“Just as some people work because they’re bored, I sometimes write because I have nothing to say. …I am able to dream in prose. And I extract a great deal of sincere feeling and much legitimate emotion out of not feeling.” Fernando Pessoa, The Book of Disquiet 170 (293)
I’ve attempted to post this blog ____ months. Stalled and started. Typed, stopped. The sky was clear and then it wasn’t. It was day for a while and then hot and then it was 3 in the morning and I was happy to up in time for vintage trash tv.
I’ve felt more busy the last couple of weeks than I have since the beginning of All This. I sat with an artist friend in the bird sanctuary at Lake Merritt just before the rush of smoke knitted the sky closed. Another friend later stopped by, the only one passing quarantine, and together we watched Sexy Beast shoveling popcorn and how grateful I felt. We ordered falafels and when I ran downstairs for pickup it was then I caught glimpse of what was coming. Everything appeared shaded as if some vessel hovered above. We ate. So thankful to see another human I felt I should pay for something and gave up gifts instead, reminding me how my mother once did the same, loading people down with gift bags..
During twilight in the bay area, I sat at my desk and began working with a set of new colored pencils. At noon out my window, I remembered Alaska, my time working there in the late 80’s. May as well have been 1880’s. My older cousin from Anchorage described twilight there as the sun getting to the horizon then scooting sideways instead of dropping into the ocean, leaving the sky non-commital to day or night. What I saw at my local horizon didn’t soothe me. I scrolled through social media panic and wonder for as long as I could take it then made tea.
I’ve attempted to write this entry for ____. Drafted but never trashed. I’m here to try again. I’m steaming red cabbage, mustard greens in broth after having walked to S**ew*y this morning. I regretted needing to be out of the house at all. Smoke kept me away from the farmer’s market. The smoke and _____ (riots? virus? closed schools? name something) stopped service on a couple of major bus lines near my house for the last two days. When the buses began service again, I returned to the market finding my primary vendors still out of office.
Bus rides cost a mask and patience. One bus wouldn’t let me off until the senior man at the stop put his mask on. Buses have waved at waiting passengers in pity because our 1/4 capacity bus was full. Riders are mournfully quiet, at least in the mornings I’ve taken them. During my market trips, I watched ATM’s close and vanish, replaced by plywood and then splashed with a mural.
I tried writing this post for _____. Walked yesterday morning, only to return home to bed, cuddling a mild migraine. I say mild, yet it kept me in bed the bulk of the day (Hoarders binge) until I was able to grab some pineapple juice from the corner store and food I shouldn’t have bothered.
I’ve hosted a series of dreams, all involving travel. A passenger taking strange transportation through mountainous hill communities. Patient at bus stops beneath skies swelling black and ominous. In one, I had to travel to Sacramento. I was sole passenger on a mini-rollercoaster that climbed and dipped — without fast, steep drops — through a concrete expressway, belting a dense forest. The topless device I rode was fun.
My cousin called last weekend. Over the phone, she cornered me about how I ‘never write never call’ and I apologized: “I spent a huge amount of time alone in my room and got used to it.” She knew that child as well as I did. She got more quiet.
I was lucky yesterday a friend picked me up to get me out of the house and shop. As we drove from one storefront to another I felt 1000 years old. Landmark lots I once recognized were now filled with shiny new buildings that resemble fancy gift boxes. I was happy some places were still open, even as one of our destinations– the legendary Ashby Flea Market– was closed, closed, closed. My friend sighed surprised. Not even a pigeon appeared. All my weekends here, all my people, all that time, money, memories.
I was grateful for the day even as it felt somber and the neighborhood hills remained shrouded in smoke. Erased into a dream-like image. A fading photograph. It felt good being out. I felt guilty being out. I felt grateful not to need to go anywhere else. I felt grateful to be.
I’ve attempted to update this blog since ______. I’m okay. I’m writing. Poems will be published in the fall. Readings are forthcoming. I’m alive. I’m okay. I’ve been wanting to tell you this.