Friday, 6 March 2009

moving on

According to my horoscope for the year, 2009 holds a great rush of change, a renaissance going on within me, that will require me to step up to each challenge and dive in with everything I’ve got.

I take this all very seriously, and so, right now, I am gathering all this stuff I’ve learned, and I’m trying to somehow pull together a plan that might propel me into this new life that looks so unlike the old one.  

We are moving from where we are now in two weeks. We will be in California for a few months before heading to somewhere like Austin. I have been trying so hard to come up with a way to tell about this time here in Mexico but I tend to lose the ability to string words together when I'm attempting to tell a story that is not yet finished. Living here has changed everything. I still feel like I’m dreaming. I’ll let some time pass before I dig to get to the bones of it. I’ll have a story to tell.

I used to think that at the age I am now, I would have it all figured out, and now that I’m here, I see how complex being alive can be and I am still so full of questions. Nothing is ever so easy as those little moments when everything feels beautiful and real except for those little moments when everything feels beautiful and real.

It’s really not so bad. The questions used to scare me. The complexity was overwhelming. But those instances, when light shines down into an idea and fills it with some sort of truth, tap into the same source that brings me to those dark, dark nights. Age has taught me to appreciate all of it. It’s what makes my life worth living.

So, okay, I’m here, trying to lay out a story that fits neatly into the frame I’ve built for it, but I’ve failed. This is what I’ve got to give. 

Monday, 9 February 2009


Right at this very moment I am looking outside at the towels hanging on the clothesline in the front yard and thinking about how it is that I am here. By here I mean, all of this: this place, this perspective, these circumstances. 

Sometimes, I’m a little shocked by the level of risk that is needed in order to live a life that makes any sort of sense to me. I am a planner, a big time worrier, and a person who procrastinates for unimaginable lengths of time(It took me twenty-six years to come out as queer. Thirty, to come out as a writer*), but when I think real hard and deep about what it is that I need to do, anything less that diving head first into a deep ocean of unknown, leaves me feeling empty. 

Once that risk is taken, the whole thing leads me to these odd situations that feel like dreaming. Strange and beautiful things happen when intuition is followed, but these strange and beautiful things feel so far away from everything I was taught to believe. 

I listen to the Universe/the small still voice/whatever the source all of this is, and I feel so human. What is this ugly system that is set into place on this lovely planet doing here? I don’t think I’m fundamentally different from any other person here, but I do think we all sit on this sliding scale of authenticity, and that I attempt to sit as close to honest as possible. 

What is so scary about telling our own truths anyway?

What would happen if everyone, all at once, decided to say what was really on their mind and do the exact thing that they wanted to do?

I think it would probably be wonderful. 

*Some people say that a person is not a writer until they achieve some level of writerly “success,” but I don’t see it that way. It is all I think about. That counts for something.  

Wednesday, 28 January 2009

waking up

What is it that drives me? What is it that slows me down? 

This is a question I ask myself. Knowing the answer to it doesn’t make the struggle between  these parts of me any easier, though.

It’s a complex thing, all colorful and textured, with layers and layers of things like history and pain. The things that drive me stem from exactly what slows me, so to pick it apart, analyze and make sense of it all, seems daunting and stupid. 

I have spent almost my whole life severely creatively blocked. I look back on journal entries from the last few years and see pages and pages that look like dead trees, all bare and thirsty. I think about the years before that, the years I was a teenage mother, and then a wife. I was so far away from what I wanted for myself. I made my home my only creative outlet because it was acceptable and didn’t require honesty. 

It has only been months. It’s even scary to say it here because it feels so fragile. 

It is easy to blame it on the fact that I’m a mother. I wake up in the morning and the house rumbles until the kids are in bed. There is always someone to attend to, something to be done. But my kids are not what slows me down. 

If writing happens in the hours between eight a.m. and nine p.m. it rushes to me in this sort of wild, focused race to get it all out on the paper. This happens when I am not blocked. When this happens, everything looks bright. 

On the days that I can see things clearly, it’s all beautiful. Even the struggle. I spent my childhood always in books, writing and directing plays in my best friend’s front yard, filling up journals with stories and poems. It has been with me all this time, hiding out, taking the back seat so that I, a sensitive human, could survive some particularly painful years. 

The clarity isn’t always present, though. I have to tell myself almost every day that it’s here, in my mind,  and that it’s not going to just leave me forever, frozen--hand holding a pencil over a blank sheet of paper. 

Thursday, 22 January 2009

nocturnal creatures (I wrote this last night)


Here I am. Another night writing at one in the morning. I am up late, warmed by the glow of my laptop in a black room, silent for the first time since morning. I’ve been doing this a lot, keeping my eyes wide, long past bedtime, getting glimpses of old ghosts, ghosts I used to avoid in any way possible. 

Stay in brightly lit rooms. 
Surround myself with people. 
Always have music playing or a book in my hand, go to bed early and never ever be silent with myself.

They are less likely to show their faces if I keep myself busy, but on nights like this, they peek around corners. I see them and say, “Hey you. Why don’t you come out? I think that maybe we should  have a conversation.”

I decided to stop avoiding them, and these are the hours that all this can happen. My nights feel like islands. I sit alone. It’s something I have to do in order to be myself. 


There is a mouse in the house that I live in. He stays rolled up in his little mouse den carved somewhere into a wall by day, but at night he runs from bookcase to pile of paper to kitchen while I type. I like his silent company.


Everything I have read about the creative life seems to say the same thing. I want to know the answer to these questions: How do I make the time to write? How do I find the energy it takes to search for it? And how do I distinguish the real from all the noise?  

The answer is always very clear: There is no answer, or, maybe, there is. The answer is: You just do it. 

I think, the key is to believe. Art, in any form, is a matter of intention. That’s all I can do. Live with that in mind. 

Sunday, 18 January 2009

gender shmender

I guest blogged here about gender:

Carrotquinn has a really inspiring and entertaining blog and I appreciate the opportunity to have something of mine there.

Go check it out!

on being alone

I have always been alone.

Take Kindergarten: I have little bits of memory, carved at the back of my mind from my first days of school. I can almost feel my six year old self reaching out, searching for a look of recognition reflected in the lights of other’s eyes. 

There is the pretty girl with the dark bangs cut bluntly halfway up her forehead. There is the boy that all the girls chase at lunchtime every single day. I watch her eat french fries. I tell a joke. He rolls his eyes at me.  

I go through my list of dreamy snapshots from that time and I can’t remember a single moment that I didn’t feel the crush of isolation. 

Fast forward to seventh grade. My parents are in the last stages of splitting up and I cover my head with a pillow every night to muffle their screaming. My mom’s best friend has just died of AIDS. I decide to stop eating when I’m hungry to see how long I can let the acids burn at the lining of my stomach. At school I sit on a bench by myself with the heaviness of the entire world on my shoulders. I stay like this until halfway through the year when a group of grunge kids take me under their wings. One girl reads me stories she’s penned herself that involve a lot of knives and blood. Her rebellion is beautiful and it scares me. I keep myself closed tight but they still love the person that I am. I live through their creative expressions. They are artists and I am nothing. They will be my support by just being themselves, scribbling Nirvana lyrics on their jeans, and I will survive because of them. 

Now it’s my first year of high school. My grandpa has just died and I don’t feel anything. My cousin dies and I don’t feel this either. My mother moves away and I am just fine. I starve myself, living off a fucked up diet of white rice an red vine licorice. I ditch my friends from Jr. High and hem my skirts at a length high up my thigh. The empty attention I get from men is the only thing that feeds the enormous vacant space in my chest. 

It’s a month into my sophomore year and I’m pregnant. I decide I will be the best mother I can be and continue to go to school, tiny and round, with a load of books on my back. I get transferred to a “continuation school”(a nice sounding term for “school for knocked up teens and other fuck-ups”)  and I get a job. My friends are around but who wants to hang out with a breastfeeding, tired as hell, mother when there are parties to go to and cigarettes to be smoked? I spend my days and nights watching Barney and playing card games with my boyfriend who does not understand me. 

Here I am on my wedding day. I turned twenty a couple months ago. The father of my child has stuck around. I show my appreciation by giving up every dream I’ve ever had. We stand in front of all our family and friends and I pretend that this is exactly what I want. He is one of my very best friends, yes, but there is an entire sky full of possibility outside these windows that I am choosing to shut out. I am under the impression that there are only two sides to every question and that the question must always be answered. No one knows how I feel and that puts me at an even greater distance. 

I am twenty-six. I’m a mother to three now and I make the most spectacular chocolate cake. My house smells like cinnamon and I fill it with warm colors. I sit at my window wishing that my children had a better mom because all I can think about is dying. I pencil half poems in my journal and cry into my coffee for hours at a time. I have friends who live scattered in other parts of the country and they tell me to keep on living. They tell me there are reasons to wake up every day. 

It’s my twenty-seventh birthday and I am celebrating it by splitting up with my husband. I allow this to be an opportunity to dive head first into who I really am and come out to my family and friends. I freefall into the wildest, rawest depression I’ve ever known. I date women who get off on my naivety. My history is nothing to them. I am caught between two worlds. 

Here is twenty-nine. I am about to move to Mexico with my girlfriend, my ex-husband, his girlfriend, and our kids. I have a feeling this girl and I are not going to last. I look back on the last two years and wonder what kept us together. I have changed and feel just under the surface of something amazing. I begin to see that I have always been alone and that I always will be. I start to peel back the layers of so much bullshit.

Now I’m thirty. I break up with my girlfriend and feel weightless. I’m a little shocked from the sudden unraveling of all that has kept me together and I stumble to find some ground. I see that there is someone I’ve neglected for quite some time. I decide to make friends with myself. 

I am happy for the first time in my life.

Saturday, 17 January 2009

an introduction

I figure I should open this blog with an introduction, and an explanation as to why I desire to write about my self, my thoughts, about the things I do and have done, and post them here on the internet for anyone to see. 

I seem to have a hard time with these kinds of things. Questions like, “Who are you.”? always have me scrambling to come up with some magic two minute monologue that sums me up. I think humans are more complex than that. I know I am. 

Today I was at the park with two of my kids. My eight year old daughter was high up in a tree. My five year old son stood at the bottom holding a long thin branch he had found on the ground. As he called her names, trying his hardest to poke her with the stick, both of them making a whole lot of rowdy noise, I read this passage from "An Expedition to the Pole" by Annie Dillard:

Wherever we go, there seems to be only one business at hand--that of finding workable compromises between the sublimity of our ideas and the absurdity of the fact of us.

And I realized that this is where I see my self and this is why I write. It’s that energy, that something, that has me moving down this path I have chosen, trying to exist within this strange body, this life, the limits of time and circumstance. How do I make sense of it? 

I have always loved the power of a story. The personal histories of strangers intrigue me. When I think of the now, I think of the whole life I’ve lived so far, tucked under my arm, like a book. 

Listing facts about me always feel so empty: I grew up in the most conservative part of California full of Christian guilt. I had my first child at sixteen. I was married for seven years, having two more kids during that time. I came out as a dyke at twenty-six. I moved to Mexico just five months ago. We home school the kids. 

I want to dig deep. Lay it all out in this space. Find that workable compromise.