Sometimes I stop here — sometimes purposefully, sometimes reminded by signing in with wordpress to comment elsewhere, sometimes who knows why — and I am visited by ghosts of myself. I remember this feral voice, its breaking wild, and the time in-between of congealing into me, now, whom I am so much proud and relieved and excited and empowered and grounded and exhausted to be, and I yearn to write and I know my voice is not this voice anymore, I leave this place alone to honor this time, and yet I miss it, I attend its reincarnation in this strengthening body, and attention is prayer, I pray for my new voice. It is slow going. I miss the speed and passion and ferocity, even witnessing the fragmentation, the lack of memory, the haze. I am practicing voice out loud. And I am coming home to writing soon. I am grateful I left maps of this territory, the territory itself, it will have changed as I enter it again, and I will have too.
Fall wish list:
a trip with gramma
a special halloween
real time with real friends
to just rake what falls dead dry around me and let this new access to anger burn it up neat like dross.
to fix my window.
regular tarot gigs, the monthly art booth, and all-around income — the b.o.l. keeps busy.
healing for everyone around me who’s endured this crazy summer.
and then, there’s this list — which I found from two winters ago, when I was sick from the pressure change of suddenly surfacing after years of submersion, suffering static but seeing clear enough to know I was on the cusp of the biggest change. Maybe that was my sphinx time.
I remember: smoking a cigarette in the dismal january gray, huddled outside work in the rain, looking down at the damp riverbank, and talking to Mom on the phone. She was already fading, a month to live, but she was holding strength for me. She had been here, in the sphinx place, before me. She knew I couldn’t find myself, I couldn’t even find a spark, steeped in the darkness of only knowing what’s wrong. And she said, “Kaeti, sit down and write a list of everything you want.”
So I did. I couldn’t believe how hard and awkward it was. Just to say what I wanted. I wrote:
I want to be surprised.
I want someone to look at me with fire in their eyes.
I want to be able to explore my emotions.
I want my family.
I want new routines.
I want my old big laugh.
I want more than the bare minimum.
I want to love passionately and be loved passionately.
I want to speak freely.
I want to be taken dancing.
I want to stop being so careful.
I want my fire back.
I want someone to take pictures of me.
I want to feel sexy.
I want to explode.
I want to go camping.
I want to throw shit.
I want to be pushed.
I want to sing loud.
I want to tell of Chad.
I want to dive in a deep pool outside.
I want new food.
I want to touch souls.
I want to break through comfortable.
I want my voice, out loud.
I want offerings.
I want to be scary.
I want respect.
I want all the mes to come out and play.
I want new friends.
I want to be surrounded by people full of wonder.
I want poetry.
I want a beautiful house.
I want ghost stories.
I want to do this every day.
I want fun!
I want to be challenged.
I want magic.
I want whisky rage.
I want full range of motion.
I want to know what I say in my sleep.
I want memories.
The utterly flooring and grateful-making realization here is that there’s not a thing on that list I haven’t, since, in some way, achieved or been given.
Things on my mind:
The isolation that comes with walking one’s way in the magic world, and the isolation that comes of being unable to utter yourself to someone who can’t see beyond their drama, however dear. The soothsaying joy that comes of being able to share that magical world. What constitutes friendship. Sphinx.
I am not in the sphinx place now — or rather, I am, but she is not hunting me — though I am witnessing something going down there. All around me, in fact. I was aware, once, of holding a kind of sphinx place for Kila, his voice hobbling across a continent of telephone wire, stripped bare to his festering riddles seeping questions I couldn’t answer for him, and he would beat against me with his words and I would sit with the phone pressed to my ear like living stone. Sphinx is what happens when in between you and your true nature is a terrible, terrafying question.
The word sphinx comes from the Greek Σφίγξ, apparently from the verb σφίγγω (sphíngō), meaning “to strangle”.
This name may be derived from the fact that the hunters for a pride of lions are the lionesses, and kill their prey by strangulation, biting the throat of prey and holding them down until they die.
The word sphincter derives from the same root.
However, the historian Susan Wise Bauer suggests that the word “sphinx” was instead, a Greek corruption of the Egyptian name “shesepankh,” which meant “living image,” and referred rather to the statue of the sphinx, which was carved out of “living rock” (rock that was present at the construction site, not harvested and brought from another location), than to the beast itself.
Last night a tagger was out on the railroad tracks below my window. I heard his spraycan knocking and looked out from behind my plants, watching him crouch in the dark and resisting the urge to yell down to him.
Today I set my chair by the window to do some reading in the breeze looking over the sunny rooftops and watching the pigeons and doves and sparrows and crows. Suddenly I remember last night’s graffiti! It’s there on the tall black pole in big sloppy white letters: RIPE.
A train rumbles by, a long silver platform that coughs up a dusty cloud at its end. Living here can be like living underwater, with trumpets and soot. I’m reminded of that Ann Carson line, “Her smile an underwater bell.”
Had a conversation with a friend today about what makes people change. That big change.
He says, “Old people don’t change.”
I say, “How old is old?”
Quiet. Then, “I mean, you changed.”
He replies, “I’m not like other people.”
I see this and I don’t. I’m not like other people, too. Which cancels itself out — I’m like you, we who are not like other people, we who can change. We all have access to it. Otherwise it wouldn’t be so heartbreaking when it’s offered a lifetime of refusal. What interests me is Change’s life cycle. Something inside grows RIPE for change…ripe for accident…and then it’s all in the approach.
Last night I dreamed:
I experience a kind of slowing blurring winding-down winding-together in my mind and in what I see…everything slows and slurs until my head goes gently forward, down. I think this must be what dying is like.
I wake to a dream of Gramma’s voice saying “Uncle __ died.”
My first contact was an immediate chat with a friend, and the dream came burbling out, and she suggested it has to do with a change in my sexual self which has been afoot recently, this uncle being my only gay (and rather secretly so) relative. I was surprisingly grateful for her thoughts.
Also last night, I dreamed:
After long work at a new fair, my boss Captain Tattoo gives me a little box open and overflowing with little treasures/creatures from the sea, shells and living germinations from the sea, a lithe little octopus glow-in-the-dark green, pale and luminous and flowing. I kiss his cheek in thanks.
I got a bit tired of the studio over the last few months, but lately again and especially coming home tonight after five nights away, it is my own oasis and within these four walls utterly me, and I do love it.
San Francisco. The henna is still fresh and dark, my heart and body deeply rejuvenated from the trip and full of love, and now exhaling with gratitude to be in quiet solitude again. The last couple months were so driven and stressful, I feel I got spit out of a vortex to find the other side spacious and wholing and laughing, and honest in movement. Inside me and in the world, the first stirrings of the fabulous summer I’ve felt coming.
Kree, the henna artist from the fair last Summer, picked me up in Oakland on Friday morning and we drove to Sebastapol to stay with her brother and his wife. All afternoon there, I kept being surprised by reminders of Mom: they have the same quilted Hawaiian hangings; the same weird plates; the same painting in the living room as hung in Mom’s living room while I was in high school. The quilt on the bed I slept on was the same rainbow quilt of Mom’s that’s meant so much to me and is on my own bed, except bolder colors. That night, I had the first Mom dream in a while:
I’m with Mom, staying at a house like Gramma’s house on Pageantry. After a lot of busyness and commotion, we sit crosslegged and facing each other on a big white bed, talking. We talk about how glad we are, and I am, to be staying over with her. She says that something in my spirit just reached out and said — my arms flung wide, smiling — “Let me stay over!” I remember a scene from earlier in the afternoon, when I was sitting in the driver’s seat of a car. “Was that when you reached out and touched me through the car window?” Yes. My spirit reached out to her as she reached out to me from outside the window. Mom is pleased, moved to tears, her hands to her face. We embrace and hug each other close. My left had cradles her head, and my thumb rests in the hollow of her ear. There is a strong wind outside, through the window, and we start to remember things to do, things undone, things I have to show her. Still hugging, we start to feel an unsettling heat — I feel it strong at my lower back, growing stronger and stronger so that finally we pull apart, saying in a low rising wailing voicie, Fire….we kind of spin as we separate, and I look for where the fire is — there, a small fire in the corner on the carpeted floor.
About the thumb resting in the ear — at the airport in Oakland I was waiting in line to buy an iced coffee. The girl in front of me had piercings, a little silver ball nestled there in the cup of each ear. I said to her, “I like your earrings. They’re like little pearls in the shell of your ear.” She smiled and said, “Yeah! That’s the idea.”
After the festival, I made friends with a group of two guys and a girl about my age. The girl was supposed to help me find a ride back the next day, out of the kindness of her dear trumpet-playing heart. Instead, though, I fell into a beautiful fling with one of the friends, a beautiful boy, who happened to be driving back to Berkeley that night and possessed of a very big, very nice bed. Strong and smart and caring and a curly dirty blond with lightning blue eyes who knows how to dance. Yes please. And thank you (come again). He dropped me off at the gloriously sunny part in San Francisco and went on his merry way. The city was a solid day and night of warmth and food and charm and old friendships renewed and bright bay windows in the morning.
So for May Day, not only did I get a dream of fire, but a literal festival bonfire and a shining man to celebrate it with. How traditional of me.
I come home full of love for Amy and all our sharing, and as soon as I tell her about my fling I can see by her smile that in her queenly fashion she is actually happy for me. She smiles at me like I’ve always wanted someone to smile at me. And we go on our merry way.
Not even that the way is merry, but deeply loving, and to find that deep love reciprocal out in the world and be able to share it at home has me feeling gratefully merry for now.
and trusting it.
The biggest bit I’ve written was the wedding speech. Up on an unlit stage, amidst rudeness and unspeakables and bruise-colored beauty, I summoned love. In the interest of posterity, here it is:
Welcome to the reception!
I’ve known the bride for twenty years. For a long time I’ve thought of her as a sister. Ever since the 3rd grade talent show, when she dressed up as Marilyn Monroe and did a full rendtition of Diamonds Are A Girl’s Best Friend, and I got my first taste of that mix of …….weird…. and YESthat’sEPICandAMAZING, that’s pure R. I was hooked. She introduced me to hairdye, Madonna, cannibal island barbie, and how to survive middle school. As my honorary sister she’s graced me with her courage, her devotion, her wicked laugh, her always-open art sanctuary, her sense of drama, her passion, and her encyclopedic opinions. I know and I want to honor how hard she’s worked to be here today, and how lucky J is to have won her powerful, beautiful heart.
I’m not gonna do the thing where I give advice about the little things and tell you to take care of her. I don’t know shit about married life, and if you haven’t figured it out by now God help us all. I’m gonna give you some advice about big things. This girl deserves big things. Make room. She had Diamonds Are A Girl’s Best Friend memorized by 8.
Make room for champagne hot springs on the beach under a full moon meteor shower. Make room for red carpet and eight course lobster dinner. Make room for cabana massages and jungle medicine. Make room for life-size bamsters and sleeping in paint and flying with your feet on the ground. Make room for glaciers and panthers and la bufadora. Make room for Vivaldi opening for Shakira. Make room for gelato affogato under a Florentine dome looking out over all of history while David Bowie serenades you on roller skates and sexy lady-ninjas fetch campari, and more gelato.
Before I make my toast I want to share some words by Krishnamurti I first on their bookshelf earlier this year while staying with the couple:
Love, and don’t be caught in opinions and ideas about what love is or should be. When you love, everything will come right. Love has its own action. Love, and you will know the blessings of it. Keep away from the authority who tells you what love is and what it is not. No authority knows; and he who knows cannot tell. Love is something that is new, fresh, alive. It has no yesterday and no tomorrow. It is beyond the turmoil of thought. It is only the innocent mind which knows what love is, and the innocent mind can live in the world which is not innocent. Love, and there is understanding.
So here’s to tonight, and here’s to love.
Do you like it this way? I wanted to see my words on white for a change. This will do for now.
Yesterday morning, Barbara sent me a dream in which she was working my old gig at the henna booth, and felt encouraged to ask if I could make that happen / put in a good word for her.
That afternoon, my boss from the henna booth calls. For the first time since last Summer. Everybody wins: Barbara can work while I’m at school and weekdays. I can work Friday, Saturday, Sunday and play in the sun and listen to bad pop for twelve hours and psychologize from the gypsy booth and make stupid amounts of CASH MONEY for just being me.
From this bog of busyness the making memory of Summer was a sudden ray of enthusiasm, giddy and glowing. Today, my brain may be a slow and thawing weight of woven obligations, but I can feel warmth and promise of another place just there, nearly here. It feels like this piece of a dream:
I’m in an Orange County freeway tunnel, taking a shortcut. The tunnel, a traffic tunnel full of both cars and people, it slants upwards — it starts to collapse. It starts to disintegrate — cars crash and pile at the top, start to slide back down toward us from gravity — water slides down, too, eroding little rivulets in the pavement. The whole scene a horrific disintegrating pile-up, people scream and hang on and try to keep each other from falling and being crushed. It’s very dark. I see a little window in the side, to the right, and it’s light out there. I pop out and I’m just where I need to be, a rural place with tall pale-gold fields of wheats or grasses, filled with sunlight of that same pale-gold shining.