April 7, 2014

Words betray me. They used to come so easily, tripping over each other in their hurry to move from my fingers to paper or screen. Lately though? They limp. They are the walking wounded. They arrive slowly, on crutches, leaning against each for support, squinting painfully at the light. I look at them and think these can’t be mine. My other word-children are graceful. Precise. Fast. 

But yeah, they’re totally mine. I assume my brain and I are in some kind of transitional period, and the faucets formerly known as my fingers will soon clear themselves of that rusty, dysentery-looking water and start flowing clean.

They simply must start flowing again because how the fuck else am I supposed to seduce people? 

If they don’t? I guess I’ll have to pick another aspect of myself and polish that until it gleams. 

10:06am  |   URL: http://tmblr.co/ZDfGay1CN4reC
  
Filed under: writing 
March 4, 2014
Catching up.
Him: I check your Tumblr every day, you know. Looking for gems.
Me: Yeah, they've been scarce. I just don't have much to say right now.
Him: You? You never run out of words.
Me: Oh, yes I do. In fact, I'm not even sure I'm a writer anymore. I'm sick of writing about myself. How can I live my life while I'm narrating it? You remember my existential what-the-fuck-is-the-point-of-any-of-this-bullshit crisis? I'm numb to that now. Life is pointless and sometimes I feel empty but it bothers me only rarely and with limited intensity.
Him: Life is pointless and I ALWAYS feel empty. Guess what, Maria, you're one of the smart ones. Our best strategy is to try to avoid thinking about it. Most people can do that passively, whereas we have to be proactive. You know the night is coming and you think, well, THAT was a pointless day.
Me: You always *were* better at not thinking.
Him: Thanks.
Me: Welcome. I guess I'll just have to accept that I'll never be Rick Riordan or David Sedaris.
Him: Why not aspire to be the next Junot Diaz?
Me: Because I'm TRYING to be REALISTIC.
4:02pm  |   URL: http://tmblr.co/ZDfGay19BXC9t
  
Filed under: writing 
December 4, 2013

I love the idea of sharing links to old posts but I don’t have mental space right now to dig through six years of archives. 

Then I remembered this. I think it’s been three years since I’ve posted there. If you’ve known me for a long time you’ve heard all these stories already. But if you “met” me in the last year or two, you haven’t. 

November 13, 2013

I’m back in New York for a funeral. Or a bar mitzvah. I know it has to be one or the other because I’m wearing my black cocktail dress. Afterwards, three friends and I are at James Caan’s place. You know. Sonny Corleone? Except older. Except this is a dream so his age is fluid. My friends leave, and I’m happy to be alone with this guy, who happens to be as old as my father. He tells me here, I got this for you, and hands me an incredibly beautiful set of watercolor pencils. I don’t wonder how he knew I would love this, I simply sit down and start drawing a waterfall. With wild green and grey mountains. And a bit of calm sea. And sky. I’m so intently focused on the drawing that he calls for me twice before I hear him. The water is about to turn real but I’m being rude. I should have saved the pencils for later. I look up and he’s his real age again, and he wants me to show him how do something about his stereo. He’d ask his kids, he explains, but the ungrateful brats never return his phone calls. I wonder if he’s actually Alec Baldwin.

I have to stand up to work on his stereo and suddenly he’s very close behind me. I think he’s going to touch me, I can feel the warmth of his body it’s so close, but he doesn’t. Instead he disappears into what I assume is his bedroom. I just need to change to go out, he says. I am relieved. We are going somewhere. He is putting on clothes. He emerges, and he’s Sonny Corleone again, but only for a few minutes. He’s his true self as soon as we reach the sidewalk. I’m thinking about how I have to tell my dad about this and also I can never ever tell my dad about this. That’s when he asks for the watercolor pencils. I tell James Caan, “this is why they hate you”, and I mean his children. I’m guessing, but I’m right, and he looks wounded, but I’m unimpressed by his apparent pain. He’s an actor. I’m dreaming. There are other watercolor pencils in the sea. 

So I fly - literally - the block and a half to the subway. A 6 train. Bronx-bound. Perfect. I land, then run down the stairs and there on the subway platform is Bean. Bean! He’s five years old and he’s standing by himself on the subway platform. In New York City. By himself. After dark. Horrified, I sink to my knees in front of him so we’re eye to eye and squeeze him tight. I ask him what he’s doing here, and he smiles like Buddha and says: “I was waiting for you, Mommy. I waited a long time but I knew you were coming.” I wrap my arms around him and bury my nose in his neck. He smells brand new. Behind me a train arrives and people pour out of the doors. They flow around us without stopping, parting like water over stone. The train leaves the station. I wake up.

2:44pm  |   URL: http://tmblr.co/ZDfGay_J8VY7
  
Filed under: writing dreams freewrite 
September 13, 2013
#fridayfive

1. Today was the most peaceful day I’ve had in ages. Three consecutive nights of sleeping well? Probably key. I rearranged furniture; totally rethought the layout of my room. Yum.

2. I have a disability lawyer. Huge relief. Handling that process myself was too stressful. Six months is enough. 

3. My new therapist and I were dressed alike (jeans and sandals) except for her eggplant top. Eggplant. And it got better from there. I liked her and I think she liked me. She’s obviously very good at what she does. I look forward to working with her. And I’m intrigued by the idea of this program that feels more like school than therapy. In the group sessions working on “emotional regulation”, but we’re approaching it from a clinical standpoint and we are explicitly NOT to get to know our classmates, nor are we to talk about why we’re there. 

4. Bean loves school this year. I’m glad, especially since last year he had a rough transition from kindergarten to first grade. (Why? Mostly because they’re teaching them rocket science at 6 now.) But he’s doing great. And today is his first guitar lesson.

5. I want to get a cat. I *need* to get a cat. They fulfill so many emotional needs. Especially the cuddling one. So far, I have convinced Bean. The rest of the family shall prove harder to move, but hey. Be just and fear not. 

August 31, 2013

I spent most of today cleaning my room and I have a ridiculous amount of art supplies. Art supplies and books. I am made of them. There are piles of special paper. Fabric paint. Project kits I’m receiving for free in return for my detailed feedback.

(I pointed out everything they did had something pink. Always. And apparently they hadn’t noticed. Fucking pink, man. I like it less when they use purple though, believe it or not, because they always use lavender and if they’re going to use lavender then they might as well use fucking pink.)

The totally inappropriate set of art supplies my dad got Bean last Christmas. The origami paper. The glue sticks. The folding easel, a real one, because the ones they make for little kids are babyish bullshit. The rubber cement. The nail polish, green this time, with which to paint bobby pins, or maybe just my toenails. 

Empty sunflower butter jars from Trader Joe’s, filled with beads. White coral. Black onyx. Red jasper. My favorite is fluorite, which ranges in color from every possible shade of seafoam, to translucent purple, to an eggplant so dark that it’s black. Black and flecked with tiny pieces of yellow. Some of the pieces are flat and triangular, and sometimes the purple is pale enough and the green dark enough that it’s almost watermelon tourmaline.

Beads. I sort, sort, always sorting. Some are broken. I collect them in a honey jar. Later I will take those beads and a piece of slate and make a mosaic for the garden.

8:12pm  |   URL: http://tmblr.co/ZDfGaytpB8eU
  
Filed under: writing jewelry art geology 
August 31, 2013

I’ve had Milli Vanilli stuck in my head. Not just one song. The whole album. Or tape, rather.

Everyone remembers how they crashed and burned after their recorded voices started skipping during a live performance. But what you maybe don’t remember, is how much we all loved them.

When I got the letter in the mail, offering me a tiny sliver of the class action lawsuit winnings, if only I’d mail them the liner notes of my tape, I declined. I wanted to keep it.

Then the 90s came and went. I finished high school and college. I didn’t think of them for years, until I caught the Milli Vanilli episode of Behind the Music. Rob and Fab. One of them had refused to participate in the episode. The other was interviewed, and his disappointment and pain were palpable. He had attempted to restart his music career, using his real voice. But he didn’t sing well, and was relegated to the joke pile. He knew it, and got visibly emotional during the interview. He turns his face away from the camera, wipes away tears.

He died not too long afterwards, a death that was maybe a drug overdose or maybe suicide, or maybe both.

There was video of the botched concert. A fan video, I think, which was unusual for the time. The moment the voice track breaks down and skips. I wonder if that moment played on endless loop in the projector room of his mind. I wonder if he felt like Icarus, having flown too close to the sun.

9:26am  |   URL: http://tmblr.co/ZDfGaytm7PbK
  
Filed under: music writing 
July 20, 2013
Speaking of wounded deer.

I took Latin in high school and in 10th grade we translated the Aeneid. Overall a lukewarm experience, but one image has stayed with me for 20 years: 

Aeneas and Dido fall in love. Dido is the Queen of Carthage. Aeneas is a Trojan prince. They have this passionate, intense, beautiful romance. It’s clear that he loves her, but he’s got stuff to do - found Rome! - so after a long while, he leaves. He takes his crew and their ships and they sail away. If I recall correctly, he leaves without warning, without saying goodbye. Maybe even in the middle of the night? 

When Dido realizes Aeneas has left she wanders around in a daze. Virgil actually describes her as wandering around like a wounded doe with an arrow buried deep; hanging from her side. 

I have never forgotten that image. And it’s a bit melodramatic, yes, but that’s how I see myself right now. In my mind’s eye I am Dido as deer, arrow stuck in my flesh. 

I think Dido wanders, lost and bleeding, for several days before she finally throws herself onto a lit funeral pyre. This is the Queen of Carthage! 

I have no such intentions. My wound will not prove mortal. I will live to be 105, have a long and lustrous mane of white hair, and swim in the ocean whenever I damn well please.

But right now I’m Dido the deer. Bleeding, wounded, wandering. Waiting for that arrow to fall out so I can heal, wishing it weren’t buried so deep in my flesh, and hoping with all my heart that it falls out before infection sets in. 

July 11, 2013
[This photo because it was an accident but I thought it was beautiful and it reminded me of trelvix’s work, except missing the word poetry. I showed it to him. He said something both sweet and humble and that’s one of the last times I “spoke” to him.]
Totally unrelated BUT VERY GOOD NEWS EXCITING story: Just got off the phone with a former client. Really great guy. Sort of like an Elvis according some of his students. (I don’t think they’d appreciate the comparison but it’s 100% accurate unless you’d rather I start talking about the Donny Osmond, Danny Partridge, the Jackson 5.)
[Please also note I said an Elvis, not just plain Elvis. Metaphor. I apologize in advance for being an asshole and not editing but not really sorry, no.] 
Anyway. I just got off the phone with this guy and I feel like I just spent the weekend with a holy man. My former client, whose name I’m not going to share, told me that he is usually able to solve the problems of anyone he cares about by writing a check, that he realizes he can’t this time, and if I ever think of something else he can do, please let him know. 
I also told him that last January, at the first class of his I attended, the first thing he and his co-teacher did was ask us to write what we were hoping to get out of the training we were about to start. I wrote down that my personal goal was “authenticity”. I knew what the word meant, but I don’t know why I wrote it. It was a “muse” kind of thing, which usually only happens when I’m freewriting. It knew it was worth exploring. 
But I started thinking about it that week in January 2012 and looking at me now, I’m closer than I’ve ever been. To authenticity. Living an authentic life, even though I’m not yet totally sure what that means. What that means and how am I going to get there. And former client and co-teacher taught me how to shed my armor and get there. I made sure he got that.
Former client also offered to help me financially. I assured him Bean and I are comfortable as long as my parents and brother are here and my dad is nearby and that they are all helping me, each in a completely different and totally necessary way. We are in no danger of being homeless and hungry, I said. He had me promise I’d call him directly if that changed or something unexpected came up. I agreed. I asked him if it would be OK if I sent him holiday cards ever year. He seemed to really like that idea, and now, for the first time in my life, I’m going to send holiday cards.
Other positives I told him and should tell you: I’m getting the medical care I need, including physical therapy, which is going to change my body. I’m still young and strong enough I can manage my pain simply by relearning how to *really *listen to my physical self. (I assume most people do this naturally, but what do I know. Maybe we’re all makeshift.)
Did I mention that this was scheduled phone call I’d been dreading? And that this was the resolution of a situation that’s been eating away at me since January. Well, he called and I saw the call in time EVEN THOUGH THE RINGER WAS OFF. I answered, and after we finished with small talk I went straight to the heart of the matter and cut away everything unessential and said yes, I checked out the second half of February, because I knew my contract wasn’t being renewed and it was childish but my feelings were hurt because I’d been so committed to the project. Also, my health problems took a bad turn around that time. We talked like that, for maybe 15 or 20 more minutes. We agreed that he’d pay me for the second half of February. I told him didn’t have to. He said it seemed fair to him. So I agreed. Then I told him a little about what was really going on with me personally the second half of February. Not as an excuse but as an explanation. Lots of realness. And I guess that’s why I feel like I was just in the presence of a shaman. Because he’s really that good. 

Authenticity. Authenticity. Authenticity.

[This photo because it was an accident but I thought it was beautiful and it reminded me of trelvix’s work, except missing the word poetry. I showed it to him. He said something both sweet and humble and that’s one of the last times I “spoke” to him.]

Totally unrelated BUT VERY GOOD NEWS EXCITING story: Just got off the phone with a former client. Really great guy. Sort of like an Elvis according some of his students. (I don’t think they’d appreciate the comparison but it’s 100% accurate unless you’d rather I start talking about the Donny Osmond, Danny Partridge, the Jackson 5.)

[Please also note I said an Elvis, not just plain Elvis. Metaphor. I apologize in advance for being an asshole and not editing but not really sorry, no.] 

Anyway. I just got off the phone with this guy and I feel like I just spent the weekend with a holy man. My former client, whose name I’m not going to share, told me that he is usually able to solve the problems of anyone he cares about by writing a check, that he realizes he can’t this time, and if I ever think of something else he can do, please let him know. 

I also told him that last January, at the first class of his I attended, the first thing he and his co-teacher did was ask us to write what we were hoping to get out of the training we were about to start. I wrote down that my personal goal was “authenticity”. I knew what the word meant, but I don’t know why I wrote it. It was a “muse” kind of thing, which usually only happens when I’m freewriting. It knew it was worth exploring. 

But I started thinking about it that week in January 2012 and looking at me now, I’m closer than I’ve ever been. To authenticity. Living an authentic life, even though I’m not yet totally sure what that means. What that means and how am I going to get there. And former client and co-teacher taught me how to shed my armor and get there. I made sure he got that.

Former client also offered to help me financially. I assured him Bean and I are comfortable as long as my parents and brother are here and my dad is nearby and that they are all helping me, each in a completely different and totally necessary way. We are in no danger of being homeless and hungry, I said. He had me promise I’d call him directly if that changed or something unexpected came up. I agreed. I asked him if it would be OK if I sent him holiday cards ever year. He seemed to really like that idea, and now, for the first time in my life, I’m going to send holiday cards.

Other positives I told him and should tell you: I’m getting the medical care I need, including physical therapy, which is going to change my body. I’m still young and strong enough I can manage my pain simply by relearning how to *really *listen to my physical self. (I assume most people do this naturally, but what do I know. Maybe we’re all makeshift.)

Did I mention that this was scheduled phone call I’d been dreading? And that this was the resolution of a situation that’s been eating away at me since January. Well, he called and I saw the call in time EVEN THOUGH THE RINGER WAS OFF. I answered, and after we finished with small talk I went straight to the heart of the matter and cut away everything unessential and said yes, I checked out the second half of February, because I knew my contract wasn’t being renewed and it was childish but my feelings were hurt because I’d been so committed to the project. Also, my health problems took a bad turn around that time. We talked like that, for maybe 15 or 20 more minutes. We agreed that he’d pay me for the second half of February. I told him didn’t have to. He said it seemed fair to him. So I agreed. Then I told him a little about what was really going on with me personally the second half of February. Not as an excuse but as an explanation. Lots of realness. And I guess that’s why I feel like I was just in the presence of a shaman. Because he’s really that good. 

Authenticity. Authenticity. Authenticity.

July 5, 2013
I was organizing my files and I came across this. It’s a few years old and I think I wrote it but I’m not positive. Except it sounds like me, and I think this is a short story I abandoned.

Like I promised Dr. Katz, I sincerely TRIED to enjoy my mother’s wedding. I was, after all, her maiden of honor. I did, after all, get to wear the most fantastical dress in the history of dresses. I mean… it WAS a great party. I’m sure YOU would have enjoyed it. YOU, however, are not 16. YOU, however, did not lose your best friend to some “nice” guy with funny clothes and a weird little beard. Beards are gross. Nice is overrated. And I liked it just fine, thankyouverymuch, when it was just Mom and me.

**

And then - and you won’t believe this - he ran over my cat!

June 26, 2013

This is the file I was looking for yesterday. Be gentle. 2009 was a rough year. 

Listening to this a third time I can dig it, except I’m disappointed in some swallowed syllables and of course I’m speaking about twice as fast as I should be. Also, I’m editing as I’m reading aloud, so the text below isn’t totally accurate, but it’s close enough:

The thing about being young is that you can’t imagine forgetting.

You can’t imagine that you won’t remember the name of that Italian movie, the one that takes place right after the war, the one where soldiers who aren’t supposed to be soldiers are slogging through a marsh, not knowing who they’re supposed to shoot because nobody wears uniforms anymore, so they shoot everyone.

You can’t imagine you’d forget the name of that boy, the one you purposely collided with at the ice rink so he’d talk to you, just for a minute.

You can’t imagine that you won’t remember that argument, the one you had with your best friend at the pool party, the one right after graduation, the one that was so bad you never really talked again even though you still miss her. You’d remember the argument itself, but not any of the details. You’d think it must’ve been important, some kind of dealbreaker, but really you’re just guessing because you do. not. know. 

The thing about being young is that you can’t imagine forgetting. You can’t imagine that you’d have to write things down or they’d be gone the next day. You can’t imagine that well before your child is old enough for kindergarten you’d forget which word it was, exactly, that was the very first one he ever spoke.

You simply cannot imagine that in order to remember you’d need to reach back into the past, close your eyes and recreate every detail still available. That you’d have to do this, and that you’d have to do it often. That you’d have to study. That your memory would require refreshment, as if the precious mental images that make up your history were not really all that different from the irregular French verbs you used to mutter under your breath, repeating and repeating and visualizing and repeating until you could – and did – recite them in your sleep.

I review the bits of my own story like I’m going to be tested on them later. The pale green taste of that grapefruit soda, the one I can’t get here in the States unless I go to Brooklyn. The smell of the carrot oil I used to smooth back my hair. What it felt like when my skin was never ever cold and the water in the pipe was always hot. How slowly the sun set and the way the sky looked like a broken egg yolk. The thickness of the island air, air that draped itself across my shoulders in luxuriant welcome, its familiar heaviness greeting me even before I stepped outside the airplane. 

I study these details, I recall them often, I write them down and THAT is how I make them forever mine.

June 24, 2013
How to Remember (2009)

i’ve posted that audio file seven times. Yes, it’s an mp3. Yes, it’s under 10 mg. I give up for tonight. Below is the transcript which isn’t as good because I was editing as I was reading aloud which I guess means this isn’t a transcript at all. But you know what I mean.  

The thing about being young is that you can’t imagine forgetting.

You can’t imagine that you won’t remember the name of that Italian movie, the one that takes place right after the war, the one where soldiers who aren’t supposed to be soldiers are slogging through a marsh, not knowing who they’re supposed to shoot because nobody wears uniforms anymore, so they shoot everyone.

You can’t imagine you’d forget the name of that boy, the one you purposely collided with at the ice rink so he’d talk to you, just for a minute.

You can’t imagine that you won’t remember that argument, the one you had with your best friend at the pool party, the one right after graduation, the one that was so bad you never really talked again even though you still miss her. You’d remember the argument itself, but not any of the details. You’d think it must’ve been important, some kind of dealbreaker, but really you’re just guessing because you do. not. know. 

The thing about being young is that you can’t imagine forgetting. You can’t imagine that you’d have to write things down or they’d be gone the next day. You can’t imagine that well before your child is old enough for kindergarten you’d forget which word it was, exactly, that was the very first one he ever spoke.

You simply cannot imagine that in order to remember you’d need to reach back into the past, close your eyes and recreate every detail still available. That you’d have to do this, and that you’d have to do it often. That you’d have to study. That your memory would require refreshment, as if the precious mental images that make up your history were not really all that different from the irregular French verbs you used to mutter under your breath, repeating and repeating and visualizing and repeating until you could – and did – recite them in your sleep.

I review the bits of my own story like I’m going to be tested on them later. The pale green taste of that grapefruit soda, the one I can’t get here in the States unless I go to Brooklyn. The smell of the carrot oil I used to smooth back my hair. What it felt like when my skin was never ever cold and the water in the pipe was always hot. How slowly the sun set and the way the sky looked like a broken egg yolk. The thickness of the island air, air that draped itself across my shoulders in luxuriant welcome, its familiar heaviness greeting me even before I stepped outside the airplane. 

I study these details, I recall them often, I write them down and THAT is how I make them forever mine.

9:19pm  |   URL: http://tmblr.co/ZDfGayo6yavQ
  
Filed under: memory writing 
June 11, 2013
True story.

I spent most of yesterday mourning Ian McEwan. And when I say mourning I mean sobbing about all the lost art. John Lennon, José Martí, Octavia Butler, Louise Fitzhugh. And so on, and so forth, until we get to Homer. 

Seriously. I was heading straight for “the library at Alexandria burned to the ground, and oh the humanity! Oh the lost knowledge!” Never mind that this happened like two millenia ago. 

But then I realized that the writer who died a couple of days ago is a totally different Iain. Iain Banks. Who I also really dig, but still. 

Can I get a facepalm?

1:00pm  |   URL: http://tmblr.co/ZDfGayn6CWyM
  
Filed under: books art writing 
March 22, 2013
I woke up at four in the morning,

because that’s what happens when I drop asleep just as darkness falls. Bean wasn’t home from school yet, so I’ve been home for two days without seeing him. Or rather, he hasn’t seen me. I’ve seen him - asleep. 

They say it’s Spring now but I remain unconvinced. The sun sleeps as deeply as my child. I envy them both.

5:23am  |   URL: http://tmblr.co/ZDfGaygqj2NA
  
Filed under: writing spring sleep 
March 10, 2013
I had vertigo for 13 days. It’s over now, but I’m hoping that

this is the most sick I will ever be in my life. 

Forget vertigo. Forget that fibromyalgia episode from hell that felt like a 96 hour panic attack. Forget laying awake at night wondering what my neurotransmitters are plotting next. 

It’s over now so we move on as before, yet gingerly. With more deliberate care. I’ll be fine.

Mostly thanks to Ron, who is the best boyfriend of all time, I’m sorry I’m not sorry, he’s mine, you can’t have him.  

Anyway, hi. What’s up?