So I don't know what I'm going to write here. My life has been either about school stuff, which is not okay to write about here, or personal in a way that I wouldn't want to reveal it in an unmediated public way, but the personal's going okay, just insanely busy, like I worked 12 hours yesterday and felt guilty when I said, fuck this, I'm doing the dishes. That's what I did for fun, the dishes. The dishes suffer when I'm really busy, and no I don't have anything as high tech as a dishwasher. I also boil water in an old-fashioned kettle on a gas stove and I pour it over things. I like kettles. They make me feel like a colonial woman or a witch. The crazy busyness should end in a couple of weeks, and there should then be time for ME ME ME. In the midst of this work-work-work, I gave a reading Sunday night at the home of Ryan Funk in the hills above Castro, in a lovely house with picture postcard views. Any time for myself the past couple of weeks has been stolen time; I have actually just said fuck it a couple of times and wrote draft material for my book in a frenzy. It felt good, that urgency, the thrill of the uncontrollable transgressive urge. Driving over to the reading, overwhelmed with all I should have been doing instead, I said to Kevin, if I could pay someone to give this reading for me, I would. But once there, I soon found myself sitting on the floor beneath the panoramic view, talking with co-readers Linda Norton and Donna de la Perriere (Jordan Karnes also read and everybody was amazing; I was so pleased to be in such tender and smart community), and I softened and relaxed into my fate. It ended up a lovefest; some former students were there and I got lots of hugs, and despite my initial resistance, it turned out to be quite nourishing.
Another thing, besides my dailiness with Kevin and my 3 cuddly and bossy cats, that's been keeping me going is gorging on Downton Abbey night after night. We watched Season 1 on DVD while Season 2 accrued on the digital video recorder, but now we're caught up and we have to wait until next Sunday, like the rest of America, for our next fix. Season 2, in many ways, isn't as good as Season 1, but I'm fascinated with the depiction of World War I. In season 2 the War is more interesting that any specific character, even arrogant Lady Mary, with her newfound humble hunching of her shoulders. Stand up with your head held high, I want to say to her. It's like she's auditioning to play a nun.
Looking at Ariana Reines' tumblr this evening. Even though I love her long, thoughtful posts, I also enjoy it when she reposts things she's read or listened to. Little hits, like pecks on the cheek between major makeout sessions. I think, I shouldn't make such a big deal out of what I post on Belladodie.
After repeated listening I'm impressed with the heart she puts into repeating god-damn the pusher man, which of course reminds me of her masterful rendition elsewhere of Mississippi Goddam. The more I listen to Just Like a Woman, the more I'm seduced by this different layer of Nina Simone, her subtle subversions and reinventions of Leonard Cohen and Bob Dylan. Another song that was hard for me is "The House of the Rising Sun," mostly because of her knock-out version of it on Nina Simone at the Village Gate. The Just Like a Woman version is strangely upbeat, and I'm like what the fuck! But then at the end she turns to scat singing, and it becomes this body crying out in a frenzy, and it's amazing. Mr. Bojangles is also a live version, and after the audience claps, as a sort of mini-encore Nina Simone sings the verse about how his dog up and died. Her pronunciation of dog as "dawg" and the crackling vulnerability of her voice is heart-breaking. Only a genius could tease out the tragedy infusing these sing-songy lyrics. I guess what I'm trying to say is that sometimes it takes a while to be able to hear somebody, but when you do it's like the clouds part and rays of glory come streaming through.
What I'm leaving out is last night's death of poet Stacy Doris. I am but a bleep in a vast communal mourning. Anything I could say would be an understatement or a cliché. She is missed.