adulthood · authenticity · change · intimacy · sex · sexuality · writing

Eat, Pray, Sex

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“If I understand you correctly,
this whole year is about your search for balance between devotion and pleasure.
I can see where you’ve been doing a lot of devotional practices, but I’m not
sure where the pleasure has come in so far.”
“I ate a lot of pasta in Italy,
Felipe.”
“Pasta, Liz? Pasta?
“Good point.”
Eat
Pray Love, Elizabeth Gilbert
Unless you choose to live a life of asceticism, you are
bound to come to a point when you have to attend to your body’s needs. There
are so many ways to go about this, and we all probably have our own patterns
for doing so.
There’s serial monogamy, adultery, the hands-on approach.
There’s serial hooking up, prostitution, polyamory, and even the somewhat “normal”
approach of having an intentional monogamous relationship.
In this age when sex outside of marriage is often par for
the course, we really do have a buffet of options. And chances are that we’ll eat
from one tray or another at various times and emotional states in our lives.
There is no handbook for this. There really are no rules. As
the saying goes, “You can do anything you want—as long as you’re willing to
accept the consequences.” Sometimes, consequences of actions are marvelous; not
all consequences are negative.
I remember the first time I had sex in adulthood sober. I
honestly hadn’t had sober sex since I was in my teens, if then. God, it was awkward. I
was so aware of everything: the way the
room looked, the sound of our breathing, the exact touches. And also, very
aware of the intimacy of the act.
That is something that drunken sex does not allow for. You
might get off, but you are so far from present; this is not an intimate act.
SURE, it can be and was fun; as Dr. Seuss puts it,
It is fun to have fun
But you have to know how.
And I’m not sure I ever really knew how. I mean, I lost my
virginity while I was drunk. Which isn’t uncommon in many of the women I
know.
So, to exist, sit, breathe, be in the intimacy of sex with
another person – well, it really is no wonder I was celibate for so long! Though,
I can admit, too, that distanced/detached sex is also very possible sober.
Which is usually how it’s been for me. Like I told you earlier this week about
the two-way mirror: I may offer you entrance, but I’m not giving you anything
in return. Here’s part of another poem I wrote during that celibacy time:
every inch closer you come toward
me is
every inch farther from myself
that I am.
so by the time your cock is pressing
against
the putty of my cervix,
i have found a home inside your
wall.
(And that was with a boyfriend!)

I suppose part of my reason for sharing these poems with you
recently is to normalize the experience for me, as I think I’m bringing these poems
to my Writer’s Group today – my all male
Writer’s Group. Though there’s absolutely a titillation factor to my work, the
reality is, this is my writing, this is what I’m working on, was working on
when I wrote them, and I guess, if there is feedback on how to improve my
craft, I want it. But, I also know it may be hard (forgive me) for people to look
past the word “cock” and get toward the structure and craft.

We’ll see. I haven’t decided yet if I’m bringing these poems
there. It feels exposing, but then again, sharing any of my writing feels exposing.
And I guess that’s what I’m getting at – showing up without
retreating. To know that I am safe and thereby be able to show up with vulnerable work, to show up physically and
emotionally during sex. To let myself be present with the cacophonous
heartbeat of it all.
I have little experience being present in flagrante delicto; but, by
escaping it, I do think I’m missing out on some of the fun.

beauty · love · poetry · writing

Grandfather/advised me:/Learn a trade/I learned/to sit at desk/and condense/No layoff/from this/condensery ~ Niedecker

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For reasons unknown, I reached for the book of “Modern
Poetry” that I bought for a class during my undergrad days. It lines my shelf with the
Norton Anthology of Poetry by Women, one by Langston Hughes, and even a book on
Greek Mythology that I haven’t wanted to part with in the 10 (jeez, can’t
believe it’s been such a short time!) years since undergrad.
Maybe part of this memory-lane path was struck by my friend’s
photo on Facebook of an abandoned shopping cart in New Brunswick, New Jersey,
where I spent my undergrad years. Maybe I just wanted to read some poetry this
morning.
It was interesting to me in grad school, one of the teachers
asked us, poets all, if we had any books of poetry at home. My shelves, besides
those few relic anthologies I rarely look at, pretty much housed some novels and a bunch
of “spiritual” books.
I kept a few of the mandatory books we were required to
purchase during those two years at Mills, and even found myself going to the
poetry section of the bookstore once, purchasing from titles alone, Mary Karr’s
Sinners Welcome and one with this lovely
title:
            If
there is something to desire,/
            There
will be something to regret./
            If
there is something to regret,/
            There
will be something to recall./
            If
there is something to recall,/
            There
was nothing to regret./
            If
there was nothing to regret,/
            There
was nothing to desire.
by Vera Pavlova.
Tell me that’s not a great title! And message.
Poetry is a strange thing to “read.” There are some books you want to read page after page, because it does read like a novel, and you
are impelled forward through the pages of the “story,” the landscape.
But, much of poetry insists that you sit with each piece,
each page for longer than 30 seconds.
Much of poetry, in my own limited estimation, calls you to
allow the words to melt like a fine piece of dark chocolate. You sense the
bitterness, the sweetness, the texture, the mouth-feel. You turn it over and
under your tongue, attempting to pry all the secrets out of this square bit of
matter before it is gone. And afterward, you notice around inside your mouth
where the taste remains, what it reminds you of. If you “liked” it.
Poetry is like that.
A marathon, not a sprint. An 8-course meal, not fast food.
Here is a piece from Pavlova’s book I shall choose at
random, because I actually haven’t read the book, though I bought it two years
ago – because poetry requires that time, and most times, us modern folk won’t
allow it. So, here’s to taking a moment to savor the delicacy of language:
Eternalize me just
a bit:
            take
some snow and sculpt me in it,
            with
your warm and bare palm
            polish
me until I shine…

aspiration · authenticity · theater · vulnerability · writing

"With Great Power Comes Great Responsibility." ~ Stan Lee or Voltaire?

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I recently had this text exchange with a friend of mine:
You know, whenever you in particular “like” something I’ve
written, it makes me think that I have something worthy to say and a good way
of saying it. – This scares the crap out of me. – Knock it off.
“Both those things are true! And isn’t that kind of fear
thrilling?”
*thrilling*
I hoped the sarcasm carried through text.
Last night, I spoke to a group of gathered women, sharing
with them my experience, strength, and hope for a little while.
Afterward, the feedback included sentiments like, “That was
beautiful, eloquent, articulate. It was like a short story. You speak like a
writer. That was like a TED Talk.”
Little do they, or you, know, that a tiny little shoot of a
dream tucked inside my ambitious heart is to be a TED talk person – on what, ver vaist, but I suppose that’s not my business yet.
This Sunday, I’m scheduled to attend a small writer’s group
that’s just beginning, friends and friends of friends. It’s supposed to be supportive,
just evoking some words onto a page, doesn’t have to be Faulkner. But one
suggestion is to bring some writing we’re working on.
And, my brain says, I don’t write.
Here’s what I say when people ask me if I’m writing: Well, I
do this blog, but other than that, I’m focusing on theater right now.
I don’t really write.
I know this blog is something. And I know that it’s worthy
of being written for me and for those of you that enjoy it. I (sometimes) know it’s not a
“brush-away” thing, but it’s private, still, sort of. It’s not a public venue,
really; it’s not something to read at a writer’s circle, or submit to a
magazine or journal. And I feel really unclear about what kind of venue this, my, kind of writing belongs in.
I do also know that I am focusing on theater right now. To
use the metaphor again of my internal round table (well, it’s rectangular, but
you catch my drift), all of them/us want to act right now, and only
half-heartedly do they/we want to write, in a professional capacity.
I know one of the detractors is fear. And that’s alright, I
don’t have to tackle all my demons or desires at once.
A friend once told me this: The only difference between fear
and excitement is breathing.
That kind of fear, the fear that I might have something
worthwhile to say and share and give. Something people want to read and be
touched and changed by. Something that gets underneath the armor of separation,
and helps us all to feel a little more vulnerable, aware, to smile & laugh & relate. Yeah, the
fear of that kind of power, and responsibility, is pretty big.
So, I guess I’ll just keep breathing. 

change · dating · opening · truth · vulnerability · writing

Dance of the Cerebellum.

I usually don’t friend on the first date.
There’s still too much of the game to be played before you
get to see my trivialities, my lols, my 8,000 vanity shots.
There needs to be order about the thing, this dating thing,
this ‘I wasn’t even sure if it was a date until I asked you mid-non date about
it’ thing. And you told me that you hoped it would be. And so it was.
I write everything here. I write about love and sex and
alcoholism and family dysfunction and self -exploration and -derision and
-love. I write about healing and change and acceptance. I write about
banalities and wrap them in a coat of revelation.
I only just began writing again, and I won’t censor because
you’re here now. Even though, that’s what the game is. That’s what the
beginning is. It’s an opening, always by degrees. Here are my cards, the ones
okay to be seen. Next hand, here are a few more—are you folding yet? Am I?
Here, one by one, is the rest of the deck, a little coffee-stained and edge-frayed.
I had a dream about you the night you asked me to
dinner. I dreamt you told me you were 18. And we kissed. And I pressed mine to
your soft, full lips.
And yesterday, when it happened in real time, you told
me you were 25. And we kissed. And you pressed your soft, full lips to mine. …
I usually don’t friend on the first date.
There’s too much to be known and unknown, to be veiled, and
slowly opened. Too much trust to be laid down before I am willing to open
myself and what I offer here. And too much I want to say here in this writing–to myself and my friends–about that process of
opening. This is my platform, my cauldron of community, where we all get to dive in and find the pearl at the
bottom.
And I need to dive, explore, create, and parse. I need to
tease and relate and recall and make sense.
I am a Libra, after all. Communication is our oxygen.
If I friend on the first date, you’ll see
that I know what a Libra is and does. That I talk to trees and ‘heart the 80s.’
That I argue with myself about every last particle of myself.

“Respond to Friend Request.”

I usually don’t friend on the first date.

“Accept.”

But I guess there’s an exception to everything. 

inspiration · recovery · writing

Climbing Kilimanjaro (or at least, reading the Guide Book)

I was on the phone this morning with my friend on the East
coast. She recently returned from her frankly stellar honeymoon cruise around
the Mediterranean, and after regaling me with her now-insider-tourist viewpoint
(Istanbul Markets = Yes; Parthenon = overcrowded; Sistine Chapel = Who are we
kidding, Yes.), she asked me what I was up to.
I told her that I’m recently reading memoirs on marriage. I
said, even though it’s not something that’s currently on the radar, one day it probably will be, and like someone who’s gonna climb Kilimanjaro, I ought to read the
guide book.
So, I now have on my coffee table, Vow: A Memoir of Marriage
and Other Affairs
, one woman’s story of how
infidelity on both sides corroded her marriage, and
No Cheating, No
Dying: I had a good marriage, then I tried to make it better
. Also, out of a rubber-necker’s curiosity, a while ago I’d read Elizabeth Gilbert’s Committed to see if her second book would be as good as the first (and, well,
sort of).
To me, reading these marriage memoirs is like getting the read-out from a fallen plane’s
black-box: What went wrong? What went right? What are the junction places and
fuses that tend to blink out first? What can you do, if anything, to reinforce them before they do?
I’ve had a thirst for this kind of reading over the last
several years. I was a Fiction Fiction Fiction only reader for many years,
Stephen King, Ray Bradbury,…JK Rowling, because real life was *so boring,* and allegory could be so much more useful… But, lately, I find myself almost
exclusively prowling the non-fiction, first-persons; most specifically,
picking those that have something to do with where I want to be.
Last Spring, it was the memoirs of Tina Fey (comic, leader,
success), Betty White (comic, still-kicking), Nora Ephron’s I Remember
Nothing: And Other Reflections
(writer,
comic, realist) and
Wild: From Lost to Found on the Pacific Crest
Trail
by Cheryl Strayed which actually
inspired me to research the best hiking boots for someone with flat feet (not purchased).
I read the following to balance out the light, or rather I
read the above to balance out the dark I was reading at the time: Jeanette Winterson’s Why Be Happy When
You Could Be Normal
and Augusten Burrough’s
Running with Scissors.
I wanted to know many things from reading these books: I
wanted to know how to be a successful woman in tough businesses, I wanted to
know how to be an artist, writer, performer and make it stick, and mostly I wanted to know how
you keep moving forward in a hard world, and keep your sense of humor.
During the time I was sick, you couldn’t peel me from a
cancer memoir. It was all I read. Except for that one on divorce (Stacy
Morrison’s Falling Apart in One Piece: One Optimist’s Journey Through the
Hell of Divorce
), since it seemed equally catastrophic, and I like the
word
optimist in a title.
When my friend first leant me the Lance Armstrong book, It’s Not About the Bike, last
October, I said thanks with a pressed I’m-never-gonna-read-that-Nobody-else-knows-what-it’s-like-to-have-cancer
smile. But, still, I brought it back to the hospital with me for my second
round of chemo, and eventually hardly put it down between temperature- and
blood-pressure monitorings.
People asked what I thought about all the controversy that
was coming out about him then, and I said I didn’t give a shit – He survived cancer, and lived to write a book about it. That’s all I needed to know. 
Honestly, I can’t remember the other ones I read – chemo
brain, perhaps – but that’s what I read these books for: How in the hell did you
do that? How can I?
This summer’s reading of Animal, Vegetable, Miracle: A
Year of Food Life
resulted in home-made
tomato sauce (and a half a plat of rotting tomatoes), an awkward okra experiment, and many afternoon delights with a basket of fresh figs.
And now, now, it’s marriage. It’s also, Going Gray: What
I Learned about Beauty, Sex, Work, Motherhood, Authenticity, and Everything
Else that Really Matters
, Anne Kreamer’s
exploration of what it means to grow older in American culture, one strand at a
time.
This is probably the book that sparked my whole memoir
thing, long before I actually read one. I’d still been living in San Francisco,
Borders was still in business, and I was at the Stonestown Mall. Somehow,
perhaps while looking for some “recovery” related book which are often in the
“self-help” section, I saw her book, and remember picking it up, reading the
back copy and noting that it was an interesting idea.
This week, I saw Kreamer’s book on the memoir shelf of my now-housed-in-a-trailer-behind-a-school
public library branch. I picked it up. And devoured it.
So, what about all this? What does it “mean” or matter?
Well, one thing, I suppose, is that reading these books enables me to see that
I’m not alone in my struggles–I’m not alone in living in the world with real
people and real tragedies and real humor, and most importantly, real chutzpah.
Also, aside from Lance Armstrong and the Burroughs one
(which frankly left me more disturbed than helped), all the books I’ve been reading are by women.
Women, claiming their right to share their inane
(Betty White), heartbreaking (Winterson), path-back-toward-the-light
(Morrison) stories. Women using their voice to say, Here, here is where I’ve been frayed and flayed and fraught and
fought, and I’m still here to tell you about it.
These women are my heroes. And so I will continue to head
straight for that shelf in the library/trailer, because I want to climb Kilimanjaro,
too. 

adventure · decision · faith · family · finances · judaism · say yes · shabbat · work · writing

Go Toward the Open Door.

Wise women have told me this occasionally over the last few
years. And, this is just the opportunity I
got this weekend – to go toward the open door.
Originally planned for this weekend, was helping my
immensely talented and ambitious friend by volunteering at her art show
benefit for Japan. My volunteering for her had come as a status reduction from being in the art show, as during the time of my unemployment, I
realized I was not energetically inclined toward creative production, nor,
unfortunately, toward the donation of any art I currently own. So, I
downgraded myself to volunteer last month.
Then, I continued to be unemployed, and although now (halleLUjah) employed, I don’t get paid until the 15th
of this month. Her show was planned for last night, Saturday night, and I have
$40 to my name until Friday. I had to tell her I couldn’t do it. I simply couldn’t
afford the roundtrip to the city. It just wasn’t feasible.
Do I/did I feel like a flake? Yeah. Was there anything I
could do about it? No.
In the meantime, having unceremoniously bowed out of
volunteering, on Friday morning my office was in the midst of heading out for
the weekend to a “Shabbaton,” basically, a weekend at an overnight summer camp
in the Santa Rosa mountains, where 250 members of the congregation (did I
mention I work, now, at a synagogue?), kids, grandparenty-types, Board members,
staff members, would all gather and have a hella Jewish weekend (well, hella Reform Jewish weekend – which includes guitars, LOTS of
clapping on the up-beat, and the community-sanctioned use of a cappuccino machine on
Shabbat).
I, was not going to go. I told them over this week and a
half of my new employment that I wouldn’t be able to go, as I was volunteering
with my friend’s art show. And, part of me didn’t really want to see these
people, as I was still feeling rather resentful at being a freakin’ secretary,
answering phones and manipulating mail merges.
However, there was another part of me who is, about 7, I’d
say. And she, every time I heard someone
wish me a good weekend as they were departing on Friday afternoon,
would say to me,
I wanna go to
camp!.
I wanna go. I wanna go to camp. I wanna sleep in a bunk,
and clap during song session, and eat at long uncomfortable tables, and see the
mountains. I wanna go to camp!
She whispered this to me all day. Indeed, she’d been
whispering it with increasing intensity all week, but adult me was too pissed at
these people for having supporting roles in the drama of my life that was once
again entitled, “Molly: The Disgruntled Employee.”
Then, however, came the reality that I would not, in fact,
be joining my friend for her art show. And I’d been offered a ride by another
reluctant employee earlier in the week, that she was going up on Saturday
morning, coming back on Sunday, and I could ride with her.
She’s new to the office as well, and I could sense that
perhaps we could get along. So I told her I’d think about it. And, as she was
generously giving me a ride the the bus stop on Friday afternoon, long after almost
everyone else had defected for the mountains, my little girl was screaming to
be heard.
I was, in fact, on the bus home when I finally gave in to
her. I called the woman, and I told her that if she was still willing, I’d love
to ride with her to the Shabbaton.
Because, in reality, my alternative now, without the art
show, was to sit on Saturday in my apartment, continue to read my Zadie Smith
novel, see a few friends, and putz around, as per usual. I saw that very
clearly as I rode that bus through Berkeley. Everything as per boring usual.
I have been camping once
this summer. Several months ago now. I have kept my childlike spirit drowned
out with the adult business of interviewing, resumes, finance planning,
budgeting, cost efficiency, worry worry worry. There has been nearly NO play in
the last 3 months. At all. A few movies here and there for a break from the
awful soul-crushing of unemployment, but other than that, no glitter, sparse laughter, begrudging fun, and a riotous need to DO SOMETHING DIFFERENT.
So, I said YES. I went toward the open door.
The adult in me was also very calculatingly clear, with its
Cheshire cat smile, that this weekend away would not cost me a penny. That I
would have good meals I didn’t have to cook, pay for, or clean up from. That I
would get the chance to go to the mountains, and hike there, as I did, without
paying for a rental car, gas money, a camp site, anything at all.
I would be able to get out of dodge simply by saying “yes.”
To think that I almost didn’t makes me laugh at myself.
The weekend itself was both satisfying, and exhausting.
Exhausting, as I was “on” the whole time, schmoozing with people, making my new
presence known. It was not an entirely selfless or avocational decision to go up, obviously –
it was/is also important to me that people got to know me as more than the
receptionist, should the ears of the executive director be listening to the
chatter in the water. Phrases like “raise” and “room for growth” come to mind
as I go forward with this job. It was a political decision. – Also, it
exposes/d me to people who might be good contacts later on.
Indeed, there was a published/working poet there with whom I
got to spend some good conversations. The last one included my bald question,
“Is it worth the fight?” [to be a writer, to pursue this {or indeed any} art, to continue to
put one word after another as a sign that we mean something to ourselves, others, this world we live in – that we are not floating mindlessly through it – that we value our experiences – that we mold and shape them and
ply them and tongue them and pinch them into these characters we imprint on paper
and screen …
Is it worth the fight to do this?]
His answer, after the knowing laugh, was yes, if you believe
it is.
I believe it is. I believe in marking my existence. I
believe in questioning it, turning it, shaping it, and being shaped by it.
I believe in inviting you to share it with me. To tell me how you see it, to let me have my own world shaped for a
moment or more by how it is you walk in the world.
By saying yes to this weekend, I allowed cherished and often
dismissed parts of me to sing in the sunshine. To look at the Milky Way, for
Christ’s sake. To dance in a circle of women, to talk blogging with a
stay-at-home dad. I got to see a fawn pounce through the brittle brush and pet
baby goats, and to sing at my most favorite service in
all of Judaism, Havdallah, the closing of Shabbat, where we say good-bye to the
week we’ve had, and we welcome the week to come. The service where we invite
the sweetness of Shabbat to come with us into and sustain us through the coming week.
It is a service that dances the edge of wistful, grateful
endings and limitless, renewed beginnings. And, simply, it has the best music.
Shavuah Tov, friends – May you have a happy week.  

authenticity · community · creativity · friendship · frustration · kindness · maturity · recovery · relationships · San Francisco · writing

Literati

Yesterday was a day off from work, as they needed the room
I’ve been stationed in, the library, so I got to experience a lot of loll and
gag. Less gag, more loll.
I still did spend
time in a library, peeling myself from my couch to go sit in the local library
and email and submit applications for higher education jobs. Here, Southern
California, New York City … Northern Florida. Throwing out the seeds and seeing
what sprouts.
I also got another book out of the library, and began to
notice a trend of mine over the last few months. The latest books I’ve read
have been:
Why Be Happy When You Could Be Normal? by Jeanette Winterson
I’ll Never Be French (No Matter What I Do) by Mark Greenside
Man Seeks God: My Flirtations with the Divine by Eric Weiner
Seriously, I’m Kidding…
by Ellen Degeneres
Wild: From Lost to Found on the Pacific Crest Trail by Cheryl Strayed
and now
Bossypants by Tina
Fey
As I was checking Tina Fey’s book out, I was able to connect
a few dots through the above list. Firstly, there are the books that are
about redemption – about people searching, seeking, going insane, going sane.
Mark Greenside’s book is more of a bridge to the other category, not being a
redemption, but certainly a “coming of age” (at 40) kind of an adventure. The other
category, of course, being the comedienne’s books.
Something about this strikes the right balance with me.
That, yes, I want to read about your harrowing walks through dark nights of the
soul and wilderness and Vegas (see : Man Seeks God), but I also want to read the levity, candor, and
strength of women in showbiz who are being pioneers in a
different way.
I’d never been one for non-fiction, and all the above are.
They’re all “memoirs.” I was raised picking up the library copies of my mom’s
Stephen King novels, and for most of my junior high and high school years, I’d
sit on the couch in the downstairs living room, engrossed in the psychological
and physical mystery of King’s characters and plot. Everyone would eventually
go up to bed, but I was too page-turned, and soon, it was late. And I was by
myself, reading Stephen King in the middle of the night.
This, was not an altogether pleasant experience, so I’d read
further, because if I closed the book, I’d have to turn off all the downstairs
lights, and walk upstairs in the dark with visions of deranged clowns lurking
in my peripheries. So, I read on, and then it’d be 2 or 3 or 4 in the morning,
and my eyes scratchy from being open so long, and I’d finally give up, too
exhausted to care if there were a rabid dog perched somewhere in the stairwell.
I’d climb up to bed, and fall in, too tired to be awake enough to contemplate
the darkness.
There were the years when I didn’t read anything at all,
really. I call these college.
No, (!) just kidding. But after college, I read nothing much
at all, or nothing that stands out. And I don’t really remember what I picked
up next, but it wasn’t that many years ago.
I remember when I first got sober, within the first year, I
went to see a movie at an indie theater in San Francisco. I had befriended a
group of people who were wonderful and hilarious and lovely, but none of whom wanted to see anything like what I was seeing that day. I enjoyed
the movie immensely, and when I walked out, I began to panic.
I’ll never have the kind of friends who’ll want to see
anything like this with me. No one has the kind of taste I have. I’ll be
destined to watch things and do things that interest me alone forever
.
Fatalism is not just a river in Egypt. Melodrama, the same.
I began to cry. Honestly.
I called the one woman I trusted, and sobbed to her on the
phone how alone I was, and that no one “got” me, and that I was too weird to
have friends.
She told me to come over to her house right then. I sobbed even
more that I didn’t know the San Francisco bus system, and I’d be stuck in Polk
Gulch forever.
So, she told me how to catch the Geary or the California
bus, and picked me up at a mutual spot, and fed me tea and calmed me down.
A few months later, I was outside my car with a group of
people. One of them I’d just met, and she looked into my backseat and saw a
book I had there (I honestly can’t remember what it was). She exclaimed with delight – she had been meaning to read
that book! How did I like it, what did I think? And I told her she could borrow
it when I was done.
It felt like a revelation, even though it was such a “small”
thing. I leant her the book. She leant me one. I began to form friendships with
people who had similar tastes and interests, and who would undoubtedly today
come with me to an indie movie theater.
It took time. It took
a lot of time. I have a friend now who is going through similar transitions and
longing for those kinds of connections, having been immersed in a relationship
involvement so that it’s been hard to make the kind of friends she wants. So, I
told her that story of the movie theater breakdown and the book-in-the-car new
friend.
At some point, I turned from the sci-fi, novel genre (though
The Illustrated Man sits on my shelf – moment of silence for Ray Bradbury, and his children’s room/lion story
that has never left my consciousness). Today, the books I read are not paths
into the mystery of the mind and the world, but out of them. (Though, someone once gave
me a copy of
The Power of Now,
and each time I tried to read it, I a) threw up a little in my mouth, and b) twice —
TWICE– simply threw the damn thing sputtering across the room – this
last time, just a few months ago. I’ve since given it away. Self-righteousness
in a “spiritual” teacher is an ugly characteristic.)
It’s just interesting to me to notice what I’ve been
attracted to lately. That it points to a change in course. I yoked a friend
of mine to driving up to Jeanette’s reading when she was in town a few months ago, and that
friend now has my copy – a friend of mine, wants to read something I’m
interested in too. A friend of mine is interested in the things I am too. And she’s not the only one. I’m
no longer bereft and alone on a street corner drowning in the electric whine of
MUNI wires and the stench of human misery.
Thank you, Brandie, for asking me about that book in my
car. 
balance · community · poetry · work · writing

We Have All Overpacked

hey dudes. burning candle at both ends, with early work commute, and late night job hunting, so, please accept this poem in place of today’s blog. it’s what I read at the “spiritual send-off” graduation ceremony two weeks ago. imagine me being emphatic. xo,m.

                     * * *

There is a train departing shortly.
All the people in this room will be
on it.
This is lucky because you have
overpacked.
You have brought
scarves
and sweaters
and knitted hats.
You have anticipated your journey
will be wintered
and icy
and hard.
Your neighbor has also overpacked.
His suitcase is filled with
stilettos,
and boas
and a katy perry mash-up.
He has anticipated his journey
will shimmy with ease
and levity
and laughter.
As you look around this room,
each person comes here overpacked –
with ideas
with plans
with scars.
Each person with
a dream,
or prayer,
or plea.
Each of us comes here hoping
we’ve prepared for our journey
properly.
Hoping we’ll
have enough or
be enough or
do enough.
Hoping that everything
we’ve put in
and gone through
and let go of is enough
to move on from
here.
But, I am sorry to tell you,
we haven’t got everything we need.
See, I need your feathered boa
to remind me
not take myself too seriously
 – and that glitter is a verb.
You need my winter boots
to help you walk through that one
moonless night.
The person in front of you would like to know
if you have a bandaid she could
use,
or a book that you love,
or a love that you lost.
The person behind you would like to know
if she could borrow your arms for a
minute
so you can enclose her in an
embrace
— something none
of us can pack.
There is a train departing shortly.
All the people in this room will be
on it.
And this is lucky because we have
all
overpacked.
May 2012

frustration · progress · school · self-pity · writing

Veysmere.

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
in. 
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.)

inspiration · joy · love · writing

And so, she falls.

I am in LOVE. This is no mere crush.
The feeling that the very molecules of your DNA have
rearranged themselves, and that the world has possibilities where there were
only plain corners. That by standing on the back of this wave of pure
inspiration, I too can achieve great things and greet the world with an
untrained eye, a new eye, an unfettered, welcoming, curious, open eye.
Yes. I am in love. With Jeanette Winterson and her
writing.
She was only just introduced to me by a friend who happened
to be reading Jeanette’s latest memoir. My friend said she had a quote about
poetry to send me, I said great, not really thinking much of it. And then I
read my email.
The quote was like walking into the room and locking eyes
with the person you will later have a torrid, fiery affair with. I was lit by
it. And so I followed it, her trail, to her website. And began to read the
excerpt from the book, the first chapter. I was mesmerized.
Like listening to someone on a first date describe what they
do and are interested in, but you actually care. You’re actually hanging onto every word as if it were laden with the
truth of the Universe and a single dropped syllable will leave you dangling off the cliff of sanity.
I read the chapter like my life depended on it – like the
meaning of my life depended on it. And I followed her to Amazon. And to the public
library.
And yesterday, I captured her. I caught up with her in the
school library, in the stacks, far in the back, while students ticked away on
papers and palms jutted into their weary faces.
There she was, nestled among others I had no eyes for at
all. Glittering gold and the miasma of the universe could have split open
around me, and I’d see nothing but Jeanette. I grabbed her. I went to the
other section where she was, and I stock piled her. I pulled her out and on top
of me. I melted under her weight and was levitated by it.
I radiated purpose and joy. The sense of purpose only pure
love can bring. The moment of Ah Hah, the moment of clarity. The moment of
infinite future, and complete finite utterly lostness of the present. Just
here. In the musky scent of pages and binding. I gathered her up.
I absconded with her, like a Sabine woman, this taut,
witty, tawdry, brutal, reluctantly tender woman. I ran with her out into the fading
light of dusk, and I opened her up to me.
I ployed with her skin, brain cells fainted in her wake
overcome by the fullness of witnessing her. And by witnessing her, I
witnessed myself. I witnessed the magnitude of the human experience. I watched her
dissect the grand Truths of the World into aching wisps of language that got tangled in my hair and singed my eyelashes.
I ingested her the way only lovers can do, wholly, boundlessly, allowed her to come inside and rearrange my organs to her pleasure.
To kick my heart out of my lung and into my throat, to choke on her
brilliance. I lay submissive to her steer-branding of every blood cell, let myself be mottled by her, cleaved apart by her, and culled back together with the
mortar of her.
Yes, I am in love. And I am different for it.