As I was driving to noon mass for the feast of St. John (in the beginning was the word, a phrase for which I took two years of ancient Greek to read), I realized there wouldn’t be any, because it was Saturday. This is a special day for writers, well, for me, I don’t know that any other writer cares. I parked at the cathedral, there was only one car, the door was locked, I couldn’t even get to see the cat. A lady in the one car opened her door and asked if she could help me. Maybe I should have said, “Let me in! I must pray! It is my day!” But I was a normal person and said I figured there wasn’t noon mass, she said yes.
I tried a couple of Catholic churches, and they don’t do noon mass on Saturdays, either. Well, it’s less fun to get communion there with the new nice pope, anyway.
I drove to the little modern art museum (it’s contemporary, I know, but I like the word modern and I hate contemporary, it sounds horrible, like coughing).
So my friend who got hurt is still six kinds of messed up. It was a car accident. I haven’t driven since. I don’t have a car. I drove today. Since I was about 22, I’ve worried about someone I know being in a terrible car accident. I’ve known plenty of people who have here and there done some recreational drunk driving. And when I actually do know someone who is terribly hurt, it was daytime, some crazy person hit him, there was no speeding or risk taking, just being out in the world, just not hiding under your bed.
My dad and stepmom got on a plane this morning. They’re fine.
My little city has: the Western Auto sign, which I will paint when I get home, back to New York I mean. It has Lamar’s Doughnuts, big pieces of grass with nothing on them at all, big roads with almost no one driving on them almost all the time, 80% of the people I love, coffeehouse tables as big as Montana.
Then they have a painting of part of the Kennedy assassination.
Who knows? Who can know? What was he doing there? At that exact wrong moment?
You try to be careful. Then you don’t, because it doesn’t matter, and it feels good not to be careful, to deliberately not be careful, to drive 80 instead of 70.
I have returned to reading Shambhala by Chogyam Trungpa. He is a silly cheerful Buddhist, a hippie Buddhist who thinks deep down we are all good. I believe very deeply that deep down we are all good, and also that deep down we are very evil, it depends on the day. Christianity will raise you to think you are not good, my parents told me I was good, and the church also told me God loved me very much, it was confusing.
Anyway Trungpa writes that the cure for fear is overcoming hope.
I have worked on hope a lot, mostly in the spinster/barren woman/no one will ever love me worries. Well: I have worked on them, and they have worked on me.
The other piece I loved is a big wall piece made of soap dishes. Most of the soap dishes have worn pieces of soap in them, some of the have stones. The soap, you know, had been held in hands, you could tell.
Why were you there then? I almost moved into an apartment facing Hyde Park, but I thought the rent was too much. Instead I moved into the carriages house and a million things happened as a result of that, many of them fulfilling dreams I didn’t know I had, most of them related to Gertrude Stein.
I was on an important first date, and I said, “Who’s your favorite painter?” and he said he didn’t know, and that was the wrong answer. What if he had answered sooner, faster, because he did have favorite painters?
I was reading Incredibly Fast and Super Close, I mean Wicked Close and Hella Loud, I mean: Incredibly Loud and Extremely Close (for a laugh, try to get a group of people to come up with this title without enlisting technology) it didn’t occur to me until later that this was a bad book for a New Yorker to be reading when she flies out of New York. Think of all the planes that didn’t crash, though, all the people who were nowhere near downtown that day.
All those times we got drunk, we fell, physically and in love, we yelled and said terrible things but did see each other again and made up, we lusted after each other and gave in or did not give in, trusted each other and were let down, trusted each other and were not, we decided our friends were all wrong for us and we would snub them, we decided our friends were the most important thing. All those times were soap in the hand.
The stones get worn, too. It just takes longer.
Soap and stones piece is “Used and Worn” by June Ahrens. Kennedy assassination painting is “Continental II” by Christopher Brown. Both currently up at the Kemper.