So Steve, gentleman among ghosts, flesh amongst towers,
Here's a funny thing.
About two years ago, I figured out that I could fail. More stunning,
of course, were the thirty-odd years *without* that awareness, which is
quite an achievement, by any measure (but I am especially fond of the
And what does it mean, exactly, to have this nascent realization,
coupled with the onslaught of understanding that everything before has
been quite improbable? Perfection, I mean. Why did I ever think I could
sustain success, and what should I do, now that abject personal sewage
and I had become intimately acquainted?
Well, first there was my Orange Period, when I wore a puffy jumpsuit
in the county jail, attendant to admitting my guilt at "harassment with
the intent to annoy" (the other charges were dropped). Truth: I did
harass him, and I did intend to annoy him. Irony: the judge presiding at
the in-house courtroom of the county jail was none other than the judge
who had married me to the guy I'd harassed with such intent. He was very
kind, indeed, the judge: let me go without so much as a fine -- just a
year's worth of unsupervised probation; he even said they should "hang
out a banner" for me, after what I'd "been through," seeing as how no
sane person would have arrested a nice girl like me in the first place,
me being the one with the bruises and all.
Then I went into hiding. Left the state, no forwarding address,
drove my U-Haul trailer and two of my kids far into the deep south,
where no one in their right mind would ever think to look for me. Lay
out by the apartment complex pool for three solid months, slathered in
oil and reading the same six pages over and over of Philip Red Eagle's
_Red Earth_. Not because they were good pages, and not because they were
bad, but because nothing was sinking in at the moment and, one day to
the next, I couldn't remember what the author had said in that damned
book, although I knew it was very intense. My petulant immobility phase,
All the fight went out of me. That was the next thing. And a new
thing. So I became humbled. A frightening thing, humility: I suddenly
felt that I had neither the right nor the invitation to pretend at the
throne(s) of intellectual acumen and arrogance.
Next came desperation, upon the arrival of which I belittled myself
in the name of survival in ways befitting only a confused adolescent.
It is also true that I buried my dreams. In sarcasm, cynicism, rage,
uncertainty -- buried them beneath the shards of every cautious edge
that had, for so long, defined me.
Then my husband took me to court, questioned my "stability." Am I
less real for the processes of addition, subtraction, multiplication, or
division? Does "stability" refuse to acknowledge the empirical veracity,
the mathematical certainty, of change?
Apparently so. I am guilty of having made of my lovers fall-guys,
whipping-boys, noble knaves and exalted buffoons. There are documents to
But. There is nothing less possible than grief. Mourning. That twin
of desperation. That split-second after surrender, before acceptance.
The very texture of regret. No.
And, to paraphrase Aurora Levins Morales, my choosing to suffer
gives nothing to my childhood best friends or my brother and mother, to
the lovers I've mistreated and to those who love me still -- and not to
use the tongue, the self-confidence, the privilege my training bought me
is to die again for people who are already dead and who wanted to live.
Okay, but the training. Once, I told my ex-girlfriend the stuff I'd
read about the Bloomsbury group, and what happened to the women who
tried to fashion their lives in a new direction. How the men seemed to
surge powerfully amidst all the sexual liberties and unseated
repressions, while the women only seemed to fall further into truths
that bit and scarred. I admitted that sometimes I got tired of
struggling, and like Woolf, I wanted to just walk deep into some deep
reservoir of forgiving waters, my pockets filled with stones. My
girlfriend smiled and nudged me a little. Fill your pockets with
strawberries, she said. And she smiled again, really smiled.
This is the same girl who tells me that I should go to On and On
Anon, cuz I talk too damned much.
So what does that tell you about writing?
> good, because I can't think of anybody other than Mark himself who has
> referred to my writing was "jy-like." And then refuted the connection as if
> it was somebody else's idea. Why the comparison? Where'd that come from?
> Fiction and non fiction intermingle at all levels. The distinction can be
> drawn at whatever intellectualized existential plane anyone wants to gas
> over. I'd rather just listen to Canela write than haggle over whether it is
> or is not classifiable as "fictions" because I already accept it as REAL.
> And I get that from the power of the voice and the degree to which that
> voice allows me to feel like I am *that* person. Identification is far more
> important than the devices of either invention or reportage. Identification
> is an intuitive fiction, itself. I can feel identification by watching blobs
> of light on a piece of cloth in two dimensions in a movie theater. And I can
> get it from every person who writes here. The I am not-other than.
> As far as "exploring the interstice" goes, fine. Just bring me along with
> you. From a practical standpoint you'll need to maintain my reader
> identification (and interest), and that's a knotty problem if your intention
> is to betray my trust for the sake of a device.
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