volume 7 of in america: 2004-05 December-April  work & days: a lifetime journal project  

 

 

 

 

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Part 1 Christmas with Tom. Part 2 staying at Eliz's house in Point Loma in the rain. Part 3 winter residency, language and bodies lectures. Parts 4-6 a semester of teaching over the line into scared love with one student and breathtakingly risky brilliant work with another.

Notes: Kroeber on the Mohave, Kerouac On the road, Octavio Paz.

Mentioned: Jeanne Chambers, Tom Fendler, Jose-Luis, Scott M, Rowen, Michael Voskamp, Luke, Mary Epp, John Rowley, Ed Epp, Peter Konrad, Roy Chisholm, Louie E, Amanda St John, Jam Ismail, Louise G, Joyce Frazee, Margo MacLeod, Anne Bergeron, Anna Hawkins, Lise Weil, Susan M, Millie B, Karen Campbell, Juliana Borrero, Carolyn Hauck, Carol d'Agostino, Michael Duke, Leslie D, Favor Ellis, Don Carmichael, David Beach, Frank Doerksen, Martyn Estall.

2720 Fifth Avenue in Banker's Hill, 3743 Charles Street in Point Loma, the Sicilian Village Restaurant, the Maryland Hotel, Starbucks on Fifth, 4055 Stephens at Fort Stockton, Walter Anderson Nursery, Union Street, St Vincent de Paul Mission, San Marcos, Whole Foods in Hillcrest, Keg Restaurant in Vancouver, Torrey Pines State Beach, UCSD 7th floor stacks, State 163 and 805, Teak Emporium on Miramar Road, Fourth Avenue, Mr A's Restaurant, Wind and Sea, Balboa Park, Cabrillo Point, Valentine's Restaurant on Market, the Levis store at Horton Plaza, Chicago, Plainfield VT, Burlington Airport, C2 in O'Hare, Irving Gill's Christian Science church at Second and Laurel, Reiss Hotel 107, Soledad Road, La Costa, Crest Avenue, Japatul Road, Sunrise Highway, Santa Ysabel, Highland Valley Road, San Pasqual Valley, I15, the Santa Rosas, Anza, Extraordinary Desserts in Little Italy, Ladner, Kniffings Roses, State 94, Mitch's Seafood in Point Loma, KCR Rock, Episcopal Cathedral on Fifth, RCP Block and Brick in Lemon Grove, 5133 Dawne Street in Clairemont, North Park.

Garth Hudson of The Band, Sneaky Pete of the Flying Burrito Brothers, Susan Gritten and Lorna Anderson singing Handel's L'allegro, il penseroso, Annie Dunne, Rebecca West Cousin Rosamund, Nora Jones Come away with me, Under the Tuscan sun, Philip Dick, Ray, the Union Tribune and the NY Times, Wild gardens of California, Eva Cassidy, Rouge Forum, Hickory Wind, LA Times, CFMDC, Moving Images, La Glace MB Church, Ned Kelly, Annie Dunne, Coetzee's Age of iron, Richard Holme's Coleridge: early visions, Richard Adams Richards' Nights below Station Street, San Diego Reader, Queen's University Library, Joaquin Fuster, Dorothy Richardson, Susan Sontag, Eric Clapton, Essence magazine, Le Guin's Farthest Shore books, Kirpalu Yoga Center, Harvard Square, Eugene Gendlin, Always coming home, Clarissa Pinkola Estes, Carol Gilligan The birth of pleasure, The green mile, Hunter Thompson, Frontline, Lua Descolorida, Upshaw singing Messaeian, Arctic Wilderness Refuge, KCRW, Octavio Paz, Patricia Churchland Neurophilosophy, Gleick Chaos, Evelyn Fox Keller A feeling for the organism, Talmy "How language structures space" and "Fictive motion in language and 'ception," Rizzolatti "The space around us."

8th December 2004, San Diego

Michael went off and studied the bamboos. After a while when our paths crossed I showed him the cassia artemesioides and he showed me the mosquito fish and snails in the water tanks. I am never quite ready for the pleasure of being shown things that interest me. I'm not expecting it, I don't seize it.

17th

Lying in the dark before I decided to give up on sleeping I was remembering the Sunday morning visiting Ed and Mary when I was in my middle thirties. I was going to church with them and put on the green turquoise and gold blouse John Rowley gave me. It was more transparent than I knew, and I wasn't wearing a bra. When Ed saw me in it he grimaced and covered his eyes but he did not refuse to take me and I sat singing hymns in the La Glace MB church with my breasts displayed. I won, I say, and take a breath. I took something back from him and them.

Then I remembered Ed crying when he was in the hospital dying, and Grandpa Konrad at the breakfast table. Opa cried because he couldn't control me. I don't know why Ed cried. Maybe it was the same. Because they could not control me I can do what I can do.

19

I stop listening when it's the men singing, but now Lorna Anderson begins and I am caught. She is lying back on her breath, her breath is floating out weightless and precise.

Then looking at the lyrics in the square little CD booklet I discover the passage was in fact about breathing music and airy stream.

An air they call the lyric sections that aren't recitative or chorus.

As for Mr Milton, this was the best they could do before the Romantics? They had to feel nature through imagined pagan antiquity, ie set about with broken statues.

Yesterday we went to the beach. A Santa Ana with big waves. We parked at Torrey Pines State Beach and took the orange blanket up the coast to a spot with a hunk of telephone pole for a backrest, and sat together facing the waves all through the afternoon until the sun set at 5:30.

Here's the lovely melody just near the end, the duet, Susan Gritton and the tenor -

As steals the morn upon the night
And melts the shades away
And me-e-e / e-e-e-e-e-e / e-e-e-elts the shades away

It's perfect choral writing, bassoon and oboe, soprano and tenor, nimbly overlaid. As if they couldn't feel nature in their language but could do so superbly in the structure of the music - I guess it's that. Uses of the segregated brain.

We were facing the waves head-on, and they were breaking close to shore, so that we would see them rising till their edge was just in line with the horizon, a long line up and down the coast. Then they would fall forward and in one motion their white rubble would rise as high as they had been. Later in the afternoon, if we looked southwest toward the sun, we would see the wave turquoise as glass as it was stretched thin, and then the wide arc of white spray drawing a half-circle flung over its flattening back.

It was a classic day at the winter beach.

I sat in my orange singlet with bare feet, sunglasses, white hat. The hair on Tom's arms was glinting silver and copper. It was nine years later.

We were comfortable together. He was fretting about sex and I was lightly holding my line. Then he entertained me riffing on everyone who passed. Can I reconstruct any of that? Probably not. It's his gift. Characters passed and we saw them.

23rd

It's Thursday morning in sun, on the street. Michael is next to me in a very pale blue shirt reading the front section of the Union. He's refusing to talk.

Fat little sheriff getting into his cruiser with a tall iced tea. Wire-sided elevator sliding up and down a track on the outside of the new condos. Horizontal arm of the crane yellow against the deep deep very subtly fibrous blue sky. The little jacarandas stirring their crocheted plumes. The arm of the crane rotates 40 degrees. It's half a block long. A black and white seagull was rowing a straight line that intersected it. A sheer sheeny black tarp screening two floors at the corner of that building is breathing and rippling like wrinkled silk.

Michael looked up when that man, picking a table, said the word 'smoke.' He was assessing for cigarette-bumming purposes.

29th

There was a moment last night - Tom was here having supper, messing with the internet, watching TV - I was next to him on the couch, listening to him eat like a piggy, disgusted, alienated - when he turned his eye on me, unexpectedly bright, and said You have a look on your face that is sad, pissed, bored, what's going on?

Then we had a little rumble about whether to watch TV New Years Eve. He said I'm demanding. I said, Tom, you should get this straight, I am not demanding, I am what I am and you take it as demanding. And so on. I was satisfied with my statement. Pinned, I said (meaning he was).

The moment I'm referring to, a bit later, was like a little gap in the present showing through to a Christmas holiday moment on his bed some evening in the Maryland. A lit moment is my feeling of it, lit into wholeness of being together. The real thing. I'm willing to know it was illusion, was it illusion? Because if it is not illusion it is the thing to hold on to.

Then at the end of the evening as he was going to go out the door into the rain I was saying he always leaves people setting a hook. I watch him doing it with me and with everyone, he says something meant to keep them attached to him. He said no he says something to leave them feeling good. Maybe also that, I said. It was dawning on me that I might have got it wrong. Pinned, he said.

It rained hard during the night. The sky has cleared this morning.

Do I have anything to say about Cousin Rosamund third reading? Fairytale. Pleasure as she always is. Oliver defines moral intelligence as knowing how to keep people from harm. There's quite a lot of considering how to do that in her books, but Rebecca herself seems often to have found it necessary to do harm. There's also the way she makes supernatural heroes of Richard and Rosamund, who foresee that there'll be need of a grand sacrifice further down the way. She was working something out, but what?

She wanted her beloveds to be pure and she wanted them not to be really dead. I'd like her to have written the way DR wrote, telling her own real story with that tenacity of pleasure and desire and moral analysis. She wanted to be rich, she was such a gourmand that she wanted everything good. DR wanted something else. DR was defending something, what she said she was defending, the value of being at all. Rebecca is more fashionable but she was also more old-fashioned: she was Victorian in wanting a moral framework, wanting 'life' to mean something. Dorothy said the modern thing, that consciousness is what means something. But Rebecca was more inclusive, she wanted the countryside in her work, the way she anchors this book to the seasons on the river, and, in the city, to the pleasures of Rose's household. Whenever I fly to Chicago and see the towers on the lakeshore I think of her Christmas in the hotel, snow flurries against the window above the river of headlights flowing both ways. She's like Louie in wanting always to go on loving her mama and papa. HG Wells didn't capture Dorothy but he captured her.

Here's my task for today: what to say about Amanda.

I'm at Starbucks having to keep moving my table to keep sun on my legs. Susan Sontag died yesterday at 71. 1933-2004

Amanda gives, and wants to give, something real. I like to throw out student work but I don't like to throw out all of hers. She gives something I need and she finds it in agony. That's the real moral work. She lets herself know how crappy people are and she wants to save something from the ruin of meaning that is American culture. She's responsible. That's the fact. She's also inexperienced in looking after herself. Wanting to make sure she knows the worst she sometimes accuses herself too much. She risks herself. We need to keep her alive long enough for her to find a balance that doesn't sell out.

1st January 2005

Should I keep my reserve but go on keeping company because it's better than nothing, should I go cold turkey because it's the only way anything new can happen, should I commit myself to the truth of the best moments and fight to have an open-hearted life with him, should I keep waiting as is, in grey night of soullessness.

It seemed to say yes to the latter.

The tips of the Monterray cyprus are quite pointed up there, hunting.

Boston ivy's quirky threads on the open gate. Shadows of, I should say.

-

Then it happens that we have a conversation.

I start by saying I'm going to tell him what happens to women when they're with him. This only applies to women who are in love with him, I say. The first thing is, there is nothing they want more than to stay in love with him. But there are some number of things that happen. The first is rage. They get hit by massive unjust anger. If they are not in love with him they can handle it but if they're in love with him they're open and they get blasted. If they don't want to get blasted they have to shut down.

Second is promises. He makes a lot of promises, promises on all sorts of scales. His record of keeping his promises is about 12%. That may be too high. His guy friends can say, that's just Fendler, but a woman who is in love with him will want to believe him. If she starts to say, that's just Tom, she is shutting down.

Third, sex. If a woman isn't in love she can have good sex, but if she is in love she won't be able to have sex unless she's feeling connected. She won't be able to have cold sex. He has been very unskilled about sex, he has had a lot of drunk sex, a lot of sex with strangers. A lot of sex he was paying for. He knows very little about sex. That means a woman has to shut down sexually when she's with him.

Fourth is lies. This one is related to promises. There are two possibilities with lies. There are the ones she knows about and the ones she doesn't. The ones she knows about make her feel like a fool and the ones she doesn't know about make the relation go dead. She's just bewildered, she doesn't know why the relation has gone dead.

There's another one, what is it - money. If he doesn't take care of business there's too much insecurity. People shut down when they are insecure.

That's a summary, I said all of it with more explanation. I noticed I was speaking in a strong voice, articulate.

He was defensive etc and I was insisting that none of it is about judgment. I'm telling him what happens to a woman who's in love with him, he forces her to shut down. It's information. I said, does he do that on purpose or in ignorance? He said he only does what he has to. To remain himself. I said I know that's how it seems to him but he's blind to the effect it's having on women he's with. He needs women and thrives with women but doesn't have a sense of skill in making them able to keep an open heart with him. He doesn't have a sense of skill because he doesn't look to the effects of what he does. He closes his eyes. He's so afraid he will have to give up being himself.

He went back to various protests I don't remember and then said I talk about him as if he's deeply flawed but he's not. I laugh quite a lot. I say firmly he's very deeply flawed. In what way, he asks. Sure you want to know? I say. Alright, you're deeply flawed in relation to love. That's the one I was just talking about, and even more deeply flawed in relation to work. His flaw is that he didn't commit himself to his talent. At some point, I don't know where, he let go of it. The result is that he doesn't have a life. He doesn't have a body of work he can look at. His self-esteem is always very fragile for that reason. He has to care too much how people see him because he hasn't had a life with his talent.

I deliver this with such confidence and clarity that it seems the final word. I am saying it without a sense that it will make a difference either to him or to me. It's the truth, is all.

In fact I'm not sure he isn't right when he says he's been what he wants to be and there's nothing wrong with him. But if I say that it's as if my depth shuts its door, and my time with Tom turns into nothing. If I accept the authority of that knowledge my life, not only with Tom, but altogether, wakes up saying, let's go, now we're moving ahead again, now it makes sense, the whole story does. As if it's far beyond sentiment of love, I'm a spirit who has accepted to go into abeyance when Tom isn't moving ahead, a sort of vow that has led to long sacrifice. Is that true? It says yes. Am I willing? I'm not alive when I'm not doing it. Is that how it's been for Louie with me? No she wanted something for herself it says. And I'm selfless in this? Yes. And that's what you want me to be? Yes. Sacrificial. Yes. Will I die of sacrificing for Tom? No. It's grown up. Yes. That's why you don't want me to have sex. Yes.

After a while I took it further. I said, I think maybe all the things you do to a woman that make her shut down and stop loving you are the same things that you do to your talent.

3rd

I'm just supposed to work with him on writing. He could have had a life with his talent. He chose against the possibilities that opened up for us. He didn't see them the way I did. So it's a tragic love story. He didn't fall in love with me the way I did with him. It's as if this tragic story is the basement of my time here, and I've been living without depth because I haven't kept it open under me. It's his trajectory.

I'm feeling this as a dimension in any life. It's the dimension of soul because it's where whole life choices are made. It's choice of what kind of being to be. It's not made before birth or in another life, it is made in this life, unconsciously.

Saturday 8th

The fire-leaves at the windows. Complex perfume of night air. Stone walls. Good lattice. Maple floors. Worn rugs. Tiles. Built-in cupboards and drawers. Reading room. 100-year-old trees. Wet oak bark. Corridor lined with windows onto the garden. An exquisite, intelligent house. The firebox is deep. Somehow the temperature stays even, unlike my little box on the roof, which gets violently cold. The brushy shrubs are so well established they never need any sort of care. In the shade garden the ferns and acanthus stand against darkness in their gleaming and glowing shapes. Eliz's intelligence everywhere, a perfect understanding of the house.

Is there anything to say about being in it. There can be open senses here, a background love. It's that. It's a house that is as if a loving person. Grounded love of stone, plants and wood, which is also love of air and light. The garden in rain darkness is walls of texture, a fairyland of subtlety. The house is civilized in the right way, it looks at its mother in gratitude. It's not humble but it's quiet. It's also as if an old person's house. Eliz has been living here with the liking she has for a cultivated old aunt, but she has many more houses in her.

-

Tom hasn't come and I tried what it would be like to feel what I was feeling as if it was my mother. Mama wo bist du. Sore heart. Fear. Unbearable waiting. Pricking my ear if there is a sound. Looking toward the road. Restlessness.

Is there anything to be said about the way belonging was in one language and not belonging was in another, and that's the language I still speak and write? Did I feel something like that when I read that English used to be German, ie it was Old German before it was Old English. As if I migrated swiftly through time between not quite three and three? - Here I realize that it's January. Should I say the birthday of this self.

There is so much I can't tell you.
You were life and death to my well-being and you are nowhere, you are still nowhere.
 
There I think of Joyce, the way she watched and knew. The way she sat alert, not afraid of me and not afraid for me - skilful - feeling my life a venture, like hers.
She died in January and so did Frank.
Why do I want to say death harvested her significance. Mary will die and I'll feel she died so long ago. And even that is wrong. it's as if I don't feel she ever lived.

[the college] 16th

This morning with Margo talking about how to talk about what a concentration requires and claims. I say embodiment studies is about developing a framework. Margo says what is a framework? I say it's a body, it's the way a body is organized. She says we have to do it better. I say we have to distinguish between doing what we do well, and interface difficulties. She says how do we encapsulate it. I say, see, there's an example of a metaphor that doesn't work. She says, I appreciate your sensitivity about language, but ...

What it is I like and dislike is always immediately a body.
How I know what I know is often attention to body feeling.
I believe in examples because bodies are altered by dealing with examples and specifics.
Margo is doing progressive ed without having a framework, and she has no clue what I'm talking about, and neither does anyone else.
Everyone else means something different.

Rebecca saying heart integrates the rest of the body.

17

I said knowing, being and doing are integrated in a structured body.

23

Susan Mol. I like to look at her. She has dark brown eyes, very strong. Pale fine-skinned face, hawk nose, muscled broad lower lip. Stringy grey hair - silver. Ascetic looking Margo said, but she's not exactly that. Thin. Narrow shoulders, thin long hands. She's patrician rather than ascetic. Angevin queen. Light and responsible with students.

Yes she's agile, swift.
She startled me three times today.
You defined it out from under him, she said - consciousness and Francis.
She said my colleagues are intimidated by me. I said I'd rather think that than that they hate me. She said, But you don't care all that much if they do hate you, and laughed.
Talking about a time when she was grieving she said, Sun and moon came and went, I got that.
She drives a Jeep Liberty, dark blue.
Ah her beautiful son who calls her ma and looks at her the way a right soul looks.
 
The way the love for a woman get displaced to a man and is stepped down, is that the crisis      
If it isn't stepped down one knows it's inappropriate      
And then the task is making it appropriate without stepping it down      
And it has to be done by enduring its inappropriateness      
28th

We were cuddled on the bed in the dark. We'd been on the couch under a pink mohair blanket and then when it had got dark and she'd sobbed in my arms we day down with her one pillow. Oh a blazing soul, and mixed in, the unbearable, claustrophobic texture of lesbian communities - the sound of that culture.

What I could do for her was touch her. I stroked her hair back off her forehead, I held the back of her skull at the nape in my palm. I kept my hand on her arm. I held my palm flat against the base of her spine. I told her how beautiful she is. I felt the small ridge at the top of her nose where it was broken. (She was lying on the table, she heard the doctor go out into the corridor and say to the nurse You might want to come in here. I have to set this girl's nose and I think she's going to pass out.)

What she could do for me was hear my stories. She'd croon and pat when I came to the hard parts but that wasn't important. What was important was that she knew the significance of each of them instantly.

I said, If I were your lover I would never in this world require you to be faithful.

I told her the story of Tom careful not to betray it.

I said I've often wished to be able to hand on the task, but I'm not sure it isn't going on. I said I haven't found my work, I feel I have to stay in suspension.

She's very fiery but she's weaker than I am, she needs to fit into a community.

Male culture - all of it is poisoned. Yes, I said.

I was far past my limit, almost speechless. My solar was a tight mass black and quivering. I said, I need to go home. There were cold stars, very large. She had taken out her contacts and was trying to find her glasses in a bag in the jeep without being able to see. The jeep was freezing cold.

Karen was on the porch of Dewey smoking a cigarette when we got to the dorm.

I was so glad to be alone. When I opened my Mac there was a letter from Tom, a nice one.

-

Above clouds ten minutes west of O'Hare.

After she cried she said And now I'm going to take you to sleep in the cold dorm? Yup, I said. She was walking past me, light body in the dark, and she said bitterly And why does that make you happy? I liked that she could be bitter. And after that we had more hours.

There was a story I needed to tell her. And was the story she needed to tell me the story of valiant isolated intelligence? She said, in advising group, people have always found her too large and the divine source never does.

30

In Burlington airport I sat and wrote about her, and in the plane, and at C2 in O'Hare, and everywhere people were looking at me. I was handsome and alight.

Alright, how was that residency.

In one of the interim days Margo came into my room with a folder and said what did I think about working with this one. Moul. Mole, mouth, a mouthy name. Moule shortened.

When I go toward you
It is with my whole life

She set that at the top. And then a mix of careful balance and religious credulity. I want her, I said. Margo was hesitating about Francis. I'm better than Francis at consciousness studies, I said recklessly. Next day at new student assignments Margo handed me her folder. I gave it a kiss. Not much later at the new student introductions I was spying from the other room looking for someone who could have written that application and there was a white-haired person with strong brown eyes, very lively. If that's her she's better than I hoped.

When the meeting broke she was standing in the corner talking to Juliana (she said, I didn't remember that). I had a look. She's scrappy. Scrawny, a Tom Sawyer woman, loose-jointed, old jeans too big for her and ripped across the knee. Taller than I am but a bit of a thing.

I go stand in front of her and say, Are you Susan? She takes a rapid step toward me. Does this mean we're going to be ------? I wish I remembered the words, it was like 'important to each other'. I thought she'd guessed I was her advisor and laughed with pleasure at her quickness.

I'm enthralled with her face. I watch it every moment I can. She's startlingly there. Her eyelids are deep and clean. She has a narrow beak of a nose, the finest grain of flushed white skin, so human a mouth, broad lower lip, and what else about it, a lot of decision in it, a kind of European cut, maturity, swelling controlled.

What holds me in her face is her moral perfection. That.

-

When I woke in the dark here in my own house and tried touching myself and thinking of her I realized the obvious thing, why didn't I realize it sooner, witless, that I didn't want to sleep with her because I'd want to be a man fucking her, I'd feel helpless and foolish poking at her like a lesbian.

1st February

The two of us lounging in our low leather armchairs drawn up to the radiator and our crossed legs propped high on the wall, with cold blue sky in the window above us, or lit sideways in orange lamplight in the empty office after dinner.

Seeing her is seeing women released, it's seeing what can only have been accomplished by the most fervent fighting love. It's seeing myself, not exactly, but more than usual. And makes me notice how lonely I am looking and looking at the ones who haven't fought.

I want nothing to do with her apparatus - family, friends, circumstantial history, lesbian romance. I want to be in love with her in work. I want to pour out what I've found, and I want to hear her story told as close as can be to her self. I want to work with her for the culture of female shining.

She said I'm a selfish woman and this is what it means.

-

This morning I wrote out the history of my interest in state change. It begins with that but works into a moral program with the book; lately I have been more interested in restructuring by ethical means, is what I saw. Now it isn't state change, which is change of consciousness, but structural change.

9

The difference it makes to me to have generous love, someone wanting what I have to say, someone wanting me to know her, loving the exchange itself. Will I hedge that? Yes. It's too soon to know how much of that is actually, can actually be, for me.

10

When I notice what I'm doing it's as if I feel a thinness of self - did Joyce used to feel this when she did what her other told her to do and it worked? A faint incredulity, not strong.

I am feeling that for my young women one of the most important things is teaching them that they don't have to fear pain, they can always venture into it because it won't overcome them.

I want to teach them emotional courage first, so they can look straight at anything - emotional facts, early love, defense, dissociation, how to work directly with the body to restructure, leaving the thoughts to alter as they will - fearless disrespect of male blindness, strong experience of physical world, of attention to physical world - strong experience of feeling through to the significance of mythic elements.

28

Drove with Tom yesterday to the Santa Rosas. What did I like best. The passage after Anza where there were wildflower patches in rocky highlands - blue, orange, yellow. The mountain views were stunning above Palm Desert, and I liked the agave garden in a cleft off the road, but those patches and drifts of blue and orange that I saw so briefly as we whisked through, those were the value of the day. A blotch of orange on a distant slope, a running swale of blue alongside the asphalt. Those small wild California poppies, lupins. And I love the mustard, which floats, floating particles of yellow, waist height, and everywhere silky bearded grass.

March 2nd

Is there anything to say about Millie?
She's very frangible, is that the word? She can crumble from one moment to the next.
She's had crashes that are very intense.
I've been saying 1) feel it in your body, 2) paint it, and she's been coming through to both fierce and transcendently symbolic pictures.
Then she has a day or two of intellectual excitement.
Then a painting or something else puts her over the edge and we go through it again.
 
What I assume is that the crashes are reconnects, she's allowing childhood somatics that her talk therapy didn't get to.
I'm also assuming that it will go on for a while and that she'll quickly notice that her health is better.

14

I said proofread and Tom couldn't help editing. Most of his marks were over-correct and some were ignorant. I decided to be tolerant. I also decided to tell him my principles in for instance punctuation. We got through that conversation with no harm to either and both were proud of how improved we are. He's willing to read my journals - he's on volume 2 now - and that was unthinkable ten years ago. I am not panicking that he's ignorant and unworthy - he's worthy in the ways that he is. That sigh surprised me; it agrees. He's company I can stand and a quarter of a kiss hasn't lost interest despite ten years and much else. He said yesterday that after our hour on the ledge at Japatul he'd closed his eyes in bed and been able to see in detail. There'd been ten minutes when I wandered off, and he found himself seeing the way a branch moves. I couldn't see with him next to me, but I can remember to sit somewhere else.

25

We liked each other today. Mr Tom in his dirty work clothes and boots, sunburnt, tall, fit, scraped up, green-eyed, no fat on him, and that voice. He saw me drive up beaming with pleasure to see him and it gave him a flush of happiness from head to foot, he said. He watched me talking to Eliz and was proud of me and I was proud of him too cos he's 59 and physical. He's proud of himself for his supervising dash and wisdom and pleased to have been in the world, wind, sun, morning, night, heat, cold.

-

Lemon Grove to RCP Block and Brick. It turns out that's where Bud and Carol live. Tom is driving and goes by feel, small street with a lot of trees, which of these houses? Small ranches. Drive past them, drive back. Park in front of that one.

And then, and then. Dark small rooms full of stuff, an extremely fat man with a mouth like a line turned down at the corners. A wife who automatically stops talking when he starts. Why was I exhausted after - because there was no civil way to leave sooner and sparing people is exhausting. I was looking at Tom with pleasure though, sitting near him.

27

What happened yesterday was that at the end, when we were saying goodbye, I went to shake Bud's hand and he said, Give me a hug. I had that instant of hesitation, and then gave over and hugged him hard. And then went to Carol and was thinking if I've hugged him I'm going to hug her, and saw the second of hesitation in her eyes. What I see more clearly after I've slept is that he was establishing dominance and I gave it to him but then went and established it over her. I feel slightly sick at having given over to that gut bucket. It was automatic. I wasn't expecting it, I wasn't alert.

She said they'd looked at my web site and were intimidated. He jumped in at that moment and said something false to imply he wasn't intimidated, all he cares about is that Tom likes me. Meantime he talked for two hours straight and looked at me the whole time he was talking. My quandary is I don't want to wrestle someone like that for dominance, and certainly not in his own garden, and not in a way that humiliates him, but being dominated even in that shallow way is harmful to me. It harmed my energy. I have twice his brains and don't want him to have to feel it, or even to have Tom feel it, since he was Tom's intellectual friend, but that leaves me alone in the company, looking at bluejays and a lump of obsidian.

28

Millie. This morning it hit her worse than ever. She called it being mangled. Bones crushed. I suggested it might be birth memory. She said she just needed to be quiet. I said yes that's what newborns need. She wrote back much later and said she wasn't sure it was birth and sent an image that had a ragged womb shape with bits like sickle moons floating in it. I said had her mother attempted an abortion. She said she didn't know but the story in the notes about the man who lacerated himself because his mother had tried to abort him had struck her. She had actually lacerated her own cervix with a knife. Then she sent an astonishing image of what looks like womb as blast furnace.

Last week she had a feeling of shocks all over her body. I said, did you ever have shock therapy? She said, eight times, anesthetized.