The blue sofa - it cost $360 and I said he had to promise not to look
at the price.
What I don't like about Tom as a householder: he doesn't put things away.
If he uses the sugar he leaves it on the counter. He doesn't recycle. He
won't keep the garbage in the pantry and then there are coffee grounds scattered.
He left the kitchen floor muddy for days. He leaves the venetians down and
closed. He wastes food because he doesn't notice what he has. He eats badly
and very messily.
What I like: he's humoring me about furnishing, he loves the Mission
side table, sat staring at it yesterday. He praises the house on and on.
Doesn't need a kitchen table. Hands out money freely. Cuddles and kisses.
Loves the right things in the architecture and the furniture.
Louie yesterday morning a light voice, laughing. I sent her the journal
piece where she beats up her mom and sees the crystal in a tree.
Susan last night snuck through the house to smoke in the yard. She was
sitting on the steps with her flashlight. I heard the church bells chiming
midnight on her end.
I was at Tom's house from 7 to 7. We didn't watch TV. I cleaned, made
breakfast. He put on his una boots and was happy that his feet felt better.
We went to the farmer's market and I bought an orchid and an African blue
basil. Took stuff home. Then it was time to go for the sofa. The sofa! The
sofa. Why was I avid for that sofa.
Love woman got turned on. Is turned on. I see her in the mirror. People
are looking at me.
Last night after I left Tom I stopped at Rite Aide and bought him hydrocortisone
and antiseptic creams, coffee and a squeegy. Drove back and left them at
his door. Feeling what it is like to do things for him. I don't say I love
Tom and am over the moon to be making a home for him that he is paying for.
I say this must be some kind of thing my body needs.
We talk about the house, say the same thing many times. We talk about
our history, say the same thing many times. When I'm at his house I like
to be in the kitchen doing something, making it look the way I like it to
look. I wipe the counter many times. The best time yesterday was when we
were lying down under the window with Ray Lynch on very quietly. Tom was
spooning me and I was nearly sleeping. He said he felt me drop into a deeper
level of relaxation.
I go along in vague wonder that a relation with such poor talk is somehow
what works. I who have had such good talk - have I fallen back to this because
I'm fading out?
Another way to think it is that this home is a base for something more
that can happen now. I was starved for it - that's why I have been comforting
myself for years with a fantasy about a man's house.
Going tomorrow to Chula Vista to look at a table for his closet electronics.
Hours on Google looking at bistro tables.
This week I'm picking him up after work where his ride drops him on 1st
Ave. We go to his house. I make supper. After we eat I go home.
Last night we stopped at Whole Foods for meatloaf, baking potatoes and
artichokes and then at Ace for a power bar, computer cable and waste basket.
We have been shopping together very peacefully. When we got home the cat
met us at the top of the steps.
Tom lay on the couch and I assembled the electronics on the new table
in the closet. There they are in a row: TV, speakers, CD player, DVD player,
alarm clock, phone charging. We had the TV on mute and a CD playing and
Tom lay in wonder gazing at his silver machines, his control center. Then
I shut the closet doors and there he was in an Irving Gill room with his
fine lamp glowing on a Mission table and his amaryllis cracking open
on the hearth ledge. Candles on the mantle, an end of the blue couch visible
in the kitchen. The smell of meatloaf.
He said it's the first apartment move where he hasn't been drinking and
Sober he has turned out to be a happy man. It's the job too, he's heroic
and physical all day long. Splendidly paid. Leveled out, not losing it,
temperate with money, good to his woman. In possession of an apartment so
marvelous he can hardly believe what he sees and just gazes on and on.
I come up with ideas and he is doubtful and then I realize them and he
Wanting to do some planting. A mesquite on the landing. What else.
Scented geraniums. Cistus. Need some big pots later - some really big pots,
let's grow a mesquite from seed maybe? A cassia below, passiflora vitifolia
among the honeysuckle. A guava? Sweet peas would work there.
I asked who he would like to show the place to. He said after a while
that the people he would like to show it to are gone. His mom, Vic, his
Sunday morning at 3663.
Hummingbird on the snag. That dark-headed cream-breasted bird I can't
find in the book. Some little thing on the wire I could see opening its
beak . It's maybe eight on the bench, hot. Tom is inside reading the Union
he got from the box across the street.
I was looking at him with so much pleasure, I was so much liking him
in his calm funny realness. His big strong nose. His beauty.
Yesterday he struggled here on sore feet because I'd left his house Friday
night disapproving of him. He declared and I declared and he got himself
up to date and we made friends - went shopping and I cooked a roast.
He never complains when my cooking doesn't work.
The cat slept all afternoon on the blue sofa and then on the cooler
concrete under the honeysuckle. Tom read the NY Times for hours.
I often wake scanning my decisions - I mean scanning, talking to myself
about, the course I'm on. It's not a strong state, I lose it easily. It
is anxious and broad. For instance this morning before I got up and turned
on the light and made tea, I was naming to myself the way I haven't felt
interested in buying a computer and making films, the way I've been avid
instead about Tom's house and now am more involved in helping him sustain
it - picking him up after work, cooking for him, paying bills.
The past four years I've been strongly involved in [the college] - it
was what I was doing more than I knew - and isn't that over now. The journal
is going to take another couple of years, maybe 3? Which brings me to 65,
and no one is liking it, anyone I've sent to it (Jan, Lise, students) fades
out of it without comment. So is it going to be a well like Being about,
but I'll still do it. I could find notes for enthusiasms and use them to
set myself up to do something but none of them are drivers at the moment.
I build things to a point and drop them.
So here's a question: when I do things intentionally, without being impelled,
the effort turns out to be wasted, it seems to me. Sometimes I'm caught
and driven and that turns out well - the garden and the doc - student letters
and developing mbo these years. So what do I have now: a gap.
I need independent money so I can drop [the college]. I need to form
the life that will support Orpheus - have to call it something else. I need
to be doing things to shift into that more tenuous sensitive state. To build
It's Thursday but Thanksgiving morning so there's no traffic though it's
6:20. There's patchy cloud I can see pink bits through.
I didn't go to Tom's last night till almost 6. He was stretched out in
the grey pyjamas I found at Amvets. What's in the fridge. Bacon and eggs.
I'll make bacon and eggs for supper, wheat toast. We put Wings of desire
into the VCR. Lie together holding hands. It gets too long. He turns it
off, asks me what I thought of it. Earlier he asked whether I'd slept with
a lot of women and listened quietly to the whole story. What I mean is that
he's become the Tom I was there for, he's come true. When I cooked for him
last night he said "You're so nice to me, I'm seeing what you've been
I'm not forgetting to say to myself that it always changes, it will change,
this won't last.
What did I like in Wings of desire, melting through the city hearing
people think, the grey murmur of voices reading in the library, the angels'
smiles at each other. Thinking what Luke, Dave Carter and Tom of twelve
years ago liked about the movie was the watcher in themselves who looks
at people, feeling them.
We lie on the couch looking through a doorway to the checkered floor
and the blue couch where a tabby cat is blissfully asleep.
I play the Maria Joao Mozart sonatas these days. Don't listen to them.
Sometime will stop for the precision of spacing in those rapid bubbling
runs. The bright and dark. It's always a play of bright against dark, the
Brought chicken soup and made a pumpkin pie. We ate two pieces each and
put the other two into the fridge and not much later got them out and ate
At Tom's place on the bench. Last of the sun. Tom's inside asleep. Woke
under the window. There were pink clouds. Tom had a boner - there's a jay
- and said ardently that he loves my big hairy fat-lipped pussy that I have
along with my Palladian mind. I never get used to his overstatements.
It's quiet. What's that tree with dry leaves, our deciduous one. there's
a long apartment court below the garden, it reaches all the way up from
Florida Street, a block and a half. Is this bitty-leafed thing a eugenia
grown out? Fractal tree Tom says.
Our neighbours the tweaker queen and the illustrated boy, though she
kicked Harry out and now there's a big old guy in a motorcycle gang teeshirt
with is that a pit bull. Northeast toward El Cajon Boulevard a king palm
with a crown of orange fruit. Closer to, an ordinary fan palm with its glittering
grassy fringes. Out of sight down below a tall persimmon with a lot of fruit.
Row of pigeons on that wire they like. Massive eucalyptus beyond them, very
Reading AG to format it. A lush burst, especially the last part of the
year, feeling out an Orpheus film - remember those notes are there.
Last night Susan on the phone joyful in all her directions. Her brother
says she's beautiful. Her thesis is done. Someone in her class says her
teaching is full of love. She's running again and feels herself lighter
moving from her core. She loves her jeep. She saw that nothing ever being
good enough was her father and she needn't be that. She's sure there will
be someone soon. She's thinking a PhD in performance maybe at Berkeley,
maybe at UCLA, maybe at NYU. She notices she's smart.
The moment I loved was when she described how in her senior year her
roommate had a boyfriend who liked to throw a football. He taught her to
catch it over her shoulder, running. She'd be running, looking back, and
the football would appear in front of her and her hands would close around
it. She never got enough of it.
- Yesterday at Rite Aide when I took my blood pressure I discovered it's
down to 135/86. Home happiness. Stopped there on my way to Tom's where I
put meatloaf and baking potatoes into the oven. When I arrived he had cleaned
everything, even the bathroom, even the kitchen floor. He had beautifully
arranged the dishes and glasses in the cupboard. His amaryllis has sent
up a second stalk that now is taller than his first.
Tom yesterday got back from his VA appointment excited and loud. I'd
been working on packets. He'd say chloresterol, I'd say "It's cholesterol."
He exploded. He went on like that. I took him home. Last night I was annoyed
at having him so much in mind. I say to myself, this has got settled, I
should get out. I think of the mornings in the Maryland, desert sunrise
at the high window, Tom in lamplight a man with stronger arms than now,
tying his tie, ironing his pants. I a younger woman than now looking at
him with erotic liking, in bed next to the city waking in its streets. And
then as the sun rose into the room working alone. Pigeons on the billboard,
Clayton's Pies wide and empty full of light below. The height of that window,
its generous width, the depth of the sill. In other words there was a realness
to the time that this time even with its beautiful small house does not
have. I'm sidelined. Tom presumably is sidelined too. (It says no.)
Now I say, are Tom and I going to go on 'til the end, and I don't want
the answer to be yes. Why. Because we hit the top of our curve long ago,
nothing more is going to happen. I want to slip back into the river, I don't
want to settle.
And then it says instead of leaving Tom and throwing myself into dejection
I should find the river in work. No it said action - improve love woman's
indecision about action.
topped tables yesterday - up 805 to Mira Mesa, a desert suburb with
huge hollow houses in cheap materials, plastic window frames. A few dried-out
rose bushes in weedy gravel. The whole front of the house a 3-car garage.
At the far end of the street a baking yellow afterglow. Going home three
lanes of taillights creeping in a wide curve onto 805 south from Mira Mesa
Tom standing in the living room with me to stare at the black table set
with a pink lily on it up against the blue sofa.
What I do want to know: I was reading the NYT arts pages on new visual
art and feeling how techy and inorganic it sounds, like the architecture
in Dwell, what's the material I'm thinking of, a plastic laminate.
'Composite.' Had been looking at the Hymns to Aphrodite, Greek adoration
of the colored world, so beautiful, so real, so erotic and full. I'm loyal
to early love. I always consider bodies.
What do I want to know: would anyone I respect have pleasure in this
project, be heartened by it? That's a real question. I'll do it even if
the answer's no.
What is it with Tom. I've been all lovey, buying him pots and glasses
and cooking supper and now I've gone right off him. Today he came in having
bought bags and bags of junk - stupid books from the library sale, a brown
cushion, a mirror, a blanket. He looks like his mother - he's in that state,
whatever it is. He's also cleaning his house. He came in happy with all
his parcels and I didn't like him.
It's a lonesome day, dejected, lost.
Should I go make friends with Tom. No. Nothing has resolved.
In the month we were friendly did I swallow too much I don't like - his
endless do you love me dampness, the emptiness of company except when he
was funny - the times when he dutifully asks me something and I hear myself
unsupported saying something dull. This isn't really true - there'd be very
natural straight-across moments and when I have something to tell he gets
interested. So what's my complaint. It says it's that there's something
false in the platform that never gets acknowledged and that I have to feel
alone and that is a grief and deprivation and that he suppresses so that
suppression also interferes. Am I feeling it more since reading in AG what
real sex was like with Rob? That was where I freaked last night - we were
in Rudford's in the booth together and he said what was I doing and I said
transcribing etc and there was a lot I liked about sex. He changed the subject.
"This soup is really good." Right there is where I fell into the
There's no solution to this except truth and he is never going to risk
it because he's too dependent.
Does he know it? He may not even know it. He may never have had real
If I try to talk about it he is going to blame and deny. I'm stymied.
And/or he'll try forcing it.
Supposing what I have said here is true.
I can say at 60 sex doesn't matter but I have to stay aware of this level
of truth that I keep responsibility for alone. if I lose touch with it I
will be confused. And the other thing is true - it scares me when he goes
out of control buying junk.
He has buying frenzies that lead his taste. He sees stuff in front of
him and wants to buy something and so he invents sentences that persuade
him whatever he wants to buy is good. And then later he delivers those sentences
to me while I look at him disgustedly. I tried to forestall a lot of ruin
of his wonderful house by getting stuff he needed before he could. I loved
my own buying frenzy and so have to sympathize with his wish to bring stuff
home, and I know he's buying junky videos and CDs because it takes the edge
off a buying drive that could quickly turn into large folly, but his place
is already getting junked up. I get him good stuff and he stares at it in
wonder and then buys stuff to add to it that wrecks it. I feel mean-spirited
saying these things - it's his house - he has turned out to be generous
when he has money - he doesn't carp at anything I buy - and yet I do hate
what spoils his house and I don't like the way he loses his bearings when
he shops, it's a kind of stupidity. - If he had better taste he'd mind my
leg more, he'd mind many things about me more.
Tom here not long after 8 this morning. We wrangle 'til noon. He feels
we've done well and I'm deeper in gloom. What did I say - a lot - he said
he's imagined me dead because that's the only way he could think to get
out of our bind. I said I've thought that too. I liked that he thought it
because it lets me off the hook for thinking it.
12 January 2007
Yesterday morning when I lay down and began to drift I saw a moonlit
road in thin snow. It was like a road somewhere on the plains, tire tracks
with compressed bits of snow in them. I saw it for just a second but very
complete. Then snapped away but after a moment saw another version, also
night and thin snow, miles of blue light.
I was lying awake under the window last night feeling how crushing it
has been to what is now a submerged self to have Being about unrecognized.
My friends have failed me in that - no one has known I'm crushed, no one
has cared that that enormous labor and achievement is as if - here I'm looking
for a word and as I'm hesitating I'm seeing how it's related - large sigh
- the words I was looking at were words about vanishing, being blanked out,
being gone - I haven't tried to publish Being about because I am
in the structure of having fallen out of view. "No one has known I'm
Last night on Twenty-five years of Nature the most wonderful sequence
a flock of a million finches moving in ways no other phenomenon can move
- no way to say it - natural motion and what I am when I see it.
Yesterday after I'd taken the jeep to PB and the shuttle had dropped
me back I worked on the first lecture and felt the springiness of invention
the best of the lectures have. Playful. I feel it as balance. Then at the
end of the aft being brought back to Robert's and paying $364 for the minor
service and a bunch of little things, feeling contented and responsible
at having looked after my beautiful jeep. Then going to Tom's with the printout
of work done and having him mull over it with as much pleasure as I, sitting
with me on the blue couch in his clean house. When I get back I'll phone
him and he'll pick me up at the airport and take me to his house - it'll
be a Saturday evening. "I have a house where you can stay!" he
said joyfully. There have been a couple of times in the last days when I've
spoken to Tom with a tone I haven't heard for a long time - what is it -
confidence, buoyancy, energy, confident warmth. Security.
Money - it's money too, this semester because Tom's been paying for gas
and giving me hundreds of dollars I haven't been stressed about money at
all - when has that ever happened before.
There's Susan in her tight beige cord Levi's jacket and skin-tight dark
pants and socks called Smart Wool. And what. The moment I said "What
is brave of me is something else. I've been with people I'm ambivalent about
a lot. Ambivalence is hard in its own way, but when I'm with someone I admire
I have to be the one there's something wrong with." - I am not remembering
what she said but she did get it. "I think you are the only one who
has ever understood that."
- The state she's in - she's the way I was when I was on acid. Free speed.
Her session in the media room. She stood in front of us perfectly fit -
wide hips and narrow ribs - energized and on the fly - funny - performing
- tracking the room - talking about finding the relation between the larger
self and what she called personality - in writing - the way she's a cross
between me and Louie - and she's Trudy and Rhoda and Cheryl - how did that
happen - superstitions suggest themselves - she has taken my powers, she
has absorbed all I've made - those sorts - but I think she has found it
all by unusual willingness to be what she is and unusual desperation to
grow. Feeling someone supercede me - it says she doesn't - it's a structure
to feel so.
"Where else will I find anyone like you" I say. "Where
will I!" she says. "You're so good with people," I say, meaning,
you'll have access to grand people, you'll be at home with better than me.
(No it says.) "I'm so careful," she says, "I think about
what it's like to be you. You can't imagine that can you." I don't
want to say I can't but I say I don't.
She was crying. She was next to my right shoulder and I could see a tear
track down her pink cheek. When was she crying. I said "I don't feel
like I'm growing anymore, I feel like I'm fading." Did I use that word?
She said bitterly "I don't think I'll forgive you if you leave me,"
and went and stood by the window. She doesn't want me to fade. She wants
me to work so there'll be more of me to be company for her.
People don't bother her anymore, she said, she doesn't want a partner,
she isn't looking for that. "What's happening, what is this?"
she says. "There are names for it but they're embarrassing" I
say. I mean she needn't have a name, she's doing it, it's happening.
Can I do it too?
Am I doing it already?
Can I be what she is, physically immaculate, no, and I can't be what
she is socially unless I am that. I can't be what she is socially. If not
that, I give up don't I. I give up. I give up. I have always given up. No
Miz you - you've come so far, you have so admirably filled out.
The piece of tape where you're talking about your father and mother -
blowing smoke and shooting the camera a look. You were demonstrating writing.
The body writing.
Will I remember Susan graduating in charcoal grey power suit and heels.
I will say something else first, because it helps me. I was thinking
of Justin this morning, does he know The dispossessed. I was at my
desk upstairs, at the computer. A man's voice calling loudly in the hall,
"Is Susan Moul here!" I step into the hall. It's Justin sticking
his neck up over the banister. Toque and parka. I look down at him. "Susan
isn't here, she's in Kilpatrick." And then I say "I was just thinking
of you, you must have - ." "Materialized" he says. I hesitate.
I'll say what I was thinking. "Do you know a novel called The dispossessed?
It's by Ursula Le Guin, it's about a physicist whose mother abandons him
when he's a baby." He says he resonates to Ursula Le Guin and has read
nearly everything of hers. Etc. He's looking up at me from under his cap.
A man's face, older than I had thought, 40. I have kneeled next to the banister
so I'm not towering over him. I did that without thinking. When I have come
back into my room I'm discovering my sex is aching. When's the last time
that happened. Then Susan shows up in her fabulously fitted dark suit.
The tone of the speakers at grad. Oh the tone. Soft and false, sing-songy.
Jim's homily, Goldberg lying on and on, then even Susan's half hour second
commencement address. Compare the zing of her hour yesterday. There were
good things about it. She acknowledged what she'd got from Jim and Lise,
I thought. What would I say I gave her. Not what she said - the readings,
yes the framework. I invented embodiment studies and handed it to her -
I gave her ways to trust herself, small corrections toward lucid confidence.
I endured assault and confusion, seduction and betrayal, fear, diffidence,
shame, and am enduring some of them still.
People who want to speak theoretically when all they have are bits of
this and that.
In the session [first Mind and land workshop] last night as people
were reading and I was following along moving my lips I felt my solar come
on and it was on as I woke this morning.
Susan scolding me this morning for having raked her after grad for being
too much - I was envious - of how perfect her physical presence is, while
I have to be this dark thick old thing. The way she fit into her suit was
like a sword in a sheath. The way she fits into any of her clothes. I'm
watching how even now I want to blame her for making me feel inferior. She
does rub it in, though.
Justin called me off prying and identifying. He sits there looking manly
in his good boots, always wears a cut-off pair of fleece pants over his
jeans as if he is protecting or hiding his genitals. Showed me his drawings
and explained them some - what did I get as that washed over - grids that
show multiple dimensions of relation - other grids showing other kinds of
relation. I was wondering whether somehow in his head as he worked on these
diagrams he has set up a single complex model that is also a model of physical
universe - or something - so he can calculate, so he can intuit, so he is
somewhat immersed in physical intuition - wherever he is. The way his face
puckers at brow and mouth - two sphincters it seems to me both pursed habitually.
The little rabbi woman last night wearing her yamulka. Tiny narrow shoulders.
The first night insisting that we make markers to indicate the invisible,
for instance god. Last night insisting that the pain in creation has to
be from coming apart because there have to be two before there can be one.
Some rabbinical formulation of religious numerology I thought. "There
have to be two before there can be one" she kept saying. I was saying
it was a pain of rejoining - it's nothing to do with abstract principles,
it's body. And she was saying of Thoreau that his natural observations are
worthless because he was displacing what he should have been feeling for
a family - that was Jewish culture, I thought - villagey and thick. We could
as well say family feeling is displaced from cosmic feeling. I kind of hate
her - she's insisting on what I'm at war against.
San Diego 2nd February
Saturday morning five o'clock maybe.
There have been gusts of hard wind.
I was feeling last night - not until last night - that I was ready to
write about the res.
The cabaret. Jimmy as the evil wizard in frizzy black wig and elaborate
robe, supernaturally tall in his platform boots, later when he was defeated,
thrown to the ground, crawling out of his robe in strapless red brocade
ballgown and black lace stockings so pretty in his beard and bare shoulders
and soft mouth and tender eyes.
Stephanie dancing. She had her hair tight to her head and there was her
enthralling little face remote and concentrated held still above a soft
wide torso naked, rotating and bumping between a black top and black skirt
with leggings. Fusion bellydancing it's called. She was very conscious in
her arms - arms and head one thing, and torso another. What I felt inchoately,
on and on, the way I do, blankly, was, what is this body?
Polly - a leggy thin girl - 34 and girlish - dark-rimmed glasses and
short chin. Dating older men and in love with a woman who lives elsewhere,
far away, while she lives with her mother and stepfather on a farm. The
two of us in night meetings in the office, sitting on the floor, intimate.
She has young brightness, a good hug goodbye, long. The moment at the end
of a meeting when I was sitting on the floor in my corner, she standing
with her back to the door putting on her scarf, and I said I like you
without knowing I was going to, and she said in the sweetest rush Oh
I like you too.
The dance after the cabaret. I sat on the lower steps of the bleachers
and watched my students' bodies. Kri, Minna, Jimmy with his red dress down
to his waist. Stacey. Ian. Deena.
Early Monday. We had a wonderful weekend. Tom was waiting on the bench,
new haircut, his best kind, military. I came down the chute in my red cotton
zipped hoodie over black linen pants and black T and my docs, with green
Levi's bag. (I got better looking at the res, after my solar came on probably.)
I put up my arms to Tom and then had my feelings hurt because he was embarrassed
and cut off the hug. But he was there and he said he'd bring the jeep to
me, which was evidence of more good will than he used to show.
So then as we started up the hill on Laurel I said I was punishing him
for the way he cut off the hug and had I done it enough. We laughed. He
carried my suitcase upstairs for me. I got my laundry together and we went
to his house, which was in beautiful order with floor waxed. It was the
first time I'd called him every couple of days through the res. As we lay
together watching the sun had got far enough west to shine through the bathroom
window so the little anteroom was full of gold-colored light. There were
iris buds in Tom's blue vase on the mantle. There was white light on the
kitchen's black and white floor. Tom doesn't have to go to work this morning.
It's a happy season. Then when I stepped out the door to go home I stepped
into the hot dry air of a Santa Ana.
What else I was thinking about as I woke, something about the brain,
and then to the thought that I could do Orpheus in that mind, which is my
best intuition. And then to the thought of how long it will be before I
have any ease with this computer. But I have Work and days to finish.
- But yes - that would be the place to go on from if I can get there.
The settling sense of the right direction.
Weekend at Tom's. It was raining. I bought a bundle of mimosa branches
for the mantle. In the morning when we woke together Tom was looking at
me, said "How did we get here? We don't have sex but we have ..."
I said "We don't have sex but we have gender." Loved my joke,
laughed a lot.
Last night I didn't have the writing voice - that firm steady voice I
hear leading my hand. I was erasing in a muddle. It comes again in the mornings.
It isn't a willed or thought I.
Dave Leonard - Dr David Leonard with three books of Peace River Country
history - found his name in Still at home.
Bemused. The rooks settling. What fetches up in email. That that hard-jawed
boy should have access to my sex stories - that he became a learned doctor
of history - that he lives in the past of my country - that the classroom
in Sexsmith should still be so real, in both of us I think, more than the
O jeep so much care and faithfulness I gave to have you
On Tuesday I drove to Tom's and we hung out for hours to be able to see
The Gilmour girls. I drove home, came around the corner from 6th,
is there parking - yes, the last spot in front of the Martin Building. As
I'm walking away from the jeep with my bag of groceries I have the fleetest
thought - that it's dark on that corner, should the jeep be there. I've
never had that thought before in that spot, where I've parked often since
Lips Club closed.
At the gate met a janitor coming down with a garbage bag - unlocked for
him - was looking at him carefully because I hadn't seen him before. He
put out his hand, said his name. So I got in around 8:30 and slept and woke
up and worked on packets and when I was ready to go shopping for Tom for
a break the jeep was not there. I walked around the block, I kept feeling
I must have forgotten where I left it. Four days so far. I feel that I won't
get it back if I think about getting it back. At first I felt calm confidence.
Even now I haven't howled. Is it the way I became about loss, sigh said
yes. When I had just discovered it my heart hurt - then I got calm. Tom
came over and I didn't want to be with him. I don't now either.
The kind of loss it is - a loss of establishment - in the four years
there were a lot of things I had to fix and I fixed them - I had got it
through its 10-year failures and it was solid - so solid, going up the steep
hill on Laurel - stout-hearted. It was paid for. It was good for the next
ten years and more. It was my speed and normalcy, my joyful burst of assertion
in many moments, my tallness, my zip and go. My physical integrity.
I'm remembering David's red car was stolen. What it is to have a car
stolen. It's a broken continuity. He's less without it. What it is psychologically.
I'm less unafraid.
Monday morning. I woke interested in the journal project. I was saying,
I did a lot of investigating, that work should be where people can find
- Everywhere hedged by what people are afraid of. Dave Leonard saying
he hesitates to tell our friends the journal is there because it is so 'intensely
personal.' (And is he sophisticated enough to read the worst? - No I don't
want to call it the worst. The bravest? No because that gives too much credit
to their fear. The most unspoken, is what it is. Or spoken in segregated
contexts, pornography. Is there a context in which hate is spoken? Talk
radio, where it is the specialty. Hate radio. Even my heroes don't write
sex and hate. And so one of the things about the journal is that it is polyvocal.)
I went to Tom's house last night - hauling a heavy bag with laundry and
groceries - and didn't like him and came home instead of sleeping over -
sore-hearted at bus stops.
So there I was on University Avenue in the dark at a bus stop. Out. I
was on a bench looking sad and people came by on the sidewalk. A couple
of them said hello. Where I got off at 5th Ave there's a flower stand. Flowers
spot-lit and a little sales shack with a counter. I'll buy myself flowers
for my birthday and because I'm sore-hearted. A small Mexican man with a
long head. "How are you?" "I don't think I should tell you."
I've handed over the bouquet I want. It has dark red pinks with white edges
in babies' breath with a white lily. The pinks are scented. "My car
got stolen." He starts out saying material objects don't matter, maybe
if the jeep hadn't been stolen I'd have been in an accident. "What
matters is you." I say yes, and my kids are okay, but I worked hard
for it, I really took care of it. Then he shifts. He knows. It has happened
to him, it isn't fair. He has been snipping the ends of the stalks off,
but then he pauses to talk. He's looking me in the eye. He's right there.
He wants to console. He takes up a spray bottle and squirts water on a bundle
of dried fibres hanging from a nail. He has wrapped the bouquet in good
brown paper and now he ties it up with raffia. At the last moment reaches
back and gives me two long-stemmed yellow roses. There they are across the
In Whole Foods earlier I got the cashier with pale green hair, "How
are you." "I'm totally pissed off because my car got stolen."
He's instantly sympathetic. "I'm so sorry." He thinks I'll get
it back. He and the bagger talk about how often it happens in Baltimore.
Waiting for that bus watching a beautiful young woman talking to a man
in sign language. She is broad-shouldered and long-legged and her gestures
are dance-like. She's brimming with play. Something birdy in her profile,
a grosbeak. She has her eye on me too.
The driver on that bus - the 10 - is personal, bright-eyed. When I come
in with my transfer hesitating not knowing whether there's a reader-slot
I'm supposed to put it in, he says, You're alright. When I've stood ready
to get off at Park and am plucking up schedules he's muttering "She's
going to be taking buses," and laughs and says it's the last day of
his work week.
All of this and somehow a different relation to space and light because
I'm on the street, in the midst.
I'm lonely. I want to hear from my people today, any of them.
And then Tom shouts up. It's early. He has walked here through Balboa
Park. I dress up in my docs and the red waffle-knit hoodie. We take the
bus downtown. Walk into the SS Grant. Chandeliers and marble. Have breakfast
next-to-next in the Grant Grill, cream linen and waiters in gold brocade
vests with modulated voices. We are laughing as if we're younger than we
Last night excitable Susan in the catbird seat, she said, because she
went bowling with her young suitor and the man in the next lane took an
Anything else to say about how it is these days on the phone with her.
She works with herself about how she imagines me. She said she finds herself
anxious about my death. I say it came to me earlier this week that I should
tell her I'm not a person who would commit suicide. When I'm old and don't
want lingering decay I might stop eating, but it's not in my nature to kill
myself violently. She said when I said that her adult self thought nothing
much, but her little came and put her hand in mine.
That I'm reliable. "You let me climb all over you." I understood
that in the way Luke as a toddler would climb on me. She meant intellectually.
It's the way I don't drop out when she is in herself. "Let me see if
I know how to say this."
Have been writing Dave relaxed and pleased in his tone, and because he
is a man from home, who has looked up the Kinderwater quarters and has walked
on the West Place hill looking for Charlie La Glace's gravesite. Knew me
when I was that loving likeable person, a good person like my mother.
Charmed two nights ago on a bus bench seeing a woman sitting next to
me get up and hold up her phone to light the schedule. And then another
person later, and then a young Japanese tourist. Something people do now.
All bodies are not 'socially constructed.' Animal bodies and human
bodies among them are primarily constructed through eons of evolution. There
is a vast platform of bodily function that is preverbal and pretextual and
preideological and rooted in the physical world. 'Social construction' inflects
this primary body but to say 'culture' or 'signs' construct the body is
to think of the body as being nothing but its own thought about itself,
or other people's thought about it. Thinking structure is a subset of the
physical body: it is not the whole of the body. To imagine otherwise is
The theorists you are reading often reify language and culture but
in fact there is no language or culture as such: there are bodies using
language, and bodies habituated to cultural practices.
Another thing I was thinking as I read your paper is that the most
important difference for me, between now, when the identity question doesn't
much come up, and my 20s-30s when it was a flaming coal of distress, is
that there's been a lot of massively detailed work to make my mind my own.
What is it that is actually privileged in the Cartesian view? The
conscious I, imagined in a certain way, as disembodiable and outside body
and nature. The Buddhists would say an imaginary I.
But sometimes when we say I we don't mean that I, we mean by it body-self-in-world.
Even Descartes, when he said "I'm hungry" did not mean the Cartesian
fantasy I. so when you don't speak as a Cartesian, and so don't imagine
a disembodiable I able to control the body as if from outside it, do you
give up what a body can mean by soul, independence and interiority?
Not at all.
This is a subtle point but it's important: which I is meant at any
These are from Jimmy1, which I also sent to Susan, who said she loved
that it was clear.
A beautiful visit to Tom's last night and this morning. I took the bike
to University Heights Library and Henry's and rode home - second time I've
said 'home' - down Georgia Street with books and pork chops. Tom didn't
get home for another couple of hours. I opened the French doors and sat
on the blue couch beginning Cormac McCarthy's beautiful The road.
I think I can't read anymore and then there's a book again I don't want
Tom came in the door at 6 in his work boots hollow-eyed with fatigue.
He talked fast for an hour, I cooked. We ate next to next on the sofa, waiting
for The Gilmour girls to come on. Then he wanted to play a Live Aid
DVD and I kept one eye on it while I read. He sat on the end of his bed
a yard from the screen absorbed, restored. Tom Petty, who I'd never seen
before, singing Refugee, fey narrow man in a jacket with moon and
stars on it.
A bird emphatic on the rail.
Is this smoke? - I think, a faint smell of ash, fires to the north.
Susan describing a class in which she said "Don't be judgmental"
is taken to mean don't look, and that people love to obey an instruction
not to look.
What to do today. I've been floating since yesterday morning with Tom,
eating and reading newspapers together in direct sun with no other buildings
in view, overjoyed. "You love me" he says and I like that more
somehow than if I say it.
Clock set ahead, it's dark at 6:30. Thick fog this morning.
What happened last night. Susan teases me about getting my way with Tom
and that delights me. She liked what a fine mood I was in. But then she
got into a vein of obsession and drained me. I am still feeling a stop at
the solar. She's alone making her living valiantly, unsafely, and I'm her
chosen anchor for now. She's devotional and she's holding herself in reserve,
not settling, and that is both very charged and fruitful and very thorny.
A sense of remaking herself in detail. I should be writing some of it down
when she's on the phone.
I said of Tom "He's happy to have someone there when he gets home
from work." She said "He's happy to have you there."
I said yes I do that. She said it's the refugee.
Dinner with Nora. We were at the outside table at the Brigantine, upstairs on its porch looking toward the bay with masts and the mountains beyond. Nightfall, there was silver on the water. We were tucked in a corner. The waiter was a young man with a bare-looking head. How to say what happened. Nora played with him, she took him into something swift that lit him up. The reason I can't describe it is that I couldn't follow it. It was like a sword being played so swiftly it's invisible in the midst of its motion. Some kind of tossing and flashing. She won him. She dazzled me. Then we went on.
Monday morning, grey as it has been these days. My left hand slightly
stinging if I touch something, the small ends of cactus fuzz. Yesterday
morning pushing the bike along the walkway, hung with plastic bags again,
now with laundry too, I bumped into the big fuzzy cactus outside the end
apartment. It grabbed and fell. I had to take hold of it to get past. Left
it lying on its side.
Now struggling uphill under the grey sky pushing the bike with my hand
stinging from hundreds of whisker spines, I was saying bleakly I have
to leave, I have to get away from him, I don't know where to go, I don't
have enough money to live anywhere. Would I be in pain like I was last time
I was away from him, maybe not. Like that all the way home. Phone ringing
as I was about to unlock the door. Was trying to pull the spines out with
cellotape when Tom called up. He said "Soak your hand in hot water
with salt in it," what he'd learned when he was working at the cactus
Then he sat next to me holding my hand firmly, turning it so he could
see the fuzz against the light, pulling it out with tweezers. He was focused,
My ADD has kicked in, he said. He didn't stop. There was a moment when we
were both concentrating, I was holding a phone card behind my hand so he
could see all the fuzz against it and keeping my other fingers out of the
way, he was working on the inside of my forefinger. There was his large
fine freckled hand holding mine very steadily, there was the side of his
face next to mine. It was sexy. In what way. It was a sensation I haven't
had with him mostly, or ever? Like being with Rob in mutual physical doing,
in physical concentration. Knowing someone's physical being, being in it
Still don't know what to do about Susan. Two weeks. When I scan back
in this book, I see wonderful times with her but I somehow forget her -
that's interesting, it's what I must have done with my mom. I structured
my hippocampus someway? It says not the hippocampus, but some part - I disabled
it so I don't miss someone. And then when they call me I feel it an imposition,
is that right?
Can I say the best moment on the weekend. When I arrived Friday evening
I was criticizing Tom for this and that. Can I remember what. He was telling
me again about the man he replaces on Fridays at work - the other men don't
like him. I said briefly that he had already told me that part, just tell
me the parts I don't already know. Tom was offended. I said it's common
courtesy to monitor what one has already told other people. He said "I'm
just talking." I said "I'm going to get my clothes from the laundry."
When I got back he was grumbling about how critical I am. I said "I'm
just saying my thoughts. That's the kind of thoughts I have." He started
laughing. A nice laugh. Kept starting up again. "Why are you laughing,
because you've always done that to women and they have always just put up
with it?" "Yes."
I mean this is a fine time with Tom. He said he's contented.
I was in the tub in the dark and he carried in his open laptop to show
me what he'd written that day. A book of light. Three-quarter page with
a good line about being like a dog with its head out the window of a car.
"Too much, too fast, too *."
He sleeps so quietly next to me. I wake and see him with his head under
his blanket, or else laid down somewhere among his too many pillows and
Because I'm transcribing 1977 I am sometimes remembering the body I was
then. Light. White Indian shirt. Loose green cord jeans. Green army jacket
with big external pockets. Silver moccasins. Shoulders. Short hair. I was
Something about that body I haven't said yet - it's light-boned, it's
a spirit body.
Township 74, of which we were on the south edge,
was said by the surveyor Walter McFarlane (1909-1912) to be black loam 3-8"
deep over a clay subsoil, gently rolling, nearly half covered with scattered
bluffs of poplar and willow scrub. 6" poplar, 6-8" spruce. Small
amounts of upland hay. Creek about 20 links wide, 2' deep, current about
2 miles per hour. None of the lands liable to flooding.
I was reading Dave's Grande Prairie County book yesterday after I'd done
what I could with Kri. What did I like in it. Discovering that farmers went
back to horses during the depression because they couldn't afford gas, and
so that was why Ed was threshing with teams into the 50s. Knowing which
areas were settled first and where the original trails were.
1912 to Ed's marriage in 1943 is 30 years of cultivation on that quarter.
Epps on the land in 1933.
On the deck in sunglasses.
The weekend at Tom's. Saturday met him at the 5 o'clock screening of
The wind that shakes the barley. Ambling through his neighbourhood
talking about the movie, pushing a bike the way people do in their 20s.
Cooked. Garlic mashed potatoes with peppered steak, fried onions and cabbage.
Ate watching Frontline.
When I'm lying in bed with my head near Tom's I listen to his quiet breathing
and something like thank for his breath, as if he could die anytime and
then I would want to have cherished his aliveness while I had it.
In the morning he woke me before I wanted to be awake. He needs to go
to the Union Tribune box and get the paper. Said there was mauve
next to the mountain. I love his gratitude for ordinary things. The paper
box. His renewed driver's license. Dinner made in his house. There wasn't
milk for my tea so he walked to 7-11 and got some. I cooked breakfast. Had
the French doors open onto the scent of honeysuckle, which was there all
weekend. Blooming arms of it around the acacia's pot.
We read the papers. He was looking good. There was a real kiss.
I bent over to read something on the floor. He felt me up. Sat there showing
me his boner. I was looking at it doubtfully. Not proud of my body, maybe
my pussy smells bad now, there's flab around my whole middle, my breasts
are nice and soft but they're pointing down. Starting to. Oh alright, but
we have to put the venetians down. He licks my clit. Is it the first time
he's done it well, I'm thinking. Very well. And so on. Then we're lying
quiet with our heads together on the pillow, Sunday afternoon on the other
side of the venetians, the French doors open in the kitchen. Birds all day,
a pair of bluejays, mockingbirds, doves, a small yellow one, earlier a lot
of swallows or something like.
I got restless late afternoon yesterday and took my bike across the park
to Tom's. Found the door open behind the screen and Tom sitting on the edge
of the bed with the laptop on the café table in front of him. There
was sun on the treetops, honeysuckle on the rail, and he was writing.
In the mail I took with me to Starbuck's yesterday morning there was
a Grande Prairie County map showing the owners of every quarter. I liked
seeing that our quarter is now owned by Joseph Kinderwater, who must be
the great-great nephew or the great grandson of William Kinderwater, who
homesteaded it. That seemed just right.
My visit was going to be short but we sat leaning our heads together
on the blue couch and he talked about the resistance he feels when he sits
writing. He said "It's interesting" in a beautiful tone, lightly
thoughtfully and self lovingly.
I've been feeling something I haven't known in this way. I am pausing
to think how to say it so it isn't trite. It's that there have been many
kinds of time and will be more. For instance I have had strong recall that
helped me write well and now I don't. I'll write another way. With Tom there
have been sublime and miserable times and right now is serene and graceful
as never before and this one will pass too.
Transcribed a lot of PRC sheets today, not the raw notebooks but notes
in origin and other extracts. I saw that I did come to a style that
was alright for the place. When I read it now I feel the paradise openness
of the place, of myself in it. It's as if the written anxiety was what happened
when I opened something that had been closed, should I say my language self
was overwhelmed, the anxiety was hers? Was it something like that? And meantime
energy flooded into the sensory self.
I was making something from what I believed about art, that it should
come out of quality in a life - so the best writing in the lake house came
from lived beauty.
I asked Rowen whether he is still interested in photography and he said
with joy It's my thing.
Copied field & field this morning. It read with a lot of authority
and scope. When I read it I hear the taped voice which is tonally so right
that it makes something specific and unique of what would be otherwise quite
an abstract score. I mean it's a beautiful accomplishment. No one has done
anything like it, it comes out of a state it took years to build, one that
is true to my place and independent of the social infantility there. Not
about but from. It builds from so many others. It is a marvel.
On PBS last night in a doc about Atlantic Records, Aretha young singing
Let's talk it over. Her young face, any keen young woman's face,
pouring forth a towering authority of sound. The way she rode a flood, upright
and in precise control on the rampage.
I've been transcribing notes in origin texts noticing what happened
in the red and white house, that I somehow have been forgetting. I found
something lovely. I found what I had been looking for. The desperate gambles
of the Dames rocket time worked out. I think of it as a time of defeat
and misery but the defeat and misery were shallow, the record says.
- Each era has had its culmination. Dames rocket the writing and
photos - notes in origin.. London - Trapline and Luke. Aph
Gard - the garden. GW - Being about. I culminate and reset to zero.
- So it's the journal project for this period. I have to drop things
after they culminate because recognition is delayed. So my art at the moment
is to put all the rest where they can be found. I'll do that.
Journal piece by Francis about consciousness studies - says it's interdisciplinary,
subjective and scientific. Body isn't mentioned - body seems to be assigned
to 'materialism' and science. It isn't really about consciousness - they
think of consciousness as transparency and therefore spirit, and then use
it to support what they actually want, which is to believe in disembodied
spirits. There could be embodied consciousness studies and that's what I've
done all my life, what is it like to be, how can being shift, what is a
state, what is excellence of state, what can I perceive, what can I know.
The embodiment site had visitors in the last couple of days in Tokyo
and Malta. It comes up first in a google search. The [the college] consciousness
studies site comes up on page 6 and is hideous and dully stupidly written.
In CS all the other schools have more, and more qualified, faculty. With
mbo [the college] could have something of its own. But looking at the red
dot of the Japanese flag this morning I was realizing I should think of
mbo as the site not the school. I'm inventing something that can stand on
the web as a resource. I can develop it that way. Use it to show a matrix
of allies keeping their heads in the goldrush of people longing for irrational
In the last days and now again I've seen the moment at the red and white
house where I was passing through the spruce hedge and struck the branch
and gold powder rose into the sunny air.
On Moyer last night clips of Condi Rice suavely attractively lying about
the war, helmet of straightened hair immobile, red lipstick. And then Marilyn
Young being interviewed about Iraq and Vietnam, a thick frumpy lesbian with
grey hair and no makeup but very smart and assured. I was watching her intently
because I was wanting to see what I am in my elderliness. She was very steady
in her speech, steadier than I am, kindly and incisive. Her face was mannish
in its elderly plainness but there kept being glints of beauty I could see
when she moved her face to speak. I was feeling her head is a remnant of
realness in the land of plastic surgery and hair dye, like parkland. If
I can be that I'm pleased.
Transcribing the fall of 1979 when Jam and I were in the lake house or
I was there alone. Later I precipitated something beautiful out of it that
when I look back seems to have been the time itself, and that I think is
carried in the cadence of the recorded reading. "Kicked snow singing
on the crust" is what I hear this morning, but what's in the journal
is awkward and broken up, autistic. So was I awkward and broken up because
I had gambled myself intentionally? I think so. I think it was a deep adventure
and I bore myself valiantly through humiliating loss of competence, bewilderment.
The journal records that bewilderment, and I intended it to - it doesn't
record it, it shows marks of it. So along with the DR transcription there
needs to be the work bewilderment was the matrix for - such a slow work
of time - but quite a lot of it - the show's writing and the show itself
- winter interference
- field & field
- play of the weather
- the slides
- what will we know
The way I read aloud was an achievement of it. It was unstudied and exactly
right as a cadence that makes a state.
Ivan Doig on Foothill, Montana - reading it alongside Dave Leonard's
letters and the Valhalla journals feeling more than I have about the historical
depth in a place - the way other people in my country knew so much more
in it than I did - the way my dad was always working at understanding it
- the way he was local and she wasn't and I'm not - he could roam and sit
in coffee shops and talk to strangers - drive the grain truck and scour
for Case parts in back corners we never saw - he was the one who spoke the
names and studied the bodies for national and personal character - traced
the connections of people and their homesites. As I'm reading I'm feeling
the way, if I was there, up north, there'd be people who'd still know me
and be interested in me because I'm the Epp girl from La Glace. There's
pressure in my chest, saying this.
What I have instead of my place, a place - that abstract beauty of phrases
- what I learned to do - but my heart is still aching for my place.
Finished it just now. Crying because of the loyalty in it. His father's
to him, and then his to his father and his grandmother and the many of his
country. I was saying to my mother with tears, he was too mean to ever praise
me or be proud of me. Crying for my own disloyalty to my kids and to everyone
behind me. I've been loyal to something - I have - but I haven't been loyal
to my people. He was fortunate to be able to be - I feel - but it's a measure
too, more than good fortune, it is good stuff, what he is. I let people
go, I give up on them, I slip away.
Doig writes the two of them - he writes their speech and their tasks.
He can't keep them alive, which is what he'd want, but he can say what kind
of people they were - he can say that by saying the landscape they worked
in and how they took their work in it, how they spoke to him and to each
There wasn't a sentence I wanted to copy, though sometimes he tried hard
to be poetic.
The kind of boy he was, who was good at school. He read but when he was
a boy he didn't expect to be leaving when he grew up, he was completely
part of his country. Nothing separated him from the people in his country.
He isn't writing about the boyhood of a writer - he could, but that didn't