Tuesday, November 30, 2010

dasein, ahoy

Belle to J, 22 July 2008
Don't I have a great zip code? I love the unexpected 5 in the middle, that forms a perfect triangle. When I moved here, my cousin sent an email that said 'Boy what a bummer that your zip code is 12534 and not 12345.' I responded, 'I think my zip code is cool. Five digits and not one numeral greater than 5.' Plus the aspect of the 5 being out of proper order. That's a major difference between my cousin (rightwing authoritarian follower) and me, right there. 12534. No wonder Hudson attracts iconoclasts. Love & kisses, dearest J - Belle
Cue light on otherwise blackened set, on handsome bearded middle-age gentleman, in dark tailored suit, crisp white shirt, school tie (perhaps), suspenders, who intones, over his readers, with - at once calm and enthusiasm...
One of the reasons reading Heidegger is at the same time so riveting and such a painful experience is that he never ceases to struggle to transcend the Cartesian divisions which analytic language entails, in order to demonstrate that there is a path, a way through the forest, the travelling of which is in itself the goal of human thinking. Though we can emerge into a 'clearing', we cannot hope to reach the clear light of the Empyrean, which... is reserved only for the gods. - Iain McGilchrist, The Master and his Emissary, p. 450-451
Belle to J, 22 July 2008
... Do you know that I kiss my letters to you right before I post them? Even the very first letter, to express my condolences and thank you for the book. When the urge swept over me to kiss the envelope (right in the P.O.) before parting with it, I knew I was in trouble...

Actually I inadvertently overstated or misrepresented... I wasn't 'in trouble' with that first letter. D dropped me off at the P.O. and as I ran up the steps I felt a surge of feeling that I wanted, with sudden urgency, to express. Kiss the envelope, was all I could think to do to give it 'external representation' (you are rubbing off on me, J!).

D was waiting for me and there were people at the P.O. so I didn't have any privacy. I couldn't commune for a moment as I do when I mail something to you from my car. (Which was what was so hateful about seeing that leering handless vagrant yesterday - he interrupted and may have seen the ritual moment when I think of you and lift the paper to my lips.)

With that first letter, I didn't expect to feel what I did. I wasn't 'in trouble' at that point, but I did experience a surge of feeling. Forgiveness was what I felt. Not of you, but rather, of the past, that all that had happened between us so many years ago was a wash now, that all is forgiven. It was a moment of grace.

I am not by nature a forgiving person. I hold lifelong grudges. I am the queen of the silent treatment. If I am pushed beyond a breaking point I shut down and can no longer speak to that person (so awkward in a workplace!).

So to experience something that felt like forgiveness is a unique sensation for me. In fact, it's so unfamiliar to me, in a genuine way, that I've never quite believed in forgiveness, as in 'forgive and forget', get over it, honor thy ____ (whoever). I was never able to persuade myself to forgive anyone.

But I felt this sense of forgiveness, there at the P.O. that Saturday morning - to think, only a month ago. In Heideggerian terms - hey, I can get theoretical too! - I experienced the 'crack' - an understanding that what had been the 'given', our history, was now past, and that as I slipped the envelope into the slot, the future - which I had thought to be all but over - had the potential for something quite, quite different.

Yes, darling, it was good for me too but would have been better if you weren't in Quebec or Houston or wherever. In my not terribly long list of erotic demands, have I mentioned my preference for actual corporeal presence?

Belle to J, 22 July 2008
I imagined - and for a moment could feel - that you with mouth and tongue, were rapt in loving the 5 between the 12 and 34... I wonder if, time zones away, you were having similar thoughts at that moment? Considering how physically unrequited our love is, I take it as a small dispensation when I sometimes wake with the sensation that you are actually with me. I feel a kind of pressure or pressing on me in the night and I don't feel entirely alone (and I don't mean cats). But it only lasts a few moments, and I can't sustain it.
Many kisses - all of you.
Lights off. Come here, you.

Monday, November 29, 2010

the rare thing

In the heart of each member of the family was born, nostalgic, the desire to have that tiny and indomitable thing for itself, that thing spared having been eaten, that permanent source of charity...

And she kept on enjoying her own soft laugh, she who wasn't being devoured. Not to be devoured is the most perfect feeling. Not to be devoured is the secret goal of a whole life. While she was not being eaten, her bestial laughter was as delicate as joy is delicate. The explorer was baffled.

-- Clarice Lispector, "The Smallest Woman in the World" (via)
I read the most wonderful, detonating short story this morning, by the Brazilian writer, Clarice Lispector (1920-1977).

The story seemed to instantly fill mysterious interstices of things I've been reading and thinking about - making things feel somehow spherical and whole for me. I felt a sense of clarity upon reading it. It metaphorically delineates differences between acquisitive, devouring left brain, and vulnerable, joyful, profound right. Also, I thought of Emily Dickinson, why she today, increasingly so it seems to me, is such a muselike object of great fascination and comfort. She herself, like the "smallest woman in the world" managed, in her lifetime, in her own way, to not get devoured - to live her life on her own terms, to have a whole life, free, within the infinitely capacious bounds of her small room, seated at her tiny desk (seventeen and one-half inches square). Upon reading the story, too, I thought, in glancing fashion, of how "devoured" I had felt the whole time I had worked at that city agency (and in the end "spit out" as not being to their taste).

I am struggling a bit with this post, I've just been reading McGilchrist and his ideas about the sphere, the center and circumference of things, and I feel as though I'm winding a ball of yarn, unspooling cubit lengths from a looped, folded, figure-eighted skein, pulling from the mysterious, bifurcated centers, laying down each strand, first in one direction then another on the slowly enlarging sphere that I hold in one hand, give a slight turn to within my fingers while laying on, with my other, another; another subtle turn, another strand, and another, and another, around and around, diminishing one infinity while expanding another, winding the yarn around the round soft belly of the growing, revolving, perfect sphere of wool.

Why we love E.D. so much - she didn't get devoured, and as much as we wish to have "that tiny and indomitable thing" for ourselves, we can, we surely can, in thinking about her, reading her words - we can't, in her death - or rather, in her immortality - devour her, she's within our reach and yet forever outside our grasp - Emily (every goddess, every muse, from Marilyn to Clarice to Stella the Artist) forever for us "that permanent source of charity."

It was very nice to have a tree of her own to live in.

Sunday, November 28, 2010

My dearest, up in the aerie with my usual ice-filled glass, night has fallen, the melony roses in my birch vase are shriveled pink papery shrouds, heat is sounding comfortingly through the pipes, my fingers tap on the keys, my face feels hot, I have had a delicious snack of cranberry-walnut bread with French camembert (a good one but not as great, D & I both agree, as the one to be had from Grand Central Terminal), I googled driving distances in the U.K. and looked at the atlas again, I could really use a better one. Is it the sort of place where if one drives around one can find lunch? Nova Scotia sure isn't, I know that from experience. I don't mind. I drove around this afternoon, flying down country roads, alongside orchards and pastures and panoramic mountain displays, to Rhinebeck, for no good reason except that I had the car, and thought it might clear my head just to drive. Former paramour said he composes his books, sections of them, while driving in wide open spaces. All I do is listen to radio, go over silly things I've written and become amused again and laugh (now - inconveniently - my mind's gone blank). I checked out a new café that's opened in Rhinebeck but quickly slunk out of there, it wasn't my style, all bad fake loud art and - I don't know, from the write-up I'd read, I'd been expecting something very cozy and homey, and it wasn't, it was a bit glitzy and flashy. Other than that Christmas was in full swing in the municipal parking lot, altogether Too Picturesque for me - I have become jaded, truly, and in recent years have all but skipped over the paraphernelia of the holidays altogether. But of course, children enjoy it, and it is mostly for children, or should be - I don't mean to sound so jaded.

Have come almost to the end of The Master and his Emissary, which came as a bit of a surprise to realize that I'm towards the end of the last chapter. I thought I was only four-fifths the way through, but there is that thick a section of Notes & Bibliography to follow, which I would like to go through, the Notes anyway. One thing that was bumming me out the other day (there was this perfect little maelstrom of discomfiting impressions that put my mood asunder) was reading McGilchrist's dystopian scenario of what the world would be like if it were run exclusively according to left-brain values & ways of seeing the world. He wrote the section in whatever the grammatical case is called - in hypothetical "woulds" - and he himself knows, and acknowledges as much, that we're not so far, in places, from that brave new world. The thing is, as I immediately personalized my reading, it read as an abstracted account of the five-year miserable tenure I'd had working in the Roman Empire's citywide office of urban planning. It had the left-brain ways down to a tee, enforced by an entrenched civil service staff, free-thinkers rooted out methodically over the decades, an agency less about "planning" (as I had understood it and been attracted to the field in my graduate studies) and more about being the government arm of the all-powerful real estate interests in the city. I was just too naïve to be there, and I was a salmon swimming upstream. I did do some very nice work that I'm quite proud of to this day, writing a series of reports documenting various aspects of a tiny Bronx island's maritime history (I did it as a series of narrative reports, not these all broken down jigsaw puzzle pieces that get cobbled back together into an official "report.") My studies then led to something called a "contextual" rezoning of the island (McGilchrist notes how left-brainers abhor context - so the effort was tipped off to them by announcing it as such!). I'm going on and on, I don't mean to - but I lived it for a time, including trying to hold my own against truly one of the most odious people I've ever had the misfortune to work under, a cynical, unimaginative woman who wanted to control me completely and began to draft the outline of the report and even some of its conclusions before we/I had had a chance to do any real thinking and observation about it - but that's not what she was about. She and I had a HUGE blowout, and fortunately for some reason the Boss of both of us decided to let me have my way, and let me run with my little Bronx island ball and do as I liked with it. She & I never spoke to each other ever again and we were two cubicles apart.

The reports got researched by me (entailing long wonderful fogbound afternoons at a little historical museum at the edge of the Sound - bliss!); written; hemmed & hawed over mercilessly by the agency's "village elders" (read: guardians of the ideological status quo); and finally - after two long years - "released," that is, in agency-speak, published. Then I spent another two years in the borough office in a professional effort to try to implement some of the recommendations indicated in my preliminary report.

Anyway, let's just say that (except for sporadic short-terms gigs here and there) I haven't worked since. The whole time I felt like a salmon swimming upstream, I simply didn't understand the mindset at the agency. And I don't mean to sound ungrateful to extremely helpful, supportive, sweet, understanding souls - people who saved my ass frankly, because my Gestalt is All, technical skills zilch. Truly they were Angels, in every sense of the word, and I know that my efforts were very much cherished and valued by quite a number of people. That said, I still wasn't in the mainstream, in the flow, and that was very difficult, to be constantly pushing - advocating - in an agency that wasn't about advocacy.

Oh my darlings, can't you tell that I would much rather lie down in front of a warm fire with you and chat and laugh about such things, and especially to hear about your day, and about your life, and then to kiss and make out if we wish, or simply doze, or whatever?

And then maybe I'd make you a pissaledière.* That's one of the songs that cracked me up on my drive down to Dutchess County - someone wrote and sang a song about the wonderful French onion-anchovy-olive tart! One of my specialties, by the way, that I've blogged about in years past. Not that the song is about me. Or is it?

Oh Atlanta.

Darlings, everywhere, safe driving, and please - don't sleep with that iPhone. Love you. XOXO

Launching without proofing. Sorry, South Korea.

*Okay - came back with a factcheck - the song purports on the KZE playlist to be Peace in Here by one Randall Bramblett. I would swear that he was singing pissaledière. Seriously. Not just on today's listen.

Oh whatever. Darling, I'll make it for you sometime - however unlikely it sounds, it is delicious, I promise. And if you don't like it, then here, lean over to me my sweetest darling -

Saturday, November 27, 2010

Things have been exacerbating my anxiety in the last day - no wonder I couldn't sleep last night. Yesterday I went for a walk around here in late afternoon. It was beautiful out, sun brilliant, air cold & crisp, I had a spring in my step, camera in my pocket, weights in my hand. I turned down a road that I go down quite often, on the occasional days that I walk here. The road has a scattering of houses on either side, usually no one's at home during the week. I'm used to one of the houses where a white dog barks at me through closed windows. Today as I headed down the meandering road, sun in my eyes, I could dimly make out that there was a guy in the front yard, occupied with some labor or other. As I neared he abandoned whatever he was doing and started to come towards me. It was really quite aggressive. He invaded my space. He was coming straight at me and I felt chilled also because I could not see his features at all, the sun was so strong. Yet clearly he had observed me and had chosen his precise moment. There were several seconds when I was coming towards him and he was striding towards me, and I felt frightened. But what could I do - run? I could only keep walking. Then, in the angled blazing sun, his features completely obscured (I could never possibly pick him out in a lineup, all I can say is white, middle-aged) he stepped in front of me, no more than a foot or two away and said hello, and I warily said hello. He could have touched or grabbed me, he was that close. I kept walking and he skirted to his mailbox on the other side of the road, made a show of the pretext. I imagined that he's lived there for a long time and that he was aware that the sun was in my eyes and that I couldn't see him. That's what predators are like. Nothing "happened", I kept going, didn't look back, and within a few dozen yards, came within sight of another house where a woman was raking leaves in her front yard. I was safe, it was a normal sunny afternoon. I don't know that I'll altogether avoid going down that road again - but maybe I'll do it at times of day, or in weather, where my vision isn't compromised. Funny though, experiencing all the adrenalin alarm bells going off in my body, sensing instantly that something isn't right with that guy. I thought, this is how it happens, no girl or woman in such a situation ever expects to be raped and murdered.

This time I've written it down, that feeling of adrenalin freeze. It's happened to me once before. I happened to be there and observed the calculating mechanistic gaze of the neatly dressed man (crisp oxford shirt, pressed dockers) as he surveyed the plaza. I wondered what he was looking at, methodically scanning the scene, and I followed his gaze, saw all the people enjoying a beautiful June (I think) lunch time hour, milling about, crossing the white paved plaza, enjoying the fountain with the strange overscale round dark pounded iron sculpture. He stood no more than a few feet in front of me and scanned the scene, only barely perceptibly moving his body or head, and I was in the near-distance observing him and his gaze reached me (as I had braced myself knowing it would) and went right past or through me as though I wasn't even there and I realized with a sense of unique, absolute horror that the fact of me standing there hadn't registered on him, he hadn't seen me at all, as though I simply didn't exist. And there I was, sentient, watching him, observing and apprehending his utter machine coldness. (I was safe - broad daylight - and yet felt endangered in the sense that - if he were to know that I know... that could not be good for me.) I slipped away, a few simple, unobtrusive steps away from his line of sight, all the world, the brilliant day, the lunchtime rush, the people streaming about - all oblivious. I returned to the office, possibly mentioned my disturbing experience to a boss, Jane, complete asshole so never mind, and that evening, over wine, among flowering planters on the terrace overlooking the garden, recounted my experience, which had quite disturbed me, to D. But I never wrote it up, not at the time anyway, even though I felt it to be important, and felt that I should. But the moment slipped away. I wasn't in the habit, then, of writing things down. When 9/11 happened, some period of time - a few years - later - I felt that I had, in fact, seen something...

Today I walked in the park and never got the creeps, not once. I have had not one but two faceless lovers on my blog - from my point of view anyway, it seems they know full well who I am and what I look like - but never once the creeps. I'm half in love with half a dozen men, they all merge and meld into one Big Love. But never once, online, the creeps, only love, but it felt different as I walked down in my full physical presence in dazzling sun on that meandering road and he, faceless, came too close. That has never happened to me at the park, either, it's a regular ballet of dogwalking politeness.

Someday I would like a face to go with all of my freeflowing love - but - the face of - if he too so wishes - my choosing.
My darling, good morning. Sorry for last night's cryptic post. I was very tired and feeling uninspired (my mind wanted to lie fallow, I think) and yet I wished very much to connect. Finally in desperation I put in a fragment of a dream. Not every post of mine will be a gem of course - but I did mean it in the spirit of a goodnight kiss...

It's morning now though - as Creslyn might brightly say - so stay with me! Gray day so far, though at dawn the bedroom windows (shades drawn, curtains pulled) glowed amber. I lingered in bed amid soft quilts, langorously savoring thoughts of you. I kept waking up overnight, feeling very anxious for some reason  (regretting that inadequate post, most likely - I'm a very serious blogger). I'd plump the pillows, snuggle back in again, and my mind would turn to instant thoughts of you, a gift.  I imagined that we were in each other's arms and when I could make myself believe it - and for blessed whiles, I could - what a joy. You slipped your hands beneath the cashmeres, and I gathered you in to me and kissed you, and felt full and whole in your embrace, in your beswathing weight and in weighted folds and weightless clothes contained, wrapped in darkness calmed, and could drift off again and fall asleep. All through the night I think of you, darling, and sense - I do feel it - that you think of me.
dearest love I've been thinking of you there
husband without the sign
missing you, and longing for you, should I be...
I'll always love you, New York

Friday, November 26, 2010

My darlings, in the spirit of a dream last night that I noted....

A little girl storms into the room where I am, she’s complaining about something, has a bad snotty attitude. I get angry with her. I go with her to her room. There she breaks down. It turns out that she’s a sweet kid, she can’t sleep because her room’s too bright. I mother her and am no longer angry with her. I pull down the shades and draw the curtains and comfort the little girl who sits in bed. I put my arms around her.

I love you. Sleep tight. Sweet dreams.

Kisses, caresses

A Poem in Page Hits

U, I, and I
a moment changes everything
wife without the sign
missing you, and longing for you, should I be...
Oh Atlanta
dearest love I've been thinking of you there
of asterisks, stars and charms
a post in tweets
9:38 a.m., 26 November 2010


thanks, darling

Thursday, November 25, 2010

U, I, and I

Oh good, now my mind is clear, I can blog. I had been feeling a little odd, that I had gone a bit over the top in yesterday's post, using the word 'pray' - "I long and pray," I wrote, in reference to my preceptor, my international (if not supernatural) man of mystery who communicates - seldom, except by page hits. For which I'm grateful, don't get me wrong. But to say that I 'pray' - oh, perhaps that was a bit too strong.  But I let it go. Then this morning I read something in passing that I instantly connected with, that made me feel better, I re-read my post and felt soothed, it wasn't so bad, and then I forgot about the whole little mental incident, and went about my day, getting the bird in the oven bright and early, preparing a pan of roasted root vegetables, running to the supermarket, going for walks - and the like.

This afternoon a friend sent me a message and in it he mentioned his coming to a strengthening conviction in prayer - which instantly brought back to mind my moment from this very morning. Where - and what - was that line about prayer that had so comforted me? I went back through various feeds I subscribe to, the few pages of McGilchrist I had read...

[Aside: the man is haunting my imagination, truly (Updike to my Baker).  This morning I read the paragraph where Borges views himself as split (p. 403) - and mused anew about the curious coincidence (it seems to me) that McGilchrist's first name - Iain - is spelled with two I's - which seems unusual to me but may not be so at all, if one is, what - Scottish? Two I's - embedded within his very name the idea of two split selves.   It's something he himself is far too astute not to have noticed, but I wonder if it might have been a subconscious source of inspiration.  I have on occasion wondered about people with suggestive last names - e.g., someone named Coffin becoming an undertaker.  Anyway.  Earlier today too I heard Neil Young sing of Marlon Brando & Pocahontas (in the same breath) - so much safer than daydreaming about a very much alive married man who lives on the Isle of Skye, a place I've never been & honestly didn't even know where it was exactly, and which to me seems impossibly remote but to him, while beloved, is his everyday - and whose mysterious & haunting images I googled today, and whose scholarly resident I imagine as having locked himself away for years on end high up in a turreted room overlooking the sea, with his immense - and what turned out to be immensely worthwhile - Project.  By the way, Mr. McGilchrist, you may thank me that my little town library obtained a copy - at my personal request, several months ago!  At the time there wasn't a single copy in the entire mid-Hudson Valley regional library system.  It's the only book I've ever requested that the library purchase, except for Lyndall Gordon's Lives Like Loaded Guns - which I suggested on the same day.  Thank you, wonderful head librarian, for so kindly receiving my suggestions and then actually ordering the books.  The book was due yesterday, I'm not finished with it yet, and can't renew it again because now there's a hold on the first copy returned of two copies in the system - so I hope whoever's got the New Paltz copy returns it first, even though it's not due til December.]

Where was I? Right, so I went over the bits & pieces I had read here & there this morning - not so much (mercifully) - took a nap, slept on it - still nothing. And then thought - was it perhaps an Emily Dickinson poem I had read on the fly, in passing? Indeed it was. And so my bifurcated mind can rest now, thank goodness, I hate when she gets that way.

Prayer is the little implement
Through which Men reach
Where Presence -- is denied them.
They fling their Speech

By means of it - in God's Ear -
If then He hear -
This sums the Apparatus
Comprised in Prayer -

P.S.  I simply can't resist adding this link, published a year ago today on the 12534.  Happy Thanksgiving, Mr. North Fifth Street - I hope all's well with you.   Now let me go mash something else  - sigh - alas - tonight - potatoes.    XOXOXO

Wednesday, November 24, 2010

Missing you, and longing for you. Should I be thankful for you? I'm not sure what that means. Who are you? Are you former paramour in thin disguise, hunkering down for the rewrite? Or are you someone who came later...

I've been thinking about thankfulness today, with Thanksgiving. I feel grateful - but "slant," such as for the amazing E.D. connection (see today's earlier post).

Late afternoon I stood at the window snapping pictures of birds lighting on the feeders and on the ground - an amazing variety of tiny, tuneful creatures - at least two varieties of woodpecker, plus titmice, nuthatches, chickadees, sparrows, and Mr. & Mrs. Cardinal (she warm brown, he bright red with Zorro black mask). My idea was to crop the photos and post them as a group - but cropping resulted in unacceptably blurry, indistinct images of the extraordinarily vivid creatures, so I abandoned the effort. I was going to title the photo montage Musical Diversity, as a thanks for all the wonderful music WKZE has been pouring forth to my hungry receiving ears all year long and then some (but KZE became especially important to me this year).

My invisible preceptor or preceptors, or serial preceptors, as in my premarital dating days. Except that I'm feeling a bit Bride of Christ, you're forever far removed - I long & pray, no word from you. Or I'm like a Great Ape in a cage, pulling in vain at the bars. Am I thankful for that? Obviously - not so much.

But I'm writing, and I've lost weight, and I walk every day, and the story isn't over yet. I look younger to myself - as I get older, and grow into myself. Ruth once wrote about growing into one's looks - I think I have finally done that. The gifts that are bestowed in youth - I didn't quite earn those looks. These, I have earned... It's like focusing an old-fashioned camera... there's more cohesion between who I think I was meant to be (and I had lost my way for the longest time) and who I am finally starting to become - which is - wow (I didn't intend a pun) - becoming...

I long for you and miss you and murmur I love you and still I don't know who you are
But I know that you're out there and that you think of me
I don't understand why it's all such an unrequited drama, exactly
To the rather extreme extent that it is, I mean - no meetings - ever, cloaked identities
(If you're two different guys - the same story has played out twice the same way for me?)
I can guess at the usual reasons, of course

I'm grateful that today was such a spectacular day. Fierce winds did shake the house overnight, and there was a strong headwind off the mountains today. At the park the older gentleman with the floppy dog wished me a happy thanksgiving, and I him. Later, in the woods I ran into a woman with two little dogs who beamed at me as we passed, and later still, in deeper woods, another woman with perhaps her grown son home for the holiday, on a walk with several dogs who jumped on me even as I received smiling assurances that the dogs are friendly. It was totally fine, only I'd rather have exchanged words with the passersby than to be greeted so vociferously by the dogs all the while I'm clutching little red barbells.

The sun was out and the meadow (someone wrote in the logbook "are we done chopping everything down yet?") is coming back green - even in November, and the lawn paths are green as in spring or summer, and the woods are all brown...

All of us lonely it ain't a sin, sings the amazing A.A. Bondy. No - just checked the KZE playlist - it's Victory, Trampled By Turtles.

The fast ones - the hares -

Of Asterisks, Stars, and Charms

Trusty as the stars
Who quit their shining working
Prompt as when I lit them
In Genesis' new house,
Durable as dawn
Whose antiquated blossom
Makes a world's suspense
Perish and rejoice.

Jarkko Pylväs, Woodcut of Emily, 2010
Emily Dickinson, #1369, c. 1876

I am shamelessly lifting from the wonderful Secret Life of Emily Dickinson facebook page, so that I may have this woodcut image, a recently posted Dickinson poem that goes beautifully with it, and very lovely comments about the poem by, among others, Roelof Alexander Bijkerk, collected all in one place for myself.

The Secret Life of E.D.: Nice choice - not seen as often as Emily's other work.

Roelof Alexander Bijkerk: I ran into that somehow today. Actually, I opened the book to it, I think. It's a magic book.

It's beautiful because to me she's talking about the inner stars (perhaps Genesis' house is like a reference to dream time), stars she lights at night... whose magic "Makes a world's suspense Perish and rejoice," when they quit their shining at the moment of dawn "Prompt as when I lit them."

And antiquated blossom is such an amazing way to balance the meaning of things and make reference to the dawn, yet making it out it be something you can trust like an old charm.
To keep these interrelated words & images all together (trusty as an old charm bracelet) I'm reprinting my original impressions of Jarkko's artwork, first posted 4 September 2010.
The Secret Life of Emily Dickinson facebook page has posted the most beautiful woodcut of E.D., made especially for them by a Finnish artist, Jarkko Pylväs.  I am so struck by the image. It's like a photographic negative, or black chalkboard with designs etched in white, or an electrified afterimage, as when you look at something dazzlingly bright, shut your eyes, and the image inverts and repeats aglow. It captures E.D. and what she's about beautifully. She's surrounded by feathers, webs, "gods eyes" (ornaments I made as a very little girl, yarn wound and woven around a cross of popsicle sticks - called "gods eyes"), a crescent moon, stars, snowflakes, moonbeams, and starlight. He has captured E.D.'s likeness, idiosyncratic image instantly recognizable - hair parted in a bun, pudgy nose and full-lipped mouth, ribbon crossed at her throat - yet has managed to capture a most elusive quality, a sense of her poetic capacity. She does not look directly at us, as in the iconic daguerrotype. Rather - and more evocatively - she has thought of something; pensive, she looks away, off to the side, heeding the starlight and gods eyes and feathers and webs and stars - she hears beyond the genius of the sea.
Of Glory not a Beam is left
But her Eternal House --
The Asterisk is for the Dead,
The Living, for the Stars --
Emily Dickinson, #1647, c. 1886

The Secret Life of E.D.: The last poem Emily Dickinson wrote before her death (in 1886)...It could have been her epitaph - as many of her poems on death could have been. Yes, even many of her poems on life. Was Emily's whole body of work her epitaph in a way?

Roelof Alexander Bijkerk: I think she was pointing out that the stars guide us (an idea of the greatness of the human soul) and the Asterisk is like that hint that there's something more, although we thought death ended it, nothing being left but the eternal; which... in cycle brings us back to the last line which points out that it was the eternal stars that gave us guidance the whole time and not "earthly" things.

That's what's so amazing about Emily, in her poems the light moves around like in a jewel, which when you follow the prism, you can stop trying to think and have your thoughts come from the stars, instead.

The Secret Life of E.D.: The asterisk looks like a star and its root is a star - another Emily riddle? Asterisk from the Greek for "little star"...
Happy Thanksgiving Emily, Secret Life of Emily, Lenore, Jerome, Mark T., Jarkko, Roelof, Christopher, Lyndall, and others.  I give thanks for the many wonderful journeys I've taken over the last several months on account of you!

... That's what's so amazing about Emily, in her poems the light moves around like in a jewel, which when you follow the prism, you can stop trying to think and have your thoughts come from the stars, instead.

Fastening the clasp - for now...

Tuesday, November 23, 2010

Painterly sky, flew for my camera when I saw powder blue clouds outlined with a thin, fractal, bargello zigzag of electric orange.

My current preceptor's gone missing again, ah well. Meanwhile people steadily alight on my blog via a small handful of images that I posted one time or another, usually, Woodstock (the fiddle-playing Peanuts bird), a painting of Tinker Bell and Peter Pan, Botticelli's Birth of Venus. I don't understand what that means and wish I could figure it out. Are people purposely accessing my blog via an image shortcut? Or are people the world over googling, say, woodstock, and for whatever reason, my blog comes up near the top of search results and they choose to stop? (Seems so unlikely.) They don't seem to stay awhile and read, it's just hit-and-run page hits. Since I don't know how to interpret these page hits, I don't like them, because they seem random, not a person out of some genuine curiosity or following a little trail, happening on my blog and finding it a pleasant destination. But I absolutely cherish and treasure when I sense that a reader, whether via RSS feed or whatever, seems to enjoy my blog for itself... Anyway, administrative meeting over, my darlings, it's just one of those constant daily puzzles I can't seem to figure out that just gnaws at me in my rather disconnected, overly self-referential world.

Which was what I was reading about this afternoon in the McGilchrist, a description of how schizophrenia and the modernist view of the world aren't dissimilar. Honestly, I was starting to feel a bit hypochondriachal on that score myself as I sat at my desk reading and every few minutes obsessively refreshing the blogger stats page. My god!

So before starting to blog (what about, as I ask myself every late afternoon) I made myself get up and go out the door and take a stroll around the house, Gwynnie (spritely tortoiseshell) delighted to keep me company. I stepped through tall, damp, flattened grass. The air is fragrant with today's rain. I heard cardinals and chickadees. I was beneath an enormous sky that was changing color moment by moment. Leaves are mostly off the trees, including the enormous oaks in the meadow across the road. When did those leaves drop? When I wasn't looking. I think they must have come down all at once. I seem to miss that moment every year - one day the oaks are covered with leaves, and next thing I know, they're the "Tim Burton" oaks - gnarly, black, mysterious, vascular behemoths against the eastern sky.

Other thoughts that came to mind - not just today, many days. I know I sometimes, quite often actually allude to my desires... And I know that some people (not those I care about in the least however) might find me bizarre, out there, shocking, too public. But it seems to me that I try to write what I'm feeling, but I like to think that it's ultimately quite natural and charming. Especially given the overly sexualized and cheapened images that are gratuitously flung at us at all moments by mass media. (Or given the absolute obscene abomination that is Sarah P., as far as I'm concerned. But I'll stick to my knitting, and not go into politics. But if I'm radical - then what the hell is she? The ultimate in left brain horribleness. I feel like the Brooke Adams character in Invasion of the Body Snatchers. What am I supposed to do? Of course hide out. Who would have wanted my children? I'm way too right brained for this world - and so it didn't happen. Yes, I could have, should have, adopted, but not on my own I couldn't.)

Anyway. Right. I mostly don't watch TV anymore, very rarely - Tavis Smiley and Charlie Rose on occasion, that's about it. But sometimes at breakfast I put on the TV because I try to sit down with D except that I've developed this aversion to hearing him chew. (It's not new, but has perhaps gotten more acute.) So we sat at our eggs & bacon, and I flipped channels, and of course there's nothing on, it seems we're always sitting down to eat at five-of or twenty-five after - in other words when all stations, whether commercial or public, are in breaks from programming. So I landed on the horrible tableau of GMA, Emeril was on talking about Thanksgiving side dishes. And actually, given the bunch of grotesque fakers he was surrounded with - by whom I mean the GMA hosts - Emeril actually seemed like a pretty good straightforward guy, not the most physically attractive, but he knows what he's talking about, and he was trying to give good info. The rest of them I just found offensive in their complete inanity, but what really sent me over the top was Sam Champion very, very obviously posing lasciviously with an oversize carrot. He stood there holding it at his mouth as though it were - well, not a microphone. It was clearly intentional. And honestly, I found it offensive, because it was so gratuitously sexualized, at that hour ... oh even now I can't go on with this. I yelled at the TV - and Champion (because he was utterly self-aware) looked up with a wide-eyed smirk at the camera (no people, I'm not crazy, I know he wasn't reacting to me...). But really.

I know that Mr. McGilchrist could (and does) wax more eloquently on such matters, but I just feel that in this era of constant youporn imagery (whether one is actively seeking it out or not), to have a perimenopausal woman tell of her longings and desires - how/why would that cause the Left Brainers to have their hands fly to their mouths in shocked disbelief, and have me marginalized as crazy?

Ah - the disgruntlement before Thanksgiving. But you know what? For me, a carrot is just a carrot. Sam, baby, give me the real thing. But - at five to nine in the morning - pas devant les enfants.

Darlings, I am launching this. I love you all, truly.

Monday, November 22, 2010

My dear, the air is fragrant with the scent of banana cake cooling on the sideboard.
I remember reaching back around to kiss you.
Yesterday there was a dead field mouse, soft brown & lovely, eyes open, on the path.
I walked past it and considered turning back to take a picture.
I might have posted a picture of a lovely dead field mouse. Why was it there? Had a hawk dropped it?
I might have turned back a few steps to take a picture but a couple strolling with leashed dogs swung onto the path and the moment was broken.
Perhaps I should have warned them of the dead mouse on the path.
But their dogs, I'm sure, would have discovered it soon enough.
Besides - who needs to be warned of a dead mouse on a path?
So I simply said hi.
Today, same path, I looked carefully at the brown leaf litter.
The mouse was gone.
Elsewhere, in grass along a different stretch I found a tortoiseshell comb, the kind women put their long hair up with in a knot.
I picked it up - someone else's ornament, but it's nice.
I considered placing it - probably should have - at the kiosk as an object "lost & found."
Instead I pocketed it, brought it home, washed it with verbena soap, and pinned it into my hair. It's not as effective as a clip. Still, I like it.
I remember reaching back around to kiss you.
Your smooth skin, muscled chest, a necklace you wore,
Black beard, beautiful lips, lashes long, your green eyes open
Your soft voice a murmur
I arched back to meet your kisses

wacky lunch at Chez Panisse, May 10, 1985

Apropos of nothing, except that I was paging through a couple of old journals - here's a moment from one of my weekend jaunts to San Francisco at the time that I was shuttling to Houston on extended business trips (I lived in New York, where my job as a paralegal at a large law firm was based).


Just came back from Chez Panisse, where my lunch tab was picked up by a Robert S, "national correspondent" for the LA Times. It was very enjoyable - an adventure. It's the first time, I think, that I've ever had this happen to me. A fantasy come true, meaning that so often I go into a café and hope so much that I'll strike up a conversation with someone, meet someone, have an interesting, gratuitous (or not) encounter.

Where would I have to go in NY to have this happen? Not the Village.

I suppose there's a bit of a glamorous aspect to me here in that I live in NY, vacation here, pop into C. Panisse for lunch, talk about sunning myself and about [a well-known 1st Amendment lawyer] in about the same breath.  

I wonder. Will he call me in NY? I would doubt it, but who knows.

The lunch has been dominating my thoughts all day. Right now I'm bummed because I could have gone out with Mr. S tonight and now Steve [the friend I was staying with in Berkeley] called and said he'd be home late - 9:30 or 10.

What did it mean? He asked me was I happy, and I said, relatively. At that particular moment I was happy, but could vaguely recall that I sometimes feel bad. I then asked him if he was happy and his body language said "not really" (who could be happy when a third wife has filed for divorce the day before?), but he said "yes." But then he said no - that he wished his work made more of an impact, that 20 years ago he didn't predict Reagan would be president. Who would've predicted that?

I guess I'm depressed too because the lunch flattered my ego in a way, and that's always the worst. I could tell that the main thing he seemed to want was to go to bed - all the references to sun tanning; the fact that at 25, I'm "only a child." [He was 49.] He's going through mid-life crisis.

Things we talked about: Calif. vs. NY; his son, a senior in high school; my background, briefly (Seven Sister school; not from a "proper" family; Polish, parents spent WWII in Europe); that so-and-so's a sleaze; that Chez Panisse is like a shrine to food - the maitre d' looked very Harvard Divinity School; sunning one's self - that he's got a porch where within eyeshot, all these women, each morning, roll around on the sand; "do I do this? do I wear a skimpy bathing suit?"  No comment. "Sunning yourself..." he seemed to muse over these words; how, basically, I'd never heard of him, well, maybe I have; he asked me if I believed in the virgin birth -- I said that I'd studied existentialism a lot in college and somehow the question never arose; how he likes the 4th St. Bar & Grill better than C. Panisse; his calzone, which sucked; the 2 fat men eating the potato ravioli; my date with the guy with the pasta [???]; Berkeley Marina; how he's on an expense account; the new Brooklyn area code; how I'd like to have children; how 26 will be a big year, all my girlfriends tell me so; my friend I'm staying with whom I'm meeting at 7; how I'm free in NY next week; how he's leaving for New York tomorrow; how my friend is 37 and works in a video store and doesn't seem to have a trace of ambition which is a relief after the frenetic attorneys I work with; how he's married 3 times with 3 children; how I should have children from different marriages; how I lived with someone for 2 years - never been married - which was like a marriage and 2nd marriages are supposed to be better; how he hates Reagan.

I will be happy if I get one date in NY from this. The River Café? Someplace romantic. God, I'm so turned on.
No he never did call me in New York. But it was a fun afternoon, I still remember it. Thanks, Mr. S!

Sunday, November 21, 2010

Up in the aerie, it's after dark, the drier is going, the house is clean even the bathrooms, I'm wondering what to write, feeling frustrated and not like I'm losing it exactly but boy my trips down memory lane take weird trajectories that I don't quite see coming. As I went through my day I found myself thinking about someone who I had dated on & off thirty years ago, or a bit more, while I was in college.  I actually don't remember very much about him, just his appearance - absolutely gorgeous, dramatic dark looks and beautiful green eyes.  Are sapphires green?  His eyes were like jewels.  He had a nice smile too.  Arrestingly beautiful looks, and when he fixed his gaze on me - he slew me.

Besides his visiting me at the dorm on those frigid January nights - what do I remember?  A night I spent with him in his Beacon Hill apartment.  We made love, and afterward I couldn't sleep, I was too nervous or anxious, just this feeling of excess phlegm, I kept swallowing (I was a terrible smoker, I'm sure that was the cause).  I remember a wakeful night lying next to him, hoping I wasn't waking him with my constant swallowing, which seemed loud & annoying even to me.  The next day, or maybe a different time altogether, we had breakfast early in the morning in a diner in Cambridge, not far I think from that salt & pepper mill bridge.  I remember being in another apartment he lived in, at some point much later on (6 months? a year? more?) when I began to date one of his roommates, they all lived together in a flat in Brookline.  That was awkward, very awkward.   

And honestly, I don't remember much else, just a nice sort of afterglow feeling now, all these years later, remembering quite vividly what he looked like, the intense physical connection we had.

A little while ago I was in the closet hanging up clean laundry, and I peeked into my Pandora's box of old papers, including college journals, my personal Rosetta stones.  I leafed through them quickly, most of them were from the wrong time period when I was seeing other people, including not one, but later even a second of his apartment mates.  God, I cringe now thinking about the awkwardness of it all, as if Boston/Cambridge didn't have about a zillion guys in it - I had to - serially, mind you, over a span of a couple of years - have extended involvements with three guys who were all very well acquainted with one another, frat brothers, in fact, perhaps - no, probably, most likely even - very good friends?  (For the record, there were at least two others there whom I never dated or looked at once, though I still feel bad about the teflon pan that I used a metal spatula on, causing one of them to go ballistic on me.  In a nice way, considering.  I know - those fresh teflon pans were precious - I get it.  I was just dumb that way.)

So I'm paging through the journals and now I do start seeing some references to R, mostly about the awkwardness of encountering him while I'm dating this other fellow.  But here's a good one.  I do remember having met his fiancée once (though I have no recollection of her whatsoever), and I note it in my journal.  This was at a supermarket.  Later it was reported that she said of me, "So - that's the other woman?"

Considering how warm my thoughts are at this point of this former lover R, I was quite surprised to read all the really negative things I had to say about him, how I perceived him.  I have no independent recollection now, really, except that ultimately the relationship was frustrating and went nowhere but there was always this great attraction.  In one of the entries I actually allude to the fact that whatever journal notes I had made while dating R, I had kept in my "New Yorker" diary, a hardbound annual book that I haven't seen in years, and that I'm quite sure is long, long, long buried at Fresh Kills.  Very unfortunately.  I was bad about keeping things together that were important to me.

And that's it.  I don't feel silly, exactly - well, maybe a bit - to be thinking of him so many years later.  It's just that there's this mystery guy, sorta kinda (mostly not though), and my mind frets it, absent more compelling or pressing intellectual activities.  No, I didn't read more than a couple of pages of McGilchrist today - I should re-devote myself to that pronto, I know. 

I walked at the conservation area this morning - an amazingly beautiful day - cold but somehow reminiscent of summer in just how sunny it was.  More comfortable, really, than summer sun, the late autumn sun feeling tonic rather than too strong.  Afterward I went to a store that was having a sale and bought myself a couple of pairs of jeans.  I have lost quite a lot of weight over the last couple of years, and gotten toned and am overall in much better shape.  I actually like my appearance in the mirror now, and I think I have quite a nice figure.  Far from perfect, but quite shapely.  I think I look pretty hip too, certainly so compared to the bitties.  My hair is about shoulder length, and dark brown, a shade that I think complements my skin tone.  I'd be a size smaller but for my great fondness of rosé and French camembert - my figure reflects my priorities and my appetites - 

P.S. Thank you so much Tim, Sunday afternoon DJ on KZE, for playing Bringdown when you did. I had been trying to download it all afternoon for a listen, ever since someone in Texas landed on my blog by googling the relevant search terms, and then lighting - surely not by accident - on a particularly lurid other post of mine as well. Was that you, Romeo? I had a good laugh imagining that it was.

Sweetest dear, whether you were a good guy or not, whoever you are now, wherever, I wouldn't mind perusing a volume called Intense Love with you and putting my leg up against the bookcase.


Saturday, November 20, 2010

I lay down on the sunny bench at the conservation area this morning. I felt tired, was trying to go through my usual paces, but was somehow exhausted. There's a wonderful view from the bench, of expansive field, and mountains in the distance. After a chill gray start the sun was coming out. There was no one about. I rarely sit on that bench, maybe a couple of times in the more than two years I've been walking there. One day last week I startled a young man who sat upon it reading a book. His hand flew to his heart as I passed behind him on the trail through the woods. You startled me, he gasped. Likewise, I said - which he had, because it's very unusual to see anyone pause there, let alone on a weekday. I'd seen him walk into the park as I drove in - and was glad I did because (with the deer hunter's big-ass truck the only other vehicle in the parking area) if I hadn't I'd have had a heart attack too.

The sun was coming out, instantly warming the ambient air and I felt more & more tired. So I simply lay down on the bench and looked up at the tree. I fished the camera out of my fleece jacket pocket and snapped the picture. I closed my eyes and wondered if, just in the course of letting my mind range and wander, I had managed inadvertently to stumble onto the answer.

No wonder it's impossible, now as then, I think he's married to the same woman he was engaged to at the time. We weren't so serious anyway. I was very attracted to him but he was very enigmatic. Actually I felt tormented. He was very much like Former Paramour.

I look up a couple of passing references to R in my 2008 August Project, a letter-writing journey in which I had mined old college journals for traces of Former Paramour (J). In Spring 1980, several years after J and I had broken up (and not, I now suppose, long after R and I broke up), I wrote of R and J in virtually the same breath, intertwined; they seemed to me each a "driven, tragic figure... consumed by ideal love that could not be transposed to reality: to me, to affection, to action."

Belle to J, 7 August 2008
I am thinking about another entry from my journal, dated April 17, 1985. Yet another guy [P] was sending me totally mixed signals (that relationship went nowhere), and I wrote:
“Give it up or let me go. My own ego would be involved if I figured out a way to have this continue. That is, it would be as though I believed that deep down he really wants me and it’s only a question of time. It’s a mistake I’ve made before – with R, and with J (in the later years in fact, sometimes I still find myself believing that about J). So I have to mortify my ego.”
I went through years of frustrating dating, college and after, through much of the 1980s, until I met D in spring 1986. At that point I was literally saying to girlfriends, I just want a man who doesn't drive me crazy. Someone who I won't obsess over, who'll actually show up, stick around, be there.

D was that and more, at the time and for many years after.

Belle to J, 7 August 2008
Good morning. I’m sitting on a rustic bench at Olana... The bench I’m sitting on is under a beautiful, gnarly Japanese pine, and after I compose and set down a line I look up at the branches and wait for what comes next.

I had a series of relationships after you, and before D...Here’s a passage that probably relates to that prank letter I sent to you in Chicago. (I guess also I wasn’t quite over another guy [R], quite the calculating tormentor, with whom I’d had a liaison for a time.)

And what the hell have I gotten myself into now, with J? I can’t believe the retarded consequences. Short story. I live in short stories. I can’t believe it. Dorothy Parker stories. Glum and sarcastic. And now I’m hungry. Fuck R Fuck R Fuck R. I sure do pick ‘em – J, and R – two peas in the proverbial pod. Oh hell...
At almost age 49 (surely mature by now!), I am surprised at how accurately my youthful self summed you up and assessed our predicament.
Spring 1980: “And J? What of him, who had played such a large part in my past and even present? Laws of cause and effect. He affected me the most. I lost my virginity to him, beautifully. Another driven, tragic figure, yet different [from R]. Also consumed by ideal love that could not be transposed to reality: to me, to affection, to action.
I see the impossibility yet again, now as then. It's okay. I won't obsess, not really, not this time around. I wonder if I have it right. He's made a great life for himself it seems, has made a difference, continues to make a difference. That's fantastic.

I'll keep looking - for someone who's actually there, who's there for me, who doesn't drive me crazy.

If my hunch is right - then all fond memories and good wishes - truly -

I look up at the branches and wait for what comes next.

Friday, November 19, 2010

to capture
an image of
the beautiful
woodpecker at
the suet feeder outside my
kitchen window before he flew

Later in the morning I encountered an especially lovely tree as I made my way down a path...


 Back from a sunset walk at the conservation area, my second - no, third - walk there of the day (two short ones in the morning, with a supermarket & farmstand run sandwiched between).

I had the car for most of the day, along with a request to get it back to D by 4:30.  Went to the library, listened to some favorite songs on headphones, checked a few headlines, googled a few IP addresses, saw the most wonderful satellite shot of Western Finland, land surrounded by a body of water - a sea? a fjord? - and mist between the satellite and planet earth.  All very mysterious & beautiful.  Oooh the water croons Van Morrison appropriately enough just now.

In a fierce fever of missing you today, where are you, I can't tell you all the thoughts going in my head as I pound the path and work the weights around the figure eight of the park.  But you do know, don't you.  But where are you?  Oh please don't have gone all RSS feed on me.  I won't believe it, not after all these months.  It's just not the same, it isn't.    

When I saw the moon high up in the sky  -  I now had my back to the river, heading back to my car - Tom Waits' Grapefruit Moon song came to mind, and I sang as much of it as I could recall out loud (park to myself, just me and the circling swifts and a hawk).  Grapefruit moon, one star shining, shining over me... every time I hear that me-lo-dy, something breaks inside.

I don't have much for you today, my dearest.  Just this sensation all day long of images rushing past me, beautiful views and sensations all day long.  So hard to capture, the constant flow of it.  Coming down 9J towards the Rip Van Winkle Bridge, for example, the Catskills in the foreground, large, gray, misty at the peaks, still spots of dark autumnal color in the distance, the steel bridge itself, tiny in comparison to the close-by mountains on the other side of the river.

Did the CSA run for the neighbor this afternoon, always such a joy.  It was before four and the light was lush, golden, magnificent, lighting up the landscape, at the farm a distant vista with grazing sheep in the middle distance.  I enjoy the CSA ritual, going from bin to bin picking up the allotment as decreed in chalk on the blackboard - potatoes 1 quart (I pick out the tiny ones), beets 1 quart, 1 rutabaga, 1 bunch kale, 1 quart tomatoes OR 4 large beefsteak (I took the quart), 1 bag mixed apples, 1 onion, 1 golden cauliflower.  Lovely, lovely stuff, so earthy.  Neighbor gets most of it, of course - it's her subscription - but I took some of the potatoes and beets, and a couple of apples, tomatoes, & sweet potatoes.  Would have enjoyed nabbing the kale but couldn't justify it....

Just communing here with you, my dearest, as I sit up here in the aerie.  Still reading the McGilchrist - of course, it's a lengthy book - but though I do put it down - I can hardly put it down.  And yet it's best read in small bites, it's so dense with detail.  Look, you know the fever I'm in but I'm thinking he must be fantastic in bed - he's got the drive and the gestalt.  Where is the passage I'm looking for, not far from the "Melancholy and Longing" subchapter - oh M. & L. - honestly, that's been the cast of my entire life, I kid you not, every single day of it -  and for what? - as McGilchrist notes, Romantic poets too felt it, not only Romantics, but right-brain dominants through time....  I can't seem to find it at the moment, but boy it put me in mind of former paramour again, of how I think he must have viewed me, as an object - by which I don't mean in a bad way necessarily, it's just that he was all about drive - while I was sort of the mirror opposite, all about vast, vast very connected (not at all desolate) landscapes when he was doing his thing & I was ecstatic.

Oh where are you indeed.  Not to mention - who are you.  I thought of another lover I had a million years ago - college, that is - since someone googled the image of a professor whose Heidegger courses I audited a couple of semesters at the time (late seventies).  I remembered about an MIT dorm room I stayed in for a month during a Wintersession (the January break before spring semester).  I remember that room vividly.  It was on the first floor, and had a window that overlooked a very windswept plaza with a large modernist sculpture, by someone famous, but I don't remember at the moment who.  With most everyone away I had the floor of the dorm to myself (and by the way, MIT wasn't my school, but Wellesley kicked everybody out at the holidays too, and I was temping in Boston/Cambridge for some income, so it was very convenient to stay at MIT).  So I remember this tiny cement-block room, but whoever it was who I was borrowing it from was neat & tidy, a civilized sort, the place was very orderly and swept and monastic yet somehow not - I don't know, soulless.  I was staying in the room, sleeping in the cot, of a nice guy I think.  Who knows.  I did actually meet him once, he was a very tall Scandinavian fellow, but bland, and now that I think about it more - I wasn't even slightly attracted to him.  But a nice guy.  But so what.

What I do remember is that this Basque-Welsh sexy lover of mine would come for what would now be called booty-calls.  He was engaged to someone else.  He was really into me, very very seductive.  And he was fantastic in bed.  And we had an intellectual connection too.  We dated  (if that's the word) on & off for quite a while.  (I think he audited that Heidegger course too, though in the classes I was actually holding hands with someone else, the guy I was seeing, but didn't feel electrically connected to.)  I remember him coming over to that desolate dorm room on frigid January nights.  The pipes of the radiator clanged and banged all night.  There was tons of heat in the room, and I'd crack the window open onto that windswept empty plaza with the famous Calderesque sculpture (maybe it was a Calder), and I didn't mind having the window open, not only for the thin lozenge of frigid air that would rush in to cut through the boiler-room heat, but also because I was a terrible smoker, smoked all the time, and yet couldn't stand the odor of it.  (I have long since quit - doing the math now - wow, 12 years ago this month.)    Anyway, he was great in bed, and very romantic in his way.  Maybe sometimes he spent the night but usually not - he was engaged.  It's so funny thinking back now on a connection like that - we were both so young - I was perhaps still in my teens, he in his early twenties tops.  I was trying my hand at writing poems & short stories, and he was interested, I'd try them out on him.  But they were so lame, they really were, much too influenced by the minimalists of the day - which was counter to my natural style, to what, decades later, I might have to say....

Good night, sleep tight, my darlings, including the sexy, soulful guy who made my January nights in that empty dorm so many years ago...  

Launching without proofing.  I know, it shows.  Fascicles - later. 

Thursday, November 18, 2010

Everything that composed the kernel of his life went on in secret while everything that was false in him was on the surface.--Anton Chekhov, Lady With the Little Dog
What an extraordinary line to google, word by word. Someone did so yesterday evening - a man, I imagine - landing on a previous post of my blog.

I can and can't relate. I live outside society really, I have no position. But I get weirdly tongue-tied in public - my mind jams up. There's some disconnect between who I am as a blogger - I step out on a ledge - and the placid image I project (or the way I imagine I'm received) in public.

There's a melancholy to that line, it seems to me. Or perhaps it's the translation, and that what Chekhov wrote, intended, reads subtly but crucially differently in Russian.

It's a good description of what the right/left brain divide feels like, an eternal disconnect, separate spheres. Right brain = true; left brain = false. That is, to the extent that "emissary" left brain heeds right brain, hearkens to the call...

I have my poetry to protect me - Simon & Garfunkel sing at this very moment, on KZE. I am a rock. I am an island.

I personally relate to that better than to the Chekhov line.

I have an aversion to hypocrisy, instantly liked Mark Twain. It wasn't really possible for me to have such a bifurcated self. But (& I don't mean to sound smug or preachy or satisfied, etc.), integrity - truthfulness - was always important to me. False fronts. My father was good at that. He would make nice to the neighbors. Meanwhile he was a raging violent drunk alcoholic and we were tormented and beaten by him mercilessly for many, many years. The neighbors loved him though. Friendly guy - to them. Maybe that's why I have such an aversion to utterly lying false fronts. My mother would tell me, when I was a girl, that I shouldn't tell others of my problems.

I've dug out a paper I wrote in 10th grade, for English 10-0, March 1975, on Huckleberry Finn. A concluding line: "Huck the irreligious 'heathen' is virtuous and good, the religious devotees are a bunch of hypocritical and un-Christian sinners." [My English teacher crossed out a bunch of - !]

Darling, and who ever the Arkansian googler was, I hope you're happy - truly - even if we're required to put up false fronts and keep our secret lives to ourselves. It's our culture that's so impossible. How is one to cope? (Yes, I know - yoga, meditation - yes, but - ?)

Someone googled an image I had posted a long while back. I'll post it again. I like it.

Very many kisses darling, XOXO -

Wednesday, November 17, 2010

The sky is a study in billowing grays, black bare trees fanning against battleship fronts amid breaks of light. The wind is picking up, sounding already. Last night the wind was ferocious and I woke up feeling cozy, warm and safe as the wind buffeted the house and rain lashed at the windows.

Dinner is easy tonight, wedges of an enormous lasagne I made yesterday with ground turkey, turkey sausage, and farmstand vegetables - the last of early fall onions and garlic, peppers and tomatoes from the freezer. We had it last night too, it's delicious, perfect comfort food.

Read more of the McGilchrist, and marveled this morning at the microcosm contained within just two pages. He has a great breadth of knowledge, and a very generous, expansive way of writing. Within pages 341-343 I read a fascinating quote about the purpose of art, McGilchrist's subtle refinement of the idea, plus excerpts of two poems by Dryden, offered in interesting context (including allusions to the earlier Milton and later Wordsworth, and an aside contrasting Bach with Haydn), which I would never otherwise (or certainly not this moment, not today - or ever - because I don't think I've ever read any Dryden) would have come upon and read. Really, I felt as though I was on a companionable walk with McGilchrist and he was showing me the magnificently overgrown yet ordered garden of his mind, a secret garden that he's cultivated, roses here, lilies there, don't miss the climbing hydrangea. What a delight, truly. I'm learning so much, and also getting a sense of the rich quality of his own mind. It's a challenging read, to be sure, but this is no dry, pedantic (left brain) exercise - it's allusive, imaginative, wide-ranging (right-brain). Right brain in good harmony with left for purposes of his book, with detailed Notes and Bibliography.

A fun day for me, for music. I was in the car about to make a pair of left turns to go the supermarket when Stella the Artist came on, so I abruptly changed plans, kept going, cranking the radio and veritably dancing as I drove. Later, after one, 40 Dogs came on (haven't heard it in a while) and I turned up the stereo (startling Penelope who ran out of the house) and danced around and grooved on it. Man, that guy (Bob Schneider) has great lyrics and can sing fast tongue-twisters. A few minutes later I went upstairs and there was a kiss from you. Had you been listening to the song at the same time, Romeo?

Dearest, I don't have very much for you tonight, wish we were in each other's arms. But what else? There was a magnificent woodpecker at the suet feeder outside the kitchen window this morning. I tried to get a picture but it flew off. This is a large woodpecker, large as a jay, with a phosphorescently red cap. There are other woodpeckers too, much smaller, not quite as comical and distinct. This woodpecker has a personality - flamboyantly dressed but a bit awkward, a bit too large for his own comfort (on the feeder anyway), a bit of a misfit - why am I thinking Cyrano?

What else? I have been like Annie Oakley up in the aerie the last couple of days, with the vacuum cleaner as my weapon of choice. The house has been being invaded by dreadful machinelike bugs that for a while I was trying to tolerate, scooping up on paper one at a time and depositing out the window, but it's gotten to the point that I'm getting the creeps, almost a sense that they're sentient, checking me out - whatever. Just way too many, popping up one at a time around my desk, and in the bathroom. Also these awful "ladybug" things - I put that in 'scare quotes' because are they really the ladybugs romanticized in the children's nursery rhyme?

So I've been literally sweeping for bugs, ruthlessly. They're still pouring in the door of the solarium. Well, maybe that's an exaggeration. I'd vacuum those up too, but we have only one vacuum cleaner and I'm not about to lug it up and down stairs. Too heavy.

No poetry, darling, tonight, just Cunégonde telling of her day. I made quesadillas for lunch - melted cheddar on tortillas, with shredded chicken and a big salad on top - and yet another shrimp hot curry because I had a fifty-cent cauliflower I had to get to. I considered making a gratin except that gruyère was $8.49 - so curry it was (curry powder - pennies - a great one though, from a little shop on Clinton Street in Brooklyn).

Why haven't you kissed me yet? I might just shut up if you would, already. I don't mean in the Lady Gaga way. I read some strange quote of hers the other day, forget where, how she thinks her creativity will get sucked out if she has sex (is it even possible she said that?). I certainly don't feel that way. No, I'm going to be - well, no I won't - like the O. Henry short story, Ransom of Red Chief - I simply won't shut up until you kiss me.

Okay that didn't work, or did

Tuesday, November 16, 2010

My dearest, up in the aerie, cozy, in a langorous state, up from a brief but deep sleep under soft covers, warm thoughts of you as I drifted off, and on waking, delighted to find your kiss, early this morning too when I first got up, a wonderful way to start, next best thing. Reread some of my own stuff today, had a swell time.

The photo is from yesterday morning, but the scene now is about the same, with a glass of wine, ripe melon roses in peeling deshabillé, wanton tousles around pursed narrow tubes, roughly the mood I'm in, come to think of it.

I think of you, but who am I thinking of? In my dark private screening room the projector reels a Bergmanesque film, with the merging, alternating faces of men I have at one time adored, or still do, or whom I've never met but who through photographic images are familiar and dear to me, and an obscured face too, the face of my lover. The images shift, flicker, interchange, repeat. My shadowy lover has met me a couple of times he says, and communes with great constancy with me through my writing. Which gives him the superior advantage to a fellow who looks nice enough, but isn't acquainted with my mind or I with his. There, there's no there there, and before long we look at one another askance - that is not what I meant at all. I cherish that you return again and again, that you like the way I think - I never have to explain myself. By the way, you have a way with words and wit yourself. You have slayed me with your adverbs in particular, restored my faith in them. A woman croons on the radio now, I long for your kiss. Yes darling - back at you, fortement.

Not even six and the windows are pitch dark, not that it was ever all that light today, overcast and fitfully rainy. I went for a walk around here, empty streets and back roads, but not, today, the shortcut trail that climbs the hill behind the church, I couldn't stand the thought of emerging, by myself, at the back of the ancient graveyard. Instead there were wild rapids on Urban Road, dark gold autumn foliage still, no geese today - good, because no bread in pocket, not yet.

Someone in the "Netherlands" has been gulping my blog in large draughts, 27 posts at once today, similarly this weekend. I hate it when you use a proxy - how much more removed can you be from me? On one counter you show as Brooklyn, on the other - same hit - as France. I tried myself and appeared as "Germany." I found a new image today of former paramour, one I hadn't seen before. I blow it up and blow it up (150/200/400/800), and his immoveable face dissolves into pixels, he never looks up, I still don't know what he looks like now, not really. I had ruled him out but started to wonder again today - until your hit from local waters. And now resumes the "flickr" set of my beloved preceptor, whoever he might be. All I ever wanted really, was one, at any one time anyway. I've always been serially monogamous - now I'm just serial.

Darling anonymous, I love you whoever you are. You have the advantage, apparently, of knowing who I am. I'm a holograph - you have an image of me - you're the projector.

Many kisses. XOXO. Must run. Audrey promised - David Gray - next.

Monday, November 15, 2010

Message from Belle to J, 23 July 2008
I too am ready for kisses anytime, anywhere.

Just finished the thrilling chilling conclusion of your article, googled "Kurzweil singularity near," and skimmed a Wiki article on "technological singularity." Hunh.

You know, I have some pretty wacky thoughts that relate to that subject, though not exactly. They're so half-baked that I can't even write them down, let alone to you. It's more the kind of thing to speculate about over a glass of wine, and then you'd set me straight, and then we'd kiss everywhere.

Okay, I'll go for it. I figure I have some credit with you. (At least I won't see your Giant Sarcastic Eyeroll.) I sometimes wonder if there's more than one species of human. I mean some people really seem so machinelike, wired so differently from what I understand to be human (people like Cheney, my old boss, and my next door neighbor) that I just wonder. That malignant narcissistic personality disorder (NPD) isn't the result of narcissistic injury in early childhood that leads to the killing of the soul. Well, maybe sometimes it is. But rather, that people with what I would characterize as NPD are actually the next step in human evolution - all intellect, no soul. Bent on destroying the earth and its resources. Mining it. Not viewing it in Gaia terms, in terms of love at all. Sometimes I wonder if that's what the New Testament is about, ultimately. "From such turn away."
From 2 Timothy: “But know this, that in the last days perilous times will come: For men will be lovers of themselves, lovers of money, boasters, proud, blasphemers, disobedient to parents, unthankful, unholy, unloving, unforgiving, slanderers, without self-control, brutal, despisers of good, traitors, headstrong, haughty, lovers of pleasure rather than lovers of God, having a form of godliness but denying its power. And from such people turn away!
Something like that! Crazy, I know.

Oh just kiss me already!
A couple of years ago I was sensing and trying to express something that Iain McGilchrist lays out systematically and persuasively in The Master and the Emissary, about the history and nature of the divided hemispheres of the human brain. I am feeling quite validated reading it. It is a most intriguing lens by which to view historical trends in Western civilization, such as the humanistic, expansive Renaissance followed hard by the repressive, power-hungry, literal Reformation. (I am not doing McGilchrist justice in my off-the-cuff synopsis. His writing is extremely clarid.)

But I just respond to it on a personal level, it's such a useful metaphor, right brain versus left brain. It makes me think of, in an inchoate way, little memories of growing up, wondering if seeds of much family turmoil didn't have some origin in essential hemispheric differences among family members. I'll jot down a few things that come to mind. My mother was ambidextrous, could write as well with her left hand as with her right, very unusual. I remember her repeating a truism about how cruel it is to try to convert a naturally left-handed person to be right-handed. My father, brothers, and I are righthanded. My sister's lefthanded.

That doesn't prove anything, of course. What else? McGilchrist offers a brief discussion of the nature of Protestantism as distinct from Catholicism, and I found myself responding to it with musings, remembrances that came up unbidden. I grew up in a nominally Catholic nuclear family, but my mother was at war with it and seemed to identify with (or was drawn to the thought of) grandparents of hers who were Lutheran, in Slovakia.

I liked going to church, for the sensation of it, the feeling of being immersed in a church filled with people. I was allowed to wear my tiny emerald ring to church, and I'd while away many an incomprehensible sermon by Father Frog-in-the-Throat by peering at the stained glass windows through glinted facets of the emerald. My parents never (or rarely) attended church, yet we had all been baptized, I went through communion though not confirmation, as time went on it simply wasn't compelling.

Within my family, in family lore, I've been viewed as needy. Because the others are extremely self-sufficient, powerful, strong...

To make a long story short I wonder if, in fact, I'm more right-brain dominant (perhaps literally, and in terms of my sense of self, and world view) than the others in my family. Survival of the fittest. They embraced competitiveness, getting ahead and self-reliance completely. In the early eighties my younger brother attended the London School of Economics, around the time the "Reagan Revolution" took hold; politics aside (Republicans and ostensible Democrats alike), that sea-change gave validation and huge thrust to the left-brain dominant.

My dears, this post is not making much sense, even to me. I feel tired and achy on this gray overcast day. Now it's dark. It's just that reading the McGilchrist it all feels so clear, and I respond to it - in a mirror darkly, perhaps.

My mother was a devotee of High Culture, and I fell in love with art history and struggled with classics of literature before I was ready for them. She seemed to believe in Art - as long as it was Great. I attended (only briefly as I recall) a pre-nursery-school group. All I remember of it is being in a back garden with other small children, fingerpainting I think, or crayoning. I drew some sort of scene, and had outlined the sun with black crayon - which my mother criticized. Does the sun have a black ring around - well does it? She was an artist herself, dabbled in oils and years later when she had more time, concentration, and focus, found success with watercolor. But I remember feeling confusedly crushed by her instant criticism. I really didn't know at that age (under five) how to depict the sun, I'd done the best I could. After that, I all but abandoned drawing, painting and crayoning. I was deemed (or willed) to be verbal, and also musical; the province of making visual art was that of my mother and, later on, much younger sister.

I guess what I'm trying to say is that I think I was actually much more artistic than I was ever given credit for being. It wasn't encouraged within my family, as much as a lot of lip-service was paid to trips to art museums and piano lessons. I Was To Be a Concert Pianist - otherwise my mother considered the lessons to be a waste of hard-earned, scarce money. Yeah, no pressure.

Anyway, here I am, blogging - i.e., writing - every day, up in the aerie. I try not to slap just anything up - but at the same time, I try to allow myself the roominess of daily efforts. (It is absolutely lethal to art, in my experience, to strive for Greatness - no, just try to set it down, do the best I can...)

This post is incomplete, but maybe it's just to put out a few strands that I'll mess around with better, with a little more focus later. It's a lot of stuff to take in, if you're the right-brain one, in a family of left-brain dominants. My first love, too, was someone who (as I see it now) is left-brain dominant - a fatal attraction of opposites, I suppose.

McGilchrist, p. 329:
As the Renaissance progresses, there becomes evident, however, a gradual shift of emphasis from the right hemisphere way of being towards the vision of the left hemisphere, in which a more atomistic individuality characterised by ambition and competition becomes more salient; and originality comes to mean not creative possibility but the right to 'free thinking,' the way to throw off the shackles of the past and its traditions, which are no longer seen as an inexhaustible source of wisdom, but as tyrannical, superstitious and irrational - and therefore wrong. This becomes the basis of the hubristic movement which came to be known as the Enlightenment.

Oh just kiss me already!

Very many kisses back.

Sunday, November 14, 2010

Up in the aerie, blanched sky, lavender hills, light fading. I'm refreshed from a nap, a deep sleep after two walks in the park today.

Hoo-boy. Mister Rochester?  No, replied the man occupying the sunny bench with an expansive view of field and hills.  He had been my prime suspect.  My name's Ed.  Oh sorry, I said.  I continued down the path and laughed when I was well past his earshot. I suppose it's good to be able to rule him out definitively. If I'd been "that sort of a girl" - which it seems that at heart in fact I am - I might have stopped and chatted and flirted with the guy. He looks nice, a little lonely perhaps, and he readily told me his name. But of course I bolted as usual.

More bothersomely, all that ribald stuff I wrote you the other day? Well, um, I wasn't picturing you. I was picturing Ed. Which is just plain awkward, since I'm thinking of you. But now I have no image to go on whatsoever, which is going to put a major crimp in my ability to fantasize. A Rubicon of sorts - I've been thrown back on shore.

And why haven't you dropped me a line, anyway? Do you get so many like submissions? Quotes from E.D. letters spring to mind : "Oh, did I offend it?" (#248, one of the Master letters). Was it too much? Or, to Thomas Higginson, "Are you too deeply occupied to say if my Verse is alive?" (#260) Really! I mean - you came out of the blue to request it. And I was delighted to oblige, truly. I tried to be crystal clear as I knew how. I am happy to re-caress ambiguities, perhaps to amplify - but my dear sir - under the circumstances is it too much to expect a word?

And yet whatever is going on I instantly forgive you. Though that's hardly the word. We're so stuck, both of us, it seems.

It's the gloaming, the radio pleasantly plays downstairs, D is in his workshop tapping away at something.  He recovered my grotty old desk blotter with a fresh bit of the same fabric, a rich burgundy and persimmon pattern of stylized hearts. I imagine the cloth is from India, and I get lost in it, it's very romantic and erotic at the same time. I'm glad to have it back bright and new, along with beautiful new silver coasters for my wine glass. 

My mind always restlessly works at problems, tries to undo knots. A dance card of possible number two's floats to view. But I thought you were gay, I did. You didn't seem interested in me at all, and there were all those images of nude men about the place. It is hard to imagine it's you. Another fellow or two - like this: you are very, very married as far as I could ever tell, and besides I'm acquainted with your lovely wife. And then the guy I did try to flirt with last spring - well it seems that Pamela Anderson's his type, and besides he's single so I don't think he would need to be reticent. I might have hoped it was him, honestly - but am sure it isn't.

Other than that it's who - the postman?

So I beat on, head against the wall, borne back ceaselessly onto the same old shore.

Good night, my darling angels.