consuelacooks

cooking, poetry, and unapologetic intense moments in a life

Category: Shakespeare

“Every man’s memory is his private literature.” ― Aldous Huxley

The Four Agreements are:
1. Be Impeccable with your Word
2. Don’t Take Anything Personally
3. Don’t Make Assumptions
4. Always Do Your Best

I learned about the Four Agreements one summer while working in the Berkshires from my friend Tom. A Toltec Shaman named Don Miguel Ruiz published them in a book in 1997. Tom would often climb a nearby mountain and play a flute.

This was the same summer my best friend’s stepfather was hit by lightning in his canoe, along with his nephew, both killed, and drug to the bottom of a lake in Ocala by alligators, only to later be identified by dental records.  This was the same Summer I once again gave servitude to a company I worked for, as, starstruck I listened to it’s elders for guidance, hoping that they would give me wisdom on how to grow up. I just wanted someone to tell me things like, “Don’t do drugs.” or ask if I knew where babies came from. No dice. I learned much about being a teacher, figuring things out on my own, and how to allow heroes to step off of the pedestal every once in a while to give them a break. Heroism was as exhausting for them as my need for a hero was for me.
This is the same Summer I slept only hours a night, seeking solace in the people who lived  most extremely. Everything was liberally done. Including damage. Facebook reminded me of this Summer today.

Facebook loves to remind you of things, and also today it reminded me that three years ago today I was in the Giants stadium in San Francisco. I took a job with a theatre company out there, being hired with stars in my eyes by a beautiful, charismatic, brilliant leader.

I will remember a few things about that place:

Mount Tamalpais : I climbed and climbed and climbed. I was searching so desperately for some warmth in this place I had come for work. I mean, there was no way for it to live up to expectations, and the self loathing, reinforced by leaders, was verbose. Mount Tam was a metaphor for the EXTREME sadness I was feeling, the worthlessness I had assigned myself. I was trying to get up and out, trying to see the world more clearly.

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The Pacific: Never have I walked so much on a beach. Never have I thrown so many questions to a body of water. And never have I considered pulling a Jeff Buckley more than in these weeks.

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Fort Point : The production I worked on took place here, and inside the walls you could find the signatures of all the men who were at the ready in the 1800’s for a war that never came. I learned every curve, every stone, every ghost.

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Golden Boy Pizza,  John, and Jamie: I knew already that I loved one of these yahoos, and the Jamie came later, brilliant, with a madman’s eyes, a poet’s heart, and a sailor’s soul. These two gentlemen, the patterns of good men, unknowingly kept me alive these months.

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The Giants : By God, they might be the most disappointing team in MLB right now, but they were a glorious constant then. There was nothing like sitting against a redwood in a forest with a game being funneled into my ears. There was something to root for. There was a home team. Watching a no-hitter in that stadium was the highlight of my Summer.

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Facebook also reminded me:

Nine years ago today Michael Jackson died.

One year ago I was on Peak’s Island saying poetry to a new crowd.

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Seven years ago, I was getting ready to perform at the Eno River Festival in North Carolina with Rebecca, still eating fire, still being a Carolinian and a Nickel Shakespeare Girl.  Still loving and being in love with one of the best friends I ever had, and ever will have in this life or any after.

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Four years ago I was cooking for a family in the Berkshires for side money alongside one of the dearest, most rock-hard strong women I have ever known.

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They became dear to me -to us- this family, and we became family to them. Sadly less than a year later, the patriarch took his own life, just like his father before.

 


One year ago my friend John was playing Lear in our show Dark Rooms. He knew he was dying, even then. A few weeks later, he was gone, and we were rehearsing a play he financed-literally his dying wish- about the first poet and the first prophetess. We spoke his name every day, and did our very, very best every moment. People came. People fell back in love. People fell in love for the first time. People grieved.

 

I am grateful for all of this, painful, joyful, wince-worthy, and formative. I hope I’m getting better at the four agreements. Thank God there won’t be a test.

“The time will come when diligent research over long periods will bring to light things which now lie hidden. A single lifetime, even though entirely devoted to the sky, would not be enough for the investigation of so vast a subject… And so this knowledge will be unfolded only through long successive ages. There will come a time when our descendants will be amazed that we did not know things that are so plain to them… Many discoveries are reserved for ages still to come, when memory of us will have been effaced.”
― Seneca, Natural Questions

 

 

The running list of what I love about Memphis

Memphis is like no other place I’ve ever been. I won’t and can’t explain the feeling, as it would be diminished with language. It is lush, delicious. The days of alone time are very trying , but the moments of shared experience are unique and spirit-full. If there is a Holy Ghost, I swear he lives in Memphis.

The List:

IMG_20170507_082813190Midtown Laundry

You might say, “What the hell?”.

This place gives ample conversation, entertainment, the occasional prayer, and the inevitable communal belly laugh, and at 7 on a Sunday morning, I always see the same folks.

My favorite, my friend, 74, who lives on Spring, who always reminds me that if God lets her live another month she will be 75. She always touches me, invokes a short prayer, and gives me the updates on her health, her neighborhood gossip, and praises my moth tattoo. I’m pretty sure she is a deity of some sort.

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Overton Park.

Dogs, picnicking lovers, families laughing, lush forests, art, and a formidable playground.

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Magnolias.

They’re from the Jurassic period.

Literally dinosaur flowers.

They smell of fear, lust, surprise, gentility, and fire to me. Also, my friend Marquis is on that list- he’s one of my favorite things too. This was his first magnolia.

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This little Hippo.

Her name is Winnie and she is a baby. She is at the Memphis Zoo. Her Mom’s name is Binti. Hippos are descended from whales, and can grow up to 7000 pounds. They can run up to 19 miles an hour on land, and can open their massive jaw a whopping 180 degrees and muster enough force in them (along with incredibly sharp teeth) to crush an alligator. Their name means ‘Horse of the River’. They cannot swim or float, but can trot on the river bed like a horse, and when they need to resurface (about every 8-9 minutes) they push themselves off of the bed. They are the deadliest animal in Africa. Number one. Superlative. It doesn’t get deadlier, unless you’re a mosquito, an elephant or a black mambo. I love hippos. Can’t explain it.

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Memphis Rain.

I love it. I missed it. Thunder is a lullaby. Also, Ella is the best, and I wish they were here a lot. And their partner Mark.

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Caritas Village.

The Mission: ‘To break down walls of hostility between the cultures, to build bridges of love and trust between the rich and those made poor & to provide a positive alternative to the street corners for the neighborhood children.’ It’s a miracle of a place. Smack dab in the middle of Binghampton. I met 4 of the warmest humans in Memphis in that place, and I can’t wait to return.

Burke'sbooks

Burke’s Books.

There is no better spot to sit, read, and think. It has survived depressions, prohibition, two world wars, a civil war, the turns of two centuries, hipsters, hippies, hip-cats, the Beats, surf rock, the British Invasion, baby boomers, Gen-Xers, Millennials, and 27 presidents of the United States of America. There is really no telling if any of us will survive the current leadership, so I’m not including his reign in this endorsement for a rock-solid staple of Memphian destinations.

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Company d

Company d of Memphis, Tennessee, is a nationally recognized dance company of young adults with Down syndrome under the artistic direction of choreographer Darlene Winters. I was able to spend some time there, talk about possibilities, and meet some of the dancers. They were stunning. I hope to spend a lot of time here.

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My falling-apart-leaky-noisy apartment.

I feel safe in this ugly puppy of a building, which is no small feat in this town which lives up to its dangerous reputation on a daily basis. I’ve never laid eyes on my landlord, I had to work for two hours with a knife and a hammer to pry open one window, I’ve had two shelves come crashing down in my kitchen, and there are so many haphazardly laid layers of paint on everything in the apartment that I’m sure each room has lost a square inch. I live below two 22-year-old newlyweds who are very energetic, emphatic walkers, and late-night vacuum-ers, and although there is a washer and dryer in the basement, I feel like I’m in a final scene out of the Blair Witch Project when I descend those stairs, so I seek other laundry facilities (see Midtown Laundry). Vito loves the wide open space, and I have had a number of opportunities to have folks over already. My Basil and Cilantro are growing. I am sleeping (Maybe too much sleeping). I love my job and the people who I work with each day. I BELIEVE in my leaders. I TRUST them.

 

I don’t have those pals that I can be quiet with yet, but I’m getting there. I’ve only developed two or three crushes. I’ve only scanned the animal shelter offerings twice. I’m slowly extracting melancholy and injecting in some hope.

 

Baby steps, people.

Summer’s End or Chicken Shit 101

It is really so simple, she said

Light down the spine,

name and number each bone

make a fantastic inventory.

Use descriptive language when searching for skin, hair

wrap each finger carefully in curls

(the slightest tug will do for now)

Ask short questions pertaining to the weight of winks

Itemize the sighs, bottle, and preserve.

Linger in the kisses a moment too long,

paying close attention to the way the eyes look while closed- just after.

Document.

Rest on the slight curve of the hip, apply pressure with fingertips. Make the slightest mark.

Index all of the whispers, separating night from day whispers.

Backlog each moment we speak of love.

Season is fickle.

Words and wild remain un-categorized,

lovely, longing and without requite.

I will paint this, sing it. And forget.

See you each day, (And your graceful peasant eyes)

referring to the record

of our almost (surrender) affair.

WARNING! MELANCHOLIC MUSINGS! or Let’s just read the funny papers

I have terribly neglectful of this blog. I think it is the general lack of mindfulness I’ve been experiencing. The Berkshires beat on like beautiful retired war heroes yawning at the sky and my snow peas reach for that sky. There is a melancholic air to all and as I am like every other human I am trying to unpack the story.

So many bad dates. So many nights without sleep. A summer that gallops apace without me at the company where I work. A summer that isn’t at all what I thought it would be at the other work. It’s been over a month since my dear friend passed and a little over a month until another one marries. I turn 40 in 27 days. Is this where most are at this juncture? I would love to know if it is.

My Mom always asked why I did things the hard way. Even without purpose. Leaving home early, choosing to wait on marriage, choosing an impossible field to work in, choosing impossible places to live, being on the road living in a tent for so long, having such a long period of being so sick, and fighting for what I believe in as opposed to watching injustice happen (even if I never live to actually see results for that fight) are the things she doesn’t understand about me and also the things she respects the most.

Sometimes, not most- but sometimes I tire of it.

And then sometimes it becomes the song I sing.

And sometimes, just sometimes on a bleak and beautiful cool Berkshire morning like this as the fan hums and the cat perches in the window and there is stillness and quiet– at these times- at this time- I just want to read the newspaper with someone and sigh in the knowledge that I have a partner in crime- and rest easy in the knowledge that this partner will not now or any time for the rest of our time need or want to go anywhere else.

Can I have both? Certainly. I think. As I get older I am underwhelmed by wooing antics and proclamations of obsessive love. With so much experience in love comes a great responsibility to be patient while the other party meanders like a Cocker Spaniel puppy through their feeling world. Recklessly banging around and pawing and overturning food bowls in the name of excitement. What I need is a great long beautiful sophisticated Great Dane. One who knows who he is. One who is completely fine with the space he takes up in the world. One who is OK with my days of Saint Bernard and my days of Chihuahua.

But I digress. Adventures continue. Love will continue. Seasons will pound on in fours and August will come and go and I will enter in to my fifth decade.

I laugh every day out loud and don’t think for a moment that I take that for granted.

I am just missing that puzzle piece. That one little one that becomes the priority.

Henry Rollins says this perfectly-

“I want a soul mate who can sit me down, shut me up, tell me ten things I don’t already know, and make me laugh. I don’t care what you look like, just turn me on. And if you can do that, I will follow you on bloody stumps through the snow. I will nibble your mukluks with my own teeth. I will do your windows. I will care about your feelings. Just have something in there.”

And that pretty much sums it up.

 

Mourning wear or I want to eat you alive.

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I have an invitation. It is pink and unique of all of this.

It grinds blue glass to sand, bone to dust.

It slides all over Africa, India, The Americas.

It names and numbers the blows, the freckles, the sideways glance

that is as long as you are lovely.

It alphabetizes each kiss for country matters

Strange like sea weed it weaves in and out of distrust

manuevering through feckless waters

of your underparts. Your secrets.

The way the light catches your

road-weary cheek on Sunday mornings.

When the sniffles still make you divine.

Sometimes you don’t want to dumb it down.

ImageI’m going to hair.
I’m going to bone.
I’m going to sea
I’m going to forest and hum
a city that doesn’t want for kindness.

Time that won’t rest, debts always paid. Softer countenance than yours.

(The Mirror up to nature)

Sure of me. Sure of me. Be sure, I said. And don’t take it back on Thursdays.

Cataclysmic lovers, poets, madmen!
VI amo con tutto il mio cuore.

And god’s fingers are here

here in these hills, smothered in thick white-
every celestial vein
every angelic knocked point gives a destination, a time, and place
and thirty steps to a corner store for spirits, they say, those gentlemen…
And don’t they love and lie and hiss and sing and kiss and touch and rage and howl at the moon in the New World? The New England? (Billy Bragg isn’t looking hard enough)

(And those crazy Thracians- Philomela in her hut having those things done that he did and then them all becoming those crazy birds)

Maybe we can do that , become those birds, when we get the nights back, when we can watch the sun set again, when it gets back to hand holding and fires.
When the wall portraits finally close their stoic eyes and let us play. When we close our stoic eyes and see what is in front of us, not a month behind.

And the house was made of glass, each several window blown sugar, each strand of sugar spider webs, each web the finest dew line, each dew line the stuff of dreams.
And in 15something they wrote a book for me
I have it by my bedside,
It produced tributary tears in the getting of it. It teaches me how to human well.

fiends, sleepers,
lunatics, composers
poets, builders
horrors, flying girls, painters, and professors-  those who dig deep in the dirt

come to the circle, she said and wear it like the costume of a play.
it is a triple night of palettes for trying.
Oh sisters and brothers-
Soyez prêt pour un festin. Nous serons présents tout.

Et mangez-vous entier.

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Three weeks and a hundred or more moments

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A blink is, after all, a cleansing
A kiss, an entry
The holding of a hand, a communion
And the words are history the moment they become.
The moment they arrive on page
And my hands are soaking wet.

Sweet seasonal sadness, poetic peanut butter, and wantings.

AND FIVE SIX SEVEN I ZOOMED THESE PAST FEW
A BUZZ WITH WANTON WANTINGS AND WIDDERSHIN PENDULUMS
RUNNING FINDING CLOCKS AND CALORIE COUNTS
FASTER THAN USUAL, EVERYTHING.
AND EIGHT NINE TEN I LOST ONE, I GAINED ONE, I NEVER STAY FOCUSED VERY LONG AND
MY FRIENDS I GRAPPLED THEM WITH HOOPS OF STEEL
TO SINEWY FLUFF HEART, FULL
OF WATER, PIGS, AND OTHER SUCH PLUSH STUFF

AND I THOUGHT OF YOU IN YOUR NEW HAMPSHIRE
OR YOUR WOODS SOMEWHERE 
THINKING OF THE BIG THINGS AND GROWING FROM BOY TO MAN AND I HELD YOUR FACE ON MY BELLY ONCE
MY HAIR WAS SO LONG IT BRUSHED YOU THERE

AND I REMEMBER THE BERKSHIRE NIGHT WHEN WE WENT TO THE WHARTON MANSION,

GORGING ON BUTTER PECAN OUT BY THE WATEr

WANDERING THROUGH THOSE HAUNTED WOODS LOOKING FOR INDIANS

EDITH WAS ON FIRE THAT NIGHT, LIKE US
WANTING TO KISS, BUT NOT
NERVOSA KEPT US FROM ALL 

AND CHASTITY IS WHY I REMEMBER YOU, LOVE.

I WANT WOODS NOW, WOODS WHERE I CAN RUN AND FIND SCREAMING DEAD PERFECT INDIANS
FLASHING FIRE EYES THROUGH GREEN NIGHT WITH
A HUNDRED YEAR OLD SOMETHING MANSION STARING ME DOWN.
I WANT TO BELLY BRUSH FACE AND HAND
I WANT A ZIP CODE OF KISSES
AND A KINDER WAY TO KEEP THE SUN

AND I’M NOT SO FAR FROM IT REALLY.

AND I TWISTED MY HAND INTO THE SHAPE OF A ROSE
AND I KNEW, I KNOW I BELONG IN THE SHAPE OF THE HARVEST MOON
AND I KNOW HOW TO SAY MY NAME
SO THAT THEY HEAR.

I CHOOSE INSTEAD TO
GO FIVE THOUSAND MILES FAST

AND FORGET THE TASTE OF SALT TEARS

“When clouds appear, wise men put on their cloaks; When great leaves fall, the Winter is at hand;When the sun sets, who doth not look for night? Untimely storms make men expect a dearth. All may be well; but, if God sort it so,’Tis more than we deserve, or I expect.”

-Richard III, Willy Shakes

“A glooming peace this morning with it brings; The sun, for sorrow, will not show his head”

-R & J, Same Guy

“You think I’ll weep
No, I’ll not weep:
I have full cause of weeping; but this heart
Shall break into a hundred thousand flaws,
Or ere I’ll weep. O fool, I shall go mad!”

The Tragedy of King Lear, Yada Yada Yada…

Seasonal affective disorder (SAD), also known as winter depressionwinter bluessummer depressionsummer blues, or seasonal depression, is a mood disorder in which people who have normal mental health throughout most of the year experience depressive symptoms in the winter or summer,[1] spring or autumn year after year. In the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders (DSM-IV), SAD is not a unique mood disorder, but is “a specifier of major depression”.[2]

Although experts were initially skeptical, this condition is now recognized as a common disorder, with its prevalence in the U.S. ranging from 1.4 percent in Florida to 9.7 percent in New Hampshire.[3]

The U.S. National Library of Medicine notes that “some people experience a serious mood change when the seasons change. They may sleep too much, have little energy, and may also feel depressed. Though symptoms can be severe, they usually clear up.”[4] The condition in the summer can include heightened anxiety.[5]

I have noticed some really textbook responses to this condition. Seasonal Depression is rampant here.This shit is real.  Most of my friends and myself get spanked by this every year. Here are some methods of temporary release from Seasonal Depression, none of which I endorse as a cure, but all fun in their own way I suppose:

Gobs of Medication. Takes 2-6 weeks to kick in. Not timely.

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Drinking. Lots of it. Late at night at socked in bars with locals. Loses magic quickly…

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Spirituality. Can be daily. Definitely helps, but can be lonely without the community to support it. It’s hard to congregate when you cannot leave your house.

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Intimacy.  This is always a quick and temporary fix. Short term but effective. And fun.

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Pets. They help. A lot.

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Friends. Lots of them. Gathering. Staying warm. Loving one another and just getting through. This works too. Probably best of all.

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Good Food! Winter food! The universe provides comfort foods in the Winter for a reason. I believe that root vegetables feed the inside and outside of your soul. They scrub it out.

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So. When I get sad- by my own prescription I will attempt to eat only super foods while shotgunning a beer, hugging a dog, taking some Prozac, and alternately kissing my good friends while on a rosary.

OR.

JUST WAIT.

WINTER WILL END…

And the Spring will be glorious.  And we will lick the Sun and take our clothes off and jump in lakes again. We will watch Tanglewood on a hot July evening and swat mosquitoes and roll in the grass.We will all in reality get through this. It sure doesn’t feel like it right now to me… But the paralysis will eventually end and we will feel alive again. Soon the boulders will get off of our shoulders and we will use them for target practice. We will roll them uphill. So- keep on keeping on. And remember to love each other.

-Carmen-maria

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