Tuesday, September 8, 2009

No Reason, No Recourse

The rare blog entry from LA

It's my last day in So Cal, AGAIN, and all I want to do is blog and read blogs. I have a million errands to run, tons of people I didn't get to spend nearly enough time with, and all I want to do is linger in my little apartment with the kitties and my books and try to say something that matters... after six weeks of sunny CA.

This visit, I applied for an artist's visa, which would have allowed me not only to stay in Paris for longer stretches at a time, but also to work in conjunction with a proposed "project." So I gathered my strength and put together a proposal and the necessary multitude of triplicated documents required with the application, five passport photos, and the 150 US dollars it costs just to submit said application, and about the time I had recovered from the sunburn I got in the 3 hours I spent outside waiting, the phone call came: I was denied my carte de sejour and told that the reason was unknown and there is no phone number to call for further information as they are too busy to answer one.

At least I was a good citizen and served my jury duty. I was on call all week for the first week of August, rejoicing every night when I heard that I would not need to report the next day... until Thursday. I got the dreaded Friday duty. It really wasn't bad. I dodged the first and only call of the day--a murder trial expected to last 8 days, according to reports in the elevator at the lunch break. Two hours of wandering around downtown Long Beach was then followed by another hour of sitting--on the 6th floor terrace with a view of the harbor--chatting with my two jury duty pals and soaking up some sun.

I wish I could remember that woman's name. She was a riot! We were released early, one by one, and given our green proof-of-service slips. I was called before she was and I gave her two French cheek kisses. She thought that was really cute. Then I headed quickly out, not looking back. By the way, French authorities are urging people to forgo the catchy kisses. No more bisoux in France for fear of Swine Flu. La Grippe Porcine. The dreaded H1N1. Can you imagine?

I spent a lot of time with my family, adorable and germ-ridden as they may be ;) They are my favorite subjects--in videos, writing, conversation, and dreams. My new (and only) niece is like a fallen star from a strange and unimagined heaven. And I love the reason to watch that Blue's Clues! I brought her a French bikini. At her daycare, the kids must all wear hats to play outside. This is perhaps the cutest damn thing I've ever seen. A day in the life of Hailey Grace would make a superb little video...

Speaking of videos, the silver lining in being denied my visa was that in shaping my application, I actually harnessed my projects and decided to launch a poetry video site that I've been contemplating for many months now. awaywithwords I wanted to set these videos apart from most of the ones I've created so far because these are more honestly collaborative. I meet so many talented writers and artists that I wanted to capture even a fraction of what I hear and put it together with things I've seen. Sometimes the correspondences are uncanny. I especially like how my personal life invariably seeps into the finished product.

I like art that is a bit sublime: Beaudelaire, Jean-Pierre Jeunet, Pink Martini. I haven't really thought of this "like" in relation to my own writing. I remember I want to read Kant, Jane Austen, and more Jeanette Winterson. What to pack this time? What to abandon until December? It's so much easier to go than it is to leave. And even as I write that, I see that it's a lie. Going takes courage, hunger, and passion. It isn't always clear that it's the right thing to do. Surely, it isn't always the right thing to do.

But I'm leaving, and I can't wait to get back. I'm going back to my tourist life, to my Filou and my man. Maybe to a new apartment. And there is a dangling job possibility like the proverbial carrot, luring me back to the City of Light--no S, please. Writing workshops and fall, the most sublime season of all. Once it sets in, there is no reason, no recourse.

The street sweeper passes down one street then the next here in Long Beach. I mentally confirm that I parked on the right side of the street last night. Seafood enchiladas leftover in the fridge. Silver left to polish. Laundry. My little yard and the coolest day since I decided to stay. I'm gong to go soak it all in.