27 May 2009

Finished: The History of Love --"life defined by a delight in the weight of the real"

Some final words from the text:

"But now she seemed different to me. I became aware of her special powers. How she seemed to pull light and gravity to the place where she stood .. I half expected that in another moment I'd be able to make out the cells of her skin as if under a microscope ...But it didn't last long, because at the same time I was becoming conscious of her body, I was becoming aware of my own. The sensation almost knocked the breath out of me . A tingling feeling caught fire in my nerves and spread. The whole thing must have happened in less than 30 seconds. And yet, when it was over, I'd been initiated into the mystery that stands at the beginning and end of childhood. It was ten years before I'd spent all the joy and pain born in me in that less than half a minute."

"i stood on the street and let the rain trickle down my neck. I squeezed my eyes shut. Door after door after door after door after door after door swung open""

"He learned to live with the truth. Not to accept it, but to live with it. It was like living with an elephant. His room was
tiny, and every morning he had to squeeze around the truth just to get to the bathroom. To reach the armoire to get a
pair of underpants he had to crawl under the truth, praying it wouldn’t choose that moment to sit on his face. At
night, when he closed his eyes, he felt it looming above him."

"My own father, who had great respect for nature, had dropped each of us into the river soon after we were born, before our ties to the amphibians, so he claimed, were cut completely. ... I'd like to think that I would have done it differently. I would have held my son in my arms. I would have told him, Once upon a time you were a fish. A fish? he'd have asked. That's what I'm telling you, a fish. How do you know? Because I was also a fish. You, too? Sure. A long time ago. How long? Long. Anyway, being a fish, you used to know how to swim. You loved the water. Why? What do you mean, why? Why did I love the water? Because it was your life! And as we talked, I would have let him go one finger at a time, until, without his realizing, he'd be floating without me."

"as i looked into her face, it was him i thought of, the boy who would grow up without knowing how forgive himself."

"I lost the sound of laughter. I lost a pair of shoes, I'd taken them off to sleep... and when I woke they were gone, I walked barefoot for days and then I broke down and stole someone else's. I lost the only woman I ever wanted to love. I lost years. I lost books. I lost the house where I was born... So who is to say that somewhere along the way, without my knowing it, I didn't also lose my mind?"

It "was a lie, but by the way she was looking at me I knew she hadn't really heard, since it wasn't me she saw."

"I thought my heart would stop. But it was true. It was just like that."

"During the time I waited, a whole species of butterfly may have become extinct, or a large, complex mammal with feelings like mine."

"'You have to stop talking about God, OK?' He didn't say anything, but I was pretty sure he was awake now. 'You're going to be twelve soon. You have to stop making weird noises, and jumping off things and hurting yourself.' I knew I was pleading with him, but I didn't care. 'You have to push you feelings down and try to be normal...You have to make some friends..'"

"We sat together on the porch of Isaac Moritz's house, swinging on a bench and watching the rain.... I asked him if he'd ever heard of The Little Prince and he said he thought he had. So I told him about the time Saint-Ex crashed in the Libyan desert, drank the dew off the airplane's wings which he'd gathered with an oil-stained rag, and walked hundred of miles, dehydrated and delirious from the heat and cold. When I got to the part about how he was found by some Bedouins, Herman slipped his hand into mine, and I thought, An average of seventy-four species become extinct every day, which was one good reason but not the only one to hold someone's hand, and the next thing that happened was we kissed each other, and I found I knew how, and I felt happy and sad in equal parts, because I knew that I was falling in love, but it wasn't with him."

"After that day when I saw the elephant, I let myself see more and believe more. It was a game I played with myself. When I told Alma the things I saw she would laugh and tell me she loved my imagination. For her I changed pebbles into diamonds, shoes into mirrors, I changed glass into water, I gave her wings and pulled birds from her ears and in her pockets she found the feathers, I asked a pear to become a pineapple, a pineapple to become a lightbulb, a lightbulb to become the moon, and the moon to become a coin I flipped for her love, both sides were heads: I knew I couldn't lose. And now at the end of my life I can barely tell the difference between what is real and what I believe. For example, your letters in my hands- I feel it between my fingers. The paper is smooth except in the creases. I can unfold and fold it again. As certain as I am sitting here now, these letters exists.

And yet. In my heart, I know my hand is empty."

Conducting a person's silence.

"So many words get lost. They leave the mouth and lose their courage, wandering aimlessly until they are swept into the gutter like dead leaves. On rainy days you can hear their chorus rushing past: IwasabeautifulgirlPleasedon’tgoItoobelievemybodyismadeofglassI’veneverlovedanyoneIthinkofmyselfasfunnyForgive me…

There was a time when it wasn’t uncommon to use a piece of string to guide words that otherwise might falter on the way to their destinations. Shy people carried a little bundle of string in their pockets, but people considered loudmouths had no less need for it, since those used to being overheard by everyone were often at a loss for how to make themselves heard by someone. The physical distance between two people using a string was often small; sometimes the smaller the distance, the greater the need for the string.

The practice of attaching cups to the ends of the string came much later. Some say it is related to the irrepressible urge to press shells to our ears, to hear the still-surviving echo of the world’s first expression. Others say it was started by a man who held the end of a string that was unraveled across the ocean by a girl who left for America.

When the world grew bigger, and there wasn’t enough string to keep the things people wanted to say from disappearing into the vastness, the telephone was invented.

Sometimes no length of string is long enough to say the thing that needs to be said. In such cases all the string can do, in whatever its form, is conduct a person’s silence."

History of Love

26 May 2009

A great dream

Last night, I dreamt a dream that ranks among the top 5. It was one of those dreams that begins dark and sad and becomes liberating and wonderful.

I'm on a retreat walking in a field around a lake. I'm talking on my phone with a former partner, and I'm trying to convince the person to see things from my perspective, and the person hangs up on me. I enter a nearby elevator (!) that has two other people in it I don't recognize. The elevator goes up and suddenly goes faster and faster till we burst through the roof and into the sky. As it reaches the top of its climb, I realize I'm wearing a backpack as are the others, and we jump out of the elevator as it falls down. We skydive out of the elevator (!), and I land in the middle of what looks like central park at an outdoor concert. I sit next to someone I think was a friend, and I have a fortune cookie in my hand. The fortune reads, "today begins your life." I look up, and my sister is at the concert too as are some of my other friends.

25 May 2009

More love, more real: a history of feelings

"One day my father laughed and corrected me. Everything snapped into focus. It's one of those unforgettable moments that happen as a child, when you discover that all along the world as been betraying you."

"Just as there was a first instant when someone rubbed two sticks together to make a spark, there was a first time joy was felt, and a first time for sadness. For a while, new feelings were being invented all the time. Desire was born early, as was regret. When stubbornes was felt for the first time, it started a chain reaction, creating the feeling of resentment on the one hand, and alienation on the other. It might have been a cirtain counterclockwise movement of the hips that marked the birth of ecstasy; a bolt of lightning that caused the first feeling of awe. Contrary to logic, the feeling of surprise wasn't born immediately. It only came after people had enough time to get used to things as they were. And when enough time HAD passed, and someone felt the first feeling of surprise, someone, somewhere else, felt the first pang of nostalgia.

It's also true that sometimes people felt things, and, because there was no word for them, they were unmentioned. The oldest emotion in the world may be that of being moved; but to describe it-just to name it - must have been like trying to catch something invisible.

(Then again, the oldest feeling in the world might simply have been confusion).

Having begun to feel, people's desire to feel grew. They wanted to feel more, feel deeper, despite how much it sometimes hurt. People become addicted to feeling. They struggled to uncover new emotions. It's possible that this is how art was born.
New kinds of joy were forged, along with new kinds of sadness. The eternal dissapointment of life as it is; the relief of unexpected reprieve, the fear of dying.

Even now, all possible feelings do not exist. There are still those that lie beyond our capacity and our imagination."


I don't mean just physically.

" You tell me that you are in love with a beautiful woman, but when I ask you, ' What is the color her eyes? What is her name? What is the name of her town? you cannot tell me. I don't believe you are really in love with something real.' Your notion of God may be vague like that, not having to do with reality.
Thich Nhat Hanh

Reading Julian of Norwich in the morning

God is the ground and the substance, the very essence of nature;
God is the true father and mother of natures.
We are all bound to God by nature,
and we are all bound to God by grace.
And this grace is for all the world,
Because it is our precious mother, Christ.
For this fair nature was prepared by Christ
For the honor and nobility of all,
and for the joy and bliss of salvation.

20 May 2009


Growing up is so hard these days; I'm taking solace in those writers who revel in that in-between growthness -- even though there may be a wallowing in the mire of co-dependency and coping mechanisms. Whatever.


How funny you are today New York
like Ginger Rogers in Swingtime
and St. Bridget’s steeple leaning a little to the left

here I have just jumped out of a bed full of V-days
(I got tired of D-days) and blue you there still
accepts me foolish and free
all I want is a room up there
and you in it

and even the traffic halt so thick is a way
for people to rub up against each other
and when their surgical appliances lock
they stay together
for the rest of the day (what a day)
I go by to check a slide and I say
that painting’s not so blue

where’s Lana Turner
she’s out eating
and Garbo’s backstage at the Met
everyone’s taking their coat off
so they can show a rib-cage to the rib-watchers
and the park’s full of dancers with their tights and shoes
in little bags
who are often mistaken for worker-outers at the West Side Y
why not
the Pittsburgh Pirates shout because they won
and in a sense we’re all winning
we’re alive

the apartment was vacated by a gay couple
who moved to the country for fun
they moved a day too soon
even the stabbings are helping the population explosion
though in the wrong country
and all those liars have left the UN
the Seagram Building’s no longer rivalled in interest
not that we need liquor (we just like it)

and the little box is out on the sidewalk
next to the delicatessen
so the old man can sit on it and drink beer
and get knocked off it by his wife later in the day
while the sun is still shining

oh god it’s wonderful
to get out of bed
and drink too much coffee
and smoke too many cigarettes
and love you so much

19 May 2009

Baja and Poems

I've corresponded with a poet I met in Baja. I met her almost 10 years ago. Her words sometimes floor me. Today I received a poem in the mail:

But is it this: that the ocean is blue,
very blue
and the fishes,
aren't they pretty creatures?
So wear the ocean, I say,
because I can't change the facts.

Paula Yup

I love snorkeling. Although I didn't do that today, I do feel that I wore the very blue ocean.

I hear my ancestors whisper...

Great Grandmother


13 May 2009

Ready for...

Last week of the semester and school year. I'm thankful to be transitioning into a new phase of life - the summertime. I thank myself for choosing the teaching profession at moments like these. In a week, I will be able to live in my rainbows and bathing suit if I so choose. Oliver and I will spend days at the dog beach in Santa Barbara; I need to buy him an umbrella. I will be off to Santa Fe for a time too. Reminds me of:

03 May 2009

Oliver's Travels: Spring 09

Venice Beach
At Auntie Em's with Bronte.
Climbing a tree in the dog park in Highland Park
Meditating on Labyrinth Day at CSU, Long Beach
Ready for Easter lunch
Traveling up the 101 to the Farm.
Kickin it with Smokey at home.

Intelligentsia with Brother and Bubbas

They make a good cup of coffee and are very dog-friendly. I also like the brick building.