Chimera Song Mosaic
Tuesday, June 24, 2003

I just realized that I completely dropped the story about Denise Chavez and also failed to report on the poetry reading I attended. This is probably because when Denise was here, she energized me, but that energy was also sapped in various ways. Then when she left, I fell off my blog and couldn’t get back up. I was more concerned with writing outside the blog—a poetry series, an essay that is stretching into a memoir of sorts (don’t laugh; okay, maybe it is just a collection of essays)—rather than reporting. Also, I fell into a delicious funk of summer reading and can’t get enough of fiction. It is so much easier to read than poetry. Why do I read poetry? Why don’t I just go back to being the goofball who devoured novels and stories and essays and never read poetry, but wrote it? I could be that girl. Uninformed, foolish—but I can’t go back there. Now I am just uniformed about current events, politics—barely functional in the body & its presentations, fairly fluent in poetry & Spanish, semi-facile in fiction, admiring of essays, forgetting all but the most glamorous words in German, abandoning bones & the names of bones & articulations, embracing slang & dichos, crudely fumbling at organization (but then at some times I think I am good at it)—at least I am not screwing anything up right now. What am I doing to/with my poems? Where are they going? They are floating around the house on colored note cards, having not yet found their ways to the card catalogue. I refuse to type them because if I type them I will think I have finished them and will balk at revision. I have made that mistake too many times.

That and I just read Laurable’s mention of her criteria for her reference links: blogs that contain at least 2/3 poetic content. I am certainly failing at this. But I don’t necessarily want to put all my poems or many of them on my blog. This is for my thoughts, peripheral, residual. My problem, then, is that I am more successful at cataloguing my thoughts than my poems. It should probably be the other way around.

I can’t get off this fiction kick. I have much more to read this summer. But I do need to write more about poetry. I am infinitely distracted from it, disappointed in myself for not reaching quotas for the day. Shamed for not having finished my classmate’s book, A Carnage in the Love Trees (Greenfield)—or Pushkin, for that matter! It (Greenfield’s) is a hard book. It doesn’t help my dark mood. More on that soon.

With Denise, we drove her around, ate lunches and talked about writing, went to Reynosa, ate paletas (my popsicle was coconut, thick & milky), bought mangos & smuggled them across the border, enjoyed ourselves. We would like to go to next year’s Border Bookfest near Las Cruces, New Mexico (Oscar Casares was there last year, hey hey!). I learned a lot. I want to know more. And at this pace.

: I realize now that I absolutely cannot do two things at once. Crash!

The Freshness or “Use By” Date

The one thing I want to know about poetry is whether you can keep writing the same kind of stuff forever. Or else what? If I liked what I wrote before better and I went back to that (somehow), would that be so bad? My knee jerk reaction is to stay away from stagnation, but what’s the reason behind that? Everyone just thinks it is bad, but what if it’s just focused, obsessed—adjectives that poets adore? What if the old stuff is better than anything I can come up with now? I really want to know my expiration date.

Lists and Hyperlists

I liked Stephanie’s list of things to remember to write about on her blog from a week or so ago. It is getting like that for me—my blog is becoming yet another manifestation of a to do list. The answer for me is do less, but I am arrested by ambitious ideals of productivity. It is impossible to predict how much I can accomplish in one day. Or maybe not. Maybe I will figure it out with practice. When I first started starting teaching (and I swore I wouldn’t write about this, but it is necessary to float the analogy), I would grossly and tragically overestimate how many papers I could grade in one day. I would wait until the day before I wanted to return them and say, “Okay, I’ll start this tonight after Angel is over.” But grading 20 papers (or 40 or 60) at 10 o’clock at night is madness! Now I know to only grade 5-10 and do it everyday (yuck!) and do it right when I get home and then pretend like I am not a teacher for the rest of the day. Instead, I will pretend to be a writer, wife, lover, friend, pet-parent, amateur psychologist, Charles Darwin.

Okay, so my To Write About List (Online) goes like this:

Ward’s novel
Richard’s book
creative collaborations
poetic intervention, staged

Writing offline:

revise American Filmmaking series
write/revise/ready for workshop essay: Wishbone

Offline Life List:

Call: Jenny, Colleen, Catherine, Caeli
Art Museum for community writing lab on Thursday
Clean desk, glean poems from surfaces
*Catherine’s postcard poem series
*Student workshop collection
*Redneck Heaven mix tape

To read for rest of summer on vacation (not in this order):

Mother Nature: A History of Mothers, Infants, and Natural Selection
The Trouble with Testosterone
The Body Artist
Anna Karenina
¡Que vivan los tamales! Food and the Making of Mexican Identity
One Hundred Years of Solitude

Poetry I will throw in whimsically; journals I will read as they come in; novels I will mix in to break from this heavy reading: The Lovely Bones; Mrs. Caliban; Summer Sisters; Sabella; Loving Pedro Infante (all possibilities).

In Venezuela, I will read The Stories of Eva Luna or House of Spirits and maybe Garcia Marquez’s News of a Kidnapping. Har har!

I will be lucky if I get this (or even most of it) done. I can get the first three lists done in the next two weeks (*except these, which may take until the end of the summer); after that, I am going to Mexico for a week and Venezuela for three weeks (road trip variety). I will have to fight my Dad over online time, but I’ll bring my little Toshiba anyway.

Ps. For Stephanie, don’t be sad about being in Las Vegas—it is a postmodern paradise. Everything is better than the real thing, except the blue sky inside the Paris is nowhere near as splendid as the Paris. But largely it is better to be on sand that doesn’t have sand fleas and in water without sharks (which is also a postmodern animal) and under real palm trees with fake roaches (fake roaches do not exist—who would want a fake roach? Only desirable things are facsimiled*). We all want to be close to nature, but maybe it is not nature but the ideal of nature that we crave. This is just a theory, of course. Lucy and I must sit outside at least once a day and soak up a little bit of sun to stave off depression. The jungle in the Mirage is lush and secretive and filled with orchids, and even though I yearn for the experience of real orchids in their environment, I don’t want to get too close to the roaches, stinging flies, chiggers, or chiguitis. The real orchids in the Andes might come without roaches. I’ll check.

* Pretend for the sake of my lovely and compact theory that fake roaches, spiders, lizards, various creepy-crawlies, brains (though brains are beautiful), puke, and dog shit aren’t manufactured and made available at toy stores. Maybe it should read, “Only desirable things should be facsimiled.” But that just sounds a little too eugenically reinvented. Peace out.

Pps. I just faked out Lars big time. He came into the office and settled down behind the computer to go to sleep or lick himself or whatever, and then I jumped up and ran out the door to take a shower. I first looked back at his face: disbelief, accusation in his eyes.

I said, “I didn’t come in here to write!” I only came to add two sentences—just two thin ones to my turgid essay. On page 31, a last page of lists, is says: His brother, Jim, grew up to be a Marine and jumped out of airplanes. His brother grew up.

Then I thought I had to write this down and add it to me blog—two thin sentences: I just graded (with red pen) my list of How to Change My Life from last year, and I have successfully completed 21 of the 25 typed objectives. People can change.

(Now Lars is really confused!)

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