July 27, 2015

TEXT MESSAGES TO HANNAH


A.R. Penck, 1971


 I'm falling asleep
at my pork chop
A memoir

Can you do this for me
and find out
which is my best astrological
love match
Another Memoir

 Are you getting tacos
without me
Chicken mole burrito
so good too

My new address is in Brooklyn
and my friend Paris is helping me
move

I am up late
I haven't been feeling well
all day
so I slept a lot

Swollen glands
and a period
Send mail to Maine for now
before my life becomes
overwhelming

 I never do kegels
I forget it's a thing
I literally don't think of it
until you say it to me

Ok ok
how long
how many pulses a day
what are mindless tasks to do them during
And you try to hold each one as long as you can?
Or a mix up

I fell in love again
this weekend
but he's getting married in two months
 hard and sad
I had to keep it
on lock

 wife is a smart lady
I am the life of the party
Hi hello nice 2 meet u
Life of the party here



FOR MARCY


I forgot it's impossible for you to enjoy things
that have to do
With Me

Blessed & Healthy

we are All allowed to be sad
I feel that deeply

I honor my pain
I look at my pain in its cat-faced strawberry face
Hi Hello
I will keep this for myself

and when this thing bubbles to my surface
 as it occasionally does, that pain
and if somebody asks me on it
I will acknowledge it with humility

I unfold sometimes
but I say thank you when I am
  in line
at the grocery store

somebody said to me kindness is magic
 of course  

 there is abundance about you
you don't have to hide even a piece
of your cake
you don't even know
what it is to hide something

Are we all doomed
why did nobody before say It's Like This Women
they must have

Kisses have no effect on me
Soft touches of the hand
back of my neck
A gentle squeeze

Can you tell him?
In a calm, non-reactive way
Just like "I feel sad"
Just like direct, resolution based communication
Just like empathetic and judgment-free listening

Can you try some things?
What else haven't you tried

You have the luxury
of more space
freed up in your mind
space not spent thinking about
the consideration of others
all of the time
but some space is
taken up
and in this space you tell yourself
that you aren't the things that you occasionally
might fear you are
because you've been told
by more than one of us

You believe in what you come up with
and in what you decide about yourself
because you've never had to consider the alternative
to not believing
in yourself
You trust You

should I raise my hand
because somebody forgot to teach me
this one more thing
on listening to oneself 

You have the luxury
of writing your own narrative
nobody else has to be in it in order for you To

I don't want to keep mopping the floors clean
before and after you walk
to make you more
Comfortable Here


June 6, 2015

BLOOD LETTING


Dear Madeline,

I am exhausted and eternally grateful for the life I have in America. I am also feeling deeply appreciative of American men. I don't understand at all the narrative my mother was writing when she decided to have children with an Italian, and later another longer, heavier relationship with another Italian. For this to be of any appeal you truly must have a self destructive nature. We accept the love we think we deserve.

My father is a man full of contradictions with an incredibly difficult character about him. I think he was expecting an attack from me and he has been quite "on guard." His attitude leans towards righteous and arrogant, and he's made sure I know he is entirely proud of himself. As I mentioned in my first letter, he also spends too much time concerned with my appearance and style and finds it appropriate to dress and objectify me. Considering the relationship we don't have, this is not appropriate behavior. I'm not sure if it would ever feel appropriate to me. But this is the Italian way. He is controlling and he looks at the world as if his truth is The Truth to a degree I have not felt the energy of before. So far we have only had one major meltdown together (though I've had a few on my own) where I had to leave a crowded dinner table mid-meal. Something racist, something homophobic, something something. I denied his company for the rest of the day and for most of the one that followed.

I was plagued with the feeling that I could not spend any more time with him. Certainly I could survive the 7 days left with this man, but at what cost, for what purpose? I hear voices of some people I keep close telling me to keep an open heart for the remainder of my stay and I hear voices telling me to Get The Fuck Out because I Don't Owe Anybody Anything. What does my voice tell me?
Must I suffer another man's control, objectification, stupidity, and bigotry, even if this man is my father? "father" 

Do we accept our parents regardless of who they are? Perhaps if it was you with your parents, or me with my mother, we would look the other way when it came to differences in opinion or outlook. My mother raised me on The Golden Rule and lentils, and has never ceased to share love and support, as pure it gets. And so even if her views differ from mine, I respect her. I care what she thinks and how she feels. She has positioned herself in such a way that she has a compelling and authentic platform to speak from: she loves me unconditionally. Alternatively, my father has allowed for silence and oceans between us and the only thing we've shared is space. Perhaps when it is the only thing, blood is not enough. 

For Lorenzo, it seems everything is difficult. The heat, the crowds, waiting in line at the market, the metro, walking up stairs, anybody who does something differently than he would. He curses under his breath regularly - "cazzo," which translates directly to "penis," and the tension is palpable. I'm just not used to enduring this energy. It is a testament to the importance of not letting other people's shit become my shit. People really want to give you their shit.

There are times when my father surprises me. He is materialistic, snobby, he wears a slight distaste for the poor, but I've noticed he gives money to every street musician he sees busking. The first time I saw this I couldn't believe my eyes and wondered in fear what he could possibly want with that man playing guitar on the subway platform. Finally, a soft spot. 
"Do you still play guitar?" I ask him while bringing forward murky memories of his effortless ability to play and sing. 
"No," he replies. 
"Why not? It's something you never forget," I ask.
He looks to me from the corner of his eye and pauses briefly."She forgets you." 

Love,

Anna

June 2, 2015

LET ME ABSOLVE YOU

 
I cannot forget that my resolution was to have no expectations, if anything I was to expect awkward, the uncomfortable. What will we talk about? 
But I didn't allow myself to think about the possibility of the unbearable before coming.
 
I cross-check myself tonight to see if I am being dramatic, am I being too sensitive, am I too critical. Why don't I trust myself more?  My heart was open.
 
We wandered through Rome center today and Renzo spent the morning walk describing the extent of his luxurious lifestyle, how for him "only designer, only Cartier, Hermes too," and how his partner of 10 years only wears the best: Louis Vuitton, Dior, Fendi. I felt my jaw grow tense and pictured my mother writing checks to the orthodontist for the seven total years that my brother and I had braces. The fuck, man? When did you decide to abdicate your responsibilities? 
 
He took me in and told me what he thought of it:
 
-I like your hair more this way, not that way
-I like your shoes but we have to go get them shined immediately, you should take care of your leather
-This bag you have is in bad shape, tomorrow I buy you a real bag
-This watch is...I have better watches to give you, my watches are my babies
-You should sit here, not there 
-Do not eat the apple like this, if you eat the apple like this you can go to the zoo with the animals, there is a right way and a wrong way with everything in Life
-You have very nice hands and feet, this is important

I wonder if he noticed my teeth and how fucking perfect those are. Thanks Mom!




June 1, 2015

CONSIDER YOURSELF


I pull my bag off from the carrier after emotionally wading through an hour without sight of it. I walk towards a standing crowd of many, people in waiting, all of us in waiting, and I see my father immediately. He stands at the front wearing a sky-blue and neatly pressed oxford button down, well-fitted slacks of a mature khaki. It all appears so vividly as if to burn the eyes. 

He looks better than I expect him to, slimmer and with a handsome grey beard, with more hair than I've been picturing all these years apart. He extends a firm hand to shake mine, he exerts no emotion. 

"You are an hour late," he blurts with expectation. I mutter an excuse, it rolls off of my tongue without any consideration for myself. I boil inside for doing this with such ease, for explaining myself, a natural at taking something on my conscience that I shouldn't. As if there is an excuse, as if it was in my control, as if it was my fault, as if there is any other explanation than being at the mercy of AerLingus. 

I think about how funny it would be to say "And you are 15 years late" in response, but I don't because I am nervous and smaller than everybody. He insists on rolling the suitcase I've brought with me behind him, but he doesn't want to do this for me or for anybody. I can tell by the way he drags it, no trace of an altruistic nature. He has yet to smile. I pass by women taller than me who wear strappy stilettos, tanned and knobby-kneed. I see how much skin they leave bare, I feel how covered I am, cashmere in June and all black, well-loved Blundstones on the bottom.

His heart is tight like an empty fist and I feel an overwhelming and nagging need to see Edoardo, the other, more prominent, Italian father-figure in my narrative. Am I here to see the wrong man? I like to think Edoardo would be happy to see me.

My first night in Rome I sit for dinner at Orietta's house. Orietta is my father's older sister. She is 70 years old with succulent and hydrated olive skin, her frame petite, and always she has lived alone in a decadent apartment off of Via Poliziano in the southern corner of the city, down by the Colosseum.

I am so pleased to make her acquaintance, to meet family. She seats me at the head of the table soon after I arrive and pours us two short glasses of Chardonnay. I know this will be my place for the duration of my stay, and I am grateful to have this vantage, to sit beside no one. I feel warmed and lulled watching her move about the kitchen, her pace about things mesmerizes me. She is always moving, handling food, pouring wine and water, or lighting up, but you would never know it until the small bowl of pasta appears in front of you, hot with magnificence, and a feast begins. 

Joining us are two friends of my father's, Gigi and his wife Daniela. They are jovial and air flows about them. Gigi is kind, inclusive, he remembers me as a baby, and speaks regularly in a non-predatory manner about how "carina" I am. "Especially the eyes," he says in Italian. I am relieved to sense how well I understand conversational Italian, the bodily delight of getting another language. I find that the only time I have trouble deciphering the constant chatter is when they turn to matters of gossiping about people I don't know. I feel blessed for this inadvertent and contextual deafness. I'm not expected to contribute to the conversation and I take these sporadic time-outs to smoke a cigarette and observe the room while turning inwards.

Also with us is Karly, a young man of 40 who I come to understand functions as an adopted half-brother to me, the son of a woman my father was with for many years after my mother. I vaguely remember him, but somewhere in my memory he does appear. He is well groomed and meticulously so at first glance. He just seems clean. I notice immediately that he is wearing a Putin t-shirt and I point "Ha!,' a move that I assume will manifest in shared jest between us. He also reveals little overall emotion, but I figure that he is not joking with the t-shirt when he states "Putin is a traditional man with traditional values. Whats wrong with that?" 

I want badly for somebody who knows me to be with me in solidarity as a witness, a laughing fly on the wall. I couldn't make this up if I tried, excuse me while I take notes for later. Karl and I exist on two separate lines, and yet I am inclined to feel true respect towards him. I still like him alright even after I pull out the extremist and somewhat hateful perspective he holds. He's not after me. And when dinner is over, he is obliged to take me to the B&B where I am staying alone via motorino. He drives fast and wild but not without intention. I know I am safe, I just know his mind is sharp and focused. I like the way it feels to have confidence in someone else, in a him. Somewhere I least expected it, I like it even more. I am outside of my comfort zone and it's true: it's exhilarating.





May 25, 2015

WAITING



Tonight I drive alone to Portsmouth at sundown. I take myself to the movies. Sitting in the car park I get high before the film and talk to Nate Luce on the phone in between inhales. This warm voice, calling from a barn on Martha's Vineyard.

I see the screen adaptation of Far From The Madding Crowd and it feels indulgent, taboo even. To get so unabashedly lost in another world, my only desire. Rolling green hills, sheep, a farmstead. A heroine. I will not feel shame for feeling a fantasy. Another time and place, but one you've been through before, or perhaps one you will someday meet. Is that not why we are wont to drown in film?

I am one of four women in the theater, all of us alone together and meeting at the midweek. What do we share? Why tonight, you? I watch the screen and long for a braid that falls down my back with it's own echo. I imagine my own land.



In two days I will go to Rome to see my father, Lorenzo. We have not seen one another or had contact beyond the postcard and a single exchange of letters, in 15 years. I will take care of myself in my mother's home, holding fast to a steady flow of courage until its really time to go.

April 30, 2015

January 27, 2015

I MAY SAY I AM UNBORN

I moved to Vermont, a township rural and small, not for the man or the mountains, but for the library that doesn't collect late fees. I fall in love with books, I cannot let them go. But what is a book if not shared?

It has been suggested throughout my checkered academic odyssey that Thoreau may not be for everybody. Wrong. 

Maybe Thoreau's spirit resonates with me so right because I grew up a mile down the road from his woods (if only this actually made me cooler...). Romance and sentimentality aside, perhaps the magnetic sensation is widespread, is because his writing is celestially ubiquitous, the intrinsic brightness of a star. See: I to Myself: An Annotated Selection from the Journal of Henry D. Thoreau


July 19, 1851 

Here I am thirty-four years old, and yet my life is almost wholly unexpanded. How much is in the germ! There is such an interval between my ideal and the actual in my instances that I may say I am unborn. There is the instinct for society, but no society. Life is not long enough for one success. Within another thirty-four years that miracle can hardly take place. Methinks my seasons revolve more slowly than those of nature; I am differently timed. I am contented. This rapid revolution of nature, even of nature in me, why should it hurry me? Let a man step to the music which he hears, however measured. Is it important that I should mature as soon as an apple tree? aye, as soon as an oak? May not my life in nature, in proportion as it is supernatural, be only the spring and infantile portion of my spirit’s life? Shall I turn spring to summer? May I not sacrifice a hasty and petty completeness here to entireness there? If my curve is large, why bend it to a smaller circle? My spirit’s unfolding observes not the pace of nature. The society which I was made for is not here. Shall I, then, substitute for the anticipation of that this poor reality? I would [rather] have the unmixed expectation of that than this reality. If life is a waiting, so be it. I will not be shipwrecked on a vain reality. What were any reality which I can substitute? Shall I with pains erect a heaven of blue glass over myself, though when it is done I shall be sure to gaze still on the true ethereal heaven far above, as if the former were not,—that still distant sky o’er-arching that blue expressive eye of heaven? I am enamored of the blue-eyed arch of heaven.

Thoreau, Henry D. I to Myself: An Annotated Selection from the Journal of Henry D. Thoreau. 
         Ed. Jeffrey S. Cramer. New Haven: Yale UP, 2007. Print.



December 21, 2014

PAW AT THE WILD, WILD NIGHT


solstice, serenity, the unconquerable sun, the big picture, a big picture of me

When your eyes are tired
the world is tired also.

When your vision has gone
no part of the world can find you.

Time to go into the dark
where the night has eyes
to recognize its own.

There you can be sure
you are not beyond love.

The dark will be your womb
tonight.

The night will give you a horizon
further than you can see.

You must learn one thing.
The world was made to be free in.

Give up all the other worlds
except the one to which you belong.

Sometimes it takes darkness and the sweet
confinement of your aloneness
to learn

anything or anyone
that does not bring you alive

is too small for you.

 //David Whyte