Room and Bored

busy

Today someone asked me when my next book is coming out.

I didn’t know whether to get stabby or fall over laughing.

I haven’t written even one single poem in almost three months, even though my to-do list has, in the number two spot, the title “evacuation” followed by the imperative “WRITE IT!!”

It’s not a lack of words that’s the problem, you see. It’s a lack of time. As I told the aforementioned someone, “I have a six month old baby! I’m lucky to put my shoes on the right feet in the morning.”

So then, the follow-up went, “Well, what keeps you so busy? You know, besides the baby?”

(Warning: Impending rant. Take a deep breath and duck.)

Besides the baby? What do I do all day? Other than working 40+ hours a week at one job and landing myself a brand shiny new job and commuting back and forth and coming home and doing laundry and dishes and diapers and feeding the baby and dressing the baby and feeding and dressing myself and sometimes even brushing my hair? What else?

Well, there’s the cinepoems that get entered in film festivals and there’s the etsy store orders to fulfill and there are irises in my backyard that desperately need repotting. And once in awhile I try to exercise. And get a manicure. And even a pedicure, if I’m feeling really cheeky.

Wow. Ok. Bitter, party of one!! I shouldn’t get stabby about the question, I know.

Because I do remember what it was like to be bored. To have oodles of hours to fill. To lie late in bed and luxuriate in the question of “What should I do today?”

But that was eons ago in a time before Boy and Baby and video poems.

Today I’m just wallowing in guilt over letting another month nearly slip past with nary a blog post.

And the trouble is, I can’t promise to get better! Life is just a blur these days. And so am I.

But for my own sake, i swear, I will trap some of these words on a page. And then, if I deem them worthy enough, I’ll share them with you.

It’s not a new book, no, not at all. But it’s something.

-Lo, who hounds her own favorite authors for their next works and knows that really, all this means is that she should be flattered.

The Speed of Light

spped-of-light

The clock is a tyrant who will stay his hand for no one,
not even you, whose smile should stop time
as it stops this heart of mine.

Each day flies faster than the last,
mornings blur too soon to evening,
every minute closer to the day you take your leaving.

I wish for moments that last a thousand years.

-Lo, mourning the impending end of maternity leave.

“Blink and they’re two”

mood: peaceful | drinking: yep

sixweeks

Strangers stop me on the street now. They peer into the pram, ask me, “How old is she?” And exclaim, “She’s so tiny — so beautiful — so precious — la la la.”

But they also, down to nearly a person, tell me, “It goes so fast. Before you know it she’ll be two — be going to school — be driving a car.”

Don’t I know it.

Today Lucette is six weeks old, and I can hardly believe how fast the time already flies. We’ve spent the last week holed up in a swanky hotel suite in Las Vegas. Bruce has been here on a job, and Lulu and I didn’t want to be home alone just yet, so we came along. She and I have had lots of time to snuggle, to bond, and to figure each other out.

The other night, sitting on the couch with the Vegas lights blazing like stars far below us, I promised her that I will always do my very best. In hindsight it might look faulty, but then this is the first time I’ve ever done anything like this. And no matter what, I will give it everything I’ve got.

Hopefully that will be enough.

-Lo, who finds it surprisingly natural to refer to Bruce as “your daddy.”

Turn off Twitter

mood: hungry | drinking: not yet

mt_tam_trail

This article dovetails nicely with my previous post. Written by Anne Lamott, it was published in the April 2010 issue of Sunset Magazine…

Time lost and found
-Anne Lamott

I sometimes teach classes on writing, during which I tell my students every single thing I know about the craft and habit. This takes approximately 45 minutes. I begin with my core belief–and the foundation of almost all wisdom traditions–that there is nothing you can buy, achieve, own, or rent that can fill up that hunger inside for a sense of fulfillment and wonder. But the good news is that creative expression, whether that means writing, dancing, bird-watching, or cooking, can give a person almost everything that he or she has been searching for: enlivenment, peace, meaning, and the incalculable wealth of time spent quietly in beauty.

Then I bring up the bad news: You have to make time to do this.

This means you have to grasp that your manic forms of connectivity–cell phone, email, text, Twitter–steal most chances of lasting connection or amazement. That multitasking can argue a wasted life. That a close friendship is worth more than material success.

Needless to say, this is very distressing for my writing students. They start to explain that they have two kids at home, or five, a stable of horses or a hive of bees, and 40-hour workweeks. Or, on the other hand, sometimes they are climbing the walls with boredom, own nearly nothing, and are looking for work full-time, which is why they can’t make time now to pursue their hearts’ desires. They often add that as soon as they retire, or their last child moves out, or they move to the country, or to the city, or sell the horses, they will. They are absolutely sincere, and they are delusional.

I often remember the story from India of a beggar who sat outside a temple, begging for just enough every day to keep body and soul alive, until the temple elders convinced him to move across the street and sit under a tree. Years of begging and bare subsistence followed until he died. The temple elders decided to bury him beneath his cherished tree, where, after shoveling away a couple of feet of earth, they found a stash of gold coins that he had unknowingly sat on, all those hand-to-mouth years.

You already have the gold coins beneath you, of presence, creativity, intimacy, time for wonder, and nature, and life. Oh yeah, you say? And where would those rascally coins be?

This is what I say: First of all, no one needs to watch the news every night, unless one is married to the anchor. Otherwise, you are mostly going to learn more than you need to know about where the local fires are, and how rainy it has been: so rainy! That is half an hour, a few days a week, I tell my students. You could commit to writing one page a night, which, over a year, is most of a book.

If they have to get up early for work and can’t stay up late, I ask them if they are willing to NOT do one thing every day, that otherwise they were going to try and cram into their schedule.

They may explain that they have to go to the gym four days a week or they get crazy, to which I reply that that’s fine–no one else really cares if anyone else finally starts to write or volunteers with marine mammals. But how can they not care and let life slip away? Can’t they give up the gym once a week and buy two hours’ worth of fresh, delectable moments? (Here they glance at my butt.)

Can they commit to meeting one close friend for two hours every week, in bookstores, to compare notes? Or at an Audubon sanctuary? Or a winery?

They look at me bitterly now–they don’t think I understand. But I do–I know how addictive busyness and mania are. But I ask them whether, if their children grow up to become adults who spend this one precious life in a spin of multitasking, stress, and achievement, and then work out four times a week, will they be pleased that their kids also pursued this kind of whirlwind life?

If not, if they want much more for their kids, lives well spent in hard work and savoring all that is lovely, why are they living in this manic way?

I ask them, is there a eucalyptus grove at the end of their street, or a new exhibit at the art museum? An upcoming minus tide at the beach where the agates and tidepools are, or a great poet coming to the library soon? A pond where you can see so many turtles? A journal to fill?

If so, what manic or compulsive hours will they give up in trade for the equivalent time to write, or meander? Time is not free–that’s why it’s so precious and worth fighting for.

Will they give me one hour of housecleaning in exchange for the poetry reading? Or wash the car just one time a month, for the turtles? No? I understand. But at 80 will they be proud that they spent their lives keeping their houses cleaner than anyone else in the family did, except for mad Aunt Beth, who had the vapors? Or that they kept their car polished to a high sheen that made the neighbors quiver with jealousy? Or worked their fingers to the bone providing a high quality of life, but maybe accidentally forgot to be deeply and truly present for their kids, and now their grandchildren?

I think it’s going to hurt. What fills us is real, sweet, dopey, funny life.

I’ve heard it said that every day you need half an hour of quiet time for yourself, or your Self, unless you’re incredibly busy and stressed, in which case you need an hour. I promise you, it is there. Fight tooth and nail to find time, to make it. It is our true wealth, this moment, this hour, this day.

-Lo, turning the computer off now.

Tick Tick Ticking Away

mood: tired | drinking: water

time

Daylight Savings

The countdowns start
every day
with no prior warning.

You leave three minutes early
and take the carpool lane
but the sun will still set tonight
at exactly 5:19.

Your good old days
are over before you know
they’ve begun.

You eat lunch at your desk
as a time-saving device
but your homemade ham sandwich
doesn’t alter one tick.

Your lover begins to be bored
of you before you’ve
even met.

You stay up late on weekends
to make the day last longer
and then sleep in on Sundays
while time keeps marching on.

You begin to die
the day you’re born,
so no matter how much
time you save

you will always
run out.

-Lo, listening to the tick.

Slipping Away

slippingaway
Mood: Bleah
Drinking: Blah

I’m having trouble reconciling myself to the fact that this year is nearly halfway gone.

I’m beginning to think time will never slow itself to a pleasant crawl again, but will continue to rush its way past me, faster and faster with each passing day.

And I’m not ok with that.

“Time flies when you’re having fun” is the old adage, but time also flies when you’re busy, when you’re taking a nap, when you’re trying to figure out what to have for dinner, and even when you’re sitting in a dull grey waiting room staring down the clock.

Time just flies. It can’t help it. That’s how it works.

The difference is probably me. When I was a kid, the days would stretch out forever. I thought my birthday would never arrive, or Christmas, or summer. Time had me well fooled into thinking that I owned it. That I had all the time, as they say, in the world.

Maybe it was at 29 when my biological clock kicked in and started clanging, or maybe I figured it out before then, but I’ve known for awhile now that time is not on my side.

Even this year, in which I promised myself and all around me to mellow out, even this year has picked up speed. I thought 2007 went by so fast because I was so busy with all my ambitious publishing projects.

But 2008 is straining neck-and-neck for speed, and it just might break the record.

So I guess that means I have nothing left to do but enjoy it. Every speeding, precious minute. Even the ones spent on unpleasant tasks, like re-editing copy for unimaginative marketing managers (which is what I’m supposed to be doing right now).

It’s a good idea in theory. In practice, my enjoyment comes in small bursts.

But I have a lot to look forward to, even just this week: dinner with friends, a new poetry reading to check out, a visit with family, and walking the pooch at the beach. And it will all be over before I know it.

C’est la vie…

-Lo, counting down the days.

Sing It

Mood: Oh So Busy
Drinking: Morning Cuppa

They say “time flies” but they lie. Because you can watch things fly — birds, planes, men in tights. But time? Time moves so fast, it just melts away and you don’t even notice until another month has disappeared and a new picture appears on the calendar.

Sometimes I can’t believe how much of the year is gone already. It certainly didn’t wait around for me to get my bearings.

And there is so much going on here, so much to do. I’m in the midst of editing cinepoem #13, planning the shoot for cinepoem #14, and trying to pry open my brain and pour thoughts into ink for a big “talk” I’m giving in a few months in Alabama. (So much to say, but how do I say it?)

Then there’s the quick (and much-needed!) girlfriend vacation I’m taking with S and the longer, bigger trip to Europe (Italy, Switzerland, France) with Boy. My sister is moving up north (hooray!), LeeLoo needs her bordatella vaccine, and there are no less than seven unfinished poems sitting on my desktop.

And in the middle of all this, K and I are working, working, working on Book Number Two, with chapter one nailed down and chapters two, three and four in the works. We are determined to finish it by Christmas, but I look at the calendar now and, my god! Christmas is well within reach — any day now they’ll be hanging holly and red in the windows of downtown department stores and the California Santas will be ringing their bells on street corners whilst wearing fake beards and shorts.

It’s all going by so fast, so fast.

So instead of finishing a poem or that pile of freelance writing that’s sitting over there on the dining room table, instead of even combing my hair and peeling off my pajamas, here I am sitting in the morning sun with the Loo sleeping on one side and my half-finished peanut butter toast waiting on the other, blogging (yes, I’ve admitted it now) about nothing, really. Nothing that will change the revolution of the earth, but it feels good to bang on the keyboard, anyway.

So here’s my bit of nothing on this gorgeous October morning while November breathes down my neck and December starts cracking her candy cane knuckles:

The soundtrack of my life. Yes. Silly. Inane. But such a great time-taker-upper. I saw it first on my sister-in-law’s blog, and decided to try it for fun. The results were uncanny and sometimes astonishing, but above all, entertaining and so here it is…

The list of life “events” was provided. As instructed, I opened my iTunes, set it to shuffle, and then wrote down the first heading as a song began to play. Then I moved on to the next heading during the next song. It’s all random, you see, as you let your iTunes score the soundtrack — and my iTunes, at least, turned out to be pretty damn good at the song-picking thing, as you can see from the snippets of lyrics I’m providing, just to prove my point. Here we go…

OPENING CREDITS: Medication by Garbage (Version 2.0)
“I’ve got to make a point these days to extricate myself.”
[I think it’s quite appropriate that Shirley gets the opening credits. Love. Her.]

WAKING UP: Strange Little Girl by Tori Amos (Strange Little Girls)
“One day you see a strange little girl feeling blue.”
[Tori always gets it right.]

FIRST DAY AT SCHOOL: You Stick It In Me by I Am X (Kiss + Swallow)
“I have blood, so hurt me.”
[Isn’t that the mantra for nerds and weirdos everywhere?]

FALLING IN LOVE: The Fragile by Nine Inch Nails (The Fragile)
“We’ll find the perfect place to go where we can run and hide. I’ll build a wall and we can keep them on the other side.”
[Actually, the song right before this on the album (We’re In This Together) was played at my wedding reception. Long live NIN!]

FIGHT SONG: All the Rage by Massivivid (Dressed to the Nines, Armed to the Teeth)
“You think you’re all the rage, ‘cuz mine can’t be contained. But at least I’ll make a few dollars from my pain.”
[Massivivid was my old friend Franky‘s band, and this song was actually written about a particular person who caused quite a few fights in my life, so it’s rather creepy with the appropo!]

BREAKING UP: Limp by Fiona Apple (When the Pawn…)
“You fondle my trigger then you blame my gun.”
[One of my favorite lyrics ever, and very true when it comes to infighting in relationships.]

PROM: Breath Control by Recoil feat. Nicole Blackman (Liquid)
“Every woman has an itch and every nice girl secretly wants to switch.”
[Funny that a poem about kinky sex is the trax for “prom”.]

LIFE: Long Hard Road out of Hell by Marilyn Manson (Spawn Soundtrack)
“To be this young I’m oh so scared. I wanna live, I wanna love, but its a long hard road out of hell.”
[I once knew a girl who would play AC/DC’s “Highway to Hell” every morning on her way to work. Not a great way to start your day, really.]

CAREER: An Angel Went Up in Flames by The Gas Band (Brokeback Mountain Soundtrack)
no lyrics…just noise
[One of my favorite movies…and an odd song to show b/c I *hate* country music. But this is all fiddlin’ and foot stompin’, which is much like my job, so that’s ok.]

MENTAL BREAKDOWN: I Go Crazy by Flesh for Lulu (Dome Room trax)
“This city’s mad in the head and sick in the soul.”
[Every time I hear this song, I think of Melvyn flailing about the dance floor at the Dome Room, back in the day.]

DRIVING: Stars by Lacuna Coil (HalfLife EP)
“We’ll take our hearts outside, leave our lives behind, I’ll watch the stars go out…”
[My fave Italian band, always good for road tripping.]

FLASHBACK: Always by Erasure (I Say I Say I Say)
“Am I here in vain? Hold on to the night. There will be no shame.”
[Of course, there must be an 80s song for the flashback!]

GETTING BACK TOGETHER: Come As You Are by Nirvana (Nevermind)
“Come as you are, as you were, as I want you to be.”
[‘Cuz isn’t that what getting back together is all about?]

WEDDING: Song for You by Katie Yearick (Demo)
“You feel like home when I’ve got no place else to run to. You occupy the vacancy behind my smile.”
[Wow. That’s weird. A long time ago, my friend Katie wrote this song for her sister, my sister, and me. And she sang it at my wedding!]

BIRTH OF A CHILD: One Day by Bjork (Debut)
“One day it will happen, one day it’ll all come true.”
[One day, indeed.]

MIDLIFE CRISIS: Spark by Tori Amos (From the Choirgirl Hotel)
“She’s addicted to nicotine patches. She’s afraid of a light in the dark. 6:58 are you sure where my spark is?”
[Tori wrote this song about her miscarriage. Hope that’s not what my midlife crisis will be about.]

FINAL BATTLE: Golgotha Tenement Blues by Machines of Loving Grace (The Crow Soundtrack)
“I am the city. I am the park. I am glow in the motherfucking dark.”
[In the midst of battle, it’s good to have the Crow on your side.]

DEATH SCENE: A Pain That I’m Used To by Depeche Mode (Playing the Angel)
“I’m not sure what I’m looking for anymore. I just know that I’m harder to console.”
[No soundtrack of my life would be complete without the Mode.]

FUNERAL SCENE: Like You by Evanescence (The Open Door)
“I long to be like you, lie cold in the ground like you. There’s room inside for two and I’m not grieving for you. I’m coming for you.”
[There she is! I was wondering when Amy would show up, and she comes at the end with the best song.]

That was fun. Now I have to put some real clothes on and extricate myself from the Internet. Au revoir.

-Lo, who likes to sing the theme song to Weeds — “Little boxes on the hillside, little boxes made of ticky tacky…”