Floundering Through It

Ann Wilson poses with two fans.

Lito and Estela fan pic with the fabulous Ann Wilson, at Yoshi’s in Oakland, CA. Nov. 23, 2015.

I flounder through this life of mine. I’d say, “I’ve lived haphazardly,” but I don’t mean “aimlessly.” I have always had an aim: poetry, writing, art. Yet, here I am, going gray and still trying to get “there.” I haven’t always been clear on where “there” might be, let alone the path. Nor clear on my self-worth. And circumstances have been insufficiently conducive. It’s been a hell of a challenge, but my aim prevails.

Ann and Nancy Wilson of rock band Heart performing in San Francisco.

Heart at the Masonic in San Francisco, Sept. 2015

Last September, I saw Heart at the Masonic here in The City. As always, they were amazing. Nancy with her guitar, Ann with her incredible vocals. I love that they don’t act a fool, come out on stage all bare-assed, tits hanging out, spreading their legs, bending over and sticking their asses in the air, or eccentric, like that chick who covers her face with her hair like a fucking shaggy dog. Tony Bennett gave Lady Gaga good advice. You ain’t gotta have all the gimmicks when you have that talent. Ann and Nancy Wilson aren’t squares either. They are fucking cool. I especially love Ann’s style. Ann and Nancy Wilson are ladies, but are still kick-ass, rocker chicks.

Ann Wilson is touring solo. Her tour is The Ann Wilson Thing. She performed at Yoshi’s in Oakland last Monday. We had “meet & greet tickets,” which meant we got special fan seating (right in front of the stage!), and a chance to take a fan pic with her before the show.

Fans were instructed not to touch her, no hugs, no autographs. I stood with my hands behind my back. I was “a total fan chick,” my son said, because I told her she was awesome, when I could’ve said something more like “Your lyrics are beautiful poetry,” which indeed they are. And I told her she looked fabulous, when I could’ve told her I love her incredible voice, it’s beautiful and powerful. But, no. I babbled. I’m embarrassed. What a fucking weenie I am. She was really nice, though, and said, “Thank you.” I deliberately put my hands behind my back because I wanted to make sure I didn’t reach out and touch her. I so wanted to throw my arms around her and hug her. I was totally tripping out. Inside I’m like, “Holy shit, it’s Ann Wilson! Ahhhh!” I maintained, though, other than blithering my admiration.

Ann Wilson and I are the same age. I was born a month and a half before she was. She dyes her hair. I don’t. She’s an entertainer, a rock star, so she has to look fabulous. She’s a beautiful woman, even without the cosmetics. And, my god, what a voice!

She’s doing covers of some fucking great songs. She said there would be no Heart songs, that this was her thing, The Ann Wilson Thing. “We’re going deep and dark,” she said. I said, “YEAH!” Not to myself. Not inside me. I actually did holler that. “YEAH!” Hell, “deep and dark” is right up my alley. I felt that Ann Wilson wasn’t sure fans would accept her just as Ann, and not a representative of Heart. She didn’t want to be Heart, she just wanted to be Ann. I’m sure most of us (fans) love her because she fucking rocks. Period.

She started out with Buffalo Springfield’s For What it’s Worth. I remember hearing that song in early 1967. That was the year my life got shot to hell. When everything went wrong. I got married in March. I turned seventeen in April. I felt like my life, my future, my dreams, got taken away from me. I blamed my mother. Well, it was her fault, but at the same time not. It was her fault because she made a decision that greatly impacted my life. Her decision compelled me to make my decision, albeit, mostly unconsciously. I had to get the hell out of there. My only way out was to get married. I wasn’t the runaway type. Even if I had been, that would’ve been a Hell road too. A worse one, surely. It was also not my mother’s fault because it was just meant to be. Everything is. Back then this song depressed me, but I couldn’t say why. “Something’s happening here. There’s a man with a gun over there, telling me I’ve got to beware…What a field day for the heat. A thousand people in the street.” It’s so relevant to today. The song doesn’t depress me anymore. It excites me. Tremendously.

Yesterday doesn’t matter. Today and tomorrow do. I write my poetry, my stories, and I’m pleased with my work.

I submitted four poems to a magazine last week. I have always heard that rejections are inevitable. I’m prepared for that. I think. I’ll keep submitting, anyway. I have nothing to lose.

Emily Dickinson had an aversion to being public. I totally get it. Sure, “How public like a frog/To tell one’s name the livelong day/To an admiring bog!” Fuck the blowhards and their moronic admirers. Fuck the public arena, where “the masses elevate fools into rich heroes.” Still, an artist wants to share her/his art.

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Clowns and Dicks at Open Mic (aka Mike)

Graphic of cross-eyed clown with colorful hair.

“Payaso” (Clown). Graphic by Estela

Some folks write “mike.” I prefer “mic,” cuz it’s truncated “microphone.”

I love open mic. I was disappointed when an established poet said she hates open mic. She’s no major poet, but she’s got a name, regionally speaking. I think she’s sentimental. Unicorns bore me. But some folks dig that shit. “Che, you are the poetry,” she says. Ugh. That ain’t poetry to me. Dinosauria, We–now, that knocks me out.

Some people hate Bukowski. Really hate him. I love him. I never tire of Bukowski. Poetry or prose, love Buskowski. “I don’t hate people,” he says, “I just feel better when they’re not around.” :D Ha. Yeah. I get that. I totally get that.

Wanted to open mic at a particular cafe. Readings there began in early 70’s. I wanted to read there because of the historical significance. Famous names of the past once read there. I thought, Man, I wanna be where they once were. I discovered they record and stream the readings. I checked ’em out. I was disappointed. Saw two poets I know. I like their poetry. But I wasn’t too keen on the rest. Decided to nix the place from my “Gotta List.”

The two places I frequent most are virtually around the corner. A five minute walk. One’s been going on close to three years. The other a few months. Once a month, same week, different day. I have featured at both.

The great thing about open mic is that anyone is welcome. The problem with open mic is that anyone is welcome. Any. One. Years ago, at an open mic, some gal, a happy, clueless chick, early 20’s, signed up, cuz she was digging the scene, people in the spotlight, at the mic. She was with friends. Giggling, she trots up to the mic, opens her mouth, realizes she’s got nothin’, so she clowned. Closed her eyes, tipped her head to the side, feigned sleep. Opened her eyes, giggled again, shrugged her shoulders, leaned into the mic and opened her mouth, but no words came to her. She feigned sleep again. The mic inadvertently picked up the sound of her breathing. She dug that, so she moves up close, her nose at the mic, and she just breathed. In, out. In, out. In, out. Heeheehee, she snickers. She feigned sleep again, and this time emitted snoring sounds. She opens her eyes, laughs. Her friends laugh. A few other folks chuckled, some politely. “Ha ha. You funny.” The chick enjoyed herself tremendously. She took up at least two very long minutes, before she bounced back to her seat, happy as a three-year old. Her friends were delighted. She was delighted. I was annoyed. Grrr. I want poetry, man. Not silly goose shit. I know. I need to lighten up.

Some older guy, late 60’s, possibly 70, started showing up at readings I attend. We exchanged a few words. He asked for my email, said he wanted to send me a piece he wrote about Trudell. John Trudell. (Native American poet, actor, musician, former political activist.) I said, “OK.” I wasn’t interested. But if he wants to share, what’s the harm? Never occurred to me it was a “hit.”

He’s Anglo. The shit he emailed me was terrible. Horrible. Hack. He attempted to imitate attitude and tone of militant, sixties, early seventies, Native American activist . “The empire,” he says, instead of “the United States.” Tried to imitate what he considers Native-speak. “The hoop is broken,” he writes. Used a few words from a Trudell song. It was worse than Johnny Depp’s Tonto.

Sometimes being nice backfires. Vultures and wolves take you for a meal. Every manipulator needs a fool. I didn’t know my being amicable would be interpreted as “available and interested.” It’s nothing new, but it’s been a while.

I see him again at a reading. He hustles over and goes, “So, what’dja think?” I put him off, go say, “Hi,” to people. Then I’m walking up the aisle to go sit, and he gets up and blocks my way. He says, “So, what’dja think,” and he rubs my arm up and down with the back of his hand, grinning, as if he’s some fucking cool hand Luke. I was mortified.

“I gotta go talk to someone,” I say, and get the hell away.

When I go to sit, he approaches again. This time he doesn’t put his icky hands on me. He wants to know what I think about the shit he wrote. “It doesn’t matter,” I say. “It’s fine.” He wants to know what I didn’t like. I didn’t say it’s a hopeless piece of garbage. I was diplomatic. I was on my guard. He was defensive, arrogant, condescending. My god, he’s a real moron, and a fucking narcissist.

I’m guessing he had wanted to impress me. Like a fucking juvenile. A 70 year old juvenile. The reading started. He went back to his chair. I was relieved.

I dodged him during the break, kept my distance.

I read a poem that ends with, “I miss my smokes./I miss the stink./But I won’t miss you.” After the reading, making sure not to look his way, I say my good-byes to some folks. As I’m headed toward the door, I hear him call out, loudly, “Hey, Estela! You better quit meeting assholes!” We’re barely acquainted. He doesn’t know anything about me. He’s not from this community. If he lives in The City, it’s probably The Panhandle.

I don’t really know him, but I know his type. That was passive-aggressive bait. That was aggression. I keep moving. “It’s not about anyone in particular,” I say, matter-of-factly. I glance behind me. He’s coming at me like a Mack truck. I didn’t stop, I kept moving.

“Oh, just in general, huh?” I hear him say. He sounds calmer. I wonder if people turned to look and that’s what put him in check. I was too mortified to look at anyone.

“Yeah,” I say, not looking back, continuing out the door, cool as I could muster.

I’m sure the old geezer fancies himself a “hip, street poet.” He ain’t hip. He ain’t no poet. Or if he is, because he writes shit he calls poetry, he’s a lousy one. That gal from years ago who breathed and snored into the mic was more eloquent than this dick. Maybe I need to lighten up when it comes to silly clowns, or poetry that bores me, but not when it comes to a presumptuous asshole. Geezus, no matter how old they are, some men…

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Blowing the Blues

Graphic of aqua smilie face with red tongue sticking out against a yellow background.

“Cheeky Face”. I made a graphic of this popular smilie, just for fun.

I wrote a poem. Here. Intending to enter as a new post. But I “cut” and “pasted” it into a document, saved it to my Poetry file.

I think I will not post anymore poems. At least for now. Instead, I will be submitting them.

Well, shit, another Twitter follower cut out. I’m down to four.

“I’m nobody. Who are you?” Dickinson asked. “I’m somebody, who the fuck are you?” some people ask.

I’m Estela. That’s all I know for sure.

I read news articles, check out what goes on in the world. I shake my head. On occasion a bit of good news. It’s a relief, I smile. Doesn’t happen often, though.

Sometimes I feel frustrated when someone says something stupid to me after a reading. One time this man goes, “I appreciate your honesty.” What an idiot jerk. He assumes my poetry is confessional. But what am I supposed to say? I can’t call him an idiot jerk. Another time a young gal goes, “You gave me permission to curse in my poems.” If that’s all she got from what I read, she didn’t hear the poem, just the words. Dumb bitch. God bless her, she’s young. But she’s still a dumb bitch. Cursing doesn’t make the poem. Cursing won’t make you a bold poet. Your boring shit will still be boring. But, again, what am I supposed to do? I can’t call her a dumb bitch.

People hear what they will hear. People will assume what they will assume. I just grin and bear it. Hell, it’s a mad world. I can’t change that. There are more important misunderstandings going on in the world, more important things than someone misinterpreting my poetry.

When I wrote “dumb bitch,” Anne Sexton’s Transformations popped into my head. “Dumb bunny,” she says of Snow White. One of my favorite books of poetry.

If Sylvia Plath were still alive, she’d be 83 today.

This morning, the blues were heavy. Had a difficult time getting out of bed.

Generally, I have to suffer to write poetry. Suffer emotionally, I mean. I don’t look for suffering. In fact, I do everything I can to avoid it. I don’t like feeling like this. But I know it will pass. And if I write poetry I’m pleased with, the blues will blow away like smoke.

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“The Walking Dead” Super Fan

Graphic art drawing of a Halloween Skull.

Halloween Skull – graphic art by Estela.

I love The Walking Dead. I’m a super fan, but I’m not a mega fan. Mega fans play the games, enter contests, dress up, have online conversations, follow the stars around, show up at the airport when they know the stars are due to land. They totally obsess. That’s all right. I get it. Sundays, Twitter, at least my feed, is all #TheWalkingDead, #TWD, like there’s nothing else going on anywhere. I was amazed the first time I saw this. I, personally, don’t want to be compulsive about it. That’s just me.

But last night I tweeted a response to the episode. I was so floored and upset, downright pissed off.

I’d been all sanctimonious, like, “Sheesh, some fans go berserk.” I love TWD too. I mean, really love it. I get excited when Sunday rolls around. I always say, “It’s Dead Day.” I anxiously await time for the show to start, re-watch previous episodes, re-watch seasons on Netflix, go through withdrawals when the season ends. Withdrawals! Really. With. Drawals. I can’t hardly stand facing the summer months without TWD! Yeah, I’m a super fan.

When Sophia, Carol’s little girl, walked out of the barn, a walker, way back in Season 2, I gasped. “Oh, no!” I exclaimed. “Awe! Awe! No!” Carol screams out , “Sophia!” and runs toward her, but Daryl stops her. Carol falls to her knees, while Daryl holds her firmly, compassionately. Man, I get choked up just remembering. Other favorite characters died, horrifically, and I was shocked and saddened by it. Hershel’s death was especially difficult. I could barely stand it. I cheered when Michonne got the evil Governor, who had beheaded Hershel, right there in front of Hershel’s daughters and friends, who really are more of a surrogate family. As if the walkers weren’t enough, there are deranged people, as was the governor. You don’t really know who to trust in this apocalyptic dystopia.

There have been a number of beloved characters who met their demise, one way or another, and I wish they hadn’t. But that’s the show. No one is safe. No one. My heart leaps to my throat when a beloved character looks to be in danger. In danger of walkers, or deranged humans, or, well, the writers.

I haven’t read the comics. I don’t have the time. I just don’t. But I read articles that discuss the show as well as the comics.

Last night’s episode was hardly bearable, horrific. I felt compelled to tweet about it. I felt angry, and I thought I might have to stop watching TWD.

I also watch The Talking Dead, which comes on after the episode. When a beloved character meets her or his demise, it really is therapeutic to watch TD.  They always have a good-bye ceremony, saying good-bye to the walkers and people, both good and bad people, who get killed. Sometimes with a touch of humor, cleverly labeling the walkers or characters (like Cross Country Walkers, Rick’s Road Rage Walkers, Blame’s Rick for Everything Guy, referring to the particular scene or circumstance in which the characters are encountered), and certainly tenderly when a favorite character if offed. But this time I muted the TV and turned away when the good-bye segment came on. I could not bear saying good-bye to Glenn. (I’m not going to explain the characters or the show. This is not an analysis of the show or any of the characters.) My heart was still pounding. I still felt angry.  I had noticed possible hints that Glenn might die. I was not, am not, wanting to believe it.

I turned the sound back on TD and I heard Chris Hardwick, host of the show, point out that there had been no clear good-bye to Glenn. This made me feel hopeful that this character will be saved, yet again, but also ambivalent about having my emotions jerked around. But having emotions jerked around is part of the deal you make in watching TWD. Hardwick also said there would be episodes in which we will see Glenn again “in some way,” “some version” of him, “or some parts of Glenn” “either in flashback or in the current story.” If Glenn is gone and shows up only in flashbacks, or Maggie is pregnant, which has been hinted, or he returns as a walker, I’m done. I mean it. I’m done.

My favorite character is Carol. She started out as a subservient, abused wife, but has transformed into a take-care-of-business badass. Her asshole husband got attacked by walkers. I was not sorry about that. Daryl, of course, is a major fave of all fans. Prob thee most fave.

For me, there is a core group I really cannot tolerate to see die: Rick, Carl, Judith, Carol, Glenn, Maggie, Michonne, and, of course, Daryl. There are other characters I like, and it’d be great if the show kept them, but these are the characters I couldn’t stand to lose. I would stop watching. I want to feel that there’s still hope in their dismal world, hope for a better world in the future. But, sure as hell, not a world like Alexandria, where people were  living with their heads up their asses. I want to feel that there are characters who learn to survive, develop keen skills to survive, while maintaining a sense of humanity. I want to feel that there is still some good luck in spite of all the bad luck. I love the show, but I have my limits.

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Crazy Poets

Graphic art image called "Brick Wall" by Estela.

“Brick Wall” graphic art by Estela

When I was a freshman in high school, a thousand years ago, I was walking home after school with my sister, who was a sophomore, and a friend of ours, who was my age. Marina (not her real name) was astounded.  Her eyes open wide, her brow up, she said, “I learned of a poet named Emily Dickinson. She locked herself in her room, never came out. She just wrote poetry until the day she died!”

“I know,” I said, enthusiastically. “I learned about her in sixth grade.” Marina looked at me.

“She never came out of her room!” she repeated, stunned look frozen on her face. She  wondered why I was smiling and excited, instead of being horrified.

“Isn’t that cool?” I said.

“NO!” Marina said, emphatically. “That’s NOT cool! That’s crazy!”

“I’d like to live like that,” I admitted.

Marina about fell over. “NO!” she screamed at me. “That’s no way to live. Only a crazy person would do that.” I still remember her face at that moment, scrunched into a terrible frown, glaring at me. I felt embarrassed, having exposed an apparently aberrant nature. But Emily Dickinson, I thought, wrote amazing words, words that made no sense to me in sixth grade, or even ninth; yet, I felt her poetic power. The language amazed me, her unusual diction. (In those days I would’ve said “weird words.”) No one matched Dickinson. I was intrigued. In my opinion, having a gift like that was worth the trade-off. But, apparently, I was weird, possibly “crazy.”

My idea had always been that poets were unique individuals, of a different mind, a unique perception and distinct ability to manipulate language. Different. Not ordinary, not the norm. “Outside of  society,” so to speak. Perhaps inevitably bent. A substitute teacher in my first creative writing class, a woman who had a rather hostile, impatient attitude toward cw students, said, “All great writers have something wrong with them. All of them.” She swept her eyes across all our pathetic faces, “All of them!” she said forcefully, sweeping her hand across the air, glaring at the bunch of us hopeless, dumb, fucks. I don’t know who she was. I don’t know if she is published, let alone great. But there did seem to be something wrong with her.

I see now that there are people who write poetry, or stuff they call poetry, but there is nothing particularly extraordinary about them. Different people have different ideas about what poetry is. I recently read an article about Patti Smith, who attended a few poetry readings with Gregory Corso. She said he “was the biggest heckler [she] ever saw. He would yell at the poets,” in the middle of their reading, “things like ‘Get a blood transfusion!'” (The Guardian: Sunday 4 Oct. 2015). She wanted to make sure he didn’t heckle her. “I didn’t have a game plan,” she says. “It was just to make poetry a little more visceral.” That, to me, is how poetry should be–visceral. It should be alive, have energy; it should have power you can feel. That, I believe, is what Corso meant. He was telling those he heckled that their shit was dead.

My mother was a fabulous seamstress. I have never met anyone who could sew like she did. It was impeccable work. It was art. When I watch Project Runway, I think of my mom. I wish she had used her gift to earn a living. I don’t mean become famous. Just to earn a living. Fame has never been my dream. Just to create art. That’s primary. But I want to put it out there, not keep it to myself. I want to sell it. That’s my second dream. It isn’t a dream I’ve always had. But I def have it now.

You’re in your own way,” a healer said to me. “Get out of your way.” Me? The brick wall is moi? Well, yeah. I suppose. My fear. My fear is my brick wall. I think my mother had the same wall.

I’m making a list of small mags to send my work to. There is one in particular I’m especially interested in. I first heard about it thirty years ago, when I wrote my first poems. My first creative writing teacher told me about it. It was a new mag then. I wasn’t ready back then, but I hoped I’d someday be. I’m astounded so much time has passed. I suppose it’s even astounding the mag is still around. It’s done well. If my cw teacher is still around, he’d be in his mid to late 80’s. I’m glad I’m still around. I think my poems are worthy of this mag. BUT. Do they? That remains to be seen. When I meet folks, younger than me–way–who have been published in it, I’m impressed. ‘Cept, it makes me feel like a piece of shit.

I remind myself, I raised three children, on my own, after my divorce, while getting through college, clueless, without moola, with no help. I’ve taken care of other people, besides my children, but no one has ever taken care of me. On the contrary. It ain’t been easy. So fucking what? Just keep at it.

I’m on Twitter, now. I was on Facebook a few years ago, just for a few months. I didn’t like it. I didn’t/don’t have tolerance for it. I don’t know anyone, personally, who’s on Twitter. Last time I looked, I had five followers. Some show up, then disappear. Some I block. No, I am not interested of clicking on your link to see your “pictures.” Creepy shitheads.

A poet told me he hates Twitter, and he will NEVER tweet. But he’s on Facebook. Funny. I think it’s the same intolerance, but he can hang with FB, and I can hang with Twitter. Of course, he’s known even across the ocean, so he needs to connect with fans, publishers, distributors, other writers, friends. All that. He said he just uses FB to make announcements, check on events, connect with contacts, not constantly on it. Virtually everyone I know is on Facebook. I’m experimenting with Twitter. Twitter is an underdog in the world of social media. I’m an underdog. A dark horse. Apparently. Working on courage, and solidifying who I truly am. Awe, man, is that pathetic? Fuck it. I don’t give a shit. It’s written in the stars, anyway. I don’t know what is, just that it is.

I’m a poet, but I’m not crazy. At least, no more than anyone else.   ♠    ♠    ♠    ♠

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Art Gives My Life Meaning, But I Need Ducats

Graphic of a starry night sky with comet passing through.

Shooting Star – graphic by Estela

So, did you look up at the sky and see the comets last month? I looked, but didn’t get to see them. The sky was overcast. :( Besides, I live in a city, and cities pollute the night with light. But I have seen shooting stars, when I lived in a smallish town. To me, comets are like natural poetry, their beauty more spectacular than fireworks. They give me a feeling that goes deep, an ineffable feeling.

I miss seeing a black, star-filled sky. I was disappointed that I couldn’t see the meteor shower. I decided if I couldn’t see a shooting star, I would draw/paint a graphic art representation of one. It helped ease my longing.

Although I miss a vivid night sky, living in a city, I love it here. It’s a city of poets. Published and unpublished. I’m grateful, because I’m lucky to be here. Not too long ago, this bitch says to me, and I detected a presumptuous, haughty air in her demeanor, “Estela, do you still live here?” I understood her fucking implication. “Yes,” I said, ignoring her tone. She was surprised. “Oh,” she says. Her eyes opened a little wider, her brow jumped up. It gives me pleasure that I disappointed her fucking, smug expectation. A lot of people in the neighborhood have been displaced, and she assumed perhaps I might’ve been. I know she would just love to hear that. It would feed her sense of superiority. She owns her house, a house her ex bought, and when they divorced she bought his half, with a loan from her parents. There’s more to this story, but that’s all I want to say about it right now. But I will tell you this: this woman told me she hates poetry, really hates it, that she doesn’t understand it. To her, poetry and poets are incomprehensible and useless. It later occurred to me–she reminds me of my mother.

I live in the Mission District, which is currently the trendy place for techies. I half don’t mind. There are things I like about the changes, and things I don’t like. But it isn’t my home, per se, it’s just where I happen to live right now. I don’t really have a place that feels like home. I mean, I haven’t grown roots anywhere. I’m a tumbleweed.

Graphic of a tumbleweed in the middle of a highway.

Me as a tumbleweed blowing down the road of my life.

A Texas tumbleweed, since I was born in El Paso. The wind of Fate carried me here. But in a general sense, I’ve grown a few roots in the Bay Area, where I’ve lived half my life. Oakland and San Francisco are the only cities I have ever been in love with. I once thought I loved Berkeley, and was thrilled when I got to live there. But one day I woke up and realized it was only an infatuation. I hate Berkeley. Well, “hate” is such a strong word. But I am intensely disinterested. With the city, I mean.

I don’t know if I’ll ever live anywhere else. I mean, some place where I WANT TO live. I hope so. I just have these dreams in my head. That’s me, the perennial dreamer. But, for now, I need, and want, to live here. I love living here. It’s a good place to promote my poetry, myself as poet, as artist. And I really like some of the poets, storytellers, and various artists I have met here. I like them very much.

I used to be ok with the idea of the “starving artist”. I really thought I could live like that forever. I guess I was misguided, a Romantic idealist. Or maybe I didn’t have enough confidence. It’s easier to resign to poverty than to hope for success. I tried one job after another, but couldn’t hang. I was a job hopper. I was accused by my own children of not wanting to work. But that isn’t true. I wanted to. It’s just that it made me feel suicidal.

I’ve never wanted to be anything but an artist. That has been with me for as long as I can recall. So has hard Luck. She’s persistently kicked my ass. I’m hoping she’ll lighten up some day. But Luck isn’t always dark. Sometimes Fluke pops in, like a small miracle. Fluke has been good to me. I think of Fluke as Luck’s child. Sort of like Cupid is Venus’s child.

I have a poetry reading coming up. Poets read at book stores, cultural centers, libraries, cafés, bars, and all kind’a places.  In my neighborhood, there’s a new monthly poetry reading. This one is at a panadería, a Mexican pastry shop. This is the Mission District, which has been designated a Latino Cultural District, just as Chinatown is designated an Asian Cultural District. So, it makes sense to have readings at a panadería. Ricardo, the host, titled the reading series, Pan Dulce, which means pastry, or, literally, sweet bread. :D Ha. That makes me chuckle. My poetry isn’t sweet. It’s mostly sardonic. :twisted: But, truly, I have nothing but love in my heart. <3 It’s really tongue-in-cheek. Even with a poem like You Make Me Sick. I don’t know if people get the deeper meaning–that being with an abusive person does damage to the soul of the victim. I want to give voice to women who are abused, to empower them.

Last month I attended Pan Dulce, and there was a good crowd, a diverse crowd. I like diversity. I’m reading on Tuesday, the 8th. Four of us will read, and then there will be open mic.

Flyer forpoetry reading at La Reyna.I’ve never ridden in a car like the one in the flyer. I feel lucky and grateful to be included. I’m happy to represent.

This reading will feature four brown women. Antonio, an artist, a painter, would say we are red, those of us of mixed ancestry, indigenous and Spanish. I agree with him. I hope he shows up and offers words of wisdom again, and sings another healing and cleansing song. He always starts by asking permission of the ancestors to speak. He was born in Mexico, he said. Where in Mexico, I don’t know. I totally love him, his words, his way, his art, indigenous art, it’s so beautiful. Most my life I’ve lived in diverse neighborhoods, so I’m acculturated. But I still remember the indigenous frame of reference that was more prominent in my early childhood. But my mother wanted us to acculturate, even if she didn’t know that word.

Living as an artist isn’t easy. It’s a gamble, really. Lydia Lunch, a rocker, poet, performance artist, says, “If you make art for money, it isn’t art.” I agree with that. But it’s ok to earn a living with art. If you can. Hell, she has. But the art matters more than money, more than your name, reputation, fame. For me, art is a compulsion. I need to do it. If I don’t, I feel like there’s no reason to live. I don’t want to do anything else. I’ve tried.

I’ve struggled to be my true self. In fact, I write words in an effort to find myself, my self, me.

I’m reading Tao Lin, reading his novel Tai Pei. I’m loving it. I intend to read more of his work. He’s a writer and a visual artist. He’s just a kid, for god’s sake, and I find him incredibly inspiring. He says something like, “There is no good or bad art. It’s just a matter of preference.” I agree with the second half of that. I believe there IS good and bad art, but art is subjective, so who gets to call it, really? Lin is absolutely right: art is about preference. An artist just has to find her audience, patrons, people willing to pay for her (or his) art.

I believe in myself. Shit. As soon as I write that, the demons rise. They say, “Who do you think you are? You’re fooling yourself. You aren’t good enough.” And they laugh at me. Abusive motherfuckers.

BEGONE, you assholes! I believe in myself! 

Life is an amazing experience. I’m so grateful to be alive. Art gives my life meaning, but I need ducats too. I have to keep putting myself out there.

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“…Make Me Sick”

Small dream catcher on bed post.I saw a “search” on my blog’s dashboard that read, “dependent women make me sick”. Hmm, I wondered, a man with a dependent bitch on his back? A strong, independent woman who has no understanding or compassion for women raised, socialized, psychologically primed to be dependent, no understanding or compassion for women with no resources, options, or a support system? 

Many years ago, I heard about a guy who broke up with his girl, but she wouldn’t let go. She’d call incessantly, go to his house, show up at work, his friend’s house, the club, wherever she could find him, begging him not to leave her. This guy finally says, “Woman, what do I got to do, kill you?” Freddie the Freeloader, when he was around, when I still found him charming and amusing, related this story to me with all the charm he had as a storyteller, gesticulating, with facial expressions, an amusing tonality in his voice. We both burst out laughing. “What do I got to do, kill you?” he repeated. Yuck-yuck-yuck-yuck. Heeheeheehee, he chortled. Ahhhahahaha, I howled.

After a good laugh, I said, soberly, “Ha, he probably doesn’t understand how he creates the problem himself. He doesn’t really want her to leave him alone.”

Freddie stopped laughing. “Huh?” he said, stupidly, looking uneasy. At the time, I wasn’t aware that Freddie had a bitch he couldn’t get rid of. When we met, he told me he broke up with his cheating girlfriend, that he wasn’t seeing anyone. I also didn’t know that in a couple years, he’d marry that disgusting, manipulative pig. They were both manipulative pigs. They manipulated each other, and they will do that for the rest of their lives. Like some people I’ve known. They might break up, now and then, call it quits–“For good this time!”–but, shit, they’ll get back together and start the drama all over again. Forfuckingever.

Freddie jerked me around for a year. Then he packed his shit in two boxes. He carted them, one at a time, to his friend’s car. His friend drove him to the pig’s apartment.

I went to my room, sat on my bed, hung my head down in sorrow, quietly shed some tears, sniffled. I got a Kleenex, wiped my eyes, blew my nose. I was sad and simultaneously relieved. I got up to toss the soiled tissue in the trash, when I saw his guitar. There it was, still propped against the corner of my room. He loved that guitar. I knew Freddie wasn’t done with me yet. That guitar was like a foot in the door. I thought, Oh, no way in hell. You are NOT leaving a reason to come back here. You are NOT coming to claim your guitar when you damn well feel like it!

The next day, I called his friend and asked him for the address. He hesitated. I said, “I just need to let him know I sold his guitar.” I promised him I had no plans to go over there, or ever contact him again after this. His friend knew me. He gave me the address.

I wrote:

I sold your guitar. I needed the money.

I didn’t sell the guitar. I planned to give it back to him after I felt better. I figured a few months, maybe a year.

I never heard from him again. He never heard from me again. I got stuck with that damned guitar. I eventually gave it to a friend, six years later. I would’ve returned it to Freddie, but I had no way of contacting him. Oh, well.

Manipulators make me sick. They lie, or keep quiet. “I didn’t lie to you,” Freddie had said to me. He didn’t tell me what he should have, because he wanted to freeload. Lies can be unspoken words.

I married when I was sixteen. I was completely dependent on my husband. I left him when I was thirty. I hid in a shelter for four days with my three children. I filed for divorce. I never went back to him. It never crossed my mind. I have never, never, never, never regretted it. Although it’s been rough. But that’s a story for another day.

I’m still trying to find my “place”. I might have made different choices if I’d known thirty-five years ago, what I know today. But, hell, life is what it is. As Tyreese, from The Walking Dead, said, before he got bit and his friends stabbed his brain and buried him, “It went the way it had to. The way it was always going to.”

Lately, I’m feeling positive. I know some cool people. Writers, poets and storytellers. We run into each other at poetry readings. They read. I read. They teach. I didn’t get my MA, because high anxiety prevented me from writing a thesis. :-( But, “it went the way it had to. The way it was always going to.” These young poets, with their Master’s, who teach, call me “a bad-ass poet”. Some young women poets have told me I inspire them. Shit, if that don’t make a bitch feel great. :-)

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