Lisa wrote me. I am hanging onto emails from Lisa and Olivia like lifesavers. I’m wondering if I should transfer my efforts to my own writing. Signs point me in this direction, but I don’t want to go. Maybe I should give it a try. Might make me happier in the household.

I heard about Immaculée praying the rosary to survive while shut up in a bathroom for weeks, hiding from murderers.

Something I want to know? Don’t know.

I said the rosary everyday for a year. Maybe it was a school year. My sophomore year. The cheesy pearlized paint flaked off my little white first communion beads. Once I lost the rosary—it fell from my pocket. That immediate pang of irrational loss— desperation. I retraced my steps and found it, on top of a desk in a classroom. I was ashamed that someone had found it on the floor, maybe even identified it as possibly mine, and decided to place it on the desk for the owner to more easily find. It meant another person was thinking about my things.

Some envy. I enjoyed a short story that included a line about envy.

I enjoyed John Ashbery’s line “I write in the afternoon.” It hit
me with a great impact. Why? Because I don’t like afternoons. They are a negligible, hateful time, a chunk of time to get through. I am optimistic in the morning (usually) and pessimistic in the afternoon. There’s a wish that I could heal this. What would a good afternoon look like? Sunshine? Satisfaction? Rest?

I don’t like any hour of the day.

One of the things that I love about Natalie is her ability to make judgments about people and say them out loud. It’s thrilling to hear her sum up a person, their behavior, their motivations, their unconscious fire, all rolled into one or two quick incisive statements. Initially, I just bought into everything she said. I had never experienced such a wise window opening onto other people. I was hungry for the guidance. Somehow, I had been misled, led to believe that everyone was a Child of God. Christian psychology is very flat and its behavioral modification systems are very dumb. I had no ability to read people, to differentiate between them. I was like a person, a woman, in an arranged marriage with everyone. As far as Natalie’s stories go, later I learned there might also be other points of view.

Food is very important to me. I miss being able to cook, having a broken wrist makes it an ordeal. I like really tasty food. I like fruit smoothies. I love wine. I like vegetarian food—all the variety, none of the danger. I don’t think I could be vegan though. I like eggs and dairy too much.

Yes this was me. I am suspicious of me, what is it. Today spent time in completely anonymous pursuits that will never offer any recognition. I’m suspicious of my name. It doesn’t feel appropriate for fame. I wrestle expectations down and down and down again. Meanwhile, why not call it home? No this is not me. Me so what. I like the universal flux instead, brightened and tightened in a node that is my skin, my wrist. My stinging teeth, my statically electric hair. My shapeless brows.

Investing. She is investing time. She struggles to define the terms and conditions. The terms of daylight and nightlight. The conditions of breakfast, tea, noise, and satisfaction. She is not sufficiently passionate. Her passion is weak (again). I can learn from the past. I can make a move out of passion. I can dedicate.
I will dedicate my room to the poetries, my living museum of cloth and pixels. The pixels are little squares in the fabric. Her technique is appalling. Going back through the catch—fishes, shells, seaweed, and garbage. Fishes fish, dishes or dish. Hollywood Hollywood Hollywood (dactylic) Perilous Perilous (dactylic) In my room (anapestic). I could go through some poems, mark them. I could observe them in their carriages.

I can’t scratch my left eye. I can’t applaud. There’s no use applauding now is there. I’ve been in two rooms where applause has been called for, and yet—unable to applaud. No applause necessary. Applaud with aplomb. The plaudits, the maldits, the well-dits. How-do-you-do-dits. This is what we have to say.

If I could find my way to a simpler conception. If I could find my way to the egg on the pedestal, if I could find my way to the walking rock. No table salt. No laughing pepper. No funny farm. No moldy vegetables. Rot in a garden. Where do we see that rot, the heavy mosses, the packed earth of the path? The beaten borders, crumbling boundaries? The edge trees fallen into the river, bouncing, bouncing, bouncing, in a death flirtation with the current. Where do we see that? Where do we see the planes? How far away are they? The red light blinks far away at night and there you are, another person. We forget that all of these poets are also persons, one after the other, exhibiting bodily functions. Yes you are a wizard of language. Yes you may set a bonfire. Yes you can turn and turn and turn. No you are not a clergy person. No none of this should be bandied about. No you are not for sale. No you have no memory of the mountain of marzipan you saw in Italy.

december 5 1:45 pm

Uneasy, writing in bed on Tuesday.

First, take some conscious breaths. Expel on the exhalation. Expel the instructions. Intentions.

A monument of agendas inside.

Try to arrive. Get here.

Wanted to write my Godamifesto.

Discovering Anne Waldman, turning pages of her Vow with my long haggy-fingered hands and damaged wrist.

Not much can I do. Limited.

Au revoir.

I never gather Duncan. I try to read the poems assigned, I never get them. I buy some of his books, don’t think I’ll crack them. I pay $300 for this class, I’m not sure why. I pay it in installments once a month, and I get shy about my childish checks with purple swirlies on them and a Comic front. I think I should have soberer checks like a real poet.

Trying to contribute. I translate a poem of mine into Olde English. Enjoy this exercise. I’m asked to read it aloud, a fairly strugglish effort. Seems okay. Better in Olde English than it was in New. Lisa picks out phrases in our poems. Well, should I toss the rest away, enshrine that phrase? Who knows.

I learn some techniques, puzzle over leading vowels. I want craft but I don’t want it. I am interested in the other students. I’m interested in shaping the interactions. The environment is so subdued, inhibiting. I ask a lot of questions. One dominates. She seems suitably irritable for a teacher of poetry. Poetry teachers swimming daily in bad words. THere are no highlights. I observe the women’s clothes. I’m familiar with an odd fact or two, like Ian Hamilton Finlay’s death this year or fallout on the Hanford Reservation.

Somewhere I don’t bloom. People very sparing with email, commentary, keeping their vast opinions to themselves. Closetsfull of opinions, jamming in on the shelves.

One of my thematic exercises highlights the word Intimacy.

I go to Bernadette Mayer’s reading at St. Mark’s. Appreciate it. I read Winter’s Day from cover to cover on my 2nd try.

I drop Ashbery’s name a couple of times, get a small sound of acknowledgement from Lisa, but no more.

Incomprehensible.

Well, dammit, I signed up for this, I want to say I rubbed elbows with the New York School, yes I did, and yes it was rewarding, yes I elevated my discourse and my craft.

Beating my head against the wall
And Sam at home alone on Tuesday nights
And disrupting placid waters of routine
my Al-Anon, my district meetings, and
the Yoga Book Club.

Poetry is the biggest irritant in my life right now.

Here are my projects—

I write a series about rivers, it feels really forced, much less interior than I’m used to.

I’m doing book design, an anthology. I feel like curling up in shame for the uneven obstreperous (bluntly) badness of this poetry and get defensive at the awes of horror over awkward typographic dumbnesses in Duncan’s Selected oh yes it is a bad book and—well, mine probably is too.

I’m writing a gigantic Hallmark card to 365 of my closest friends, a project which I never once get brave enough to mention because it’s absolutely a faux pas in circles like this to write about real people in a dumb form like “50 words,” not to mention being 50 which is also a mistake too grave to mention, so I shut up even though I secretly admire myself, if only for the year-long discipline (its roots in stubbornness).

I have a blog. Lisa acknowledges my blog on hers, kind words; we mention it once in person, then this contact sinks again into the pool of anonymity, mutual lurking. I decide I want to put more energy into my blog, I have sort of a grip on it as an aesthetic project so I post something almost every day in November, although this is quite strenuous, and sometimes, it’s only photos/fragments.

Lisa’s interest in plants helps me acknowledge that I have a yard, a garden, even a sort of love for certain specimens. I bring two plants indoors for the winter—parsley, rosemary—and plant cilantro seeds. The sage survives outside. I think of bringing Lisa some sage bundled as a gift, maybe wrapped in some embroidery floss. No thyme at the moment.

Umm…can’t get there from here. Can’t go to Naropa, can’t spend lots of money on classes when I’m 50 and Blair’s in college, can’t generate a poetic community like the Beats or the New York School springing up from the wasted garden void around me, can’t make contact, can’t begin to get excited again about an online journal project, any opportunity to publish or be published, any sights set higher than retirement sooner hopefully rather than later after I finish paying for the college education of my favorite anarchist who would never rub elbows with an institution unless the term was paid for by a foolish parent (yup that’s me).

So then last week was our last session—postponed until after Thanksgiving because so many in class were going out of own or otherwise couldn’t make it and it was my first day back at work in Jersey after the long weekend and the previous week’s hiatus because of surgery on my aching wrist I had to work from home. Huh—I was cutting everything pretty close, had some goods to drop off with Blair, not urgent, just his vest, his coat, his soap—well, what if he gets COLD, he’ll need this stuff, my drive to deliver it to him got the best of me and almost hyperventilating after leaving work at 4 pm under gloomy skies I drove with one hand down into Manhattan, 87 South from Westchester over the Third Ave Bridge, onto the FDR, 23rd Street exit just like usual and then I think I’ll turn on 7th Avenue and work my way back to Union Square along 16th Street—well I turned at 5:30 pm onto a street I shouldn’t have turned onto until 7—goddammit, do I really need such pointed reminders that somehow my timing in this life is really OFF?—red lights in my rearview mirror and I get two fucking summons, one for unsafe turn and one for not seeing a sign or something like that and my heart is pounding and I’m trying to hide my broken left arm because God knows the fines for driving with a broken wrist are probably more than Astronomical, but the policeman doesn’t really seem that interested in me anyway and this too hurts my feelings, thinking a different sort of poet would have engaged him, spurred an action, wriggled out of it, into some grace at the last minute, a reprieve, but no I limped away, now afraid to drive, delivered Blair his package, followed on to class and found a place to park in Queens and participated in the small group, just Josh and Lisa (and the cats) and shared some feeble poetry from the past and made it home and paid my fines plus surcharge within 15 days—$180.

Next day at work, Linda, who likes to try to be my guardian angel, asks innocently—how was my drive home last night—I stare at her for moments, at an utter loss for inspiration as far as what to say—I don’t even know if my own mind how to say how my drive home has been or if I’ve even reached home yet or ever will and can’t begin to explain why I’m driven to do things like tour New York City in a car one-handed delivering warm clothing and unwanted poetry on thankless nights where no one’s looking almost not listening no stars no shining and no stop for meals. Lisa offers to go get some negra modelo, me and Josh say yes. He has a new job, he’s a kid, he’s going to work for Wiley in Hoboken, just starting out, I say Good night Good luck we walk off in opposite directions.

Next semester—Finnegan’s Wake, Gertrude Stein, and the Cantos, oh my god, I want to take that, I can’t help it, I can’t justify it, there is no explanation, but I’ve been broken down sufficiently okay it’s insane okay I’ll cooperate I don’t believe in vengeful angels but I’ve sustained enough damage from the New York School and San Francisco Renaissance that I dare not tread toward giants of literature like that. No I won’t be jounced by Joyce, stunned by Stein, or pounded on by Ezra anymore it’s over I’ll stay here in bed contented with my diary and my jottings, what intact bones are left, sipping supplemental vitamins and breath, applying gratitude medicinally and daring any New York angel poet student policeman to come find me here in this suburban garden of post post post avant avant fragmentariantude.

So there.

december 13

Discs—Physical Earth energy

Grounded. Material needs. My body. Not being able to take care of myself. Not being able to defend myself from the demands of a project.

Priestess of discs—She’s doing Yoga! Can I still take my Tuesday morning yoga class? I would dearly love to be able to do that. Physical—trainer setup? What about a zafu/zabuton in this room?

Working can be bad for my health, bad for my mood. I don’t want to reach out, make connections. I don’t want to feel over my head again in an extroverted analytical culture.

Six of discs—reversed. Is about this. I don’t want to participate in the madness. I try experimental remarks with Linda, jumping outside the box of her behavior. When I think about healing/leadership, I think—BIG. I want to modify the whole extended team so that we can work well together. My intuition screams at me to modify other’s behavior in situations. I can’t. I avoid participation to a great degree because of this trap.

Son of discs—Goals. One of my fondest dreams is to improve the house. I would love to gradually transform this space into something that would feel good and livable. I don’t dare to wish for what. Seems materialistic. There are poor out there. I am no good at home decorating. Etc. First step—money. Could I feel good about this? I don’t know. I might feel like Michelle or Richie. I might be susceptible to Sam’s criticisms, bound/engaged with his actions or lack of action. I don’t want that.

Demons into Allies—

money -> beauty -> clothes
home
  -> sharing -> Blair, Kiva?
  -> saving -> 401K, pay off debts
impatience
resentment
-> my koan.
My obvious
opportunity
to yearn
for liberation
 

Buddhism really figures in here.

my passivity
at work
-> don’t get involved in tempests, gossip. Step up to motivation. Spend time with the winners.
two days a week
at home
-> Discipline. Housework? Chores calling me? Exercise? Errands? I don’t think I can work 8 hours at home. Maybe that’s not the point.
Creative time -> most rewarding projects have been in fragments.

Sam deserts me often in the evening, sleeping. I can do a lot with a short period of time every day. The daily effort is my ally. I fritter away time on Tues and Thurs, flounder.

I know I’m going to do this.

I am afraid.

9 of swords (rev)

I am not raising kids anymore.

I can use Linda’s logistical skills and networking to make things easier.

When I feel in the grip of clutching fear or annoyance at work—I can take a walk. Take a breath.

I want to

  • Read Moby Dick
  • Ulysses
  • Gravity’s Rainbow

I want to

  • Sew again—some elegant drapey tops

I want to

  • Make meals in the crockpot

I want to

  • Be in the CSA

I want

  • a Buddhist teacher ? ? ?

50 x 365—unique work. I don’t know. I’m exhausted by it. I want it to be over. It is a huge meditation on interpersonal relations. I tried to exercise lovingkindness—could not succeed at times. I don’t know how much to reveal. I’d like to WOW people with it. That’s not such great motivation. I’d like to let people know they have touched my life. I’d like to open the door to an intimacy—but this is not very mutual. I grabbed all the power and authority by writing these things.

I found a source of motivation. I was not going to let D see me stop. Ha.

It’s not that big a thing really.

Traveling back and back, remembering oh yes, failing to see the point. What is this? The pale awareness leaks, someone who really wants to make it work, solve it through all sick thoughts, solve for x, for him, for her, solve through all, something to be made right.

march 14, 2007

Unashamed evaluation. Here in Starbucks, tears behind my eyes unreasonable. Feel pressure to make phone calls—Kristin, Lorna, Margaret, and I don’t want to do it. Feel the competition of Stamford, everyone is out. Feel a freaky drama starting in the house, so tied down, so unhappy, so oppressed, so much by what who knows the lack of private time, the restriction on my inner life my meditation my suffering over inability to recharge? Yes, I am an aging Ipod mini battery so

Thirsty and so suffering—it’s been coming up for hours, weeks, and months—I put it down (PUT IT DOWN) you see and there it is again this vagueness this unease the only solution that I want

Luckily no tears—K stopped by to say hi—my friend—oh well.

I am really struggling with a lot of questions—

  • WRITING (I crave my eerie freedom)
  • Relationship—how much is too much
  • Dharma friendships (Batchelor)
  • The coffee doesn’t taste like coffee
  • America
    • and where to go from here

Maybe this is the tail end of my tenure working I am certainly chafing under all the structure I felt Linda closing the lid down on my dear chaos Friday and I wanted to cry especially since there was no way to explain EXPLAIN—

pressures pressures decompression after Eli’s birthday party yesterday my eyes my eyes my moon

Reading today about a Stone Coast MFA and a Prose Poetry Conference #2 in Walpole, but it’s August 3-5 and that’s Sam’s birthday, plus $650. Still—I want to go. But really I am flailing, floundering, utterly without direction—just feel a hole inside.

Hello hole who are you I mean how are you? Drastic, raggedy, misused? Absolutely.

Why struggle with this at all? I am insecure with anything that requires any level of resolve.

I can work a Program, show up, practice feebly on and off—I can read and write and work on software engineering. Fitness is not part of my routine. I’d let Sam work on his truck, the house, the computer, I’d let anyone do anything. There is very little I can figure out.

Holding Separate—here is where we are reckless holding ourself Separate—because there is a lack of dharma friends.

K—Starbucks and her husband—Burger King.

This is not worthwhile, is it?

Meanwhile, it’s always someone’s birthday, I would like to race away so far and demand a year in cloister only one outfit, one bowl, one word—sometimes the complexity of extroversion slays me—this is a tired story, isn’t it? Am I busy self-making? Did I have a moment when the rug was pulled out from under someone who I thought was so familiar? Ski jacket, ski jacket, ski jacket, sunglasses—how it is in here. I am not in Sunnyside. And Poetry is Impossible to Learn. (So I Say so I say so say so say) Oh say so, so you say.

I am strained at work, straining to get enough time to concentrate on Next Gen work which is much improved with concentration. But now I’m in charge of training K and—hell, I don’t know—it’s for the best—but it hasn’t been that easy. I’m going to give her my work in duplicate and see if she does the same things as I do with it. Case studies.

No I am not under stress, not menopause or lupus, not gall bladder or any other pain—

I am livid with the unsatisfactoriness of it all. I wish

I have desires—well I would like to find out—before I die—
if liberation is really possible and in order to do that it appears that I have no choice except to sit and sit and sit and you see, I really don’t have time to sit especially because I can’t negotiate that with my boyfriend and I find it very embarrassing to be “sitting” in the house when someone wants me and before the house is clean and meals and water and the computer/sewing machines—
but—

why shouldn’t I SIT and
here is the alternative

forget about any liberation
until the next life and
there is no next life
and

I don’t believe in God either so I can’t pray for the resolve to make my “growth” possible.

I really don’t care to know about any purpose or meaning to life I believe in nothing I can point to that is self (right now I sit here writing what is that)

Dear Alex,
I am getting very interested in meditation.
Although I am shy.
I want a Zen teacher. Buddhist teacher.
I want to speak freely. I mean really.
I hope I can live with some humility.
I hope I can exhibit. Color.
I hope to make frail notes at my mother’s bedside.
Step 9 says: whenever possible.
I think that is funny
This smart-aleck
always ready to move on
The dharma makes it hard
to say anything you see
I am getting
Back
on
Track

It is a thicket. The conifer garden is ultimately soothing. After wandering down into the marshlands, following the rotting boardwalk, achieving the stability of brown and stagnant water, she wanted then to rise. Climbing hills, across the broad lawn, observing the perennial garden now completely dormant. It wasn’t hard for me to find the isolated snowdrop, crocus, just look down. At the gate, sign says No Pets and I feel a true relief at the restriction. No footsteps mark the snowfall on the secluded upper path. Dark conifer presences so silent in their various forms, some curly needles, others quite like fans, or dark green fuzz along the branch. Winding whiteness, the brief sensation of being lost again in that small place I know so well, trickling of liquid drainage through the mushy grasses out the drainpipe.

I am lost.

Lost. Description even becomes too much of a responsibility.

More reading, more writing. Right now my skin is salty with dried sweat, I’m jittery with coffee. There is no torpor. I am radiant in the fragility of March. The fleeting ice, the flavors in the atmosphere, the thin glittering legs of these lake birds, hunting, hunting. Fish? Wishing for a lot of frogs around the edges of my pond, wishing for a pond. My parents’ relationship with the spring peepers in their backyard swamp. Yes, I have boredom, ill will, yes, and guess what—it is mine. I saw and felt that here just now. How latent it remains, the tendency to blame. Here I am warm and contained, my teeth are singing off the fluid line of ink. The failbetter, the magazine. Lists of objects. A book, over-sized, with heavy plastic pages, inscribed (somehow) with freewrites. I feel breathless.