all over the place

there is always so much to report and yet i neglect to write it all down.

for now: an abundance of chocolate and purple; an upcoming trip with women in my family to colorado; a hugely decadent triumph in the form of chocolate pecan bars.

the sudden heat of wool coats in that in-between time just before spring, its overture sung daily by a massive gathering of birds in a tree on my twilight walk to the subway.

a recent genealogical obsession, something soothing in tracing family lines back to the 1600's, in the rewards of investigation, even just through online records. i've always wondered if i should start a detective agency.

oh, and england this summer in june, for a wedding in the countryside, with cows and an inflatable castle. and endless cups of perfect tea.

and more, hopefully soon.

Updates

Yesterday, a friend of mine's dad was missing in Haiti, today they've found him and he's okay. I am so happy for them. I do wish the news was as good for everyone else there.

Spending January trying to elude a case of the januaries. They aren't always easy to escape in the bitter winds of winter in New York. I am grateful, though, for a warm home with a fireplace, a new-to-me guitar, and a completed literary magazine (put together by me) for last fall's poetry and magic class.

The poetry and magic course was excellent - the instructor encouraging and full of fascinating information, and the students welcoming and full of positive criticism. It was a good place to be on Friday nights. Next up, a course on Italian Women Writers from 1945-1990, reading books in Italian and discussing them in Italian and writing papers in Italian. I'm nervous, it's been a long time since I spoke the language at all. Maybe one day I can make it back to Italy... it has been almost 9 years. Shocking, for the girl that used to dream in Italian.

Working on setting up blues guitar lessons. It would be so lovely to be able to play a Robert Johnson song one day...

Dreams have been wild, lately. A red wolf that walked on its hind legs, almost more like a red bear, taller than me, eating my small red dog (I have no dog). Roaming the streets alone because I couldn't return to the house with the red wolf. This week, a mountain lion, a black bear and a cat all together, the mountain lion inspiring the most fear and then turning out to be the most affectionate. Another dream where I recount the mountain lion bear dream to someone else, believing it to be predicting a bear's path upstate. And then a dream where I am in Saudi Arabia, unable to find anything to cover myself, and thus unable to enter places to eat or anything. I stand outside restaurants alone and hungry, while the men who work there don't allow me to enter. Suddenly, it switches to an arial view of estates owned by rich Americans. Hmmmm.

Poetry Exercise

In my class, one of our exercises was to go to a cafe or a bar or somewhere loud and busy and try to write a description of our surroundings while being open to any interruption and writing it down - overheard speech, music, etc... The idea being to open yourself up more to what the Outside... Here's mine, really unedited and unpunctuated. Written on the subway:


Chugging rhythm a whispered S fat man sleeping on my shoulder legs as always spread too wide that is not like her Cindy calculate the miles I'm waiting no assistance medical wet subway floor black with white speckles I know umbrellas shaking a quiet man at peace stands stoically I know when you're not feeling well stand clear striped soggy scarves the extra boxes are here local train behind us shiny portable music glimmering hope shaking beige gloves empty after the first days use in months he's always here throwing things away stuff you can't find the train can't decide express or local she's a livewire we'll get off at 14th street slowed down watch our parents he's changed a lot becoming very forgetful two donuts what happened to that strawberry donut dad you just ate it three short-haired women in glasses middle-aged best friends like middle school when friends were always the same shape and size flying past crushed faces thought this was their train their way to move on nobody does have a false face two red umbrellas I didn't know them 12 years sexual harassment is a crime thin and trim and tan this is us.

(no subject)

In an e-mail to me, a friend wrote: "you've always been a little too ethereal for a standard issue work place". I think this is the loveliest compliment I've received in a while.

Airstream Dream

I handle wet clumps of laundry, tugging it from the resisting metal ring. I fold wrinkled piles of sheets, crinkled pillowcases. I clean the kitty litter, wiping away stinky streaks of yellow, sweeping stray pieces of sand. I chop olives, tomatoes, and parsley, boil water for pasta. Each small chore that will have to be redone over and over. I stand tired in the kitchen, and my mind strays 2,000 miles away. An airstream trailer reflecting the light of the full moon over a stretch of New Mexico night. A room so small in a quiet place. These years, I have learned how to take care of me. How often I need to clean to survive, to be comfortable. How to cook just enough for one, how to pack it all up and begin again every year or so. I am so afraid that I will lose this new, that by breaking the pattern I will break something, that I’m not good enough for this and that’s why I was alone for so long. I want this shared space, this man at my side. I just don’t know how to keep the airstream dream alive.

The slow rhythms of an Italian train...

A train cinches a mountain’s waist, rusty brown wrapping around summer green, rhythms soothing in their rickety uncalm. Sunlight through transparent leaves, the train inching its way toward its destination. I yet again failed to look at the arrival time when choosing my train and have wound up taking the über-local, cutting through small peasant towns that I have never heard of. I am the only foreigner on the train, the rest of them having chosen a more express route to Napoli through Roma Termini. Smoke lingers just above my bench-style seat, in sight of the sign that reads ‘Vietato Fumare’. I wave it away, back towards the soldier it belongs to, as my walkman starts to jam. The batteries must be dying – it’s playing a U2 verse too slowly, Bono’s falsetto lowered to an eerie and monstrous tone. After some fumbling, I give up, putting away the headphones and sliding open the window to alleviate the stifling heat. The train curves through vines of what look like yellow wisteria blossoms, the scent coming in reminding me distantly of Virginia honeysuckle.

When the four-car train stops, our car gains two passengers: a modestly dressed middle-aged woman and an elderly nun in a grey habit. The younger woman heads immediately to the window, shutting it forcefully, muttering something in a heavy dialetto about how the draft will make us all sick. I long to disagree, but am already too familiar with this cultural difference (having slept in the un air-conditioned apartments of friends where all of the blinds and windows are kept closed, even at night). I sigh, pulling out my train itinerary to fan myself. It does nothing, and I remain drenched in sweat.

The nun speaks to me in a very formal Italian, asks where I am from and where I am headed. She says that she is very impressed that I am travelling around Italy by myself, that I am comfortable travelling alone. Unlike other Italians from small towns that I have met, she does not seem to judge me for it, for being a woman alone in a foreign country. She is full of curiosity about America and my impressions of Italy. Like many other Italians I have met, she displays surprise and delight that a foreigner would be at all interested in learning Italian. The beauty of the language must escape those who were born into it.

The train pulls to a stop in a small mountain town, and the nun thanks me for the conversation as she gets up to leave. She wishes me well on my journey, and I express the same to her. As she pulls open the car door and nods to me with a warm smile, a welcome breeze floods the train. I watch her walk slowly along the platform until she reaches a small group of her sisters, and I watch them grasp hands as the train pulls away. Letting the slow rhythm of the train soothe me, I fall asleep to the soft green curves of mountains, the Italian language weaving itself into my dreams.

(no subject)

afternoon tea and a handful of walnuts to the tune of lucinda williams. spent the afternoon driving the late night virginia roads of my mind, reliving nights some 15 years ago, all thanks to a soundtrack that kept playing on pandora that took me back to the full moon's light over curving roads, Virginia woods, back when i brimmed with hope for everything and everyone, myself included, in the days when sleep was always far from my mind.
  • Current Music
    mazzy star: fade into you

Brooklyn Rooftops

One of the glorious things about the warmer weather is that it gives me and M. more space. Our tiny, cramped Brooklyn apartment gains another floor - our roof deck. The rooftop is shared between the top four apartments in our building, and each apartment has its own designated portion. Most of the roof is just plain tar, but M. built a really nice finished roofdeck on our portion. It's really wonderful - there is a view of the Manhattan skyline, the Statue of Liberty (tiny, off in the distance), nice cozy deck chairs with cushions, and M.'s favorite toy, a sparkling new grill. Let me tell you, if I had known how many dinners I wouldn't have to cook, I would have made him buy one ages ago. So not only do we now have extra space, but I have extra time to myself as well. Time to rescue a dying succulent that had been absorbing all of the negative energy in my office, time to pot basil, oregano and mint plants, time to try to grow chives, parsley and dill from seed. Time to take a film class - Gendering Italian Cinema! Anyway, there was a lot of rooftime this weekend. Background music provided by the out-of-tune hippies a few buildings down, watching night descend on the city as Christmas lights brighten up other rooftops.
  • Current Music
    Pandora

April...

April in New York has been gloomy and grey, wintry mornings complete with January's coat. Forsythia blooms bright and hopeful on the side of Brooklyn's traffic-clogged streets, a few daffodils scattered around her skirts. I'm running on empty, too many months of work, transitions, and the only escapes since September being family-focused, and thus not really escapes. So, Saturday I leave for St. Barth's, to the so called France in the Caribbean, for some well-needed rest, sun, and pain au chocolat. I cannot wait and am willing to brave the 15 minute flight from St. Maarten to St. Barth's to land on the shortest runway in the world if it means there is rest and sunlight at the end of it.

The language of poetry

I’m trying to keep my poetry reading mind sharp for my upcoming workshop on the prose poem. I was reading Naomi Shihab Nye the other night when M. walked in and said hello. I didn’t respond immediately because my brain was wrapped around the task of grasping the meaning of a line, and so he spoke again thinking I had not heard him. When I pulled away from my book, I explained that reading poetry can often be like reading in a language that isn’t yours. It requires that extra concentration to capture the different levels of meaning. We talked about poems for a while. He told me that because he doesn’t have any background in poetry, he doesn’t quite know where the emphasis is when he reads it. He understand more if he hears it read aloud. This is so interesting to me, as I am the exact opposite. At readings, I always wish I had printed copies so that I could grasp more of the piece. I miss so much if it is just read to me.

M. asked me to read a poem. I scanned the spines of my books and thought about what to read to him. There are so many poems that move me, but I realized on Saturday that the ones that have stood out over the years aren’t the light and lovely ones. More often, I am drawn to more somber poetry. Like Audre Lorde’s “Power”, about the poet’s angry and distraught reaction to the death of a 10 year-old child who was shot by a police officer. This was one of the first poems that showed me what poetic language could really do. Then there was Pablo Neruda’s “Explico algunas cosas” that I read in a Spanish lit class in college. I immediately wept at his beautifully simple and heartbreaking description of the Spanish Civil War. I am reminded by something I saw on Elizabeth Alexander’s (the inaugural poet) website “Poetry is not meant to cheer; rather, poetry challenges, and moves us towards transformation. Language distilled and artfully arranged shifts our experience of the words – and the worldviews – we live in.”

Since it was late at night, I chose something a little less intense for his first reading.

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