Monday, November 02, 2009
Monday, October 19, 2009
how pretty I looked in that
pink taffeta dress with
with a rhinestone fleur-de-lis
hair plaited in long, loose braids
sidewinder glance mad smile
I was smiling but I seethed
I was not happy that day
I am still not happy about that day
when they shucked my dirty boots
and tried to pry me into a pair of
black patent Mary Janes so torturous
my uncle threw them in the fire
I felt Joan of Arc at my side, and her triumph
I am not happy about what
happened subsequently, it always
took too many angry people to
get me dolled up, my mother
pointing to the burning shoes
I don’t want to talk about
what happened next
©2009 Viola Weinberg
Saturday, October 17, 2009
He had everything to do with my whereabouts and frame of mind in that moment. On October 17 at 5:04 p.m., I was sipping an espresso at Caffe Roma in San Francisco's North Beach. It was the happiest day of my life yet. I had spent the afternoon with Scott Beach, Gerry Nicosia, and Victor di Suvero dwaddling over a late lunch, practicing for our reading, "Love in the Afternoon," for the San Francisco Poetry Festival opener. It was a raucus afternoon with many bottles of red wine emptied and booming poets' voices bouncing off the room Victor rented for our lunch in the back of a restarant that had some Beat associations.
That day, I remember noting the faded red and very flocked wallpaper, the nicks and bare streaks in old captain's chairs where we sat. Clearly, we were all happy about a free lunch. We shreiked with laughter at Victor's sly jokes. Gerry promised to read one of my favorite Verlaine poems in French and took a copy of the book.
It was a giddy day--and not just from the wine. My chapbook, The Sum Complexities of the Humble Field, was being published by Pennywhistle Press, a passionate project of Victor's. He savors the role of editor, but is also a fine poet. The book party was scheduled for later on at City Light's books. It was also the launch of Pennywhistle Press' series which was designed to release six chapbooks in "passport design" every year. Very ambitious, but Victor knew no bounds.
When the rehearsal ended, I declined the offer of a lift. I wanted to walk, stride through the small streets of the Marina up to North Beach proper, dallying along the way to let small miracles and heart-thumping light sweep my head free of intellectual notions. San Francisco, the city of multiple small pleasures and intense beauty. I have always loved it.
I thought of my wonderful friends who were coming that evening for the party: other writers, many of my music-related pals, artists and visionaries. My interns from Food First were coming. One, Uri, was bringing a huge wheel of cheese and a case of wine to the party. He had stopped to pick up the supplies after class at UC Berkeley in his little Volkswagon convertible. We were set to go.
After our party at City Lights, we scheduled a real wingding at Spec's Bar across the alleyway. Spec's is a real San Francisco haunt. The place is small, rather like sitting in a train car.
One wall is one step of liquor after another, across a mirror. Spec Simmons -- who founded the bar and who was still the bar tender -- was getting ready for the influx from City Lights when the earthquake struck.
I wasn't as afraid as you might think; I grew up in Japan and was very familiar with life on an earthquake fault. I had lived on a houseboat in Sausalito and knew how the bay shook and fish jumped out of the water and birds screeched when earthquakes hit. So much of the world's beauty runs along these trenches, and I was unafraid and unconscious of the crazy night I would enter in a matter of minutes. Plus, I wanted to celebrate that book with the rest of the Pennywhistle poets: Sarah Blake, Richard Silberg, Jerome Rothenberg, Phyllis Stowell, and Jorge H.-Aigla.
Darkness had fallen with a thud. The city was on fire.
Friday, October 16, 2009
I wander when I leave you, Pablo
I walk among stars that blink at each other
as if they are telling secrets
about my fate, as if they know
what is next, quivering there
in the shimmering dark
They murmur over me reassuringly
Sometimes I need them so that
I can find my way north
so I can find the path home
As I pick my way between love and poems
in the blue-black diamond field
There! Like a splash in the water flies the comet
with a tail like Isadora’s scarf
From each side, it appears solid, heavy
In reality, it is airy and light as
an inflamed accessory in the sky
or an inflated starlet in chandelier earrings
I walk crookedly; I’ve had too much to drink
I approach temple steps to ruins I’ve read about
I stumble, distracted by the constellations
calculating the age of the stars—
the influential lamps that have always
drawn me here away from the pin point
Hand over brow, as if looking into the sun
I remember that the sun is a star
our closest star, but a minor light
Standing firm on waving stacks of sand
I reach out with my beating heart to
the pulsing fields of the sky above
Wednesday, October 14, 2009
At the top of the Eiffel Tower, 2008.
In the three years and three days since I've posted to Natural Magic, life has been busy, puzzling, adaptive, romantic, frantic and often completely content. Peter and I celebrated 12 years of marriage this year. Last year, we celebrated by taking a month in Europe--on board a river ship down the Danube and into London and over to Paris by Eurostar--and finally to Amsterdam. We returned home to the U.S. the night Obama was elected. That was some trip!
Unfortunately, when we returned, Peter was diagnosed with Hodgkins Lymphoma. He went on the Stanford 5 Protocol chemotherapy (a particularly difficult course of treatment) and suffered through a month of daily radiation treatments. Recently, we had good news about his outcome. Click on the link to Healing in Kenwood for more.
and Enso: Twenty-four Paintings and One Poem with the talented painter Mario Uribe, Enso is a beautifully made, traditionally styled Japanese book with hand-stitched manuscript.
We welcomed a new grandchild, Teagen (whom we call "Miss Tiggy Winkle"), now two years old. She is sweet and smart and has the best giggle, ever. You will see more of our grands as I build this blog.
Unfortunately, with life comes loss. Within the last year, we lost both Uncle Howard (to Parkinsons Disease) and his much loved wife, Auntie Diane. We'll miss you both, and always think of you!
Our little companions left us, too. Sweet Dashiel, our little Min Pin (miniature pinscher) and Miss Biscottini Zuccharini (also known as Biscott) both passed. Dashiel was 13 and Biscottini was 25.
Biscott on her last day on earth, enjoying the sun and shadows.
Life is precious; we know this. We decided it is time for us to enjoy ourselves. We've thrown ourselves into gardening and landscaping the place in Kenwood. There isn't a day that goes by when we are not delighted by the birds that feed from old sunflowers, radishes popping up, the intensity of sweetpeas, the beauty of strange things like our Yugoslavian squash. Small things are treasured. You are treasured.
You will see many more images of our life together on this blog. You will also see more of my poetry and some links to places I enjoy. Thanks for coming on this journey with me!
Monday, October 09, 2006
I met my husband when he hired me--about 13 years ago--to help him organize an idea he had for a screenplay. It was a great idea and used improbable winners in an uphill battle in softball. During the time I worked with him, we slowly fell in love. I stopped taking payments and he started writing, doing everything he could to learn the screenplay formula, including classes and books, etc.
I am a more spontaneous writer, but Peter was a new writer. Granted with lots and lots of talent and promise, but new. He gained confidence as he wrote, but eventually put his screenplay on the back burner to do other big things--become the president of the California Chiropractic Association for one. Then, both of my parents became very ill--For five years, we worked really hard at helping them. I have a job as an editor that is demanding and sometimes distracting to my creative river. Slowly, the softball screenplay faded away.
Then, suddenly, Peter resurrected it! Last night, he began to spin out a fiction version that could be a short story, a novella or even a novel. I read his work with curiosity this morning over coffee. It still intrigued me, but I wanted more action. I realized that, in the screenplay format, action is often sacrificed for dialogue--and dialogue will be sacrificed for rolling image. I should know this instictively after working in television--but it certainly seemed like an explosive insight.
Then, just a day later, he retired the book idea in favor of another great idea that he has been working on, word-by-word. I just had to start editing many raw and rough pieces after that! Somewhere in the midst of this fertile creative patch, I had a long-overdue knee surgery. I'm recovering so quickly! Just a week ago, I was lying around on pain pills. Today, I walked--without a walker or cane--all the way around our block! It feels good, so good, to be on the trail to health again.
To motivate me, Peter has reserved places for us in a Rick Steves tour of Italy for next year. I can't explain how touching that is to me! And I will get there. There will be many entries in the interim--as I scrabble toward my dream (since I was 19) of seeing the art, walking the ancient streets, feeling the presence of Romans and Visigoths! Really, to live again . . .
Tuesday, September 05, 2006
Glorious Autumn! We find ourselves growing older and happier as our lives go on. Peter, my husband, is a very unusual man--he has been a chiropractor, retired, gone back to school to learn energy management via a degree in environmental studies. We are always busy here in Kenwood--lots of work in the garden and house. It's been a summer of changes for both of us, but now, it's September and we are looking forward to birthdays and our anniversary.
Life is good!
In late August, we bundled up our woolly jackets and flew to Portland, Oregon, where I was reunited with my cousin, Denton Todhunter, who I fondly refer to as "The Tattoo King of Portland, Oregon. Denton has two tattoo parlors (Beaverton and Salem) and has found a remarkable canvas for his art--the human being. Aside from his impressive skill in the art of tattoo, he is a kind and gentle man, a bit younger than me and a whole lot taller! He and his remarkably funny wife, Lanna, are settled into a lovely neighborhood with a larger-than-life Great Dane, named "Harley" because he is such a knucklehead! I was really glad I made the effort. Denton replaced me for a time as the black sheep of the family. He has settled into a big life full of interesting ideas and many thoughtful endeavors. My parents were proud of him for finding a way to make a living with art--in some ways, similar to the way I have made a living as a poet by writing poetic materials for corporate clients and employers. We are both living proof that all humans can adapt--even when they know art is their calling.
It was especially important for me to see Denton after losing my father. It made me happy to hear stories of my parents from someone who found their eccentricities as dear as I do. And it made me feel that I am not alone.
From Portland, we drove a rental car to Astoria to visit a place I've always called "Wee Willie Winky Town"--the gorgeous and vivid town that nestles on the cusp of the mouth of the Columbia River. In Astoria, we stayed at The Hotel Elliot, a faithful and comfy restoration of a grand old hotel. We loved staying there! Reasonably priced for such a nice accommodation--their motto is "Wonderful Beds!"--This is not an idle boast. We had room 502, with views of the Columbia and its indolent, yet busy sea traffic and the Astoria bridge, which spans the Columbia to the Washington state side.
For two days, we enjoyed Astoria and my pal Gordo's world. He took us to his community radio station where he runs a Saturday night shift, and to numerous seafood and pancake establishments where we ate like hungry dogs. One of the most wonderful mini-excursions was to the Astoria Column which Peter climbed and took photos of the Columbia and the farmlands below.
We laid around in that marvelous bed, drank great red wine and completely relaxed. A true vacation!
Finally, we wandered down the coast to Yachats, a small and funky town (verging on village size) where we stayed at the Shamrock Lodgettes just off Highway 101. This was wonderful--our room faced the ocean, included a kitchenette and fireplace and access to the beach. Despite my gamey leg, we managed to get down on the beach for a terrific walk in the morning among sea birds and ravens. We recommend that little spot in the road if you want to feel you've flown to another world.
From there, we reluctantly made our way to Jacksonville, knowing that it would be our last stop before returning home. We stayed at TouVelle House, where we stay when we are in Ashland for plays. Our hosts, Gary and Tim are always wonderful and funny and the food and rooms are the best!
It's kind of funny how hard it is to realize you need a vacation until you are in the middle of it! One must put enough miles (mental or physical) between themselves and the mean modern world that has grown up around us--to understand the meaning of re-creation. To linger under a particularly beautiful bridge--even if dump trucks are rolling and dumping gravel for the next rainy season--to stop at roadside attractions that remind us of being little kids whose parents needed a break from driving--to suspend disbelief and order something entirely foreign from a greasy spoon menu--all these things contribute to the sense of being reborn, even if it's a transitory (and hopefully endlessly repetitive) emotion.