Oct 27, 2009

Words to Sound and Vice Versa

This part of the novel has involved a lot of Bowie, Velvet Underground, Group Home and Mohsen Namjoo.

Reflecting on the Process

Writing fiction is about meeting new people. The people in your head, that is. Over time, the characters you create take a life of their own, and become more complex than the cliched, predictable people you first envisioned them to be. They begin to let you into their world, revealing their quirks, secrets and contradictory ways of being. And if you listen closely, they will tell you their stories. And if you're willing, they will take you along on their journeys.

This is the beauty of being open to the creative process, and the world(s) you create inside your head. This is the beauty of writing fiction.

Oct 18, 2009

Word to Masta Ace
(confessions of a commitment-phobe)

I woke up today feeling listless. I spent the last few days working on a piece that is part of a larger writing project. I busted my ass writing every chance I got before, during and after my 9 to 5. The anxiety fueled rush of having to submit something kept my momentum. I wrote hard. And I awaited a response. The reply came late last night. Not what I had originally wanted, but something beautiful regardless. I should have been happy, but instead, I woke up feeling drained. The implications of the email made me realize I had a long journey ahead of me. And I'd known this all along; I just hadn't made the commitment. Been talking a good game, when in reality, I've been half-assing it.

I talk about my creative endeavors openly. I put myself out there as an artist. And I see myself as such. And for good reason; I have published and performed. But none of it means anything if I'm not truly committed to the creative process. If I'm not truly on the grind. Harsh but true. Because I'm no longer trying to make excuses. And here I am now, not at a crossroads, not in transition, not in some kind of crisis mode. I am exactly where I need to be. Scared as shit, but here: committed to myself, my creative potential and my craft.
Reminder to Self

Thank you N for reminding. And J for inspiring (in more ways than you know).

"That's my tale in a nutshell. Not the tale of how I came to write my novel but rather of how I became a writer. Because, in truth, I didn't become a writer the first time I put pen to paper or when I finished my first book (easy) or my second one (hard). You see, in my view a writer is a writer not because she writes well and easily, because she has amazing talent, because everything she does is golden. In my view a writer is a writer because even when there is no hope, even when nothing you do shows any sign of promise, you keep writing anyway. Wasn't until that night when I was faced with all those lousy pages that I realized, really realized, what it was exactly that I am."

oh. my. goodness.
every time.

Oct 17, 2009

Even the Sun Moves On

i move circular. ending up in the same place, always. i am both shadows of the moon, the darkest part of this solar eclipse. in distance. orbiting around you. this is how i love you. cyclical. elliptical. compulsive like gravity's pull. this remote love, this distorted trajectory. and i keep praying to unlove you. a different song, different movement. a solstice dance to tilt me away from the sun. before it too, moves away from me.
Waning Crescent

your fingers
my sanctuary
stitch my torn flesh
with glitter
i writhe for the familiar
curve of your spine
place shards of glass
into your beautiful hands
tell you to rip these sutures, love
because this is how the moon orbits the earth

Oct 14, 2009

Clean is Clean is Clean is

This morning, I was washing dishes and scrubbing down the kitchen counter knowing damn well how late I was for work. But I couldn't leave the house until I cleaned. It was almost beyond my control. Compulsive behaviour has a contradictory element to it in that it is both calming and frustrating at the same time. But the former makes the latter worth it. Which is why I had to clean. I felt reassured. Secure. Solid. In control. I could go out into the world, knowing I had clean countertops.

Most people display some form of compulsive behaviour. They may not be aware of it. And most would never admit to it. Now with shows like "Obsessed," compulsive behaviour is pathologized and put on display for all to see in the most vomitizing voyeurism; the audience feels reassured (i.e. thank GOD I'm not that crazy!) but also disturbed (i.e. GOD, I hope I don't become that!). No matter how severe the situations on the show are, there is still a common underlying element of compulsion in those people's stories that many of us can relate to. Why is over-washing your hands (something many do) any different than scrubbing your asshole raw with soap and a toothbrush every time you take a shit? Both activities involve some form of obsession with control and the feeling of cleanliness.

I do realize that certain compulsive behaviour is severe enough to affect people's wellbeing; and that's something to take seriously. But in most cases, it's the quirks that make us who we are. My ex-lover has this thing about regularly touching his nose in public settings to check for boogers; a close friend is particular about where she sits in a restaurant vis-a-vis the front door; another friend has a way of folding her underwear and rolling used groceries bags. These idiosynchracies make these individuals even more endearing to me; it's what makes them, us, beautifully unique.

Oct 13, 2009

Oct 12, 2009

Lineage Through Duende

I am listening to a recording of my great-grandmother. It is a CD of fifteen songs, poorly recorded from what remained of her music on vinyl. It is all I have of her. No memories, no photos; only these fifteen songs.

Parvaneh was the first Iraani woman whose voice was pressed on vinyl. From a nomadic peoples (details of which remain unknown to me), my great-grandmother did not have much in terms of material wealth. Her husband was a tailor and she cleaned rich people's homes. The story goes that wealthy employers overheard her singing one day, and decided she had a gift that required special attention by the great music masters. And that is how Parvaneh came to strengthen her vocal abilities in the classical style of Iranian music (musiq'ieh sonnatieh Iraani).

How strange to be listening to her voice as I write this. A woman who I know so little about. She died when my grandmother was only five years old. I know her through her music. These fifteen songs. In between every tahreer, each half-tone, in every pause, every breath, she is present. I lose myself in her music; I lose myself in her; I lose myself in duende. How beautiful to know lineage in this way. My great-grandmother. The reason I exist. The reason I too long for duende.

Oct 11, 2009

"Exilic being can also be an internal condition of inner restlessness or sense of difference experienced by those who have never left their natal country, or recognize within themselves something of the nomadic spirit. They do not feel at home, but rather en route."

- Carolyn Forché

Oct 9, 2009

The Search for Duende

Duende is that unexplainable feeling of connection to sound on the deepest level of emotion and expression. It is the embodiment of ancestry, history, spirituality through music. I first experienced duende through my grandmother's music. Then later, when I heard my great-grandmother's songs. I too feel it in my sister's voice. And in the music of my poetry. A lineage drenched in duende. We create, we perform to experience duende.

Flamenco puro, Roma music, Musiq'ieh Sonnatieh Iraani, Ladainhas, Son Guajira, Blues, Beats, the Simsimiyya, the Sax, the Sitar, Voice, the Mbira, the Berimbau, the Violin, Dolores Agujeta, La Perla, Camaron, Ma Rainey, Willie Dixon, Muddy Waters, Yusef Lateef, the Coltranes, Aretha Franklin, Nina Simone, Stevie Wonder, D'angelo, Madlib, DITC, Um Kulthum, Omara Portuondo, Yma Sumac, Bilal...

Duende is what makes you want to rip your skin; or kiss the sun; it is what makes you lose yourself in movement through sound, to something much greater. It is the one thing each of us longs for, even if we don't know it.

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