Saturday, July 30, 2011

on tap

big family picnic today, we're slowly pulling it together to eventually make an appearance. how long that appearance will last is the question. i imagine we'll have an enjoyable time once we get there, if we ever get there. and my nephew is packing a thousand water balloons just to keep things interesting.

i haven't seen my closest family in three years, haven't seen everyone else in at least ten, maybe longer. probably my wedding which was fifteen maybe sixteen years ago now, i forget.

how life goes by, we change and grow. i'm grateful for this, in some ways it's an opportunity for a new beginning.

i told my girl, after bickering with her a bit last night that i probably had one more time of threatening to ship her back to her dad before she got over it. she said,
no you won't, you missed me too much.

the bummer is, i wore a necklace of hers with venus symbols and i lost it at the airport when i went to get her. i'm was so bummed about this, and fixated on it, because i was going to return it to her and checked my purse (i took it off at secruity) and it wasn't there. so picking up my kid cost me a necklace, but she didn't care.
don't worry about it,
she said. i hadn't asked to wear the necklace and then i went and lost it. my bare neck still pains me, but i have her. i woke up early and just watched her sleeping for a while.

it is so good to have her here with me again. my heart is whole again. my heart is whole.

so for two more weeks, i am going to be here, with my family, with my girl. friends plan on visiting and since so much has changed in my life, i'm pretty locked into being at the mercy of visitors. my one friend is coming in from arizona to spend a weekend here and i told her i would spend as much time with her as she'd like, and she said,
all of it.
so, hopefully, we'll have a lot of time to connect. she is the one i belly danced for in arizona on her fortieth birthday. what a riot that was.

my best friend from high school lives out here and i will hopefully get to see her too. another friend from college, a masseuse, whom i may or may not see, lives so near it kills me not to see her. but as i said, life has changed the way things are going down out here.

it's all good. i'm grateful. staying in the moment. being with those i'm with and loving them the best i can.

it has been a hard road getting here, but today it seemed okay. like it was all, every bit of it, going to work out.

it always does.

Thursday, July 28, 2011

au naturale

so i've been communicating with someone who expressed an interest in getting to know me and when her list of requirements included
waxes eyebrows
i flatly said,
um, so not me.

it's interesting the kinds of things that repel or attract people. i don't understand it. but i do understand fussing over my eyebrows has never been part of my schtick. and it never will be. not for anyone.

believe me, i have enough hair to tame without finding places to meddle. lovely visual, ha.

anyway, life is too short to have to maintain imposed standards. i feel that way about writing too. i think that is why residency was such a challenge for me. but, at least, i finally got to show my stuff. i got to stand up there and do what i do, and was told i
brought down the house.

this pleases me.

this is a picture of me before my reading, i wore my daughter's knee high converse to feel her near. she will be here tomorrow. so excited!

but now in real life, i have to figure out how to navigate my path. i've chosen the path of most resistance, and, well, no one is to blame but me. but i don't know that i would ever have been able to choose differently. it is who i am. i swim up stream. bottom line.

and finally, a picture of me after graduating. i'm coming to the conclusion, life is not an mfa program. which is a joyous and sad conclusion. i didn't think i would miss having to jump through hoops. the imposed community. the total lack of self-navigation. but i'm coming to appreciate the freedom the program being over has given me. i can do as i will. sink or swim. it is time for me to chart my own course, navigate by my own stars.

i am free. and always have been.

Wednesday, July 27, 2011

internal weather

i'm reading a book called awakening the buddha within. it is profound. today i read about how we create our own internal climate and stress, tension, and fear. these are all things we do to ourselves.

huge revelation.

i had known that about stress, but i had never made the connection with tension and fear. though i think fear can be reactionary at some level and so am not completely sold on the idea of fear being entirely self-induced, though i do lean more toward believing it than not.

went to the beach yesterday, we needed a change of scenery, so we loaded up the car and kids and spent a delightful day at the beach, impromptu. not carrying a lot of crap, not staying overlong, but just long enough for everyone to get hungry, burnt and tired. all of us got burned, yes, even me. i, who never burn.

anyway, it was wonderful.

today, we've spent the day cleaning the house, everyone, even the three year old twins were sweeping and dusting, all hands on deck and the place looks pretty good. so now it's on to other projects, sewing, job apps, that sort of thing. the way i start my day anymore, i spend a lot of time applying for jobs. my dear aquarian best friend breaks it down for me,
it's a numbers game. just do it, don't get emotionally involved.

i'm pisces, hello. everything involves emotion for me.

but maybe that is my problem. i'm trying to be less emotionalistic, yet, more in tune. tough line to walk.

today is a great day, particularly compared to the past week. one of the things my sister and i realized is that the way we approach things, look at trials has a lot to do with where the head is at. the emotions follow the head.

just got this picture of myself with my group of poets and it was a delightful residency with respect to the chemistry of our critique group. we got along well. not perfectly, but nothing too dramatic.

and of course, in retrospect, it was marvelous.

i look forward to the next phase of my life beginning. but for now, in two days my daughter will arrive and my heart will be whole.

after that, i will enjoy my last two weeks here and then begin to figure out what to do next.

at home in new york, who knows what will happen. i look forward to the unfolding mystery.

Monday, July 25, 2011

ill tidings

the morning carries with it some unfavorable news. news which can send me reeling into realms of the heart and mind that are scary at best, but my task today is, to remain in today. to believe it will be well. that which i need is coming to me.

i am trying to let go of things that must be released. trying to ground myself in the moment, in this day. but i admit, it's terrifying.

so, i will feel the abject terror of it, and move forward.

i have no answers. that is the bottom line. as much as i try to formulate answers, they do not mean anything when i can finally articulate them.

so, my task then. be present. enjoy the moment. let tomorrow settle itself. that is all that can be done at times like these.

and i must remind myself my daughter arrives friday. that is cause for celebration. she's been away too long. it was a necessary absence, but i am ready for her return.

it will be well,
i believe this.

Saturday, July 23, 2011

riddle me this

in the mysterious way life works, things are still plugging along. i try not to succumb to the swirl of confusion about me. i try to just keep steady. this morning, it feels manageable. i'm grateful for this.

i'm not sure if it is because i'm uprooted at the moment, visiting the place where i originated, or what, but i'm sorely lacking in comfort. and i'm trying to abide in the midst of that. comfort can be a distraction too.

so i take a deep breath, try to do something other than pay attention to the whirring of my mind, and be present to those around me. i love them. i never see them, i need to check in.

my aunt and mom came to visit yesterday. it was such a surprise seeing my aunt, i even snapped a picture. she who does not let others take her picture, didn't balk too much at me capturing her. through the years all we have is an arm, or back, rarely a posed shot. this was hardly a posed shot, but i was bound and determined to get one. and i did.

it was as if i was looking at myself years down the road. she is darker skinned than i, and i held her when we said hello. it was nice to be together again. she was a fixture in my life until i married.

my mom is my mom. i love her. she was generous when i showed her the latest poem i'd written about our childhood which includes some images of her. she didn't scold me, she just laughed. i was grateful for that. i really expected a scolding. but i wouldn't have let it change a thing, i think she knows that by now. i just needed her to know it was there. i'm not into hiding things. and so it was the first thing i did, show her the poem.

my professor, and everyone else, really like that poem. they say, you're taking risks,
i told her.

she just listened.

i was glad they were here. glad they came to see me.

i spent a bit of time alone on thursday, walking down laguna beach. i needed the quiet, the alone time to clear my head. i have a lot to process at the moment. i saw three dolphins playing in the surf off the shore, and the boogey boarders were having a blast. the waves were crashing pretty strong, so i only went in about three times to cool down and continued my sojourn south.

i would like to say i know what is coming and how. i would like to say a lot of things. but they just aren't true. i am as uninformed as the next guy. we are all just sojourners here. and i think the goal is to enjoy the journey.

and while i whittle down the days until my daughter's arrival, i try to focus on the tasks at hand. to be present. i haven't done so well. i've been troubled. but i will try again today.

and it will be well.

how will it

it's a mystery.

Thursday, July 21, 2011

better day

yesterday is over, thankfully. i had to endure it. it was a very long day.

sometimes the lows must, wait, always the lows must be endured like turbulence in a plane. there is no option to get out of turbulence, you must ride it out.

and so i did.

today, i sat in the garden with my sister and she read to me. a hawk landed on the wire and the chickens and ducks, scrambled behind us for safety. we watched the hawk circle and scare up a few crows.

after turning and watering the compost, i did the dishes, made breakfast and now i'm ready to go to the beach. to be delivered to the shores of the pacific where i will wander lonely as a cloud. it will settle me. i can talk with my grams there.

and when the tide recedes, i get a glimpse of her, of something familiar. the scampering sandpipers, the crying gulls. the glint of the sun on the ocean.

when the waters lick the shore, i play at their edge, am reminded of so many things that come and go. reminded how to let go. to be still in a moment while everything shifts around.

i find myself amidst wildly shifting sands, more along the lines of a sandstorm in the sahara, but maybe that's just my perception. i am trying to remember to ground, to still, to center myself.

but today, i could use a hand from nature. cleo bunny has been incredible therapy for me. she licks me when i hold her. the chickens lay down on their bellies around my feet as i sat with them yesterday. it made me smile, that even though i feel my energy is erratic at the moment, that these peaceful creatures could come stave off some of my errant energy.

seeing my mom tomorrow. i hope i can keep from telling her my girl is coming. i want it to be a surprise. but i also want to share that joy with her, that my girl is coming to california.

yesterday was a big day for me, in that i made a lot of personal decisions that i hope will manifest goodness. i had this free falling feeling after the choices were made, but there is no turning back, no stopping the descent when one begins the journey down to the underworld.

the fall has stopped, but the terrain has changed, and i seek to navigate by my own compass.

om mani padme hum

sounds in the inner chambers of my heart at the moment.

it will be well. it will all be well.

i trust this.

Wednesday, July 20, 2011

betting hedges

hedging bets, whatever. i'm not into it. i'd rather end up with my own issues at the end of following my instict than to lure someone or something along to make me safe, to keep me safe. to try to attain safety, which, i've come to discover, is not a static thing. safety is more of a state of being.

a line in one of my poems says it best,
i can wait out the storm in the safety of myself.

yes, that's it. much as i hate quoting myself, sometimes i've already said what i'm trying to say, no point in trying to reframe it in words.

but i'm feeling the urge, the need to write again, and that's good. writing grounds me.

i want what others want, i just don't want it in the way they do. i've had the family, the marriage, the child. now i need to find peace, peace which includes a place for my child. she is a part of me, a large part of me. there is no peace for me without her.

she has been away from me for about a month, or it will be just over when she arrives in california to be here with me for my last two weeks. i spent every free cent i had to secure her arrival, but i would do it again in a heartbeat. i missed her, it was as if i was inhabiting two coasts. the heart cannot be so divided for long.

i am counting down the days till her arrival. and she was going to be brave,
to stick it out,
as she put it. but i said,
no, come. we all want to see you.

and when i called her and told her she was flying out next friday, she let out a
whoo hoo!
which made me happy. i could hear her joy.

her dad must resign himself to this fact, as she is a young lady now, and her cousins, teenagers, are going to be more interesting to her than being home with a parent. sadly.

it's not about what we want so much anymore, though, i'm grateful she's coming to me. that my heart will be housed under the same roof again. it's about what is best for her. i am reminded of this, in so many of the choices i've been presented with of late, this has been my utmost consideration, however it has looked.

one of my friends gave me a stern talking to about not prioritizing her, but she is all i prioritize. i think of nothing else but her, when she is under someone else's watchful eye, i relax my stance for awhile. single parents are not often afforded the luxury of inattention. so when i have the chance, i relish it.

i have lived fully in her absence. though i live fully in her presence, i'm glad, so grateful she is coming to be with me.

she is what matters.

and i trust that which needs to happen, will.

now to find a real job.

Tuesday, July 19, 2011

obliging cleo

after finishing residency with an amazing reading, i returned home to send my sister back to cali and get my life sorted out for my return.

my reading ended up being as i expected, while i messed up twice, it didn't halt me, i just kept plugging along. ultimately, the reading was about me and my girl, our journey these past two years. leaving my ex. it was well received and many people told me it was amazing. my readings are like that though, it was nice to be present in a moment of time so completely. i owned that room while i was reading and this has been my experience with each of my readings. time halts, i inhabit the words, they are my soul sent out to a group of people. when i was introduced, my professor quoted c.s. lewis, which i found quite fitting. she spoke of soul, which was refreshing. she made me cry. i composed myself and went up to read.

i'm still collecting myself, so i'm sure i'll have a better story to tell at some point. right now, i'm just sharing some pictures.

this poster was at the airport when i was making my connection in dfw, it made me smile. and have a drink! though while i was nursing my mango margarita and texting friends, my flight changed gates, so i went to the gate and there was no flight. i ambled over to where it was taking off, and made it to cali. grateful.

this burger is worth the trip across country! too bad these are only available out here, they are amazing.
i am now in cali, with my sister and her beautiful family. after passing out at 5pm and waking up at 5am

my sister's children are delightful. the twins are bright and beautiful. a bit shy yet, but that will change. her pets have begun to accept my presence, and i'm grateful for the rest. i am trying to lure my daughter out to california, i miss her so. i hope she chooses to make the journey. my entire family wants to see her. and some part of me is missing when she's gone. i wish her here, more than anything. another month without her seems insufferable. unthinkable. it is why i opted to be away rather than home crazy from her absence. i hope she comes to join me. i hope.

as if intuiting my need for touch, companionship of sorts, cleo the bunny lit upon me and sat with me for about two hours. she calmed me, and reminded me, as only creatures can, that it will be well. that life must move forward. and i was grateful for her trust. that she could sit with me a stranger, it was our first meeting. that she could sleep and let me love her.

gotta go, cupcakes!

Friday, July 15, 2011

sake for me

after downing most of a giant bottle of sake last night, i got through the reading okay. no major breakdowns. a few tears. but friends helped me through. i got some disconcerting news and am trying not to let it sideline me. life happens. every day.

today, i read. but first the three hour workshop where we'll focus on a poem from each of the poets. this can sometimes be brutal. i have been fortunate in that it has not exacted a bloody toll of my confidence. i have been pleasantly surprised that the prof has given me props for my stylistic choices.

why don't you use question marks,
she asked.

i think it is a prose convention. why is the question mark there question mark,
i replied.
whereas in poetry, if i say a question word, what, it is understood that it is a question.

fair enough. you're making rules.
she said.

the bottom line for me now is consistency. i have been told to use more spaces to indicate pauses and breaks and such. i know i need better control over the pacing of my poems and i told them that.

it's very hard,
i said,
to remove all punctuation from poems.

so today, after eight days of workshops and classes, being around writers and crying myself to sleep, i take the podium and show what i've got. of course i'm excited about this. i'm a natural reader. a literary exhibitionist.

i told one woman when we first arrived that i hadn't prepared for my lecture and she, being a public speaking teacher, unbeknownst to me at the time, after my lecture said,
you did prepare.

i told her,
i should have said, i didn't prepare in the manner in which others prepare.

you wounded me,
she said.

i'm sorry.

but we're good now. she's a poet who will likely remain in my life by the sheer forcefulness of her presence. i need bulldoggish people like that who won't scatter at the first sign of my needing space. because i need a lot of space.

i can see that about you,
she said,
that you need to be left alone.

then yesterday, my poetry professor said,
suzanne is being coy. she wants the reader to get it, she hopes the reader will get it but if the reader doesn't get it she won't change a thing. right suzanne?

i laughed,
of course!

i don't know what will come of this. i don't know how it works out. where i will end up. what job is coming to me. but i'm ready to launch out.

and when i saw another poet, ready to quit, two days left in the program, it helped me feel like i am not a lone. not a complete basket case for struggling through this as i have. each residency has been a struggle for me, this one no less. the writing part this time has been joyous.

today we do kissing cobras, a poem of mine that i know could stand some tweaking.

how will it go

i don't know. it's a mystery.

but i trust it will be well. and when i take the podium this afternoon, i know it will be well.

Thursday, July 14, 2011

not everyone knows

i fall apart at night. that i break down and cry, have this entire week. i hope it's not my new normal, because i'm getting tired of it. i have avoided a public show by simply staying in my dorm room and crying. it's pathetic, really.

last night i braved a reading, and the tears just burst out of me like some water main broke. one fiction writer turned to me and asked,
are you okay?

i replied.

and kept trying to soak up tears that would not stop.

sometimes the tears must come. we're almost through with this process, just a couple more days to navigate. my graduate reading tomorrow. the details of the journey to california will occupy the forefront of my mind, blessed tedium.

i have tried to be honest with myself, and for the most part, i think i have been. hence, the tears.

i've written a few poems. more will come.

but for now, i smile as most people don't know what's going on. the ones who ask nod their heads as i reply. mostly, i'm asked during the day when i'm composed.

then, i can string some words together. not cry.

but the poems in workshop now turn to the matter which is most affecting me and i have to face it. during the day. with all my poet friends looking on.

if i stay silent and breathe, i can probably stave off the tears for the most part. i did yesterday, when the critique of my first poem of this set was met with wonder.

i remember when i wrote it. how wonderful it was.

how wonderful it was.

Monday, July 11, 2011

strangely familiar

i find myself in dorms i used to know in another capacity, and i'm grateful for the comfort of my sister with me. i'm consciously disconnecting from this place, transitioning on to the next phase of my life, but trying not to opt out of being here completely. though it is tempting.

tears always come to me here, the presence of so many people, the conversations, the evaluation of works, of workshops, of schedules. last night was no different. and my sister reports my wimpering in my sleep.

that's how i was feeling,
i replied.

it is time to move forward. in every sense.

yesterday, walking with my sister through the field, she said, as i'm clamboring loudly through the grass,
stop! look!

and i stopped short, one leg up in the air, and began turning my head to get a glimpse of whatever it was she was gawking at.

not thirty feet in front of us, on a bench we were sitting on the day before, sat a hawk. one foot up, completely relaxed. i recognized the speckled plumage as that of a youngster, he must have recently fledged because he was nonplussed by our presence. as if he didn't yet know how terrible humans are, or can be. and i am grateful for that gentle unknowing.

in that way, i hope he knew us, that we were not to be feared, because we weren't.

so we snapped a few pictures of him, and edged closer, then sat in front of him and watched.

ultimately he flew off. and we went to get our lunch. on the way back we searched but could not find him. so we sat on the bench he had occupied.

i saw a hawk flutter in the trees and we watched it fly down to the grass behind us. then we noticed the fledgie on the ground. wings agape, tail feathers spread. the momma hawk seemed to be nudging it to get it to fly.

it's hurt,
my sister said.

no, let's just watch. we don't want to spook her or she'll abandon him.

so we watched him resist her persistent nudging. we could just imagine her motherly internal dialogue,
FLY ALREADY, there are people watching.
but fledgie preferred to run into the bushes than fly. he even lolled onto his side a couple times when she came at him. he was not going to move.

ultimately, he did move. they both flew some, but we sat with the fledgie for hours. HOURS.

he rested in a tree, and we perched on the grass beneath him. we couldn't get very good pictures because they blend in so well. but there we were, less than thirty feet from one hawk, on occasion two.

it was the kind of safari i needed to rejuvenate me.

and then, ultimately, we came back to the dorms. where i cried. and read. and slept. and wimpered through the night.

but i'm awake now. it's all okay. everything is going to be okay.

i believe this.

Friday, July 08, 2011

objective five

having finally finished my graduate lecture, and in spite of my av presentation being lost in translation, literally, i had a few celebratory drinks. my sister went home with my ex, and i fell asleep early. now it's past midnight and i'm awake. not wide awake, just awake.

life last week versus life this week. night and day.

each moment i seem to have a new realization of what a horrible job packing i did. some of what i thought i packed for residency is packed for cali, which only further complicates things. but yesterday was fun. tiring, but fun.

back up to objective three, returning the rental car. my pony, it seems has finally succumbed to some serious issues, and is in the shop getting a transmission rebuild. i had to race around and figure out how to get my sister from newark airport, how to get us to boston, how to get us home again, while having my pony serviced back in ny. it has been non stop.

life was distilled down to a list of objectives. objective one. get to newark. objective two, get to massachusets. objective three, return rental car. it was the only way i could manage what was beginning to feel like chaos.

then my sister and i walk around boston and i don't realize how tired i will be, until i have to stay up until 11pm preparing for my lecture, then wake up at 5:30 am, and continue preparing. but my lecture went real well, those who attended said they were glad they did. i hope to have gifted these writers with something they can use.

i feel as if there is now a respite, that the whirlwind which has carried me will settle for a few days. i have no particular agenda, no list of things to do, until friday when i have my graduate reading. what to read is settled, i just have to time it.

tomorrow starts the round of workshops in earnest, we had a rare free day from workshops since our prof will be arriving saturday. i'm grateful for that. though there are so many of us graduating, and the pressure is off, so it's nice being here. i'm finding connections to a lot of people i haven't had so much luck getting to know until now.

objective five, may or may not have been my graduate lecture. but it is done now. i am mostly recovered from the exhaustion of getting here, and soon, i'll drift off to sleep again only to awake and reenter residency life in heart and mind.

but for now, in the stillness of my dorm room, i realize what the exhaustion has masked and i'm grateful for it all.