1 October 2007
Have thought I should do something about the way I often am not present.
I notice it in the way I don't want to write. I should say I notice it sometimes
when I wake and think of things I could want to write and haven't thought
to. It is as if an interested person returns during sleep and then very
quickly is wiped out.
For instance the man I bought the jeep from was and wasn't a dwarf. He
was maybe 5' tall but he had the dwarf shape of skull, large, with a flat
top and thick bone bulging forward over large eyes. A nice smile.
I arrived at Rancho Mission Drive for my 5:15 appointment with a taxi
driver who got involved with the jeep-buying story, advised me to offer
a couple of hundred less than asking price, the kind Tom calls a camel trader.
As he was leaving he said "I think you gonna buy it" and wished
me luck. I liked the jeep though not really the color; I liked his thick
bundle of maintenance records and how immaculate it was underneath; I liked
how clean the paint was; it looked cossetted. Next day at noon in the Bank
of America parking lot we signed the pink slip and I drove it away.
Second packets are in. I read Emilee's with bits of tears. There she
was, brilliant and immediate, starved the way brilliant women are.
Writing Emilee yesterday saying the isolation of coming to know what
other people don't know is worth it because of the satisfaction of no longer
being divided against oneself. She's where I was isn't she, longing for
her capacity. She doesn't want to leave the people she has but she's more
than they are. I took that fence when I came to it. Susan doesn't leave
them, she goes ahead and overwhelms them. Emilee couldn't do that, she's
too scrupulous. That means never having free energy. Drinking allows free
energy but with diminished capacity, so it doesn't come across as large.
That makes it safe. There's the other fear too, that if one comes across
as large one will be stuck in never being able to be small. That's a misunderstanding
because being truly and not falsely powerful depends on and can accommodate
all the being small there actually is. I mean the early smallness not the
Margo's letter to the fac said one of the things she was being fired
for was "a situation that came up with an ADA student" that Sue
thought she had mishandled, "endangering the college." That was
Millie's mischief. I was frightened seeing it. And yet I don't regret what
I did with Millie. That work is, the record of it is, still able to inspire
people into more freedom and realness. But the thought that I'd got Margo
fired is horrifying, because she has been the soul of what's right with
the program. She has been backing everything courageous and hopeful.
She refused to write me up. But Jane wrote her up. Fear of being pushed
out again by the small minded frightened ass-coverers.
Was feeling yesterday how no one, none of the fac, none of the students,
even Susan in her testimonial, talk about the gift my radical reframing
is to them or the college. Susan talks about "nurturing, intelligent
close reading" but the most important thing she got was the reframing
that let her think accurately and that is her major cachet and credibility
at Kripalu. It's why I'm grieved that she was as attached to Lise and Jim,
who gave her so much less.
This is the crux of something.
I have been thinking it would be a relief to be fired so I would be forced
to do something else.
Want to say how since I looked through the 430 Google finds for 'embodiment
studies' I feel disgusted with it and want nothing more to do with it. It's
shaping into something much less radical, a fad. I'm also disgusted to think
that I might have currency at [the college] because of that flurry, with
no one even now having a clue of what I've done.
The mediocrity of [the college]. The way I have to discount any praise
because everyone praises as a policy. Reading advising letters from Karen
and Caryn annoyed by the false modesty. Both declare how much they are always
learning from all their students - sickening - as bad in Karen who may actually
feel it - sickening assumption that communication has to be false - they
don't allow themselves strong writing [in the letters]. They do good work,
they work hard, they address student work in detail, but their self-effacing
tone perpetuates that tone. Margo telling me to be more humble and diffident.
Then I stepped out into a hot wind. Tom was polishing his bike inside.
I said "There's a Santa Ana." He said "I've been wondering
why I was feeling 16 years old."
I went home for a while to work on Dames rocket and when Tom came
to fetch me at 5 there was smoke in the air. A fire in Malibu he said. We
rode to his place through the succulent garden in Balboa Park. Blue plants
with a white bloom on them in creamy pink light. Later we were watching
continuing coverage, a fire on 94 near Tecate, another that began at Witch
Creek and was spreading rapidly toward Ramona and then the San Pasqual Valley.
High winds. Long streamers of flame, pine trees writhing in the fire's way.
Tom watching beside me in journalist's excitement. The whole town of Ramona
evacuated. San Diego's lesbian fire chief at the podium. Buildings in flames
with no fire men to be seen.
Riding with Tom alongside the zoo parking lot, scents concentrated in
the dry air. Something sweet and particular, a dirty bush with dried out
Riding home after supper on a sidewalk in North Park, sensing little
heat zones with the sides of my face and arm - something still holding day's
Tuesday morning. The Union and LA Times with fires on their
front page. Beautiful photos. Fire festival.
This work took me by surprise this packet, and
it began with your response, a dream, and a sense of someone I used to know,
a me that I had somehow forgotten.
There were some things in your response that hit
me like a brick, the rightness of it, the good sense of it. Like being whacked
on the head with an aha stick, clean on the first pass. You are right that
I have found this work, shred by shred, laborious . It is labor-intensive,
but it is very satisfying work. I am very thankful for the matched intensity
that you respond with.
This is how you do this kind of work. This is how
you do this kind of work.
I am having a hard time writing that paper because
that is not my voice.
After the conference call disgusted by Margo pressing a social activism
concentration - why - because embodiment studies is better founded conceptually,
more prepared, more participated in, more articulated, than the concentrations
we have. They don't want it. They marginalize it. They ignore the magazine,
the website. They want to envision something conventional that actually
has less social significance. I conclude that I should find somewhere else
for embodiment studies and just move it, website, magazine, workshops, everything.
And then I think but no I don't want to be Miz mbo somewhere, I want to
be recognized where I am.
Writing the dream many considerations offside. I notice secondary elaboration
- something that happens in the dream because the dreamer is puzzled about
what's happening - trying to figure it out. Have wondered whether to leave
it out of the account and try to keep the significant core, but it's more
as if the dream is composed that way, by event, and then response to that
event, led along by the dreamer's thoughts, for instance the way when I
saw the woman leave by a short tunnel.
What I was thinking when I sighed, above, was something about latent
content of daylight events, for instance the way our phone connection was
so broken up yesterday. Margo's cell this time and last time was breaking
up painfully. I was thinking awareness of that sort of significance is underworld.
What I'm thinking now is that if I don't pay attention to that the way I
sometimes have because I don't want to get further into where I am. I don't
want to be where I am. When I was up north I was where I wanted to be. I
don't want to be with [the college] people. The evidence is I don't want
to be with Tom. I don't want to be in San Diego. The evidence is I don't
want to be with Tom because I don't attend to anything when I'm with him.
He doesn't either, with me. I also can't just leave. I've wedged myself
into this circumstance by carelessness. That means I'm sentenced to superficiality.
Is it getting worse? No, it's holding. In the overlap of times I carried
the habit of attention, I could carry it, for some time. But I'm habituated
'Art' to me means that attention.
On the news just now, a meeting as the shuttle docks at the space station,
of two women who are each commander of their mission.
Early Monday I woke before dawn. Tom was still asleep. The blind was
up. I saw the first pink on an array of little clods. First bird cries.
And then through to full flamingo over bright turquoise. Went out in white
pyjamas and bare feet to buy the paper for Tom.
On Sunday aft he was on his bed reading and I was creeping around the
edges of the room with a can of Orange Pledge.
Susan for a few minutes this morning bubbling about what it's like coming
into the city on the train, which enters underground. It's very noisy and
on the many parallel tracks other trains moving at many different speeds
carry people in lit spaces silently. (Something like that.) And then a teenage
boy talking to another boy about how you need to be in yourself to make
girls like you. She was marveling to be hearing such relevant talk and marveling
to see his gestures, which were being performed from the same system as
his speech, and which were completely unlike the gestures of people in the
Berkshires. He was black, his culture was the very latest. This in the context
of talking about how we are environments. I was saying we become them. In
my six years I became London.
Reminds me to write down Luke's story about a night in New York when
he was there this September. He was walking, arrived in Times Square at
three in the morning. A street person said to him "Pavarotti just died."
Luke said "I have him on my phone." They stood and listened together.
I go down to the well the place where I dip
into cold, clear darkness.
He had cut his lips, a dozen tiny cuts that
bled in comic rivulets between his teeth and down his boy's chin.
"You are Emilee for Everybody" he
said. "You must be so fucking proud."
It was already snowing and he stood there ...
He stood in the middle of the street with his hand over his heart.
Emilee is a writer, has been from 14. She's a pleaser too, more than
I am. Is that going to work for her. Being an outsider like I am is not
the only way.
Her story is amazingly strong and relevant. Could she really tell it.
She'd be talking for many. If she could really say what drugs are and what
boy and girl are - she could honor what he was, which is extraordinary.
He gave her his extreme realness of male vulnerability. She would have to
tell it so it remains ambiguous whether she was using him or whether she
was his victim. The parable she wrote at 15, of herself turning into a dragon:
that was very strong. She's less strong in it now I think.
The man she wants now and how clearly she is writing him.
At the same time her social accommodations of people who wouldn't like
to see how much smarter she is.
I'm in Café Bassam with paper napkin stuffed in my right ear and
holding the other shut with my left finger. Bassam has come back and has
cranked the volume, it's Piaf and strings. What makes this music so bad.
It's nationalistic sentimentality, the kind of emoting that feels good to
people who normally don't feel. Overblown conventionality.
Having to write res lecture blurbs. Will do Theory because it's
the program review and it will make M happy. And then will do two sessions
of Spirit as body and see if I can work it as an example of a challenge
to a theory. Theory revision, paradigm revision.
- Spirit as body I: the argument
- Spirit as body III: the sky
Teaching philosophical heuristics - new motions of thought (what is philosophy
- metacognition - troubleshooting).
About the sky - theory and experience - we've evolved to be related to
it - small animals' fear and awareness.
Black Canyon Road yesterday. It is completely burnt. Off Mesa
Grande Road there's one finger of the Witch Creek fire that almost reaches,
we could look down into it, black and ashed. And then on Black Canyon Road
the main burn area begins in the oak grove before the track begins to drop.
And then except sometimes a small streak of color along the creek, land
burnt completely naked. Boulders graphite-colored, dirt red, yellow
or buff in the cuts and elsewhere grey. No manzanita, ceanothus. Not one
stalk of white sage on the roadside.
We stopped halfway down. I was sitting on a bank of earth looking across
at a whole naked mountain. Two hawks were drifting over nothing edible.
Silence. The air's perfect touch on my arm, warm, slight. Graphite, buff,
that pale fox-red. Single black skeletons of shrubs. Slight smell of smoke,
But there may be some state of mind in which
one could continue without effort because nothing is required to be held
back. Coleridge meant, perhaps, that the androgynous mind is resonant and
porous; that it transmits emotion without impediment; that it is naturally
creative, incandescent and undivided. When one takes a sentence of Coleridge
into the mind, it explodes and gives birth to all kinds of other ideas ...
one blushes at all these capital letters as if one had been caught eavesdropping
at some purely masculine orgy ... their qualities seem to a woman, if one
may generalize, crude and immature. In a question like this truth is only
to be had by laying together many varieties of error.
Here I'm crying in Café Bassam because she mentions me, says she
By hook or by crook, I hope that you will possess
yourselves of money enough to travel and to idle to dream over books and
loiter at street corners and let the line of thought dip deep into the stream.
For I am by no means confining you to fiction. If you would please me -
and there are thousands like me - you would write books of travel and adventure,
and research and scholarship and philosophy and science.
When I ask you to earn money and have a room
of your own, I am asking you to live in the presence of reality, an invigorating
life, it would appear. I often like women. I like their unconventionality.
I like their subtlety. I like their anonymity.
And there I cry again, when she says:
Now my belief is that this poet still lives.
She lives in you and in me, and in many women who are not here tonight for
they are washing up the dishes and putting the children to bed. I maintain
that she would come if we worked for her, and that so to work, even in poverty
and obscurity, is worth while.
All of this in chapter 6.
If we face the fact that there is no arm to
cling to, but that we go alone and that our relation is to the world of
reality and not only to the world of men and women.
It's Saturday midday. There's a palm's leg next to the light pole. Clean
sky and offshore breeze. Between times. Packet 4's coming in for Monday.
I didn't want to touch them but I woke too early and can't do anything of
my own. Tom tomorrow.
Yesterday watched the Chargers game with Tom. I now understand what a
down is. Have seen some beautiful poses. Cromartie - don't know that I can
describe this - leaping high, very high, and slanted, so his whole body
feet to extended right arm was a tight 45o slope hung in the air while he
closed his hand around the ball. Behind him was the Cubs receiver with his
hands low in position to catch what would now never arrive. Last game it
was Tomlinson diving at knee-height through a big pile-up on the goal line
to plant the ball very precisely, at the full extension of his arm, nose
down just over the line for a hand-made touchdown. The camera coverage is
This morning going home on the bus I found a Union somebody had
been using to sit on at a bus stop - it rained last night - and I read about
the game on the sports pages. What impressed me was how much tracking there
is of everyone's performance, all the numbers, everyone knows exactly how
good they are in one game, in a season, in a career. Accomplishment is unambiguous.
In art the scoring systems aren't reliable, I was feeling.
Writing Dames rocket intros this morning. Came to something written
earlier, I don't know when, about that time. It was single lines with two
spaces between them, lower case. Coming into it was a shock. It said what
I wanted to say in such a better state. It's spacious, airy, and it made
me instantly as if fold up and go away. It's a good state but does it scare
this one, which is more pedestrian?
Working with the Dames rocket page of summary statements about
the mind of the time - I needed a lot of focus to put the statements into
an order. It's work I'm frail in, I'm not easily holding the parts known
in a whole - is that the way to say it - bluntly - what I'm seeing is a
transparent medium I was moving something in, moving something also transparent
- something like that. It's hard to do, I shy from it, want to go away.
There's a grasp in these little lines that I don't have in the journal
of that time. The lines say what I was doing, what was happening with a
precision that the drugs ruined in writing. Not only drugs, that's one of
my questions - thinking this section is the trickiest, I have most to do
in it, blending that time with this one - not only drugs because I opened
abandonment and then went into defensive scrambling. I didn't know how to
work with it.
Last night after work, after dark, I was needing to go shopping and thought
I'd visit Tom for a moment - little surge of happiness - drove to his street,
parked - it's 5:30 but he isn't home from work yet - I use my key - turn
on his lights - look around - there's his morning in the room, sheet in
a bundle in the middle of the mattress, pyjama pants on the little table
with his jar of cashews, coffee spilled on the stove. I make his bed, wash
his plates, put things away, wipe the floor. Will I wait for him. No, I'll
leave it clean and lit up for him. Start Nora Jones and lock the door after
me. Go to Whole Foods and call him when I get home. He tells the story.
He was coming down the stairs thinking, did I leave the bathroom light on?
He'd had a hard day, had worked 'til 6. Stepping into a lit clean room with
Norah Jones hit him with bliss. The first thing he did was check which track
it was - it was only the third. He sat down and let the day go, he felt
loved. He said, the only thing missing is Ellie. Then he said no, that would
have spoiled it.
He told me the story from his most natural easy self, the one we have
Wrote Emilee this morning. Sat down to it first thing and looked up finished
at 12:30. Oh that's why I'm hungry. Anything special? Figured out how to
tell her not to buy the multiple personality story, tried to intimate what
the Buddhists should say, if they don't. That some mind is deluded, and
the discourse about consciousness is, and the I that identifies with consciousness
rather than the body is.
I said she's timid academically and bold in drugs and emotional adventures,
and why is that. I saw that what she was looking for was power. License
to power. She doesn't want to harm. She can have it in writing.
Café Bassam 4:35. When I walk out of the house I want to suddenly
be somewhere. There's pink winter light, and gold in the west. A piano sounding,
a real piano not a recording, in a small house. From this corner I can see
up Redwood to the park, where the sky is vivid tinted depth between the
eucalyptus trees, flushed palest blue above the clubhouse roof.
Crows flying home the same way they fly in Vancouver, southeast.
A smell of iced doughnuts.
Across the street a building with a long grid of mirrored glass across
half a block, 3 squares high, 38 along. A thin black frame. Continuous across
it now an image of the sky in the west, pale silver blue, washes of palest
The blue has risen among the drooping eucalyptus. The pink that has risen
above it is suggesting grain.
Cream-colored walls in winter light.
The palms on Olive are showing fine fresh pale antlers.
Men with dogs on leashes.
Smell of coffee roasting.
Bassam bringing out a cake on a glass cake stand. His place. He has a
good name. A Levantine. Not sure what that is. The streetlight just came
on. I noticed because palm frond shadows moved across the page. There's
one directly in front of the lamp. The music is a bit oceanic today.
I used to be so likeable. Now people at parties look away - they did
at Nora's gallery event last night.
I've been forgetting to say there is a cricket at Tom's house that sounds
in the evenings. It's all alone. Its small serrated voice (I know it's not
a voice) sounds regular as a little clock from a particular spot in the
honeysuckle on the railing. If it hears my footstep it freezes, so then
I have to listen without moving until it continues, take one step, and wait
again. I'm fond of it. It was there louder and longer in summer but now
even though it can be cold at night and it's sounding a bit frail, it hasn't
Across the street Park Manor Hotel at twenty past four, gilded brick
and palm pillars, shadows almost horizontal.
Three tables doing homework. Two people with glasses of red talking quietly.
Going home traffic whisking, growling, rattling. Another homework person
unpacking his shoulder bag.
It's the way I know it to be, the semester begins and then the months
vanish. September-November gone without happening.
The light on the Park Hotel was a darker gold, the shadows bluer, and
then direct sun was gone although the west-facing façade, six floors
looking out to sea, has shadowless sky light on it still.
Young woman in a trench coat, cup of tea, writing in a small diary in
black ink. Man next to me putting on his jacket, rustling in his pocket
for his keys. Takes his paper with him. Ten to five. It's the moment I begin
to notice the inside lights, their pleasing dimness, multiple shadows under
Small clouds evenly pink, palm fronds, grassy, dipping and flowing, onshore
breeze up Redwood. Caliph Cocktails neon sign across the street a blue line
around a red line in the shape of the head of a cock - it's a gay bar.
Here's Bassam come in, sitting with the young woman in the trench coat.
Is he interviewing her for a job - there are always new young women.
Sometime I'm going to come here in the evening and have a glass of wine.
- A dim yearning to have something to say, something happening.
Stepping into the air yesterday and today: day warm, winter light - that
doesn't say it - stepping into air that is light and mild.
The way that feels - just right - an exquisite well-being - the lightness
I most like to be.
Finished transcribing the '76-77 volume but it's missing the first acid
pages. Acid was the only thing in that journal I still like. The love and
sex stuff is insane, the dope writing is mostly worthless, but I found something
in acid - I found a state. I found balance. The touchstone state of balance.
Happy weekend with Tom - he had worked long hours, left the house and
come home in the dark. I showed up at 11 yesterday morning, after Starbucks
and after the farmer's market, and found him just finishing housecleaning.
Kitchen doors open. He was funny all day. This morning he walked out the
door in construction worker costume, yellow boots, jeans, green Carhart
jacket, baseball cap, backpack with yellow hard hat strapped to it. Phone
on his belt. Last night before we settled to the movie he polished his boots,
laid out his clothes for the morning. He walks out with a thermos of coffee
and some power bars in his pack.
We went to the pier for breakfast and sat at the rail looking at the
sea which yesterday was translucent olive drab. I was fond of him all day.
Is it the way he's confident and steady when he's working and a lot of money
is coming in, probably. He's in the elevator all day without breaks. "Stand
by, fifteen, I'm on my way." A building he's proud of, good materials,
Meantime on his computer is a piece about his neighbourhood. Sitting
at the rail with his machaca plate he was saying he hadn't written that
way since he was nineteen.
For supper I made him steak and mashed potatoes, grilled a thick Angus
sirloin. We were squabbling playfully, acceptingly. I wasn't holding anything
He fell asleep during the movie, which was his pick and wonderful, Mountain
patrol, Lu Chuan, Tibetan barrens.
What now. CG writes about coming on the bad things I say. Here's my first
instance of being outed as a hater. "What I really simply want to say
is that it is mean (particularly the attack on how I look, talk, sit, etc),
and it hurt me." It's definitely mean. I'm surprised I left it in,
what was I thinking?
I'm more in touch with the dark side, the rage and distress, than people
mainly are. Pleased and harrowed by bodies. It's left out of most writing.
I feel I'm carrying it alone.
- We say we support liberation
- And what we're all most afraid of is negative opinion
- And what we most need to be liberated from is that fear
- This is the key
- The students are so afraid of themselves
- This puts something on the table
Fear in my solar - then in the back of my head - I'm going to be having
to live with this fear. What am I afraid of? Nothing in particular, I think.
The college isn't really progressive - it doesn't grade and it's one-to-one
and it does support students to be what they dream of being and the graduations
are good and I've been able to be a lot of what I am, there - so it is progressive
in those ways - M's good-heartedness has been - but it's not radical - it
isn't interested in addressing the roots of oppression.
The kerfuffle with CG about the journal has calmed down because I've
said what I have to say - on my end. - There I feel a little scare setting
in. I said if progressive educatioin claims to work for liberation it has
to deal with the pervasive crippling fear of hearing anything negative in
our own heads or about us from someone else. That's my position and now
I'll see whether it's defensible.
Tom was a good cornerman yesterday. We were side by side on the blue
couch and he did what he does. Gave me a succinct description that says
I'm that kind of person and it's outrageous and admirable.
Is there any more to know about Emilee. My job was to get her to stand
in her unusual potency and she did. She wrote This story.
Had fun today. Zipped to Walter Anderson's, collected four wagon loads
of green forms, including three brugmansia, a lot of ivy, good ferns, a
couple of spectacular houseplants I'm going to put outside, some interesting
ficus. And then fast up 5 to 94 to Lemon Grove to the stone yard. Poking
into a pallet of flagstone at RCP Block and Brick. Then back to see what
Al had done in the meantime, painting the fence, excavating the path, taking
down the cassia.
What did I like most, buying plants, assembling them, imagining them,
putting down my credit card for 1300# of bluestone. Having Nora's mason,
who made the beautiful herringbone fireplace, saying "Ma'am" across
the office, turning and there he was, that good craftsman, and there I was
too, buying stone, a garden maker. The sensation of walking in a stone yard
or plant yard, manly, is it? Entitled, effective, something else - physical
- moving and doing.
Went to Scott's when the plants were due to arrive, stood around thinking
where to put things while Al spread the path dirt.
It's cold. Desert sunrises and apricot sunsets, and so cold in
the mornings that my heater doesn't keep up.
Went to Tom's afterward, laundry, soaking in his tub. He didn't get home
until long after 7, thirteen-hour days. He isn't complaining. He's joyful.
Making buckets of money, the men respect him, the top dogs love him. "You're
the best operator on the west coast."
He's interested in the Margo story, sat unpeeling his support hose as
I described my moves. He wasn't in a hurry though he'd need to be up at
4. "I just needed to be with you" I said - we had our heads together
on the blue couch. When I went home he was in front of me laughing at the
thought of how pleased he'd be standing in Rite Aid with a hot water bottle
in his hands. He was so naturally, laughingly himself that the moment seemed
a culmination to me, look how restored he is, he's a wonderful companion.
Fell asleep too early and woke at two. Lay there. Turned on the TV after
a while. Infomercial for a machine that cuts out pictures for scrapbooking.
Another for Ultimate Health, a book shown illuminated like the bible
in golden light, weasel-faced salesman in a beige wig promising secrets
of miracle cure for cancer, diabetes, obesity, high blood pressure, more.
Discovered highway cams yesterday for outside Beaverlodge and near Demmitt.
Checking one of them every 20 minutes between 4:10 and 5:50, I felt as if
I was present there, in the bluing snow dusk.
In future someone will model dreaming. Within any circumstance or scene,
possibilities come into being because attention evokes them. I look at a
slope and see lupins, then looking at them brings more. Also an interruptor
- I start down the stairs and it stops. A strange inflector - I'm looking
in the living room window and see floor level not where it usually is. The
most interesting to me are the picture book dreams. They are virtuoso dreaming,
one scene after another, formed and right.
- The barber last Saturday. Tom took me to Ernesto's cave on Broadway
with him. I sat and stared around while his hair fell in soft clumps. Ernesto
is a gay man with longish orange hair and a brown face, slight, gentle,
much himself in a shrine to young male beauty. Sun glowed in through dirty
glass to a 5' mother-in-law's-tongue strapped to the wall and every surface
covered to the ceiling with faces at different sizes. Many blue-eyed models.
Several charts of haircuts showing a fade, an oval cut, a trim, and all
the rest. Two posters of the presidents of the United States. On a dark
back wall, above the fridge, a shrine to JFK, the Pope and a young sailor
who may have been Ernesto himself. A many years' unchanged nook. Loving,
I thought - a quiet loving air. Ernesto gave me a sharp glance when I came
in but I looked at the albums behind his waiting chairs, and saw him in
them with pleasure (cherubs, Bill Clinton, pinup women, men with babies),
and I think he felt that because his brown eyes were warm when he said come
When he was unbuttoning the white cloth from Tom's neck he said to me
"Here he is, made a young man again."
Tom was just right when I was scared of sex - what was that - it's inarticulate
reluctance, skittish dread. I don't want to go there, it feels irrelevant
and excessive although driving silently in the flats beside the Salton Sea
I was daydreaming an imaginary man. The way he was just right was he stroked
my tummy quietly and held my head so I could skittishly slide into it. He's
a tolerant spirit, generous.
1st January 2008
Last night we were in Leucadia at the Pacific Surf. On Moonlight Beach
in the dark staring out toward the surfline together because just the first
instant of the wave break, the instant of most energy when the wave smashes
and the foam rises, the whole broad foam band would glow white-blue, luminescent.
There was a smell of wood smoke, families at the fire rings higher up the
beach. Orion tilted above.
This morning we were parked above Beacons - Pilgrim's beach - watching
old surfers gathering, walking down the steps with their boards. We were
there before eight, tender silvery light on the foam. Waves glassed off,
green. A lot of physical bodies, good men. A beautiful boy, maybe thirteen,
standing in a wetsuit at the top of the steps with his dad, who was him
thirty years older. He was leggy and thin, had straight black brows and
hair short to his head, a deep back of his neck.
Tom and I were there a couple of hours gazing and murmuring. A mean-mouthed
man wearing a jacket with an image of soldiers in helmets and the logo Soldier
for the Lord - enlisted for life on the back stood for a long time in
front of us and then sat down on the rail. I didn't like him. After a while
I said "I'm going to get rid of him." Tom looked alarmed. "What
are you going to do?" "Something subtle." I took the binocs
and got out and stood just a little too close to him and slightly behind
him, looking out toward the waves. I could feel something like a pressure
of will. Stood there. Gradually turned the binocs just a little toward him
on my right, maybe five degrees. He got up and left. I heard a motor start
across the road.
Went to sleep too early and woke embattled at 3. It was about the journal
project, what to do about Fading. I'm not satisfied leaving it down.
Embattled also about the despicable faculty timidity about Margo - how I'm
going to face the crew who won't fight.
Hillary vs Obama tomorrow, she isn't going to make it. For a good reason
or bad. She'd be a good president, better than Obama. She's by far the best
candidate but that isn't going to be what matters. I'm saying that in the
discouragement of my own case. People are ashamed of Iraq and they want
to be proud of electing a black president. They don't want to be proud of
electing a woman - that isn't how it works.
Amtrak, passing the marsh north of Oceanside.
I liked opening the door this morning on a milky dewy dawn and going
downstairs to find the taxi at the curb. And now the humming glide above
cliffs with glassed-off waves below. Surfer cars with their hatches up.
A simple, silent ocean. Sand, foam. Sweet pink light. Simplest two foot
waves rising to green. There was a dolphin's black fin.
We went for dinner to the Denny's on Pacific. Ate fast, he looked tired
across from me. He was paying and I stepped outside. Held open the door
for a homeless man carrying a bag with his take-out dinner. He looked at
me as he passed through and said "You're a pretty woman. My Aunt Jenny
told me, if you think a woman is pretty, you should always tell her."
He had a good face, very weathered. Faint smell of booze. A slight body
in blackened clothes. Then he said something like "I used to be worse.
I was a gunner in the airforce, got my hip shot at."
The walkway was slick with rain. I watched him hobbling toward his shopping
cart full of cans holding his thin hips twisted sideways. He stopped at
the end of the wall, resting. As Tom and I came past he said "This
weather is hard on me." He had the American buoyancy of spirit.
Tom drove me home, stopped on the corner outside Davis. I gathered my
bags, came around to kiss him through his window. Nice kisses, two identical
with a gazing pause between, confiding and trusting.
Plainfield VT 26th
The kind of day it was, in faculty meeting this morning Margo, large
calm Margo in raspberry UGG boots sitting crossways in the armchair watching
us hash out what to do. I don't think I can reconstruct it. People said
what they say. Goldberg said we have to be very careful, Ralph said we have
to be very careful, Lise said she wants to do something, I said we shouldn't
roll over. There was a particular moment, I think. Ralph said we should
be clear what we're fighting for not just take someone as an enemy. People
said a just workplace. I said - what did I say - for people to be able to
not feel defeated and silenced. From there we seemed rapidly to settle into
a plan. It was a plan I found myself left out of.
I want to say two things at once, here. One is that it's a good plan
as far as it goes, it accommodates people's anxieties and at the same time
takes on a larger cause. The other thing is that when it came to forming
the committee for that action I volunteered and the waters closed over me.
Then Goldberg went around in her expert facilitator way and asked everyone
to say how they felt. Margo said how remarkable a group we were and had
we noticed how that had just happened. People were saying yes it was wonderful
and I was feeling, not wonderful enough, because Margo is still going. There
she still was large and watchful at the head of the room, people comfortable
around her in an even accepted light. I was seeing that that will be gone.
Stephanie. At the cabaret she was the one thing that was perfect. In
her coat standing tall in the cafeteria she looks a leggy serious big-eyed
girl, slender, but when she's on stage she shows a thick white almost doughy
belly. She carries her face somehow perfectly, giving concentration and
pleasure, looking at us quietly between her twisting arms and rolling torso.
Seeing her I go altogether into adoration.
Another good thing was Gary, who is a shapely lean man with the right
ratio of shoulder to hip. Cabaret night he was wearing jeans, a red shirt
and a pirate's silk scarf on his head, a lean long slightly whiskery blond
face with pale eyes. When I sat down behind him he spread his arms to make
himself large, kidding me. I put out my hand without knowing I was going
to and gripped his shoulder. Felt the hard muscle under his red shirt. Took
that away with me. Still have it in my right hand, a man.
He was in Deena's group playing harmonica all out, gorgeously. When Stephanie
was dancing he was yipping at the right moments and I was feeling, yes that's
right, that's who to long for, a pain I was willing in. Ah I still so much
want a man to long for me, what I'll never have again. Something energetic
I've been starved of, that when I've had it has made me marvelous, complete.
I have sometimes in this res gone to imagining Mac. I imagine what he's
wearing. I see his bristling black hair and hawk nose and Indian eyes fierce
with intention. He wants me like thunder, he gets so hard it hurts, and
it's me it's for, exactly me. He has never cut his losses, he's integral,
he has it all intact. He has used it to work, he has thought and made and
carried everything through and now he can give me what he has always kept.
He doesn't waste it in daylight, he doesn't touch me 'til I'm in his bed.
And then it's necessary every time and right away. Saying so I come alive
two inches into my pussy, just there, a strong burn.
It's daylight now. almost eight. That's probably a snowplow. The pine
branches I can see composed in little squares are motionlessly weighted
with new snow, charcoal and white under a white sky, a few reddish brown
trunks leaning across the forest edge.
Past the Rockies, ten to 5. An East Indian family in the row ahead. The
little girl who peeked between the seats - a small two? or less - was standing
with her back to us and left her small brown hand where I could put my large
fingers under hers. She had a small gold bangle on her wrist. She left her
hand quietly on mine so that we were holding hands lightly in the sky. I
was thinking how naturally she was allowing it. The big Swede next to me
said "So natural."
We're beginning our descent he says. Orange sun half a finger over the
horizon. Is that the coast I think.
San Diego 6
Tom leaning against the wall in his work jeans and boots and beanie cap.
Walked me to the luggage carrousels with his arm around my shoulders. I'm
telling that because it was a good arrival.
Before we went to sleep he got in with me and pulled himself snug against
me, wrapped his legs over mine. My head was on his shoulder. I fell asleep
almost instantly - not deep but remarkably.
November 26 1963 "Mercury soars as cold breaks." Another of
Dave's photocopies. -41 and five days later a chinook, 41 above. I feel
odd about these clippings. Dave makes so much of what I was when I was eighteen.
He saw me someway then and has stayed imprinted. But I was just beginning,
I don't want to be pegged there. - That's not really it. Is it something
about death? She's gone and I will be. He's wanting to hold it for me? Something
chivalrous? It's as if I was a vision of what he had in him to find later,
his distinction. He was part of his town, he was it, wherever he went. He
was the town drunk's kid, baseball player, Sexsmith correspondent for the
Herald-Tribune, beginning to be the rememberer without knowing he was going
to be that.
Meantime I'm in 1978, fifteen years later, driving the Lark on snowy
roads. Reading old journals beside the barrel heater, in pain, more pain,
in beauty, more beauty, in effort still, more lost, defeated, complicated,
a part of no social group anywhere but taking the place as mine, and isn't
that adoration what I miss?