Sundazzled

“Kinds of water drown us.” – Anne Carson

It’s been too long since I’ve read something that jolted me alive again.  I love book club, and I truly appreciate the work that I have to do with each book, but sometimes I want to read something that jolts me a bit more.  So I’ve begun re-reading Anne Carson, and I’m currently digging through her collection Plainwater.

To read Anne Carson is to read about love, and I think she has helped me figure out why I continually write love poems.  (And of course, to write about love is to write about death, every poem is about death, but that’s an entirely different discussion for another time).  I don’t understand love.  Yes, I have loved.  It would be hurtful and lying to say otherwise.  Still, there is something about the way Carson describes love– as a void and the opposite of a void.  As fire and water.  As complete loneliness because you have seen your other half and it is still removed– there is a body in the way, no matter how much you love the body.  Maybe her love is really obsession, and it’s a good thing that I haven’t found it yet.  But Carson writes about love as though she has been through the fire and survived but is still smoldering and might yet succumb to her wounds. But hasn’t yet.  And how glorious the burn.  It’s the almost-but-not-quite that’s so alluring to me.

I don’t have a satisfactory summation and conclusion to this.  My thoughts move like the microclimates of Seattle.  Because this morning it was sunny and clear with a cool breeze, now it’s grey and brooding.  Always in flux. Tonight may be clear and warm, may be stormy and wet.  I want and I don’t-want.

Tea and Friends

I’m starting to really love going to Kuan Yin for meetings.  It’s always the same girl behind the counter and she’s always friendly but not in a chipper way.  The tea smells wonderful, and after a day of drinking coffee and keeping myself awake at work, Lemon Verbena is perfect.  There’s something about meeting at a Place that makes things feel more productive for me.  Perhaps it’s the glass table tops, or the way other people’s conversations spill around the corners of your own.

Most recently I met with the wonderful Carrie Purcell to talk about her book. (I can’t wait to hold it in my hands when it comes out, because I’m sure the finished collection will find a home.)  I haven’t worked with a collection in a long time, so it was wonderful to look at arcs and lyric lines and themes again.  It was a long meeting, and I came home both exhausted and exhilarated.  Carrie also helped me think through a few things, and I think I am very lucky to have met her.

The Poetry Northwest release party was a wonderful affair, and I got to see not only old friends, but some new ones as well.  I met Abby volunteering for the Hugo House a while back and everyone should read her blogging for the Hugo House and say hi to her, or to girls you think might be her.  (There was a confusing evening where I insisted to a girl that she’d just been to Iceland and that she knew me.  She used to take the bus with me, she was not the girl I knew, but it took me a day for the faces and names to click properly…. more on that story if you want it.)  It was nice to talk to her and not have to juggle a ticket basket and stacks of programs, though that was fun too.  The night was full of music and a bit of reading and people I throughly enjoy.

I return to tutoring tomorrow, and then a weekend of volunteering at the Hugo House and dinner with my family (house) and family (blood).  It’s raining again, and my legs are still vividly bruised from climbing, but these are things that aren’t problems.  So I bruise easily, so it’s wet outside.  It isn’t going to stop me.

(Photo borrowed from my Scottish friend, I hope he doesn’t mind.  It’s a funny time difference, so I can’t exactly call him to ask.)

Firsts

I am continually thankful for my family here in Seattle.  Perhaps it isn’t giving myself enough credit, to think I couldn’t have made it without Lou and Dave, but I don’t think I’ll ever be able to thank them enough for all of their help and kindness and general amazing everything.  This weekend they invited me out to Whidbey Island to spend time in a friend’s cabin.  What a restorative few days.

Lou and I took a walk the first evening along the water, and I found a few pieces of sea glass.  As tends to happen, part of our conversation circled back to when my grandmother, her mother, was dying in New Jersey.  Just about the entire extended family was able to make it to the hospital within hours of her turning blue in the elevator.  I don’t remember driving there from college, but I remember walking into the hospital room.  I also remember my grandmother, awake and lucid, rubbing the fabric of my new long sleeve running shirt between her fingers and complimenting it.  (I know I will wear it to threads before getting rid of it, just because of this.)  None of us slept and I played endless rounds of gin rummy with my uncles, I knit with my sister and mother and aunts.

I think of now, and how far away I am, and how difficult it would be for me to return.  I love Seattle, and I’m afraid if I were to leave I might not be able to come back.  As of May 1st I will have been living in the co-op for a full year, and each day I fall in love with the skyline of downtown or the black and yellow tulips or the cat climbing over our fence.  Sometimes it takes leaving a place to realize just how much it means, and getting out of town was a nice way to look back at where I am and know that I am truly happy here.

Of course, there were more firsts this weekend.  Fresh asparagus from Carrie’s garden and a Doctor Who slumber party, a Welcome the Grey Whale parade with more observers than participants, a friend’s daughter running grinning into my arms as the sound laps at the rocky beach.  A dull push mower and a slightly sharper push mower and the satisfaction of clearing at least a little bit of the lawn.  Teaching my green curry recipe and learning to play hearts.

Now I am reading Wislawa Szymorska for my book club, with another book at the ready and poems for the Bodie project finally started.  Incense is curling into the air of my room and my body is slightly sore from an after-work run in the spring rain.  My roommate will be making tuna melts when he gets back from work, I will pour myself a glass of wine.  How did I end up here, so lucky, so happy?

Not From Around Here

Seattle is a place of transplants. The Heroes show, last night and tonight at the Jewel Box Theater in Belltown (inside Rendezvous… but that’s another story) explores the idea of Not From Around Here in six personal essays where writers and artists and musicians collaborate to map out their own experiences within this city and others.

Maybe I’m partial, but Carrie Purcell’s segment was my favorite.  Her piece interwove third person personal essay and the history of the King Cello with cello music by Hana Mareckova, It was beautiful, and I’m very glad I stuck around Belltown to attend.  The place was packed into the aisles and everyone seemed to enjoy themselves.

1110092104It’s refreshing to be reminded that other people aren’t from around here either. That they have the same difficulties that I do, that they have the same worries.  Why did I come out here, is this really what I thought my life would be, how did I end up doing this thing?  Seattle is starting to be my home, not just a place I am staying, and I like that.  My housemate this morning mentioned something to the same affect- that I am taking ownership of certain things in the house were before, I was tentative.  I think I have little patience for tentative action now.  I want grand gestures, I want exclamations and affirmations.  I want things put in containers and not just open glasses placed on a shelf in the fridge.

I also continually want to share this place. I am not from around here, but I claim this as my own. I want to show you the rain slicked streets, the light refracting off of the ground. I want to show you the crack along the horizon as the sun sets and the rain clears for just a moment.  I want you to smell the perfume and sweat on the bus, to see the leaf as it blows twelve stories above the ground past the office window. I want you to hear the rain dripping through the ceiling and pinging off of the displays in the Great Gallery. I want you to leap over dips in the sidewalk with me, I want you to dance in the kitchen with me, to laugh with me as I tumble down the stairs.

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Welcome May

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Yesterday I ducked low beneath cherry blossoms, an arbor over the sidewalk like a portal into another place.  The irises are beginning to bloom, the tulips exploding with the last of their strength, stamens like bits of char at the center.  I even see California poppies, though we are no where near California.  The sun is too hidden to be mistaken for California.  Then again, my California is a southern one; smog covered, hot and burning.  The ash here is of a more dangerous sort- mountain ash, volcano ash.  Vancouver, Vancouver, this is it.  

I battled rain and wind, after the archway of blossoms.  My umbrella a sail; comedic.  The gusts pushing me into laughter.  What else are you supposed to do; wind torn, drenched, a black sail pointed and threatening to carry me across the street?  I dissolved into gazelle laughter.  Leaping.

By the time I reached my bus stop my shoes were frothing.  Animal shoes, hungry for distance. A detail that reads as false but no, my shoes frothed.  Sometimes the truth is entertaining enough to refuse embellishment.  (There was a good reason, but I will let the reason remain hidden.  I have to keep something hidden, and why not why my shoes frothed? It is a silly detail, a superflous detail. And you don’t need to know all of my reasons.) 

 

[Again, this is taken from text written at work.  Lovely day at MoF actually.  Usually no better than a chair, or another placard with information sprawled on its surface, today I was a Person with Ideas and Thoughts to at least a few patrons.  Maybe something was in the water, maybe it’s the spring time. Also, I need to read some more Robert Burns.  After a quite pleasant conversation I find myself yearning for some words from the other side of the ocean.]