Am in a joyful tizzy about the garden. Have understood that I should
contour - higher on the sides and the stepping stones like a watercourse
Canyon Pottery, bought 3 big pots for the patio and the water jar, then
Kniffing's for a rose. Then we were in Alpine and went on along the Japatul
Road to Pine Creek. The buckwheat was rust-red everywhere and on the slopes
next to it that silver thing. As we walked noticing the shrub oaks looking
robustly green with small acorns. Tom had had a fit when I didn't want the
radio. Hammered me up I-8. I did what I do, stayed calm, didn't back down
and took a hit nonetheless, so that when we were stopped looking at the
Thomas Guide my head was paralyzed, I couldn't figure it out. Then he was
remorseful and wanting it all better but it wasn't all better yet. At the
farthest end of our walk I needed him to shut up. He went up the road so
I could sit alone. There were the rock slopes and thick chaparral gorges.
Light and shade, a crow high overhead, two small birds zipping below. Oh
miles of silence. I was looking at the ordered heaps of dull dark greens
and russets, a swath of pale yucca posts in the distance, feeling what one
would feel for god, relief, relaxation-into that's love for something large,
wide horizontal reach. Then Tom comes up the road and wants to leave.
Tom can't afford a haircut, he's missing two bottom teeth, his skin is
looking rough because he hasn't been eating well, he has a carbohydrate
pooch from bread and no protein. He had to ask me for lunch yesterday, and
then he was short $5 for his utilities bill and asked me for that. He reads
junk all day instead of doing something to get money, is passive and blocked
about looking after himself. At the nursery yesterday I didn't want to be
seen with him. Even in the best of the chaparral he was needing to hear
his loud voice inventing inanities. I have not much to say about any of
that, stay out of it mostly, go on doing what I do.
After meeting Art and the project supervisor this morning I flew up 5
to 52, then Genesee and at the far east end of Governor Drive Miramar Wholesale
Nursery on 30 acres. There I drove up and down gritty lanes looking at trees.
Tied a blue ribbon on a 24" multitrunk palo verde, a slender shining
thing with a few yellow flowers on long green whips. Planning other nice
things - a scrub oak, a toyon.
Have ordered trees for tomorrow, the palo verde and strawberry tree,
hopefully the rhus for Monday. Is it the right gravel. Is two inches enough.
Is it the right pot for the fountain.
It was hot today. The palo verde arrived, graceful, green and gold, glinting,
with many slender arms. The strawberry tree too. Two small strong men were
digging, smashing lumps, raking. The soil level is where it should be. The
wall is the right height. I laid out a hose to show the path and one of
the men sprinkled a line with cement powder and then brought the path level
down, and mounded the sides.
I was waiting for the pots - am writing any way it comes, tired, dehydrated
- took two aspirin and am drinking tea - am not a writer just now - the
pots arrived, large, dark blue to turquoise - the men had had to haul the
boxed tree up the steps when it arrived and now we took the box apart on
my tarp and carved off the sides of the root ball until we could get it
in the narrower neck. There were three small burly men and me all thinking
well and not in each other's way, carrying gravel from a bucket in the driveway
in the garbage can lid, opening potting soil bags, knocking the mandarin
and the pomegranate out of their pots, siting the pots, choosing their forward
face and the forward face of the tree. The pots are beautiful shapes and
colors and look superb with the pomegranate and the orange.
I stood a rake on end to show where the second tree will go and they
dug a hole there while I got the vines into the ground by their posts. The
palo verde has its hole too. The we carried - they carried - the little
pots into the back and they cleaned up impeccably, folded my tarp, put rubbish
on the back of their truck, hosed the steps and the driveway, and drove
away. I still had to take the wagon back to the nursery, along with the
empty pots. Was muddy, pant legs soaked from the knees down, stiff and thirsy,
I wake thinking about the garden. My lovely brain though slowly failing
eagerly thinks ahead to what will need to happen next week. The fountain.
The reservoir is too big isn't it.
Saturday morning. It was a white, damp night and now faint sun diffused
in mist at eight o'clock.
Monday. Badgering men all day. We need to go deeper to try to get drainage.
The path needs to be lower. The lumps need to be taken away, not smashed
to incorporate them into the ground. They aren't using perforated drain
pipes, only those standing caps, so I'm going to have to lower the path
so it can be drainage too. - They're poorly supervised, I have to hover.
There'll be a lot more hovering this week, and 7 packets and 3 theses.
By tonight the trees were in the ground, the path was profiled correctly,
the reservoir was in the ground, the fountain in place though not connected,
irrigation and drains in place, rubbish removed. At noon the rhus lancea
stirred its leaves in sunlight though its legs are in the shade.
I am listening to Bach cantatas on DSL.
It was a long work day, I was dragging by the end, but was throwing myself
all over the site all day, stumbling but not falling and not minding how
I looked, only liking to do what I was doing. Saying, A little less here,
We could do more here. Wearing an ugly hat and old clothes, feeling the
freedom of effective self.
Fighting with Lise for an hour about Emilee's wonderful thesis.
Am in that moment of betrayal and disappointment where I want to punish
someone by shutting myself down in relation to them.
This morning we sat in the sun together and Tom read from his notes for
Casual labor. At first I didn't listen but then I settled and closed
my eyes. Among his lists of show-off cultural claims sometimes a lovely
paragraph of narrative in his beautiful voice. His face with a sad real
look that touched me, yesterday he was sad about his teeth, the lower bridge
not being what he'd hoped. This morning that real person sounding like a
writer. I could see that his hundreds of folders of notes will not ever
all be written up but that they and even the heaps of cultural names are
life review. I admired his mental energy, the strength of his head at 63.
Not exact but abundant. I was proud of him in my dubious way, wondering
how he's so generative when I am down to these dull mangy statements of
I have an acid edge about the battle with Lise. I'm up against her blank
wall, feel the sore heart of other abandonments.
One afternoon last week I had my computer plugged in in Scott's back
patio, was writing on a yellow tablecloth in filtered sun; red leaves of
the Boston ivy on the lattice in front of me, a monarch cruising the passiflora,
and constant birdsong in the trellise above. Around the corner white angels'
trumpets hanging enormous over a shaded path. My beautiful making, which
I do not own.
What is at stake with Lise, that makes it so bitter and fraught - I work
with the best of the young women to strengthen their wild edge - Susan's
slash writing, Emilee's racing fire - and she says in her stony way, I don't
get it, and then Susan wastes her thesis on slabs of dull feminist rhetoric.
She conventionalizes Jaes' natural prose. The agony of the embodiment colloquium,
having my creation turned to her social uses.
Art springing out of the gravel truck that has pulled up with just the
right number of good deep slabs of bluestone he picked out of a pallet.
At the end of the day Mario had placed the curved path, each stone a colored
surface floated on gravel, everything smooth, and it's a working
drain too, a watercourse. I went at midday and turned on the sprinklers,
first one side and then the other. The new gravel was already flecked with
palo verde flowers, specks of bright yellow, and bits of dried leaf. I stood
against the wall, on the hill, looking across the swale, and felt myself
sink into garden heaven.
I've got fond of running around during the day, went to check the carpenters
this morning, drove around Little Italy looking for Architectural Salvage,
where I chose solid brass handles and a lock mechanism for the gate.
When I was planting I noticed I had been speaking aloud to the plants,
had forgotten the Mexican men were there.
What happened yesterday - a moment blew up - we were driving to PB to
Denny's, Sunday morning after we'd read the Times in his kitchen
- he saw the shape of my hand in the centre console and said I was stressed
- I hadn't realized it but yes I was buying him breakfast again, his not
having money must stress me - I sagged into it a bit, yes, it does stress
me and it has been almost a year - and then something I don't remember,
then a silence in which I was thinking maybe we shouldn't see each other
until he has money - then more I've forgotten - then he says he's thinking
maybe we shouldn't see each other until he has an income - and I'm shot
into pain - and then he's on the hunt - and now I'm hurt not stressed.
I mean to make myself feel better and change the subject, say its' something
that a physiotherapist in Italy can have inklings about mind being body
and go online and find my site and feel confirmed - he launches into something
about Teillard de Chardin and I protest that I did it, it's something I
did, I was wanting to feel better. He says coldly that he pumps me all the
time and carries on about Teillard, I go silent. Now he's saying, You know
what, let's just turn around and go home, which puts me into abandonment
fear - I suppose it is - a grey panic in the solar, that I contain blindly.
Writing this I'm noticing how it gets chaotic, I lose my bearings, I'm tossing
in distress and not seeing myself or him.
Even now, writing it, my solar is frightened. I had a bad night. Couldn't
fall asleep, the hot water bottle leaked, big wet patch I had to work around,
the room was cold. A feeble droopy feeling. Uncertainty, when we separate
he's where he is but I'm cut loose, I don't know where to live, I don't
have a place, which really I don't anyway.
And then always remembering that it's going to get worse ahead, I will
get sicker and uglier and even lonelier, and poorer again, and I will never
be young again or have that sort of rapid hopeful opening-out.
When I say that I think, alright, marshall yourself, what do I have,
what can I make of it.
20 Cowboy Cabin, Julian
Wanting to live like this much more. Hoping I'll never need to be attached
When I was lying on the hillside with my eyes closed I thought of cutting
the cord to Tom. Feeling for it. Said, surprised, It's not there. Big sigh.
Was thinking that if I lived quietly alone like this I could feel into
how conscious self can be related to larger self, find how that relation
should be, not directive, not abdicated - how? I could do what I was trying
to do then but with better understanding.
William Heise County Park . As I was assembling the fire a rustle and
then a file of turkeys, visible individuals, larger and smaller, milder
and more excitable.
Sunday morning. The tent is packed, everything but the dirty dishes.
As it was growing light I saw a glass marble. I was dopey and didn't
pay attention. Then I saw two glass marbles. I got it - it was telling me
to look. I was still dopey and didn't sit up but from my pillow a bit later
I saw first sun in the oak framed by my big south tent window. It was lighting
just one tuft on the far side of the canopy. And then I watched as more
tufts, different depths into the cloud, lit up pink. It was like seeing
an image come up in the tray, a swift bloom.
Later two herds of turkeys. I hear them coming. Deliberate slow steps
cracking in oak leaves. Nineteen or twenty in the first group. Passing on
either side of the tent. Blue faces. The exaggerated back and forward jerk
of their small heads. Feather coats very detailed in shades of brown with
I've hid out today, I'm sick, reading in the dark cabin. An hour outside,
under the bare oak above the cabin hearing how many surfaces are feeling
the wind. I'd been morose. A few dry rags yellow on the scoured branches,
beyond them blue, lightened me.
A live oak through a kitchen window. It must the the most beautiful of
tree forms by the thickness of bough together with the smallness of leaf.
The cabin creaks and I can hear the fire.
Last week in an alphabetical list of Canadian artists I saw this and
it gave me pleasure:
- Epp, Ellie b. 1945
- Epp, Paul b. 1949
I don't really know you Ellie but I have a feeling
about you - I think maybe you came so far, an Epp from [La Glace] (and me
a Lunden from Valhalla) and exceeded what you even dreamed was possible
in those days and now you can't settle for mediocrity, you want an exceptional
life and you don't feel exceptional right now. Maybe you're settling for
less than you think you're worth, and that makes it impossible for the heart
to be inflamed and the soul enchanted -
These evenings about 4 I take the bike out and want to work - something
joyful these days alone.
Beautiful Blake Lively - I watch a bad soap to see her legs.
Last night I kept rewatching Terry Wey singing Schubert's Ständchen
with the Vienna boys. His phlegmatic fish face, eyes sliding sideways away
from the camera, thirteen years old, singing what must be the cleanest version
ever of an orgiastic song about sex. Boys' faces behind him, the full German
Kinderchor sound backing his lift through Schubert's thrilling key changes.
- Softly, softly we insist
- At the beloved's bedroom door
- But now rising,
- Swelling, swelling, lifting
Now am into the desperate dreary years 1981-1983. There was a writing
burst though. I keep being surprised to see there were sweet times with
Jam. It seems I have come down on one edge of an ambivalence that I was
enduring whole. I'm feeling, now, I've decided Jam was a sadistic tyrant
- and she was, I see her stonewalling, sneering, patronizing. And then I'm
surprised to see her crying. We both cry a lot. I see that but my feeling
doesn't change, I stay disgusted, sickened - I feel that under all she was
bent on defeating me. When I say that I feel a sensation in the forehead,
determined subtle malice, her mentat lovelessness. It wasn't personal, she
was defeating herself in me, and when I put it that way I don't blame, it's
back to me, why was I enduring it so long.
- For a good reason, I knew I wd never have conversation like that again.
I didn't know there would be other things worth more. For instance: the
moments writing Being about, coming through with the book, in bed
with Rob, writing about Tom. - Interesting to see it was that, with Tom.
Making the garden. Playing with Susan momentarily. When I take this kind
of survey I see that other things, years of them, have been connective tissue,
the years of the journal project have been.
As for whatever I have next, it will mean I don't have what I've had
before - any of those.
The black cashmere sweater I bought for Tom before we quit - it's mine
now and it inspired me to 1. put on the blue glass earrings and 2. to buy
the sequined dark blue scarf. I had on the Levis that are tight since I've
been eating Gold Bites, and my reflection in windows along 5th looked straight-backed
and quite willful and fine. I felt strong and was wanting to be a splendid
old beauty, whatever it takes. It seemed possible.
But what to do with loneliness that doesn't end - all day I go back to
the mail - I begin to send messages to people who don't want to hear from
me - I talk to cashiers longer than I should - I spend hours in Youtube
looking for something that moves, just music isn't enough - I click through
my bookmark bar to see whether Grey's or Gossip have new episodes
up, where I can see beautiful people move and speak.
At Scott's this morning weeding bits of grass and clover. There were
a lot of Calif poppies up and I saw one lupine. A couple of what look like
borage. The plants except for the couple trampled when the tenants moved
look radiant. The acacia artemesioides is blooming in its corner and had
a bee. The blue salvia in its honour spot under the palo verde is - what
is the word - expansive, it looks confident, resplendent.
Sent Susan the Youtube of Grimaud rehearsing at midnight her time because
it's her birthday, thought she'd see it the way she saw herself on video,
a body thinking. She replied so politely water jumped into my eye, it was
as if the one I knew had killed herself.
Pacific Surf Inn watching TV - Is it the same room,
maybe. I'm not nostalgic. I'm not nostalgic! I was on the street - somewhere
- and I thought I could change what Facebook says to 'single.'
I am liking my room, where at this moment, sunlight is lying white on
the white sheet and the north wall, and across the furze of the green blanket.
There is an orchid with it three flowering arms. Mozart sonatas quietly,
finches at the glass, the pepper tree laced with passiflora vines tossing
under the window. Driven cloud masses from the west. I am in bed reading
about the enterprise of canal-makers and industrial inventors.
Wood 2008 How fiction works Farrer, Straus and Giroux
I think that novels tend to fail not when the
characters are not vivid and deep enough, but when the novel in question
has failed to teach us how to adapt to its conventions, has failed to manage
a specific hunger for its own characters, its own reality level.
- Why did I want to copy that - something I felt, that it doesn't say
- felt vaguely - a little transparent shape in the air - something about
coherence in the novel because in the reader - there I stopped and thought
about what that would mean - I often refuse a phrase - stop and ask for
a better one made somewhere else in my head - coherence would have to come
from that somewhere else.
Now: stop and ask why this is so uncomfortable. What mind has Wood made
in me. Self-conscious, technical, self-doubting. - It's not coherence, it's
state - whether the novel is made from a good state, makes a good state.
Strong thoughts. Woods isn't giving strong thoughts. I'm not agreeing with
his premises. He rightly sneers at a bad paragraph of late Updike, but then
he gives as an example of "exaggeration of the noticing eye" this
sentence about rain on a window:
Its panes were strewn with drops that as if
by amoebic decision would abruptly merge and break and jerkily run downward,
and the window screen, like a sampler half-stitched, or a crossword puzzle
invisibly solved, was inlaid erratically with minute, translucent tesserae
of rain. Of the farm 1961
If Woods doesn't like that sentence, he is not the visual sort of person
I am. It declares another sort of sensorium, and sensorium is what I like
or dislike in a writer. What I love about the rain sentence is that it names
something I've seen, and I've liked the mood that seeing happens in. I like
being brought there again.
These mornings I've been hearing what I knew was Mozart and suspected
was the Garanca/Netrebko duet that Deutsche Grammaphone has taken down -
Ah perdona il primo affeto. So I look it up in other versions and
here's Garanca in trousers running her hand over Barbara Bonney's boob.
Tears in my eyes!
Hello Wednesday. Yesterday went shopping and listened to opera all day
- watched opera all day - loving to see bodies sing - Garanca's grace of
lightness - I can't stand either to see or hear the old warhorses, Sutherland,
Callas, etc - these modern bodies are more natural in emotion, they glide
into it, don't push themselves into it.
New Years Eve. Tia's email asking where I was New Year's Eve 2000 - which
sent me to GW19-1, where a paragraph about being with Tom in his room made
me laugh, and having seen us together in love and faith makes my heart sore. Don't
go there. A decade ago, a decade!
So I'm grieving now - what - I haven't been lonely and is that what this
is - more like sad for failure in the chance there was - we had true something
- I won't say love - we had true hunger for each other - and we didn't follow
through - he was lazy, which means he didn'thave enough faith or hope, he
took shortcuts, sacrificed us to make things easy. I was guarded almost
always, I expected to be betrayed and reserved what I felt could help me
when that happened, a list of everything that makes him unworthy of me,
plans for when I'm somewhere else. I fought and at some moment I stopped
fighting, I decided I was alone. It wasn't something he did, the good moments
in GW were when I balanced in ambivalence. I miss the strength I could have
when I both loved him and couldn't trust him.
There's been so much grieving already, wasn't it enough?
- Why not? child balancing in isolation and withdrawal
- The balance I've been feeling is pathological
- I'm afraid it will make me weaken
- Will it no
- We'll stay separated until he has a job
- And then I'll tell him it's permanent
- And let him go with love
- And years from now I'll be able to read GW with relief
- Are you sure
Gosh - I read Stacey D'Erasmo yesterday and today André Aciman,
and now googling Aciman I find a NYT review of Aciman by D'Erasmo. She was
a good choice to review him. She understood that he didn't use his book
to punish dumb-struck love. Is his book better? He uses one device to glamorize
his tale and she another, and in that neither are anywhere as good as [Cynthia]
Shearer who holds to the naked real. His device is glamour of place and
privilege, Mediterranean Italy and high culture, hers goes magic realism
in Mexico, but both aren't unreadable, I wasn't ashamed of reading them.
Both had artistic gay men as their desirable narrator. Hers was more psychological,
his was what she said it was, "Elio and Oliver might give each other
up, but the book that conjures them doesn't give up either one. In fact,
it brings them back together, reunites them, for a glorious endless summer."
They both have good titles, which are alike: The sky above and
Call me by your name. Aren't they stylistically alike, I think alike
enough almost to have been written by the same person. He's 1951, she 1961.
Both mention Ovid, hers begins with a child hearing The metamorphoses
and his has a lover who is a philosophy professor writing on Heraclitus,
as well as being Mediterranean in its lights and sounds, and having a homoeroticism
between man and youth based on true regard. Both have a little girl who
is wise and dies. She writes about a collagist box-maker and her
book is a collection of the things he is said to collect. He writes about
a writer and a musician working next to each other through the mornings,
and is there more music in his book? Yes bodies are more in motion, bicycling,
swimming, throwing themselves on beds. Elio's in love physically, as a body
with a body in the body of the world. D'Erasmo's young man is never in love
except with a remembered house and then later a house meant to recreate
it. He loves quite universally but he doesn't fall into exultant miserable
desire. He has women friends. I think the scene I like best is the one where
he has a bath with his woman friend upstairs in her cold little house. What
scene do I like best in Aciman - there wasn't a scene, though I saw it all
clearly. There it's more the two men's bodies, young bodies, anywhere.
Both have strong place. In her I don't like the magic spangles but I
do like the portrait of the person who does, I guess. What don't I like
about him, as it got going it was accurate but the first couple of pages
felt like a pulp romance. I liked the Italian in his, plum cake, enriched
batter. - But compare his family by the seaside with To the lighthouse
and it's a Ralph Lauren ad - Woolf was aching with deep mortality, her mother's
consciousness at the center of it like a well. Her death and the house's.
- Happy to be into designing Mind and land. Sketched cover, TOC,
- It's half past midnight and I'm just going to bed because this week
my days don't run out - I sit down to work when I wake, light the big monitor
- today reviewed text formatting and then cleaned up jpgs - bike in the
hour before dark and then Starbucks with the paper - then work more - then
news on CBC and weather on local - then Cranford on PBS - v hot
shower, yoga, hot water bottle in the foot of the bed. - What is it about
this work that makes me able to go all day.
My room these days. The venetians are down at night, the white candle
lit. There's black glass at the west window. Lamps in three corners, the
monitor alight on the glass surface of the black desk, silver machines,
thick dark green blanket and dark red cushion on the couch. Two 3' stalks
of yellow orchids rising from my glossy dark London pot. All against white
walls. InDesign books and journals open, a look of sophisticated intimate
When I woke at night there was that hollow-hearted loneliness. I don't
find anything else to say about it.
He stretched himself cautiously along under
One by one they were all becoming shades.
His soul had approached that region where dwell
the vast hosts of the dead. He was conscious but could not apprehend their
wayward and flickering existence. His own identity was fading out ... The
time had come for him to set out on his own journey westward.
When I ached at night and thought I wouldn't sleep I put on the last
CD of the Joyce collection from the library. I drifted off somewhere in
the middle of it but woke again for the last few paragraphs of The dead.
This morning I'm wanting to give them to Tom, listen to them with him,
because he will never have had them if I don't.
Silver morning through the dewy windows.
The long orchid stalks are swaying in slight rising heat from the candle
stub, or just the currents in the room.
- There a pure white blimp floating across the pane, its scumble of dark
There one of my doves pale brown and grey and cream with black spots
on its back, a mourning dove whose wings whistle when it flies, lit on the
Lying in the dark stressed in thoughts about the life of art, its homelessness,
its anxiety, the cost of being what I had to be when I was trying for it,
the core value of what is sometimes found, which I feel is the only thing
I am worth, or anyone.
And then the number of projects I have afloat around the brutal simplicity
of the way I live, the way I can lose my sense of the whole when I'm grabbed
by a creating enthusiasm like last week's for the housetruck. I need that
energy and there's so much dogged finishing-up.
The number I'm pulling out of the air is $30,000. I've half designed
it already. It would be perfectly outfitted to my taste, well finished,
high end, sycamore cabinets with strong tiny latches, stainless steel window
frames, a $2000 stove, stainless steel custom railings, open space above
waist level, dense dedicated storage below, venetian blinds allowing slats
of light onto a green velvet sofa - or teal - black and white triangular
tiles at the water end, an 8' wide 3' deep black work table with a glass
surface, moonlight through clerestory windows, moderne fixtures, solar on
the roof, at least four deep cycle batteries, a diesel cab that finds it
a light haul uphill.
This semester inverval got happier and stronger as it went. I love to
feel my firm smooth waist. I love my look in UGGs and jeans and good shirts
and colored sweaters and earrings. I've had music in my head most days,
Ridente la calma the last two. I've learned InDesign, I've got Dames
rocket ready for the last effort. There has been weather. Doves have
stayed where they are pecking under the air conditioner pipe when I open
the door, small birds have splashed in seed on my roof yard.
- It's 6:30, planes are taking off toward the east, I have the Vivaldi
playlist on. There's one a minute. Richard has been inventing a pleasure
garden next door, passiflora has crawled all through the pepper tree and
is ornamenting it with red. The vine on my BC Ferries stair is blooming
thick, recovered after it looked to be dying back. The mesquite downstairs
is blooming after the rain. My yellow orchid is a lovely thing. I've given
myself orchids and candles for the dark of the year. When I get back there
will be the spring smell. Street pears are white in Balboa Park. Most afternoons
I've simply got on the bike and blasted through my circuit, not minded that
Was thinking of Jean, her way of being an old woman in her house. The
mirror hung behind a kitchen cupboard door where she wouldn't have to see
it unless she needed it. Her wet-combed cowlick, her worn good teaspoons,
her thick-painted sage-green living room floor, her measuring interest that
made strangers like her, her several colors of hyssop along the path, her
studies of grasses and reeds, her swims in the lake, yoga into her eighties,
her crushes on young men, her house dresses all made from the same pattern,
her gracious hosting. - That far away time in my house in Vancouver, when
she was alive and I had wonderful hair.
I say that in exile, looking out at palms in grey sky, the sycamore with
a few dead leaves, street swishing, the SLOW sign blinking on 4th, quiet
of Saturday early, Richard's what is it called, vane, mushroom shaped and
rusted, turning rapidly on his roof.
In the Laundromat the tall shy man I used to see in the Maryland. "How's
Tom?" "I don't know." "You guys break up?" "Yes."
Then the afternoon packing and going through tax receipts, tired today,
melancholy of leaving, then my mother phoning when I had receipts spread
over the floor, wants to tell me something even after I've said I'm going.
The phone rang, I hoped for something wonderful and it was an old being
with an insecure grasp of common facts. Did she mean daisies when she said
lilies of the valley?
Chicago airport - taxiing slowly through snow falling in the aqueous
golden light under vapor lamps, a lot of long dark bodies standing or gliding
ponderously as whales.
In the two hours to Burlington Norbert the Austrian from Montreal bringing
out gemstones to show me, a slightly porky man, I assumed gay, coming from
a gem fair in Tucson, wearing jade and sapphire on chains under his shirt,
carrying little things in a case in his backpack, quartz, amethyst, ruby.
I was enchanted as he by the star dioride, a smooth little oval, tea-colored,
very fine-grained, with a cross of white light hovering and sliding in or
on or above it, a magical thing, and the concave-cut topaz, colorless, cut
so it showed through to a nest of needle-narrow refractive rays.
The room was cooking today in a way it hasn't with this group. I'd done
the exercise that takes them to their home works space and then into some
adjacent place where something happens. The three women and Andy had lain
down on the floor for it and were still sprawled in that cosier way, and
that had helped but not enough. What lit the air was when Todd had been
talking about his vision and said the old woman stirring the fire was his
femininity. I said "What is masculinity?" and that took us into
animation about gender difference. I wdn't let them name character contrasts
as gender and suddenly saw I shd ask them what their own particular conflict
is - that that is the only way to name it right.
Todd's vision: a hobbit-sized door out of his living room into a dark
tunnel that when it grew lighter he could see was a large high room completely
lined with books. There were some old men, scholars who'd meet and talk
quietly about their work. He had his own workspace in this room. A grey-haired
woman was stirring and tending a large fire lighting the room. He saw the
paper before I mentioned it. It read, You know who you are. When he emerged
back into his own house he said, No I don't. He didn't want to leave that
The house of scholarship. Is the fire his relation with the mother. Not
his femininity but his relation with it.In the two sides vision one side,
the R, had said Light the fire, and the other side, L, had said tend it.
The fire is early love.
Saturday morning 6:30 in the alum suite, creakings upstairs, blue light
at the window, arrived at the end of the arc.
I wasn't expecting a Friday morning group but hadn't said there wouldn't
be one, so came to my office with journal, cards and cup of tea expecting
to sit by myself but ready in case. At the office door a saw a couple of
them already there, somehow dropped the box of cards, said Oh shit
aloud. Left the cards where they'd fallen to put down the tea. Todd went
out to gather them up. We squatted together in the doorway turning my dirty
cards together. - I'm writing this part because of a dim sense that in relation
to Todd significance extends further than usually.
So they he asked if I were intending to read the cards for them and I
said I could if they liked. We were sitting together on the carpet close
enough to see the images on the little cards. Afterward I took them through
the pack and showed them the philosophy of the cards as I understand them,
the balance figure above heads, the rainbow arc of hemisphere integration,
the hands in Temperance pouring from one to the other, the Work, coming
through, exclusion, delay/slow growth, shattering of the structure, the
sun of liberation, early love. It was for Todd, who was interested and nodding,
and who I'm feeling as wanting to read daily situations on the other side
as significant constellations.
Kat Harrison. I'd seen her in the cafeteria, tall thin-faced blond woman
with pale smooth long hair. A few days in she came over and said we'd had
a conversation last res about plants and would I like to talk again. Another
morning at breakfast she came to the coffee counter and said she was sitting
over there and would I like to join her. What came of that mostly was that
she said she was giving a presentation next afternoon. I came in for its
last half after Wild research and found her at the podium quietly
authoritative and moment by moment fresh in her language, a fresh real mind.
Her photos were beautiful, she spoke personally and professionally in the
mix I know, and I was pleased pretty much every minute.
We sat together at supper and talked about where she comes from - small
town on Catalina Island - and damaging our kids. Afterwards I googled her
and found her speaking on Youtube about the correct way to use salvia divinorum.
Found who her famous ex was, her kids' names. She came to Speaking bodies
III and I was nervous at first, surprised to be. Next morning at breakfast
sitting across from each other again talking about acid, which she says
she takes once a year and her son makes. I said, I want you for us and she
flushed enough so I noticed. I couldn't see any end to what I wanted to
ask her about.
C25 at O'Hare late yesterday, in the end seat of a long row, reading
Esquire. The woman who'd sat down next to me was reading a paperback
with Nadine Gordimer on the cover and a title in a language I didn't
know. I said, You're reading a good book. She said to me after a while,
Do you remember my name? I said ... long pause ... Usil, remembering it's
i pronounced u. A pretty woman, quirked corners of her mouth,
small bones, feminine, black eyes, dyed red-blond hair. Married, professor,
head of department, small summer house on the coast. I was outclassed, I
knew, though not necessarily of less value, pushing to hear the story.