Tuesday, January 30, 2007

and she didn't even get lost...

so i went to nyc tonight, alone, and made it to the venue, with my chai tea latte in hand (i didn't know if starbucks was being boycotted because their coffee beans had too much caffine or what, not that the activists are the problem, i'm saying, i'm clueless if they were being boycotted it would be classic suz to stroll into a joint with a starbucks Tshirt, venti in hand, and a orange cranberry scone).

so i sat outside of bluestockings on the blue bench chained to the building. with a bike rack across from me, lesbian literature beside me and had my chai latte. i called my sister, because that is what i do, draw her in to my life wherever i happen to be. she encouraged me and i saw the poet who was hosting go by on the bus.

she came by about a half hour later, when i was back on the bench outside yakking with my sister. i reintroduced myself (she had only ever heard me read one poem at an open mic, so she didn't know me from adam basically), and asked if she wanted company wherever she was going. she was going to eat, so i'm glad i joined in.

i had a real slice of nyc pie. and the locals know the best joints. mine had fresh mozarrella and spinach. my favorite, bianca verde. the host, italian that she is kept trying to get me to pronounce it right. berde. but i kept anglicizing it, verde. (even though i'm latin and know better). we sat and talked for a bit while we at our slice and i went for her plate which was sitting on the table,
i'm a mom, it's what i do.

i'm a feminist, give me my damn plate.
she said.

i laughed.
i'm pusing it now.

we walked back to the venue which was sporadically filled at six p.m. but standing room only by the time i read, at 8:30. there were probably twenty people in chairs at the center, the window seats were full, the bookstore register area had salespeople lined up listening. it was a great venue. a great time.

heard lots of cussing and it makes me understand why i'm desensitized to it now. i can't help that i don't mind it. heard lots of descriptions of coitus, and ensuing variations. i guess, that is the topic that most interests people. my set had a couple of those poems in it, but i'm decidedly st8. a manfan all the way.

i had the crowd with me, which was pretty stunning since the other poet i read with was a multimedia spoken word artist who was quite good. she had music accompanying her set and sang a few ditties (long ditties, which were interesting). again, much about coitus.

i had all this transitional garbage to say between my poems, and i dumped it all and hit them straight on with what i brought. i was the closing poet. i jumped right in, read with my usual confidence, and was well received. a couple people left, but it is to be expected. i've been to reads for well known poets with only a handfull of people. this was a crowded joint, granted the joint was small, but it was a great first time out.

who knows where i'll read next.

my girl wanted a souvenier. and i thought some of the items a bit too, um, mature, shall we say. and i could just see her walking in to her presby church with an "i'm a feminist" shirt on. i would have loved it, but it would have been too difficult to explain. so i got her a feminist book on women's history. a girls' guide to life. i figure, i'm not going to raise a clueless girl. we're going to get into some of the difficult topics facing women, and she's a sponge. time to start teaching some women's history to her.

as i said, i'm no feminist, i'm no activist. but i'm willing to listen, to learn, to grow. that is all i hope to do. to remain open to the people and experiences that come my way. to trust the people who need to cross my path to cross my path. and to believe that there is a reason for everything, even the madness going on in my life right now.

my set dealt mostly with domestic violence, sexual abuse, marriage issues and emerging as a woman. becoming whole.

i hope to use that set as the backbone of a poetry book i'm putting together for a new women's voices in poetry contest, for unpublished gals like myself. it would sure be nice if i won and got published that way. it comes with a bit of cash, which i could use.

that's all. i came home to find it had snowed lightly, a dusting, while i was away. so my ride home was glistening. it looked on the outside, like i feel on the inside. regardless of if people will ever come to hear me again, i did it. i read in nyc. and i didn't even get lost on the way there. you'd think i'd lived there.

now if i can just bring myself to cross against the signals (i don't, but everyone else does, even in jersey, it's insane). then i'd look less like a visitor. waiting at the curb for the little white guy in his walking pose to guide me across the street safely.

nyc is a great place at night. i shall have to go back again sometime.

for all those who sent me word, or encouragement (one friend text messaged me before i went on. others were sending me good vibrations. many praying me through), thanks! it was a dream. truly. and i'm grateful for your part in it, i needed help through this and getting myself ready for it. so many people listened to me read, talk endlessly about my damn set. i'm glad it's over, for their sake, but i'm also glad for what's ahead. just around the bend, i hear it coming...

Monday, January 29, 2007


people have asked me many times lately, if i'm nervous about my big nyc debut tomorrow night.

no, i'm not. i don't get nervous about these things (granted, in practice i was a bit off, but that is what practice is for). i thought today, does a bird get nervous before it flies? nah. it just leaps out and lets the wind catch it and carry it where it will.

so i shall be carried to my read and home.

my journal is called emergence. this is it for me. coming out. in many ways. a lot will change for me tomorrow. a lot has changed all ready. many, unexpected changes. losses unseen. but i will weather them. as i've weathered all the losses past.

tomorrow is a new day. time to do what i was created to do. a great adventure begins. something that has been building strength for a great while. the time is now.

my set is kind of a downer, serious with a few light spots. hopefully it will speak to souls, rather than just be ear candy. i want to nourish deep roots. to touch women and explore difficulties.

my life is fraught with difficulty of late. but it all depends on how i look at it. is it a trial or an adventure? i opt for the adventure route. who knows who i'll meet next. who knows where i'll read next. who knows? who really knows?

i've not had time to just sit in the moment and think about tomorrow. too much to do to get away for the better part of the afternoon and evening. but tonight. i'll shut it all down, and sit in silence for a while.

remembering, this is just the beginning. this is not the end.

the best is just ahead, around the bend, where i can't see it.

and i am looking forward to it.

Sunday, January 28, 2007

blogger roulette

i'm way too tired to be trying to say anything even remotely coherent now. but, that never stopped me before. it is one of the ways i remove cognition from my process. write when i am too tired to think. the words splash on the page like splatter painting. everywhere, sometimes they say nothing. other times, you can see stuff. which will it be tonight? i don't know, pick a number, spin the wheel, we'll find out soon enough.

went bald eagle watching on the hudson today. seven full hours of hunting down eagles. i spotted several and totaled twelve for the day. not bad for my first venture out birding. we also saw a snowy owl, which everyone had their knickers in knots about. i didn't care either way. apparently they are only in new jersey this time of year. right now. so we ventured off our determined path and saw one who was willing to be gawked at and photoed from a relatively close vantage point. he was perched upon a few old pier pilings in the hudson about fifty feet off shore. very close indeed.

my people were supposed to go with me. you know, the whole native thing. bald eagles are practiacally a religious solemnity. but no, they both opted out and i went alone with a group of strangers. the story of my life. i said very little. i listened a lot. i wandered off when i could. tried to avoid the talkative types. tried to keep my eyes on the eagles and forget about how it was an experience i wanted to share with my people.

now i'm tired since i had to work after the day of birding. i went out today without a single sheet of paper or a pen. an odd feeling. caught in such a state. but i was focused on other things before i left. i had every intention of driving myself, but ended up the passenger of two lovely indian people, with a guy riding along beside me.

the two indians were so ying and yang, it was nice to see. a couple who actually enjoy being together. very well travelled. interesting. we listened to some belize music (i'm not sure the proper term for that), and my back seat riding partner and i caught a couple of the rhythms that alluded to eighties music. kind of wild. music really is a universal language.

i was watching the people in our group, raucous bunch that they were (not by a normal person's standard, but by mine), and two men had these little downturned mouths. i asked the driver, who seemed real well to do (and i don't mean that in a bad way, he was incredibly kind, generous. gracious). i asked him and the other guy,
do you think it takes muscles to frown? or is that just the way some people look?

the indian driver said,
did you know it takes twenty four muscles to frown, but only two to grab the person and bitch slap him.

i laughed. it was great. that was near the end of the day. i hadn't expected it. we were all sitting there in the car laughing.

the indian driver told me of a place in india which the dialect is this really long word that starts with an m.

i've never heard of that place before.

it is the only place with 100% leprosy.
he said.

sounds like a great place to live.
i said snickering in the back.

he goes on to tell me how the laborers have bachelor's degrees.

i said.

he said.

we all laughed again.

if i wasn't all ready a half hour late, i could have thought of something interesting to say to them before i left, but i had to go.

fortunately i'll see his wife when we go eagle watching on the delaware.


Thursday, January 25, 2007

soul food

for me the greatest refreshing is communion. communion of soul. looking into someone else's eyes and speaking the language of the soul, being unafraid, standing unadorned, and having someone looking back, unafraid and unadorned. willing to vulnerable. the conversation can drop off at any point, because it will always be picked up at a later date. not necessarily tomorrow, but the next time we talk.

i was explaning this phenomenon to a new friend, my best friends and i can not speak for years, and pick up where we leave off. that is why we're best friends. we meet the husbands, children, friends who have come along in the interim. and catch up on the major events, but then, soul talk. soul food. nourishing each other with communion.

i guess that is a prerequisite for bestfriendship if i was to have one. being willing and able to be vulnerable. who needs an armored saint for a best friend (ha, that image makes me laugh. half armadillo, half heavy metal band member). but really, i don't need teflon friends. i don't want teflon friends.

so i was telling my new friend that one of my best friends is coming to visit.
ah, a tree is coming to visit,
i said.

she is a tree in my life. a mighty oak. and i need her now. i need her shade. to recline against the sturdy towering comfort that our friendship has been to me through the years.

she said to me recently,
you know suz, i haven't always liked the things you've done. but you can't say i have been unaccepting. i'm always going to give you my opinion and take it for what it's worth. but i will always accept you.

i said. very little need be said at that point. that is why she is an oak to me. that is why i shelter the storms under her boughs. she speaks and i listen. i have to consider what she says even if she says what i don't want to hear. i would be greatly discomforted if those around me rang out in a chorus of affirmation. i don't need friends like that. those people are not my best friends, those who can only speak affirmation.

but also i don't need a hive of stinging bees, who only buzz about my head in disapproval. i need those, tall enough, wise enough, grounded enough, to be who they are. to fragrance my life with their scent. to shelter me, and receive shelter from me, though it may be, must be unconventional.

i'm not sure what kind of tree i would be. most likely a weeping willow. dancing in the breezes, draging my long members as a veil to create a place of safety and solitude.

i want to be, and i hope i am a tree in other's lives. to shelter and bless. and when the time comes, to be chopped down for the fire that must keep one warm.

a tree is coming to visit. and i could not be more grateful for her timing.

Tuesday, January 23, 2007

poets, poets, everywhere

so i met three new poets last night. it is always nice hearing new voices. i enjoy our little poetry get togethers, they seem to be a nice blend of feedback and work. i'm going to have to figure out how to keep things moving when it gets bogged down. i've not really used the heavy hand i used to use when i had a room full of moms discussion lactation. i kept it moving, balanced the conversation more. here, i'm not doing so well. i just want to listen to everyone and some people go on and on.

i guess the way i figure it is, we're all adults, take a sliver of time (and since we had some pretty long sections last night, it was probably tough to know what the appropriate length of time for one to take would be). i'll have to be more clear about that next time.

it is always a question, when someone reads some epic poem and another reads a haiku, whether one poem each is right. honestly, i'd rather listen to fifty haiku than an epic any day. though i often have to rehear, reread the haiku because they are so tightly packed, like a bunch of full sized vehicles in compact spaces.

so i read my nyc set last night and i'm glad i did. it was my first time reading some from memory, and it was okay but i was a little nervous. so this week i'll spend practicing. getting my set locked down in terms of delivery. and we'll go from there.

another good thing i realized is how small twelve point font looks on the page when you're reading. i didn't have a lecturn or anything, but i am going to blow up the font and divide up the poems into breath segments (not that i would ever want them published this way), so i can have an easier time toggling through the pages. a three ring binder is probably my best option in terms of conveyance. maybe i'll try to find a nice black leather one. yes. that would work.

my poems were well received, the progression seemed to tell the story as i wanted. all in 17 minutes. so when i practice, slow it down even more (i wasn't trying to speed through it, but in a way i know i did last night, nerves will do that to you) i should fill up the tweny minutes perfectly.

still not sure what to wear.

Saturday, January 20, 2007

two poets more

my first experience as a fashionista went well. my feet are killing me, but it was to be expected. i remember last time i had a retail job (circa 1995), my feet hurt just thinking about it.

but tonight was fun. all ladies. some men (all spoken for). if you haven't seen the valentines nighties that just came out, humenah humenah. they are lovely.

i think what makes this job so easy for me is i love the product. i wear the product. it's not hard to sell things that really work. these clothes are flattering on big girls and it's easy to sell something that is actually nice. it was a joy.

the people i work with seem nice. i got kind of nervous when i began because there is a big deal made of the numbers. sales numbers. and i am not into sales. but after tonight's double (i got a second unexpected shift, which is great, except for my throbbing feet, the more money the better, i say).

we were incredibly busy nearly the whole time and that makes the work shift go by really fast. which i am grateful for. though while i was there, i met two more poets.

i noticed a bag that had the pegasus from Poetry Magazine on it. it is tangerine orange. i recognized this bag because my daughter begged me to get her one. when i worked on literary row at the dodge poetry festival, the POETRY mag folks were just two booths down. beside me, american academy of poets, three booths down, american association of poets (poetry.org). then more and more over the weekend.

anyway, i spot this bag and say,
are you a poet?

yeah, so is my girl friend.

awesome! i'm having my first read in NYC at bluestockings on jan. 30.

that is one of our favorite venues, we've both read there. i'd love to come and see you.

i'd love to be seen!
i said, arms outstreched walking away.

we exchanged digits and wouldn't you know, they know a poet i know from dallas. a poet whom i LOVE. joaquin zijatanejo.

you know joaquin, i featured him at my broolyn venue!

he's awesome, i could listen to him all day.

he turns to his girlfriend who just walked up,
she knows joaquin.

well, i have his chapbooks and went to a few of his reads, but i don't really know him. i love his work though.


that made my night kids. such a small, small world. and i am in the middle of a poetic vortex. come all the way to dallas to find souls who know and love the same poets i do. isn't it something?

Thursday, January 18, 2007

pathology of darkness

i don't usually sit on posts. i don't usually remain silent. but these are strange times for me, and silence is the better option. if you know me, well, you understand. if you don't, i can't speak just yet. this post, i wrote a few days ago, i'm not even sure what i'm saying. and it is a glimpse of darkness i'm not yet comfortable with. the pathology of darkness. am i admitting it is pathological. won't that be more fodder for those who like to judge? perhaps. but i have a feeling there are some who need to read this, regardless of what kind of snarls it elicits from the narrowminded set. i'm just too tired to fight, so if you've got something unkind to say, keep it to yourself. i don't want to hear it. it is not every day i admit this shortcoming, it is not every day i feel this way. so just for today, let it rest in silence if you don't agree.

i am reading the return of the prodigal son by henri nouwen. i love nouwen as most of you know, but we have some new readers and i say this for them. his words are gentle, yet precise. a tidal wave of truth. coupled with merton, these are my mainstays in the reading department. (just about any nouwen book you pick up will be the right book. the same cannot be said about merton. those must come to you at the right time, in the right order. let them find you, don't search them out. but nouwen, go after him.)

this particular book though it be only 139 pages, has literally taken me years to read. i started it on a weekend retreat with a therapist friend of mine, (i actually mention that weekend in my manuscript for those close to me who have read it). it was a gift she gave to those who supported her mission work to russia. she's an amazing therapist, but i can't name her now, because i don't do that. at some future point in time, i'll name names, but not now.

anyway, i only got halfway through the book. only a third, actually. i'm in the middle of the eldest brother right now and i think i was not ready to read more that is why it has taken me years to read this book. one little nibble keeps me for ages it seems. (oh, to write like that!)

here is the particular bit that struck me as profoundly applicable to my present state and previous couple blogs on darkness:

Here I see how lost the elder son is. He has become a foreigner in his own house. True communion is gone. Every relationship is pervaded by the darkness. To be afraid or to show disdain, to suffer submission or to enforce control, to be an opressor or to be a victim: these have become the choices for one outside the light. Sins cannot be confessed, forgiveness cannot be recieved, the mutuality of love cannot exist. True communion has become impossible.

I know the pain of this predicament. In it, everything loses its spontaneity. Everything becomes suspect, self-conscious, calculated, and full of second-guessing. There is no longer any trust. Each little move calls for a countermove; each little remark begs for analysis; the smallest gesture has to be evaluated. This is the pathology of darkness.

Is there a way out? I don't think there is--at least not on my side. It often seems the more I try to disentangle myself from the darkness, the darker it becomes. I need light, but that light has to conquer my darkness, and that I cannot bring about myself. I cannot forgive myself. I cannot make myself feel loved. By myself I cannot leave the land of my anger. I cannot bring myself home nor can I create communion on my own. I can desire it, hope for it, wait for it, yes, pray for it. But my true freedom I cannot fabricate for myself. That must be given to me. I am lost. I must be found and brought home by the shepherd who goes out to me.

no one wants to be lost. no one wants to admit the profound darkness that surrounds. but one cannot help notice how incapacitating this darkness is when it hits. were it not for honest souls who are not afraid, i would wallow in this darkness without a word of kindness.

but sometimes, i think people who can communicate, get to. i can write. i can write about darkness. i do write about that darkness regarless of the response. this is part and parcel of why i get to write about it. why i get to experience it. is it fun? no. it's scary. it's darkness. it's a cavernous hole of longing unfulfilled. it would devour me if it weren't for the certainty, the only certainty i've ever had. ever will have. that darkness is not the end. that we get to escape this land of toil and walk in the harsh light of day. perhaps not here. perhaps here your role is to convey souls from darkness to light (you don't get to do that without dealing with darkness, i'm sorry to tell you).

i've not come to this place lightly. i don't advocate it for any other than those who are called. it is and can be a pathology, but also a remedy to those who are powerless to reach their loved ones lost in darkness.

before i plunged into shadow recently, i got to admonish a dear friend about depression. i said nothing new. in fact, i used the selfsame exhortation i used last time. but coming from me, struggler with depression that i am, he believed it. it soothed him that my counsel was not just manufactured light and postive thinking.

as i've said, i've not fully explored the subject, it's halfbaked here. i've gone over profound points of nouwen to let him speak for himself. i'll try again another time when i have words. until then, let this hymn, which helped me through my dark night of late, bless you.

Abide with me: fast falls the eventide;
the darkness deepens; Lord, with me abide:
when other helpers fail and comforts flee,
help of the helpless, O abide with me.

I need thy presence every passing hour;
what but thy grace can foil the tempter's power?
Who, like thyself, my guide and stay can be?
Through cloud and sunshine, Lord, abide with me.

I fear no foe, with thee at hand to bless;
ills have no weight, and tears no bitterness.
Where is death's dark sting? where, grave, thy victory?
I triumph still, if thou abide with me.

Hold thou thy cross before my closing eyes;
shine through the gloom, and point me to the skies;
heaven's morning breaks, and earth's vain shadows flee;
in life, in death, O Lord, abide with me.

Wednesday, January 17, 2007

style expert

well, that is my new title. i'm not a very well paid style expert. i'm not that much of an expert, truth be told. but it is nice to be labeled something to live up to. and they did manage to pay me more than i expected.
something is better than nothing,
i always say.

look the part,
my manager said.

then i walked out of her office and my hair latched on to her delicate wire rimmed glasses and cast them to the ground.

guess i'll have to braid that for work,
i said.

trouble is, they don't want piercings, and my ears have nine holes in them, which aren't the natural ones. but maybe they didn't mean ears. just noses and bellies and stuff and other places people stick metal.

nothing tasteless,
she said.

i guess, if i was worried about it, i could get a job at some head shop. that is a very laid back atmosphere i'm sure. looking the part is more in my arena there.

but i'll try. it helps that i just bought a shitload of clothes from there and can wear those.

so i'm working weekends kids. and sitting here considering what next three poems i'll enter into a contest. do i send out the same ones i just sent (they're damn good). but isn't that doubting myself, or is it just being safe.

the good thing is, i get weeknights off. so i can do my poetry shindigs, and not miss too much good stuff. most of the open mics i go to are on weeknights. the odd weekend i'll get away for a poetry extravaganza, i'll just have to take off.

so if you have any fashion questions, i'll try to answer them seeing as i'm an expert now. though, my latest fashion acquisition got a,
that's hideous!
from my husband, who has never been too fond of my dress.

my brother said,
you're still a rocker at heart.

i said,
aw, you know me.

and those pants i just got, with the smiling skull and crossbones, how often do you see a skull smiling? i had to, HAD TO get them. they'll be nice at a read or something. plus i bought them from the store i'm working at, so if they bitch about it, i'll be pissed.

i've narrowed down my read choices somewhat (i guess i do think about fashion a lot, more my lack thereof than anything else), and i've narrowed it down to two outfits. if the weather is really cold, that severely limits my options. since i'm taking the train, i better dress warm. though i'll be hoofing it to the bookstore from the subway.

it's all good kids. all good.
style expert signing off.

Tuesday, January 16, 2007

blessing people, blesses people

i'm getting a part-time job. for many reasons, not the least of which, i don't mean to miss any more poetry shindigs if i can help it (though my availability in terms of time is now an issue, at least when i will be free, i can afford to go).

it's no great secret i'm not rolling in dough. i never have been. i'm like all native people when i have money, i give it away. i haven't had much money to give away of late. but i still try to give of my time and talents. at least i can do that.

so the new thing at grocery stores is selfcheckout. being impatient, i like this option, plus, it is one less person i have the potential of barking at (i must save my niceness for those i deal with, eliminating an actual person here or there is a good thing in my book, but i'm from LA. people are bothersome. i'd much rather do automated anyday. which reminds me, i went to the bank and did the drive up window instead of the atm. what a pain that was. it takes five seconds for me to make a deposit in the atm, but i kid you not, i must have waited at least five minutes for this human to complete my transaction. sheesh! but i didn't want to get out of the car and they didn't have a drive up atm. i was stuck.)

so, the cash dispenser for these selfcheckout machines is down in the crotch region. and unless you've got eyes down there, you might forget your money. at least the last couple times i've been there, the ladies in front of me have forgotten theirs.

the first time it happened, i didn't pay enough attention to actually give the lady her money. i walked around in the parking lot looking for what i believed to be her. brunette with a bob. that was all i could remember. my girl didn't pay much attention either, so when we went back into the store, i turned the money in to the customer service person, my girl said,
that is what a girl scout would do.
i am a girl scout.
she smiled. and we left.

last night, i'm shopping, i am supposed to get $6 change. there is about $100 sitting in the little money spitterouter. so i grab it, cram my groceries in a bag, and run out to the parking lot, knowing i saw this lady and she was sooooooo damn slow bagging her groceries, i'm sure i could catch her.

i went up to one lady, and it wasn't her.

couldn't find her. so i prayed.

then i saw her getting in to her car, that phone pressed up against her ear. still yammering on. oblivious.


she stepped out of her car.

did you check out in front of me?


you forgot your money.

i'm sorry.

no problem, it's your money.

i'm sorry.
(she kept saying, which is so not the right response.)

anyway, a lady a couple cars over got this grin on her face like she'd done a good deed. and it made me smile. blessing people, blesses people. that is all i can say.

i need to not only pay attention to the lady in front of me, but remember to check that cash area to keep from having to crush my bread and sprint out of the store to catch the distracted souls.

i don't want money that isn't mine. i don't want pity. i just want to do what i was put here to do. and last night, that was sprinting out of the store to one distracted lady (who still wasn't finished with her phone call when i walked away from her).

i'm mailing off my poetry entry for the discovery poetry prize. keep your fingers crossed kids. it's a big deal. i'd like to win. the prize is publication, a read in nyc, and $500. Lord knows, i could use a few bucks. but the kind i earn, not the kind i steal.


Friday, January 12, 2007

size does matter

when i first thought of writing this little ditty, i was holding a small salad plate and putting my eggs and toast on it
(eat breakfast,
the lady at the gym says).

so i use small plates, sometimes a shallow salad bowl for dinner (i've never had an aversion, like my sister, to food touching. i like it all mingled together. my palate sucks my husband would say). once in a bible study talking with some folk, they said,
you can lose ten pounds by just decreasing your portions when you eat.
(that may not be the exact amount of weight, but it was significant enough for me to make a note of it and incorporate it into my life. i don't eat regularly, and that is another issue: 5 or 6 small meals--or a meal then snack, preferrably protein is the mantra. i'm lucky to eat two meals a day, i just don't live to eat folks.)

tonight, for workout numero dos, i bumbled into a crowd of large hineys in unmatching duds. i was in heaven. i got nothing against the small hiney set, except, well, mine is bigger. (why is that a good thing for men and not for women?) i don't know.

i didn't talk much, but my girl was there laughing at me as i made silly faces, i am decidely more approachable with my child in tow, than not. kids make you drop the facades. plus, i was doing this chorus line kick that nearly floored me. everything seemed to lock up on the ascent. so i took it easier. did lame little kicks rather than showgirl kicks. i would sure like to break out some old karate moves, but it's been a while, and there isn't the floorspace. bummer.

forgot my mp3 player again, but the lady there was the one who took my delicate digits. i guess because she knows the sordid details i somehow feel i don't have to hide from her. and there is that connection of her being the one who shows me how to do whatever it is i'm supposed to be doing.

this tall reed of a lady jumped in the circut one machine ahead of me, and spaced out at one point, didn't move at the appropriate time, so i jumped ahead of her two machines. these people. causing traffic. i hate it.

i also realized, the last two minutes of a workout seem to stretch out to infinity, whereas the first fifteen, seem to fly.

i kept my heart rate up, didn't get two glasses down the gullet before i went in but i'll try to suck down another tonight.

large glasses, because, size matters.

Wednesday, January 10, 2007

the beautiful people

did my first workout tonight. the place was full of perfect women with tiny butts and matching excercise suits. i fit right in.

i tried not to let it bother me. hating to be judged externally. i didn't say more than two words to anyone. and wished i'd brought my mp3 player along to keep me company. i really doubt they'll ever play tori amos or metallica. and this sweating to the oldies crap they play is really not for me.

i try not to be antisocial, but chit chat comes hard to me. i'd rather be silent. it makes more sense in my mind to just be silent than prattle on about nothing. (like i do here. ha!)

i've almost finished my second big glass of water today (that was my goal). i got my heart rate up where it needed to be, put in my time, and lit on outta there.

i'm not desperate for people to talk to. i'm not into updating strangers about my life. it's not the kind of place you can have a conversation with only one person in hushed tones. and those are really the only kinds of conversations i care to have at this point. the kind that two people lean into each other and have.

my best friend in seattle pulled over on the freeway, the 91 in california, not a small freeway, once. she and i were talking and she stopped right in the middle of the offramp because i clammed up about something.

she called me a couple nights ago, and tells me she has stopped on the freeway again (i don't know the freeways in seattle or i'd tell you), and she is sitting by the side of the road talking to me. she sat there for at least an hour. i didn't realize she was doing that (when i did, i kept asking her to drive home).

my other best friend in texas said,
if you come back, i'll quit teaching.

i said.

to spend more time with you.

it really left me speechless. have you ever had friends like this? people who rally around you and hold you up. people who know you so completely you believe their counsel and trust them to be utterly honest even when the topics get really brutal.

those are the kinds of people i'm used to talking to. so if you want me to spill my guts on a step machine, it ain't going to happen. but if you spend some time, don't mind my colorful clothing and not regulation size hiney, then we'll get along just fine. (did you know the air force pilots have to have a regulation size hiney to fly?) wild.

needless to say, i won't be flying jets any time soon.

Tuesday, January 09, 2007

oh, no!

there is a poem i wrote some time back. about things i don't want to know. i learned one of those things tonight. my sister gave me a membership to a gym. they checked my oil and looked under the hood, introduced me to the machines and told me my body fat index. oh Lord, that i could have done without.

i've never been thin, but i'm short. so on those graph charts that say how thin you should be, i should weigh something i've weighed only once when i was ten probably. (see, i'm trying to do all this without spilling my digits. very delicate digits there).

i applied for my passport today. the lady told me,
they are probably going to reject your signature.

i said,
what do i do? that is my signature.

you remember those spirographs from back in the day? they make those swirly patterns? well, that is how my signature looks. so i said,
please photocopy my social so they can see that i actually sign that way.
and she did, said,
it might help.

can you photocopy my license? it's signed that way there too?

no, they can access it.
she said.
it looks like a child's scribble, not to be demeaning.

she was trying to be nice, honesty is brutal sometimes. if i can dish it out, i sure as hell better learn to take it, eh?

i've hung it up over at ma. i was a burden i think. something about setting myself up as the wounded artist. i don't know that it is a show. it just is. i'm a wreck. how it comes across on the page, if i seem to be feigning woundedness, i don't know. but i do know it was time for me to walk away from yet another group.

i read to a crowd of hardened nj poets the other night. i was so well recieved that it is hard for me to miss anyone passing from my life these days. there is just so much happening in terms of art.

when i went to the gym tonight the lady sharing my delicate digits asked me,
what is your occupation?

i said.

i've never met a poet before.

hopefully, it will go well, i will drag myself back to the gym where i was rebuked for not drinking enough water (i drink tea and coffee.
they dehydrate you,
she says.
you must drink water!)

fine. fine. and i must work out three times a week. it will help my head. i've needed a new diversion. excercise will do.

Sunday, January 07, 2007

unfeigned light

so i didn't want to just come up with something happy to say. to pop out of the box, because those who know me, who read me would know it were a lie. i had to wait, until the time for my emergence. and today, the liturgy blessed me again. the hymns, called me from the darkness into the light. i don't understand it really, though in speaking with my dear brother in law (saint of God), he said,
the bible speaks that way.
but i've intersected a conversation i did not give you the preface to, forgive me. i was telling him how staid the liturgy appeared to me for so many years. a dead stick in the water. but that was my ignorance speaking. i did not know it. i had not lived with it, and let it live with me.

my family, thirty of us at least, used to cram in the livingroom of my granmda's house and sing christmas carols. in the way many churches still do, skipping verses. today, was the first day i've ever seen this stanza in we three kings, and i've sung that song every year of my life since time immemorial.

Myrrh is mine, its bitter perfume
Breathes a life of gathering gloom;
Sorrowing, sighing, bleeding, dying,
Sealed in the stone cold tomb.

God so gets darkness. He is not afraid of it. it has not overcome. it will not overcome. i actually listened to my priest today as he described the long darkness which has tried to devour the church. and my heart ached.

we do not get to walk this road unencumbered. we do not get to dart from light to light, though we can try. and perhaps some will be far more illuminated than i, but that is not the road i'm called to. it is not the zipping about from victory to victory in the sense of always appearing to be victorious. these inner giants, these damned darknesses i encounter are not for me to just banish. but to, strangely enough, reckon with. i still believe that.

some of the other hymns that made my inner (the church bells ring now, such a strange glorious intrusion. there again. three tolls. distinct. deliberate. sounding. three more now. penetrating homes and hearts alike. three more. it is noon, the hour of prayer, the catholic church bells now sound a chorus unknown to me by name, but a call to prayer), bells toll. all i could do was bow my head and say,
here i am again Lord, dragging myself back to You. have me. do what You will. here i am.

and somehow, through the liturgy and hymns, though they were penned ages ago, He speaks.
as my brother in law said,
as the bible does.
and this is the light, this feast of epiphany that has broken through my darkness. the Light has not been overcome.

Wednesday, January 03, 2007

i yield.

darkness comes again, i hear his footsteps in the hall. letting himself in, damn it, he made a key. has access, entry. how can i bar the door, it's too late now. he is here. he is here.

have you ever been in darkness so dark it becomes light around you? perhaps it is the music, perhaps it is many things i do. perhaps it is just how it is. he will come at will and i can receive him or try to hide. i've spent most of my life trying to hide. to run away from him. trying to manufacture light.

but darkness settles in and it won't obey our commands. or wishes. it does not come and go at our request. it merely is. like so much of life. an experience, to live through.

that i could find myself here so suddenly, surprises me. i don't know why. it is familiar territory. i know the signs now. it would have taken me days to figure out why the funk i was in had lasted so long. now, i yield to it. go down with it. and bounce back relatively quickly.

the day dawned with such promise. i had a poem. i overstepped my prayers with pressing demands, and this reminds me why i pray. why i set prayer as a priority. because when i don't (even when i do), darkness comes and i have not sharpened my sword or tested my steel. i'm caught, arms down, in a stranglehold i haven't the strength or will to escape.

but yielding does produce some fruit. going limp often surprises attackers, my sensei once taught this technique for extracting oneself from the grasp of someone who has taken you from behind. i see it in my mind. i hear the kiai. i could fight. and be free.

but i won't.

today, i'll go where darkness leads, and see what happens there. whom i happen to meet. and hope, will be tomorrow's fruit. and feast. today i yield.

Monday, January 01, 2007


we come crashing through our lives, carrying baggage, sometimes scarcely able to speak. carrying grief buried, hemmoraging love. we come. crashing, colliding, bumbling into the each other's lives.

my belief at this point is that we meet those we need to meet. those who can shed a glimmer of light, a ray of hope in such a way that we can receive it, or at least tolerate it.

my guttering flickering candle flame has often time, i've been told, been the luminescent beam of God. it doesn't take much. but it requires everything. sometimes, more than i'm willing to give. or receive.

we don't affect one way in this life. though it might be easier if it were so. the concentric circles of influence radiate out, further, and further. we cannot control who the ripples affect. just as we cannot control the ripples that send our bobbing vessel up and down. it just happens.

there is so much beauty here, and mostly, i find it all comes back to people. we get to spend a few moments in the lives, and with those we most need to meet and who most need to meet us.

if we're lucky. we'll be aware of those bumbling along beside us. and if we're immensely blessed, they'll notice, too.