Wednesday, January 28, 2009

My House by poet Kelly Cherry

First, the hall.

On a wall in a room to the right,
a moon by Magritte hangs from a tree like a leaf.

Birds fly over the pillows.
Sunlight falls downstairs.

The study is small and scrumbled with revisions.
My bedroom is not quite masterful.

All night, and the books on their shelves are leaning
toward one another in search of meaning.


I am thinking of the ways that the writer/reader in me shows itself. Take my purse, for instance, which is stuffed with the books I am reading, my journal with a pen attached (I would never go anywhere without paper and pen), and a copy of the chapter of my novel I am editing, and of course my library card glowing through my wallet...

I have always been like this, sleeping with my journal next to my pillow in case I wake up and need to write something down, or writing in the dark at three a.m. because that's when things start to make sense, become more fluid. One of the things that I find so endearing about my friend Cindy is that she sleeps surrounded by all the books she is reading. So nurturing and cozy. They're right there in the morning when she wakes up.

My friends all know to ignore me if I stop mid-block while walking down the street with them, dragging out my notebook and jotting something down, some ribbon of thought that has just occurred to me that I can't let get away.

In my bedroom, on the floor next to my bed are three books on CD that I'm in the process of listening to: Nineteen Minutes by Jodi Picoult -- I love all her sub-plots and how she gets into her character's heads, The Last Summer (of you and me) by Ann Brashares -- I love the physicality of Alice, how Brashares documents her every movement, and The Guy Not Taken, a book of short stories by Jennifer Weiner that I have listened to over and over again, probably my favorite book of hers, a book I love because of the tenderness and good-heartedness and sweetness and humor and kindness the writer shows towards her characters.

Then there's my stack of spiritual boosks that I live by with Marianne Williamson's red and gold Illuminata on top. That book has saved my ass on many occasions.... And my French workbooks and a stack of class hand-outs. And the mystery book I'm reading. And Sheri Reynolds latest novel The Sweet In-between that I haven't started yet, but loved Firefly Cloak. And The PH Balance Diet that I try to follow, but how can anybody possibly drink ten glasses of water a day?? And keep it up? And then there's the old journals and notebooks that I never got around to putting away.

There's all the little hints that a writerly readerly person inhabits my apartment. The novels in my bookshelves with notes scribbled in the margins. The poetry books left on the bathroom floor. My messy desk. My messy kitchen table. The books next to the front door waiting to be taken back to the library. I cannot imagine a life without the simple pen, lined or unlined paper, laptop, book, and most of all, time devoted....

I'm Feeling Lucky...

I'm feeling a lot of gratitude lately. There's so many things I have to be thankful for. For one, I've got these great friends, and for another, I'm feeling a lot more accepting of people in general. This makes it possible to feel closer -- when I'm not in my head being critical then I'm freed up to love.

It surprises me that I'm developing new interests in a big way. It's about a year now that I've been learning French. At first it was just me and the page, the written word. I couldn't understand much that my teacher said or what was being said in a foreign film. Lately, however, I'm noticing a change.

When I talk to my Skype buddy in France I can actually understand him sometimes -- I can get the gist of what he's saying. I'm recognizing more and more words. I've quit taking French classes but I listen to my French podcast every night. I listen to the same thing over and over and now I don't have to be looking at the words to understand what he's saying. (It also doesn't hurt that he has one of those pheromone-producing French accents). And so I'm thinking that the next learning curve will be when I start speaking more naturally, with more confidence, in French.

I was surprised to find out today that Frederic (whose name I cannot pronounce without a lot of spitting) likes the way English sounds. That's a new one... He says English is energetic and lively (at least that's what I think he said)... I tried to see this from his perspective -- English lively? energetic? I guess if you're coming from a language that is constructed in such a way where you say the house of your mother instead of your mother's house, English might seem like a lively, short-cut language....


I am grateful that Obama is president. I am grateful that we have eye-candy in the White House, the bootylicious White House. I am grateful that he has moral integrity. And that he's said no more torture in G Bay. And I'm grateful that I have a beautiful son who takes me out to dinner and pays for my cell phone and says, "Mom, do you have everything you need?" And I'm grateful that I have another beautiful son who is raising two tweeners who is so upstanding, who highlights his daughter's hair for her. I am grateful that I have a place to live.

I am grateful for the shrimp/black bean/avocado dinner I made tonight. I am grateful for the library, and my laptop, and the cool book of poetry I'm reading.I am grateful to live in San Francisco where things are liberal....

Tuesday, January 27, 2009

Waking Up

This was one of those days when I woke up to a sunny blue sky. Thank you, global warming! You have turned my foggy Richmond district into a different neighborhood altogether. It used to be that ten days a year I got to see the blue sky. Now I get grouchy if it's overcast for more than a day or two....

I feel different. It's because of Obama. He's young, he's hip, he has a Blueberry (or is it a Blackberry?) and he listens to rap, I hear.... For so long now I haven't felt America-happy. I've felt America-ashamed. Suddenly I feel I'm back in the Kennedy era....

We're hero-hungry.

I was 14 when Kennedy was elected to office. It was the first time in my life that I felt "politically involved." That Kennedy family was athletic. They had us walking on a daily basis, doing sit-ups and push-ups. He instilled the idea of service -- what can we do for each other, what can we do for our country.... The country grew small and we all held hands.

It was a feeling. A lot of people had it. A lot of people have it now....

Sunday, January 25, 2009

My vote, so far, for the Academy Awards....

Every year before the Academy Awards, I take it upon myself to try and see as many movies up for awards as possible.

So far I've seen Milk with Sean Penn, the story of San Francisco gay supervisor Harvey Milk who was murdered along with Mayor George Moscone; The Curious Case of Benjamin Button with Brad Pitt; The Wrestler with Mickey Rourke and Marisa Tomei; and tonite with Mike and Rebecca I saw The Dark Knight which featured Heath Ledger as the Joker.

Cowabunga! This is definitely a year for outstanding performances by men. When I saw Milk I completely forgot that Sean Penn was the actor playing Harvey Milk. He was Harvey Milk! What a performance! When I went to see Benjamin Button I was blown away by Brad Pitt's performance -- what a movie, what scope, what a script, what amazing music!!! I wept non-stop during the last half hour into my wadded up kleenex. Then I saw The Wrestler, holding my hands up to my face and peeking through my fingers as heads were banged up against the ring, etc., etc.... Mickey Rourke, where have you been for the last several decades???

I ask myself -- if I was the Academy Awards and had to choose which of these three men deserved the Oscar, who would I choose? The envelope, please....

As much as I loved Sean Penn's performance, and as amazing a job that Brad Pitt did, I would have to choose Mickey Rourke. Here's why. He really got to me. I felt like I knew him, wanted to know him, could feel what he was feeling when he was standing up on the ropes, felt his heartbreaking desire to re-unite with his daughter, his up-against-the-wall dilemma of being nobody to no one except when he was in the ring. He was truly amazing!

The Dark Knight, a completely different experience. Mike and I hated it, wanted to watch something else while Rebecca hung in there for 2 1/2 hours of violence while Mike laughed at it and I played around with his new laptop for someting to do.... I couldn't stand the way Batman talked in that sore throat voice of his and did the thing have a plot??? Heath Ledger was pretty darn good as the Joker and it's fine with me if he gets a post-humous Oscar. He deserved it for Brokeback Mountain -- that was his role of a lifetime.

So Rebecca and I are going to try and see The Changeling with Angelina Jolie and I want to see Revolutionary Road but don't think I'll go see Doubt. Not my cup of tea....

I'd like to go to the Balboa Theatre on Academy Awards night, maybe even dress up this year as one of the characters and win a prize....

Onward to the movies!