fear creeps in. as surely it must do, that which is not sure, uncertain, born of confusion and doubt comes and overtakes the brain for seconds at night, while reading. how is it that i let it? why must i eat away at myself, my insides full of all the emptiness i sense, crashing uncertainty into uncertainty and building into a nothingness in me, an absence of me, of action and how to be. for it is always the same question that i am asking and staring at self in mirrors, doubting it, wondering which failure comes quicker and how will i let my life be eaten alive by my life, the things i must do? it is not the mundane that i fear consuming me, but rather it is the mundane i rely on when i cannot rely on my dreams. and how will i be able, when the time comes, to cope with everything my life has become and all i must do - the squeezing of soul out of soul - and how can i muster love and sureness in the face of all that i've never been or done? when others tell me i am capable because i am stubborn, because all of us are capable, i do not believe them. i do not trust that which i cannot see. i am afraid, terribly so. i do not know how to force myself into shadows. i do not know how to become that which i adore, ultimately, but am uninformed of, do not necessarily recognize by sight. i do not know how to overcome myself to become myself, that shadow indeed, that pedestalled and glorious monument of myself in the future, its arms wide open and its face smiling. i am not that me. i am deathly afraid of that me. i know not how to overcome the obstacle of myself to become fully myself and to sell myself after to strangers. in truth i am not motivated enough. i am too lazy. i lay here on my back all day with stomach churning, wishing merely for it to stop and yet not taking the walk that was recommended and having trouble swallowing that which will attempt a calming. and instead of using my time of nothingness, and of misery in order to sit still here in front of the computer, concocting my future and my dreams into words on the page, typing my fears away, i sit still in bed, waiting for the moment to end. but nausea lasts longer than a contraction. i'm working on over a week here. and so too, i do not want for that to occupy the thoughts on the page, so why not just avoid writing altogether? why not simply never work towards that which i most want/fear? why not become merely a shell of myself, incapable and undesirable, mothering and nursing and crying all day long? i will instead huddle in corners, fear everything, be nothing and amount to very little. i will live the life of my title character, created from past and present and friends and smoke, and eat each sleeping pill one by one, stomach filling and spinning wildly, upset by convictions finally mustered for the worst possible task, and die miserably and self-righteously and selfishly and all that. i will instead hate myself not for not doing what i want, but for accomplishing the very opposite, the destruction of myself, the tearing down of all ambition, and the swallowing whole of hope. what beautiful pictures i paint, polar opposites of one another, and i, believing neither to be really attainable, sit in-between straddling dreams of one and the fear of another (or perhaps dreams of another and fear of one), walking nowhere, achieving nothing, and endlessly bitching about it all.
there are only two things that i think about all day: the baby and art. and yet here, i've nothing at all to say about the latter, as it is the baby that occupies my dreams and upsets my stomach. it is the baby that is becoming, ever-so-slowly, yet surely indeed, an overwhelming force in my life, something to consume everything that came before it. all we talk about is the baby and its names and its things that it will need. we call everyone we know to tell them of our news. i take prenatal vitamins and eat six times a day. we read books about the baby and keep a journal about the baby. we know its size and the shape it should be taking. sometimes i talk to the baby, though it has no ears. all my flesh becomes tender and my dreams are taken over by the baby, by my belly, by labor and nursing. i dreamt that i was nursing the cat. i dreamt that i went into labor and spent three hours filling out paperwork. i dreamt about shopping for clothes for the baby. the only thing that i have actually bought for the baby to date, is a halloween costume in the shape of a chicken. my mother thinks this says something about me as a weirdo, or me as a person, though i'm not sure precisely what. jon runs my diet so that i eat beans and lots of dairy and raw vegetables and fruit. we differentiate between good fat (nuts) and bad fat (beef). we check salad dressings and other condiments for sugar and sodium content. at the grocery, we buy low sodium, fat-free, organic soups in cans and ginger ale to calm my stomach. i wash my hands every time i play with the cats. i lay down on the floor carefully, to avoid injury to anything. i wear sensible shoes everywhere i go. i carry bottled water and sunflower seeds in the car for a snack. we looked at the baby section in the store the other day just to window shop. we looked at swings and car seats and plush toys and onesies and receiving blankets. jon was confused as to why everything was pastel. we laughed at the baby clothes encrusted with pro and college football insignia. we examined diaper bags and changing table pads. we saw babies in strollers and babies in shopping carts. every time the phone rings, i talk about the baby. every christmas card that comes says something about the baby. so instead of my life taking on the shape of the writer, with me writing furiously and hysterically, my life has taken on the shape of the pregnant woman. mi es embarazada. i am hysterically and fervently considering the welfare, the future, the present of my baby. it is all that there is here, just now: baby, baby, baby, baby, baby. i am not, however, particularly upset about this. i must simply find a way to return to normal. i must figure out how to become accustomed to myself as the pregnant woman without defining myself as such, without limiting myself to the title.
jon and i are reading great writers and at the same instant, reading about great writers, and we are finding that it is impossible, yet not, to be in their company, and yet here is jon telling me that i should write everyday when i get up in the morning and make it my full time occupation, so that i can hope to achieve, one day, the company of steinbeck (the aforementioned great writer that jon is reading about), with all his honesty he was reaching for, and evidently found, and then with salinger (my dear favorite) with all his mystery, and again too, honesty. how else do you describe a clarity of emotion in literature? salinger is truly amazing in his achievements. the great american writer among us, it's surely true. certainly of the latter half of the twentieth century at least. his achievements - like i said, clarity of emotion in literature, yet without the bogging down of a literary style. there is an absence of modesty, yet an absence of arrogance as well. there is a straightforwardness, a directness about the literature not weighted down with literature. and surely i cannot ever hope to achieve these heights - my honesty is me only. there is no clue into a childhood or out of it here, merely a mentioning repeatedly of the problems of the artist as such and the striving for and the reaching to of greatness, of some hallmark of achievement. there is no mention made, however, of the path, merely the struggle itself. and shouldn't i, the artist, be trying to articulate the path, the paragon of being human? isn't that the ultimate goal? does there need to be an ultimate goal at all? am i not a supporter of the hallmark of storytelling? haven't i always believed in the straight story, as it may be, with it's tiny twists and turns and the absence of arrogance, the straight story more valuable than a encyclopedia of anecdotes, but a story - just a simple, straightforward story. i believe in these stories. i am an advocate of these stories. it's just i've no idea of how to tell them. i know not what the story is. i have no method of pounding it out when i do not see the future in the eyes of these characters, when i have not lived a life filled at all with much of anything, let alone something worth writing home about. what haunts me? the process of my journey haunts me. the journey itself. the end of this journey. i've been frightened of death all my life. how can i write about that? what is there in it? no, don't answer, i'm sure i'll find it on my own and as i make mention of the tiny things that plague me, i'm certain i'll find my own answers hidden in the questions, just as i may have already done. if you ask the correct questions, in the correct, accidental order, you'll find your answers hidden inside yourself. it's almost always true. certainly in matters of the heart, or matters of the obvious, as the case may be. i find it to be true all the time. once i start talking about something, out loud or on paper - once i start to articulate the problem of my heart, the confusion of my brain - everything suddenly clears and i find in my explanations the truth that was hidden from me, i usually articulate exactly what i wanted to know, without needing any input at all. which again brings us to psychology and why it is a crock of shit - because if we just laid on couches in our own living rooms and talked out loud about our problems, we'd probably eventually find all the answers we ever searched for right in the creases of our tongue and the forming of our lips. psychologists merely usher this process along by asking those correct questions in the correct order. all of the answers to your confusion lay behind the mask of the obvious, the costume of the apparent. you are responsible for your own unburying, just as i am responsible for my own greatness.
painting yesterday was about archaeology and psychology. the concept of digging through one's soul to find oneself. where did i bury me? which ghosts of my former selves come back to haunt me? and i find words suddenly pouring out of my paintbrush and they are asking questions and pointing out the varying aspects of how we think of ourselves - ghosts of yourself, yourself of yourself, paleontologists of yourself, then graveyards and death wishes and brain traps and everything spinning and forming the abstract notion of time suspended in the head - of whatever it is i deemed it to be and now having created this concept out of imagery with these hands and the choosing of colors. and i realize how dark my imagery is while i am so happy, so inexplicably so, so unfathomably so, yet true nonetheless - and i am wondering where it all comes from, and as i'm wondering, i'm recording the process and it's only coming to me in snitches of verbal imagery about pterodactyls buried beneath the earth and in my head there may very well be graveyards. in my head there may very well be graveyards - and that is the concept i am reaching for and trying here and failing to explain. which is perhaps why paintings deserve no words. which is why psychology is such a ridiculous profession because it's all filled up with guesswork about the abstract and the cyclical. perhaps only mathematicians could ever say anything truly interesting about the brain and of course if you're an artist you'll always believe that they've gotten it all wrong. so suddenly, here, on the page, zha seems to be as completely off his rocker as i may now sound to you, dear reader, for he thinks he can map it all in some sense or at least attempt the explanation that i am failing so rapidly to merely preface. most days, it is the concept of me as an artist that i address, and very rarely if ever, the art. yet today, it is the art and i am finding with extraordinary rapidity, that i should perhaps stick to my former subject, regardless of how you may tire of it, because i am much better at expounding upon the turns in my head about myself than i am about that which comes from me because honestly, i do not know from where it comes, i am unaware of why i pick the colors i pick when i am painting or sometimes where the poetry is coming from, each line, fragment, watercolor... i can only say that there is a process that occurs between me and the page, wherein a dialogue goes on and the white of a canvas tells me where to uncover the brushstroke, and the ugliness that was there is wiped clear with color. with language and with color, texture, visual metaphor, there is an element of the dreams that i have, or images of what the figures themselves would do, and i throw them in the mix with no explanation and leave the audience to get a sense of a scene rather than to tell them directly everything i intended. i believe that art is for the audience; that it is the audience who should accept or decline an artist's invitation into dreams, and that when delving in whole-heartedly (as when reading a novel or staring, unblinking at a painting), it is the audience's dreams that will be reflected. that is not to say that it is the audience that i am thinking of when i am working, but it is the audience who ultimately handles the work in the landscape of their minds and hearts, and thus, it is always theirs for the having.
blink of an eye. my universe changes by seconds and i am stuck, wrapped in and warped by my confusion, seas of possibility outstretched and contracted again. my body alters and morphs itself, aching, abdomen coursing across muscles and thighs sore and again confused by their ache. my head gets fuzzy. i am out buying books and health food and i am restricted now from everything. and all of this is more than pleasing and more than fabulous because that thing inside, growing, is mine and filled with and created by my love. seven-and-a-half months from now, i will be a mother. and i am thrilled by this endeavor. i am ecstatic by this twist in the story of my life. and suddenly, i am no longer planning my life, it is no longer held suspended in the abstract notions of what the future will look like and how i want things to grow or be in my house or out of it. suddenly, my life has planned me and my life is now being lived by me and will from now on be that thing that i do and not some concept hung in my head by starlight. suddenly it is a waste of time to think here, "what will it all look like?" "what will it all be?" no. now it is. and now i have things to do and responsibility is claiming me by the throat and i am going willingly. now i will do what i have to do to engineer my dreams, because without my hand directing the traffic of my life, like god reaching through clouds, it will not go in the way that i had hoped and the dreams will not take the shape of their making. instead i will get stuck and grow fat with the laziness of destiny-making. i must do that which i want and love if for no other reason than to not be one of those people who wishes they had pursued their artistic dreams instead of becoming merely a mom. i will not regret my life or my motherhood. i cannot let that happen. i cannot let that be the example i lead by. i must instead utilize this opportunity to see through the eyes of my child and be myself the child i once was, only now with the responsible mom in me clinging to my side. i must take chances now for me and the life we've created (even if it is just a fetus, non-viable outside the womb). i must now do what i dream and become me as i am, me as my potential embodied. i must read the tao to understand my life as it is, and grow by leaps and by bounds. everything i've ever wanted is now coming to me at moments in my history when i was most certain of how my future would look merely because of the convictions of my statements. i am ready for my future and to be me as i am now. i am no longer waiting for anything.
sitting on the painting in the cemetery eating sushi. overlooking the city and questioning everything anyone's ever said about me and feeling, once, now able to write, yet having not written. now taking a vacation. me and my husband drinking beer and playing video games. it is not quite the image of me committed to writing as i'd held, but we are now just resting in preparation. and strangely enough, i can say, for one brief moment perhaps, but surely nonetheless - i am happy. i cannot explain it - perhaps it is the friends in the park with the sushi overlooking downtown who give me strength and give me the courage to hold tight in my fist and to run with far into my future and my dreams of me in it or just my dreams of me as they might be sometimes. it is my friends who push me to "engineer my dreams". my friends who force me to believe if however briefly, that i am capable of all that i imagine. that i am capable of being me fully embodied, that i may be now in fact me to my fullest, me embodied, me bottled in me. me as me, as nothing less than all of my potential. i am a package of anna kiss. i dreamt last night of celebrities and telling them "hi, you may have heard of me, i'm anna kiss - would you like my autograph?" they thought it was funny. i'm not sure if i was only kidding or if i'd expected them to reply in the affirmative, that yes, i am anna kiss, and wow, aren't they impressed. my sleeping dreams are as ridiculous as my waking ones.
that once pedestalled comes to me now as putty, unsure and unwilling to go forward or backwards and leaving me to interpret spaces between sentences in not-so late night e-mails. the familiar exists in both the brain and the heartache, the arrogance once so claimed as surely nothing bigger than mere pride, the confidence - now comes, and it is realized that it is tiny, it is fruitless and made up entirely of the empty - that arrogance is combined of confusion and self-loathing and it is claimed to merely go on. and i have seen this in you before, i thought, surely, we must be the same and i am so much of nothing, and here you come to me and it is true. we are filled of the same eyes and the same hands and the same ambition and constant disappointment sprung out of fear. how does one jump off cliffs exactly? how does one commit oneself fully to the starving and the dying role of the artist and terrorize one's brain to extract the comment, the image, the glimpse of heaven embodied in a snail shell? and the question looms at each intersection of what is true and what is merely inevitable and how does one associate oneself with the fame one seeks while simultaneously realizing and holding tight to one's heart the truth that we know - that it too is empty and all filled up with confusion and self-loathing. even that which we seek is corrupted and where, then do we fit in, where do the van goghs and the basquiats fit in? we now hold them in history. they are only valuable in their absence. and it is their insanity by which we measure their genius. and somehow, that feels familiar. so, the question, again, how do we objectively judge ourselves and know of ourselves our ability to create and for it to be meaningful and to not drink ourselves to death in the process? where has the passion to go on existed without the company of misery? is it then possible to commit this brain to that objective beyond all illusions and pretenses and beyond the necessity for clothing or cars, beyond the necessity of love and of some semblance of stability, beyond oneself, one's recognizable self (clothed too, in counterfeited personality, yet with some reasonable depiction of normalcy), beyond all that one knows is the world existed, this reality, to fully envelope oneself in what is potentially, and with some measure of probability, assuredly fatal? is it reasonable to venture into the unknown and live to tell about it? and, to the point, is that your question? or is your statement merely that it is terribly frightening, it is unbelievable and you hate and adore everything and nothing and long, with every fiber, to experience it as both, for the later purpose of extraction to fling, to float, to place onto the page or onto the blank canvas. life is lonely. we want to exist in our worlds and to not exist in our worlds. we want to prove something to ourselves, to prove something to the world - that we are comprised wholly of the insatiable and the magnificent, the creator damned to his own life. and yet i feel that i am missing the point entirely because my words are incapable of cupping this idea in them, of conveying the point of the story and the outcome of the misery of the creative energy of worlds destroyed and built again. your brain as babylon. and so too, your heart. it is an essential aspect of the balance of the universe - that you, capable of such dizzying highs, are brought, here to your spiraling lows where everyone you know is a stranger to you and every word they utter, a lie. here, now, you've touched insanity, how then to escape and be again what you love? no. how then to make use of it for it is inescapable? perhaps. where did you go? what self was it that was not you? here, you feel again yourself, though it is comprised of everything terrible about you. and left is no initiative to accomplish anything. which direction do you turn? which way, which path, which dharma is yours? what precisely are you intended to do, because nothing at all is fulfilling, so wouldn't it then be simpler for someone to tell you? wouldn't everything be easier if you had a patron who demanded of you, whip in hand, to paint all day? wouldn't your role as an artist then be clear? how does one become everything one desires precisely when, in one's head, one is not at all anything like what one desires most to be? remarkably, one is stupid and terrible and worthless, not at all the greatness embodied by one's dream. i am then a walking paradox. i would like very much to own a quiet cabin in the city, where i might feel at home finally, my surroundings built to be like me, the structure formed for it's precise purpose, holding an expressive quality that describes what it's intended to house: an irony. i am a contradiction. i want nothing more than to be a housewife with children climbing all over me. i would like no less than to be a great artist, to be the writer i may or may not be capable of. my words are phenomenally powerful for saying nothing. i alternate between, and at times, exist simultaneously with the notions that i am tremendous and i am damned. i am always busy building myself up and tearing myself down again. i should be hanged for betraying myself. and so often the words escape me to tell you, to say to you, as i cannot say to myself, how beautiful your work, if you would only work, how phenomenal your photograph, how incredible that phrase, and each sits, quietly in the museum in my head, bathed in moonlight and dedicated in your image to the canals of history. i am a fan if no one cares, or if you do not even care, and sometimes i know that you think the same of me, that you are the reflection of me without the constant doubt and without the paralysis. so then, why is it that you are left incapable? you cannot leave me with the belief in hand, hanging, confused, stunned expressions on my face that all is lost because you have changed your mind and gone irrepairably insane, and i might lose you to it. you cannot tell me you love me and trust me in silent sentences and not go forward with what i associate you to be. if you do not soon return to the habit of "fuck everything", then i will not be able to accomplish it myself. i need inspiration inside of me from outside of me in order, that i might do, that which i dream - the jumping off of cliffs and the abandoning of compromise. i am here, and poised with recklessness, now on my count, you go first.