Wednesday, April 27, 2011


It would seem that many of us are going through transitions, dreaming and wondering and working steadily on what is going to happen next.

Here is one immediate happening: two Thursdays from now, the 12th of May, I am going to hold a gathering here at the 12x12. There will be drinks and desserts and a driftwood fire. Paints and collage materials and instruments and paper will be available. The idea goes something like this: we all get hyped up on sugar (and fermented sugar) and then get into the making of art. Anyone can make anything: collage, painting, poetry, music, pottery---just to mark this year gone by and work out some ideas about what we want to happen in the next one. I am thinking around 7 pm. 3549 Wesley St. Culver City, near Venice and National. Let me know if you plan to come! Bring art supplies/poetry books/anything that might inspire you.

And the greatest is sublimation, for through sublimation our pain and our mental confusion may be transformed into great works of art, into the very guideposts that may help others to avoid these same miseries...

Friday, April 22, 2011

wrought in a year

As I begin to overlap the months--- watching now-familiar trees bud out for the second time, picking bouquets of the mock-orange whose fragrance first greeted me upon moving in this time last year---I feel a strange tenderness toward this home. Very little, outwardly at least, has changed for the better in our dwelling-place. Our habitation of it has worn bare spots into the floors, greasemarks onto the walls, flaking spots into the paint and splintered bits into the sills. The door no longer fits cleanly and has to be wrestled with whenever one wants to leave. The stucco of the ceiling looks dingy. Drawers don't quite close. The oven doesn't work. Anything that was breakable has long since broken.

And yet---
What was once bare dry grass is now a garden, with tomatoes and herbs and salad and beets and figs and lemons. There is a fireplace where once a plastic lounge chair sat quietly moldering. Soil that once could not hold water has now been fortified with a full year's eggshells and vegetable peelings and stays in place, drinking thirstily, when it rains. Not only that: there are earthworms! We never saw a one when we first dug the garden. Now the earth is teeming with them.

Still, the best changes are invisible. I moved here, not as a conscious choice to be HERE, but simply to flee something else. I spent a lot of time licking my wounds. And now, at the close of a year's residency in this admittedly tight cocoon, I am fully ready to move TOWARD something. For its own sake. What felt sterile and afraid in me is now quickened and reaching. There are earthworms in my soil now too! (uhhh...not to put too fine a point on it.)

I will probably keep writing for a time, because I love to write, and because this blog/confessional/vanity press doesn't feel quite finished. But I want to pause and thank those of you who have journeyed with me this far. I remember biking past Culver Studios in April of last year and seeing that unknown man skipping down the steps, joyful, and feeling so certainly that I was home. Yesterday I passed the same spot. But this time I was traveling with a friend, someone I'd never met this time last year, someone now dear. The streets were full of people. Near the place where, a year ago, I wrote of my conversation with a stranger at a traffic light, I watched the president of the united states pass in his caravan while the inhabitants of my city cheered and waved. Overlap. Things grow deeper as we pass over them again and again.

I don't think any of this would be so clear had I not documented it here. Thank you for being the anonymous audience that helped to form my memory. These lines that link us all together, we who share this stretch of time on earth, the only ones who ever will---I can feel the connection more keenly for having written these things down, and for your reading of them. Does that make sense? A stranger so quickly becomes a friend. A strange place so quickly becomes a home.

Monday, April 18, 2011

music for a full moon

It has been an extremely rough day. Knocked the tar right out of me, enough so that I am now feeling limp enough to post a few of my songs here. These are the kind of songs I write. Not rock star material, really. But kind of nice to listen to under the light of the moon. Anyway, being brave is a great tonic.

(this next video is just a song, no picture. i couldn't figure out any other way to upload it. c'mon, after the day i've had, the fact that i am staring at a computer screen instead of the bottom of a whiskey bottle is testament to the doggedness of my puritanical upbringing!)

Sunday, April 17, 2011

how we love

it is evening, so sweet, the last warmth of the day carries the scent of jasmine and roses and just a touch of woodsmoke over from the neighbor's. the boys are sleeping through my obsessive amp exploration. ( i got an amp last week! it has so many settings! yippee!) i have been writing love songs. i keep thinking about love.

this summer i was visiting a friend as she prepared a birthday present for her beloved. she had contacted all of the important people from his past, touchstones in the timeline of his life, and asked each of them to contribute a recipe. she then selected an ingredient from each recipe---corn, say, or onion---and used this ingredient to make the paper upon which she printed the recipe. then she assembled all of these beautiful handmade recipe papers into a sort of personalized memoir of a cookbook. amazing, right? genius. artistry. love.

i don't know if i can love like that. i have been questioning my ability to love, lately. i seem to put a lot of conditions on it. i seem to be rather locked up. and the gifts i give seem to be, mostly, for me: the men in my life are nearly always the i-don't-celebrate type and the things i supposedly do in their honor are really so that i can feel good.

xir, lately, has been begging to go to church with his friends, and so we spent the morning at a more evangelical place than i would normally feel comfortable attending. i listened to a heartfelt sermon about how, for christians, there is no more work to do, how all the work has been done. there is no checklist of things to do to be acceptable. all of that was accomplished on the cross, and all that remains is to live a life of what the minister called 'glory'.

i was thinking all day of a love like that. a love that required nothing, that accepted all, that found no fault, and wanted only for the beloved to find the fullest expression of his or her self. how we all long for that, and how rarely any of us provide it for anyone else. i mean really, what would it look like? it's not practical! we don't set up our lives to accommodate that sort of love! even for our children, there are so many conditions that must be met. even for our friends. when i look honestly into my heart, i know that none of my relationships are unconditional. i look for benefit in all of them. when the benefit ceases, the relationship ends.

i felt so much resistance listening to the minister this morning. it seemed way too easy. no code of conduct? no commandments to follow? no special exercises to do every morning? no dietary restrictions? buddha's last words were: 'strive without cease!' jesus's, apparently, translate roughly to 'paid in full!'

it's different. a different way to love. trusting someone to do what is best for them, to live according to their highest calling, instead of trying to get them to behave according to code. for one thing, i find it unlikely to succeed. maybe i am projecting, but try as i might, i find it hard to grasp that, given freedom from ethical and moral codes of conduct, a majority of humanity would aspire to anything besides rank individualism.

but there are so many ways to love...and i am always surprised. what do i know? it has been a wonderful day. despite an interminable-at-the-time meltdown from my youngest this afternoon, the rest of the day stretched long and golden. how little we need! everything in my life is up in the air: i may leave the state at any time. i am not sure what i want from myself, or the world, anymore. i am out of money. nearly every relationship i find myself in feels all-consuming and out of control. the hours i used to spend on laundry, housecleaning, garden maintenance, and mending are now unapologetically consumed by electric guitar practice. i feel crazy to myself. there is nothing solid in me to love!

and yet---i am loved. out of this chaos i continue to give love.

i keep learning. it amazes me, how little any of us ever actually need. so much of what i thought was necessary turns out to have been a crutch. ah well. learning to love. it was never going to be easy, was it?

Wednesday, April 13, 2011


i just realized that my first post to this blog was april 20th, 2010. my original plan was to write for one year about the experience of living in this little house. things changed, as they do, and this blog became more of an online chronicle of my experience of life in general. and i certainly did not write every day. or mention the house that often!

but still. i believe occasions ought to be marked, and i'd like to mark this one. i think i'll have a party in the yard, with a fire and libations and conversation about all of the things that life throws at us. those of you who live nearby (whether i've met you or not!) and/or think you might want to come, comment with suggested dates and times, and i'll put something together!

love, dweller

Saturday, April 9, 2011


I used to think that people who criticized me were smart--the only ones who could see through me. I used to believe that listening to negative feedback would help me become a better person. I was once convinced that being told my faults would help me eliminate them.

But oh! IT IS NOT TRUE. Criticism cripples. I don't care how unenlightened it sounds. It can kill beauty and happiness outright. It is the 'bitter glass' Yeats writes of in The Two Trees.

Keeping the company of those who genuinely like me is a fountain of youth. Inspiration flows. Love burgeons. Ideas and laughter and insight abound.

Keeping the company of those who find fault with me is like a slow withering. I start to believe in my own darkness. I start to live it out. I begin to lose faith in myself.

I have been feeling this so strongly lately that I feel the need to eliminate criticism entirely. Even the 'constructive' sort. (Ha! Constructive. Seriously?) If I have nothing nice to say I will not say it. Even to my two year old.

And as for that most insidious kind, self-criticism, I'm going to yank it out by the roots. Mercilessly.

As I navigate the storms and changes that seem to pursue me like winged GPS-equipped battering rams, I also pledge this to myself: I will keep company only with those people who seem to enjoy mine. Simple as that.

Saturday, April 2, 2011

relationship, in poetry.

because i am too exhausted to write prose.

vanishing point

mad rejoinders, wonders,
eyes and hearts forward, brothers:

the changes may come coldly now,
unending, overwhelming.

if you have dreams, write them down.
let no openness go closed.

let each petal of each rose
be lined and counted.

daily bread

punching through paper walls, seeing stars--
dizzying work, shifting walls--
we do not enter these rooms to stay.

it could not be another way.

help your friends and sons get fed, spin the wheels for daily bread,
you cannot ever win this game.

could it be another way?
--we do not enter these rooms to stay.

voice in the wilderness

honeyed and wild-eyed
no rock: a storm, a madness,
a tearing-down of
the made ways and clean days
of the wide world.

unstable as they come, this bravest one:
to pave the way for love so great
a world must be unmade.

who loves the unmaker?
who praises change?

so, lonely goes the prophet.
now who could bear such weight?


well, one thing i can say for the (ahem) tumultuous relationship i have been fully and passionately engaged in for the past the cost, perhaps, of just about everything else in my that it has made for a surge in creative output. five new songs, dozens and dozens of rather awful poems, lots of sketches, several batches of naturally-dyed herbal-scented playdough to keep the kiddies happy, and so on. also i now have an electric guitar.

that counts for something, right? sublimation or bust.