Thursday, January 3, 2013

MaMeMi

Musings. What your piano teacher does when she is not teaching and has nothing better to do.

***

Divertimento. Que es lo que la profesora de piano hace cuando no esta dando clase y no tiene nada mejor que hacer.

Friday, December 31, 2010

Libertad sin pájaros/ Freedom Without Birds

(Click en el título para escuchar la canción) (Click on the title to listen to the song)

No hay pájaros.
El cielo estático azul.
Sólo el grito de los cuervos.
(No hay pájaros)

¡Quiero escuchar!
Se ven árboles grandes como torres a lo lejos,
pero no se escuchan pájaros.

Es demasiado el silencio.

El desierto. La palabra.
Las alas de los pájaros.
El mar.


Maria de los Angeles Esteves
Irvine, 2002
Dedicado a la memoria de Federico Garcia Lorca



Freedom without birds

There are no birds.
The static blue sky.
Only the crows’ cry.
(There are no birds)

I want to listen.
I can see big trees like towers in the distance,
but I can’t hear any birds.

There is too much silence.

The desert. The word.
The birds’ wings.
The ocean.

Tuesday, December 21, 2010

Deep Cleaning / Limpieza Profunda

I

Going through my papers
Found this one folder
Tagged
“Legal/Divorce/INS”
I opened it to see
Sitting atop a bunch of divorce papers
A card
With a little girl in a swimming suit
Standing at the entrance of a beach
Her little dog on a leash
Her bicycle in one hand
The other arm akimbo
Reading a sign that says:
“NO dogs
NO bicycles
NO swimming”

II Glo

Ella me mira desde la foto
Con esa sonrisa pícara
Qué estará pensando
En Ámsterdam
Una mañana fría del invierno holandés
Con su gorrito Coya
Bajo el cielo gris.

Los amigos desaparecen.

Vos estás despierta
Tu cuerpo respira
Escuchás a la lluvia cayendo rítmicamente ahí afuera
Pandora a lo lejos.

Estás viva.








***


Limpieza Profunda

I

Revisando mis papeles
Encontré este folder
Etiquetado
“Legal/Divorcio/Inmigración”
Lo abro y veo
Sentada al tope de una pila de papeles del divorcio
Una tarjeta
Con una nena en malla
Parada a la entrada de una playa
Su perrito con correa
La bicicleta en una mano
El otro brazo en jarra
Leyendo un cartel que dice:
“PROHIBIDOS los perros
PROHIBIDAS las bicicletas
PROHIBIDO nadar.”

II Glo

She looks at me from the picture
With her sweet smile
What is she thinking
In Amsterdam
In a cold Dutch winter morning
With her Coya’s hat
Under the gray sky.

Friends disappear.

You are awake.
You breathe
You hear the rain falling rhythmically out there
Pandora in the distance.

You are alive.

Sunday, November 14, 2010

Diatribe On Men: My Declaration of Independence

Cleopatra says:

I always say that I have a built-in delay: it takes me a while after the facts to see things as they are, and this is added proof of that.

I’ve been sick this past week, had strep throat, so I had a lot of pain, in my throat, head, ears, and neck. Not pleasant. And because my head hurt all the time, I couldn’t read or write much, I watched some Netflix but that tired me too, so I mostly slept. And with all that free time my neurons got working again.

During my time of convalescence, I realized two things: one, that I am sad, very sad. I suffer from deep sadness. Sadness that takes away the joy of life, the beauty, and paralyzes me. But this sadness is not only the product of the last break-up. There is sadness also from before, from two, five years ago at least, from the miscarriage, the divorce, but probably more, more, much more, a sadness bordering on the permanent, a subterranean, all permeating sadness. Depression you might call it, but I call it sadness, elephant sadness, lack of joy. That’s why it’s been so hard to create lately. The spark is missing. That was the thing: he brought the spark with him, but then, he took it away. So especially these past few months I’ve been bare, because of the break-up, but also due to the realization that I am at the end of an era. I recently came to terms with the fact that I will never have children of my own, from my own womb, because I don’t want to do it alone and if I want to do it I have to do it now, and now there is no man on the horizon, and there is not going to be one for a while, and there are too many other things I want to do. Maybe it represents the end of the path, a cul de sac, and now I have other roads in front of me. *

But I also realized that I am angry. I am angry at men that say, You are so great, you are awesome, gorgeous, fantastic, but I don’t love you; tired of men that fall in love with the woman that don’t love them and reject the one that does, and tired to be the woman that falls in love with the men that don’t love her and rejects the one that does. Tired of playing that game.

This guy in Sweden, for example, lets call him Pedro. Recently, a month ago perhaps, Pedro offered me $1,000 to go visit him in Stockholm and bring him the stupid sculptures he bought on Ebay. One of them, especially, takes a decent amount of space in my room. It is in a big box and I don’t want to go through the hassle of sending it by mail. The sculpture is made of plaster and it could break, so, he wants me to go to Sweden and bring it with me. I haven’t said yes or no, I am in between other more important things right now.

But this friend, Pedro, well, I could write a book about us. I’ve known him since 1992, we dated for two years in Buenos Aires before he departed towards Sweden and I departed towards Paris. While I was in Paris in 1995 I got pregnant and he was the main suspect, (I had visited him in Sweden a couple of times), and although, yes, I have to admit, there was another possible perpetrator, in my heart I knew it was him. But he was so adamant about his innocence, he didn’t even blink, he was like, Me? Not possible. I am too good, I could not possibly have made that mistake. So, I had an abortion, and then we continued to see each other from Paris to Sweden until I told him some secret I had been keeping for a little while: a fling I had with a friend of his after he left Buenos Aires and after he had said “I want to fuck as many Swedish girls as possible.” But his honor was hurt so he refused to talk to me for a long time… Anyway, of course I loved him even more after that and I wrote him many love letters to which he always replied, You are so talented and beautiful, but I don’t love you and I never did. But in 2008 when I had the miscarriage he wrote me an email saying, Well, that baby that we never had a long time ago was maybe the only one I would have ever had. He was getting worry about his own posterity. So, in April 2009, when he heard that I had broken up with my boyfriend of 5 years, a pretty bad break up too, he proposed something to me. He was married to an infertile woman so he couldn’t have kids with her.  When I dated him he was around 26, and he didn’t want to have kids then, he was like, Why bring a kid to this awful world? But after he turned 40 he became fearful of disappearing from the earth without leaving a sign of his existence, because he realized that he was not going to be this great artist he thought he was going to be and leave behind a wake of beautiful creations known by the universe. In 2009 he was 44 or so, I was almost 39, and his wife was 46 or something like that. But they had a terrible relationship; they fought all the time. He was always telling me that he was going to leave her. He would call me sometimes and complain for hours about his wife, and then when she would come back to the house, because he would only call me when she was not around, he would hang up immediately leaving me in the middle of a sentence. He was afraid of her. He even told me, a few months before April 2009, that in the summer he was going to move to his house in the country by himself and leave her. I remembered this because, even though we haven’t seen each other for more than fifteen years, I was always still kind of in love with him, kind of having hopes (what an idiot!). So when he called and proposed me to have a child with him, first I was happy, because it was what I wanted to hear all my life, and he knew I wanted a kid too, but then I started asking, You are going to leave your wife, aren’t you? And he said, No! Leave my wife!? Why do you say that? And I was like, Well, you said you had problems with her before, that you were going to leave her, and if you propose me what you are proposing me, I will want more, you know, what are your plans? To visit your child once a year and in secret? Oh yeah, it has to be in secret, he said, because now I am going to therapy with my wife and I will not leave her just like that, So you are going to therapy with your wife and you are asking me to keep this secret from her, to have your child in secret? (Silence) I will send you money… Yeah, right. So, that was it, I said no. And I was angry with him for a while and didn’t talk to him. But time passed and a year later he asks me to keep some boxes for him. Some junk he buys on Ebay and people don’t want to send to Europe to him, so they send them to me. I said ok, why not. Now I have three of these things in my house, and as my roommate pointed out, they come with his energy, because every time I see them I think about him.

The thing is now he offers me $1,000 to go visit him and bring him the boxes. And I asked him, How is your situation? He divorced his wife and is now living by himself in a little house close to the metro station in Stockholm. Aha. And so, are you going to offer me again that deal of the child once I am there? And he said, No! I don’t have any hidden agendas! The reason I asked you last year, he said, was because I knew you wanted, I wanted, my wife couldn’t, so the only way I could have a baby was in secret, so I asked you. But now I don’t need to do that. Claro, of course, I thought, now that you are free you can find yourself a nice blond Swedish fertile young girl that can have your kid for you, so you don’t need me, and who could you have asked when you were married other than me, the always understanding me, the compassionate and all loving me? Nobody. Nobody else you could have asked other than me. And now you don’t need me, because you are free and so you are not interested in me anymore. Me is only good for the half-ass option.

So now I say: you want your boxes? Of course, I’ll give you your boxes, dear. You just send me the money and I’ll be there in a few months, and you’ll see, I’ll get to Paris and I’ll send you a text saying, “Oops! I’m not going to make it to Sweden, sweetie! Your box got broken in a thousand and two little pieces so it is not worth going there anymore. Bye bye! Thanks for the trip!”
I draw La Femme after another break-up, a Swedish actually, in Paris 1997. Notice the little smashed head under he foot and her second, fiery mouth.

*Check next blog entry on this. There is more to say …

Monday, October 18, 2010

She's back/ Está de vuelta

She’s back

She, she always seduces me back into her arms, she, my mistress, I am her slave. I tried to leave her so many times! So many times I call her things, I said I hated her, that I wanted to kill her, that I didn’t want to see her anymore. How many times I promised to myself that I will never be back with her again, and now, I am back with you, my saboteur.

Trato de sacarte de encima, porque mi verdadera vocación, yo digo, es la escritura, ahí sí tengo talento, me digo, pero en la música no, en la música soy un desastre. No soy natural.

Y hete aquí que me seduce con canciones inspiradas por un chico bonito cuyo nombre no voy a nombrar. Canciones con letra, claro, así no me siento tan culpable de que le estoy metiendo los cuernos a la escritura. Así ella también tiene su say.

But she’s back, and what can I do? I can’t leave her out there by the door, in this rain. I have to let her in, right? I have to listen to what she has to say.

***

Está de vuelta

Ella, ella siempre me seduce de vuelta a sus brazos, ella, mi amante, soy su esclava. Traté de dejarla tantas veces! Tantas veces la llamé cosas feas, le dije que la odiaba, que la quería matar, que no quería verla nunca más en mi vida. Cuántas veces me prometí a mí misma que nunca iba a volver con ella, y ahora, estoy de vuelta con vos, mi saboteadora.

I tried to get you off my back, because my true calling, I say, is writing, there I do have talent, I say, but in music not, in music I am a disaster. I am not natural.

And now here she is back seducing me with songs inspired by a pretty boy whose name I will not name. Songs with lyrics, of course, so I don’t feel so guilty that I am cheating on her, on writing. That way writing also has her say.

Pero ahora está de vuelta, y qué puedo hacer? No la puedo dejar ahí afuera, en esta lluvia. La tengo que dejar entrar, verdad? Escuchar lo que tiene que decir.

Tuesday, October 5, 2010

Jonathan Franzen

I went to see Jonathan Frazer. He was at The Aratani/Japan America Theatre in a conversation with Meghan Daum, organized by Aloud, the Library Foundation of Los Angeles, on September 16.

This is the first time that I do this kind of thing: I paid $25 to see a writer talk and have my book signed. Why did I do it, if I never do it, especially not for $25? I heard him on an interview with Terry Gross while driving, and I found myself saying “yeah” to every thing he said. He was describing the some times tortuous process of writing, the process of getting into people’s heads, and other juicy writer’s stories, and I fell in love. I felt I had found my soul mate, because all that he was saying resonated with me so clearly and loudly.

I’ve been in the process of writing a novel for quite some time now. You see, this book has been trying to be born for more than 10 years now, a very slow and painful birth. Maybe it is because I am a primeriza, a first time mother. This will be my first novel, if I ever finish it, and if it becomes a novel, because at this point, I don’t know anymore what it is. So, it made me feel good to know that I wasn’t the only one that suffered through the writing process.

Why suffer? Am I a masochist perhaps? Don’t let me answer that question. But yes, it is a hard process when you are revising some painful periods of your life, not all painful, some stupid, some dull, and drawing conclusions and lessons from them. Hurtful truths some times come to surface. Even when we though, oh, this is safe.

So, when I heard that he was going to be in LA, I looked it up and got the ticket, and, of course, I went to buy the book.

I hadn’t read Franzen before. I wasn’t here when all the controversy of “The Corrections” happened. That was in 2001 before 9/11, and I was in Holland then, getting my fiancée visa to come here. So those kind of news were out my radar. I heard about him when I was in the MFA, but I didn’t put much attention to what people were saying. I didn’t read bestsellers authors then, you know. I didn’t consider them “literary” enough. Of course, I was talking only from my arrogance, since I didn’t really know Franzen’s writing.

I started reading “Freedom” before going to the library event, of course. I imagined in my head that I would have an opportunity to talk to him, one on one, to let him know how much I liked what he said in Fresh Air, how much his interview made me feel that I was not alone in the world, that out there, there was someone who also felt like I did about people, who felt how I felt about writing. And as I started reading the book, I also wanted to tell him that I too like to write about people, about relationships, about what happens to us through life, how life change us.

My yeah yeah situation in the car started when he got to talk about depression and being stuck, and working your conflicts, instead of going to therapy, though writing. Self-psychoanalysis. “When I start to crash, I know I am getting something there.” Maybe I am at that point, but I am a bit paralyzed.

When the big day arrived, I didn’t feel like going, driving to downtown LA… but, I had the ticket so I went.

It was in Little Tokyo, at the Japanese American theater, which was much bigger than I thought. It was a full size theater! For an author! It was really full, a lot of people. I sat somewhere in the back, on the left side.

Somebody came out and introduced him, flowers coming out of her mouth as she praised him, and then, he came out, tall, a lot of hair, walked to the podium on the other side of the stage and read an excerpt of the novel that I hadn’t read yet. When he finished, he walked over to the center of the stage where the chairs were set with the microphones, and then the interviewer came and sat down on the other chair.

I didn’t like the interviewer. I thought her questions and opinions were not interesting, and it seemed that he wasn’t connecting with her either, but his answers were still interesting. Overall, I liked the Fresh Air interview better. Then people lined up to ask him questions, some interesting, some not, about Oprah and all that again, so I decided to go out and line up for the signing since it looked like it was going to be a long line.

And then I felt it. Cholula! It was screaming my voice inside, “You are like those people fascinated by fame, following the figure of your adoration like a thirsty puppy!” How cruel. My internal voices are always so nice to me. They have no compassion, they don’t care a bit about my feelings. They just scream out at me their most hurtful criticisms expecting me to take it, and bleed, and feel sorry for myself.

So I made sure to go to the bathroom first, to hush them, and then I moved timidly through the lobby and was relieved when I saw that I was not the only Cholula trying to get one of the first places in line. I was happy to see that there were at least another 10 people before me. And what was even more comforting was that they were even more Cholulos than me! Because they had bags full of books for him to sign. Every book he had written was there, some times multiple copies. Churn out some signatures Mr. Franzen!

But here is when the best part started. Once the talk ended, people were coming out of the theater in masses and lining up behind. I don’t know how long the line was, but I imagine it went around the whole theater, that’s why they set the signing table at the end of the lobby, so they will have the whole length of the circumference of the theater for the line.

Franzen came, sat down at the table and started signing. From my post in the line I could see two people standing next to him, two people that looked like librarians, with their thick glasses and dressed with their last century correctness. And also, there were other two women going through the line making sure that the books were open on the right page. I opened my book and chose a page, a white page for him to sign. The woman came to me, looked at my open book, and corrected my choice: not this page, this one, with the title. Aha. I guess it will upset him to sign his book on a different page. Will it slow him down, throw him off to see a different page in front of him? Will that cause a debacle in the line?

I don’t know. I obeyed.

The guy before me had a bag full of books. He told me he loved his writing. I asked him which book he liked the most, since it seemed that he had read them all, and he said, “The Corrections.” I will have to read it, I thought.

When his turn came up, he approached the table with all his books, the guy standing to the left of Franzen took the books and hand them to him, one by one, and the woman to the right was just looking, making sure he didn’t spend too much time with each, perhaps, keeping the clock. He was flanked by the soldiers of the Queen of Hearts. I was in Alice in Wonderland.

He was not even looking up to see whose book it was. Everything had to be done so fast and expedient. He was the Rock Star of the publishing industry. He had to keep his fans happy, but it had to be done a certain way, everything under control.

I felt sorry for him. Such a long line. His wrist will hurt afterwards.

When my turn came, the guy on the left took my book while Franzen was still signing the previous guy’s books. It was all so fast. He took my book that was handed by the thick glasses guy, without looking at me, and I thought, this is it? Not time to talk? Not nothing? But then it just came out of me: “This is crazy, all these people.” He lifted his eyes from the book, looked at me, smiled. I said, “Thank you,” and he stretched his hand for me to shake it, while looking at me on the eyes.

I left happy, because in just those 20 seconds I felt there was a connection. I got through to him, and he got through to me, but he had already done so before, with his book and his thoughts.

I wanted to write you an email, Mr Franzen, but I cant find your address anywhere, not even an address to write you a letter. I guess I have to go through your publisher. It is sad that good writers seem so unapproachable. Maybe not, maybe it is just me, that I am afraid. I never tried to write to a writer that I admire before. I never thought I would get a response. But this time I will try, just to get it out, and why not, maybe you’ll answer.

Monday, September 13, 2010

Fantasmas de gente sola

Mi chambre de bonne en París, 7eme.
Anoche no pude dormir. Parece que mi vecina tiene un inquilino nuevo. Me enteré el lunes a la medianoche, cuando los ruidos me despertaron: ruidos de muebles movidos, arrastrados, sus patas marcando los pisos de madera, sonidos de choques, de quiebres, de raspones. Me dormí igual, y los ruidos me volvieron a despertar  a las 3 de la mañana. Dí tres golpes fuertes en la pared, y escuché voces del otro lado. Los ruidos se calmaron un poco, pero siguieron, y encima, puso música rock lo suficientemente fuerte como para que yo la escuche del otro lado.  A las 5 de la mañana finalmente me dormí, tal vez porque él también se fue a dormir.

Y anoche me pasó lo mismo, despierta hasta las 5 de la mañana con su rock music y sus pasos pesados resonando a través de mis paredes. Y mientras estaba despierta, me acordé de mi primer año en París, cuando vivía en la chambre de bonne, o la habitación que solía ser para los sirvientes en el último piso de los edificios aristocráticos de París. Ahí también tenía un vecino ruidoso, pero él no era tan malo. Era un hombre solo. Mientras yo leía en silencio en mi cuarto diminuto, podía escuchar su televisión prendida, retumbando del otro lado. Tenía solo un vecino, mi cuarto era el último del piso. Una noche salí y le golpeé a la puerta. Le pedí delicadamente que por favor bajara el volumen. Dijo que sí, no hay problema. Era un tipo bajito, de pelo oscuro y piel clara, de unos 50 años. Tenía una expresión en su cara que parecía de extrema tristeza, o tal vez, estaba simplemente cansado. Pero igual la televisión seguió resonando, toda la noche. Dormiría con la tele prendida. Y mientras escuchaba las pavadas que él miraba (sonaba a telenovela), yo pensaba: debe sentirse muy solo. Mira TV para sobrevivir su soledad. Parecía ser un extranjero, creía recordar un acento, tal vez portugués, sin amigos, sin una mujer. A veces escuchaba su voz, o tal vez debería describirlo como sonidos que salían de su boca, y me lo imaginaba masturbándose y eyaculando con un suspiro reprimido de placer. Me lo imaginaba solo en su cuarto, mirando porno y masturbándose. Masturbándose desesperadamente, masturbándose y llorando, masturbándose y flagelándose. Me imaginaba toda clase de cosas horribles en mis noches de insomnio. Su soledad era mi soledad. Me daba pena, el tipo ya no era joven, sólo en una ciudad extranjera, y las pocas veces que me lo crucé me pareció que era un tipo bastante deprimido.

Su televisión fue un paisaje constante por un tiempo, y un día, así como vino, desapareció. Entonces me envolvió el silencio y lo extrañé. Me preguntaba, a dónde habrá ido? Habrá vuelto a Portugal? Habrá encontrado otro lugar? Tendrá una novia y se habrá ido a vivir con ella? 

La gente sola me asustaba. Podía verme, mi triste persona, convertida en uno de ellos. Gente triste y sola eran como un espejo para mí, en el que no quería verme reflejaba, por eso los evitaba. Pero no se puede huir de los fantasmas. Nuestros fantasmas corren con nosotros, y siempre nos alcanzan.

Por eso esta mañana, a las 8:30, decidí mover mis muebles y ponerlos fuera del alcance de la pared de mi vecino. Puse la música fuerte y disfruté de los ruidos que mis muebles hacían al ser movidos, los chillidos de mi cama, mi mesita de luz, mi biblioteca, sobre el piso. Tal vez así mis fantasmas me dejen en paz esta noche.