Love and Loss

The Olympic Sculpture Park has a sculpture of Love and Loss, the words intersecting at the letter “o”.  Part of the sculpture is a utilitarian bench, part is a painted tree, and part is missing.  The “e” is currently being restored, and the table where it  sits  has been vacant for at least a few months at this point.  The piece doesn’t look like it’s missing anything- it’s only when you start to try to piece out the words that the logic falls short.  The word cannot finish, it is caught mid-love, and we are left with loss.  But one day, maybe soon, the e will be put back onto the table and those who never knew it’s absence will notice nothing.

Is it too overbearing of a metaphor to have love caught mid-word, entangled with the complete loss? Writing about love feels sentimental to me, and yet it is something that is pervasive and ever-present and begs to be written about.  So I couch love in other terms, I examine small aspects and insert my own symbol-language to hide behind.

I was asked by a good friend what I write about, and at first I glanced off the question, If I could summerize what I write about, why would I have to write it? That’s the easy answer, and he deserved more, so I tried again. I think, for the most part, I write about the inability to connect. Would this answer surprise the people who know me outside of my text?  For all of my chatter and friendly gestures, I am not sure I exist outside myself.

Even when in love, I am unable to become You. I remain Me, separate from You.  Helene Cixous struggles with this in The Book of Promethea.  She writes: “I cannot let you fill me.  It is a matter of impossibles between us.”  Anne Carson struggles with this in Decreation as well, examining love between mother and daughter and examining love of god.  In her essay Decreation: How Women like Sappho, Marguerite Porete and Simone Weil Tell God she follows how love is the strength that destroys (yet creates) these women.  To be subsumed by love is to be destroyed.  “Marguerite Porete was burned at the stake in 1310 for writing a book about the absolute daring of love.”  I admire what she risked, how impossible it was for her to do anything else.

I’d like to still have the idealism to think that love is enough, and that if we have to burn at the end, we burn– but I am not Marguerite.

Approximation of Music

I am having difficulty.  Music is such a huge part of my life, but I can’t seem to write about it.  There’s something akin to taking a picture of a sculpture– the two dimensional space isn’t enough to capture the volume and heft.  If I could capture what music does perhaps I wouldn’t need the music.  Still, I’d like to articulate what it is to find the right song for the right moment.

Music has always been a large part of my life.  I cannot count the number of grungy loud punk and ska shows I went to in high school.  It was always more than just the music though–we piled into cars with our uncertain teenage selves and danced ourselves sweaty.  We tumbled into all night diners for french fries and muffins (and, memorably, the mixed vegatables at Louise’s. But only the once).  I met the boy who would later be a man I loved at a battle of the bands and I dyed the wall pink with my freshly colored hair the next time I saw him and the first night we really talked.  I don’t remember the bands from either night with any sort of specificity but it was always more than that.

If anything my love of music has become stronger, and the music itself matters more.  My love has evolved, as I would hope anything would over a decade.  I am no longer the girl who blasts The Aquabats and Inspecter 7.  I listen to things now that I would have never given a chance then.

I am attempting a project.  An essay of collected vignettes, moving through genres.  I have a suspicion the form will change as I work with this, but I need to convey what music is to me.  Here is an early draft of one of the sections.  At best, any of this will be an approximation.  I think a mix cd will have to accompany the finished piece.  But I’m getting ahead of myself.

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I am in the passenger side of my roommate’s car.  We have Hercules and The Love Affair on and we are singing along but the music is too loud to hear anything.  I am dancing as best I can beneath a seatbelt, writhing my body against the constraints to the heavy pulse.  We are returning home and he swings around the traffic circle at the corner by our house but instead of pulling beside to his parking spot he keeps the wheel cocked to the side and we continue to turn.  Again and again, we loop. Four, five, six times, my seat-dancing arrested with the centripetal force, my singing caught into laughter, the music vibrating down my backbone.  He finally cuts the wheel back but we aren’t returning—we are tearing up the hill and away.  At each intersection I expect another spin but he has other plans.  We crest the hill and to our left is the park, sleepy with night.  He pulls the car to a stop and as he slowly begins to K turn I think we are retreating.  Then he has pulled forward where I thought impossible.  I feel the wheels bump over the curb and the path seems too small but we fit—there are swings to our left, the dark fields to our right, the park expansive.  We should not be here, and he turns the music even louder.  I am laughing too hard to speak, the park passes on either side—this is where dogs are walked and children run and we are a car tearing through the path, the music more than can be contained within this small space, our faces lit by the dashboard light.  With a second bump we are over a curb on the opposite side, the path has spilled out and we are back on the street, careening home.

Later I ask how did you know we would fit? How did you know it wouldn’t just end in the middle of the field? and he grins. I didn’t.

Dancing Girl Press

I love the work that Kristy selects, and I’m honored to be part of the 2010 selection.  My chapbook Experiments in Light and Ether should be coming out in the summer, and I’ll give more details as I know them.  In the meantime, check out Dancing Girl Press.  Right now you can get 5 books for $20, which is quite the steal.  I suggest Kate Durbin! Sarah Gardner is also wonderful… you really just can’t go wrong with any of the DGP selections.

And I’m feeling good.

Snow is currently blanketing the East Coast, but you couldn’t know it by looking at the weather in Seattle.  It was a brilliantly sunny day today, tempered by a bit of clouds and a light drizzle towards the end.  It isn’t spring yet, but it feels like we’re at a cusp of sorts.  Or maybe it’s just me.

I’ve had a few people tell me recently that my blog is sad.  I don’t mean it to be, and I was a bit surprised that I’d come across as such.  I find so much beauty in the world, and so much joy.  I don’t discount the difficulties, but I am not overwhelmed by them.  Maybe I agree with Melville, “…there is no quality in this world that is not what it is merely by contrast. Nothing exists in itself. If you flatter yourself that you are all over comfortable, and have been so a long time, then you cannot be said to be comfortable anymore.”  I embrace what is difficult or painful because it makes the joyous things that much more vivid.

So here is a list of things for February that make me smile, because I laugh easily and often, and I don’t know that I say that enough.

Book Club, with C. P., W. B., and A. B.  When you have found a group of friends that think it’s cool to re-read Moby Dick, even though that isn’t the book for the week, you know you are lucky.  When that group also gets together every two weeks to discuss poetry and craft and writing and book stores and the finer points of gelato….

International Travel. Though I won’t be going anywhere, I get to share my city this month with a friend I wasn’t sure I’d see again.

Dancing. Thank you Tost, for having funk on Thursday nights. Thank you Seamonster, for having funk on Fridays. Thank you kitchen for having a floor that is easy to spin on and speakers for playing music I can’t help but move to. Thank you house mates for dancing with me and letting the music play loudly.

Photo booths. A certifiable weakness, I will spend the three dollars without fail, and walk away happy every time, especially with good friends crammed in beside me.

To conclude, here is something to make you (dear reader!) smile. I take myself seriously, I know.  But that does not mean I’m afraid to laugh at myself as well.