Friday, December 09, 2005

Me MeMe Me Meme Me On Time - Take Two

20 Years Ago - I am 31. I'm having a hard time handling my mother's rape, murder & arson case in November of 1982; The house insurance and property dispute takes a long time to resolve. I'm handling that. I spend a long time hanging out in the house. I have ripped ceilings down. Stripped walls. Cleared rubble. Gutted. Drawn elaborate plans for the rebuilding. I spend a lot of time sitting in my mother's bedroom, my old room. I can't do much, because of the insurance. But, it's a total loss. I have to fight the insurance company. I don't get the insurance for lack of a document. But I find a handwritten will. I am living in Santa Cruz. I am writing my qualifying exam for candidacy for a doctorate in History of Consciousness: "On Subjectivity, Subjugation, Subjectivization, and Its Subject; Or, Memphis Minnie Meets the Text of the State." After spending what I refer to as "6 months watching the plants die" in 1983 I decided to go back to school. I earn a degree with high honors in Creative Arts from San Jose State. My new Guru, Stanley Kunitz, gives a reading at San Jose State which is really a talk -- he's reading from notes for A Kind Of Order, A Kind of Folly -- and I am inspired to pursue a lifelong ambition: to get training as a philosopher. I had studied with Stanley in Port Townsend paid for with my NEA grant in '76, then I followed him to the Fine Arts Work Center in Provincetown in '78 where I was an honored Fellow (I was awarded a special Fellowship) as NYC was just too much for me and my girl to live in, so I never pursued studying with him at Columbia, although I did make the trip and spoke to Carol Muske and Dan Halpern about the program. (Dan tried to steer me into the Translation Program). So, in 1985 I am well into the program. My husband and I are both in denial over the fact that we have separated. He had a hard time handling my handling of a hard time and tells me to "knock it off" because I am crying. Me, having always been the strong, and somewhat stoic one, for all my obvious passion, and maybe, intensity. I have a new Guru, Hayden White, my mentor. I am ecstatic in all ways to be in the program and to have him as my mentor. I realize I am a semiotician. I realize I realize the Political Unconscious. I watch Fred from a distance as he walks through the campus. I don't want to study with him, just his words. I am focusing on the rhetoric of the signified and the anti-aesthetic. My field is axiology, the theory of values. I am studying the art of the Weimer Republic and the "encounter" in the New World while attempting to construct some system of indigenous American philosophy. I already know Memphis Minnie. Hayden calls me "brilliant" and tells his new Theories & Methods class to ask me about symbol and "The Political Unconscious." I am team-teaching a course I love, "Values and Change In A Diverse Society" which is the Core Course for Oakes College. I hang out with old barrio artist friends from San Jo. I am actively involved in a search and excited over the prospect of bringing Teresa de Lauretis; I lobby hard for her. I decide a Sicilian feminist critic is the next best thing to a Chicana prof. I have been studying with David Hoy, "Mr. Impeccable," extensively. I am half in love with Jed Rasula. I like Tabula Rasala. We have an odd private reading where no one knows what to say to the other. We talk a lot about what later becomes his tome. We have a platonic friendship, we're both married, and I refer to him as "a laser beam." I have withdrawn from everybody. Norton is calling my house incessantly requesting a bio as I have been selected for inclusion in one of their major anthologies. I let the phone ring, sign for the registered letters I never answer. I secretly decide that this is certified proof of my madness. I gave up poetry after my mother's murder. I was never going to write again as "Poetry isn't possible in this world." And, I was never again going to use my personal life in a poem. Much less write a bio. Or, answer the phone. I decide if I'm going get all catatonic I might as well put a book in front of my face (just kidding) (sort of) having never been self-destructive; i.e., an alcoholic or drug addict. My chosen method of escape is the Word. I read around the clock: Hegel, Kant, Klor de Alva, Foucault, Derrida, "the whole football team" I say. I never know if it's morning or night. I work at least 5 hours a day on my coursework. I love it. One night I went up on the balcony, by the mouth of the San Lorenzo where it meets the ocean in a frolic of sea lions, and it was very very late. I looked up at the sky, thinking of my childhood "star trips" and as I'm "starring up" I hear a voice in my head, maybe a cadence with words: "MAAAAANnnn, it was tough/ to know it all/ and we haven't learned anything/ since" and I decided to write it down. The Muse, whomever she is, has a Muse of her own, as well as a mind. I secretly think it has something to do with channelling. I'm writing a novel and a screenplay, and my husband tells me not to "prostitute my talent." After that first poem, BIRD AVE, the rest come on their own, mostly late at night (wolves' hour) like the next to come, an overly long narrative entitled "To David Without Goliath From Penny Glass" which is the one I read to Jed. Then, comes the majority of the poems that make up my next book. I get the idea of a literary tryptic. Come to think of it, most of the poems written, not many, have something to do with stars. I am more a puppet of the poetry, rather than a flesh and blood poet. Only two people in the world know where I am: my husband and my housemate, Francisco Alarcon -- I consider him my best friend. I am working in a print shop to pay for it all, part time and summer. I love it, but the guys are cruel. One young guy gets mad at me because I can fix the presses faster than the repair man can arrive. I am a member of Chicano Social Workers and print up things for people as donation work. I like working with my hands, but I become aware that in a day's work, I am exposing myself to 21 known carcinogenic substances. Oh well, I make good money. I trade hour per hour for use of equipment. I have trouble with odd pains in my stomach, "On Day of the Dead" I have an extraordinary encounter with Carlos Castaneda, a man I was sure I would meet when I first read him as an adolescent. I present a reading at Northridge and he surprises the prof at her door by saying, "You have someone coming whom I want to meet." She hasn't advertised the reading. I "dream" his presence in my room talking to me all night before I actually meet him. When we meet for dinner, after "Hello," he asks me: "How did you dream last night?" I smile and say, "It was very interesting." He talks a lot about love and his real father. He signs my book, which I miraculously happen to have with me as i was then constructing my system of philosophy so was rereading everything about him including the books: "Freedom is expensive, but the price is not impossible to pay." And attributes the quote to Don Juan. We close out the restaurant and at midnight we're in the parking lot. He tells me, "You know, I have lost my power. But, I'll help you." His eyes shine intensely, a definite gaze and glow, as he lightly but firmly applies pressure on my left shoulder. I feel as if a snake is uncoiling in my belly as a sharp pain in my stomach, a pain I was deciding I needed to see a doctor about, vanished forever. Later, when I get back from the trip, I dream an envelope full of money. I think I'm going to get money. I'm very poor. I am an internationally acclaimed poet. I am withdrawing more and more from everyone and everything. But, books.


Blogger BlueTattoo said...

I very much enjoyed my walk through your space...I have read you before; happening upon your link was a lovely suprise. Please feel welcome to visit my poetry blog...


11/12/05 00:37  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Dear Lorna:

As always, I am astounded by your gift with words, and your frankness when you write your poetry. Eres chingona.

Sonia G- Formerly @Stanford, now @ Purdue

13/12/05 16:54  
Blogger Ktrion said...

This one was very rich in so many ways. Bird Ave changed my life, by the way. Just so you know. Otherwise I would prob'ly have focused on Jane Austen.

19/12/05 20:02  

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