For today's image, I went to my iphone and downloaded the last photo I took. It's Quincey on the couch, buried in wool and velvet. It's a good image for the end of the year, as I hope that we all can feel such comfort—and a sense of protection, no matter how fragile.
This has been a disappointing day for me in that I slept nearly 12 hours and still woke up groggy. Have been sleeping like crazy. I know this is part of my body healing from various issues—I'm being as vague here as Hilary Clinton has been about recent health stuff, and yes it pains me that we live in such an environment where right-wingers were calling her illness a Benghazi flu, and instead of backing off from that, they're going all conspiracy and saying it's a fake blood clot. As much as I adore Rachel Maddow, I have this urge to stop paying attention to the news, to curl up like Quincey in luxurious muddledness. She eats, she shits on the floor, she offers her body for petting. And most of the time she's unconscious and she doesn't feel guilty or frustrated by that.
My psychic told me that I didn't need any more information, that I was full of information and it stays in my head and gets stuck there. She said that I should do whatever feels good to my body, to start making choices in life by how it feels in my body. I pulled my back out Christmas Eve—as I was getting dressed to go to KK's birthday party. I somehow managed to get dressed and hobble down our endless stairs and up Anne McGuire's endless stairs, and at the party I was my old freakish self, relaxed—pain in a way is like being drunk. I felt touched by someone more than once in the course of the evening for I was not capable of erecting those dear barriers. I'm under orders to rest the back and keep wearing a brace, but last night I had the urge to stretch, like it was driving me crazy, so I started with a few cat-cows, and then a few more hands and knees poses, and then child's pose, and then sphinx, and then I was on my back doing happy baby, and I was twisting and rolling and it felt like heaven, like I could stay up all night doing yoga. When I finally stopped and went to bed, and I was so so sore.
This evening I checked out Ariana Reines' and Bett Williams' blogs. They both seem to be doing well, both intense as ever in their unique ways. Earlier in the month in Los Angeles, Kevin and I had a couples dinner with Bett and her partner Emily Stern. It was far too little time to spend together, it made me thirst for more. I haven't answered the last couple of Ariana's very sweet emails. That's the kind of friend I've been of late, as if thinking fondly of someone is a relationship. I suppose it is a relationship, but I want to bring that out of my head and into my body and into the world.
I guess I'm going to a New Year's Eve party tonight. It sounds impossible, as I sit here all muddled and in need of cleansing and a good teeth brushing, but it will be good, this stepping outward. Sitting before me on the desk is a print out of CA Conrad's interview with Alice Notley on trance writing. I'm reading it because I feel like I lost the ability to let go in my writing, not lost it, misplaced it, and I want to get back to it. I wrote an essay for a show at the Institute of Contemporary Arts in London, and it turned out well, but I had barely begun to say everything I had to say, so I extended the essay, including material about the Bay Area, and read it mid-December at the Machine Project in Los Angeles—after dinner with Emily and Bett. But this past week, all sorts of other ideas have opened up, and now I'm extending it again, like it will not stop, and with each layer of revision, it gets closer to the personal. There's little of the personal in the ICA version, which works for it, but there's only a whiff of it in the extended version. It's like the pulsing self that infuses my writing is hiding, and I guess I need to coax her back out.
To go to sleep at night I'm reading Waking the Moon, an early novel by Elizabeth Hand, a gothic supernatural thriller, and I'm enjoying it tremendously, but am upset by some of my reactions to it, which center around how some of her choices would come across in a grad writing setting. I'm half dozing, propped up in bed, holding this battered used paperback, and I'm thinking, at the end of this long section of close third, she switched perspective to what these other characters were doing that the main POV wouldn't know about, and I'm thinking this is an odd choice, this would never fly in a grad writing program, everybody would tell her not to do it, I probably have told people not to do such a thing, and then I'm shaking my head about how MFAs make people into POV fascists, like, as a reader, I'm totally fine with her switch in POV here, and in regular conversation, the larger world, such shifts happen all the time, modern audiences are capable of switching all over the place, but writing workshops make people act stupider than they are, any variation from internalized rules and they're confused and not understanding, when in the real world I doubt they'd be confused at all. And as I continue reading the Hand, pages later I see what the shift in POV was setting up, and I think, the shift wasn't necessary, we would have read this scene fine without it, and then I'm thinking I bet some stupid editor had her put that in there. And then there was another section where she summarizes a whole relationship before showing the characters in a scene together, and I can hear a dozen voices in a classroom in unison chanting PUT THAT IN SCENE. But, again, as a reader, do I really need those scenes? It's all working and building, and some of the writing is gorgeous, and I'm interested and the tension is dripping off the page. I put down the book and I thought—student-centered learning is over-rated, as it often means that students learn very little. Anything that goes on in an institution is inherently conservative, why not own up to it. From what I've seen, grad writing students love formulaic teachers. The longer I teach, the more I'm in the if it ain't broke don't fix it camp. If most writing students took my psychic's advice and just did what felt right in their bodies, they'd be better off for when I see writing get broken, it's when the person can't get out of their own head and take a look, a good long look, at the world outside, don't allow their selves to fully resonate with that world. They shouldn't be thinking, is it okay to shift from first person to third person in the same narrative. Anything can work, honey, anything if you really own it and connect with it.
Happy New Years to All.