Saturday, January 24, 2009

The Proposal

A little piece I wrote this morning after sleeping for 10 hours in a fevered state and dreaming about dirty bathrooms and heroin needles (neither of which appear in this story or really have anything to do with this story at all - that I know of anyway...)

The Proposal

We each took a bite of the shiny green apple before throwing it over the cliff. My stomach flip-flopped as the apple hit tree branches and brush and disappeared into the rushing stream. The proposal was sealed. He had pocked the apple from the fancy grocery store that I only hoped to be able to shop in one day. We were driving, aimlessly across the country and stopped to pee in a nice place where we could also manage a few pieces of food into a bag, a pocket. We had driven away from that place with its perfect fruit and crunchy shop keepers, acting normal, driving not too fast or slow, getting away with food to last for two, maybe three days. Those places were always better then trying to lift at a place in the city. Convenience store clerks were alert, suspicions, but the kids with their dreadlocks and brown earth shoes didn’t suspect us to be lifting right from under their nose. We looked clean, uncomplicated.

The proposal was dramatic. He liked drama and acted upon it, even though he said he abhorred it. We had emptied our pockets at the next rest area. The inventory was good, mostly fruit as that was easy to spirit, but I had managed a bag of all natural nitrate free beef jerky as well as a huge soft orange lump of some kind of cheese I couldn’t pronounce the name of. He had gotten olives and crackers. We had what he called an “anti-pasta” feast ready for us. He was holding something back, but I couldn't tell what and I wasn’t sure I wanted to know. I hoped it was tampons, Ever since my mom had figured out I was a “grown up girl” I was allowed to use hers. I was always afraid I’d have to go back to using wadded toilet paper like I had been using before she figured it out, but I wasn’t even sure fancy stores like that carried tampons. I thought maybe they had bad stuff in them, maybe even nitrates.

We drove on, getting off the highway before it turned into a toll rode. It was mid-afternoon, a clear January day where the sun hung in the sky like a left over Christmas ornament. We were in Massachusetts, someplace I had barely even heard of except in history class where we had just learned it was one of the thirteen original colonies. We were headed south to warmer places where sleeping in the car wouldn’t mean certain death. We had been in Maine staying at a seemingly abandoned summer cabin. We had been there, chopping firewood and eating the store of canned goods for a while before the owner showed up for an ice fishing trip. We gave him two stories simultaneously, but he wasn’t the kind to believe anything, not even the truth. He didn’t call the police but he did say that if he ever saw us again he would shoot us on sight. I think he was softened a bit by my wood chopping. I had stacked enough wood for three winters. I had always loved chopping wood. It was my job at home; my little brother couldn’t manage the axe like I could. The hard rhythmic motion and growing pile of accomplishment made me feel grown up. He never chopped wood; he never did anything remotely close work. I was chopping wood when he took me. If I had been doing anything else I might have been saved.

He shouted at me at me as he pulled the car over about how great this place was he was going to show me, his voice strident and impatient. He had grown up near here, the view was great. I had to think hard to see him as anything other then what he was now. He was so big and hard, so intense. I got tired trying to imagine him as a little boy. The shoulder was wide, snow pushed off the road into the ditch. We left the car, being careful to lock it. I looked back at it as we tromped through the woods. I didn’t want to leave it there, it looked so lost, but he dragged me forward, urging me along with words and force. The trees broke and we were standing at the top of a cliff, a wide-open valley one hundred feet below us. Stunted trees and low brush clung to the side of the rocky face, a stream rushed by below swirling around chunks of rock covered by snow. He pulled on my hand and I thought he meant for us to jump. I would have too, without any urging, I would have closed my eyes and leapt right from where we were standing. I didn’t see any point not to, but he wasn’t jumping he was on one knee holding out to me a shiny green apple, store sticker still on it, I remember the tiny white sticker had a red boarder and said “Extra Fancy”. His face was even with mine and I tried to loose my gaze in that sticker instead of look into his brown, red-rimmed eyes.

He said things which I don’t remember, things that seemed both sweet and scary and out of touch. He talked about love and how I had changed him, how he could count on me and I on him. He said it all while holding the apple close to my lips, holding it up like a torch, a torch I almost felt the heat of against the pressing January air. He demanded I take a bite and I did and then he did and together we threw the apple off the cliff. I thought about how hungry I was for that apple and now it was gone. It seemed sacrilege to throw it over the edge; we might not be able to eat an apple for a long long time, if ever. In spite of my hunger for it, I could not chew or swallow the piece I had bitten off, instead, I quietly spit it into my hand and put it in my pocket as he was hugging me and crying and saying he would make this world our world and give me everything I ever wanted. He would buy me as many apples as I could eat. Hell, he would buy me an apple farm that would grow a thousand different kinds of apples and we would have apple pie and applesauce. He repeated all of the apple dishes he could think of as we trudged back to the car. I thought of the movie where a man repeated all of the different things you could make with shrimp until he was killed. I thought about dying a lot.

We could see the car when he stopped and pushed me against a tree, lifting me into a better position so that his knees wouldn’t strain and creek while he pumped into me. He had brought me to Wal-Mart right after he took me and bought me two skirts a plaid one and a black one and I wasn’t allowed to wear anything else. No underwear, not even the tattered training bra my mother had bought me two years ago, which was too small anyway but it was the only thing I had. I thought about the piece of apple in my pocket and how cold the air was on my thighs. The tree was warmer then the air but scrapped me up and down.

I always kept my eyes open but I had never looked into his eyes before, mostly I stared at his chest or at the sheets or floor depending on how he did it. But today I looked into his eyes, his doughy face slightly red from the cold and the exertion. I saw the blackheads littering his nose and a scar on his check I didn’t know he had. I think it unnerved him that I was staring at him. At first he was joyful, triumphant but that quickly turned to contempt and perhaps a little fear. He threw me roughly to the ground where I crumpled and lay unresisting as he finished himself off onto my face and into my hair. He shoved himself back into his brown wool pants and hauled me to the car dragging me by my stringy hair complaining that I wasn’t tight enough for him when I should have been the tightest I’d ever been considering the special day. He threw me against the car and let me drag myself into the back seat and lay down. He threatened to try the other hole next time as I lay there watching the tops of the trees pierce the transparent blue sky. He peeled out too fast, bumping us back onto the road, doing a tight fast u-turn. I didn’t bother to wipe my face or ask why we were going back the way we came. He had done this before in the weeks I had been with him, suddenly changing his mind. He didn’t keep me in his counsel. I stuck my hand in my coat pocket and fingered the bit of apple that was there feeling the pulpy wet side and the cool slick side. West, he said after several miles, West to find you that apple farm.

Friday, January 23, 2009

I, the Divine, Rabih Alameddine

In grad school we had to produce 3-5 pages of critical writing a week on a book we were assigned. This meant that we read a book a week and handed in a small critical papers about each work. I like the idea of this because it turns that fluffy novel you are reading into something important and you tend to gravitate towards books that you can actually say something about. When I look back on the vast amount of critical writing I did (which is a very structured style so different from my personal writing or fiction writing) I remember the books quite fondly and the different levels at which I had to read them. Since most of the papers are quite short and focus on one theme within the book, they don't give a good clue to the emotional connection I had to that book.

There are a few stand out books that I read in order to produce these papers and "I, the Divine" was one of them. This book of beginnings came at a time where I was, possibly for only the second time ever, doing something completely my own and for me. I did not realize what emotional upheaval this would cause and I was literally in the middle of it when I read this book. I remember thinking when I read it that my life too was a series of first chapters - beginnings - I just didn't realize at the time how very close together those beginnings would be.

Here is the paper I wrote - a little dry, wholly unemotional (as, I am told, good critical papers should be) and a bit mediocre as they go (can't hit a home run with ever grad school diatribe)

Please go out and read this book - actually read all of his books

I, the Divine by Rabih Alameddine

A juxtaposition of form against content is how Alameddine experiments in I, the Divine. By giving the reader successive first chapters in a supposed failed attempt by the subject and fictitious author, Sarah Nour el-Din to write her memoir, Alameddine gives the reader a cunning story within a story while propelling the novel with partially revealed substance. I, the Divine subtly states information by mentioning items in one chapter, but leaving them out in the next. However, even though this information is missing, the reader is still aware of the prior chapters, which leads to a deeper understanding of the novel.
The novel opens, as all novels do, with Chapter One. However, each succeeding chapter is similarly named. For the first few chapters the content really does feel like a Chapter One might feel. The old content is either discarded or expounded upon for subsequent chapters. The reader gets newly pulled into each Chapter as though they were opening a fresh new title. What the reader learns, however, becomes subtlety more important as the book proceeds. The form of the successive first chapters gives way to the emotional and physical content of the narrative and to what is retained by the reader allowing the “First Chapters” to become much more then an introduction.
A good example of what the reader learns and retains, which makes for greater understanding later, is the story of how the author Sarah, born in Lebanon, gets such an unusual name. This story also gives insight into her family and her own character. Chapter One on page one starts “My grandfather named me for the great Sarah Bernhardt. He considered having met her in person the most important event of his life.” This seems like a relatively benign start though it is the very first First Chapter and the reader does learn that one of the most important things in her grandfather’s life becomes somewhat of a definition of her life as well. Then in Chapter One on page fifty-nine the reader, though this is also a first chapter, finds out a bit more. “I grew up infatuated with Sarah Bernhardt, having been named after her by my grandfather. My stepmother considered this obsession, for what is was, to be dangerous. She objected to my grandfather filling my head with stories of the great actress, thinking they would lead me astray.” This tells the reader that the stepmother is somewhat at odds with the grandfather. That information is more resonant with the reader because they have also found out that the grandfather finds that meeting to be a defining moment in his life. This sets tension that would, if these really were first chapters, would not be present in the same way. The reader is then treated with further knowledge of the author Sarah’s standing with her grandfather in Chapter One on page seventy-seven “My grandfather, Hammoud, named me for the great Sarah Bernhardt. He was infatuated with her. Since he chose my name, stamped me, I immediately became his favorite granddaughter.” This information sets the stage for even further tension and conflict within the family unit. Other first chapters go on to teach the reader that the stepmother is a true outsider to the family and that the grandfather, who is her father’s father, is somewhat tyrannical and mean to everyone except the granddaughter he named which gives her a special place in the family but one that is not appreciated by her stepmother or her sisters.
The primary interest in the form of first chapters is that the content is not only constantly changing but also building upon itself. Even though the story of how the author Sarah got her name begins the novel and is interspersed throughout the text as First Chapters on their own and parts of other chapters, there are several other important stories that the reader is reintroduced to in succeeding chapters but still learns something different with every “first”. Not just the content but also the form itself gives further insight into the character. A sense she has had many false starts. Perhaps a sense she is not sure where her life is going or that she is unable to tie her disparate feelings together.
The penultimate First Chapter starting on page 277, like the first First Chapter is a story about her name and ties both the form and content together in a neat package allowing the reader to feel like they’ve come full circle within the narrative. It brings in each of the major aspects brought up in each successive naming chapter plus new details that let the reader look at the incident in a new way but a way informed by the previous content. “When my grandfather saw me for the first time … he greeted me with. ‘Welcome to my world, my little Sarah.’”
These successive first chapters successfully weave content through the form allowing the reader to gather meaning while still being confronted with new substance. Propelled by substance yet immersed on form I, the Divine is a perfect balance of a story within a story.

Tuesday, January 20, 2009

Secret Playground

I have the urge to go to the secret playground today - rather strange, but perhaps this stillness that I feel would be extended out if I were there.

I can see what it is like - feel the cold air on my face as I swing back and forth. the crunch of the snow (which must be several inches thick by now) is a sweet sound.

Nothing profound - likely I am just missing home

Monday, March 12, 2007

One year after he left

1 year later - I still wake up crying sometimes. I still think of the sweet things and the scary things. I can't get 100% righted in my own mind. I think of "I" too much and also not enough.

Bill collectors call - and no matter how many times I say - he left me, we're divorced - stop calling me at work, they keep right on. They tell me things I don't want to know. If I hang up, they call right back. One guy named "Paul" told me his story, his wife did the same thing. Took off one day and didn't call him for days. When she did call she was in Atlantic City (They lived in Colorado at the time). He hadn't slept, thought she had been kidnapped or worse. She was laughing when she called. "right out of a movie" he said "She tells me, she's gone to do something for herself for once." He hears her talking in hushed tones to someone. He is frantic, like I was and sometimes still am. It was the same for him. he saw her once after that, in the office of a lawyer just like me.

Paul, I am sorry for you. I am sorry that you became a bill collector to find her. It's a story I will write after I am done writing my own. I am sorry she moved in with that man, had his children when she didn't want yours. I am sorry it was really about him when she said over and over again it was for herself. Paul - read last year, how desperate I was, how sad and blind sided. Read that and know there are others for whom pain becomes a blanket. Then throw that off, it's no good - they don't think of you like you think of them. The longing is not there for them. They have a dark spot, a blind spot a spot with no feeling towards you. It eats up all of that energy you send to them and turns it around, crunches it in teeth made of glittery broken glass and swallows it down.

Of course I can't take my own advice - I still spend too much energy on him on them

I asked the Tarot reader if his life was better now - if he had made the right decisions - Looks like neither was really right - but - as the tarot reader said - Honey this is your life, you can't be doing Tarot for someone else. Let go

Here's hoping that this is the year of letting go, of finding my own path rather then following that of his. Taking what I've learned being Edrie and molding it into a stroang and creative force that will drive the rest of my life.

The Tarot reader laid down these cards - they are for him, but they could have been for me too:

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The Two Paths spread provides insight into an important decision the possible outcomes, and the forces that draw you towards each of these outcomes. The Curious Tarot is the rarest and most unusual of modern decks. The cards form a surreal collage of American consumer imagery, eerily capturing the archetypes of the atomic age. It is the deck of those who seek to harness the ancient tribal energy that courses through the modern urban world.
Click for DetailsThe top left card represents the first possible outcome. Queen of Cups, when reversed: The dark essence of water, such as a deep and foreboding lake: Discomfort with the worlds of mind and matter, leading to a retreat to the spiritual. The embrace of negative relationships, driven by the desperate fear of being alone. Devotion to fantasies and daydreams, to the exclusion of practical skills or the pursuit of knowledge. Insecurity leading to dishonor, vice, and undue susceptibility to outside influences.
Click for DetailsThe top right card represents the second possible outcome. The Star, when reversed: Lost hopes, doubt and failure. Physical health and mental outlook lost in the outer darkness. Desperation leading to blind faith in false solutions.
Click for DetailsThe middle left card represents the force drawing you towards the first possible outcome. Page of Swords: The essence of air behaving as earth, such as a steady wind: The approach of an unexpected challenge, to be met with clear thought and just action. A person filled with an eager appetite for all matters of mind and logic. The gathering of information through unfaltering vigilance, careful examination, and subtle spycraft. The use of reason or eloquent speech to penetrate the veil of confusion and cut to the heart of the matter.
Click for DetailsThe middle right card represents the force drawing you towards the second possible outcome. The Emperor, when reversed: Weakness in character leading to tyranny and abuse of worldly power. Loss of confidence and ambition, coupled with the cold execution of the unthinkable. The inability to carry out plans or command respect. Being unreasonable and prone to fits of rage. A deceiver or demagogue.
Click for DetailsThe bottom card represents the critical factor that decides what will come to pass. The Fool, when reversed: Apathy, negligence, and dangerous carelessness. Unquenchable wanderlust. Obsession with someone or something. Losing all sense of proportion. Foolhardy adventuring and lack of interest in critical matters. Immature or unrealistic ideals. Strange impulses and desires coming from unexpected sources. Vanity, delirium, folly, and oblivion.

Sunday, February 04, 2007


So most of my recent posts have been on MySpace! Find me there if your curious about the preset - this is mostly past

Sunday, December 31, 2006

For all we have been through and all that is to come

For all we have been through and all that is to come

I am typing up the script for the wedding of two of my favorite people in the world. Never underestimate the joy of a wedding. Even though it was incredibly hard for me to attend my sister’s wedding – I got over my own personal issues and looked at the joy of the moment rather then the baggage I was brining to the situation. I never thought I would even say the word wedding again, much less attend and be joyous at two of them in the same year.

Both the wedding of my sister and the wedding of these two kind and courageous people are “non-traditional”. My sister had a “festivis spectacular” at the renaissance fair. All costumed and corseted the guests reveled amongst the merry folk while we celebrated a love and engagement that was longer then both of my marriages (oops, that one was about me again – sorry) But seriously. My sister’s wedding was beautiful and perfect for them. Their wedding represented them as a couple and it made the guests feel the joy of a wedding and the joy of their relationship.

The wedding I will be officiating tonight (yes, I have the power vested in me!!!) is similar in the fact that the love is strong and the family supportive and that it is also “non-traditional” but it is different as well. This wedding will be catered by the bride herself (lucky for all of us as she is an incredible cook and hostess). It will also take place at the furtive hour, or rather the stroke after since legally it must be performed on 1/1/07. And the wedding will be in the apartment they will share with each other. But this wedding is no less about joy and no less about celebrating the joy of the relationship of this couple. It will be as sweet and as beautiful because love is like that as are the ways we show each other that love.

Someone said to me yesterday that she often felt too old to learn. Granted it was in the context of learning highly complex post-grad level data crunching (which frankly I’m not too old to learn, I just never could). But the truth is if we want to learn, we will. And actually sometimes even if we don’t want to, we will. Take weddings. After the two failed ones I have had, in truth, even before the latest one to fail really failed… I said I would never get married again. And in fact I (as short sighted and emotionally damaged people often do – and man am I one of those) swore off relationships all together.

But slowly – and thanks to these two weddings and seeing people I love very much bond their love to each other with a show to the world of their seriousness… I am slowly getting back to the idea that a relationship is a good thing. The jury is still out on actual weddings (in relation to having one of my own), but if my Tarot card readings of the past few weeks are correct – I should have one again and perhaps prove the “3rd time’s a charm” adage.

I’m not saying I will run out tomorrow and hitch up with the next person I see – I have just decided I will leave the possibility open and if it happens, perhaps I won’t run away just because of the context of what I view as my own failings in my last two relationships. Everyone and every situation is different and humans can justify them selves into or out of a paper bag, but perhaps that is what we are meant to do. To justify our new follies with the learning of the past and to move forward hopefully not blindly. I wish that I had gotten it right before now. That I had had one single and good for me relationship that has lasted for years. That that relationship was bonded by marriage and that the trappings of that were ours and we reveled in them. But I do not have that. Instead I have some good years and some years spent in pain. Not that I would not have that if I had remained married either time (Not that I had a choice in the second having been threatened in all kinds of ways to make sure I went through with the divorce). Perhaps that is the point. That married or not you go through life learning a bit about yourself at every stage and you either choose to use that knowledge or not. Marriage is different for everyone and different even in meaning for in the actual couple to be married. But that does not mean you should dismiss it out of hand.

There is a book called “The Essential Rumi” translated by Coleman Barks. I have a copy of that book with this inscription “For all we have been through and all that is to come”. The book was given to me out of love and I read it now knowing this but knowing too that the love that it holds is different now. But in the spirit of Rumi - t is not the thing that holds the love but the universe and it is not the universe that gives the love but yourself – open yourself to your own love so that you may receive it from others and from the universe and in turn know the thing and yourself and the universe and the love.

Lesson = never say never and don’t let your own bitterness get in the way of your own future. “For all we have been through and all that is to come” is as true now as it was when I, as a blushing bride (times two…), first received it. It is just true in a different way.

Now back to the script!

Monday, December 25, 2006

The end of 2006

The compulsion to blog or even write, for that matter, has been low. The reason? I think it must have something to do with the very little time I have been spending alone with my thoughts. I’ve been washing my thoughts clean in my waking hours with TV, wine, hanging out with friends, practice, work-work-work. This is not necessarily the best thing for a writer to do, but it does help avoid confronting all those feelings.

Everyone does an end-of-year round up so I shall too. This time last year I was looking forward to graduation. After an emotionally wrenching two years, I would finally have my diploma in hand and be able to really call myself a writer. Graduation was magical, though it was somewhat hijacked by drama via the Robot. But in my life, then, what wasn’t? (Funny I say then and even now I spend energy thinking about him every day, those rare days I don’t are a gift) I loved him and expected it; maybe I even needed that drama.

After graduation things get murky until the next big event in February. A show by the Collective. This show was monumental and drove the nail in the coffin of our relationship, though I didn’t know it then. I had so much fun that night. One month later, almost exactly – disaster. You can read my past blog to feel that pain. I’ve put so much time into thinking about it – clearly more time then he has. Even still, to this day, neither of them has come to me in person to say anything useful about it. I expect that will never happen now and I am OK with not knowing, because I know that by now, the real reasons are buried so deep in excuses that none of us would really know the truth with a capital “T”. It has been something each of us has had to find for ourselves.

Let’s leave behind the defining moment of my year for a minute and look at the results of that moment.

I am different. In a profound way, in a way I can’t even begin to explain.
- Am I happier? Yes and no, I feel afloat still, not like myself still. Like I am a new being still figuring out its place. Perhaps I was never myself. I am still discovering. Who am I? What am I? Should I be here or elsewhere?

I am expressing myself in a new way.
- I am in a band that plays often and we are doing well. I am thankful for this outlet and thankful that in doing this Walter and I can help each other redefine our lives without the people we spent so many years invested in. I hope he is finding himself as much as I am. We were both so broken, but the support and encouragement we’ve received has been so great and so overwhelming. I never knew so much good. So many people banded together to hold us and to listen. Thank you.

Death is the fate of the turning of the days.
- Bogart is no longer with us. As is the fate with each passing year, someone close moves on to whatever is next. Death is one of those things that just happens and I feel I know who the next will be and that it will be entirely too soon and I hope beyond all hope that I am wrong. That moment in March was like a death, I went through official grief counseling where in the counselor said more then once, sometimes it’s easier if they just die. She was equating what happened to me to what happens to people with parents or spouses with Alzheimer’s or some other degenerative disease or a severe injury that leaves them not the person they were. It was a more true comparison then I wished to contemplate. Let me tell you though, death is not easier – no matter what. The truth is, nothing that causes that much pain is particularly easy.

I have found love even though I am actively pushing it away in my mind.
- I am not sure what to say about this except that I know it has happened. Just like all of my relationships, it is a surprise yet seems so inevitable. How will I make sure this one is different? Perhaps I am too tired to make it work, too bitter and hurt to trust. My tactic has been, what happens happens, no plan no goal, let’s just see. For the first time in my life I have no path forward for myself, no goal for this. I am letting life unfold. It is both magical and scary but affords those sweet moments you only find if you have no expectations beyond being decent and honest with each other.

I miss my family.
- Ever since moving here leaving my only family over two thousand miles away, I have missed them. But this year I see the years I have been here stretched out behind me like a long flowing scarf. Time seems so short. Have I wasted much of it by being so far away? What could have been different if I had gone home? Should I go home still? The answers to these questions are complicated, but perhaps they only seem that way.

I realize that this post is very internal and contemplative. Mostly I have things that have happened that have no real answers for them. The right and wrong are still unclear and my path is murky. Over all, I am doing better then I have in years, at least on the inside. I have people who actually care about me. I have good friends who have stuck through years and years with me and been kind and sweet and honest and loving all at once. I have a family who is open and loving and I have a person in my life who loves me for just who I am and has no grand illusions or swinging feelings or scenes. I am a part of a musical expression that is really connecting with people. That makes my soul fly and my heart warm. Even complete strangers in a strange city found time and energy to come see us and complement us and share in our emotions. I got a hug from a girl who said, “That was me once too, thank you” One doesn’t expect a hug in NYC.

Perhaps that is the moral of the story of my year. The unexpected. I should embrace that more. Live life more forward. Perhaps that should be my resolution. Before I see what Santa brought me I should resolve to come into things open and unexpectant. Hope for the best and expect nothing.

Here is to a new year. Thank you all for helping me move into it looking back only a little. Time to hope for the best and to not expect.