Monday, March 2, 2015

Monday Morning Grief Report


Mondays. Bottom of the crater. Mondays. No salvation.

Dan always spent Sunday night at my place. Awake before dawn. The lingering. Out of bed at the last possible moment, bolting through the shower, then downstairs to the coffee pot. We took our coffee into the car, me always reminding him that the clock in the car was twelve minutes fast. Driving in the pale light. Warm coffee. Warm hands. Train station kisses. Call me, baby. Or I'll call you, doll. Sometimes he liked to say my whole name: Good-bye, Denise Emanuel Clemen. My name seemed so extravagant next to his. He signed his emails to me d--. I signed mine D--.

The dawn sky was pure drama this morning, but I could not get up. Sit up and take a picture from bed, I told myself. I did not. C'mon. No. When you argue with yourself you always win.

At 6:06 I thought about reaching for the phone. Thought about calling the caregiver and canceling. Skipping yoga. Staying in my pajamas all day. Telling my mom she could stay in hers. I thought about it a long time. At 7:30 I bolted into the shower, then downstairs to the coffee pot. Still brushing my teeth when the caregiver arrived.

Yoga is always good. Body. Mind. Spirit. I hate that we divide ourselves that way. Whatever. Afterwards I sat in the hatch of my car. Outdoor office, the yoga teacher said. Room with a view, I said.


I declined an invitation to walk with friends. Made a doctor's appointment for my mom. Ordered one of her prescriptions. All the while fighting the sadness billowing inside. Errands. Errands are the cure. Do what must be done. One does not weep while shopping for a toilet seat riser in CVS. Well, one could. I did not. Study all the slippers. One does not weep shopping for slippers. Maybe there's a pair that would be better for her. Feel all the soles. Feel all the souls. Too slippery? Too much grip? What else? What else can I buy to make her life easier?

Finally I make it to the beach. I walk with a cup of coffee, warming my cold hands. The day looks like this.



Saturday, February 28, 2015

22 Hours/Sanctuary: A Dispatch from the City of Angels



For the second weekend in a row, I've gone to L.A., thanks to the willing and competent M who has been here cooking and dispensing pills to her grandmother.

I went to my friend Elizabeth's book salon and got myself an Air BnB room a few blocks from her house. The house where I stayed was a former rectory or convent (the owner wasn't sure which) and exhibited a very Catholic vibe which played nicely into the backstory of the main character in "The Book of Salt."

At the Salon, there was appropriately themed delicious food:



Feast your eyes on this piece of edible art from Elizabeth's own hands:

The big picture and my very own slice resting on my very contented lap.

This morning I continued the French theme with a baguette for breakfast and two non-chain store lattés from two different cafés within walking distance of the Air BnB. Next, I went to LACMA  and looked at this:

It's called Levitated Mass, and you walk right under this 340-ton granite boulder.
I suppose an art installation might like this might seem silly to some, but seen in this mid-city context, where you can stand beneath it and look out at the high-rise buildings in the neighborhood, it seems way more poetic than those buildings do--and just as futile.

It's also an interesting counterpoint to the Page Museum next door, where bones of creatures from the ice age lie entombed in tar pits.


So levitate or get stuck, I say.

I also looked at a lot of art by the artists that Gertrude Stein (she is a character in the "Book of Salt") collected. Matisse, Picasso, etc., then finished the morning looking at Thomas Wilfred's light art. I was not acquainted with his work until I sat in an easy chair for about 20 minutes this morning, watching colors and shapes unfold. I let my mind wander and felt like I was watching the history of the universe.

And then on the way back up LaBrea toward the freeway, I saw again the windows of all the furniture stores that, last night, were tastefully lit tableaus.


Imagine these windows an hour past dusk, dear readers, warm lights drenching the sidewalks of the City of Angels, and beneath each one, a homeless person bedding down for the night.


“I was certain to find the familiar sting of salt, but what I needed to know was what kind: kitchen, sweat, tears or the sea.” 
― Monique TruongThe Book of Salt