Bordering on having a boyfriend. The other is seven. There will be no more Gramma and that is just strange in every way. My sister bought a house. I'll see some high school friends. I hope it rains while I'm there. I miss the rain. THAT'S what I want for Christmas. A big, Texas thunderstorm with a bunch of lightning and thunder and wind and a grey-black sky. Please, oh please.
And I gotta send a shout out to my Boulder peeps. I miss ya'll in that snowy mountain town! Shit, who'm I kidding? I miss all ya'lls asses, all over the world!!! Happy Advent, fuckers. xoxo.

Sunday, November 30, 2008

Guns and Butter

Yesterday I was in my kitchen cooking mashed potatoes, on the phone with Georgia Rose, chilling with the back door open and then, all of a sudden, I heard BANG BANG BANG BANG BANG BANG! Directly out my door, there was a shooting. I cannot tell you how loud, terrifying, and confusing it all was. The police found no blood, though witnesses saw a man on the ground who then disappeared. The cops found bullet shells (or whatever they're called) across the street in front of my neighbors house. And last weekend, I walked outside to find 15 cop cars on my street. I counted them. They said it was safe to leave the house, and I did, warily. I heard they found bullet shells in front of my next door neighbors' house that night, as well.

I keep getting mad at myself for feeling afraid. Like it makes me weak or something. Like I am not allowed to notice how tenuous life really is. In the past month I have had two friends have cancer scares (one is not out of the woods yet), one friend's father died, another friend survived a suicide attempt, another friend is dealing with being left by his long-term partner, and at least 2 shootings have occurred on my street. Looking even further outward, I notice the unspeakable tragedies of the attacks in India, consumers trampling a Wal-Mart employee to death, and fast-growing joblessness. Indeed, the Buddha had it right: Life is full of suffering.

And yet it is full of wonderful things, as well. In the midst of all of this, in the past month I have not only sat with the suffering, and suffered my own self, but have seen the exquisitely beautiful. We have elected Barack Obama. I have reached 32 years of age, in one piece. I worked hard on and sweated profusely during my project to teach a class on Myung Mi Kim's gorgeous book, Commons. It went really well. I presented my work in my fiction class on Lee Harvey Oswald on the 45th anniversary of his public murder. I began working on a syllabus for a community writing workshop I will teach next semester. I met poets who work "on the margins" of the writing community, outside of academia, and I have remembered that the human heart can survive, be fed, and be central to the writing I pursue. That, while I love my mind, as well as the minds of others, it remains necessary to come out of our heads and into our bodies. To tend to the living we must do. And finally, I have eaten the most delicious and buttery foods in a house full of lovely people on Thanksgiving day. Have been surrounded by people who fascinate me.

My friend Shelly called me up frantically the other day to tell me about a radio show she had heard called "Guns and Butter". It had been on the anniversary of the JFK assassination and she thought it might be of interest to me because, not only am I writing about Oswald, but also because guns and butter are recurrent themes in that writing. It was eerie. I looked it up and found that "Guns or Butter" is a common term used in economics to point to the necessity of governments to prioritize its needs. The theory says a government cannot have both. That, instead, each administration must decide to spend on military or civilian causes. That effective government chooses which to do when, wisely. And I read an article that accuses George W. Bush of choosing both, thus putting us in this terrible position we are in. I quite like the analogy and am fond of appropriating it to talk about things beyond economics. My life, as always, is filled with both. And while I prefer butter and hope to keep the balance tipped to that end, how does one measure? Upon which system shall I calibrate my devices? Which instrument can I use? Ariel Goldberg, my classmate, asked the other day whether having had Oswald's life tangled into my family history had been a blessing or a curse. In that space, I search. How to measure?

I am not in favor of suffering for Art's sake, but it continues to exist - despite Art. Perhaps Art is an expression of the Middle Way. A reach toward appreciation of "what is", while hoping for "what might yet be". Bhanu Kapil talks about wanting a book that "suffers" with the reader. I think that that book would only need to sit in the moment, feel the rubbing of two things beside one another. Explore the electrified sliver of space there. Bashfully, I admit to, like George W. Bush, preferring Guns AND Butter. After all, Butter alone makes one fat, slothful. Guns alone make the world unbearable and hungry. And though it began with bullets, I suppose this is my Thanksgiving blog of gratitude. Kahlil Gibran says children are the "sons and daughters of Life's longing for itself". I grope around, amongst you all, longing for this life.

Sunday, November 16, 2008

why are my friends so fucking great?

wow. 9:39, sunday, the 16th of november night. had a haircut by syd. had a poetry reading, had a dinner with amber. had several wines. had a funn time. have (currently) several star-gazing lilies, a brown candle with fat flame. sound of roommates.

how does one spell it?

"jesus". i say it out of respect.

what shall we think when we have been given so very many directions/instructions. (let this critique sweep far). i had lion for supper. had bad bread and smooth Southern talk. i forget to forget. i really hear people being ferried, all day.

quoting, like exercise, is aerobic - mirrors lungs. what happens then? how does it sound? who is responsible? sometimes, we don't have to explain. sometimes, u get mad because i always talk politics. quit this. be serious. cuddle up for the cozy.

Wednesday, November 5, 2008

To the Blessed 44th President of the United States

So we are supposed to record it. To remember, forever, that this thing happened. To remember that I was eating soup from a can and that I was really, really broke at the time. To remember the sound of cars honking and people beating pots and pans and blowing whistles. To remember how, when I wanted to cry, laughter came up instead. To remember stone-cold sobriety and uncontrollable laughter. To remember the look of so many black faces on the television crying because something so good had happened. To remember that his face reminded me of James Baldwin's "Sonny's Blues" because he looked "so touched, I think, that he could have cried, but neither hiding it nor showing it, riding it like a man" he gave his speech and kissed his family. To remember that people can claim dignity even after they've been led to believe they had none. To remember the moment it all changed. The motto remains, is not finished: Yes, we can!

Tuesday, October 21, 2008

Most Regular Autumn

Well, I hardly expected this to be a journal of despair on death and dying, but we have truly entered the fall. It is all over my mind. I turn 32 in ten days, that's how old my dad was when he died. It is a strange habit of the living to rely too heavily on the information of the lives of the dead. or too little is also often the case. I am thinking about dying. Not suicide, but instead that it will happen some day. Always, in the fall, I think like this. My mother just had some skin cancer removed. This, after having had breast cancer 4 years ago. It was on the anniversary of her mother's death. My whole life needs changing.

I want to talk on the phone right now to one of my old friends living somewhere else in world, but it is later everywhere than here. It leaves me alone, in the middle of the night, calling around to leave messages for sleeping friends. I am being dramatic. I am being for real. I felt terrible (sad, cramps) all day and then I wrote this tiny, two-part piece about stitches on the dead bodies of my father and Oswald. This is Scorpionic; almost there. This is practice for what one says in public.

I heard a cricket in a tree tonight. He was quiet while I went past. I walked up a huge hill and could see the water (I don't even know which!) and the sky was purple and orange. I smelled rose today, out of nowhere, while writing about kissing my father's dead cheek. That is how he smelled. And felt. I always think about who I miss in the autumn. See, it is like this: so chilly.

Meg, you keep asking, and I have found a quote. "In creating, you create the origin that swallows you" --Edmond Jabes

Sure, I'm going down. But like Jayne Cortez said, "and just what the fuck else was she supposed to do?" I kick and scream. I write a blog. I look toward winter and act fluent. Behave verbose.

Wednesday, October 1, 2008

My heart went thru its usual breaking as I left Texas. I moved slowly the first day back. I worried whether writing is frivolous. I thought about how far away my family is when I am here. And then I wrote three poems. And then I cried. My grandmother's Virgin Mary is set upon my altar. My chest is weighted with prayer and thankfulness and vertigo. According to Bhanu Kapil, "Vertigo is a symptom of profound attraction. An excess of desire." Yes.

I am back in the Bay after covertly digging a hole at the cemetery in Dallas where my dad, uncle and paw-paw are buried and depositing part of my grandmother's ashes there. We poured water on the ground and used trowels. I loved on my nieces and went thru my grandmother's things. I came home with a suitcase full of pictures. My assignment for Truong Tran's poetry class this week is to look at a family album and write about the pictures and the narrative that they beg to tell. That man reads my mind.

I have pictures of my father as a small baby, complete with infamous dimple. I have pictures of my uncle Mike in the hospital after being knifed; you can see the track marks in his arms. Ghostly hollow of his dark eyes. I am being given a gift. I get to sort through these things. I get to follow it back to deep baby humanity. I get to love and love and love.

I have a bit of homesickness for Boulder as the days get shorter but remain fair in California. I began my period (quite early) the day my grandmother died and I know there is a serious newness to my life right now. Each part of me is beginning something. Each of my "homes" have shifted. I don't know how to anchor.

I will be 32 in one month, the age my father was when he died. My birthday is Halloween, my uncle Mike's was November 1st, and the next is the Day of the Dead. I am mad with numbers lately. I wonder who is pulling these strings.

Tonight I made a thick fried dahl and have crawled into bed. I am listening to songs that have accordions or yodeling in them. It is clear that Fall has arrived: days like cinnamon, nights like clove.

Wednesday, September 24, 2008

Sunday, September 21, 2008

A Public Face

In the foreward to From the Book to the Book, Edmond Jabes wrote:

To take the wrong door means indeed to go against the order that presided over the plan of the house, over the layout of the rooms, over the beauty and rationality of the whole. But what discoveries are made possible for the visitor! The new path permits him to see what no other than himself could have perceived from that angle. All the more so because I am not sure that one can enter a written work without having forced one's own way in first.

Yesterday I attended a discussion that was hosted by the Nonsite Collective and facilitated by Bhanu Kapil on architecture and a poetics of disablement. When I arrived, the door was locked. I was late and I was going to have to buzz my way in. I almost walked away. Then, by some sweet watchfulness, someone saw my shadow pass the milky window and came to let me in. Thru all manner of hesitation, I forced my way in the door that I have been banging up against in my mind for years; I showed up as a writer.

Soon, I began talking about my grandmother. I was remembering her house. I was telling tales of the legendary Phaedra. I went public by going private.

I have the journal my grandmother started the day she found my father's dead body on a mattress in the house she owned. She had wanted to be a writer. And so I think it only appropriate that I begin this blog today.

I think my grandmother must have been waiting for me to get to have that experience yesterday. And, despite so many layers of misunderstanding between us, I believe she must have felt us talking about her. I think that her body had been lying there in a nursing home while the rest of her went about calibrating the variables, trying to choose the "right" time to die. She died today at 2:30 in the afternoon in Dallas while I lay in my bed in Oakland reading a draft proposal for the Nonsite Collective. It happened while I was feeling sure (even for a moment) that I am where I am meant to be.

And so I send your soul, Ms. Fay Puckett, into what must be met with the assurance that I have loved you, and that through that love I have learned to love myself and that through that love I will love the world. Today is the last day of summer - no further autumn for you. I hope that you feel free, whatever that can look like. I hope you feel bold, and loved, and shiny. I cannot imagine what every new day will be like without your body in it. But I will never be without you. I am wearing your onyx on my index finger, as you always did, as you instructed me to. I will use it to point. And, like you, I am after the beautiful.