n. infantile pattern of suckle-swallow movement in which the tongue is placed between incisor teeth or between alveolar ridges during initial stage of swallowing (if persistent can lead to various dental abnormalities) v. [content removed due to Bush campaign to clean up the internet] n. act of nyah-nyah v. pursuing with relentless abandon the need to masticate and thrust the world into every bodily incarnation in order to transform it, via the act of salivation, into nutritive agency

Friday, December 18, 2009

Reading and Whatnot

Phew. So it's over, and actually it was pretty darn fun.

That is, I ended up organizing a reading that snowballed into a larger affair than I originally thought. When the idea first started a few months ago, it was at my friend NM's suggestion... that we have a reading together, to spend a couple of days beforehand in the studio making stuff, and then have some old friends come join us, and a few new friends as well - in part to get people through my studio, in part as a reunion. I jumped on the idea at the time and decided that I wanted my buddy LH to come join as well... it sounded like a little piece of Xmas heaven to have the three of us together in my studio, putting together Art, and I imagined our dynamics as being pretty sweet. Alas, such daydreams are for the birds (namely, the exotic-type birds were they shipped to Alaska and introduced into the wild).

On a related note, this week I've been, in addition to catching a nasty cold after finishing my grading and being holed up in bed with tea and a couple of mystery novels, a bit melancholy (surprise!) and trying to figure out what it is about life that makes it so hard to organize pleasurable interactions with my friends. It makes me wonder whether friendship is really only maintainable when friends live in the same city? Or maybe my friendships, perhaps due to burning that much brighter, are, for the most part, doomed to fade away quickly and suddenly without warning. I mean, I have been trying not to feel sorry for myself, to instead to look it in the eye, to understand the nature of living and having friends, what is reasonable to want from people, what we have to let go and let happen, when it's appropriate to voice anger or hurt, what is the magical key to keeping things churning, and what's the difference between doing everything it takes to create/maintain meaningful friendships, and doing so much of the legwork that one day you wake up and wonder if anyone else is invested?

Suddenly, none of the answers seem obvious to me, and if I had to typify this past year, to give it a title that makes it clear what the year was for me, I'd say: It was the year of Herald, gardening, waning friendships, and descending hopefulness. Not the worst year, but a slowly falling into gloom year.

I recently came to the decision that my sister hit the nail on the head when she told me she thinks the purpose of life is happiness, simply happiness, and that I was off the mark to feel that life has more ethical drive and responsibility to it than 'merely' striving for happiness. I was startled a couple of months ago when reading the Dalai Lama to see that Buddhism basically agrees with A's belief, the main difference (and means of connecting A's belief and my own) really being that Buddhists see personal happiness as contingent on universal happiness... that one cannot find happiness without extending that same means of happiness to everyone else, with say... compassion, responsibility, and generosity to the rest of the world.

My problem is that, as far as I can tell so far, this belief relies on such an incredibly huge rationalization of emotion and experience that I'm surprised anyone's ever been able to make that leap (personal happiness = compassion). I've been arguing with the Dalai Lama's book from page one practically, because my experience has been that compassion, responsibility, interconnectivity and generosity do not lead the giver towards happiness, nor any reward in fact, but are simply what they are... neutral states of being. I mean, perhaps being the recipient of compassion, responsibility, interconnectivity and generosity could make one feel happy, but the giving of these things, the living of them, is no guarantor of fulfillment. No, I'm starting to think that lies much more within the self, irrespective of others...

Anyhow, I'm wandering, so... to wander back. Starting at the second point, after this last year, I've decided what my New Year's Resolution is going to be for next year. Happiness. To find it, kicking swimming screaming giggling moving biting reading talking clawing writing laughing arguing competing ferociously attacking taking making creating beating applying collaging or whatever the fuck it takes to find it. I am, for a year, going to try to stop feeling so anxious, to stop missing my friends and looking towards the few minutes I have (or might have, hypothetically, if they were to come, if they might write, if if if) with them as the happiness I actually want, and I'm going to find happiness. Once I find it, I expect it to be like a lion, something one has to catch the tail of and hold on tight, and only then am I going to worry about the rest of the stuff, like am I achieving enough, am I exercising enough, am I being a good person, blah blah blah.

Back to the first point, the reading I had organized with NM developed over time, morphed. First, I turned out I was over-hopeful about LH coming and joining, so when he was unable, it made me sad, but still, I thought it would be fun with NM and she kept talking about it and telling me who she thought I should invite, giving me the dates, arranging to have people come down from Seattle, encouraging me to find a new venue when my studio turned out to not be an option, and talking with me about renaming it, etc, so that when she told me a few days before the event that mysteriously she wasn't going to be able to come, I felt like the trap door had finally opened and dropped me through to the basement. And there it had been, that dark hole of a basement, below me the whole time, with only a quick door's opening separating me from its presence, and there I was, standing on it and not knowing it was there, except for that toothy melancholy feeling lurking around the edges.

Having gone through several stages (more quickly than normal, which I think is a good sign) including incredulous disbelief, anger, sadness, and sulkiness, I am now, I suppose, exiting on the side of cautious forgiveness... knowing somewhat that NM had some personal stuff that caught up with her, and although she really ditched me big time, I also know that she's my friend and I love her and although I need to protect against getting hurt like that again, I still can't shut myself off from the good things that happen from the crappy douchevents...

Like, having a great reading, at a great venue, with 35 people attending, and five other excellent readers besides me, and a great laughing group of people cuddled up tightly in a cozy space with sparkly holiday lights behind us and on the wall, and wine and cider in the corner, and a hearth to read upon. And really the first time I've organized an event like that, so knowing that it can be done. I mean, it was incredibly stressful (I had a lot of nightmares about it), and I was scared to death to find myself hosting an event where I had to stand up in front of a bunch of people and introduce them to readers and the event (NM was going to do that part...), etc, but I think I did it well. I didn't stutter too much. I didn't giggle nervously. I'm pretty sure I didn't offend anyone. And we raised enough money to make a nice donation to the Firehouse Cafe for letting us use their cafe last minute, and after-hours (as long as we cleaned up). One of my old profs showed up too from the Grad-School-I-Kinda-Hate, and that startled me, and people laughed at my work. The other readers... well, I didn't know any of their work, truthfully, and didn't know what to expect other than I thought it would be a nice mix of people, and even the last minute rearrangements (one other person besides NM couldn't come, so I asked Neil to find someone since he'd done so much to help me find a venue) turned out to be a pretty good mix... something for everyone, and overall nice quality... I personally really enjoyed the poetry of the woman who went directly before me, and felt smugly pleased with myself that I had thought to create an age-range in the readers to see if it might cover a diverse range of humanity, and it worked out that way.

Anyhow. It was really nice, good. Healthy for me. What I needed. What I want. Good for others too. And it came out of NM's suggestion and pressure and etc, so that even as she ditched, which meant that the part of the reading that involved creating work with my best friend (what I imagined to be my favorite part) was dissolved, it was still her little stone tossed at the top of the hill that created a new experience for us all. Don't know whether to blame her, thank her, or rock back on my heels and say, huh.



On a separate note, my sister and brolaw are coming home from Scotland next week, and that will be excellent. The house is in an uproar and Lambert is getting polished at the dog-cleaners. He will be so beee-youuuu-teeee-ful and shiny white.
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