Wednesday, August 31, 2011

The End of the Road

I'm sitting in my best friend Jason File's apartment which he shares with his girlfriend Jamie. I have left Brooklyn and New York. I came home to chilly weather and a comfortable, familiar fog that surrounds me in memories and a sense of progress. I mostly associate the fog and the smell of the ocean so close to the city with my first experience living far from home at school in Santa Cruz. Interestingly, the memories are mostly of driving in to The Cruz in the late night/early morning from Sacramento. I loved driving at night, I love driving at night. I love rolling the windows down, good music on the stereo. I reach into the back seat and feel for a sweater that I've strategically placed on top of my pack. Sweater weather, the moving fog. I don't yet know what my life will be like, I don't have a clear picture of myself as a person, but I know I'm approaching it. All of this feeling is compressed once I leave The Cruz and settles into one image of the Fog and its attending sensations of cold and clarity.

I have left Brooklyn. The only home I've known outside of California. Sometimes I would hesitate to tell B I was "at home" if she wondered where I was. Could I call this my home? Was I home? After a while it was my home and I felt a part of the always bustling city (Brooklyn, not Manhattan). Who knows what the experience will settle into once I've spent time away. It could be dinners with B. Funny experiments with veggie burgers, cold salads, homemade popsicles. Late night walks to the Greenpoint pier and the privileged view of what B liked to think was the center of the world. I don't know if that's true or not, but it sure seems like it. One look at the Empire rising above earth and you must believe that your time on this planet, as a member of this civilization, has meant something. On that pier with that view you see human magnificence. When I look to my left and imagine the Towers I see the price of our magnificence - in the negative, the lacking. I feel B's hand in my mine and my experience as a human feels whole.

The picture above is in our neighborhood. B and I liked to get ice cream after dinner. Most often we would head to Van Leeuwen (towards Williamsburg). I could never decide if I liked the pistachio or strawberry. Finally, one afternoon we walked the other direction and went to the Brooklyn Ice Cream Factory. I bought strawberry. It was my favorite as a kid and I think that it always will be.

Last night I received emails from my two peer collaborators, Katelyn and Jessica. Katelyn had ordered a copy of our new book. She said that it looks wonderful, a few possible changes might need to be made, but overall it seems like it's what we had envisioned when we first came up with the idea. I'm so excited to hold this tiny book in my hands. Katelyn said that it is a small beautiful thing made carefully. There are so many reasons to want to continue making such things or to have the outcome of your work be viewed as such.

Not too long ago B and I traveled up to Beacon, NY and went to the Dia:Beacon museum. In my limited museum experience, it is my favorite museum. I'm attracted to the work there. Agnes Martin, Dan Flavin, Richard Serra, Sol LeWitt. I've mostly been fascinated by Agnes Martin for about the past year but the LeWitt wall drawings and Serra's large iron swirls or whatever you call them really blew my mind. I've seen other Serra works before but these particular MONUMENTS were amazing. B and I walked through them a few times. I wish I had the language to describe the work. I also go to see a spider by Louise Bourgeois. I don't need to explain why a large spider appeals to me.

On the flight back to San Francisco I started and finished Patti Smith's Just Kids. The picture to the left is Patti Smith and Robert Mapplethorpe. I liked this picture the most in the book. In my book WOLF I reference a photograph that Mapplethorpe took of himself, whip hanging from his asshole. I will have to revisit this section of the book. Late last year I read Eileen Myles' Inferno. Smith factors heavily in it so reading Just Kids felt like a dive deeper into the world that created Myles and Acker and eventually the writers who I now love and feel inspired by, Gluck, Boone, Bellamy, etc. So it was somewhat surprising to realize that Patti Smith wouldn't exist mostly without Arthur Rimbaud. My love for Rimbaud always seemed a little out of step with the literary canon I felt a kinship to. Not that I actively searched for him in the New Narrative. But, it just seemed like such an obvious point at which to start. EVERYONE already loves Rimbaud so sometimes it's not even worth mentioning that he has inspired you. Rimbaud, Smith, Myles/Acker/Bellamy/Reines, me? It's curious my own lineage is so heavily female. Maybe it isn't. There are dozens of strands that lead up to me. Some female, some male. Mostly poets. But I guess it begins with Arthur Rimbaud. And really I have to confess to loving his biography more than his poetry. I sense his power in his poems but his life seems more than the writing. Of course, no poem has affected me more than "Sensation". I've borrowed so many ideas and lines from that two stanza poem that it seems like it will always exist as a pumping heart, lyrical blood. Naturally everything from A Season in Hell permeates my conception of words and writing, is the room in which I compose my various hells. Rimbaud's ability/destiny however to strike the earth and transform writing forever appeals to me. I have no great ambition to do the same in the universal sense but in my small way I can transform myself, the only true earth.

Reading of Robert Mapplethorpe's death from AIDS forces me to confront an experience of loss that a specific generation of artists felt. But when I do I can only feel the loss in reverse. They begin dead, come alive and then disappear again. The loss is biographical, not existential.

I took the picture to the left while editing WOLF. In this moment I felt entirely lost. I wanted to capture how I looked. I don't know if my face conveys the sense of fear and incompetence I was feeling. Luckily, good news awaited me a few weeks after this moment. I know this feeling will return at various points in my life, as a writer, lover, father, etc, but also I know that I do have the power to battle against my fear of worthlessness and meaninglessness. There is no goal but to feel less incapable of handling those fears. "There is strength in you, I see it." Thank you William Wallace.

So I'm back in San Francisco. I don't move back into my house until September 1st. At some point I will figure out when I'm supposed to begin school. I've been really bad this semester at knowing when things begin. I will also begin my first stint as a teacher's assistant. My head is full of questions regarding all these new things in my immediate future.

Ahead of me I have rewriting catherine, which fully re-imagined itself over 4 days while still in Brooklyn. Now all I must do is convey its own sense of itself. It's weird to have a story tell you how it is supposed to be written. I look forward to the relief. I've gathered some ideas for a new shorter work, possibly. My novella about the love of my life will soon be finished and hopefully not too long after that available in some form. I will have a birthday too - not for a few months but it's coming.

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