Monday, February 19, 1996

Presidents' Day weekend

Monday, Presidents' Day weekend, I'm in the city, staying at Jill Singer's flat with Celia Woloch and Ken Bullock. Saturday night we ate at Café Albona, one of my favorite North Beach restaurants, and last night we ate at Anchor Wat. We were ostensibly celebrating previous birthdays and missed holidays as well. I don't know if I can afford any more overlooked holidays.

Last time we ate at Café Albona was three years ago, all three of us. It was interesting to see that Celia and Ken had formed a friendship over the years that did not include me, or need me to bridge the gap—as it often is with friends and friends. They shared some wild times traveling in Eastern Europe, and they now share friends in common, whom I know only of by hearsay, or poetry. And so it goes. But I feel a little left out in the cold.

Jill is almost in the same friend category, she is a friend of Celia's, and is fast becoming a friend of ours, or Ken's, except we haven't all quite clicked yet. The enemy of your enemy is my friend sort of thing. But she's posh English so I keep my distance.

Yesterday after seeing the play, Twilight, about the LA riots, a monologue, we went to the San Francisco airport to pick Jill up from her London flight which was delayed 2 1/2 hours due to bomb scares and engine troubles. So we spent the time in the airport hotel lounge nursing bright red wine through the afternoon and evening talking of war.

Meanwhile, in Israel, they have planted trees for the man who smuggled the Chagal paintings out of Russia.

Wednesday, February 14, 1996

Pastel portrait, valentine (art) no date 96?

No idea when these were done, it's the mid-1990s (95-97) because they're in Forestville. That much I know. And besides, there's a floppy disk! I had won a massively huge pastel set at Riley Street and was test-driving them.

Sunday, February 11, 1996

At Paul Mariah's memorial reading

At Paul Mariah's memorial reading, Jack and Adele Foley, Gene Ruggles, Mike Tuggle, Susan Kennedy, Noni Howard, Vernon Edgar, Herman Berlant, Jim Byrd, Michelle Bertrand, Earl LeClair, Leland Stoneys, Clive Matson, and Glenn Ingersoll. After the reading, we learned that Paul's archives will be sent to the University of Texas in Austin. Bob Berner's poetry workshops led to Minotaur, and ManRoot press. We head on over to Michelle's place with Mary Norbert Körte, Jim Byrd, Herman Berlandt, Vernon Edgar, and Eugene Ruggles—it's a small sendoff party. I was tired and depressed, was home by 9 PM, and asleep by 10:30 PM. I slept nearly 12 hours—like the dead, is it a residual flu, yet another confrontation with death, or the energy of too much people?

2/11 1996

Undated fragment:
Noni Howard said that I had a poem in The Parnassus of World Poets, which one? The day she told me that Paul Mariah died.

Saturday, February 10, 1996

Sonoma State University Valentine art auction

At the Sonoma State University Valentine Art from the Heart art auction, I eavesdropped on people discussing my art. The woven watercolor collaged drew admiration, but no sale. The oil stick drawing sold for $55 to a Japanese man buying it for his granddaughter who chose my piece out of all the pieces in the show. 

I was amazed when she later asked, Do you know my father? pointing to Michael Schwager who runs the art gallery. Last year, his father bought my volcano collage photo as well. Michael said he gave the photo to his sister. I said Michael, Your family keeps collecting my art. But I'm pleased to know that a young girl will hang my art in her room. 

And I ran into an old College of Marin painting classmate, Joe Schmo. Joe and I were in the same painting class with Chester Arnold whose painting sold for more than $500, a sweet little piece.

I remember giving Chester a ride home once to a garage at the top of Wolfe Grade in San Rafael. Chester was extraordinarily odd even then. And I assume he's no less so now. Only now he's famous, or, at least, collectible. His weirdness now labeled as eccentricity. 

Joseph still looks the same, tall, swarthy, and handsome. I never remember his name. I see him once a year at the Sonoma State University events. He is never friendly to me but I say hello anyway. He used to live in Forest Knolls near the Manning's place, but he was always cold, even then.

Speaking of old friends, Greer Upton was saying to me tonight that the only time she ever sees me is at this event. Her friend Robin was with her. I said stuffed trout! When I first met Robin, some 15 years ago, she had printed a photo  of a fish on muslin and stuffed it. and Robin, who married someone I once knew, Riley, became a very young stepmother, but now she looks old and emaciated, and though Greer is getting heavy, she radiates a classic cherubic beauty. 

As to friends, so many people at this art show are not really my friends. Professional friends, co-workers in the arts, yes. But not friends. Unfortunately my connection with Greer and Robin is through a teaching arts organization we helped found. But the friendship never developed beyond that. She is a friend of Lee Perron's, and I've always been on the outside of that circle. Especially when I had to distance myself from Lee. My only real friend to emerge from that group is Marsha Connell who has a piece in the show as well.

Tuesday, February 6, 1996

20th Century Maladies

My parents didn't die of old age, but of the age of technology, hastened by alcohol and designer drugs, both prescribed, and from the street. They died of DuPont chemicals, silicone breasts, and cigarettes, heart disease, and cancer. Maladies exacerbated by the 20th century.

Full floodstage

Over 5.5 inches of rain fell yesterday, and last night the river was was at full flood stage. We've had almost 39 inches of rain and it's only the beginning of February. We had 63 inches of rain last year. Today Casadero reached 71 inches. OK so Kauaii gets 460 inches per year, but that's over a period of 365 days, not one and a half days. The river was rising at a 14 feet an hour, and crested at 39 feet.

At 43 it's amazing how limber I still am. When I stepped out of George's cabin wearing my zoris I hit a slick moss patch on the cement, coated by a water slick, and proceeded to do the splits down the stairs with left leg forward and right knee behind me, onto the ground, my big toe, right knee and left buttock coated with mud, mud trophies of where I had been. I let out a shriek as I fell, and no one came to see if I was okay as I waddled off to the bath house, coated in mud. 

It's the same spill I took at my high school school reunion with my left knee came down on some cake right in front of Broadway hoofer Joel Blum, and he thought I had done the splits in front of him on purpose. I never seem to fall on with my right leg forward because my left knee was operated on? Am I left footed, or all feet?

Flotsam and jetsam: wee no longer measure rain by the inch, but by the foot. Today as I toured the flooded Laguna and Markwest Creek, I spied red chili peppers, and yellow crookneck squash that floated in from the field down to the creek to adorn the bushes like Christmas ornaments. Wine pallets snagged atop vineyard fences, and even a wayward bathtub made its escape to the river.

Monday, February 5, 1996


My cousin and I both bought amethyst rings on the anniversary of our father's deaths. Mine died two years ago, and hers, only one year ago. Perhaps it was the baby that brought the concept family home to us. Certainly we both put off having families, and she is 14 years my junior. I babysat her as a child. Both she and her brother David are now surrogate parents because their brother and his girlfriend both bailed on his kid. The neighbors kept opinions to themselves. It was not a lack of generosity in gray matter, it had nothing to do with quantity or quality, but our parents' prodigious appetite for alcohol left us marooned on deserted islands. We all suffered, a watershed of grief. And we wear amethyst tears the color of sorrow on our fingers. Our fathers died of thirst after all. Whiskey is an Irish word. The phone rings. No one there.

Sunday, February 4, 1996

Singin' in the Rain while working on art

Today is one of those days when the storm takes front seat as I work on my Valentine for the Sonoma State University art auction. 

I'm sipping on Fox Hollow 91 cabernet, listening to the Glenn Miller movie, weeping, knowing I'm not pregnant, no need for the morning after pill. This weeping can be only one thing—PMS in full bloom. 

I am both saddened and relieved. It would be ironic to be pregnant at 43, having waited all my life for the right man to come along, with no man on the horizon, and the biological clock ticking into overdrive. 

Oh God, I am so grumpy, and nothing is going right, so I make multiple pieces for the art show. Test drive my art sticks when the collage fails. The bed is covered in a mosaic quilt of art pieces.

Here I am weeping over Glenn Miller's death as the band plays Little Brown Jug. I'm drinking wine in the rain, in a downpour. The rain is a posthaste tribute to Gene Kelly, who died two days ago, and I'm Singin' in the Rain with a deluge of empty bottles.