community · intimacy · joy · love · relationships · respect · San Francisco · school

Going to the Chapel.

In an effort to hold myself accountable, I’ll here announce
that I have an art project to complete by this Saturday, for my friend’s
wedding. And… in an effort to be honest, I mean start and complete by Saturday. It’s all good – I’ve
already sketched it out, but theory and practice are disastrously different
This will be the first wedding I’ve ever attended. Somehow,
it’s just never happened that I’ve been around people who get married, or been
in the same state or country to attend. I did work with a catering company at a
few weddings last summer, but that’s not the same. Although, it did give me
some great perspective and insight into the whole rigamarole.
The first wedding I did was between two women, which was
pretty cool. But, I got to learn that you shouldn’t have speeches during
serving time at dinner, as people are really confused as to whether they should
eat or listen, and then the courses get backed up, and you’re removing plates
while people are speaking, which is hella awkward and earns more than a few pointed
I learned that if you’re having a sunset wedding in the
Sonoma hills that bugs will flock to and then drown in your water, champagne,
and wine glasses. I learned that before you blink, the whole thing is over.
This is not meant to be a diatribe on marriage or weddings, it’s just
observations – and a reminder to really be present for things like this – they
really are fleeting.
I decided that, personally, a set of anonymous towels was
not what I wanted to give this couple. I met the bride within the first year, I
think, of being in San Francisco. We met out front of a building where folks
like us gather for an hour, and I asked her for a light or a cigarette, or we
just both happened to be smoking out front, me feeling socially awkward as
We talked. And somehow, stars aligned, and we knew that we’d become really good friends. Nothing
momentous was said. No raw secrets were shared, or raucous joke exchanged. We
were just ourselves, nervous, anxious companions in the semi-dark on the
concrete steps to a massive warehouse-like building by the San Francisco Marina.
When I left, we exchanged a hug. We reflected later that
neither of us were a huggy bunch. We were, or at least I was, still much too guarded then, and hugging was restricted for the very few people I now was
beginning to consider friends. But, hug we did. And it was almost that
spontaneous act of mutual affection, an act neither of us typically allowed ourselves,
that sealed that something different was here. A friendship had been
formed in the 5 minutes it takes from lighting to filter.
More than 5 years ago now.
She’s part of the reason I went back to school. I watched
her quit her lucrative job as a store manager in a touristy spot in San
Francisco, and go back to school full time in an unusual major – or at least
completely unrelated to anything she’d been doing previously. I watched her
walk, even painfully, through the process, and in the middle of winter in 2010,
I sat on her couch – maybe it was our Christmas or New Years, or something
gathering. She cooked, we talked. I asked her why this major, how come, out of
everything in the world, she chose this?
She told me that it was a thread throughout her life. All
through her life, she noticed that she’d gravitated toward information around
this subject, she sort of watched herself nurture and feed this interest. That
phrase, a thread through my life, stuck
with me.
It was hard to imagine that someone with a lucrative and
stable job (with all the attendant mishigas of a lucrative and stable job)
would quit all that to go to school, and start nearly at the beginning of a
career. But she did. I admired her dearly for it.
And so, when, two months later, I found myself at a
crossroads in my own job world, I asked myself, What is my thread? It was
writing. I have poems that date to 2nd grade. It
was her conviction that she was insisting something to herself almost
unconsciously through her choices of hobby and interest and book perusal that
underlined that this was her arena. And so, I followed my own thread.
Because of the nature of life and distance, and full-time
schooling for us both, we don’t get to see one another often at all. It is her
I blame, full disclosure, for having hooked me on the horrifyingly ridiculous
and addictive Twilight book series –
that very night, actually back in 2010. Walking out toward the end of the
night, I glanced at her bookshelf – and there it is, the entire series. I
guffawed. I was stunned – attractive, intelligent, funny, generous, achingly cool, and
reads Twilight??
This couldn’t be right.
She asked me if I’d read it – I looked at her as if she’d
asked me if I enjoyed stepping in dog shit. No, I had not read them. Scoff,
scoff. (!) Then she gave me the first volume, and told me to try it.
And so I did. And damn her, if she hasn’t turned me into one
whom others scoff at. And I thank her for it. Cheesey, and melodramatic, and
angsty, she helped me to learn to not take myself too seriously, and to let
myself have uninhibited, puffy fun.
I am honored to be attending her wedding this weekend. I
have watched her and shared with her over the course of years, and the deep
affection that was tapped on that lonely concrete outcropping has murmured like
a brook under the surface of my life every day since. 
community · courage · discovery · faith · fate · poetry · receiving · school

Rituals, Rites of Passage, and the Spindly Lines of Fate.

I’d written last week to some of my fellow cohorts to ask if they
wanted to mark our graduation with some kind of a “ritual” or ceremony. That
very afternoon, I was invited to read a poem at the “Spiritual Send-off”
graduation ceremony at school. Apparently, I really do and am meant to have a
ritual around this. To mark and honor and acknowledge what a privilege this is, and to mark and honor and acknowledge what we’ve done and how we have shown up and completed something sort of major.
When I got into school two years ago, a friend of mine suggested we have
some sort of ceremony of our own to celebrate and honor and give thanks for
having gotten there, to wherever there was – an answer to a stated and unstated
prayer or longing or wish. For years, when I’d ask folks what they did for a
living – trying to vicariously divine what I ought to be doing for a living – when folks responded that they went to school full-time, invariably, I said that
I envied people who could do that. Who did that. Underneath envy, is longing.
I knew for some time, and said it occasionally or often,
that I wanted to “go back to school.” That I wanted to go for some advanced
degree, but I had no idea what. I toyed with many ideas. Rabbinic School.
Cantorial School (the singers in synagogues). Masters in Education. Masters in
Jewish Education. Clown School (just kidding). Master’s in Literature… that
always seemed to make the most sense, what with my undergrad in English Literature, but I had no inspiration for what I’d study in that or why.
Through a series of “coincidences,” I’d heard of Mills
College. Although well-known here in our little Bay Area enclave, I hadn’t
heard of it prior. What happened was, in about 2008, my friend in Brooklyn,
whom I’d met here in SF, started a magazine. An arts and culture journal. She
called me and asked if I’d interview a writer for the magazine who lived out here in the Bay,
and despite my lack of experience, I said sure.
Yiyun Li was working as a visiting professor at Mills
College, I found out in my research about her before our phone call. This was the first I’d heard of it. I toodled around the
website, and something somewhere in me sighed,
Every six months or so, I’d revisit the website. I’d never
been to the college campus (The first time I even saw the campus was orientation day!). I’d hardly ever been to Oakland. But, I’d read the
description of the English Department’s Masters’ program, and I felt …well,
like I knew. Like I knew, but dismissed, closing the browser for another six
months. That’s for other people. People who can afford to go back to school, or
who really know what they want to do.
I found a notebook recently that has scribbled notes from a
phone call with my Aunt. She’s an English professor at a university in
Virginia, and has been doing all this for a very long time. My notes are probably
from 2008 or 2009. They’re asking me to check out programs, and seek out
writers I like and see where they’re teaching. They’re asking me to take action
to help “figure out” what I want to study.
See, my above list of my options for Masters’ degrees remained.
What did I want to study? Desire and
action are two different things. Vague desire and clarity are as well.
But, at some point, all of those peekings at the Mills
website came to a head. And in the Spring of 2010, I called the English
department admissions coordinator to talk it out.
Huddled in a side office at my job, I sat on the phone with
her, and she told me about the requirements for the Masters in Literature
Program. The problem became, that I didn’t really do so hot in the last days of
my undergrad (read: Pulling a Britney), and I didn’t have any connections with
my professors from then, and I certainly didn’t have any academic papers on
I called my brother, and asked him to go through my room in
New Jersey, to see if he could find a paper of mine. He said he didn’t see
anything like that as he sifted through a few years’ of my papers and creative
writings, but that “It is obvious that you are, and have always been a writer.”
This phrase helped more than he knew. I called Stephanie at
the English Department, and as the deadline for application drew voraciously
nearer, I asked her what I should do. I asked her, then,… what were the
requirements for the MFA in Poetry Program….? (insert full body chills)
Those requirements, I had. 15-20 pages of recent poems. I
had 16. No lie. Letters of recommendation – my gorgeous and supportive women
Karen and Kristin who’d seen my evolution over a number of years and were aware
of my poetry (go Facebook). And an essay. My essay. An essay which wove
together the disparate streams of chance and circumstance and fate which
brought me to the cave of longing for a Mills’ degree – about Yiyun Li, and the
thread of creative writing through my life (thanks to Heather for that phrase),
and about a mission statement I’d heard from a friend of mine – “To use my gifts
and talents to be of maximum service to [G-d and] my fellows.” That although I
didn’t have my own mission statement yet, mine would be something like that.
It continues to be something like that.
The threads of fate conspired, faint as gossamer, lost as a
cobweb in the dark at moments. At other times, bright and obvious as the red criss-crossed string of a movie manhunt over a map. Termed as I’ve put it, “an answer to a
prayer I’d never have let myself utter,” instead of the MA in Literature, I
applied to the MFA program in Poetry, and I got in.
In my friend’s living room a few weeks after I was accepted
and in process of heading down a path I’d no idea to where, cross-legged on the floor, we wrote down all the things that we
wanted to let go of – things that had brought us to the point where we were
now, but which we believed weren’t serving us any more. To honor those
characteristics and beliefs which had been necessary ‘til then, and then to
burn them as a symbol of surrender and release of them.
So many of my “let go of” qualities were about doing it “on my own,” feeling like I needed to or had to do it alone, or that I had to figure it out.
I wrote down, “I can’t” and I burned it.
When the ceremony was at its end (“ceremony” being us
burning several strips of paper over a bowl!), we wrote down what we wanted to
take with us, as we headed out from there. On one square of blue lined paper, I wrote what I wanted to
take with me from there, to Mills, to my future, to the world as I engage it
more fully:
We Can.
acting · community · direction · friendship · performance · poetry · school · self-support · theater · work

"I wanted to live deep and suck out all the marrow of life"

When I was growing up, when my family went on long car
rides, my dad had
instituted a rule. My brother and I could only ask the question “Are we there
yet?” three times, combined. Not three for him, three for me. Not phrased
differently to bypass the rule. Three times. Are we there yet.
I’m sort of glad the Universe doesn’t have a rule like that,
although I suppose it sort of does. For the number of times that I’ve asked
what’s next, the answer remains as vague as the Magic 8 ball’s “Reply Hazy –
Ask Again Later.” Apparently 3 seconds later is not later enough, and you get,
“Cannot Predict Now.”
But, it’s sort of comforting in some ways I suppose. A friend
said to me recently that we don’t know what’s next because it reminds us we’re
not G-d. I also heard that G-d loves us just enough to not let us know what’ll happen next. The perpetual
“SURPRISE!” type Higher Power. But, really, I think that if I ever knew really
what was to happen next, I’d spend a lot of time manipulating to my way of
thinking – if I’m meant to go in direction A, then I’ll start to pack for that
direction, not knowing that perhaps I’m supposed to go to A, but with a byway
in L, Q, and H in order to learn what I need by the time I get to A.
I was out with a group of us school poet folk last night at
dinner after our performance poetry … performance. Which went highly well, I’d
say. Pretty full theater, no technical problems, and, me, in my makeshift
nudesuit – because really, when the else time would I have the opportunity to
do that??
So, we’re out at dinner, and the women who are finishing
their first year are asking about my experience there, if I took cross-courses
at Berkeley, if I’ll stay in the Bay Area, and what’s next. And they’re
just curious. I say that I really took school sort of as a walk – I looked into
taking a GTU cross-course, but didn’t. But, I took painting, and singing, and acting.
I mean, it is a liberal arts college
(though you may not guess that from the highly funded business school it now
hosts). I
did take the school
experience as a bit of a walk. It wasn’t academically rigorous. I think I took
one class that had a lot of reading on theory and criticism. I took one that
had moderate reading like that. And the rest, well, they were pretty much,
write poetry, read poetry, discuss poetry. Period. It was sort of awesome.
I suppose I feel a little chagrined at not having taken more
advantage of the opportunity, but then on the other hand, I think I also took great
advantage in ways that weren’t as “rigorous.” I did just find out yesterday
that you could rent the most awesome a/v tech equipment for up to two days –
even lighting and high tech cameras and video cameras – so I’m a
little bummed I didn’t take advantage of that – cuz it sounds AWESOME. I guess
I do have a few days left! Maybe I’ll be a filmmaker for a few days, as I
continue to send out tendrils into the work world.
I have one more class to complete. I have a class time on
Thursday for Acting Fundamentals, and then our class performance next
Wednesday. It’s just a scene, each of us students paired with someone and doing
a scene assigned by the professor. But, I feel really comfortable there. I
forget. I mean, after that flurry of activity in December and January around
headshots and auditions and monologues, I let it all go to focus on school,
which was appropriate, but now that I have a little more breathing room, I hear
it. Like I hear the painting studio.
Stress and creativity aren’t quite compatible I suppose.
But, in any case, being on stage last night (though I wish I’d reread my piece
before I got onstage, as it was quite distracting to know I was/appeared
naked!), and practicing my scene with my class partner, I mean, I just feel like
I know this. There’s an incredible
amount to learn, but I know about blocking, and staging. I helped the two of us
create movement in the scene, to listen to the text and let it inform us. I
also tried to not be bossy 😉 as this was a joint effort. But I felt in my
I have an invitation to have coffee with an acting friend of
mine – something that’s been pushed down the pages of the calendar like a
shuffle board disc, and I intend to ask my acting teacher to coffee for an
“informational interview” type conversation. But as I continue to look for
work, to find out where and how I’m supposed to earn, and embody the question “what can I give”
rather than “what can I get,” and let go
of the Am I There Yet, I can also take FULL advantage of what I have in front
of me – advocates, peers, and a wicked a/v department. 
action · art · creativity · fortitude · gratitude · inspiration · progress · school · trying

Through the Tunnel

Well, I suppose I’m better than yesterday. A number of
contributing factors. Met up with friends in the morning, got asked to go see a
play this Sunday, got asked to go to that Dharma Punx meditation group tonight,
made plans with a friend for tomorrow afternoon, made plans with a friend for
Sunday afternoon, got my thesis paperwork signed by the folks I needed and it was
confirmed that the last signature I need can
be gotten on Monday without penalty, was congratulated (even without the
uploading) that I will now have an MFA degree and that that’s an accomplishment
even if I don’t feel it right now, ran into my professor who’s helping me with
next Saturday’s workshop and got some details worked out, got my locker
combination from the sports center and put on the sneakers I’d hidden in there
almost 8 months ago, took a REALLY long walk through the awesome grounds at
school, had a lovely little conversation with a lizard, walked through the
school’s herb and healing plant tour, got some good rehearsal in for acting
class, had some good convo’s with student friends of mine, came home and wrote
the performance piece for May 1st and really like how it turned out,
and then had a long convo with a great friend of mine.
So…. yes, things pass. I needed ALL of that to get through
the funk, and there’s still the lingering notes of Beethoven’s funeral march
playing in the back of my head, but I don’t feel quite nearly as pissy or whiny
as yesterday. This is good.
Plus, I’ll babysit for nearly all of today, and kids, even
though I’m always nervous to babysit for that long of periods (how the f can I
entertain kids that long!), they’ll help me get back into the more playful,
much less self-serious frame of mind.
There was an enormo orange cat perched on the garage
overhang as I was writing my morning pages this morning. I always try to get my
cat to notice these things, and tap vigorously out the window, but she rarely
seems to get it and thinks I’m just playing. D’ah, well.
Luckily, it feels, there’s really nothing more to report.
Getting through my emotional tornado was enough news for me. Oh, I also got a
few new books from the library before my scheduled phone call with this woman
who used to work at galleries, and now works for a law firm or something for
art and artists – i forget exactly what she does, but I wrote it down. I wrote a lot down.
We’ve been trying to schedule this call for nearly a year. I let the thread drop sometime in October, and finally picked it back up
this month. And we finally got to speak. She was really helpful and informative,
as I gather information about what jobs there are in the fine art world. She
asked why I was more interested in the art world than the writing world, and I
said, I guess I just feel so surrounded by writers, that I like the avenue of something
else. Plus, I told her that personally, I love painting because it gives my
brain an alternate route to process and develop things – she said to definitely
use that sentiment in interviews.
Plus, she gave me info on the other worlds of fine art. The
trifecta, apparently, is galleries, museums, and auction houses. She said that
my writing background shouldn’t deter me (as in my lack of fine art/art history
background), that as long as I “present well,” and do good work, there’s no
reason that this world should be prohibited from me. Which is great news.
So, now I have more info on jobs in that field, a website
for fine art jobs to check out, and a contact to run things by. She’s actually
a friend of my ex, and he’d put us in touch a million years ago, so, shout out
to him. I toyed with texting him my thanks, but figured the best thanks is to
just go forward with this work. He doesn’t really need to know. … As my ability
to let go of all outcome or response from him is limited, and it’s better that
I just leave it be. But I am hugely grateful.
A lot got done yesterday. My eyeballs are quite red and dry
from all the computer hours logged, so I’ll be glad to focus on kids today, the
most anti-computer screen-like things of all.
It’s just sloughing off the old, I suppose. Fear is normal,
but really, it’s just boogymen, and I have a massive flashlight powered by all
y’all. So, thanks. 

frustration · progress · school · self-pity · writing


I called a friend yesterday to go over the content of the May workshop newsletter, and told her that I’d turned in my final copy of my thesis, and she
asked how I felt – if I was excited. Decidedly not, I replied. There’s all the
administrative rigamarole to go through before I can call this chapter of my
life closed. Turns out one of the professors won’t be on campus to sign off on my
thesis – literally, sign it – so I now have to see what my options are without
that signature as the thing is due tomorrow. But I’ve seen some chatter about
Monday being “okay,” but I have to find out.
I’m SO over it. Over it all. I don’t really give a crap. I’m
tired, and broke, and exhausted, and unhappy.
Like today’s blog? 
Sorry for the Debby Downer moment, but
really, I’m tired of this crap. I get
that I graduate with a Master’s degree, but it doesn’t feel that cool anymore.
It feels like a lot of hoops at the moment, and I have no clue what any of it
will “get” me. I began lamenting in my morning pages the same, and then started
to write all the awesome shit that I’ve done and learned in the last year and a
half. How two years ago, I was in a job in a dysfunctional organization where
my position was going to be cut, and I made the decision, finally, to go back
to school.
I know that I’ve done a lot. But it doesn’t feel “worth it”
at the moment. I feel tired and lonely and despairing of what the fuck I’m
doing with my life. I feel … self-pitying, I suppose.
And I know some practical cures for it, and I know it’ll
pass. But right now, I feel like there are too many demands on me, and my
health is fucked up, and phooey.
You may know this isn’t typical for me. I do have some minor
tantrums now and then, but this moroseness and lethargy is not typical. I get
that it’s time limited, and “once xyz is done” then I’ll be better. But I’m
fucking tired of having to do xyz and THEN being better. 
Once the thesis is handed
Once the thesis is signed off. 
Once the thesis is uploaded. 
Once the school
workshop is done. 
Once the May workshop is advertised. 
Once the flyers are up. 
Once graduation happens. 
Once … what? 
And then What?
It’s not delayed gratification. I’m not sure where the
fucking gratification is. It’s like some carrot on a stick. One more stupid
thing, and then I’ll be happy? Then I’ll know what the fuck to do with my life? One more stupid flight of fancy, and I’ll be stable and secure and loved?
What the fuck? I KNOW it’s all ridiculous, and I thank any
of you who have read this far into my pity party. But, … I am tired. I don’t want any more hoops. I want to be
done. I don’t want to feel so damn lost. I don’t have a fucking clue where I’m
going – what I’m doing – what I want to be doing – where I want to be doing it.
I feel like a toddler and a teenager, without the freedom of their
understandable childishness.
No, I’m not relieved that the stupid thing is done. I don’t
care a fuck about it. It’ll go on a shelf somewhere. Yes, I did it. But so the
fuck what? How many fucking people have Master’s degrees and PhDs and work for
f’ing starbucks. Literally. I went out yesterday, one of my two ventures off
this stupid couch, to get food for my cat, and the woman who works there and I
chat usually, and she said that THREE PhDs applied for her counter job the last
time they were hiring. A PhD. Selling cat toys. Wtf.
Yes, today will give me plenty of opportunities to move out
of or through this funk. Yes, even yesterday, I reached out to a few folks to
make happy plans, get out of myself and this poopiness. I know it’ll pass. I know
other people see it’ll pass, but in the moment, it’s just ass.
Thank you for coming to my pity party. I wish I’d gotten you
a hat.
(*Veysmere = Vey is mir = “woe is me” in yiddish. “Oy vey” is a shorthand.)

balance · crazy · recovery · school · self-care


So, I gotta admit, I’m feeling a little discombobulated this
morning, and I’m not really sure what’s up. It’s like a wrong side of the bed,
but not cranky, just, off. Like the films aren’t aligned properly. Not sure.
Maybe as the day progresses, it’ll wear off. It’s threatening to be a gorgeous
day, so I’ll hopefully spend some of it outside, or at least in a café,
Part of the discomfort is that I think I spent too many
hours hunched over my computer yesterday, working on both my thesis and the info
blast for May’s workshop. My neck muscles literally cracked when I turned to
shut off my alarm – ouch. Stiff and unhappy. Computers and health may not be
aligned either. Balance, I suppose.
I got the final copy of my thesis back from friends yesterday,
and began my final edits. The folks I gave it to were really helpful and
specific, which offset the entirely vagueness of my professors’ notes. I am marinating on a few changes that may happen – a word here, to delete
one or two poems there.
The nude suit is back in. By the way. I had my performance poetry class last
night, and spoke about my new idea, and that it may not warrant a nude suit,
but folks encouraged me, and said, basically, why the F not. Pretty much
anything that I’d get up there to say will be about getting down to the/my authentic, naked self. The professor said that it adds something visually, it
doesn’t matter what the content is. So,
now, the hunt for a nude-colored body suit. I have a hunch where I’ll find one,
and as I just got asked to babysit this Friday, I’ll have the funds to fund it.
Although he’s a little hesitant for me to be working on a
brand new piece for the performance, which is in less than two weeks, I’m
pretty confident that I can bust it out – as soon as I put pen to paper.
There’s SO much divided demands right now, is all. Each thing is important,
none can be “dropped,” and hardly any back-burnered, but this piece has been,
and I’ll do my best to crank it out in the next day or so. It won’t take long.
I have it mapped out in my head. I’ll post it when it’s done.
That’s really all that’s up right now – these school
demands, and the crunch time lead-up to both next Saturday’s workshop, and
May’s workshop. Each are going to require some more input from me. And I just
feel really thin at the moment. Only one person has actually registered for the
workshop next weekend, though a few have Facebook responded. But, I’m certainly
aware of the habit people have – myself included – of clicking “attend” to
something they have only a vague passing notion of attending. So, I’ll have to
blast that out again – if you get the email again, forgive me, but I sorta need
to know how many folks will be there. Like, if there’s really only one…!
Also, I have to print flyers for the May workshop, and I
need to do color copy cost research for that, and then I’m going to ask a
friend to help me drive around to various places in the Bay to post them up.
So, I’ve got to reach out for that.
Ack. You can see, perhaps, why I feel all off. I tried to
meditate some this morning, and got a few deep breaths, but not too much
grounding. Maybe today is a multiple attempt at meditation day.
There’s something I heard once: a guy said that on most days
he meditates a half hour, but on the days he’s really busy, he meditates an
That actually makes sense to me. Now, maybe I’m not the
hour-long meditator type, but I’ve sat in a few circles for 40 minutes. It’s
HARD … in the beginning. Then I sort of sink into it – once my brain has had
its say around what feels like 20 minutes or so of, OMIGOD are we done yet???
But, like working out, or something, once you get into it, you forget that you
hated it in the beginning few minutes. The adrenaline starts to pump, or in
meditation land, the serenity does. … Sometimes. Not always. Sometimes it’s 40
minutes, or in my case, 10 minutes of laundry list, punctuated by a few, oh
yeah, deep breath, follow the breath, touch down, just notice – I have to get
quarters for laundry – do I have any dollar bills – I love the sound the
machine makes when the quarters are changed, like in Vega– oh, right, breathe
in …
So, maybe today requires a little more grounding. I’ll go
meet up with some folks later today and have a bit of brain drain for an hour
or so, but, this is part of my self-care. The only way I can balance all that
I’ve got going on, is if I can let myself get balanced first.
I feel like that unicycle circus dude with the poles and the
plates balanced on top. I’d like to feel like the elephant, rooted and pressing
into the earth. 

community · finances · responsibility · school · self-support · work

Thru my own contributions

So, to catch you up on the caffeine reduction experiment,
it’s still going, and going rather well – the one cup of regular, followed by
as much decaf and black tea as necessary. Which haven’t been hugely necessary –
but I’m still in the throes of the equalizing. There have been a few (like 2 or
3) days of 2 or 3 cups, which I think are prolonging the experiment, but
overall, I haven’t felt like I miss it. Although, I’m still rather pooped in
the mornings. I think this is more to do with my bed time than my start time
though. With the experiment, I think I need to allow myself to be in bed
earlier, and for a few days, I was, even a week or so, I was pretty diligent
about it – but I’ve fallen off.
It’s time to get back on schedule though. Yesterday, I was
up and out, semi-early, but not my normal early, to do some last minute errands
with the car before I returned it – G-d bless Enterprise car rental. (They
allow you to rent a car w/ a debit card, and the rates really aren’t that bad –
granted, I split the whole cost with my friend from NJ.) But after my bout of
exertion, I spent the rest of the day on my couch doing much of nothing – which
I spent a lot of this morning’s pages lamenting about – but, I can’t drink
yesterday’s orange juice today (as they say – as in, I can’t get double
nutrients, or activity, etc, today, in order to make up for yesterday – each
day is set new) – so there’s no use, really, in bemoaning my vegetative state!
What is wonderful to notice though, is that because I’ve
been using this tool of a daily schedule, planning in the morning when I’ll do
my R+D (i.e. income generating actions) and when I’ll do homework, or art, or
walk, or … nap, it’ll be much easier for me to get back onto track. Especially
with the end of school creeping up like a midnight stalker.
Thesis is due on Friday, signed, sealed, and delivered. I’m
getting the last copy of my manuscript that’s out there to friends back this
morning, and then today, spend time editing it all together. In the meantime,
I’m also supposed to be writing this new script for the performance class, and
I feel so far away from it – though, again, I was writing some about it this
morning, and think it’s doable and interesting and fun. But, thinking about it,
and doing it are two different things.
I bought this book recently called “Steal like an Artist.”
My friend and I were in the millionth Bay Area bookstore this weekend – though
surprisingly, not bored by them – and I saw this book on the counter. I picked
it up, read the first little bit, and thought, I’d love to underline and
highlight this sucker. So Many Gems. So,
I bought it. As you may know, I’m not a book buyer. I am a library fanatic – as
outstanding debts to several libraries have informed me over the years. (I
actually didn’t receive a diploma the day I graduated and “walked” for my
undergrad – inside the fancy black folder all embossed and engraved with the
school emblem … was a note that said, you owe the library $45 – please submit
to release your diploma. … Ha. Funny part is, I still had the books, knew
precisely where they were, I just hadn’t returned them, for no particular
reason. … a “quality to let go,” one may say, which I
still need to let go.)
In any case, this book was not something I’d read and
shelve, never to see again, this was a reference book, in many ways. I’m
enjoying reading it, and getting a lot of great info from it – I recommend – go
buy 😉
One thing I will say it mentioned was an economic theory
that if you average your 5 best friends’ incomes, yours will be somewhere
around there. So, I began to think about my 5 best friends. The one on
unemployment, the one living on student loans, and the few others who are
earning income, but I realized that, yeah, my income is certainly somewhere
between nada and something modest. It’s not
a judgment of my best friends – moreso, it tells me something about myself –
and the truth that I know it’s time for me to make changes.
I am making them. Slowly. I met with a few folks on Sunday
to talk about income strategies, finance stuff – and a very interesting fact of
clarity came out of the conversation. As I’m working on this Creativity &
Spirituality workshop – one for free at school this month, and one for fee in SF next
month – we calculated that if I fill the workshop in May, as in completely full
(20 people) at the rate we agreed was adequate (balancing my modest skill level
with the value of my work and time), I’d earn nearly my entire expense costs
for a month. This, is really good news.
But also brings up fear of the future – does that mean I have to do the
workshop monthly – can I? How do you garner enough interest to make it
sustainable? Won’t I continually be marketing to the same people? How do I
branch out?
And then, I bring it back into the day. Today, I just need
to focus on what’s in front of me. I do
have to focus quite a bit, I realize, on the marketing of the workshop in May,
but that’s it right now. I have some great pointers, and I’m rather good at
that stuff, and I know a crap load of people, and I have a crap load of
resources to call on. Further, I
won’t just be hitting up the people I know – as, duh, yes, that would be
annoying to them, and that’s not a sustainable resource – but I will also be
expanding my reach to new venues, and new networks – as people have told me
they’d love to spread the word in circles I’d never have access to ordinarily.
So, it is all the more important that I recover my bit of
structure with my daily schedule, as I had been, and that I get to sleep on
time so that I’m present enough to sow the seeds of self-support.

family · growth · intimacy · love · school

The climb

A friend said recently that perhaps I’m on the part of the
ride where you’re going up the roller coaster. That all the work that we’re
both doing, as she’s too doing A LOT, that this is the cranking up of the ride.
That it’s hard because we are fighting
against gravity, and we are scared because you
can’t see over the crest of the ride – but even though
it’s a mildly alarming metaphor, it’s nice to know that I’m at least on a track
of some sort.
My brother asked me recently what I was planning to do after
graduation. If I was planning on coming back to the East Coast now, or not. I told him a few sort
of vague deflective-y things, and then finally, in the end, I said, I have no
Likely, as graduation is in a month – holy lord, have
christy mercy. It literally is a month away…! May 12th … isn’t that
the Mayan Doomsday? Maybe I won’t have to worry about any of this then in the
end anyway!! HA! as in, please lord, let the universe not explode or implode on
that day – I have a roller coaster ride to attend to.
But, as that is only a month away, and I’m still in the
formative throes of trying to cobble together a sustainable living and habits
and patterns that support that living, likely not. Not immediately at least. My
brother said that others were asking him, which is normal – and I don’t have to
take on their pressure, as it’s not pressure, it’s curiosity, normal and kind.
But, not yet. When? I don’t know.
My brother’s girlfriend just got placed in a post-graduate
internship at Johns Hopkins in Delaware – and my brother said his company has
another branch he could easily transfer to in Baltimore, MD, so, they’ll
likely do that sometime not too
distant. (She’s wonderful, by the way – I hope and think it’s a long haul kind
of relationship) 🙂 Point being, Mom in Manhattan. Brother on the mid-seaboard.
Dad in Florida. Seems like if I want to be anywhere near my family, I’ll have
to go back to that coast at some point.
And the truth is, I want to. I don’t want to live with any of them(!), but, within 3 hours driving distance
is what I’ve labeled as close enough, but not too close. I’d especially like to
live nearby to my brother.
It took a long time for us to come to the place in our
evolving relationship that we are. There were the awful, physically and emotionally
violent toward each other years of our early childhood. Then there were the
let’s get messed up together years. Then there have been the reparation years
from the fallout of all of that as we’ve both gotten older and more sane by
We’re somewhere on that part of our journey now, and the
truth is that we are closer now than ever, even though that just looks like a
phone call every month or so, and random texts to each other with quotes from Bill
& Ted
or Back to the Future. This is our bonding. And I/we dig it.
So, I’d like to be able to be near to him, to continue
forming a relationship with the people who we are today. Trauma and addiction
don’t really allow for intimacy, and we’re just getting there, slowly, over
these few years. Reaching out, being honest. Laughing. I care more for him than
I’d ever let myself admit before, and the older we get, and the closer we are – even
though we’re not butt buddies, and I don’t know if or think we need to be –
well, I just get teary sometimes thinking about how much I love him. Which is
something I couldn’t have predicted, and am beyond grateful for.
It’s another way in which I’m shown that I have no idea
what’s over the rise of the ride. But the clinking and clunking sound as the
cart hoists itself up the hill is the sound of the work we’ve each done to get
to this place of commonality and connection.
So, not today, but soon perhaps, I’ll be in driving distance
of my brother, his wife, and their children. 

performance · poetry · progress · school

Of indeterminate weight

I met with my thesis advisor for my last meeting with her
before I hand it in to the school library to be bound and put on a shelf with
all the other theses that won’t be read 😉 No, but really, I see the light at
the end of the tunnel finally. It sort of looks like a disco ball, or
headlights – in other words, it doesn’t look normal. But I suppose none of this
is normal for me.
The general feedback I got from both my advisor and my
faculty reader were both rather generic. One said, This is indeed a poetry thesis
(great, it’s not an aardvark). The other said, It was actually interesting
(great, glad you didn’t drool sleep spittle on it). But, really, I didn’t get
much constructive feedback, which is a) a little relieving, and b) not very constructive.
For all the work and mental crises, a check mark, basically.
But, c’est la vie. I have a few things that are room for improvement to
edit/revise before she sees it again for the final sign-off before April 20th.
Also, I have it out to two poetic friends of mine for their eagle eyes on it –
for, hopefully, some specific feedback.
But, for all it is now, it’s a bit anti-climactic. Which, is
better than drama I suppose.
Drama will come both literally and figuratively in the two
final performances I’ll have in May. The performance poetry piece I’ll write
(….???) and the acting scene. I met with the poetry teacher yesterday to talk
about performance persona vs. character. Theater vs. performance art. And it
was helpful. If only to confirm that the “amped up version of self” that I
consider performance art is actually what he also means. He clarified that it
doesn’t mean to do as he does and dress as a chicano in drag with a sombrero
and a dog collar. That’s his amplified
version of self – for me to do something like that would be … well, who knows,
maybe one day – but for today, something else.
I’m not sure what the work will be about. But I know how
I’ll dress. If you remember from the Performance Persona blog, I said that the
most authentic persona I could be right now was myself – well, I intend to wear
a nude body suit, only.
I’d had this thought way earlier in the semester. Something
about both the vulnerability and yet boldness of it appeals to me. With so much
work that I’ve been doing to get comfortable with my body, present in it, a
part of it – well, why not?
The only stipulations the school has, he told me, was no
full frontal nudity. And he said he’d never tell me to pull it back. So, now I
need material that will warrant that. Do I need to go that far? Is it sensationalism? Does it matter?
I wrote a few poems for performance yesterday, but they
don’t have quite enough meat to support the visual. But like a great pair of shoes – sometimes you build the outfit around them instead of the other way around — and so I will just have to build a performance around this visual, costume/non-costume.
I had the strangest dream that two friends insistently brought me over
to do my laundry at my ex’s, and I was reluctant, as his new girlfriend
might be there. She wasn’t there, but he was on the phone with her, and I felt all
awkward, but everyone else seemed to think this was fine.
Random side-note. 
gratitude · honesty · joy · love · poetry · school · time

Cacophonous Joy

Yesterday, I finished my draft of my poetry thesis. It is
dark, and humorous, and sad, and scared, and thoughtful, and loving, and aimed
toward health. It represents a period in my life, which I’m glad to recognize
as not current, even though the feelings may arise as current.
This is a memoir of sorts. It chronicles a period of time
which, I see now, I do have a degree of distance from, in order to be able to
write about it so fully. I know too it leaves gaps and holes, but I don’t mind
– it’s show, don’t tell, right?
Yesterday, I sort of fell apart around 3pm, as I knew I
needed more time to edit it, little visual changes and some word sorting here
and there. But, I was also supposed to be at class from 4-6:30, and be at a
poetry reading/open mic at 5:30 – 9. How was I to be in so many places at once?
Well, I couldn’t. And the reality of that fell on me at
about 3pm. I made some phone calls; I was told that my main job right then was
to finish my thesis – perhaps you remember some of the craziness when I hadn’t
turned one in, and may not have been graduating in May? Yes, the thesis was my
main job – all other things were secondary.
I spoke briefly to a few friends, wrote emails of apology to
my class teacher and to the organizer of the open mic, and got back to work. I
was not to use the club of
self-flaggellation on myself, I was told. I was not to think that I’d done it
again and over-booked, and I’m a bad person, and here was this opportunity to
put my work out, and I’ve missed it.
I had one job. Thesis.
So, I left those internal critic voices at the door.
Strangely enough, when I did, something miraculous happened.
I finished my thesis. I sent it in multiple document formats
for maximum readability; I cc’d and bcc’d to ensure maximum accountability of
the documents. I sent it off. It was now out of my hands.
I called two friends, let them know that I had sent it, as
I’d told them 3 hours before that I would. And I felt relief. I felt relief as
though it were that cartoon image of someone getting hot, and the thermometer
level inside them fills up with red from the bottom all the way to the top and
bursts out their head. I felt swallowed with relief.
I told my friend, Now, I’m going to drink some water, make a
nice healthy meal, and watch a Disney movie. – That was going to be my celebration. She found that
hilarious: “I’m going to drink … some water.” How times have changed.
So, I did, but as I was cooking my chicken and broccoli and
yummy organic pasta, I had my iPod on shuffle, playing my joy into the kitchen.
And Metallica came on. And for why, who cares, it was that moment. I began to bob and jam and jump around
as I stirred that chicken. Then I abandoned the chicken to just rock out in my
kitchen to the raging flare of electric guitar and passion.
The song finished. But I wasn’t done. I placed my delicate,
hearty, thoughtful meal on a plate, and went into the main room of my studio apartment. I
proceeded to happy dance. That thermometer level radiated out of me and I
DANCED – I shimmied and kicked and ska danced and booty danced and jumped as
very high as I could. I waved my arms like a lunatic and smiled till all of my
teeth shone bright.
This was more than relief at finishing a project for school.
This was pride and gratitude incarnate. This was my joy at having released a
clog in my emotional arteries. I’d moved something. Something big. And I danced
until I couldn’t dance no mo’.
I have released something big here – truth, despair, hurt,
trauma – I’ve let it go. And I’ve opened it to you. I’ve let it have its own purpose outside of my
experience. I’ve given it, and myself, life. It feels like I’ve surrendered
something I’d been holding on to. The clogged artery metaphor feels pretty apt.
But more, it was my throat, my voice, constricted by these stories – and now
that they’re out, birthed, something new can be said, or seen, or felt.
I am humbled by the process of putting this out into the
world. I do hope people enjoy it, or get
something out of it, or find their own voice through reading it. But the
personal gift I have gotten, I could not have predicted: the grin of sheer
bliss as I tucked into my bed last night. … and woke up with again this morning.