"Finding yourself in a hole, at the bottom of a hole, in almost total solitude, and discovering that only writing can save you. TO be without the slightest subject for a book, the slightest idea for a book, is to find yourself, once again, before a book. A vast emptiness. A possible book. Before nothing. Before something like living, naked writing, like something terrible, terrible to overcome." --Marguerite Duras, Writing
Monday, January 24, 2011
Friday, January 21, 2011
I still do not know what impels anyone sound of mind to leave dry land and spend a lifetime describing people who do not exist. If it is child’s play, an extension of make believe—something one is frequently assured by people who write about writing—how to account for the overriding wish to do that, just that, only that, and consider it as rational an occupation as riding a bicycle over the Alps?” –Mavis Gallant, Preface, Selected Stories
Dreamed I was in a bathtub/shower with high sides, in clear water, alone. The water is tepid but comfortable. I am just sitting there, soaking, relaxing, when I see something flying around. At first I think it is a fly, but it is a bee. Being allergic to bees, I tense up immediately, slowly open one of the sliding doors to the tub, and gently encourage it to go out. When it flies out, I close the sliding door, and it lands on the other side of the glass and stays there, motionless. I feel much relief, until I look above my head, where a whole swarm of bees is circling. Quickly I pull my entire body underwater just before—one by one, and then en masse—each tiny bee starts to hurl itself at the surface of the water. Below, eyes wide open, I watch the ping and ripple of each body’s impact and I wonder how long I can hold my breath.
Wednesday, January 19, 2011
Tuesday, January 18, 2011
Hello again, hope.
Friday, January 14, 2011
1. Take your dog for a morning walk. Go past the Redwood City branch of the post office, and come upon a table set up in red, white, and blue of two LaRouche volunteers asking for people to sign up to impeach Obama. When they ask you to sign up, say NO, THANK YOU very loudly and indignantly, and glare at the volunteers, and glare at the other people near the table, and move off with all the huff you can muster. A volunteer calls after you, “Impeach the president. We don’t like him here.” Continue onward in your huff. Think of twenty supersmart comebacks that you should have said. Wonder what he meant by that last statement. Wonder where you are living that a table that proclaims impeaching a man like Obama would actually draw a crowd. That and Bethlehem. “We don’t like him here.” Who is we? What is here? Where have you landed yourself this time? Resolve to go home and immediately Wikipedia your neighborhood to see if it’s red or blue. Start drafting how you will blog about this moment where you were confronted by politics at home, literally confronted. Think of how you will detail the nefarious character of the two volunteers; think of how you will cast yourself a hometown hero, refusing to be led to the trough, refusing to throw around words like “impeach” for any ole disgruntlement. Allow doubt to creep in, though. Realize you don’t have the full story. See that you really aren’t being fair. If you are going to disagree with them, don’t you first have to actually stop to listen? So, go back. Your heart pounds angrily with every step. Your blood pressure is high. Even your steps don’t want to take the steps, but your mind does and we all know who wears the pants in this body, so you go. As you draw nearer, rehearse what would be helpful vs. not helpful to say. You decide on: “I’m not interested in signing your petition, but I do want to try to understand why you would want to impeach a man like Obama.” When you get there and say this exact line, your voice wobbles a bit at the last four words, and the volunteer helpfully supplies, “Why we think Obama is like Hitler?” pointing to a sign of Obama with a Hitler mustache. Feel your blood pressure hit the outer atmosphere, but breathe, breathe, and deeply breathe. Say, “I don’t need the whole schpiel, because I won’t be signing up, but I would like the information to judge for myself.” Refuse to meet the man’s eyes, and know this is you being cowardly and childish, but know you can’t meet his eyes. Know you’re furious. You get some papers; you’re directed toward a website. You take the materials carefully, and head into the post office, where you lodge a complaint: Does the U.S. Post Office support this political demonstration, because they are by allowing them to set up shop on their ramp. The woman is flustered, suggests you take it up with the police. Wonder again where the fuck it is that you are living.
2. Go home and get informed. Redwood City is primarily working class on its eastern side, middle class through the rest. All of the representatives and government officials are Democrats. Feel a bit better. Then get serious. Call the police, lodge a complaint. Write your representative, lodge a complaint. Call the post office, lodge a complaint.
Today is January 14, 2011, and outside the Redwood City post office there are two volunteers set up with signs and a table calling for the impeachment of President Obama. I have a completely healthy respect for the first amendment right for freedom of speech, BUT I do not think it is appropriate for them to do so right in front of the post office, as if the post office were condoning and supporting these beliefs. I feel that you should be able to enter a government business without having politics thrown up in your face. I politely ask that, should their demonstrating continue, which I encourage them to do if they so wish, they be asked to do it NOT on government property.3. Now take them seriously: read all the literature, go to their website, click the links. Read and read and read until you read the part where they call Obama “a sick psycho,” a man “becoming mentally unhinged,” and compare him to Hitler. And then don’t take them seriously. BULLSHIT ASSHOLES #$*&@(#@(%_(#%&*#%&.
4. Here is democracy to me: go ahead, protest, but don’t do it where I am forced to hear it. Your freedom of speech should always be paired with my freedom to walk the fuck away.
5. Here is democracy to me: when encountering a different point of view—especially one trying to get a virulent reaction out of you, either for or against—try not to swear in their faces. (It ain’t Brooklyn round here, honey.) Try not to swear in their faces, and try not to be a total bitch, and try your best to listen … or, if you can’t listen, at least take the literature and agree to give it your full attention and thought before go on with your disagreeing. Try, try, and when you fail, vow to try again.
6. Here is democracy to me: you do your research and vote in the person you think shares most of your values, your humanity, your mind. You vote for this person not to always do what you think they should do, not because you believe they will always be perfect—as a President, as a husband, as a human being—you vote for them because you believe that they will keep trying to do the best job that they are able to do.
So, dear LaRouche supporters of Redwood City, we disagree. I leave you to your impeaching while I stand by the man I voted for.
But I must register one nagging doubt: Are you the majority around here or am I? Which could translate to, do I need to move districts come October?
Wednesday, January 12, 2011
Tuesday, January 11, 2011
Monday, January 10, 2011
The January 9 prompt of my online writing group: Write an elegy for a season of your life.
Where wouldn’t you rewind to, given the chance? Unsleep with this man, unbreak that heart. Take firmer in grasp this baby and that one before him. Unmove, unmove, unmove, and unmove times five; or perhaps do just half of that; but be sure to land in the right place, if you can figure out where that is. Use your fingers to count if necessary. You’ll know you’ve landed wrong once it’s too late. Unlearn how to edit, as pruning seems a bad skill to use when it’s too early to know where to cut, and in fact, why not unlearn even words. To the question of how to begin again, who would your answer be? Unknow winter. Unrecognize summer and autumn too. Be spring again, be bud and blade, last frost before all color. Hold both ice and petal, balance them one in every hand.
Thursday, January 6, 2011
From my online writing group's prompt for January 1. LOBSTER: Describe in vivid detail one dish or hors d’ouevre you ate last night.
It was no trouble at all. I whipped it up at the last minute. Truly. We’d planned on popping the L’ambrusco alongside a homemade dinner of steak, sweet potato, and coconut-sauced kale, greeting the New Year sweetly in our pajamas, or on taking in the bright lights of our small town and toasting among strangers at the bar with $9 glasses of Californian champagne, but we both worked until no one wanted to cook or stroll. Yet the opening of something long bottled up seemed crucial. It was 11:59 and then the year was no more. It is 12:01 and we have popped nothing, and the TV is on, and I just finished editing another person’s words, always another’s, never my own. It is 12:01 of a new day of a new year and nothing has changed, and in another way nothing is the same, and that’s when I first get a whiff, citrus bright. We go to bed and I can hear the lull creeping into his breathing. Moments later, the whiff is a taste in my mouth, crisply touching my tongue, roof of mouth, even the backs of my teeth. It’s creamy now, doughy, rising, then it’s down my throat, a million fluttering bubbles, and then it’s just everywhere.*
Its essence is the fifth drink of the night, a dark downtown bar crammed shoulder to shoulder, the lips of my closest friends on my cheeks. It is sequins and glitter and red lipstick and the joy and bother of four-inch heels. It’s singing and swaying down a street and into the subway, the night young, the whole year like a gift yet to be unwrapped. It’s those beloved faces, missing, and the spooky way I’m the only one walking around past midnight, that there are too many Asians here and not enough African Americans. It’s the need for enough to change that this suburban life feels like a choice rather than a gun to my head that everyone, including myself, knows I should be happy about—the imperative to fill the imaginary stroller. It’s the way that all day I hear the trains go past, and I stay in the same place with this nameless longing. It’s realizing, finally and with finality, that there is only one way to be happy: make yourself. It’s honoring the whole complexity, but lingering more on the sweetness than the acidity or bitterness. It’s understanding that all wine is somewhere between juice and vinegar.
I cry and he wakes. Happy New Year, he says. I miss New York, I say. He says, I know, but. We both know we love each other, so we don’t say that part, though perhaps we should have. Might have left the right flavor on the palate.
* Here ends what I actually posted (we have a word limit and I was already over it). But here is the rest.