Monday, October 10, 2011
I was about sure that I was going to write something like an immense tour diary, or I was going to write absolutely nothing. Instead I feel I can sort of lay fragments down, a map, a cry. I am realizing as I go forth into this public space I should never tell people I am a writer. It seems an obvious thing to do because it describes the state of my propulsion into these different cities. I am supposed to be public and publicizing. But it's a difficult thing to admit. Everyone has such a sense of what a writer is, and the great fat majority of the time, I do not fit anywhere within that context. In Seattle I read to a table of a fellow reader's extended family, with a few others. No one bought my book, although I signed a few that were previously given away. Although John and I had drinks afterwards with the writers Richard Chiem and Frances Dinger, a lovely young couple based in Seattle, and talked about writing. Although I didnt' drink, I had ginger brew, as all of this traveling is making me fussy over my stomach. But that day and the next morning John and I went to the Chapel of St. Ignatius, a beautiful modern building on Seattle University's campus, and sat in the pew and stared at all of the brilliantly colored rays of light coming through at different angles, and I sat in the room with the Beckettian tree sculpture and the orange light, and felt like I was having something of a sacred experience. I began crying in fact, not because of the religiosity of it all, but because I couldn't remember the last time a work of art had really moved me in such a way. I lit candles for my mother and my grandmother and my uncle, all the people who I have loved who have died, and that felt like a remnant from my childhood and reassuring and renewing. The next morning after the reading the writer's mother posted on a comments thread on Facebook that she (her daughter) was obviously the best reader there. Which I suppose is a mother's prerogative to say. I scanned this accidentally as I was looking at Facebook while on Amtrak from Seattle to Portland. I didn't take it as a review of my performance. It was fun and rather freeing to read actually.There was a large crowd the next evening at Portland, which was affirming, although I'm fairly sure most of them were not there to see me, but I took them anyway. I read with my publisher of O Fallen Angel, Lidia Yuknavitch, reading in her man's suit and still voice and lovely sentences and beautiful blonde hair. It is good to feel affinity with another writer. Hillary Boles, the young Portland artist whose self-portrait is on the cover of Green Girl, came to the reading, which made me so happy. Then she told me she actually worked in a department store, which made me ecstatic. I loved the shopgirls in Portland. They were all super well-read and gorgeous. I love going to boutiques, because the young women who work there are always impeccably dressed, especially in the exquisitively edited boutiques, but then you ask to use their bathroom and without fail it's always a piggy girl-stye, cigarettes and fast food wrappers on the floor, no toilet paper. I love that. I want to give every shopgirl my novel for free and that's it. That's what I want. At Powell's I felt certain that I was a writer, perhaps, I even signed ten copies for their stock. Then the next morning I went to look for my book there, as I have still never had the experience of wandering past my book at a bookstore, I suppose that wouldn't be that experience entirely, but I was willing to fake it. But I couldn't find it. Embarrassed, I asked the bookstore employee at the Info Desk. He said it was supposed to be in the Featured Titles in the Small Press Section. I looked for it and didn't see it but there on the lowest shelf of the regular Small Press Section unscannable to the passing eye I saw them. Quickly I moved a face-out over to the featured section. As I was making my getaway I looked back and saw the bookstore employee and another one at my new display I had made, and then them looking at me. I went and hid in Thrillers and texted John on my phone to come and get me. What else? I want to move to Portland, tomorrow. A mecca for so many things. The best vegan food of my life. I kept on eating and eating although my stomach was cramping and I was bowled over slurping up red rice with delicious spicy sauce. I forget I am not supposed to write about being a vegan because that's annoying. I wonder what's more annoying - writing about my vegan diet or my irritable bowel. I was ecstatic in Portland, when John and I weren't getting lost and walking on a highway or down deserted alleyways in late at night or stalled at a crazy Walgreen's waiting for a bus forever because that's where Google Maps was sending us. On the plane to Los Angeles now solo I read Ben Lerner's Leaving the Atocha Station, I had heard him read in Portland. It is a beyond beautiful book, a portrait of a poet on a Fulbright in Spain, but also about poetry and art and searching for a higher level of experience and numbness. Reminiscent of my favorites - Bernhard and Sebald and Rilke's Notebooks of Malte Laurids Brigge. This last book I mentioned to the writer as I asked him to sign my book after the reading, which embarrassed me, asking him, but I guess I did it because I wanted to introduce myself or tell him I was moved by his reading, which is rare for me, because most of the time I am bored at readings, especially poetry readings, and instead watch the crowd for their studied and solemn reaction, and try to think about what they're taking from the words which I have trouble stringing together, if I can hear the words during a reading, and actually have basic comprehension, I consider it a triumph. Anyway Lerner writes to this in his poet's novel but in a much more meaningful way. Anyway, he politely asked whether I wrote. I said yes, I had just actually read the night before. He asked my name. I told him. He looked embarrassed. Maybe for me. I am not really up on other contemporary writing he said. That's okay. I told him. I don't expect you to know who I am. If he did I would maybe have been the one embarrassed. Now I am in my sister's house in Los Angeles, writing this on my sister's bed, she is not here, I will be seeing her and the baby in New York in just a week, and then again at the christening in Chicago a few days later as I am the godmother, I know, me, half feral kitten half monster, a godmother, I am tickled at it, I have been thinking of babies lately, and I think the only way I could have a baby and be a mother is if I lived in Portland and ran an artist books' space with John, although this is all hypothetical, as I'm not convinced I'm really female or even human and could incubate a human baby. I am going to camp out here and work on interviews I have to do, for the novel, and attempt to force myself to reread and reevaluate Part Two of Heroines, and prepare for &Now, and try to be invisible, more purposefully invisible, for a few days.