Tuesday, February 27, 2007

Excerpts from May Sarton’s 1982 novel, “Anger”:

“ ‘I can’t understand,’ he said after a moment. ‘One minute you’re in a fury and the next you are telling me you love me. I can’t move that fast from one mood to another, Anna.’
" ‘People in love are vulnerable, Ned, and easily hurt. And,’ she went on very quietly, ‘people react differently to being hurt. I react with anger. You withdraw.’ “


“ ‘Everyone told me how powerful you are in your world…and that was reassuring. But now I have the feeling that in your mind there is no equality. You make me feel inferior. It’s like living with a governess. I can never be myself with you.’
" ‘What I don’t understand is why being a screaming hysteric is ‘being yourself.’ I am alienated by your tantrums. I can’t help it.’ ”


“ ‘I sometimes think you are an addict—as some people take to the bottle, you take to anger.’
" ‘But why should I?’
" ‘…How many times you come back from a concert furious at someone or something! I suppose it breaks all that tension you talk about, but it never occurs to you apparently, that other people bear the brunt of it….’ ”


" '...I thought I saw that for him deep feeling comes clothed in anger.'"


" 'I'm half Italian as you know and the Boston ethos gives me the creeps. It's so cramped, so the opposite of life-enhancing....But on the other hand the volubility, the quick changes of mood, the spontanaety just strike Ned as somehow faked or superficial.' "


“One thing was becoming clear. That anger was not one solid block or rock but several blocks that had little or no relation to each other. When Ned said, ‘You were always angry, even as a small child,’ he had been right. And that anger, those sudden explosions that broke out, seemingly about nothing, were what troubled her the most. They caused guilt and remorse. With Teresa she could laugh and say ‘I should be shot at dawn,’ but under the laughter there was real shame.”


“…she was becoming aware lately that it was not as much a question of taking blame as of understanding that below an extreme tempermental rift there was a less accessible war going on, and that was the crux of the matter. And what was that war all about?
"The masculine in each of them at war with the feminine in each of them?”


“ ‘I know it will sound crazy…but I think that way down deep, personal relations may have in them the roots of war and peace. I don’t know how to say this…but Ned, there’s so much anger and frustration everywhere. I think every time two people achieve communion, it helps.’ ”


Tuesday, February 20, 2007

A letter found on the staircase of the 30th Ave. station (ca. March 2005)

Page One: “You are everywhere and nowhere. I constantly see you in front of me and I can’t touch you. That kills me. I’m tired of accidentally calling your siblings E____ and having to give excuses why. I don’t know whether to laugh or cry when you enter my thoughts. You don’t know how much and how long I just want to hold you, kiss you on the dimple your cheek makes when you smile, and fall asleep in your arms. Imagine what my pillow must go through every night.”

Page One (Back): “My friends can’t understand why when we go out and drink, I’m out of it. They ask me where is my kefi they know and love. But I have to lie about the truth.”

Page Two: “I see myself, and I can’t believe how much I’ve changed. I can’t understand how a woman can have that much power over me. (But you are worth it.) I feel so weak that I don’t have the strength to tell you I Love You in person or on the phone. You might laugh at what I am writing in this letter or believe that I am pitiful. I DON’T CARE. At least I’ll know that I tried. Every night I pray to Panagiatsa and Christouli to bring us together. I am afraid that my Love for you will be too much for your”

Page Three: “heart to bear, because mine is ready to burst. But one piece of my heart I know I can never give. That piece belongs to your Matakia, Trifera heilakia, kai to lakakisto magoulaki pou me treleni. I am sorry honey, I met them first. My whole body is shaking, just like that night we exchanged that passionate kiss. An innocent kiss as the song says. I wake up every day with a picture of you in my eyes, the sound of your laughter in my ears, and the vision of us together in my future. My lips form a smile and I”

Page Four: “feel like a young child that has been left to run and play at the park. Suddenly, my smile morphs into a frown and I feel a tear form at the corner of my eye, slowly coming to the realization that this is only a vision, and not reality.”

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Tuesday, February 13, 2007


Dream: I was on a trek through the woods with some comrades. We were going by stream--I was wading through a winding stream. At one moment, I was startled to notice that the thick green algae had disappeared from the surface of the water; I wasn’t sure I wanted to see what the water contained. Preferred blindness. But I dared to look down. In the clear water, a number of huge, beautiful salmon were swimming around my ankles. I was heartened by their color and their health, until I realized that I was going to have to kill one of them, to feed my comrades. The salmon wasn’t even going to mind, but I didn’t want to do it. Still, it was a responsibility I had; there wasn’t a question. I was to use a knife to cut off the head, and then filet the fish and cook it over a fire. This is what women did who wanted to provide for themselves and their friends.

Dream: I was screaming at the top of my lungs, standing in a kitchen with a huge convection oven, near a batch of freshly baked somethings, possibly bagels.

Dream: Something about the date 1833, and a man’s last name. He was a Mexican whose name was from Spain, and suggested Spanish nobility.

Dream: I was rushing off to _______ with my cat, the female one. I had to stop by the grocery store first, because we needed food for the journey. My cat was in my arms, wrapped in a plaid wool blanket. The grocery store we approached was one of the huge, multi-purpose ones like I first saw in Texas; in the front this particular store had a veterinary clinic. A long line of desperate people (many of them older women in kerchiefs) waited for their animals to be released or seen. I hurried past them, as if I was going to be asked to leave my cat in this area. I approached the entrance to the grocery store proper, and I pulled the blanket up over my cat’s head, to cover her completely. At the same time that I was disguising her as my baby, I could feel her against and in my heart. She seemed very vulnerable to me, and very precious. I was touched that she was not struggling to get away from me; it was uncharacteristic. Her blanket was soft and her body was warm; I held her tightly against my breast bone. It was very important that I protect her. By the time I got to the checkout (we were buying andouille sausage), she was switching her tail for all to see, but the kerchiefed women near me fawned over her with knowing smiles.

Dream: Thomas and I were vacationing in Manhattan. But we were in an altered part of Tribeca--south of White Street, there was a bay or an inlet. Really it was a lake or a spring, because it didn’t connect to the Hudson nor the East River. But it was made of salt water. Towards the west end of this body of water, around West Broadway and Chambers Street, there were some barrier reef islands, and then north of that, a large peninsula. We spent some time trying to barter with the natives (who had street tables full of _____ ) on the islands, and then we ended up on the much quieter peninsula, where there were long, empty beaches of pale sand. At the end of the peninsula (which had a clean, geometric shape) was a modest lighthouse that had been turned into a motel. Rooms, we heard, were nineteen dollars a night. We couldn’t decide whether this was a great bargain to be taken advantage of, or whether it just meant it was a flophouse.

Tuesday, February 06, 2007


I am almost too angry to write.

"Writing," when writing is happening (I regard it as “happening”), is not begrudging like anger is, writing is a yearning to give something of me, a yearning to communicate, from where do I communicate but the heart. Even writing that seems much more cerebral or superficial than “heartfelt,” the flow, the wish to make writing happen, the wish to write--to a reader, unknown as she may be—those impulses come from an openness, a generosity.

Anger is a block to that openness. Anger is a staccato interuption in the usual flow, is a spike in the usual energy level. But no, how can I forget, anger fueled so much of my writing. I was angry at so many things. Political anger, abandonment anger, employment anger; anger at city planning, at architectural eyesores, at women who bullied, at men who stopped calling, at laziness that took credit, at form that didn’t follow function, at mayoral and employeral and presidental sins of omission or comission. Anger at injustices near and far.

Anger is energy, I had so much anger, I had so much energy. Salman Rushdie wrote the novel, Fury, in three weeks, burning with anger. I understood that story the first time I heard it. Anger in me wanted to shoot out of my body, as quickly and as accurately-aimed as possible. Writing saved me from picking up a different weapon. Mostly I shot at politics and exboyfriends, in order to spare anyone I wasn’t willing to harm.

Finally, getting engaged made me run out of exboyfriends: It suddenly seemed like so many cheap shots. My fiance told me recently, he doesn’t hold resentments against any of his ex’es except the one. I was incredulous. I’d say I am resentful of all of them. (And there were many, because I didn’t have the stamina.) Sometimes I picture my backed-up feelings for all the people in my life, unexpressed love and anger both, as filling me up to the middle of my eyeballs, and I think, “This poison must be expelled.” Another image: Resentment becomes habitual, then a magnet attracting more of itself, then a density in the body’s matter, then disease.

Resentment is perhaps what I mean when I say I am too angry to write--I am too RESENTFUL to write. Resentment is anger that has outlived its usefulness. Re-sent-ment. Latin, “feeling-again.” I am feeling my anger over and over again, I am holding on to anger instead of letting it do what it will, run through me and pick up a pen and generously tell its story on its way out of my system. Resentment: I am reliving the hurt or offense again and again, becoming its repeated victim, gathering shame for this action; for it is an action and a choice to hold on, to feel again.

Today, “I am too resentful to write.” I am not feeling generous, I am hording this anger, it is winter, I am keeping my anger close to the vest. I am closely allied with my anger, I am scared to give it away, scared because it fills my cavity entirely, scared because I am identifying with the anger. I wonder if there will be anything left of me, if I let it become liquid and pass through me, this venom, this anger.

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