March 31, 2007

Horoscope for April

On a freeway, somewhere in Northern England, the central reservation suddenly widens. In the middle of this unexpected expanse stands a farmhouse. When they were building the road, the authorities tried to bulldoze it. First they offered the owner money to move. Then they used legal threats. Nothing worked. In the end, they just laid the tarmac around the house. Once, it stood in a rural idyll. Now six lanes of traffic hurtle past day and night. It is no place to live. There are times when we all should stand our ground and times when we are wiser to go with the flow. Don't end up with a hollow victory this month. Be reasonable.

March 21, 2007

I am so hung up on it

(I would like to move away from it.)

Did you know I lost two full nights of sleep after that statement? So much power in one sentence. But what can I say? How should I begin, and how should I presume?

March 17, 2007

Last night I dreamed I was showing you my temple

"Last night I dreamed I was showing you my temple," said Miss Lissie. "I don't know where it was, but it was a simple square one-room structure, very adobe or Southwestern-looking, with poles jutting out at the ceiling line and the windows set in deep. It was painted a rich dust coral and there were lots of designs--many, turquoise and deep blue, like Native American symbols for rain and storm--painted around the top. It was beautiful, though small, and I remembered going there for the ceremonies dressed in a long white cotton robe. I was tall then, and stately, with thick black hair that I wore in a bun. The other thing my temple made me think of was the pyramids in Mexico, though I'm satisfied it wasn't made of stone but of painted mud.

"Anyway, my familiar--what you might these days, unfortunately, call a 'pet'--was a small incredibly beautiful creature that was part bird, for it was feathered, part fish, for it could swim and had a somewhat fish/bird shape, and part reptile, for it scooted about like geckoes do, and it was all over the place while I talked to you. Its movements were graceful and clever, its expression mischevious and full of humor. It was alive! You, by the way, Suwelo were a white man, apparently, in that life, very polite, very well-to-do, and seemingly very interested in our ways.

"My little familiar, no bigger than my hand, slithered and skidded here and there in the place outside the temple where we sat. Its predominant color was blue, but there was red and green, and flecks of gold and cerise. And purple. Yes. Its head was that of a bird. Did I say that already?

"Skittering about the way that it did was so distracting while we talked that I took it up into my hands and carried it some distance from us and placed it on the ground with a clear-glass bowl over it. As soon as I'd come back and sat down, however, I heard a noise like a muffled shot. I went over to the bowl, and, sure enough, the familiar had broken through. There was a small hole in the top. I looked about and found another bowl, a heavy white one, very click and with very thick sides. My familiar was lying looking up at me curiously, resting up from its labor. It did not try to run as I put this while bowl on top of it. Almost before I sat down I heard another noise. When I went back, my familiar was rushing furiously about in the snow. Everything was suddenly now very cold. It was as beautiful as ever though, my familiar. How or even why I would do what I next did is beyond me, but I think it was a stupid reflex of human pride. For I understood quite well by now that all of this activity on the familiar's part was about freedom, and that by my actions I was destroying our relationship. In any event, not to be outdone--and suddenly there were dozens of your people, white people, standing about watching this contest--I next imprisoned my beautiful little familiar under a metal washtub. I paid little attention to the coldness or the snow and did not even think how cruel and torturous for it this would be. Surely it would not now be able to escape. I went back to where we were seated, you and I, and attempted to carry on with our conversation, which was about temples, and about my temple in particular. The sun was just setting, and it bathed the small, shiny coral structure in gold. It was a splendid sight. I felt such happiness that it was mine and I thought of the peace that came over me, deep, like sleep, when I entered its doors.

"Next we heard a rumbling, as if from a volcano, under our seats. As if power was being sucked along in streams from everywhere and converging at one spot under the snow. All of us, you, me, the white people dressed so strangely in high heels and fur coats, were drawn to the quaking washtub, which seemed now to be on the bottom steps of an enormous white stone building in a different city and a different century. We could not believe that a small creature, no larger than a hand, could break through the metal with its fragile birdlike head. We gazed in amazement as, with a mighty whoosh, and as if from the very depths of the sea, the little familiar broke through the bottom of the tub and out into the open air. It looked at me with pity as it passed. Then, using wings it had never used before, it flew away. And I was left with only you and the rest of your people on the steps of a cold stone building, the color of a cheap false teeth, in a different world from my own, in a century that I would never undersand. Except by remembering the beautiful little familiar, who was so cheerful and loyal to me, and whom I so thoughtlessly, out of pride and distraction, betrayed."

--Alice Walker, The Temple of My Familiar

March 14, 2007

Long, longer, longest longing

That's pretty much what's on my mind.

March 11, 2007

I know what you're doing, and it's wonderful.

A conversation with Anthony tonight stimulated this diatribe...

I was talking to a friend earlier this evening (the aforementioned Anthony). We chatted awhile, and he said, "What's going on?" I asked him what he meant. He said, "You're not yourself. You sound different. What is it?" At first I was kind of surprised, because I felt okay and was in no way deliberately trying to mask anything I was feeling.

He said, "Come on. I've known you long enough to know how you sound and you sound different. If you can't say it to me who can you say it to? You can't tell me anything I haven't heard or done before. Just say it, I don't care how crazy it sounds."

He ended up being right, and it started me thinking.

I would just like to say to various friends near and far, and whether you read this or not, that your efforts have not gone unnoticed. I know that you're looking out for me and I love you for it--for the phone calls, emails, IMs, extra invitations to go out or come over for dinner, for listening to me blow my nose while you're talking to me on the phone, for letting me curl up on your couch with a glass of wine or a cup of tea, for walking me home from the bus stop with your arm around me and making me tea and offering me chocolate. I know that I get myself worked into knots and am not always able put on a face to meet anyone, but thanks for not giving up. I love you guys!

[Now cue the Cindy Lauper music: "If you fall I will catch you, I'll be waiting..."]

March 5, 2007

The Under Toad

He stood ankle-deep in the foam from the surf and peered into the waves, without taking a step, for the longest time. The family went down to the water's edge to have a word with him.

"What are you doing, Walt?" Helen asked.

"What are you doing, dummy?" Duncan asked him.

"I'm trying to see the Under Toad," Walt said.

"The what?" said Garp.

"The Under Toad," Walt said. "I'm trying to see it. How big is it?"

And Garp and Helen and Duncan held their breath; they realized that all these years Walt had been dreading a giant toad, lurking offshore, waiting to suck him under and drag him out to sea. The terrible Under Toad.

Garp tried to imagine it with him. Would it ever surface? Did it ever float? Or was it always down under, slimy and bloated and ever-watchful for ankles its coated tongue could snare? The vile Under Toad.

Between Helen and Garp, the Under Toad became their code phrase for anxiety. Long after the monster was clarified for Walt ("Undertow, dummy, not Under Toad!" Duncan had howled), Garp and Helen evoked the beast as a way of referring to their own sense of danger. When the traffic was heavy, when the road was icy--when depression had moved in overnight--they said to each other, "The Under Toad is strong today."

"Remember," Duncan asked on the plane, "how Walt asked if it was green or brown?"

Both Garp and Duncan laughed. But it was neither green nor brown, Garp thought. It was me. It was Helen. It was the color of bad weather. It was the size of an automobile.

March 2, 2007

The lost cause of words walks away with my nerves

('cause I'm gay as a choir boy for you.)

I feel like sharing a poem today. My friend Scott shared this with me awhile back (for which I am eternally grateful) and it immediately became one of my favorites.

Her Lips Are Copper Wire
by Jean Toomer

whisper of yellow globes
gleaming on lamp-posts that sway
like bootleg licker drinkers in the fog

and let your breath be moist against me
like bright beads on yellow globes

telephone the power-house
that the main wires are insulate

(her words play softly up and down
dewy corridors of billboards)

then with your tongue remove the tape
and press your lips to mine
till they are incandescent