Yesterday was my mother's yahrzeit. I said Kaddish with my sister Emily over the phone. Later, I lit the candle for her and two other candles I had bought for C's parents and we said Kaddish together for our ancestors. Then we watched the movie Evening in tribute to Natasha Richardson. What a lovely lady, in the old-fashioned sense of the word. Her smile communicated warmth and womanliness and deep contentment in love. What a loss.
(The movie itself was okay. I think I'm over Michael Cunningham. All these affairs in New England beachhouses, and quasi triangles involving two men and one woman and ambiguous homoerotic overtones. I'm not saying there's anything wrong with any of that. I'm just saying I saw it in A Home At The End of the World and also in The Hours. His thematic territory is well-worked.)
The fig tree is putting out its little green leaves, like baby hands. Later in the season they will metamorphose into big glossy dark-green clown gloves. There are those tart lemony yellow wildflowers everywhere--I was on a walk with Ruth yesterday and she ate one so I ate one--sour!
And the peach tree is in glorious pink blossom, and on our walk we also saw a blossoming apricot, and lots of California poppies--the bright orange ones, and some paler orange contrasting. Say what you will about God, S/He/It is amazing with color. With justice and mercy, not so much, or at least, not so comprehensible. But with interior or exterior design, unsurpassable.
C is nearing completion on the in-law--although whenever I tell that to anyone close to me they dissolve into laughter since I've been saying that for months now. But it gets truer and truer. I can feel the space opening up. I cleared about a third of the backyard from the mile high weeds that were growing back there--there's two thirds left to go. I finished a good draft of the empathy essay, but it still needs more work. "Go deeper," Ruth says. That's pretty much what she always says.
Today I walked around the lake with my friend Laurie and we talked about the Feminine. I seem to have this irrational need for the women in my life to always be perfectly rational. Or, more accurately, I get impatient with "mushiness," with lack of clarity or difficulty articulating (even though I myself am not always perfectly clear.)
As a writing teacher that translates into lecturing on the value of straightforward sentences: subject verb object. I want women to risk coming out and saying what they mean. No qualifiers. Laurie and I co-taught a writing weekend last summer. it went very well, but she told me a couple of women were intimidated by the expectations I was bringing to the table. They were used to a more free-form practice; Laurie teaches Wild Writing which emphasizes letting the unconscious infuse the work with its own energy.
I was surprised when we worked together how that triggered me. At the time i couldn't put a finger on it. Laurie and I both enjoy each other and respect each other's work. We shared the space and the power well, and the group of women which she had assembled were wonderful. Nevertheless I was a bit irritable, and though I tried to control my impatience, I am a lousy dissembler, and some of it leaked through. It took us nine months to find the time to take a walk and begin talking about it.
"I have to confess something awful," I told her. "I despise and desire the Feminine."
She laughed. "I feel the same way!"
"You do??" I thought I was the only one. Sometimes I feel like a brute. I blame it on my size and strength, but it's not about that at all. It's energetic. When I meet a woman who seems to live from her feminine energy, whose strength lies in nurturing or seducing, in the sensual and in feelings rather than in reason and in logic, I feel both attraction and envy and rage and contempt.
I don't know why I do this polarizing thing to myself and others--assume that if a woman is in her feminine goddess aspect then that means there isn't room for the two of us, and so I have tot ake on the masculine role. It fits in with another tendency I have, which is whenever anyone expresses a quality I take on its opposite. I don't know why I am so oppositional--a positive answer would be that it's a balancing tendency, to make sure all qualities are represented. A truer answer might be that it's a scarcity model--there's only so much beauty or womanliness or strength or whatever to go ahead, so if you're owning it, I'll have to own something else.
I'm not saying any of this is rational. I'm just saying it comes up. And working with another woman, it comes up more. Which is a great reason to work with other women. I get along well with men, for the most part, and/but I find our interactions don't challenge my deepest self-inquiries the way women do. Men are good friends and wonderful supporters. Women are mirrors, with all the honesty and ego that that implies.
Tomorrow I'm going with Carla to the Vintage Expo to look for a wedding dress--it doesn't have to be traditional wedding-y, just a nice dress. the clothes in Evening were from the fifties and I love those styles.