Friday, March 20, 2015

STRANGE MEALS IN YOUR HEART?

“Patience never wants Wonder to enter the house: because Wonder is a wretched guest. It uses all of you but it is not careful with what is most fragile or irreplaceable. If it breaks you, it shrugs and moves on. Without asking, Wonder often brings along dubious friends: doubt, jealousy, greed. Together they take over; rearrange the furniture in every one of your rooms for their own comfort. They speak odd languages but make no attempt to translate for you. They cook strange meals in your heart that leave odd tastes and smells. When they finally go are you happy or miserable? Patience is always left holding the broom.”

   Jonathan Carroll, White Apples

White Apples was book I started a long long time ago, finished about half of, and then gave the book away when I was reducing my library in Brooklyn. I found a library copy and it is one of the books currently floating around my fiction area, along with A Special Providence by Richard Yates, which has some first-rate writing about being a soldier in World War II, The Spinning Heart by Donal Ryan, and The Tenor Saxophonist’s Story by Josef Skvorecky. I’m not reading as much as I would like and that does not qualify as news. All these books are good, however.

All in all, I am a bit better. I woke up today in something near an equanimous mood, which has been a rarity for quite some time. My mother and I have not had a barney for about three or four days, and even the sharp words have leaned more toward a good-humored sarcasm than barely concealed resentment.

My mother should be the spokesperson for See’s Candy. She was somewhat disheartened (she wouldn’t admit to depression) on Saturday due, perhaps, to being forced (by me) to go through a large volume of papers relating to her metaphysical studies and yoga. She said she kind of wanted it to be all over. But that See's Candy might help. It was too hot to do anything. 

A couple of days later, we did make it to Sees, on another hot day. I had to go into the bank to take care of some business. After about five minutes, my mom came in to wait with me. It wasn't so much that she was hot, but that she didn't want the candy to melt. I'm sure I wouldn't have paid that much attention. 


Oh, and did I mention that it was brutally hot outside? In the mid-90s?

March 20th

Days later. In general, I would say that I am better. Although I am not usually sleeping well, I don't have real insomnia either. I woke up a few days ago and thought that I needed to get back to New York, (although I don't see that happening immediately). That was the first time that had come across loud and clear.

So, my mien is more affable these days, yet I still hit what I mentally characterize as oil spills of sadness or anxiety; they are not as deep nor terrifying, but they can make for a non-productive afternoon or evening.

I'm kind of having one now, although the causes are clear: it is end-of-the-month bill time. And I have something new to do on my little job and it is not going all that well. My immediate superior, such as he is, is a different kind of person than I am accustomed to working with. I shall persevere. 

And I did have a bite for a producing gig in New York that I might have gotten had I actually been out there. 

So I will post this and then have a lie-down as the day cools off with my mom watching Rachel Maddow and the neighbor kids bouncing that basketball while the neighborhood dogs continue their endless howling, yowling, and yipping, and the traffic surges on. 

My morning glory seeds are sprouting!




Wednesday, March 11, 2015

KNOCK WITHOUT ENTERING

The dog next door, the one who attacked my mother on her front porch, has stopped barking. The neighbors don’t pay attention to the relentless barking, so I have taken to going out in back and spraying water from the hose. It may not be the kindest thing, but it does shut up poor Kayla.

I’m not writing because I have anything to say, I am merely hoping to stumble on to what I think, or some level of connection with myself (and you?). You’ve heard me say before that I was (am) lost. Being back at the parental homestead has put me in some sort of shocked time warp. At this particular moment, I have no sense of who I am, who I ever was (if anyone), or who and how I am going to be.

Dislocated in my life again? At this point, I would question if I had ever actually been located in my own life or if all this time, these many years, I have been faking it or fooled.

There doesn’t seem to be much joy in Mudville or Santa Fe Springs, Casey.

Yesterday, in the midst of an emotional crises or acute reality calibration emergency, I took a bicycle ride instead of eating or drinking or bingeing on visual narrative. I am still getting the hang of the bicycle I “inherited” from Carl; the seat is neither at the right height nor angle and I can’t figure out how to adjust it. The gears are not as smooth as the ones on my trusty Aretha (1983 Nishiki) or my 1995 mountain bike back in Brewster. However, I was able to finally make it to the bike path along the San Gabriel River channel (thanks Army Corps of Engineers!).  

(My current ride and a blue bench.

The swingset in question.
I biked from one freeway made park (nestled in the leftover staging area when the freeway was built) to another. I stopped in the park to get on the swing set as that was an activity I enjoyed as a younger person. The last time I recall swinging was with Michael and my mom on our trip to Ireland.

The bike path and freeway overpasses as well as the channel are apparently home to many homeless folks. There was enough clothing and small appliances strewn along the path to open a thrift store there. (Not that you would want that stuff.) I saw several older men in various states of prosperity riding bikes and picking through the detritus. I saw no females. 

For a breather, I headed over to Santa Monica to spend the night with WD and help her organize her daughter's closet. I am so unused to and confused by who I am (not) that I find it a bit challenging to have a conversation to someone I haven't spent a lot of time with for a while. It was good to think about how to frame my story so that I had some perspective on it.  

The view from WD's front door.

And so it goes. Or how it is stuck. Two short poems that rang dim bella: as Chinese New Years' recently passed and Persian New Years', Norooz, approaches, the other initially echoed my own feelings of belonging neither one coast nor the other.

ANOTHER YEAR COME

I have nothing new to ask of you,
Future, heaven of the poor.
I am still wearing the same things.

I am still begging the same question
By the same light,
Eating the same stone,

And the hands of the clock still knock without entering.

—W.S. Merwin


BETWEEN TWO WORLDS

The stripped almond of the plane is gone,
veering against an anchored moon.
Cloud spews waste out over the red
tiles of Belgium. You beat a tympanum
of cloud; I drum deserted cobblestones.

Now into your moving star I toss
my calendar, the shadow of a house,
and normal days. We meet as two gulls
might, in a cinema of sky, the green sea
under, the green eye of the sea scanning
the alternate shores of night.

This starry field is ours to trace.
Between the hour and zero hour,
tideless as in an aquarium,
the virginal water clocks unwind,
the luminous frescoes smile and sway,,
and in that lambent medium
tomorrows bite off yesterday.

— Rosemary Thomas

This Rosemary Thomas poet is new to me (this is a cranky anthology, but in a good way.) 

In cat news, Emmylou jumped into my lap for pets for the first time yesterday. Perhaps she will evolve into a lap cat.






Monday, March 9, 2015

HI FI

And now for a new post.

Life is much more challenging and intense here than I anticipated. I am not entirely sure how I thought it would be, but I did not imagine that it would be two months with so little accomplished.

Everywhere I look around here, or most places, I see something that needs some kind of attention, sometimes little, sometimes big. The “to do” list doesn’t get shorter.

In many ways, this is the most challenging place I have lived in many, many years. My mother and I are having a very stormy relationship and I think we are both exhausted. My writing silence is partly due to an inability to encapsulate the experience.


On the positive side, I made one of the best dinners of my life on Friday night. We have a surfeit of avocados, if such a thing is possible. Someone who goes to church with my mother brings her a new batch every week. Last week, they were all ripe at the same time, so I undertook a new recipe I had stumbled across. Guasacaca is a Venezuela form of guacamole, but smoother and tangy-er. We had so much I decided I had to make dinner for PAS. I found a Venezuelan chicken recipe, Brown-Sugar Crusted Chicken. We have enjoyed the neighbor's tangerines which dip into our yard, so I also made Tangerine Coleslaw.


I enlisted Janet's help, something I don't normally do. It must be a mother-daughter thing, but she complained and was recalcitrant about making the Tangerine Coleslaw, telling me to make less, blah blah blah. I pointed out that it was just the kind of thing she likes and that a few leftovers would not be a bad thing. By the time we got up from dinner, she had eaten the whole bowl, save for a helping each for me and PAS.

See, I don't even know how to natter any more. 

I drove my mother to church today so that I could have the car, but I haven't gone anywhere. It's been nice to have it so quiet, so I worked on my computer and did a little bit of gardening. We already have a tomato growing. On the way home, I took some snaps of the hi-fi store my dad used to frequent. 










Sunday, March 8, 2015

BY THE SHALLOW PART

(High school field.)
Thunder and lightning! It’s thunder and lighting in Los Angeles! And for it to rain on the Oscar night! But it is so lovely to hear the rain here. 


I had an unusual number of folks I know nominated. And two of them won. But I still didn’t watch much of the awards. Mère and I flipped around, and, of course, we had to fulfill our addiction and watch the largely useless Downton Abbey

The next day.

I never got dressed on Sunday. Still not dressed now. It being the grey sort of stay-in day must have inspired me to hibernate a bit. There was laundry to do, more party clean up, some reading and such, but just truly doing very little was more seductive than I could resist.

Maybe it was my 2.5 hour nap yesterday, but I could.not.sleep. Finally, around 4:00 I just bit the bullet and took some sleeping medication. I was so sleepy at 11:00 or so, but the reality dementors kept trying to come through the windows of my sleep so I couldn't relax enough. Usually, the British History Podcast or the current George R. R. Martin, Dances with Dragons, would snooze me out, but neither of these were loaded on my phone. 


Well, so much for any attempt to concentrate and write today. It's pretty unconscionable that I would yell at my 88-year old mother, and yet it happens. I definitely have my flash points with her and helplessness probably tops the list. That's part of my own internal battle of being capable and incapable. I do know that I can kick ass, but there are ways, deep patterns of helplessness and passivity that have held me back in my life. The tendency to depression compounds it all. Maybe I will yet find a way to overcome these issues.

Much later and starting on a fresh one. But a Greil Marcus quote before I go ... still working on The Doors: A Lifetime of Listening to Five Mean Years

"Or it's a walk away from a career already suspended over a void of nothingness, it's almost any cut on an album that's meant to pretend it's just a song, not a worthless, desperate bet against ruin ..."

I managed to find a poetry anthology in the library for those times I am just so lost and need to refocus. This William Stafford poem is good for the first Monday after the beginning of the acursèd Daylight Savings Time.

MONDAY

Awake, like a hippopotamus with eyes bulged
from the covers, I find Monday, improbable
as chair legs, camped around me, and God's terrible
searchlight raking down from his pillbox on Mount Hood, 
while His mystic hammers reach from the alarm clock
and rain spangles on my head.

Cliff at my back all week I live, afraid
when light comes, because it has deep whirlpools
in it. I cross each day by the shallow part but
have often touch the great hole in the sky
at noon. I close my eyes and let the day
for a while wander where all things will, and then
it settles in a fold of the north.

At the end, in my last sickness, I think I will travel
north, if well-meaning friends will let me—to bush,
to rock, to snow—have nothing by me, fall
on the sky of earth in the north, and let my heart
finally understand that part of the world
I have secretly loved all my life—the rock. But now
I gradually become young, surge from the covers,
and go to work.