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.)

Making Tea

japanese float

While my telling blows aimed off at illusory skies you made tea, today’s not at all imaginary Earl Grey.  Which is the most magical thing of all, my today friend. Not making a big to-do, making tea.  

Hélène Cixous The Book of Promethea

I’ve forgotten most of the French I knew, but I remember French class in high school with Miss Wub.  I made a lot of chamomile tea and drank it from a plastic yellow mug with Emma.  We had to choose “French names” and I remember happily slashing the accents over my chosen Thérèse on grammar quizzes.  The next year I wanted to switch to Mona but it wasn’t a French-enough name, so I became Monique Thérèse.  

Now I find myself reading translated French and wishing I could remember enough to read the original text.  I also wonder what happened to Monique Thérèse.  She was so young then, sipping her tea and juggling her bags and books, pink Doc Martens and an old army coat thrown over the chair, hair chopped and dyed, makeup too bright. 

I’m reading the submissions for Moravian’s Lebensfeld Upper Writing competition, and so far they are all beautiful.  The work might need editing, but they are so full of vulnerability and insecurity I can’t help but find them beautiful.  I tried to explain it to a coworker, the pages strewn about me in the break room, but I ended up rambling about burnt sugar coatings.   What I meant to describe with my metaphor: the golden sugar cage I made once for a cake.   I dripped the candy over a bowl and let it harden, and the cage sat above a white lilly cake I made.  At least, it was supposed to.  I don’t think it worked as intended.  But that’s what these stories are: latticed words that hover close above, touching down in places.  Easily shattered.

I know that I’m not that far away from these students.  Their work is beautiful to me because I can see all of the steps I took along the same paths, the ways I was terrified and self-delusional and egotistical and shy; the ways I still am all of those things.  

Oh Monique Thérèse.  If I could go back and tell you anything, I don’t know that I would.  You have to make your mistakes, you have to write your terrible but heartfelt poems, you have to hurt and love and dance and laugh.  And you have to forget French.  I’m sorry, but I’m not at all.  Enjoy your tea.