Wednesday, March 31, 2010

I'd like to go with you

Hello darling. Up in the aerie with a glass of wine, listening to KZE. Dinner is on the stove, a fragrant dish of chicken legs with eggplant, tomato, peppers, and red wine. In a musing mood, reflective, really don't have much at the moment.

The Josh Rouse I Will Live on Islands song came on, and I notice a line, relate it to the book I'm reading, plus page hits from Painesville.

I will see the sun.
The sun also rises.

I consider the phrases together. Long road, optimistic conclusion. I wonder where you are. I have a sense, or vague theory. Actually I have two vague theories, and sometimes they intertwine in a third, overarching theory, the grand narrative.

A Graham Parker song came on too - actually I missed it, I was out on a walk but checked the playlist after - Head on Straight. It's funny, quite a while ago - late September 2008 - I noted a dream about you that that song (which I've heard a few times now) reminds me of.
J is leaving for a long trip. We’re at a ticket counter, arranging for his tickets and documents. I offer to go back to the car for something, there’s time, and J agrees, but disappears and I don’t remember where we parked the car, a lot on either Henry or Hicks, but it’s all very crowded, like Chinatown. We never reconnect…

J is returning from his trip. I don’t think he’s back yet. I’m washing dishes at the sink, and I see that his wallet is on the counter. So he is back. I go into the bedroom, and he’s asleep in bed. Only his face has come off – his head is an empty shell – like he’s a robot. I don’t mind, I try to rouse him. He wakes and is completely distressed that I’ve seen him in this state. He tries to reattach his face but some of the screws are missing. It seems they’ve scattered on the floor in the other room – I look for them, they’re underneath the baseboard heaters, etc.

***











***
I love you, my dearest. Take my hand.

This is the Sea

Dear Companion, Feeling anxious this morning. I am getting barraged by emails from various Democratic groups and electeds asking money for a fundraising deadline today. Including a personalized email from Kirsten Gillibrand's blackberry, I think. I would love to give, I really would. But I simply haven't got it, not even a few dollars. I feel bad. I'm trying in other ways. I did write a letter to a local newspaper to thank Representative Scott Murphy for his support of the health care reform bill, which I belatedly (after I emailed the letter) realize is better understood as the health insurance reform bill. He's having a town hall meeting here tomorrow morning, and there's a push to get local Democrats to attend. I'm not sure that's my speed, although I understand that we want to outnumber whoever else might appear. But still, it's not my style. I'm not effective in that kind of setting, I don't think. I'll lose my patience. Look, I didn't do so well in a movie theatre the other day. And I've gotten some page hits from G.B. since, along with one from Beirut, which in this context I view as possibly pointed. You see, your love goddess also has a way of stirring things up unnecessarily. But back to G.B., yes I lost my patience when they gasped - and I should have added the detail that in the minutes prior they had been growling like wary dogs at the very married Olivia Williams character who was laying on the manipulative moves to bed the Ewan McGregor character (which triggered the robe drop). The Ladies Disapproved of this Extramarital Action - never mind that it was entirely fictional - and didn't they need to express it on the spot. Look, ladies, I spent my $6.50 to get Roman Polanski's point of view, all right? Not yours. I'm reminded of a matinee of Burn This that I saw on Broadway in the 1980s. John Malkovich was letting fly the F-bomb, and weren't the suburban seniors sitting behind me beside themselves and talking all through it. I let something fly I'm sure. That was like a $65 ticket. I wanted to hear Malkovich, not the silly chorus of disapproval.

Will ponder the town hall meeting thing.

How's your morning going, dearest? Mine is otherwise okay. Took a walk this morning, woke this morning to a David Gray song (Shine - bliss) and another one is on right this moment - correction, it's The Waterboys, love them too - and I'm sorting through clothing now, putting winter things away, pulling out summer, and making a pile for the Salvation Army of things I can't stand to look at anymore or simply no longer fit because I've lost quite a bit of weight. Now, there's a happy thought!

Love you, darling. Kisses.

Tuesday, March 30, 2010

Rave On

Hello, darling. Rave On is playing now, making me smile. (Love you.) I'm up in the aerie. It's been pouring rain and very windy today. Glad I crossed state lines yesterday. Today it was too wet and messy to take a walk, and I didn't feel like dealing with driving to go to the library. I am feeling decadent in that I have broken the 5 p.m. rule and am sipping rose already (4:40). Am in the final pages of The Sun Also Rises. They are all half-drunk or passed out and at each other's throats or in one another's beds, so in comparison all in all I'm in good shape. Tried to keep myself occupied today. Made yet more pizza. I had been making mushroom pizza without tomato sauce (which I have frozen from last summer's harvest and cooking) but it was coming out bland. Today I made it with sauce, and mushrooms (all these mushrooms - because half-price at the supermarket), and sausage. The sauce made it. Fantastic. Also made more apple tart. I seem to be making the same things over and over. Today I thought, wow, when's the last time I made beef stew, or even better, boeuf bourgignon. It's going to be 75 by the weekend, and the whole winter went by and I never made it once. I'd like to make it for you sometime, with grass-fed beef, preferably fairly local, and beautiful biodynamic vegetables - I'm starting to really believe there is something to that, I would really like a subscription to Roxbury Farm -, gnarly carrots, and beautiful little potatoes, and separately sauteed mushrooms added to the pot, and maybe a bit of diced, cooked up Van Wie bacon to give a smoky depth to the dish, and two bottles of decent red wine, the better portion of one for the pot, the rest for us, a KZE long set on the radio, your telling me about your day, saying how so and so is an ass and impersonating him perfectly, and me saying, here taste - and I'll offer you a spoon with a bit of the sauce, and you'll say it's great, and I'll say, maybe a little more thyme, or fresh-ground pepper, and you'll be like, whatever, and grab me around my aproned waist and you'll kiss me and I'll say you know the pot can simmer all on its own for a couple of hours til we're good and hungry and ready for it.

Better Be Home Soon

Dear Companion, I enjoyed my jaunt yesterday, driving along a misty wet Route 23, up hills and down dales, through Hillsdale and after the light into the mountains to Great Barrington. It felt good to have KZE on and fly. The movie was good. Love Polanski, the way his mind works - intrigue, intellectual puzzle, existential concerns, sinister shadings, wit (e.g., in the form of a got-up hotel clerk, whose identity revealed in the credits caused me to smile) - all very satisfying. But it was very dystopic, ultimately, too - a disturbing absence of countervailing angels, guardian or otherwise.

Only a handful of people in the audience, unsurprisingly for a weekday afternoon, among them three women in their 60s, maybe 70s. They tittered like schoolgirls throughout, counter to the tone & content of what was transpiring onscreen. Friends will chat and quietly joke at a movie of course - it's understandable - but I finally lost patience with them when the women gasped as if goosed when Ewan McGregor dropped his robe & stood for the briefest moment in his discreet altogether. What are you all - twelve? I blurted out over my shoulder. My God! I know I shouldn't have done that. But they were ridiculous.

I overheard their chat before the movie started. One of them was going on about an impending visit to friends for the occasion of the Renewal of Their Marriage Vows. My instant thought was - Can Divorce Be Far Behind? I'm cynical. Sure enough the woman then darkly hinted at Trouble in the marriage, probably (her coded tone of voice effectively conveying gossip) in the form of an Affair or Affairs, Worked Through, and followed by the Ritual Vow Renewal. (Even the woman didn't sound too convinced. Her companions clucked about How Hard It Is On Relationships These Days, tsk, tsk.)

Marriage vow renewal. It just sounds so forced and contrived to me. No wonder everyone's so miserable. I mean, if a marriage works - it works. And people grow, or don't grow but change in other ways; and they can grow apart. I don't know. I'm obviously in a big flux myself these days...

You know, sometimes I think about Governor Sanford of whichever Carolina, and his soulmate in Buenos Aires. And you know, I wish he weren't governor, just be a partner in a law firm already so you're not fodder for national media, etc. - but the romantic in me is sympathetic towards him. And I find his wife, the Wronged One, a completely offputting harridan. A nightmare. The very sort whose overdeveloped sense of entitlement and propriety is so divorced from any empathic sense of the sensual instincts and emotional needs of others (in particular, her husband) that she's the type (of whom this puritanical culture's chock full) who'll attend an R-rated movie and then titter and cluck over the shocking vision of a buff naked McGregor - and then wonder why her husband looks for good, warm, honest loving elsewhere.

This post is a mess, but I don't feel like editing much this morning. Let me get going on other things. I hope all is well with you, my dearest. I love you. Putting my arms around you. Have a great day.

Monday, March 29, 2010

mostly, refreshingly, I didn't take the movie personally


Notes from Roman Polanski's The Ghost Writer, a scene between characters played by Olivia Williams and
Ewan McGregor:

Married?
No.
Homosexual?
No.
Girlfriend, then?
More than that.
Partner?
Less than that. 40,000 years of human language and there's no word to describe our relationship. Doomed.
***
Missing you fiercely just now. Good night, darling. Kisses.

Dear Companion

Good morning, darling. (Dear Companion - I like that - nice song too.) Back from a walk at the conservation area. Evergreens stood out dark against the mist. I wore my bright red raincoat which I rarely have occasion to wear, and carried an umbrella. I stayed to the asphalt paths because with the rain the lowlying areas were bound to be swamps and mudbaths. Afterward I took a bit of a drive, making a big circle along here. Saw the snow geese who looked up as I passed - man, those geese don't miss a beat - could it be they recognized me? I had a mind to duck since I didn't have bread in the car.

Not sure what I'm doing today. D told me that he's flexible with the car the next couple of days, so I can look forward to an outing to Great Barrington to see Ghost Writer. I probably shouldn't go today because they're forecasting heavy rain, but I'm feeling very restless so I just might. (Yes - it's decided - I will.) What are you doing today, I wonder? Wherever you are I think of you. Later, my dearest. I hope all is well with you. I love you very much. Many kisses.

Sunday, March 28, 2010

ramble

Hello, dearest. Late Sunday afternoon. Jerrice is on with Women of Note. I am trying to feel cheerful, but it's hard with the overcast all day and part of my divided mind trying to buck up and say, girl, you have wasted a couple of years on this mind game. I need more attention than occasional pagehits or 0 min/0 sec pings to my blog from such places as, this morning, the Arabian desert, my blog found via Mr. NFS's profile. (Is it he who's pinging me? Though he's my sole Follower, I'm doubtful.) I go onto his website. I can't figure out how anyone could ever access his profile. I am constantly trying to read things, and it's exhausting, because I think I'm reading too much into things.

I have a sober fantasy where I go to a psychiatrist and try to explain myself. Laughable, just laughable. All about messages in songs and pings.

I am all μελαγχολικοί τύποι now.

Went for a walk this morning. Had hot fantasies over an older man who walks his χαριτωμένοι και χαμογελαστοί dog there. I won't do anything, anything, at all, I promise. Yeah, somebody might put out a feeler, a move, and I'll be all like, well yeah, I'm married, plus spoken for and devoted besides, in my heart. (My nocturnal dreams, on the other hand, are far more freewheeling.)

Full disclosure: I did a google-variation today and discovered a new image of you, taken last summer and uploaded to the web in the last several days. I like the image, though you need a haircut. I compare it to the one you yourself sent to me, that was taken a couple of months later. Sea change.

What else today? Made spinach & goat cheese omelet for breakfast, along with leftover baked potatoes fried up with red onion & herbes de provence. Lunch was homemade pizza again, with mushrooms, crumbled sausage & parmesan. Lay down for a bit on the sofa in the living room and remembered when we used to squeeze onto that super-narrow couch in your parents' fireplace room. Wished so much you were with me. Wakeful sleep last night, constant ache & longing for you.

Read more of Sun Also Rises today. In Book II. No wonder I slogged through it in high school. I'm slogging through the train trip through France and Basque country travelogue plus long, plot-free asides on trout-fishing. I cannot wait til Brett and the count and the other chess pieces of Robert & Jake reappear all together on the scene to carry on that passion play.

Meant to say that I would very much have liked to go see Roman Polanski's Ghost Writer today, but the nearest it was playing was Great Barrington at noon, and - absolutely completely understandably - D couldn't spare the car from 11 to 4. But that movie is on my radar, and I hope very much it comes here. Or that I can see it on the big screen some other way.

Total ramble here, darling. Do I dare to say that? Maybe you're not even reading this at all. Who's to know?

What else? Vacuumed most of the house. These days, that feels like something. Just keeping on top of things. I do not want a Grey Gardens existence. On e-town this morning Nick Forster interviewed a woman who started an NFP when a homeless couple, the wife pregnant, asked her for water at her son's soccer game that she was attending. This was early morning and I was lying by the pellet stove but boy, her account was compelling. So many homeless, people slipping through the cracks everywhere. The whole idea of the way things are set up, and how they just don't fit the way people & their circumstances actually work.

Oh, I could go on further in this vein. I myself was raised to have Firm Ideas. Principles.

I also feel myself to have been a Voodoo Doll.

Dearest, perhaps you are nowhere around for this.

Except that that lily lily lily song is on now which makes me think that it's not all in my head.

Am feeling ever so grey-sky'd and doubtful, but here are some extremely heartfelt hugs and kisses - just in case...

Saturday, March 27, 2010

there isn't any use my telling you

... those were days of roses, poetry and proses,
save them for a rainy day...

-- a song on Radio Archaeology
those were days of roses martha by Thomas A. Waits, says Raissa

***
Prompted by Pamplona, wiki'd for clues, reading The Sun Also Rises for the first time since high school. I struggled through it then, hadn't lived long enough to understand. Now it's like being slapped on the behind by it. To read it then was simply to be exposed to foreshadowing, or prophecy. Inoculation, or infection. Talk about Painesville, Ohio.
"You see, Mr. Barnes, it is because I have lived very much that now I can enjoy everything so well. Don't you find it like that?"

"Yes. Absolutely."

"I know," said the count. "That is the secret. You must get to know the values."
Have just finished Book I. Am I Brett, or Frances? Perhaps, at different times in my life, both. Are you Jake, or Robert? Is this in service of literature, or are there concrete screws?

The text is so crystalline, it is hard to be coherent about it.

I will live on islands.

***
(Aux Champs-Elysees comes on now - my favorite French song - for decades!)

so it goes

Good morning, darling. Just checking in with hugs and kisses for you. I feel tired this morning. I didn't sleep well last night for some reason, on the floor again by the stove - pellets had been obtained. The bluegrass hour came on at six, a little hyper for me at that hour, so I took the opportunity to go upstairs to the spare room where I slept til nearly nine and dreamt, in one dream, of Ruth Reichl, and in another, of you. I was agitated about something (a leaking oil sprayer that I couldn't shut off) and you were tanned and handsome in a dark orange t-shirt and you smiled at me quizzically and charmingly and calmed me right down. I have homemade mushroom pizza baking in the oven now. I will go for a walk later. It's sunny and beautiful out. I just filled the bird feeder. There are buds on the lilacs. Waved hello to neighbors as they drove past. We haven't spoken in years for some bizarre reason that I truly don't understand but there it is. They talk to D, but not to me. It has something to do with the fact that she has babies, and I don't. She felt insecure around me, I think. (I don't want your babies, all right lady? Jeez. How primitive.) Reinforces the feeling of house arrest and pariah-hood. Well, sometimes those grooves get worn in for no good reason and so it goes.

Now why did I go south like that? I'm not even in a bad mood, more a tired langorous one. Maybe I'll take a walk around here. I hope you are well and happy and that the day is full of delights for you. Kisses, darling.

Friday, March 26, 2010

pleasures of the country

Hello darling. Up in the aerie and the light is exquisite. I had a nice day. I pulled out of the driveway in the morning just as Stella the Artist came on. I got so wrapped up in it I forgot the speed limit and cruised along wailing away and beating the steering wheel and then at Van Wie I'm like, oh s**t, I'm doing 50 and I should have been doing 40 for the last quarter-mile. (I got busted one early Sunday morning over a Nields song and didn't get a ticket - not that time.) So I took it easy the rest of the way over to the conservation area, where I took a vigorous walk including sloggy stretches through mud. Then I did a bit of basic food shopping and went back home. Then I had an overwhelming desire to have in my possession once again a fresh supply of sheep's milk camembert. So I drove out on this beautiful day to the farm in Old Chatham for a half-wheel from the honor system fridge, stuffed a ten and four singles in the slot, selected my prize (only two to choose from today), and returned to the car. Ritualistically - without ripping - I broke the seal, undid folds of fastidious white wrap, revealing a glimpse of all that lay beneath. I admired the exposed end of the voluptuous half-wheel I had scored (distinctly plumper than the other one) raised the half-wheel to my nostrils, inhaled deeply, lowered it to my lap, and carefully, with my fingers, broke off a corner, and ingested a transcendent mouthful. Oh my word, good on so many levels, the pristine plump half-wheel reminiscent of an 1830s courtesan's thigh; redolent, flavorful, a sensational mouthfeel in an utterly biodynamic, sustainable, love makes things grow mini-vacation of field, feed and sun kind of way. I gave to my desire and tore off another creamy bit, messing my fingers which I then licked. I restrained myself from going all out and devouring more inches, mindful of my own thighs which I hope that in algebraic fashion might in a night of voluptuary ravishment be favorably compared to a plump split wheel of camembert...

Right. So I had the cheese along with an apple, then there was a stop at the library in Chatham, and then the drive back. KZE was all staticky in those precincts so I shut it off and talked aloud to you instead. You know, the usual. I love you. Where are you? I wish you could taste this lovely cheese. Here, have some apple, my dearest. Where are you? What did you think of the Women of Pleasure slideshow? My crazy mind keeps returning to #19 myself. Her thighs, their desire...

The sun also rises

Good morning darling. Here's a kiss and I'm letting my golden hair down for you. Actually I've just pinned it up but no matter. Your Ruby this morning is in better spirits than the last couple of days. Dreamt of A. A. Bondy and Democrats. I'm amazed I know what A.A. Bondy looks like to have a dream that includes him (I've watched a few of his youtubed songs). In the middle of the night KZE played I Can See the Pines are Dancing. I was awake and listened happily. The song instantly reminds me of watching the cedars sway in Brooklyn one night with who I think of as you (even if it wasn't) watching too from across the way, both of us watching through windows, so close yet so far apart. My dream was a mashup - Bondy was at a keyboard performing City of Immigrants, a Steve Earle song which also played overnight.

City of Democrats, Bondy sang. I said to him, you make that sound like a bad thing. Maybe so, he replied. You have to remember, I said, in the city there are at least six different types of Democrats. He shrugged. I wonder what I meant by that. Though I'm reminded of a New York City Council race a number of years ago, with a highly contested seat in the district where I lived. There were at least a half-dozen candidates, and several seemed very worthy. I couldn't decide whom to support. One of them did door-to-door campaigning on my street and came to my door hoping for the promise of my vote. I told him with a touch of completely absurd anguish in my voice, that I simply couldn't decide whom to vote for. He was really amused that I was taking it so seriously and at that point seemed to want me to take it easy more than get my vote. I think I voted for him in the end. He lost. Now I don't even remember his name.

Hitting send, my darling love. Later.

Thursday, March 25, 2010

Mystery of the field

My car windows were open as I made my way up the rough dirt drive to the parking lot at the conservation area. A shrill ringing filled the air in the vicinity of the pond and wetland. It went on and on. I stopped the car but couldn't figure out the cause. Curious, I got out of the car. The grass was gushy as I stepped towards the pond, and my left shoe sank into water up to my ankle. The keening was persistent and loud, incongruous with the mild sunny day and placid scenery. (At that moment a car, windows rolled up tight, maneuvered past mine and I'm sure that the driver wondered why I was there because no one ever stops let alone gets out at that spot.) I was in the midst of the phenomenon, at the source of the keening, and it was all the stranger that the cause was invisible. It seemed to be a great many of a tiny species sounding all at once. But I didn't see any birds in the trees, or amphibious creatures or insects at the water's edge or on the surface of the pond, not a one. I drove a little further, got out again and stood at the northern end of the pond. As if on cue the ringing stopped and suddenly there was silence.

I had witnessed something, and the point had been made.

I love you.

How I Feel (Your Baby Needs a Shepherd)

Snow on the mountains this morning. A wintry sun gleams through the grey. I had vivid dreams last night - managed to sleep through the songs but woke when speaking voices came on. They're louder than the songs. Human voices drown us and we wake and the dream disappears. Still, all night, no breaks to hear from the sponsors, a gift.

I feel as though I'm high up in the mountains, swimming in a deep, deep pool. I'm under water by myself, submerged in the cold clear green, surrounded above by mountains, trees, and sky.

Am I dying? Am I feeling this way because I am being called back?

What if you're still in Denver, taking overnights to Kansas?

I do not want to ascertain.

Wednesday, March 24, 2010

untitled

Dearest, I am having a hard time today. Got up on the wrong side of the couch this morning, I guess. Spent the morning trying to think of something clever or charming to write, while also downloading and watching in bits, a lecture, via Sentence First, by Catherine Kenneally on the "Mysterious Origins of Language." The video just crashed, 17 minutes into the hour so I won't know the answer for some days. I also checked out an online slide show of 18th and 19th century European erotic art, entitled Women of Pleasure. Very interesting. I recommend it to, among others, The History Detectives as a delightful corrective against false prurience. I hit on the exhibit in the course of investigating the source (via googling) of the lovely silver gelatin print of the reclining damsel that I posted yesterday. I really like such images. What a beauty. She's so immediate, vivid, fresh, and yet without a doubt - the image is from the 1920s - she is now a fantôme. (What is your name, darling? You were lovely, and I hope you were loved.) Where can I find more such images? Though it's best to savor them one by one.

The day started out okay. Journal notes:
Good morning darling. I'm up and running, showered, dressed, breakfasted. My hair has gotten long enough that I can put it up, which is nice, though some strands fall out but that's okay it softens the look. Listening to music, moving my hand across the page, the dishwasher's going. I have the house to myself for the moment. Lyle Lovett sang "In My Own Mind" earlier. I do live in my own mind, but am perhaps not quite as self-sufficient as that. What to write, sometimes? Not enough ping-pong. When's the last time I had a conversation with anyone? This morning, I suppose, about a vase he gave to me as a present over 20 years ago and that he saw fit to shatter in a pique because it didn't have the same meaning to him anymore. It wasn't his to break. This morning, in a gesture of straightening, I tried to pick up the Pottery Barn flowers that still lay on the floor long after the crockery had been picked up. The bent stems got entangled in stereo wires. So I asked him to pick them up. What should I do with them?, he asked. Throw them out of course.
Every Day I Write the Book--Elvis Costello.

Well, you know, sometimes it's going to be a dyspeptic chapter.

***

Kisses, darling.

Tuesday, March 23, 2010

Snowdrop













This diamond in my heart
There's no need to nail it to the ground
There's no need to smother it with sense
Just listen to the rhythm of your heart
That pounds and trust it all to chance


bonjour

Good morning darling. With spring upon us pellets for the stove are becoming scarce, so base camp has moved to the living room where, drapes pulled, I spent the night on the sofa to the hiss & flicker of a wood fire and the stereo on low. More comfortable on the cushioned sofa in some ways, though there was an Alice aspect too since I'm taller than the sofa is long and so had to arrange myself to fit. On the floor I can stretch. Stretching now to put my arms around you and give you a big kiss. I hope your day goes well & that you've had a fortifying breakfast. Je t'aime.

Monday, March 22, 2010

The Gardner Museum and the Guggenheim Grotto

Dearest, grey today and a cold rain is falling. I'm upstairs with a steaming cup of chicken broth. It’s uncommonly delicious, homemade and redolent of past roast chickens and their seasonings - pan juices, garlic, lemon halves, caramelized onion, garden thyme, plus leek tops, celery bottoms, etc. I was feeling chilled - no more, it's warming me to the bone. I went for a walk around here this morning, then lay down on the sofa with a comforter, and Gwynnie and Claire settled on top of me.

Earlier, I kicked around on the internet and KZE played a very powerful song, The Power of the Heart, heartstoppingly sung by Peter Gabriel. Gorgeous.
...but mainly I dream of you a lot
the power of your heart
all around the world to bring you back
the power of your heart...

A song you don't want to wear out.

As it played I scribbled in my journal. I think I went to a Peter Gabriel concert once. Yes, I'm certain. I went with a friend from work sometime in the mid-eighties. I had to think a minute for his name. Alan. Very nice fellow. We didn’t date but enjoyed each other’s company. He was very amiable, easygoing and game. We went to the theatre a few times, and one time this concert. It was at Carnegie Hall, as I recall. Alan must have invited me. He was a huge fan and incredulous that I was unfamiliar with the music of either Gabriel or Genesis. (As a girl I didn’t hear much pop music beyond what was on top-40 AM radio or otherwise ambient.) What I remember of the concert now is the tiny figure of Peter Gabriel on the distant, darkened stage, washes of lush sound. I liked the music but for the most part I was hearing it for the first time, so I couldn't fully enter it. It didn't matter. I saw my concert companion and his obvious joy. He was thrilled to hear the music of one of his favorite artists, live!

[Ha! as I write and edit this letter - amazing the qualities of iced cherry wine, because after 5 it is that hour for me - a memory of George Stambolian has come up. I remember him describing that so much of the experience of going to the theatre (or a concert) has to do with aspects other than what's transpiring on stage. It's an amalgam of sensations and perceptions, your experience of it - settling in your seat, how you feel about your companion, whether you have an urge to cough and have no lozenge, whether you feel sexy, or hungry, a recollection of having been in the theatre before and a glimmer of a past performance, etc., etc.]

Then, lying on the sofa, I remembered about another friend I had for a while my freshman year in college. The connection was that at one point he too took me to a pop concert – the group Renaissance, playing at Brandeis. At my request, I'm certain. He was very nice too. We didn't date but he was unusually kind and solicitous towards me. I met him because he was the editor, as I recall, of an MIT student paper which solicited freelance submissions from other schools. I wrote a piece on the Gardner Museum in Boston and was very proud when it was published in - brace yourself - The Beaver (giant sarcastic eyeroll).
One of the most beautiful museums in the world is right here in Boston: the Isabella Stewart Gardner Museum. Outside, it is a huge yet unpretentiously designed stone mansion, but inside the museum is a rare and wonderful escape from the hectic city life. It is filled with masterpieces of art, fresh flowers and fountains, and on certain afternoons, strains of chamber music wafting from the upper galleries…
My conscience pricks me a bit with this fellow. I liked him but wasn’t into him. I took him for granted and used him a bit. I wanted to see the Renaissance concert. I wasn’t attracted to him, but he had wheels… Terrible. My conscience pricks me over that. I just googled him. He has obviously done very well for himself – he’s in “wealth management”! Ah, oh well. I do remember that his friendliness and looking out for me was a lifeline for me, on my own my freshman year. Funny how I have sometimes disregarded or discounted that quality in people. A self-defeating streak in me, I think.

A song by the Guggenheim Grotto is playing now, with a delightfully forthright lyric – let’s get naked and get under the sheets. That was the problem with my MIT friend E – I never had any desire to with him.

You, on the other hand.

P.S. I was in the car earlier today and a song - don't know which one now - came on and I had to laugh. That post the other day about "I Want to Ascertain"? God, I can be so wordy and overly literary sometimes. Here's what I mean. I want the whole enchilada!

So many kisses, my love.

hitting send

Sunday, March 21, 2010

Heart is an anagram for Earth

La la la la la la la la
Dearest love, your excellenza is a bit tired after her long ramble...

Up in the aerie sipping iced wine. Should be downstairs roasting, then quite possibly infusing, whipping, and drizzling sweet potatoes. Sweet potato can wait. Women of Note is on, at the moment a sultry fado, sung Llasa de Selo. The sound makes my own voice deepen and darken and my eyes narrow and glint with undisguised ulterior motive - come here, you. How do you like your pie?

I'll tell you who musically is doing it for me these days - David Gray. I don't mean to gush but wow. Today they played Coming Down on KZE and it had the fado effect on me. The passion in his voice - I can't get over it. And his lyrics! In every song I've heard so far - poetry, combined -- here for example-- with the instrument of his voice.
Tears falling slow
From the bridge
Into the river below
In your eyes, I start to see
A starry veil,
The ocean of infinity

Moon and stars above me
Mingle with the blood
Inside my vein
These empty arms
That should be
Holding you close
Through nights of winter rain...

I checked out his website and see he's playing at the Egg in Albany on April 5. A serious reason to head north to the mysterious Egg. Except that I'd like to see such a concert with you or bust so I probably won't. But if we are ever destined to be together - then please, darling - let's go to a David Gray concert sometime. Or get every album of his and light a fire...

I'm not looking it up now, but I recollect in James Joyce, the short story The Dead probably, there's a description of the melting effect of an Irish tenor. I never really related to it, at least, in my youth, not most tenors I had heard. Sappy songs sung in a treble warble turn me off. I don't know that David Gray is tenor or not. All I know is there is a complex, textured quality to the way he belts out a song and lingers on a phrase and breaks his voice and howls before rapeling to the next lyric.
(Right darling - I'm actually thinking of you, truly I am!)

Back from a matinee of Shutter Island, directed by Martin Scorsese. I enjoyed it greatly and was able, refreshingly, not to take it personally, though I found the theme (no spoilers) about the nature of scrambled mind(s) interesting and apposite. I stuck around for the credits to see if it had been filmed in Gloucester. There weren't many people in the audience at the godforsaken multiplex but they all leapt out of their seats at the ending frame, thus missing out on a great song that played as the credits rolled - This Bitter Earth, by Dinah Washington. Wonderful, as Creslyn would say. This was the second Dinah Washington I heard today - a fortuitous tiny pleat in my lifetime...

I jotted down a few lyrics in the dark as the credits rolled... here are my notes (not the full lyrics)

This bitter earth
How can it be so cold
I hope someone will answer my call
And then it may not be so bitter after all
What good is love
that no one shares?


La la la la la la la
I will leave you on that note, my love, with very many kisses and dreams of you

Saturday, March 20, 2010

Know Now Then

Morning. First day of spring. I am contained in my skin, my brown denims, my light pink long-sleeved tee, but I am bursting with love for you and the desire to be in your presence. I feel as though I'm on a phantasmagorical journey - images and sensations, dreams, fragments, memories, reveries, connections, confetti, colors - all streaming past me. It's overwhelming, the scale of it -- too hard to keep straight. (I keep hearing my name, in instrumentals even --)

I feel a desire to settle my mind down, craft a story, but my divided mind jangles. Besides, that's not how writing - my best writing - typically goes for me.

***
Afternoon. Dearest love, I am sitting at a picnic table in a semi-secluded glade at the conservation area. It's warm enough that I'm just in my shirtsleeves. There's a view of blue mountains, outlined against pearly sky. Overhead the sky is blue with a couple of intricate white clouds. The turf is starting to green. A light breeze rustles my hair. I was just at the library but felt restless so I left after a few minutes and drove here. A family has just strolled by and said hi. Tiny bugs hover close to the ground.

I am glad to be here alone, outside, in the quiet, off to the side. I think of Marina Abramović who, as I write, is seated at a table at her exhibit at MOMA, where she will sit every day for the duration of her show (2-1/2 months) as patrons stroll by and choose to make eye contact with her - or not, sit across from her for a moment, or longer, or much longer even - or not. For me, that would be an excruciating experience. I would dread every day, I think. I prefer to retreat, be off to the side, not right in the middle.

I have come to realize (But I didn't know what I know now then) that I once saw her and her now ex-husband (as I recently read) at the conservation area, a year ago or more. They were a particularly striking pair. I can conjure their image now - at once vital, fit, attractive, graceful, and unassuming. They passed through the rustic arch of the gate. I didn't know who they were. We apprehended one another, made eye contact, and smiled. I went through the gate for my walk and I presume they returned to their car.

I saw who I know now (but didn't know then) was her ex-husband at an art auction in December. He pulled up a folding chair and for a spell kept company with the friendly acquaintance I was hanging out with that inclement day. I didn't know who the gentleman was, and my companion didn't introduce us. There wasn't any need. We were in the midst of the casual hoi-polloi of streaming auctioneering and a milling crowd and it wasn't entirely clear (at least to me) why I was there anyway so I was playing it as it lay, content to see how the minutes as morning wore into afternoon mildly unspooled. I didn't recognize him as the man I'd seen with Ms. Abramović at the conservation area gate. By the time of the art auction - the day of Winter Walk that December Saturday - I was aware of who Ms. Abramović was and I think it was that day, or maybe that evening at (p.m.) after the Winter Walk parade that Mr. NFS told me that she was opening a performance art school here in Hudson in the Community Tennis building (apt place, it seems to me) and in days following I got around to googling her and was surprised to see the image of the stylish couple at a fancy black-tie event and recognizing him - who the day I'd seen him at the auction reminded me of Ralph Fiennes (smiling reserve) and that they had been the ones at the conservation area one afternoon several seasons ago. Small world, these tight and not - on the face of it - terribly meaningful connections.

I would like to see Marina Abramović's show and hope I have a chance to see it. If I do I will be unlikely to sit down at the table with her and, especially, to make prolonged eye contact. (Something which on the other hand, my dearest, I would love to do with you - but in a private setting, even if outdoors like this).

Perhaps this meandering post can take the place of any awkward face to face with Ms. Abramović. There. I captured, if imperfectly, an evanescent connection, two tables, at two removes, separated by 120 miles, exercises in preservation.

Friday, March 19, 2010

Voluptuary

The New York Review of Books arrived in the mail today. In it is a review, by Joyce Carol Oates, of The Secret Life of Emily Dickinson, by Jerome Charyn, a novel wholly imagined and written in the poet's voice.
It may even have been that, in the tradition of (male) poetry, Emily Dickinson employed her "Master" as a sort of muse: a scaffolding of sorts for her art... There is considerable pathos... in Charyn's clearly sympathetic and warmly imagined tracking of his subject's doomed attempt to thwart her destiny--to escape her father's house and, as if incidentally, to escape the very circumstances that made her "Snow"--her brilliant poetry--possible... It's as if all art is but a strategy to "invent" a bearable life, as Charyn's Dickinson suggests in this elegiac passage late in the novel:
I would suffer each time Circus season arrived... The nearness of my blond Assassin intoxicated me, and I wasn't even sure that Tom was a renegade clown in the Circus. But that was the disease of Miss Emily Dickinson. I had to invent what I could not ascertain--no, did not want to ascertain. I was the voluptuary who lived on the thinnest air, who survived and conquered through invention alone.

***
Give It To Me Baby (I Want to Ascertain)
If I am the spirit of Emily Dickinson
reincarnated, then I sincerely apologize for
having dragged you into the same unrequited hell
that you sought to escape. Is to write to
invent a bearable life? That's how
I got through August. But this
purgatory of hint and delusion is
hardly bearable at all. What is
the point of a fallen angel?
If I was made to love, that
that's all I want, why should that
be denied? People hook up and
breed all over the place. Some
even have happy marriages.
I can't get you out of my mind.
It's a shame we ain't lovers.
So many songs on that theme.
I should probably shut the radio off.
Look, I'll write a poem and transcend.
But lay some of those fine kisses on me too.

Thursday, March 18, 2010

Stella, twice (bliss)

4 p.m. Dearest love, I'm sitting on the porch with a cup of tea, a 30-minute flurry of housework behind me. Dinner is underway, a sauce of crumbled turkey sausage, garlic, broccoli rabe and chicken stock that will join up with penne. Spring really seems to be here - earlier, I'm certain. With climate change, adjustments may have to be made. Such as - April is the cruelest month, with life returning? Make that mid-March. Mash with Ides.

Read more of Udolpho. It has some - many - gems of observations on Love. Here's one that reminded me, of course, of you and me. Of the young lovers Emily and Valoncourt, "They were both too much engaged by the present moments to give serious consideration to the future. They loved and were beloved, and saw not, that the very attachment, which formed the delight of their present days, might possibly occasion the sufferings of years."

I wonder what you are doing. You know much more about me than I do about you. I know nothing of your whereabouts or activities. I have inklings - but how tethered are they to reality? Really, all I have are hope and faith, by turns buoyed or dashed by reason and my imagination.

August Projects

From Mysteries of Udolpho, by Ann Radcliffe

Emily received, about the same period, a much more interesting letter, and which soothed for a while every anxiety of her heart. Valancourt, hoping she might be still at Venice, had trusted a letter to the ordinary post, that told her of his health, and of his unceasing and anxious affection... In another part of his letter he wrote thus:

'You see my letter is dated on many different days, and, if you look back to the first, you will perceive, that I began to write soon after your departure from France. To write was, indeed, the only employment that withdrew me from my own melancholy, and rendered your absence supportable, or rather, it seemed to destroy absence; for, when I was conversing with you on paper, and telling you every sentiment and affection of my heart, you almost appeared to be present. This employment has been from time to time my chief consolation, and I have deferred sending off my packet, merely for the comfort of prolonging it, though it was certain, that what I had written, was written to no purpose till you received it. Whenever my mind has been more than usually depressed I have come to pour forth its sorrows to you, and have always found consolation; and, when any little occurrence has interested my heart, and given a gleam of joy to my spirits, I have hastened to communicate it to you, and have received reflected satisfaction. Thus, my letter is a kind of picture of my life and of my thoughts for the last month, and thus, though it has been deeply interesting to me, while I wrote it, and I dare hope will, for the same reason, be not indifferent to you, yet to other readers it would seem to abound only in frivolities. Thus it is always, when we attempt to describe the finer movements of the heart, for they are too fine to be discerned, they can only be experienced, and are therefore passed over by the indifferent observer, while the interested one feels, that all description is imperfect and unnecessary, except as it may prove the sincerity of the writer, and sooth his own sufferings.

***
Belle to J, 1 August 2008
... I fell asleep and when I woke it was 4 pm and I hoped very much that you were on your flight and taking off right on time at that moment. Then I thought, maybe I’ll write a few lines to you each day and mail them near to the time that you return...

Belle to J, 2 August 2008
...I miss you very much, but all day long the prospect of sitting and composing a few words to you gave shape to my day and kept you close to me. I am glad I have thought of this little project. And my handwriting is improving!...

Belle to J, 12 August 2008
My dearest love, Another overcast day, with threat of showers... Writing to you is the only thing that makes your absence bearable, to the point where I am reluctant to end a note for the day, because it means breaking from you...

Belle to J, 15 August 2008
... I have been so happy to write to you while you’ve been gone. It was the best thing for me to do in so many ways. It has been wonderful for me to engage in daily ritual acts of creation, and of devotion. I feel certain that you will love receiving this packet of letters, and I only hope that you don’t try to read it all in one gulp. If you do it will feel like you were hit by a freight train, when in fact I wrote bits at a time every day, and it all built...

***
Box Tops: The Letter
Gimme a ticket for an aeroplane,
Ain't got time to take a fast train.
Lonely days are gone, I'm a-goin' home,
'Cause my baby just a-wrote me a letter.


***
Catherine MacLellan: Set This Heart on Fire
I'm gonna sit right down
put my pen to paper...




images:
Johannes Vermeer, A Girl Reading a Letter by an Open Window, c. 1657-1659
Johannes Vermeer, A Lady Writing, c. 1665-66
Johannes Vermeer, The Geographer, c. 1668-69

Wednesday, March 17, 2010

green day in the whole wide world

"The solitary life, which Emily had led of late, and the melancholy subjects, on which she had suffered her thoughts to dwell, had rendered her at times sensible to the 'thick-coming fancies' of a mind greatly enervated.--Ann Radcliffe, Mysteries of Udolpho
Storms gathered in my head, but in the afternoon my mood began to lift. I was heartened by the notion that, in a Sahara of page hits, in Antwerp someone had expressed a turning away from coriander while back in the States, at an airport perhaps, was a thought of cilantro soup. Return, embrace, mashup. Kisses, my dearest love.

I tried to keep things simple today, just keep moving. I skimmed swathes of Udolpho. I relate to Emily, and feel myself to be in the midst of a quality 21st century gothic of sorts. So trying on the nerves. But what is my alternative? Trying to keep one foot in front of the other in other respects, no matter my mad mind. I took a vigorous walk at the conservation area. All sorts of impure - no, perfectly pure! - delicious reveries and impulses there on this spectacular day. Back home, I did a bit of gardening, clipping off last year's brown sedum stalks and heads. New growth is emerging. I cooked up a big pot of chili and organized rice to go with it. I had all the ingredients to make oatmeal-raisin cookies -- so I did. I would have made dough for a plum tart but realized I had run out of flour. I am constantly running out of if not one thing, then another these days. I used to make it an absolute point never to run out of anything - to plan, to anticipate, to keep basics at least, in seamless supply. Things have broken down here, understandably enough...

On the porch now at an exquisite hour, sun on my face, I close my eyes, and my heart is full of love for you.










Penelope in the doorway. Add to image: warm sun, birds squawking, chimes clanging, KZE streaming, breeze blowing, sips of iced cherry wine, thoughts of you, and very many kisses.

Mysteries of the Berkshires, Litchfield Hills, and the Mid-Hudson Valley

J to Belle, 22 July 2008
... I also wondered where you might be--if you were up in your aerie. I finished the bottle of Cabernet Sauvignon (started yesterday) and opened up a bottle of Beaujolais (I just realized that your name is contained therein)...
***

Curiosity piqued this morning by Jessa Crispin and my interest further roused by an impassioned reader review, I have dipped into The Mysteries of Udolpho by Ann Radcliffe...
It was in one of these excursions to this spot, that she observed the following lines written with a pencil on a part of the wainscot:

SONNET

Go, pencil! faithful to thy master's sighs!
Go--tell the Goddess of the fairy scene,
When next her light steps wind these wood-walks green,
Whence all his tears, his tender sorrows, rise;
Ah! paint her form, her soul-illumin'd eyes,
The sweet expression of her pensive face,
The light'ning smile, the animated grace--
The portrait well the lover's voice supplies;
Speaks all his heart must feel, his tongue would say:
Yet ah! not all his heart must sadly feel!
How oft the flow'ret's silken leaves conceal
The drug that steals the vital spark away!
And who that gazes on that angel-smile,
Would fear its charm, or think it could beguile!

These lines were not inscribed to any person; Emily therefore could not apply them to herself, though she was undoubtedly the nymph of these shades. Having glanced round the little circle of her acquaintance without being detained by a suspicion as to whom they could be addressed, she was compelled to rest in uncertainty; an uncertainty which would have been more painful to an idle mind than it was to hers. She had no leisure to suffer this circumstance, trifling at first, to swell into importance by frequent remembrance. The little vanity it had excited (for the incertitude which forbade her to presume upon having inspired the sonnet, forbade her also to disbelieve it) passed away, and the incident was dismissed from her thoughts amid her books, her studies, and the exercise of social charities...

...the melancholy gloom of evening, and the profound stillness of the place, interrupted only by the light trembling of leaves, heightened her fanciful apprehensions, and she was desirous of quitting the building, but perceived herself grow faint, and sat down. As she tried to recover herself, the pencilled lines on the wainscot met her eye; she started, as if she had seen a stranger; but, endeavouring to conquer the tremor of her spirits, rose, and went to the window. To the lines before noticed she now perceived that others were added, in which her name appeared...



image:
Woman on a Balcony (Frau auf dem Söller), 1824, by Carl Gustav Carus (1789-1869)

Tuesday, March 16, 2010

stoop sitting like the hawks

Up in the aerie with rosé and ice. I just enjoyed a wonderful hour standing in the porch door with late day sun on my face and songs one after another speaking to me. The elements - sun, music, wine, thoughts of you -- all came together. Sun dazzling my eyes & warming my face I stood in the doorway thinking of you.

The Whole of the Moon, by the Waterboys. That song especially spoke to me as I stood in the doorway listening, moving my body, thinking of you, remembering, connecting. You and I are perfect together. Brigadoon & ancient prehistoric burial sites.

Oh, before I overwork this thing to death perhaps I should just launch it. So very many kisses, my dearest love.

memories of your caress

diving into your arms

hello sunshine














Witnessed on my walk this morning. I was amazed that the hawks stayed put, hangin' together, wings outspread, while I fiddled with my camera to get the shot.

up & running

Listening to Lola, not taking it even slightly personally (yeah, right) and thinking of you, as always. It's beautiful out, blue skies today - spring is in the air and Claire is rolling around on her back in the driveway. She has a divided mind too, poor thing. She wants a bellyrub, but her over-vigilant other side thwarts it. I'm doing some cooking today, dealing with a miscellany of ingredients that need to be gotten to. Have already made a taboulleh salad, to go with leftover cold chicken for lunches. Have to do something with a cauliflower - a gratin I suppose. There are chickens to roast. Oh heck, I just want to go for a walk. Back later, dearest. I hope all is well and happy with you. Am I one day closer to being with you? I hope so.

Monday, March 15, 2010

Mona Lisas, Mad Hatters, and an Indigo Girl

Dearest, it's a very quiet day today. Am reading Maps & Legends. The universe granted me another chance so I checked it out of the library (g.s. eyeroll). Am reading that Arthur Conan Doyle's father was
an architect and painter who died, in a private sanatorium, of drink and of the bitter, self-aware madness that sees itself as damnation through an excess of sanity. His was the kind of madness that reads the random text of the natural world and finds messages and secret connections, the agency of elves and demons and other liminal beings. Charles Doyle burdened his son with a legacy of failure and a [rich and irrelevant] treasure... an eccentric way of looking at the world, of making it against all reason, cohere.
Not elves so much, but having lived through the last several months I relate to the foregoing. I find messages in the infrequent hits to my blog, and narratives that relate to you and me in many (maybe not all) of the songs on KZE. For example, I have constructed a mental picture of your marriage, in particular your wife, based on lyrics to an eponymously named song by Pink Martini. The fact that the song has your wife's name in it seems to me to go a bit beyond mere coincidence, but who knows. The story within the song also offers a snapshot of what I interpret to have been (note my tense - my conclusion based on the 12534's "Niagara Falls" post) your marriage - that she's so active and driven that she's always out the door - not there for you. (Another song, Nobody Knows Me, by Lyle Lovett - (you) hate to be alone on Sundays.) I also link it with a song KZE played just now - Conversation, by Joni Mitchell - basic needs for comfort and conversation unmet within a marriage. I wonder about a disturbingly dramatic Carolina Chocolate Drops song, Hit 'Em Up Style, the unleashed, destructive fury it describes - I am on the fence about whether this relates to the coherent narrative. But maybe it does.

I don't know what keeps me going in this. Every day is a struggle. My impetus for writing - heartfelt writing - is love, especially for you, or some other passion, such as, in the political sphere, being occasionally aroused strongly enough by an untruth or injustice that I feel sufficiently energized to articulate it. Sheer physical energy is a big issue with me - overcoming bodily fatigue and ache is often an effort of will - unless my passion or a particularly roused sense of duty - is aroused. Then I'm Superwoman!

Maybe you're not even reading this. But I don't really believe that. David Gray is on this very moment, singing Made Up My Mind. I believe him.

***

Near dawn this morning, lying by the stove listening to the radio, I felt a sense of validation when this song came on:

I am aglow with thoughts of you
Are the stories that you told me true?
It doesn’t matter if they are
They are to me
I am aglow

Some might say these thoughts are wrong
That you might see yourself in this song
I hope that you don’t mind if you do
I am aglow with thoughts of you

Does it matter that what I remember might be
Just my own imagination painting scenes more pretty
Is it obvious? Does it show?
With thoughts of you I am aglow

Some might say I’m thinking in sin
So I’ll just sit back and take you in
You’re a map of a place; maybe someday I’ll go
With thoughts of you I am aglow

Does it matter that what I remember is not true
Does it matter that all I can think of is you
Does it matter that what I remember might be
Just my own imagination painting scenes more pretty
Is it obvious? Does it show?
With thoughts of you I am aglow.


Sarah Harmer, I Am Aglow

Sunday, March 14, 2010

I love you just that way

"it's okay - it's radio..."
Nick Forster, host of Etown

dearest darling,
went to see Crazy Heart this afternoon
as usual I screened an alternate movie
in my head
there's a scene where he's in his big old
lonesome heart altogetherness
in a bad motel room
his shirt falls open
he's half-reclining (head thrown back)
for me it was a vision
the sight of his bare chest
made me want to spread kisses over you
the way I used to
the feeling surged over me
I look forward to seeing you as you are
cover you with kisses
starting at the top
just like then - only now
It wasn't about Jeff Bridges. It was about you.

replenishing

Dramatically lit grey skies, earlier
a fierce wind shook the house
at dawn I picked myself up
buttoned my coat
shut off the radio
shook off the coat upstairs
changed into soft cottons
brushed my teeth
pulled back covers in the spare room
and went to bed. The giving mattress felt good.
The silence away from the stove
with just a little birdsong and blasts of wind
was refreshing. The room was dark.
The covers stayed put. The house wouldn't blow down.
The sense of you stole over me.
I slept, and I dreamt, though I don't remember what.

Saturday, March 13, 2010

stormy weather

I am having a hard time today. Many doubts and self-doubts. Gaslighting doesn't help. Went to see Alice in Wonderland today. I have spent quite a while now believing in 6 impossible things before breakfast. Today I just couldn't seem to muster it. There is just too little.

Friday, March 12, 2010

9:33 p.m.

The idea of a secret self goes back thousands of years. Greek philosopher and playwright Aristophanes had the idea that humans at one time had two heads and four arms and four legs, and became very powerful and arrogant. The gods were upset about it so they sent Zeus to solve the problem, which he did by taking a big sword and splitting everybody in two, leaving everybody the way we are, but leaving us feeling somehow incomplete. Everybody is looking for the lost part of themselves to make themselves feel whole again. -- Leonard Nimoy (via)
***












you are my erotic double, my missing secret self
you were everything I wanted
we disregard the dream at our peril
there is so much crashing & banging
going on downstairs, plus woe is me
moaning
this place is overrun with ladybugs
I have been ruthlessly vacuuming them up
my reverie (see first three lines)
was interrupted by bug marching up
my leg beneath my jeans
there was something in our culture that
demanded that we throw the love away
as though in youth when it was so easily come by
it would come again

(I Want to) Come Home

From The Changeling, or The Rustic
Menander, 342-c. 292 B.C.

THE HAPPIEST LIFE
I'll tell you, Parmenon,
Who seems to me to have the happiest life: the man
Who takes a steady look at the majestic sights
Our world offers--the common sun, stars, water, clouds,
Fire; and having seen them, and lived free from pain, at once
Goes back to where he came from. These same sights will be,
If you live to a hundred, always there, always the same;
And equally if you die young; but you will never
See more majestic sights than these. Think of this time
I speak of as a people's festival, or as
A visit to some city, where you stand and watch
The crowds, the streets, the thieves, the gamblers, and the way
People amuse themselves. If you go back early
To your lodging, you'll have money in your pocket, and
No enemies. The man who stays too long grows tired,
Loses what he once had, gets old, wretched, and poor,
Wanders about, makes enemies, or falls a prey
To plotters; till at last an ignominious death
Sends him off home.












translated by Philip Vellacott

***
Belle to J, 4 July 2008
...I think in a lot of ways I wanted to move back to a place that reminded me of the more bucolic areas of Stamford when I was growing up. This area is that, esp. right where we live...

sex and gasoline

My darling, I'm upstairs sipping hot tea and thinking of you. This morning featured ghost cars, a look back at my house, a ping from Heist-op-den-berg concerning cilantro aversion, a restless query from Saudi Arabia - 'what is the name of james who sing say something,' a lovely song by Graham Parker whose name I finally corrected, my discovery of amazingly sexy poetry by Ovid, a nap by the stove, a report of coyotes that drink from the ditch, and many fervent thoughts of you.

Amores, Book I, 5, Ovid (43 B.C.-A.D. 17)

Siesta time in sultry summer.
I lay relaxed on the divan.

One shutter closed, the other ajar,
made sylvan semi-darkness,

a glimmering dusk, as after sunset,
or between night's end and day's beginning--

the half light shy girls need
to hide their hesitation.

At last--Corinna. On the loose in a short dress,
long hair parted and tumbling past the pale neck--

lovely as Lais of the many lovers,
Queen Semiramis gliding in.

I grabbed the dress; it didn't hide much,
but she fought to keep it,

only half-heartedly though.
Victory was easy, as self-betrayal.

There she stood, faultless beauty
in front of me, naked.

Shoulders and arms challenging eyes and fingers.
Nipples firmly demanding attention.

Breasts in high relief above the smooth belly.
Long and slender waist. Thighs of a girl.

Why list perfection?
I hugged her tight.

The rest can be imagined--we fell asleep.
Such afternoons are rare.





translated by Guy Lee

Thursday, March 11, 2010

okay, I'm going to take advantage this evening of the freeform blog form
listening to songs (KZE) all evening
at one point I was standing at the pellet stove (lovely heat)
Penelope came marching up for some touch
but what I'm really trying to set down
is a memory - transcribing notes now -
for some reason, standing by the pellet stove
songs streaming, a memory, an image - a witnessing
came up
Macy's Basement - foodstuffs
a young man dying of AIDS (clearly)
he was almost dead
I don't remember the details - just that
I was shopping - he was dying
he didn't want to die

[think about this more]

***
you know, I want to add to the details and I have a hard time
the young man leaking fluids everywhere (or that's how I think of it now)
was crazed with the desire to keep on living
why in Macy's Basement?
this was back in a day when it was hard
if you'd lived in San Francisco
to get a decent cup of coffee
native to somewhere dried pasta
Macy's Basement was an emporium
it meant something

I have memories of my father
who'd been through a Polish exodus diaspora not so magical
mystery tour
bring home kielbasa, when he worked in the city, from Macy's

Macy's basement
before 1st Avenue became fashionable (again)

he did the best he could. This was c. 1970. He did the best he could.

There came a day I discovered the joys of basil, pureed into pesto. c. 1980.

So old hat now. But that young man, dying of AIDS in Macy's Basement - that's what it meant - to be in an emporium of discovery of little hardwon details that New York City was really NOT about - but that might be found there

plums but not enough butter for a tart and no yogurt or sour cream for a cake

Hello darling. I'm up in the aerie. I wish we were together. Perhaps then I would feel inspired to do a proper food shopping - one that results in abundance - and cook you something very delicious - whatever you might be in the mood for. I feel mentally checked out of here. A better person than me might apply herself to going through the motions but my heart just isn't in it anymore and love is the infusing impetus to my daily domestic devotions. I took a couple of walks today and had the car for a while and the best part was when Stella the Artist came on. I took a detour just to be with the song. Moon roof open I drove down the country lane by the creek where I sometimes walk and just blasted it.

The yogurt for a plum cake had bloomed into a blue peony.

Delicious Peruvian food. I wonder what that might be. Perhaps we'll explore that.

Should fold laundry now.

Later, with something more upbeat. But you know, sometimes the downbeat reality just needs to be said. If not in a blog, or to you - then where?

Really, it's sort of an interesting problem to be worked out. Where am I?




















graph via The New York Times, 3/7/10

but none, I think, do there tango

Good morning, dearest. I'm kicking myself for not having checked out Michael Chabon's Maps and Legends. I just wasn't focused on it - I was searching the shelves for The Duchess of Malfi, by John Webster, which I've never read but sounds good except that my eyes glaze over when I attempt it on gutenberg so I thought a hard copy would be better and best yet would be to see a production a review of one of which I read the other day (I put my trust in the reader comments).

from Whispers of Immortality, T. S. Eliot

Webster was much possessed by death
And saw the skull beneath the skin;
And breastless creatures under ground
Leaned backward with a lipless grin.

Daffodil bulbs instead of balls
Stared from the sockets of the eyes
He knew that thought clings round dead limbs
Tightening its lusts and luxuries.

Donne, I suppose, was such another
Who found no substitute for sense,
To seize and clutch and penetrate;
Expert beyond experience,

He knew the anguish of the marrow
The ague of the skeleton;
No contact possible to flesh
Allayed the fever of the bone.

***

John Webster (c. 1580 - c. 1625), the English dramatist, whose plays The Duchess of Malfi and The White Devil are redolent of violent death.
***
I took a walk in the spacious yard and graveyards of the church down the road this morning. There was a tombstone of a Henry James - another 19th century Henry James. And there was a tombstone that bore the names of a husband and wife. The husband died at age 31 or 32, and his wife, buried with him, lived for another nearly 60 years. Isn't that tragic?










There is hope for you and me yet, darling.
We're both still alive.

***
To end on a light note, this is an evening that I think we would greatly enjoy together. Embracing you, darling.

Wednesday, March 10, 2010

The Original of - who now?

Private thoughts, dearest, not for posting. The John Gorka song I heard him sing on a video at the library this afternoon - about how "I" don't want you to see me when I'm like this, and that "I" am very changed from the boy you once knew. Those words spoke to me. [Ed: at home now, cannot for life of me figure out which song - sorry.] I honestly wonder if at least some of his songs (many of these artists' these days) are about you and me. Multiply by i and we're in this strange reality - a hybrid of fact & fiction. At the Dollar Store today I could have sworn that the chorus was singing Jola, Jola, Jola - not I love ya, I love ya, I love ya. But there it is.
***

Okay - the song on right now - Cigarette Abana - I'm hearing Jola's in that too. Unless it's Yo Yo Mas? I snacked on a banana today. Plus two minutes ago I posted about how I used to smoke too much. Just sayin'. It all gets piled on!
***

I think of an older gentleman of my extremely slight acquaintance who, the second time I ever met him, looked like he had a new lease on life. All he wanted to do is dance. A happy man, now. Not that I had ever known him at all. But his joy and energy and certainty about just what he wanted to do - go dancing - was striking - and charming & amusing. (This was a few years ago, the evening after a funeral that afternoon.) He understood that time is precious & he was still alive & he meant to extract every pleasure he could from every drop. I think you are in that place, too - that's my sense of it.
***

I picked a Michael Chabon book off the 800s shelf at the library. The word Maps was in the title. [Ed.: Maps and Legends.] There was no blurb. I opened the book at random and my eyes fell on the word "Nabokov" and I shut the book. Then I was curious so I opened it again. Chabon is talking about - really, just mentions (from what I glimpsed)- Nabokov's fractal writing, all the leaping connections all over the place. The leaps & connections taken together - grand unification.
***

I read on Maud Newton I believe, that Nabokov may have envisioned The Original of Laura as a kind of performance piece - perhaps co-written with others. I copied out the words on the image of one of his index cards - but so far nothing has inspired me to make a leap. Maybe I don't have enough to go on - that's what we were doing on the Barefoot Contessa board with those crazy spontaneous parodies - but the shared root was Ina - it was easy to take off from that.
***

Oh my darling, it is so mild out, my fleece is just lightly draped on my shoulders, and the sun is warm on my face - the air is still, there's birdsong, a large squawking waterbird has just flown overhead, my citrus tea is hot and delicious, I feel calm & rested, the traffic is flowing, Rafe is perched on the roof of the outbuilding, Penelope is taking baby steps outside, my pen casts a sharp shadow on the page, and I am filled with love for you.

reinvented, redefined

I could go for a ride on your sweet jelly roll... - Oh my.
Nina Simone, Jelly Roll
***
A phrase from a song has lodged in my mind -
the Fury got him
I don't even know from which song today.
I hadn't thought of it that way
But I think that's what happened to you
You seemed so in control
opanowany (in Polish) - in possession of yourself -
Because it was hard to contain the Fury.
The Fury wanted out.
You had to go far. Rhode Island wouldn't do.
You loved me. You knew you wanted to come back
Someday. But it would take a very long time
For the Fury to play itself, wear itself out
Beating you up in the process.
It's why you've kept yourself concealed - one reason, anyway.
(I didn't want you to see me when I was smoking too much,
and drinking - too much too - and so bad in combo.)
So there was no rush on either of our parts to see one another
Fallen.
But now - the future holds the possibility of something
quite, quite different.
Sweet jelly roll, and sweet potato pie when you eat from the pan.

the morning after Tuesday Afternoon

Good morning darling. A wonderful dreamy song is on now that's putting me in a langorous mood. A song a couple before that hit my musical g-spot. I can get quite worked up with some of these songs.

(Ah, The Grateful Dead, Creslyn just said - Stella Blue. Before that Don't Let the Darkness In Your Head - really, I do have to tell myself that a lot. And the g-spot song, on while I hung wash outside - Habibe, by Big Blue Ball. Wonderful).

I took a walk this morning around here. I took a few notes.


Fast moving river
Hell Gate north
wild termagant
frothing
shimmering
earliest spring green
bare trees on either bank
behold the parade
a jet streaks south
I stand on a dirt road
above the fray
taking notes.


The End. I hope you are having a wonderful day, dearest, wherever you are. Many kisses.

Tuesday, March 9, 2010

perpetually starting notes to you

4-ish. Dearest, I'm up in the aerie, eating slices of apple. I woke from my nap and just took a stroll around the property. The frog "pond" (size of a kiddie pool) has a lid of ice, but in the flower borders bulbs are poking through the earth and there are buds on the trees. We planted something on the order of 40 trees since we've been here. It's like a boarding school for trees - they're all young, not even teenage. But they are getting bigger and one day the place will have green shade. I wonder where you are, what you're up to.

5. My dearest love, let me try to write to you as though this were a private letter, just between me and you. I miss you constantly.

Music that feeds the soul, that feeds the right brain that's been locked in chains by control freak left-brain.

5:15. Darling love, It has been such a beautiful day today, spring is in the air - mud and robins at the conservation area, bulbs poking through the earth here, small buds on our young trees - they made it through winter. I enjoyed being able to wear lighter clothing on my walk today, my breasts, braless, pushing against my shirt. A luxury I can indulge in now while I'm still wearing a camouflaging fleece. Once it's t-shirts and bare arms - well, sartorial norms will be observed. But to return - it was sensuous to be so aware of my body and my skin and nerve endings as I walked.

I don't have much to report. Breakfast was an omelet with mushrooms and goat cheese. Lunch was a salad of baby spinach and chicken left over from last night, with avocado, tomato and the last drops of balsamic vinaigrette. I drove to the conservation area and took my walk. I checked out my usual blogs, twitters, and websites. Read the introduction of Iain McGilchrist's The Master and His Emissary. His analysis of how the divided structure of the brain, usually in conflict (rather than cooperation) with itself, in turn projects itself on the world -- well, brilliant - explains a lot, including our own personalities and inner conflicts, played out in the world.

Listening to music that feeds the soul. Later, dearest.

5:40 Thinking about my walk and how I surveyed the landscape off the beaten path, thinking all sorts of primordial thoughts of you and me, or maybe just the one.

6:10 A beautiful Somewhere Over the Rainbow streams... and I suddenly remember I saw blue birds on my walk today, in the field - not jays - bluebirds of happiness, the first I've ever seen -

glistening

Dearest, here I am
I'm feeling better
I was in a bad water place
a hell gate
but taps on the wall
and a morning shower
worked wonders

yodel-ah-ee-he-yos
hot water fell in long rows
sliding down my rosy roes
swiss chocolate drops
and figaros
inside along my wet allegros
slipping to my posy toes
I moaned it felt so good
I stood in the falls of loving you
and kept my eyes closed
I'm better off when I'm serene, above
awash in an alpine pool of your love
yodel-a-ee-he-he-o
give that fire another poke, darling
and please
if it's not too late
make it a cheeseburger.











images:
John Singer Sargent, Alpine Pool, 1907
mashup via figaro

Monday, March 8, 2010

Undermind

"Alice has slid down from a world governed by the logic of universal arithmetic to one where her size can vary from nine feet to three inches. She thinks this is the root of her problem: 'Being so many different sizes in a day is very confusing.' No, it isn’t, replies the Caterpillar, who comes from the mad world of symbolic algebra. He advises Alice to 'Keep your temper.'”

***
Undecided, undefined
Undisturbed yet undermined
Relocated not retired
Reprimanded and rewind
Mystified and misshapen
Misinformed but not mistaken
Reinvented, redefined
Rearranged but not refined
Unrelenting, understroked
Undeterred yet unprovoked
Reinvented, redefined
Rearranged but not refined
Mystified and misshapen
Misinformed but not mistaken
Undecided, undefined.


***
Finding a root of i.

***
... a positive times a positive is always positive...

Yeah, yeah.

Bringdown

think we oughta
set sail

shoot for shoreline
falling into the hole
watch your back
let go



it's like a whisper
never makes a sound
come hold me
bring the bringdown
bring the bringdown, baby


(unh)

Faith

You can shake it, you can break it.






It could be months
It could be years
Before we find each other
Once again standing here
So until then my friend
I have a wish for you
Many hearts
To keep you warm
Many lights
To guide you through the storm
And may the saints and angels
Watch over you


--Saints and Angels,
Sharon Shannon (w/The Waterboys)














Some friends you never outgrow.