Tuesday, September 23, 2008

My friend's 50th birthday ritual went off beautifully, with a couple dozen friends and family rolling seeds into little clay balls. The clay is supposed to protect the seeds from being eaten by birds, also to weigh them down so that they sink into the earth rather than get blown into the ocean. We were down by the port of Oakland, in the sun and wind, singing, rolling, eating...it really was a ritual, meaning a certain amount of work, of pilgrimage to get there. Three million seeds. Three million. It took hours and hours to roll them all. And none of us knew how it would come together, including the birthday girl.

I was honored to be a Seed Singer along with Bethie and Hadas; we took up our places in the center of the earth spiral and sang our hearts out. Hebrew songs, Beatles tunes, and Michael Row the Boat Ashore. We leaned in close to each other to hear the notes, our voices were surprisingly strong and the wind did not drown us out.

The sun appeared, disappeared, reappeared. I kept putting on and taking off my sweater. We watched a huge freight ship from China unloading goods with a crane. Probably cheap clothes made in factories by slave labor. Now that the U.S. banks have been bailed out using more loan money from the Chinese, how long before the cheap goods made with slave labor are heading the other way?

The next day I picked up my Little Sister--we made chocolate chip cookies. She baked a gigantic one for C, on the theory that he's the man. When we had washed my car the other week, she insisted on washing his as well, paying special attention to the rims of his tires. "When you wash a man's car, you got to wash the rims," she instructed me.

I'm in the midst of doing job applications for Poetry out Loud, and for a program teaching drama to kids in Berkeley. Some of my CPITS schools are running low on PTA mondy--budgeting is grim everywhere. I'm also thinking of other jobs I could do. I loved working at SF General back in the nineties, being an HIV test counselor.

"Would you like to go back to school and get a social work degree?" C asks. Well, no, because it would take 3 years and then, I think, three thousand hours of clinical internship. But maybe a certificate in Addiction Studies from Berkeley. I like working with addicts and I can relate; I have a compulsive personality myself, although I tend to get more addicted to behaviors and/or people than to substances.

If anyone out there sees a job possibility for me, please pass it along! My resume is posted at www.alisonluterman.blogspot.com.

Meanwhile, C and I continue our work on the house, which has functioned as a catalyst to bring up all our issues. I'm glad. It's best we get as much as possible out on the table before we're married. It's fair to say that we know ourselves and each other a whole lot better than we did before we began this renovation project; that the learning has not always been easy, but I believe that wisdom sets you free, ultimately. It's the getting of wisdome that is hard. Sort of like getting into shape--it feels great to be in shape, but getting there is exhausting. Or like what Tony Kushner said when asked if he liked to write: "I like having written."

I'm still reading John Patrick Shanley plays and loving him more with each new play. He speaks so honestly and directly from his own wounded psyche right into the wounded psyche of America. His plays are full of men and women who sometimes hurt each other, but do not destroy themselves or each other. the pain is in service to a greater knowing, a greater growth. He does not leave the viewer/reader in despair and total darkness--he acknowledges the darkness and says, Listen to it. I love him.


Anonymous said...

the addiction studies program at UCB is fantastic. i've taken several of the classes and will be attending Dr. Jimmie Turner's class there this and next month. definitely check it out!

Rae Hallstrom said...

I'm job hunting, too, Alison. It think it's a sad commentary on our culture that few writers, including really good ones with publishing records, make a living at verbal art.