2.6.17 - It's late and I remember this time in my life when I believed everything in life would connect. One moment to the next, a series of building moments, one reveal after another until actualization. But this could never explain the bitterness I witnessed with my paternal grandmother. The older I get the more I understand. A general disappointment in God maybe.
Jeff confirmed my early theory on connecting moments the other evening and I was half a beer in to rekindle that old hope. "A series of moments compiled and eventually they all make sense. You come back a seemingly innocuous experience and it makes something 'click' in the present." I had loved this word "click."
Have you ever replaced a windshield wiper blade? In 20 degree weather with a windchill factor that makes your hands yellow because your blood has given up on them? First you have to identify what blade you have, remove the old one, and screw around with it until it 'clicks.' The instructions says it will 'click' in place.
This is what it feels like to find truth, I imagine.
Sometimes I can picture that Dr. Suess waiting room. "...the snow to snow or waiting around for a Yes or No
or waiting for their hair to grow. Everyone is just waiting." I'm just waiting for that 'click.'
And now, right now when writing this and laying out metaphors and theorheticals I realize things will never click until it's 20 degrees and my blood has given up on my hands. Real work. Fucking Steven. Ce m'est t'egale. Peut-être demain.
I know those moments when Jeff is right though. When you're in love and you get to tell that person the things. The big connects. I've only ever made sense of my experiences by being able to relate to people I love. My experiences become the conduits of the deep relativity of our connective archetypal experiences. It's only then, when the water is high, to our nostrils, that we 'click.'
I asked Caroline once if she felt she was walking the alchemist's path. "No," she admitted. I was. By some cosmic slight of hand I had tricked God into showing me the way. Golden roads. I could feel it in my bones. I remember breaking the spell and leaving the path to participate in life. Now I don't know how to get back.
A woman from Scott Carrier's novel, "Running After Antelope" speaks of being ravaged by angels. She takes pills for schizophrenia so the Mormon church won't take her daughter away. "So I ask her again why she stopped taking her pills and she says, 'I'm lonely. I miss them. I want them to come back.'" It's like that. The metaphor begs to be extended.
What is my windshield wiper? What is the marshmallow? I wish Anna could cater the waiting room. Today was an answer to some question far off. I believe. Jeff says so. He has three answers whirring in the world in the form of three children. A literate, an engineer, and an artist.
This is all I have to say now.
2.3.17 - Last night, talking to Jeff, a regular at the brewery, we talked about being Awake. Awake being, productively making decisions and moving forward. Learning. Feeling the traction of the world under your feet. He talked about his son who just got a degree in English Lit. He finally hit a stride, Jeff said. Awake. Before I write another word, I tell myself, I want to be awake. Participation is necessary. It's impossible to be invisible as much as I try. As much as a mumble through my days and scrum scribbled notes on the margins. I'm mad. And scared. It's a luxury to be anything but. "Why should I care, it doesn't affect me." These cold words. Privilege. I'm imagining a way out and realizing how much more difficult denial is these days than it ever has been. White denial. White sensitivity. Scrubbing scrubbing scrubbing. New York Times review, "'I Am Not Your Negro' Will Make You Rethink Race." "The lengths that white people will go to wash themselves clean of their complicity in oppression." Last night's philosophy talk about reparations and collective responsibility in Tainted by the Sins of Our Fathers? Questions being addressed. The script is being changed. Set the old ones on fire. What does the new voice sound like? I want to be Awake.
Looking at life from a distance. Not involved. Watching my own life like a performance. Setting it up. Cardboard versions of everyone. Cardboard trees. Cardboard figs to pick. Cardboard ladder I ask him to come down from the roof and he tells me to bring it around the back. The tea I drink feels real. The dandelion wine is unsatisfying. What if it was satisfying? Would its flavor wake me up?
I don't remember the last time I was awake. Ferranté yelling at my on the front porch, saying he was never coming back. The water crept up to my nose and allowed it slowly in knowing it was dream water and I would not drown. Shaking him to fall back asleep.
The expiration date on the chia seeds is two years ago. I date the tincture bottles with a thin blue pen on that paper they sell at the Asian market that you're supposed to burn for good luck. Or something. Why did I buy it? Did I think it was Chinese? Do my ancestors listen?
Mariah says Grand came to her after her death. Walking down the hall with two young men. She was young too. Mariah says they went to her room and looked at photographs. Then they were gone.
Do the dead listen? Am I even listening to the living?
Putting things I no longer need in a suitcase Mandy brought. A large suitcase, plastic with wheels, with a rubbery handle that seems to leave a residue. I feel like I'm living a life that isn't really mine. Living though a set of circumstances provided to me by social status. I collect baskets. My room is covered in green and blue. No red. This feels right to me but I can't put a finger on why. I don't like explaining myself because the reason always boils down to, "why not?" I'm not overly sentimental but I hoard containers. Baskets, bottles, pots, shelves, cabinets. Things that can contain things.
Scott Carrier once admitted to hating bowls because they "contain chaos." And by this I believe he intends to emphasize the hatred of the word CONTAIN and not chaos. Because bowls exist, chaos is contained. My bowls contained smaller bowls. My baskets contain smaller baskets. Empty baskets to me are symbolic of being fully home. Fully inside. Everything in its right place.
When I am here, in this place, I am safe and secure and stuck and I fall asleep and dream of doing things with purpose. There is always a sense of meaning to a dream. Of desperation and drive.
Last night Nick had a dream of killing Mitch. He said he hadn't had that dream in awhile but it was the worst of his nightmares. "Did I made any sounds?" Nick asked. No. Nick kills Mitch very slowly and painfully and he doesn't add anymore details.
In dreams, shit gets done that can't get done in real life. We can kill the friend who fucked our girlfriend and be done with it. Dreams are our consolation for the morally tame place we live in. I've run into dead-ends like that. Actually, at 31, I'd say I've been living a dead-end for 4 years. The only way to go through is to scream and kick and punch and fight and I want to save face and resign my feelings. Because, they say, violence is not the answer. Peace is the answer. Resign yourself and forgive and move on.
Once I told me friend Laura to shut-up. It didn't really feel good to say it and I offered no explanation. Relief came when she simply shut-up for a time. She never asked why. I was just dumped by my boyfriend and we were on a walk. She was talking about nothing important. She talked a lot, mostly about nothing important, and I wanted to be alone with my thoughts and I couldn't. I told her to shut-up and she did. I've never done anything like that before or since. It was one of the most violent acts I've ever committed.
Steven always heckled me to wake up. He wanted the emotions. I don't know if he wanted them for me or he just wanted to watch. He didn't orchestrate. Just provoked. It didn't work because he underestimated how tired I was. How badly I wanted to stay asleep and leave the important tasks to my dream-times. I don't remember my dreams but I always miss them. In the morning there is nothing to do. I am simply alive again. This happened again and again in Europe. It was awful. I don't understand why people love to travel. You fall asleep drunk and wake up empty. No one wants you. No one is expecting you. Only in St. Céré was there any reason to wake up. We weeded the garden for a few hours a few times. The bell in the tower woke us up. We felt hungry and curious all day.
Mostly when I sleep, I dream of work, which is fine, even though I do not get paid. In my waking world I am a waitress and in my sleeping world I am a waitress. Even though things are unrealistically busy in my dream restaraunt, I never leave. Once in a dream, I stepped into a lucid state. I had no idea what to do. It was just like being awake so it felt meaningless. "You can do anything you want," a voice inside myself prodded. It didn't matter. It was just like being awake, where everyone says, "live the life you love," or "the world is your oyster."
It's the not the world that's the problem. It's my role in it. I feel like I'm missing a point. At the tarot card reading the other day, Kevin told me, "the head must be led by the heart." And I asked him, "how does one's heart speak?" He told me some people go on walks or meditate. My heart rarely talks. The last time it did was to shine a light on Steven. Steven tells me to do the things and make the art. He tells me to stop desiring my father's approval as if that's a choice. Steven tells me to live the life and do the things. Maybe Steven is the voice of my heart because I stopped listening a long time ago. Maybe my heart wanted to have his voice. Maybe it wanted to be a man.
Today I bottled some tincture: St. Jonh's wort and Balsamroot. I'm looking into their medicinal uses and there are varied stories that twine from science to folklore. None of it is very consistent. St. John's wort is traditionally used to calm the nervous system and be an anti-depressant. Balsamroot tincture can be an immune booster and help with phlegmy throat shit. I collect these healing things and then I drop them in water and drink them and it feels like nothing. Maybe the shift is subtle. There's such a huge part of me that doesn't believe in this shit. There's such a huge part of me that does. I drink the shit and I share it with others and I'm still alive.
I'm still thinking of that day with the adderall. I remember how nice I was to everyone and how I could look at my life and feel like it belonged to me and I was really happy about that. I remember being excited to talk to people about things.
They say the world needs all kinds of people. Including sad people, because sad people have some perspective on things that happy people don't. And sad people can enhance the lives of the happy people with their ties to the sad world. Is this even true? But what about sleepwalkers like me? Who are on time to our jobs and pay the rent and get the car insurance and only cheat a little on our taxes?We show up to the funerals and weddings but don't cry. We listen to the news and don't turn it off when things get really bad. We're looking forward to trying the new coffee-shop on Mississippi because it will probably have better espresso drinks than the Fresh Pot but if it does, what does it matter because that drink will be another drink drank in a whole stretch of mornings drinking next to meaningless cups of coffee.
I miss all of them but I can't face my emotions in the face of what needs to happen to see them. I can't face how all the time has passed and nothing and everything has changed. Last night I hugged James Ryan and he apologized and we cried. It was meaningless in the morning, it's been too long for an apology that means anything. In the dream it really meant something. Nick killed Mitch in his dream, some residual anger that still works itself in our relationship, but otherwise, is gone.
I want to feel like I feel when I'm asleep.
There was a recent explosion of flowers in trees and I asked Nick, my ecologist, why this was so. "Why are the trees using this time to be so sexy? Isn't it time for sleep? Isn't the time for pollination done? Aren't they beginning a process there isn't enough time to finish?"
Flower, pollination, fruiting, dropping, baby trees?
The bees were loving it. It meant something to them to store all this pollen for the lean times. What's good for the bees should not be questioned, but it's hard to think of anything not being a product of the end-times.
Burning palo-santo at the altar I'm feeling a little more awake than the last few months. There's a change in the winds, I've heard people say.
The fires. We're all talking about the fires. A spider web trapping scraps of ash. The air, a Silent Hill scene. Something out of the Road. "Apocalyptic Sun," I've heard. I've read. I've said.
That woman at the bar last night, Sam? Told me she was glad she had gone last week. The area, the seven mile loop she walks connecting to medicinal plants kept calling her.
"They were getting reading to go to sleep for the winter," she said. But she didn't say sleep, she just made a little motion with her hands that motioned "to make small" or "shrink away."
Melanie drove out there yesterday. I told her the fire had hopped the Columbia. "How?!" she had exclaimed. She had been banking on the fire not reaching westward because of the Sandy river. Like a dog losing a raccoon trail, the fire couldn't conquer a river.
"Hot fiery debris blowing in the wind," I said.
I'm thinking of P's fires. The methodical way he would create them, each time attempting to improve from before. Getting stoned. Making all the considerations of balance and structure. Sitting back. Thinking of how fire building applied to everything in his life. How a good life takes strategy, planning, and drawing from experience.
What is this fire teaching us? To raise our sons and daughters to be better stewards of the land? To never take for granted what could be taken away? To speak to our plant allies more often and approach with greater humility?
Earlier this year I was able to bathe in the Oneonta Falls. With nothing more than clothes and a car key I made my way though the Oneonta Gorge, trudging through the river and clamoring over slick barkless logs. It wasn't peak tourist season yet so the only other people were couples cautiously scaling the log pile and trying to keep their phones from the water. It's amazing how much more efficiently you can move without people or shit weighing you down. Across the river in White Salmon I hiked the Weldon Wagon trail searching more the balsam root flower. I watched the sunset on the Washington side from my car. In June, through Wildcraft School, I learned about medicinal plants that grow in the gorge. St. John's Wort, plantain, violet, comfrey..
We're all talking about the fire and constantly checking the casualty list.. What has it destroyed? What will it look like when the fire is over? We pray for rain. We pray for our plants and waterfalls.
We feel very powerless. This is probably how we're supposed to feel though.
I saw the place where they're building the building where there once was a tree and a tire swing. Steven saw it few days back and reminded me of the night we sat in that field on an fly-tipped couch watching the sky and talking about all the things. This will never change. This continuing conversation between us will persist. We will be in new places, eating blueberry pie at the feet of a mountain. What my wonder turns to is the people who are in this building they are building. Will they feel our stories? Will they sense the moments we made here? Will they know? I think of my own place now, in bed, somewhere off Alberta, what once was. Who once was. Their stories. Their grounds. The sacred rhythms interrupted that must still speak hushed under the highway sounds. I hear the crickets. Are they children of the ancient lineage which has remained? Are they new like me? I'm reminded to dig into these questions.. of what I have displaced. Of what my presence is built upon. Of what is beneath this layer. Scratching. Digging.
It's so easy to be distracted.
The art hasn't been the priority lately.
The cleaning has.
The "space making."
I keep telling myself, "it's for the art."
But then I don't pull out the supplies. I don't grab for the paper. I don't put the pen in my hand.
"More of a mess," I tell myself.
No scraps on the ground.
No troubled issues being turned over.
Water the garden.
Vacuum the floors.
Fold the clothes again and again so they are more compact.
Make a coffee.
Make a tea.
Brew a batch of dandelion wine.
Go to the store to buy champagne yeast.
Buy beer. Buy wine. Buy hair conditioner.
Think about writing. Think about drawing. Think about what other people should be doing to reach their potential. Think about workshops I could create for students. Don't do them myself.
Have experiences. Don't write them down.
"I'm not creating," I whine to Steven. He's chained to his desk pounding out a screenplay for hours every morning. "You've created such a body of work," he reminds me.
"It means nothing. It doesn't represent me anymore."
I used to tell Jamie, "I'm too busy living to create."
I make excuses.
Teaching has taken over creating.
I speak of Stafford's "thread" that I let go awhile back. When?
Stare at my phone. Look at all the pictures on my phone. Play games on my phone. Fall asleep with phone in hand. Wake up to phone in hand. Scroll. Stay distracted.
Nick left an adderall at my house months ago, I found it recently and ate it. Swallowed it? Took it. Forgot I took it.
Had an amazing day.
"I've finally woke up," I told myself, driving to work.
Remembered the adderall. Felt sad. It wasn't me. I didn't wake up at all. Couldn't sleep well that night. Woke up the next morning, back asleep. Sleep walking.
Coffee makes me breasts hurt.
Make a playlist.
Look at who's playing shows.
A Tribe Called Red. Cigarettes After Sex. Sturgill Simpson. Torres.
Spotify knows. Can tell me, when and where and how much.
Easy to be distracted. Hard to be focused.
The only times of my life I feel that have been wasted are the times when I didn't fully believe in myself. In my process. These were the times I listened to the words of my father. These were times when I tried to focus on money and career and things outside myself. These were times when I was trying to prove something or forcing myself along a path that looked like something I saw someone do that looked normal.
Did you grandma ever do that thing?
Whenever there was an article or a story or a street with your name she would rip it out or take a photo and mail it to you? Buy a keychain or a mini-liscense plate at the tourist shop on her travels?
I had grandmas like this. One would clip out articles about symbolic birthrights such as roses or sheep (the Hebrew meaning for Rachel is "ewe"). The other found a myriad of other clippings that shared our humor. Marmaduke and Garfield.
I do this now, though I had forgotten the origins. I find a little something with a friend's name, a dedication page or a subway station. I rip
it out or take a picture. I send it along.
This instinct is so funny. Maybe a way of strengthening our identity in the world. Grounding our existence here, proving our place, making us valid.
I had this crisis that streets in Paris near cemeteries were named after me.
Though this only happened twice, isn't that enough for a conspiracy?
Tonight, I'm reading The Complete Saki, a book I checked out of the library seeking the quote, "find yourself a cup of tea; the teapot is behind you. Now tell me about hundreds of things."
There is a chapter, "Esmé," which thrills me and I'm embarrassed by the feeling that I can't wait to share this with my friend of the same name. I laugh at myself, "why? Where does this desire root from?" Why does it matter? Why do I care?"
I'm beginning to articulate these instincts as love. And I realize, in my own extension of these desires, how much I was loved by those women, my grandmas.
In those little scraps and moments they found me, some greater proof of my me. Something to support my position on this earth.
It's silly and absurd and darling and amazing. It's a small afterthought of a gift that means everything.
"I'm thinking of you. You are in my thoughts. I love you."
When I first moved to Portland I lived in a large house in St. John's. That winter was mild and I was able to drag a rake and a shovel into the backyard to do what I called "the Lord's work."
So many years of old leaves and broken branches covered the yard, letting the earth rest. Keeping it tucked and nurtured until it could be played with and cultivated.
From the raking, shoveling, and uncovering of juicy black leaves I found a path made of stones. I uncovered secret places. The movement in the yard began to stir. Newer growth and seedlings emerged.
In a corner of the yard I designated a shrine to the three voices in our life: our childhood, our mother-self, and our elder. I circled three stumps around a larger stump where they could converge and talk. I placed stones on this table symbolic of nothing or this-that.
It wasn't meant to last, it was simply intended as an idea or a hypothetical place I could always go where the real work was being done. The Fates unraveling their spools. Subjects of great importance being negotiated and settled.
Later, I learned in a workshop about Goddess worship about the significance of the three phases of the moon and the three phases of our life.
The Maiden: when the moon is waxing. The Mother: when the moon is full. The Crone: when the moon wanes.
Each are loaded with meaning, characteristics that represent learning, mastery, and wisdom.
"Listen to your intuition," the psychic told me at the Farmer's Market in Eugene a few days ago.
"Your intuition is a wise woman who sits here," she said, pointing to a place above her breast.
She sits there, inside me. She lives in my work as an artist of course.
But I like to imagine her as them, the three women, continuously in conference in a circle of three stumps.
This old-timer at my work asked if I was a student the other day.
"Naah, I don't like school. I'm an artist. I write and I draw and sometimes other stuff. Sometime I teach."
"My advice for you as an artist is to marry rich," he tells me.
"Naah, I don't think so. Being an artist, a partner has proved to be very useless."
I think of Marina Abramovic's interview with The New Yorker Presents:
Ariel Levy : ... there's some man artist working at 4 in the morning, and he has his girlfriend come and give him hot soup in the middle of the night in his studio, right?
Marina : And which woman great artist gets the hot soup? Nobody know that women do not get the great hot soup. Is complete disaster.
No hot soup.
"I don't need money," I tell him. "I can make money. I want someone to bring me some soup."