Sunday, August 28, 2005


We have come far south.
Beyond here, the oldest women
shelling limas into black shawls.
Portillo scratching his name
on the walls, the slender ribbons
of piss, children patting the mud.
If we go on, we might stop
in the street in the very place
where someone disappeared
and the words Come with us! we might
hear them. If that happened, we would
lead our lives with our hands
tied together. That is why we feel
it is enough to listen
to the wind jostling lemons,
to dogs ticking across the terraces,
knowing that while birds and warmer weather
are forever moving north,
the cries of those who vanish
might take years to get here.

Carolyn Forché, 1977

Thursday, August 25, 2005


Do you pray before
or during,

Where does God find you,
and where are your hands?

Looking for intimacy,
I found the sex shops
but you seem to buy
what you need
to keep distance
between us.

The blue plastic
seem uncomfortable
for genuflection,
but you were never too squeamish
for Christ.

Strange that you can hide
so completely
in such well-lit

Learned Instincts?

You know how some people just feel like home? They feel good, right? Like velvety body pillows (on sale now for $20 at Target - FYI) or well-loved books. You slip into them like old slippers.

A fine feeling. But what happens when "home" wasn't always the best place to be? I learned all my worst habits there. Never quite felt good enough. Not deserving of love. Invisible.

Sometimes the people that feel like home are the worst people for me to be around. The interaction begins, and I slip into family chemistry and start to disappear -- or tap dance to stay visible -- or get "perfect" to deserve their love.

The attraction to these kinds of people is an addict's attraction to alcohol -- or sex -- or shopping. It's deep-rooted instinct and feels so right -- right until you notice it's very very wrong.

I know these instincts can be re-learned, and awareness is the first step, and blah blah blah.

Here's my question: How can you distinguish between NO chemistry and an absence of BAD chemistry?

I find this to be much harder. It's much easier now for me to recognize that adrenaline surge of familiarity that I now interpret to mean: "Danger, danger. WRONG WAY! DO NOT ENTER! Something wicked this way comes..."

But I am at a loss for what to do when no alarm bells ring at all. I tend to think no chemistry means no interest, but what if it just means: "Be patient! You have to learn how to recognize what's here that's good for you!"

Ah, Patience. Never my virtue. Always some far-away country that people tell me to visit. The brochure looks lovely. But so foreign! And how on earth do you get there?

Tuesday, August 23, 2005

Teaching Learning Moments

First day of class today, and it went GREAT. Great great, as in, felt great.

I love my teacher self. I love feeling myself grow to fill this role that's always bigger than I am. I love making it my own with little outrageous statements that make me -- if no one else -- laugh. But they did laugh. I gotta brag a little here -- I was Hermes. Deft, curious, adaptable ... God it feels good sometimes.

This in direct comparison to coming to work and finding a little note on my desk: "Where are you, by the way? You didn't sign out."

Sign out? Sign out? That's right, I didn't sign out! Technically I was never here this morning (although yes, I was here this morning -- finishing my syllabus with just hours to spare!!!). Fair is fair, I should have indicated yesterday evening on my way out that I would be in late this morning and why. But ... I guess I'm still a girl who values her unannounced freedoms.

With only minutes of planning, I ran a tight ship this morning. Estimated time well. Kept them smiling and sparkly even through the semester run-down. When I was horribly inarticulate, I laughed at myself, and so they knew that was okay to do, too. I remembered most people's names and made it very much my evident deficiency when I forgot.

Which is all to say: things got off to a good start.

It amazes me sometimes how much pleasure I get out of inhabiting the different roles in my life. Sister, teacher, employee, facilitator, designer, house-cleaner, mother hen (ahem), student, friend... Isn't it wonderful that we get to explore all these parts of ourselves that aren't really parts of ourselves until we try them on and see how they make us grow? Mercury! Rising and falling, heating up, cooling down, and all of it ... educational if you're paying attention.

Here's to the joy of paying attention. To learning teaching moments and teaching learning moments and everything -- everything -- in between.

Monday, August 22, 2005

Bertold Brecht

"And I always thought that the simplest words
Must be enough. That when I say how things are
Everyone's heart must be torn to shreds.
That you'll go down if you don't stand up.
Surely you see that."

Ain't it the truth?

fr. The Passion by Jeanette Winterson

“She had made him possible. In that sense she was his god. Like God, she was neglected.”

Friday, August 19, 2005


fr. Face of an Angel – Denise Chavez

(Novel written by NM author about a waitress at El Farol in Agua Oscura, NM)

“You are grace and beauty and doubt and struggle and you are perfect the way you are. Men will want your passion and then try to run from it. Screw the familiar restraints and all those men who would have you turn your heart inside out or upside down or quietside back. You’ve been underwater too long now, Dedea, and now it’s time to breathe! I am gasping for air right now, but this breath is mine.

Waiting is a career. I have made it mine. My mother made it hers, as did her mother before her. Dedea, you have a choice. Breathe, little sister, breathe! Only you can change this wait.”

Thursday, August 18, 2005


Lately at yoga
I have been visualizing
my heart –
not the organ of love –
but the slick
soft feel of it
beating in my hand
curved in four places
the giant strawberry shape of it
metallic iron scent
blood racing through
linked somehow
to the tide-cycle
stillness of the moon
with its steady rhythm
of rise and fall
fullness and retreat
now thin slivering
now full-puffed with breath
and life growing
in the sea change possibilities
of its power –
separate from the world
but tied to it
pulling with equal force –
my heart
the moon
the earth
by law
and one common home.

Wednesday, August 17, 2005

Working Girl

Work keeps getting in the way of life, so I think to myself: am I trying to get fired?

I'm still wrapping things up from poetry week. I had one more round of Prairie-Chicken that came in last night and went out this morning. I've got one more draft of the book proposal for Voces. Need to do edits for this year's Voces anthology. Edits for Route Words. Oh yeah, and I need to plan the class I'm teaching that starts Tuesday.

No problem!

The thing that keeps coming up for me is the itch to do something bigger. To structure my working life so that all these side projects are my job. How does one do that? I know I have the charisma and competence. But there's such fear! I'd much prefer to stumble upon something close to what Shelle has -- a steady job with paid vacation days and the ability to work on 5 programs a year -- all of her own choosing.

If I keep adding projects here and projects there, will I eventually not need a day job? My real plan is to try to get my day job to pay for some more facilitation training. I think that would be the best. I think that would be a steady-ish source of work.

But can I really face the rest of my life as a contractor, just like my mom trying to be a real estate agent and worrying about money every day of her life? The very thought is exhausting to me.

But this 4 job at a time thing is killing me. I can feel it. I won't be able to do it much longer. So what's a girl to do?

1) Finish her thesis
2) Get more facilitation training
3) Get more contacts
4) Save money
5) Strike out on her own when the time is right.

Until then, duty calls...

Wednesday, August 10, 2005

Life Moves II

A powerful day yesterday. The National Poetry Slam is finally here after weeks of preparation on my part and two-and-a-half YEARS for the rest of the organizing committee. I don't know how they've done it; I'm exHAUSTED.

But blissful, too, because poets bring with them incredible energy and wisdom that sometimes belies their casual, even slothful attitudes.

Chantal Foster summed it up better than I can today in her post on Duke City Fix.

The only real downside of this entire blessing of an opportunity for me is that work is getting more and more untenable. I think I almost got fired yesterday. Not fun, especially for someone as anal as I am about making other people happy and seeming competent at all times -- no matter what. Horrifying. Skull creeping. Stomach-plummeting. Fear-inducing.

And then -- the rush of the event washed it all away, and I remembered that THIS is what my life is about. This community building -- in all areas, not just neighborhoods, but PEOPLE who share loves and modes of expression and passions and ways of dressing.

One of the most palpable things about the slam family -- as they call themselves -- is the overwhelming acceptance for all things marginal. Diversity is the rule and the guide. This is a community of misfits. Rebels. Outliers. And they love each other. There is a profound sense of respect and welcoming of wisdom that comes from the edges. It's an incredible model for acceptance and real celebration of multiculturalism. It's amazing to be part of it; it's ... to steal Chantal's word ... electric.

The best personal moment for me yesterday took place during my short stop by the Pre-event part at the National Hispanic Cultural Center. This woman with my name took my hands as we met and held on to them tightly. She looked me right into the eye and said, "Oh, no you don't. You have no idea, do you? You do NOT understand your energy. Honey, you are sitting in the back seat, but you should be the driver. You are not living up to your full potential because you are a coward. That light that you're keeping in your chest for yourself? You don't need it anymore. That's why I'm holding your hands. Touching people is the way to let that light out, and you have kept it to yourself for too long. You think you're a dove, but you're an eagle. You're supposed to soar. You are in store for amazing things, and a bird with its wings closed cannot fly. Don't be afraid. That thing you know you're supposed to do? That thing you keep pushing away? You think you can't do it, but there will be people there to support you when you decide to step into your life. If I came back here in a year... You're going to be amazed at the things you accomplish."

It was one of those moments. Those angel moments. Maybe it's a load of crap, and maybe she tells everyone the same thing. Still. It got me. This perfect stranger told me my life. This kind of connection is the kind of thing I've come to expect in those moments of confluence when you really open yourself up to whatever comes, lending yourself to building an energy that wants focus.

Monday, August 08, 2005

Sister Shock

For anyone out there following the saga that is my sister situation, I received the shock of my 30 years when I got a call from my oldest sister on Sunday -- just to talk.

That's never happened before. Never. In 30 years. Okay, the 25 years I've known what to do with a phone. Still.

Seems there might be hope for sisters afterall. The more I open myself to them, the more I realize how alike we all are. Really. Complementary strengths and weaknesses, to be sure, but forged in the same parental irons. Each fucked up in our own way, each strong in unique ways. The beauty of siblings.

I feel a giant glacial shift. It's life-giving for sure.

Friday, August 05, 2005

Ron Mier - monotype artist

The most money I ever spent at one time in my life was to purchase a piece of art that I fell in love with at Santa Fe market.

Ron Mier was the artist. He laughed at me as I kept returning again and again to his stall. I was mesmerized. I don't know much about monotype creation, but what I do know is that they way Ron Mier does it, the results are an intricate network of layers and layers of color and texture and pattern. I'm not sure why, but his art fascinates me. It's the kind of art you have to be very close to for twenty minutes at a time at least -- preferably longer.

What I think is really interesting about art is how there can be a disconnect between how much you love art that affects you and yet still have very little connection to the artist who creates it. I love Ron's work, no doubt. I thought initially that meant I would love Ron, too. I'm not sure if he was flirting with me, but we did go out to dinner at Il Vicino. Part of the awkwardness was me trying desperately to figure out whether he was gay, but mostly, we just didn't have anything to say to each other. His art speaks to me, but his person? Nada.

All of this to say that he's having a show opening tonight with an artist talk and reception:

August 5-September 21, 2005 Lasting Impressions: Monotypes by Ron Mier and Barbara van Buskirk Opening Reception: Friday, August 5, 2005, 5-8 p.m. (First Friday ArtsCrawl). Artists Talk at 7 p.m.

Next First Friday ArtsCrawl: September 2, 2005; 5-8 p.m.

The Fisher Gallery, 1620 Central Avenue S.E. (one block west of University), Albuquerque, NMGallery Hours: Monday-Thursday 9 a.m.-6 p.m.; Friday 9 a.m.-12 Noon, Saturday 10 a.m.-4 p.m.

Thursday, August 04, 2005

Saying good-bye to my twenties

Remember how fun the twenties were? I was buried in books and as busy as I seem to be now, but ... I did have a good time.

This was my twenty-first birthday:

Giant Steps, a local ska band pretty popular at that time, actually agreed to play my party. I was kind of a groupie. It helped that I worked with the bassist and main organizer, Otto (who's since moved on to start Breaker 1-9, the Migs, and some other weird band name I can't remember at the moment.

The guy front and center in this picture is Juan Carlos Montoya, now hair artician (his word, not mine!), then sometimes trumpet guest in the band. I just visited JC again after a few years break, during which I cheated on him ruthlessly with another hair stylist at the Aveda salon. I did manage to start my sister Christi seeing him, and now he cuts hair for my adorable nieces pictured below.

This is my favorite ever picture of myself. Not because I look particularly good, not because I was particularly happy or that 21 was really anything big to celebrate. I like it because I look carefree, something not captured on film too often because frankly, it doesn't happen that often.

Looking ahead at the next 10 years I hope I can return more to this free spirit. I've discovered lately I'm funny. Not on this blog usually, but I've cut people up recently. Even my super-serious roommate says I'm witty. Who would have known? And I just got asked by a new acquaintance whether I'm really a Virgo because I'm so filled with life. Ahem.

But this picture proves it. I have a light side. Here's hoping it only grows brighter.