5 March 2010
I lit out, I'm going to be in the desert when I turn 65.
Hacienda del Sol #15, shabbiest of motels, that I like very much. Last
space in the row, four big windows onto a bamboo fence and what kind of
tree is that, a messy one with a hummingbird. The Hacienda has a lot of
land, creosote bushes, a swimming pool somewhere in the wide middle of the
horseshoe. I'm on a ratty chaise longue with a gin and ginger, do I want
to go look at desert, not yet. I want to be in this little town with nothing
but odd people in its library and food market. I'm here, I'm somewhere,
I look nice in mirrors today, in my green plaid shirt and these earrings
so subtly tinted some color I haven't named, almost no color, a bit the
color of this gin and ginger.
Now it's silent. Traffic at the circle, which is near. A bird chip-chipping.
There are the mountains across the west.
The mountains, these most austere mountains, have a slightly scummy look.
It's their spring green.
Why does the air outside the motel smell of beets just pulled out of
Pulled off Di Giorgio Road and wandered into a citrus row and picked
up four scarred windfall oranges.
At Glorietta Canyon through the mid-day hoping for something. Carried
the camera after a while. Walked up the shallow arroyo I liked. Sat. Had
the camera on micro and was beginning to be another mind, that was seeing
abstraction - can I remember that better. The best moment a chuparosa stem
that hadn't bloomed yet, dark and with a nice reach sideways. If I moved
the frame a bit toward the left I had an edge of the granite behind it falling
back out of focus. By abstraction I mean the relation of the sprig's line,
the line of a crack in the rock, and the folding back of that side of the
frame. The camera was giving me something to see in any of the bits of space around
me, an intelligence.
So I was sitting against a boulder on sand, next to that chuparosa bush,
under an ocotillo in which the wind was scraping many serrated edges, calmer,
more pleased. I thought to take off my left earring and look at it because
I like its smoky no-color. Held it against the light. Had an image of opening
the sand next to the boulder and burying it, a gift. Didn't want to do it,
I like myself in those earrings and I like their subtle magic. But I was
remembering myself when I was willing to give something to the powers if
they ask, because I want to live in marvel's company. I was debating myself,
was that really a request. It was - taking off the earring was, the image
of my hand wiping the sand closed over it was. But I love these earrings,
etc. I had taken off the other one and had them in my hand. I decided. There
was a confirming sigh. I opened the sand and closed them in. It was a gift
to the spot and its moment. I'm sighing now. And maybe something else.
There's a smell of creosote. It's the land of Wranglers and white-haired
men in good hats. Plain women some of whom have curious eyes.
The mountains are inscrutable. I stare at them and find no way to grasp
them. They are unphotographable, indescribable. They're austere, they are
subtle, their form is definite and their texture in color is indefinitely
varied. Is there a reddish cast on the lower slopes, which is the chuparosa?
I'm sitting at the counter, on a pink leatherette stool. The vertical
blinds are pink. There is a young server, high school boy, Hispanic, with
narrow hips and very broad shoulders, the slim flat chest of teenage men,
a pointed brushcut and a thin line of beard down the outside of his jaw.
He moonwalked backward around a waitress he ran into at a tight corner.
Brown forearm coming out of a white sleeve.
Yesterday was a fine day. The mountains were beautifully breathing white.
I went back to the orange grove and stole a whole bag of windfalls, dark
orange and scarred and unrotted even when they'd fallen halfway into earth,
juicy and intense. I drove a bit, not long. Read a yellow hardback drug
investigator novel from 1967. Watched the Academy Awards that gave best
director to a woman for the first time, finished the novel in bed.
The sage green cap I bought on my birthday had a roadrunner embroidered
on it like a totem. I bought that one because it was the one I disliked
least and I thought running is a good request. This morning just outside
the window standing in the sun was a large strongly speckled point-headed
bird I don't think I've seen. It was just standing there. I knocked on the
glass. It looked around. After a while it ran across the track and hid behind
a stone, ducked its head.
What do I think of these photos - I'm thin-mouthed. The pleat between
my eyebrows is anxious, big nostrils. Strong jaw. Not padded. Silver over
an underlayer of black. Three-quarters is more flattering. When I'm looking
at the R side it's harsher, angrier. The hair is not bad. Small eyes. A
lot of creases but over a strong shape. Earned face. A lot of skin drooping
under the chin. I knew to look into the reflection of the lens. When I look
at my own eyes there's a gone look. 65-18 is the way I'll look when I'm 80,
crowning myself with the camera.
And then the Borrego photos. That bit of arroyo where the earrings are
buried. Soft focus. Trying to see what I like about it. It's messy and full and sand-colored
with bits of orange, blue and yellow. The softness is lovey. Soft spiny
cholla, soft spiny all over.
The Cherokee when I'd been loading it, doors open and their gloss reflecting
mesquite trees [actually palo verde], blue sky with clouds, Cherokee much
in its moment, much in its place, looking resplendent with delighted adventure.
Doors like wings spread.
The next door cabin of the Hacienda del Sol, 40s motor court cabin standing
flat and plain amid scruffy creosote and mesquite, mountains above.
Room 15, beige latex and curtainless windows, doors that fit perfectly,
scrub at the windows, a dove all day, wide Venetians, sweet air, kitchen
door that opens onto dark night, concrete terrace with three agaves and
a little cholla. I got happier and happier. Gruff Mike at the desk, his
lazy grandson-in-law sitting on a stump to talk, Mexican maids in a golfcart.
There's a clean pool, sand roads.
Soft March morning. Excited birds, a dove in the dish pecking assiduously,
their morning work.
Night before last I went to sleep early, 10. Phone woke me. It was Luke.
I lay warm in the dark with his intimate loved voice. It was 6:30 where
he was drinking coffee while Indra dressed for work. We talked for was it
an hour and a half. He'd thought to phone for my birthday but his little
voice had said not yet.
Talking to Louie about what it's like when she works with a room full
of students. It's like conducting, she said - unwritten stories of what
work is like that is fully connected with unconscious knowing. Moving swiftly
in ways that trust what is suggesting itself from the side. She moves to
correct a posture before she knows what is wrong with it. When she reads,
the constant watching for what is really happening behind what is given.
Her developed habitual intelligence, her habit of application.
"It's one of the clearest hands I've seen, especially in someone
your age." A small seedy man in a brown jacket and black képi,
sitting on a folding chair in the promenade, with another folding chair
beside him. Left hand missing his first two fingers, right hand with long
not-clean fingernails. What else he said. Two children, an early spouse
who was a disaster, only one spell of violence, "That was probably
the early spouse?" A couple of stable spouses since then.
"You'll slow down about 73." Lifeline traceable all the way
around to the back of the hand - he scratches a line with his thumbnail,
"Can you guess how old that is? Eighty is here." "A hundred?"
"Over a hundred."
"You haven't had a lot of stress." "There was supposed
to be something at 40 but it looks like you pushed it up to 50."
"Your work is social." "As opposed to what?" "Technical,
artistic or mixed." "You have an artistic talent but it hasn't
brought you any money." "You might be a genius but you aren't
at your capacity." "Where are you seeing this?" "This
is how you are and this split off is how you seem."
Sunday morning mid-March. Birds perched at a little distance from their
food cheeping loudly. Two doves waiting calmly on the far corner of the
roof. There's been California perfume at night. The palms are quiet in this
quiet light. Little birds running each other off, a fight that rises in
a squawking column. In my head Bartoli singing Domine Dei. Somewhere
four seconds of a car alarm. The golden angel on his golden ball lifting
his silent trumpet. There has never been a war in this city. Camphor tree
down by the gothic palace, matriarch, yellow-green.
Pepper trees under the bridge have pink strings of berries.
Sunday morning, watching Knopfler and Clapton jam on Sultan of Swing,
2006, it's an apex of male freedom.
NYT clipping: Fear Strikes Out
The day before Sunday's health care vote, President
Obama gave an unscripted talk to House Democrats. Near the end, he spoke
about why his party should pass reform: "Every once in a while a moment
comes where you have a chance to vindicate all those best hopes that you
had about yourself, about this country, where you have a chance to make
good on those promises that you made ... And this is the time to make true
on that promise. We are not bound to win, but we are bound to be true. We
are not bound to succeed, but we are bound to let whatever light we have
Page of writing from Zach, he's there, he got there -
It had the aura of distilled focus. In that
silence, in that blissful, focused attention, a certain kind of love emerges
... a sense of connection, accomplishment and growth.
Chris was bright. It is a perfect word for a
certain kind of intelligence, the kind that lightens one's countenance with
What is it I do well, with the brightest students I lock in with them,
the way I write them immediately feels for itself how bright they are. I
show them how bright they are in how bright I am with them.
Zach is writing about what I do and he does. That's another pleasure.
I like that he adores me as a teacher, because he knows how to judge. Zach
loves. He loves when he teaches. He can write love and that's what he's
What to wear in Toronto is my worry - I have working at home clothes
and professor clothes but not old distinguished artist clothes. If I were
Michael Snow I wd wear some kind of shirt and jeans and running shoes and
an old sheepskin jacket but tall old artists can look good in what short
old female artists do not look good in.
Big open Saturday. Lot of bird cheep - I'm on the roof with my little
jewel pet plants around me. What happened to this poor little transparent-flesh
cloven-bum one, it's been pecked.
Wonderful morning, voices laughing, calm palms, the camphor canopy a
glowing cloud. There's a dove modestly scrounging what the house finches
scatter. The finches are little robots scrapping for precedence at the bowl
but the doves have personhood, they are watchful not anxious, I like their
mild pink glow and their decoration of black spots and their ringed sideways
eyes. At this moment there's one working in the bowl with a male finch doing
what he can from the rim. The finches work in the morning, I rarely see
them in the afternoon. I also like the way doves' wings have voices, their
little flights squeak pleasingly.
There was drumming this morning, good drumming. It was Palm Sunday in
the cathedral across the street and when I crept onto the roof to look,
I could see down into a crowd in the forecourt. In the centre were two young
women shaking their breasts. Fertility dances for Easter, the Episcopalians!
who then processed up 6th for one block and back around, holding palm fronds.
At Sean's they were placing the fountain, which is subtly perfect, wet
dark with gold specks in the gritty clay. I dashed to Mission Hills [Nursery]
and found what I wanted and proposed to Sean he give me a free hand with
$150. He doubtfully did, and I got beautiful stuff which he loved - a single
white rose, a single yellow, an artichoke, a cistus ladanifer, a salvia
buchananii, a Cleveland sage, a lavender, a marjorum, and a little maiden
tree to put behind the group, a Mexican redbud - put in his foxgloves with
the rest and there it was, a finished little square, yellow, white, silver,
dark pink, light pink, dark green, light green, and water reflecting spilling
sheeting sounding, subtle and glittering in the midst. Oh a ravishing fountain.
On the couch mid-aft reading the Times magazine, the room shook
and I thought oh good. Then it kept shaking. The lamp was rattling on the
filing cabinet. Things all over the room were rattling. Surely it will stop
now. It didn't stop. I wanted to be outside, got onto the roof and sat down
in the chair and it was still shaking. The world was rubbery. By then I
could feel fear in my throat, which wasn't fear of the building falling,
because the shaking wasn't hard. It was fear that the world had changed,
that it wouldn't stop shaking and that that would end everything. Sirens
howling like dogs all around. A car alarm.
Later on the radio, calls saying that on I8 all the cars had stopped,
"the freeway was like a parking lot." A guest at a hotel described
water crashing over the sides of the pool, first one side, then the other.
Cleaning photo scans on the big monitor tonight listening to the Emperor
Concerto, chasing specks on photos of Opa and Oma in their late prime,
maybe early 60s?, and Ed and Mary in their early 30s, the couple photo in
front of their first house maybe 12 years into their marriage - or maybe
it was their 10th anniversary photo. I haven't been interested in the Emperor
since I was 18? But it was getting to me, the tender curving of the melody,
I was singing with it feeling how sexy death is - was thinking of Opa and
Oma looking at us when we were young and already knowing what we didn't
know, that we wouldn't always be beautiful and strong. And there was Ed
smiling with his mouth shut to hide his missing front teeth, smiling deliberately
because he has thought out how to look good in a photo. Mary beside him
wearing socks with high heels and her full skirted seersucker dress, deep
bosom and good shoulders, a young woman with four kids. She's standing next
to him but they aren't leaning into each other. He's standing as if he's
alone, presenting himself, just him. She is standing a little turned toward
him but the look on her face is disgust, disillusion. In Opa and Oma's photo
Opa is presenting himself stoutly, he doesn't think he's handsome but he
thinks he's a good man, and she is nestled into him although also looking
straight and proud. She has regard for him.
- Sexy, I mean the fact that we get old and die is thrilling.
Toronto at the window, cabbagetown, junky, brick-imitation siding, lurid
big daffodils in weedy little yards. It's early spring, bare and dirty.
The flight yesterday, hundreds of miles of deserts, the perfect drawings
they are, tints and scribbles, seeps, once a cloudy blooming-up of pale
grey into sand, shaped like the clouds of cream rising in tea. Once many
shades of flamingo in seeps and drifts.
Coming north into late afternoon the pilot edged around a gigantic anvil
tower, a solid boil of white and dark blue, ferocious. And then later in
calm twilight high above a vast curded cloud deck I was feeling - I mean
feeling - the universe is god and we're in god and cannot fall out of god,
and god is beautiful and immaculate and doesn't care about us, or does in
the sense that we are evolved lawfully, but doesn't care personally, or
might, in some way we haven't discovered. And now I'm thinking that the
books and objects in this house are about human making, expertise in history
of human making.
How bored I am when these young art student people speak, they talk about
their 'practice' and have that zombie trained sound - I like this Chilean
speaking almost English better, the halting people. Gianfranco Foschino
"visual simple video."
Here's old Mike Snow, what's he wearing - jeans but not sneakers, a red
cotton jacket not sheepskin.
I feel sorry for artists when I see them in a crowd. Their self consciousness.
Paul's dinner party and talking to him this morning - talking about our
ambition - I said I have immense cultural ambition and not much social ambition
- I want to be among the greats and I don't much care whether I'm seen to
be among the greats. He has had cultural ambition too, his books say.
In the wrap-up I walked bravely to the mic and said what I needed to
say, though no one would want to hear it and the conference closed over
it as though it had never been said. Young women stood at the mics and went
on confidently and vacuously. They wore black and looked nervy. I faded
away after a sentence, they were so abstract and correct. I didn't know
I would miss the patriarchs I used to resent. I missed them because they
were heavies, they had topics bigger than this grey fog of worry about money
A packed small room, woman called Alison next to me. Paul next to Cheryl
frowning dubiously, why are they making such a fuss about that, he was thinking.
Faces in the room, Mike and Tess directly in front of me, Mike's broad smart
face. Lauren in the front row, bright-face Chris at the back, Nicky, someone
prominent called Chris [Gehman] who said he's seen them before and they're
always fresh, Kate in the back standing on a chair, Dave and Franci, Pablo
looking a rumpled black bear.
At the party late night in a brick walled high ceilinged loft, young
persons in low chairs around a coffee table with empty wine glasses and
crumbs of cheese, Chris on the floor with his long light frame wrapped around
his woman. They were the hosts and the party was in its late night glide,
their work was done, some of the guests gone, a friendly core gathered sitting,
some of them from out of town - who were they, Daichi Saito from Montreal,
Kate Mackay my projectionist, the archivist Ross Lipman from LA, Nicky Hamlyn
from Brighton, Michael Zryd from York U, Kika Thorne, was Scott Berry still
there, a grey-haired man whose name I don't remember.
He dumped my bag onto the belt. It fell hard. I hoped the glass thing
I put into my shoe didn't break. I bought it at Miss Behavin' on Queen St,
where two nearly naked girls danced in the windows on Saturday afternoon,
their white ass cheeks a bit dimpled and pitiful in cold daylight gyrating
dutifully. Anyway: it is a glass dil, a slender transparent wand snubbed
at one end, with a round knob at the other for a handle.
We're over Constable clouds, bluegrey and white. Earlier it was squares
and rectangles gridded by white roads and each framing some variation of
dark forked marks on lighter and darker grounds. Subtle simple abstract
paintings, many and many.
David saying over my pho and his pork chop that he'd liked listening
to my talking between movies. What about it. The way for instance when someone
asked what camera I used I said Sally Potter's Beaulieu, she wasn't famous
yet, and told a story. I was benign, Paul said. True. I was friendly to
the audience, relaxed, simple. Yesterday talking to Paul I realized there
were no old guys in the audience, a lot of men but none as old as me. Cheryl
and I figured out part of the audience's warmth was about my age. The senior
men have thinned out and I am a community elder. The young ones are not
competing with me and they want my blessing, and so I have a place and can
Nicky Hamlyn. I'd seen him at the conference looking a gentle singular
creature. I liked him right away, he seemed a bit helpless on account of
realness. We sat next to each other at Terroni's talking about London and
he gave me a generous lucid description of Trapline, the best I've
heard. I like his slowness, his English voice.
Gianfranco's movie, the boiling and brimming, the constant coming-forward
of structure, the strong eruptions and surgings-across of rapt silver. Gianfranco
himself, his simple lovingness, what I could learn from him about moving
in art contexts, the ways he disarms by being sweet-hearted and self accepting.
When I woke in the dark this morning I was worried that I was too much
the teacher at the screening, not smart like Mike H, too friendly and simple.
But really the doctorate takes care of that, doesn't it -
His website opens on the chickens scratching in the yard, runs the whole
movie, full screen. Silent films, "Movies are about movement."
I want to know how to do that streaming video.
Thursday morning, second day of rain, hard showers blow through. I'm
lonely, melancholy. It's back to nothing happening, no one writing, hardly
anyone on my sites, the little breeze of notice has blown on. No touch anywhere
ever again, no evening cuddles, no sweet eyes. Trees later today for that
fuss-budget Sean. -
The gorgeous robinia idahoensis Purple Robe raising pink bouquets against
the blue, staked, with two bubblers, the little cypress standing sentry
by the gate, acacia aneura like a maiden willow in the corner, flame-shaped
silver, pink bougainvillea with dark green leaves squared onto dark green
lattice. We had an exciting morning. The truck from Evergreen. Art came
with Justino and a dolly to help the Evergreen men drag the 24" boxes
into the yard. Phoned Mario and his brother to come help plant them. True-hearted
Mario I love to get into a job with, he's so right-there thinking all the
time. The best moment when we were planting the bougainvillea and I threw
myself flat on the dirt to dig two legs of the trellise out of the rootball
so we could move them closer to the fence. He saw what I was doing and there
were our two pairs of hands scrabbling and thinking together in the hole.
At noon all our corner anchors placed and the garden begun in its new
nature, not the drear lumpen fortress it was.
Looking for books on the concept of matter the many photos of old male
scientists. I don't like their faces, those shut-tight old patriarchs. This
morning imagining there might be a time when scientists look different,
when the patriarchal era looks to anyone as it does to me, like visible
deformity of being.
In the Jung-Pauli book, exasperated at the elaborate mess that comes
of obfuscating body. Here what I mean is the way they talk about 'the unconscious'
as if it is nonphysical somehow, 'the psyche,' while at the same time they
are looking for a common ground of matter and psyche.
The common ground is matter but not matter as it was imagined by those
who had blanked it in themselves.
Rowen writes "Universities have such a wonderful feeling about them,
like some other strange faerie world."
Room 17 Hacienda del Sol. Packed the duffle, watered the kumquats and
the midfloor, mailed Rowen's money, got on I8, stopped at the KRC in Ramona,
ate walking around the jeep in Santa Ysabel, came on through the wide empty
miles and am here in my blue and white pyjamas. Gave away 5 hours, twilight,
moonrise, to Zach's draft. Drove north in moonlight on empty asphalt. The
mountains seemed remote and milky. Sat in a field, the rich man's park,
Goletta Meadows, on sand, buffeted gently by warm wind. Goodness still with
me. Two tiny rattling insects in the bushes. It's a goodness like after
Now that it's 6 I'm by the pool seeing yellow branches so feathery light
swaying in evening valley breeze. Birds all day long on these acres. I love
it here but am not here. Feeling how soon I'll have to leave. The desert
is there across the road from the motel. The mountains bare and subtle all
day long. The creosote blooming all over, yellow flowers and round fuzzy
pods. Ocotillo red on every tip. Little rabbits, very little.
Doves continuous, the whacky roadrunner on the pavement, mesquite in
new green waving.
Low-grade melancholy, kind of disgust with myself, that I'm a slowly
dying carcass, sore and dull and lonely with nothing to say. In a land of
mad veniality, human ruin.
This morning in Glorietta Canyon, where the wind blew hand throught the
ocotillo's teeth and bashed at me where I sat on a painted rock above my
little velvet cove. There was the spot where I buried my earrings - I knew
it for certain by the chuparosa's cracked stone - and there my earrings
were not. I felt the gift had been accepted. Drove very slowly back out
the long white road and stopped to see agave flower pads held up brilliant bristling yellow next
to blue and white. Ocotillos' red shreds everywhere amid yellowgreen and
against faraway tan, not photographable. Was that a young smoke tree so
This morning too I went back to the orange grove and got windfalls. It's
almost two months later and there weren't many left. I thought they'd be
the same - where did they go? There was the nervousness of stealing but
also something ritual, like taking for myself a potent local medicine that's
not for sale.
Finished one letter afterward and checked gap junctions and walked to
the corner of Cloudy Moon and Verbena via the back acre and am about
to put on pyjamas and lie here reading with twilight pale beyond the asphalt
and the flag's clip clinking on the post.
Was it 1997 on this day I packed the Fairmont and left Louise's cabin
in agony because it was Tom's birthday and I was not going to call him.
And then was here in the garden with roses reflected in the pool, quail
roosting in the grapefruit tree, open sky above the fairway and desert nights
on the bike, heart aching so much I couldn't write and nothing I could do
for it but go home. And now, and now it aches remembering that ache, but
it's not the same ache.
When I get here I want to console myself, I want to say love is mistaken
in almost everyone, and look what admirable settled people have, it's not
so much, and I have freedom instead, I have other things hardly anyone has.
Those things are all true and yet I'm crying. It's a platform of truth and
it's welcome and here I am with a white-wing dove on the snag. Its wings
squeak too. Hacienda del Sol, the yellowness everywhere. It's two hours
away, I can come back. Something about just looking over an open field,
light coming across an open field.
It's windy. I have a bed against a rock, the camp stove struggling at
a little distance, low sun in my eyes, some man putting up his tent down
the road. The brittlebush is vivid army green across the hills, all over.
Backlit tufts. The sand has many () tracks I suppose of deer? It will be
a long cold night with a strong moon rising maybe an hour after sundown.
Colder already. My hand's shadow is quite dark violet on the page. Is that
the sound of boiling - chicken rice with a tab-open tin of peas.
Hummingbird over my chest woke me.
The moon didn't rise until far into the night. My bed was in the shadow
of a big rock but I could see the hill lighter. The wind stopped, the Big
Dipper rotated on its nail, Cygnus flew slowly west, and the crooked long
belt that looked like a dragon was Draco. Early in the night I put out my
hand to touch the granite boulder and saw car tracks in deep sand, rock
molecules I thought.
There is the Salton Sea shining under the sun in the east. It's so silent
every bird has its own direction and flies make nearby fuzz.
Santa Ysabel. Coming through this country I was saying Fleurissante,
the Republican month.
Silvered green grass, pools of yellow flowers in declivities. Golden-eyed
blackbird in the sycamore puffing its little self up and letting out a hiss
like an airbrake releasing.
But it's Floreal 20 April - 20 May.
In front of me the Padmasambhava tankha with offerings of nasturtiums
and oranges, books, light and time.
Was going to sit by the waves and write a list of things I hated about
Tom. Then just sat and looked at the primal green and blue and silver and
white climbing and crashing and tumbling and slipping forward and glittering
in retreat. The air, the worshippers assembled.
I can still write the list though.
Saturday morning before the fan comes on, door open, fresh warm chill,
a little bird yelling with her feet in the food.
Sheer happiness of buying salvias and seeing them together in a box:
There's the sun setting north of the apartment block, I haven't seen
that this year, it's golden orange behind the eucalyptus in the cul de sac
on 3rd. Window wide open.
The sky inside a stone, a metaphysics of dust
A moment passing the University Ave exit when a car dived across my nose
into the off ramp and as I was moving left to avoid it - was it that? I'm
not sure - suddenly another car shooting forward about to intersect with
my driver side flank. As I was slipping just enough to the right I saw through
the open passenger side window the driver holding out his arm palm up, a
Obama's third woman nominated to the Supreme Court in the papers this
Weeding Scott's gravel garden this afternoon feeling what perfect happiness
There was a monarch at roof level, the palo verde was thick with flowers,
a pile of blue-flowered salvia cacalifolia at its feet.
Mario likes me too. As they were packing up after laying the sod he said
they were working at Balboa Avenue this morning and Art said would they
come work with me. He showed how he pulled back his fist, yes. He
likes my gardens is what it is. He knows I know what a good worker he is.
He focuses totally. His simple brother is his left hand. There's something
raw in his face, he's a bit gap-toothed and his eyes are shy, or hurt. I
know he's a rare spirit someway, an artist I guess, someone who cares. He
knows I can see him I think. He likes that an inch this way or that way
matters to me.
Reading the history of science I feel reverence, I marvel that this story
isn't marvelous to everyone. In all the mad random swirl of human conjecture
a wobbling line drawn, finally cumulative.
The way in my lifetime I've found people who've given me clues and methods,
I've assembled them, I have them by me. Almost none were given to me by
anyone I knew - that's astonishing isn't it, that in all my community no
one knew them. For instance Murchie, Field, Richardson, Henderson, Tarthang
Tulku, Hoban, Goldstein, Korzybski, Minnaert, Gendlin -
Caffé Calabria in North Park, a man in his fifties sitting looking
at a Mac monitor with a younger woman leaning on his shoulder, a beautiful
man, strong smart face, resolved, accomplished. I looked at him and said
in myself, I can't get the sort of man I belong with because of my leg.
I'm done settling. Those are the facts. Here I am. [sentence erased]
Something I notice often. I'll write something and then add a line, I
look at the added line later and erase it. What is it about the adding-on
thought that makes it false or feeble. This has been going on all the way
back in the journals. When I was young I left it. It's a finishing impulse
that finishes what doesn't need finishing. Is it a kind of social compliance
like my mother horribly explaining jokes? Mediating between minds.
Photo on Daily Stars of crescent moon with crescent Venus next to it.
This is the day I said I'd come and get the last of my stuff at Tom's.
May gray, clothes to the laundromat first. My agaves choked with weeds.
His house was clean but he doesn't weed. I brought coffee from Starbucks,
large regular for him. Couple of things I wanted to say. Two lies I'd told
and why. We said things we'd said many times, and then an hour later he
said, I can see that you would be better without me, art doesn't mix with
relationships. It was after I said we could be proud that we hadn't cheated
on each other in 14 years, and we hadn't been vicious, we could have a good
break-up. So that was the moment we let go. He said, But I feel sad, and
I felt sad too, and then we went on.
This month has had the scent of nasturtiums in the room, new bunches
often from the 4th Ave canyon.
Last night I felt something in my chest. It was an opening. Tom loved
me, it was saying. Tom loves me. I'm seeing that I assume people don't love
me. With Tom I didn't let myself feel he loved me. I gathered evidence that
he didn't. I could have gathered evidence that he did. He's a wayward careless
person who didn't love in the ways I wanted but his intention was to take
good care of me. That's been a gift. He held by me for fourteen years. He
kept coming back. He was willing to find my ferocity endearing.
He said yesterday that I'm afraid of him. I said yes because he's careless,
he doesn't take care of himself. He doesn't take care of himself because
he bounces back, he said. I meant it differently than he did, but for himself
it's true. He was sitting with me restored, strong again, with a truck and
money, and teeth. I saw his young husband face.
- I saw him, I hadn't seen him for a year and a half, more than that.
Why did I stop looking at you? Because I didn't have ways to process child's
aloneness it says.
My love self kept putting out little tests, I said, and they would always
get smacked down. He said he was afraid that if I opened up he'd betray
me and that would harm me.
So here's what it would have taken to kick out the slats. 1. I would
have had to be willing to believe he loved me. 2. He would have had to believe
he could be trusted. That's the essence. They're interlocked spoilers.
I was thinking last night of the two of us in the room in the Maryland
lying side by side with high fevers for three days.
I'm marveling at how my love for him could have gone so completely blank.
So strong a love.
Sent for Bach cello sonatas, Argerich and Maisky. Was trying to listen
to them in bed last night realizing I can't hear them. I can tell they're
well played, especially Argerich, but I can't hold any sense of what Bach
is doing. I see shreds of cello lines like bits of vine, and the many dots
of the very separate piano notes also sometimes shaping lines, or sometimes
clumps. In both there are those Baroque twizzles like tight kinks in a vine.
I try listening to either the piano or the cello separately but even then
I feel my complete lack of formation. I know there are people who can do
with this music what I can do with a drawing.
Nearly a month ago I put a couple of maybe 8 inch growing ends of nasturtium
vine into a glass of water with the flowers. When I was going to throw out
the flowers I saw that where the stems were under water they had put out
white thread roots. I changed the water and left them. They have been growing
ever since, on nothing but water. One of them is climbing the old curtain
cord. Another has run along the lamp cord and put out four long-stemmed
full-size flowers that had not even begun as buds. I've picked off a handful
of dead leaves, very few. The leaves are mostly coin size, but there are
still more buds. It's under the tankha.
- Remembering my first plant, a buckwheat vine I dug out of the yard
and planted in a syrup tin. I liked its little heart shaped leaves and fine
tendrils. Polygonum convolvulus, wild buckwheat, black bindweed. "The most abundant
weed in Alberta."
Windsor. Last night arriving for the slower northern twilight, lingering
mild pink in the dark, scent of hay, leaf shapes against the sky looking
like Alberta. Our airport pickup lost driving us in the wrong direction
into the country.
Detroit yesterday. Vacant lots everywhere, open space between good buildings
standing empty, marvelous.
What's different now - fringe film isn't fringe, it's an industry - universities,
festivals, galleries - is anyone brave? There are very high end video people
who wdn't even apply to these festivals - Viola and the guy I saw in London
- so accepting an atmosphere I feel I could finish We made this -
the technical ease makes a difference I haven't figured out yet.
[film notes for pages]
Beautiful nervous Bruce McClure, beautiful nervous sexy devoted Bruce
McClure, aggressive quivering driven rough-haired pock-marked sore-eyed
Sitting with Friedl by the river this morning. "You're doing what
you're doing from a position of privilege." I didn't soften it. I showed
her my little foot naked in its sandal and said You've earned this with
your work. We laughed.
A man in a red kilt, high buckled boots, a costume that suited him because
he was rangy and had a wonderful crag of a nose. He was delectable. After
our jurying, in the Fogg bar when Erwin was announcing the winners, he was
sitting on a barstool with his skirt spread. Erwin said Daichi was the $1000
winner and he nodded. Later when I was on my way home I came to pick up
my journal where he was standing by himself slightly dancing. He looked
at me and put his palms together into the acknowledgment gesture. I was
on my way out, had momentum. I said, You look great. He threw up his chin
in the and you gesture - I think that's what it was. Old country
gesture perfectly suited to his costume.
In the car taking us to the airport I got to sit next to Bruce, whose
aura was round and warm, delicious. I was liking him every moment. He talked
about The magic mountain, and reading Jung, and winning Met tickets
in radio contests, and liking hospitals, and having just 1 cigarette left
for after baggage check, and a boxcar ride from Eugene to Klamath Falls
with moonlight through the open door, and acid, and many other things. His
hands trembled continuously.
This morning breakfast with Simon Payne who was the human opposite, whose
mouth buttons itself up after every sentence - that English upper class
buttoning so painful to see.
David Geffen last night radiant in his overalls praising Daichi. Daichi
the fairy body he is, black hat, clear glasses, artist's innocence and love.
Erwin, Sanja and I all in the same joy when we said he was the grand prize
winner, clinking our wine glasses. We knew what it would mean to him. All
day for seven months on the optical printer. And I got Barbara an honorable
mention. Erwin said It is safe and I said It's safe but it's perfect. How
do I feel about our second and third - Mati for second and Manon de Boer
for 3rd. I let the pros have those two, I deferred to their knowledge of
the scene. Aliki for an honorable was for the encounter with that
Sanja's carefully spoken good sense and deep clean eyelids. Erwin's sturdy
Chris, Kate, Scott with Daichi around a bar table in the back. Jeremy
when he was introducing the jury saying Trapline is the greatest
Canadian film, correcting himself saying when Dave Rimmer's Canadian
Pacific isn't around it is. I don't know what it means that he would
say such a thing, it's bizarre. La région centrale! Surfacing
on the Thames!
Sum up: the community. It's still what was best in Ottawa and at the
Canada Council jury and at the 1989 congress, it's generous and interesting,
it's willing to like me. It has things to talk about. The women don't wear
makeup. There's candor and freedom. The men are pretty. There are bodies.
Flight yesterday, best moments crossing what turned out to be the chocolate
mountains. They looked like pencil drawings, pale grey, blue in the shadows,
sometimes touches of rust red. Sharp lines defining the many ridges.
California no longer green, is cougar-colored in its summer pelt.
In Friedl's talk she was saying we're ashamed of aging, and that she's
a photographer because it gives her a life with access. She can ask people
to make love in front of her. The moment of a woman lying on the table and
a man slipping a slender pale dil in and out of her.
It's evening in the garden. The cats were asleep but since I've been
outside the grey one came out and lay near me on the warm concrete. The
fountain is spilling beautifully, flickering glint on the side of the jar.
Robinia's crown still in sunlight and swaying. Waxing crescent almost overhead.
Three very long stemmed palms across the street, eighty feet? Such sensitive
things, their little sway in almost no breeze.
Looking at my forms in this space. There's the way I extend a strip of
grass to balance the strip of brick path. There's my triangle of small trees
- cypress, redbud and acacia. There are the three fruit trees in their espalier
bays in the fence. The robinia's a simple goddess.
Watching CBC National these evenings. Tonight footage from the Canadian
Truth and Reconciliation Commission. An old native woman crying as she speaks,
someone's hands on her shoulders from behind. Then the government official
standing next to her, a white man in his fifties, holding the mic, replying
to her, crying.
Reading Milo Wolff, a couple of things. One is that his book has a home-made
look that makes it dubious. For instance he boosts himself in a first chapter
and describes conventional particle physicists as money-grubbing hacks.
Those are the marks of a crank. But another is that I believe him, because
the conventional view has to be wrong.
Wondered whether I've ever said what my mother was, at her best. She
had an ethical intelligence, a dark firm clarity about how people should
be treated. - What do I just glimpse, a feel of her I used to have, of being
met with steadiness. It's unsayable. She was never spiteful, I don't think
she ever wished harm. Anyone trusted her. She wasn't charming, she wasn't
funny. She wasn't exactly warm, she didn't have gusts and lulls, the inside
of her head was like a dark room with an unmoving candle in the center of
I want to say it was a tragic life but it says not, it was the life she
was. Thinking of it as tragic is a generous impulse but it makes her larger
than she was.
I keep wanting to be able to tell her what I've made of what she gave
me. That will never stop, will never be possible.