In California now. I had written a whole blogpost about the last bit of summer, about Bread Loaf and the cross-country trip over here, but it's been over a month and now it feels too late. Let's just say that Bread Loaf was magical, like a glossy colored-picture insert in the middle of a long book. Like living inside a peach, surrounded by a fuzzy skin. I could go on with these terrible similes, but the point is, I'm glad I got to go, and I'm glad to have met the wonderful folks I met.
Now I'm in California. I can't stop saying that. I'm in California. I walked across the Golden Gate Bridge. I went to the Folsom St. Fair (if you don't know what that is, google image it. Or don't.). Tomorrow, I have my first workshop with Ken Fields. The weather is always the same: cloudy in the mornings, sunny in the afternoons, high of 66. The apartment is small but beautiful. The cats have eaten all my plants. I couldn't be happier.
The poems have been coming slowly. I was worried that I would get here and become paralyzed creatively. And I was, for a bit. But I wrote a bunch of crap-drafts, and now better work is beginning to rear its face, a face only a mother could love, and I feel relieved. These things can be so fleeting.
I reordered the manuscript. I know I say that each and every time I post. But I did. I cut it down to only the poems I believed in, that I still believed in after reading them a gazillion times over, and I had 46 pages, which is two pages too short. But the book feels more honest now than it ever has. The discarded poem pile is over 300 now. I feel like the book is nearly done, like I have no more poems to write on this theme. I'm already working on a second project that I'm excited about and am thinking of assembling it into a chapbook. Those poems feel less personal and more precise. But now I have two projects I'm trying to wrap up, and manuscript submission season is upon us. I wish I had just two more months.
It's been weird living in a city. It's a first for me, as Madison never felt like a city (part of the reason why it was so easy to call that isthmus-oasis home). It's loud here, crowded, and I've seen more people pee on the streets than I ever thought possible. It's also strangely rhythmic, comforting. Still, I've been escaping urban life as much as I can. I walk to Lake Merritt nearly every day. Brandon and I drove to a redwood forest one weekend. This past week, we walked through Mountainview cemetery where on top you can see all of Oakland, Emeryville, San Francisco, the two bridges, the bay, the Berkeley hills. The best part for me is that moment when we drive north out of Oakland, start to rise in elevation, and the air shifts--you can smell it, you can smell how much thinner and clearer it is. The older I get, the more like this my life becomes.