Sunday, January 02, 2011

Honestly? 2010 had some wonderful gifts--new friends, publications, trips--and I'm grateful, grateful, grateful. But --to take nothing away from the gratitude--this was a hard year.

Carla died. We knew she was going to, and she did, and she tied up as many loose ends as she humanly could before she went, and I still don't actually believe she's gone. I mean I believe it. I know she's not here. For one thing she hasn't called me in ages. But then I think she's just...away...on the road, or something. Busy. She was always busy anyway. But she made heroic, super-human efforts to stay in touch with me, and with her other friends--and now she doesn't. Call. I have tried to write about her many times, and failed. Maybe I captured a little something, the silver of her voice, or her white shoulders shining out of her dress as she performed, or her huge enjoyment of her own dirty and outrageous jokes--but no one could catch the goofy, heartbreaking, beautiful entirety of her. Maybe someday I will be able to write something that catches some of her galloping, galvanizing spirit.

There are so many times I think about her without being really aware that I'm thinking about her. Then I realize I'm having a conversation with her in my head about some little thing or another--a movie, a book, a person. Only her end is conducted in the invisible realm.

The rest of the hardness hardly seems right to mention side by side with Carla's death, since they are of completely different realms. But the bad economy and especially the cutbacks in education spending affect Christopher and me on a daily basis. Out of respect for his privacy I won't blog about his work situation except to say that the stress has been soul-crushing. And when the soul is being crushed out of your partner, it's hard to stay centered and joyful. And yet that is what I would like to be.

As for my own life, the stress comes from not having any--or having very little work, and for not being sure how to generate and sustain enough income. I'm getting by, of course. I always get by. But I'd like to be able to earn enough to give C a big time-out and that is nowhere near happening.

I have been able to write a lot. This past year I worked hard on the third poetry manuscript and published many individual poems from it. It's much stronger now. I worked on essays and articles. And I worked and worked and worked on the play. Three revisions, at least, and we're still in process. Oy. Oufta. Things almost always take more time to find their final shape than i think they should. A dear friend recently reminded me of the value of the four-year plan. Instead of thinking that every project I initiate should come to fruition within that year, it's better to consider it like a university in which I am doing an ongoing independent study. It takes four years to matriculate. It takes that long (and longer) for many of the best-laid plans to mature.

So: once again, in this new year, I rededicate myself to The Recruiter, to the book of poems, and to doing more essays. I also want to note some of the best things I read and saw during this last year:

Farm City (a book) by Novella Carpenter, an Oakland-based urban guerilla farmer. Read it! It's gutsy, inspiring, funny and well-written.

Plays: I read a lot of wonderful plays this year. Ruined, by Lynn Nottage (then I bought her book and read the rest of her plays.) Amazing. The Vibrator Play or In the Next Rom by Sarah Ruhl. Also amazing. And her Passion Play, ditto. August: Osage County, and Superior Donuts by Tracy Letts. And this year I finally read Naomi Wallace, a playwright I had been hearing about for ages. I read One Flea Spare and loved it. I read An American Play which everyone told me to read because of the similarity in content to my own play and I didn't like it as well as One Flea Spare. Maybe if I'd seen it I would feel differently.

I read some great memoirs: Lit, by Mary Karr, Just Kids by Patti Smith, Naked, Drunk and Writing by Adair Lara and To Have Not, by Frances Lefkowitz. All wonderful.

I discovered the Romanian poet Ana Blandiana, and her wonderful poem Magic Spell of Rain.

The best movies I saw this year were Winter's Bone, and The Fighter. I'd be happy if either of them got the Oscar, or if Christian Bale or Jennifer Laurence got nominated for Best Actor and Actress. I did see The Kids Are All Right, but didn't like it as much as I thought I would. We saw The Black Swan and I thought Portman's performance was incredible--she should also get nominated.

For 2011: I'm gonna study more improvisation, both Interplay and Bay Area Theatre Sports. I'll try one more time to keep a semblance of a garden alive (I've heard that watering is key.) I'll study Xi Gung. I'll do another revision or ten of The Recruiter, and keep writing other things on the side. Maybe I'll finally be able to write the essay about Carla.

I planned to go to Haiti in 2010 and then aborted the plans last-minute because of the civic unrest and the difficulty in communications with the base where I planned to land. I hope I complete that plan in 2011. And write about it. And have some faith as this next circuit round the sun unfurls.

46 comments:

Andrea said...

thanks for your honest post, and not sugar-coating 2010. You're such a talented writer, and I wish you success and prosperity; I hope all you put out comes back to you many times over!

Anonymous said...

Oufta: where I come from, they spell it 'uffda'. . unless you were trying to say 'oufta', then it is spelled right.

And I think Xi Gung is usually spelled as qigong .. but is pronounced close to how you spelled it, or 'chi'gung' or 'gee-gung.

Here's a link to a qigong institute, to show you how they spell it.

Sorry for the edits. I used to support my writing as a copyeditor and sometimes I can't help myself.

Anonymous said...

thanks for this post. i have missed you - the amazing, talent that you are and always will be. thanks for the carla remembrance tribute. i read all her blogs but only met her once, unexpectedly, at Yoshi's in SF seeing Shawn Colvin; what a memorable night. see how we almost fly? yes! best to you and yours in this new year of 2011. peace...

Alison said...

I'm sure you are right about the spellings of both uffda or oufta and quigong--neither spelling nor correct typing is my strong suit!

Thanks for the edits, and thanks, other anonymous person, for the sweet memory of Carla...

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