“All of Paris is caressable, La ville caresse, la ville caressante, with its outer life all grace and wit, at heart a mystic lover, a philosopher, a man of taste. In its ancient decor, it is always youthful because its source of life is inner, and always renewed. The past is so vivid that it fills the streets. It is full. the magic of its unity and harmony of colors and textures and styles. When there were contrasts, they were contrasts between medieval somberness and modern gaiety. “
The people who pass my window aren’t snapped into wool and leather collars any longer. Now their heads raise to the sun; but their movement is sluggishly unfamiliar with spring steps. Soon they’ll be jogging and eying the world through sunglasses instead of face-warmers. Street scenery is similar to my garden; fresh green stems courageously pop up while the rose bushes remain embryos.
Today I read for two hours; the longest stretch since last year. I had to stay in bed with a tray of coffee and closed curtains. I was restored to the first readings of Anais, when people still talked about her being a lesbian; when in fact she was not expressing that kind of love at all. Only the love as deep as two women want to go. Belonging to her group of artists and bohemian so appealed to me then as a teenager-I manifested that camaraderie by finding love in artists and misfits, malcontents, with rare wisdom and foresight. Men that chose not to belong because they had their own opinions.
The farolitos reflect diamonds of light when the sun is out. I can look out the window by my desk all day to catch surprises. The exchanges with staff at the hotel in a hand swipe and face to face muses on hotel complaints. A man in khaki’s and hiking boots taking studied photos of my house, and the same woman, who talks incessant baby talk to her dog as he pranced ahead.
My emotional tail is wagging; curled up in my desk chair I feel almost as if I was born in this chair. It’s cushioned me through a cyclone of adventures in livingness.
This piece of writing was handwritten on a tablet back in late January. I’ve made some minor additions and deletions. The editor I use before submitting to a publisher asked me, “Why do you keep switching between past and present tense?” I told her I don’t control that until I’m in final editing. My control over my writing is identical to my control over how I live. Acting on impulse, expanding the mundane into a musical, feasting on all the emotions, and fabricating thorny Walter Mitty encounters. I don’t even think of applying proven methods; I make up new ones.
Back to this plateau of solitude. Love what you have and especially yourself; with all your flaws. Integrity is more critical; be proud not just for yourself, but because someone out there needs you.
The throw of the dice this week lands on adventures in livingness; friendships.
The subject pierced me yesterday morning, and came by way of Anais Nin, a passage in her diary. “Each friend represents a world in us, a world possibly not born until they arrive, and it is only by this meeting that a new world is born.”
― Anaïs Nin, The Diary of Anaïs Nin, Vol. 1: 1931-1934 Today, the first in several months that the atmosphere is ripe with thought, and has brought me back to the writing of the moment. The delivery trucks have not opened their doors and dropped their ramps, the garbage trucks have already passed, and the traffic is so slight it feels like Sunday.
Fall is brushing nature with a varnish of sunshine all day, the sky is swimming pool blue, and so I sit in the garden on the lounge chair, shaded by the droopy elm tree. I hear some cheerful shouting on the sidewalk, a horn breaks the sanctuary, and then a dove lands on the wooden lattice and we watch each other. I breathe deep, close my eyes, and feel my noon time tuna sandwich thumping in my belly.
The stream of consciousness is threaded to the deeper blanket of anxiousness. I am going in circles, not physically like I have been moving from one bedroom to another, one closet to another to accommodate, the vacation rental guests. I am in the circle of chaos that seeps into every day activities. Tempers are flaring, combative street encounters rouse the hum of music on my porch, authoritarian behavior is exhuming from Managers and Owners, employees are jumping ship everywhere. People are relocating, selling possessions, or using succulent lips and breasts to lease men for financial support. We are all a bit edgy.
Just as we adapt to one highland of composure we lose another. On Yom Kippur I attended synagogue in Santa Fe. There were only a few empty seats, so I took one and opened my prayer-book. I tried to read the portion I missed but the two women behind me were chatting. The expectation of searching your soul does not come easy when two women are talking. The same annoyance follows me everywhere; I always end up seated next to the talkers. Whether it’s in on an airplane, a restaurant, or a movie theater, the talkers seem to trail me. The passages from Yom Kippur service remind us of: sensitivity, tolerance, love of thy neighbor, selflessness, jealously, and trust. There I sat, silently scolding the two women who continued to chatter and laugh. Rather than deter my soul-searching, I changed seats, and asked forgiveness for my intolerance. Above all my flaws and quirks, the altar of shame lies in the hiss of distrust. It is a hiss that rises from my gut, and enters my brain. It wasn’t always a malignancy; as a young adult I trusted everyone, unless they asked me questions about my Dad. In recent years, the tumor of trust has splintered friendships. The Rabbi chose the subject of trust as his closing narrative. He said that a person who suffers from lack of trust, runs the risk of becoming paranoid. I sank lower on my inner backbone. Yes, that seepage of paranoia has invaded my trusting heart. When I got home Rudy was painting the new double pane door to my room.
“How was the service? Hand me that screw will you?” He asked
“Guess what the Rabbi talked about?” I said and handed him the screw.
“Well of course that’s embedded in the Torah. But his personal message was about trust.”
Rudy continued to insert the door into the archway with his screw-gun. “You inherited distrust from your father, I don’t know if you can rid yourself of it.”
“I have to!”
“Good. I’m so hurt when you don’t trust me, I mean after thirty years.”
“You still lie.”
“They’re not lies; they’re white lies, so people don’t get hurt.”
“But I know when you’re lying.”
“I know you do.”
“And the lies really hurt.”
“Well then we’re both guilty.”
“You still don’t get it.”
“Yes, I do. You’re not listening to me.”
“You’re right. I’m about feeling, and you’re about telling. ”
Why do we lie; is it to protect the other person’s feelings or
is it because we use deceit and dishonesty to get what we want, If we could change a single human gene; it would be the fib factor. Just imagine how different our life would be.
My friends are beside me once again. It’s been five years since their faces like postcards of my life, are in my room, lifted out of the box. I can almost see their wisdom, and lessons floating above the birdcage hanging from the ceiling. I had forgotten how much I depend on them, a collapse of friendship because my room wasn’t really mine, I shared it with guests, and then New Year, rang out like a jazz quartet of answers to puzzling life questions. I am not sharing my bedroom anymore. And I am not looking for a job. And I am not going to stop wearing tightjeans, and high heeled boots.
Hello Henry Miller, Anais Nin, Carson McCuller, Nelson Algren, John Gardner, Damon…my books are home.
I appreciated him coming back to look after me while I was temporarily flattened by a silly back spasm. I know that he would have preferred staying in Taos with his new lover. I also know the feeling of being split in two-known it for two and half years when I was with John. Sometimes I felt like Anais Nin who had a husband, she didn’t sleep with but who supported her writing, and then accepted her lovers like Henry Miller, Gonzalez, and Durrell.
That mixes up the cocktail of love so at one moment, you know whom you love, and whom you want to be with, and the next day, it is all clouded, opaque and vague as a dirty olive martini. It is frustrating to know that my love for Rudy is bygone for what we both need now. Sometimes, it just crushes me in the knees and I beg for answers. He is sheltering me from the truth, but I know the new woman in his life could be serious. I know that, because I know him so very well. I am prepared; at least I’ve faced the insertion of someone else in his life, who will encapsulate his time and thoughts. If only I had the motivation to script this, or book write it, because it is, extraordinarily unique. It divides the weak from the strong when it comes to love. Nothing ruins a man more than love, and I mean woman too. It is the one force in our life that can leave us heartless or make us heartwarming.
When life imitates art; I’ve read the diaries of Anais Nin so often, they must have invited themselves into my life.
I’m sitting outside in a flowerless garden because no matter how many flowers I plant, they only last one season, if that long. The garden is erupting out of its winter coat, and lime green buds will have to do for now. The sky that seals me in is licked with revisionary hope; the kind that comes back laundered and fresh after a recess from disbelieving in the possibility of a life correction.
Behind the garden, a neighbor is drumming a soft tribal beat, and on Palace Avenue, the choir is singing inside the Episcopal Church. Between these distinctive tastes, there are sparrows fluttering from fan to nest to fountain. The chattering sounds like, “here she comes, don’t come over here, get out of my nest, watch out for that fat crow.”
It’s a mind drift, to be caught in such unstructured beauty, away from the manuscripts, remotes, doors, and phones. It’s like being on an island out here. Everything we bring into our experience can be revised; a work of art, a way of speaking, thinking, portraying yourself, your way of loving, or lusting, and we all know about appearance, because our society shoves it down our throat.
Look at the possibilities in revising our patterns of behavior. What we accepted 20 years ago doesn’t mean it’s carved in our organs. We can transmute. The interior life needs lifting and tightening, just as our mind and muscles do. You won’t find any immediate remedy, or advertisements, or books on the subject because we’re consumers of products that change and revise only the visible tangibles. I wonder if I traded in my 11-year-old Land Rover for a new one if I’d be really happy, and for how long?
My homework for the next few weeks. Life corrections begin with edits, then revisions, and then you have a new story!
I’m sitting outside in a flowerless garden because no matter how many flowers I plant, they only last one season, if that long. The garden is erupting out of its winter coat, and lime green leaves, plants, and stalks will have to do for now. The sky that seals me in is licked with revisionary hope. The kind that comes back laundered and fresh after a chosen recess from believing in the possibility of a preferred life correction.
Behind the garden, a neighbor is drumming a soft tribal beat, and on Palace Avenue the choir is singing inside the Episcopal Church on Palace Avenue. Between these distinctive tastes, there are sparrows fluttering from fan to nest to fountain. The chattering sounds like; ‘here she comes, don’t come over here, get out of my nest, watch out for that fat crow.’
It’s a mind drift, to be caught in such UN-structured beauty, away from the manuscripts, remotes, doors, and phones. It’s like being on an island out here. Everything we bring into our experience can be revised; a work of art, a way of speaking, thinking, portraying yourself, your way of loving, or lusting, and we all know about appearance, because our society shoves it down our throat.
Look at the possibilities in revising our patterns of behavior. What we accepted twenty years ago doesn’t mean it’s carved in our organs. We can transmute. The interior life needs lifting and tightening, just as our mind and muscles do. You won’t find any immediate remedy, or advertisements, or books on the subject because we’re consumers of products that change and revise only the visible tangibles. I wonder if I traded in my eleven year old Land Rover for a new one if I’d be really happy, and for how long? Or if I flew to Los Angeles and bought cartons of antiques, hats, and perfume if I would be grinning from ear to ear.
I begin with revising the way I experience Santa Fe. I’ve lived on the outskirts, like a storm that blew in and is waiting to blow out. It seems my storm is here for now, and so I let go of the criticism and intolerances. Beginning with my favorite activity, dancing, I returned to El Farol, my chosen dance hall hullabaloo, then to La Posada across the street and mingled with an assorted group of locals, guests, and actors, (who were real as pippin apples)spent a day cruzing the ghostly town of Madrid to experience the cinematic sparseness, and walked up and down Canyon Road one morning before the shops opened, and was greeted half a dozen times by strangers out walking, uniquely different in attire, disposition and stride. I love that about Santa Fe. You don’t conform, it’s a religion here!
My homework for the next few weeks is revising the interior doors of emotion, and the exterior doors of expression. I’ve set aside the memoir, (did I mention I started that again) after a publisher suggested major rewrites and editing. I mean you have to know when to give up because you’re not going to make the team. I’m a six page essayist. If you get me into one hundred and fifty pages, I march all over the globe and lose the reader.
You guys are smart. You know all of this; I’m just learning. I am a case of insufferable arrested development. If I felt my age, which most of you know, I’d be looking at retirement brochures. Instead I’m planning on breaking into new territory. Its a joke between my dreamer self and my inner critic, but I’m not listening to the critic.
Today I swiveled in my desk chair trying to write the column I thought I was going to write. In between gazing out the window at sky scenery, I made oatmeal cookies, watched the birds, took care of business, had a hair cut, plucked at paragraphs from Anais Nin, and danced on the treadmill. The column didn’t come out of a conscious thought wave; it just rose up, after I typed the words, the throw of the dice. The odds were I’d find my way from there.
My dad the gambler, who laid a bet on everything from sports, horses, gaming, to the Academy Awards and elections, taught me many valuable lessons. He actually told me once, ‘Take a chance for heavens sake! Go out and get arrested.’ He knew the odds of that, which is why he dared me. Life corrections begin with edits, then revisions, and then you have a new story!
“It’s a way of looking at obstacles as something to overcome; of looking at
what defeats us as the monster, created by ourselves, within ourselves,by our fears and therefore dissoluble and transformable. ”