Posts Tagged ‘Alan Kaufman’

I Had A Brilliant

October 31, 2016

Blog ready to go.

I mean I really did.

And usually all I need to get to that blog is a line, sometimes just a word, or an image.

I was messaging with a friend, cooking my Sunday afternoon roast chicken, and I commented on something and it triggered a thought and I was like!



That’s what I’m going to write about.




It doesn’t usually happen, I mean, it really does not, I completely forgot.

It was a “b” word, I remember that.

It was something that sounded like or reminded me of the word bear, but it’s not that and even if it was that, what the fuck am I doing writing a blog about a bear?

“Listen if you bring in the bear and you give it that much weight, that much suspense, you have to do something with the bear, otherwise, kill that chapter,” Alan Kaufman said.

Yeah, Alan.

I worked with him in a class for about nine months or so.

I was on a hot streak, I was writing like gang busters, I had put out a first draft manuscript for one book and was in the middle of writing the follow-up piece.

And there was a chapter in the book about a “camping trip.”

I put it in parenthesis as I was told when I got sober that was a cute way for me to label being homeless.

Which is basically what it was.

It’s not camping if you don’t have a home to return to after your trip is up.

But there had been a bear scare near where we were located and I wrote about that for the chapter I was presenting in class that week and Alan was not having it.

In fact.

Nobody was.

“I mean, Carmen, it’s really well written, you had me, I was right there, but then you didn’t do anything with it and why bother putting that much emphasis on something and then leaving your reader hang,” he concluded.

And although I liked the chapter.


I did indeed scrap it.

I wrote another piece after that as well.

As well you know if you’ve been following my blogs, I have written manuscripts, but not done much with them and at this point, in life, in school, where I am.

I am just not going to make that much of a deal out of it.

If I wasn’t blogging.

Maybe it would be different.

But the blog provides me with something that is ineffable and I love to do it.

So why would I change?

It’s all really ego, after all, I want to say that I am a published author with a large body of works and a following, of course I would like to also make money from what I write, but I obviously haven’t pursued doing that.

And that’s like a total line of omission.


What the fuck was Paris but a six month daily write-a-thon where I did finish another draft of the book and I did submit it to over 50 agencies and editors, where I did actually get published, with one short story in one magazine and a poem in another.

I have tried.

I tried really fucking hard.

But not much lately.


This is just my little blog and I like it the way it is and I’m not seeking representation when I’m writing it, I’m not seeking fame, I’m not even seeking your attention, though, yes, granted, it is dreamy when I get it.


This really is all for me.



I do get curious, I do want to have an affect, I do want to be seen as a good writer, but am I trying to get published right now?


I will, most likely, I do believe, get published at some point.

There are just too many words in my head, too many stories, too many images to write about to not keep writing and with the constant practice I do hope to become a better writer, it’s not just about doing the writing though, it’s about doing the reading as well.

Not that I did much reading at all this weekend.

I ended up being really gentle to myself and slept a lot and hung out with friends.

Today I had an amazing lunch at PPQ Vietnamese over on Clement Street at 25th.

It had rained a bunch earlier and though it had cleared out by the time I went to meet my friend for lunch, it was still one of those dreary days when a good bowl of hot and sour soup is really in order.

We shared a pot of tea.

A large bowl, and it was large, of Hot and Sour Soup with Shrimp and some shrimp fried rice.

We sat for hours and talked and caught up.

I was so grateful to spend time with him and talk about life, work, school, dating.

I’ve known him for over ten years.

It’s good to have friends that I can open up to, tell all to, not have to worry about judgements, confide in.

I have more of those than most I suspect.

And for that I am inexhaustibly grateful.

I do spend a lot of time on my own, I’m a tiny bit, a lot, of a lone wolf, but I have learned that doing it my way or on my own doesn’t always work out.


Usually the results, well, let’s just say, not so good.


I can’t remember what I was going to blog about, but there they are, all those lovely, delicious words.

I can tell you that I did good self-care today.

Roasted a chicken.

Made a perfect pot of rice.

Did my laundry.

Took a hot shower and washed my hair.

I even decided to let it air dry.

Hopefully it will be by the time I go to work tomorrow.


It takes a while.


But when I do.

How soft it is.

And tomorrow is Halloween and I don’t have a care in the world about it.

I do know my charges will be excited and that will be sweet to witness.

I do know that it has been a hoot seeing people out and about in their costumes all weekend.

I have always, will always, love San Francisco for embracing Halloween and all things dress up.

I do like a good costume.

The holidays are sneaking up and I have much reading to do, papers to write, and work to juggle, but just for today I let myself just be.

I read but a little.

I got tech help with a computer issue.

My tech guy was AMAZING.

And now I’m going to slowly wind it down as tomorrow is an early work day for me.

It was a slow, soft, sweet Sunday.

Thank you universe.

I needed that.

I Can Do This

October 20, 2013

I can totally do this.

“You can do this,” the small, still voice in my head said.

Not the crazy chorus of naysayers that usually live up there, and suddenly I saw where and when and how.

Last night after I finished my blog I watched a badly pirated version of Project Runway, hey we all have our foibles shut up, and then regarded the message a friend of mine had sent me about November Novel Writing month.

Or whatever the acronym is.

Basically it is a call to arms, or words, if you would, to write a novel in one month.

It’s totally doable.

I have done it before.

I can do it again.

I will be doing it again.

As it turns out,  I signed up for the thing.

The last time I took a writing challenge it was to do a post-a-day blog back nearly four years ago.

And look at me now.

Blogging away, even at two a.m.

Soul Coughing cheerily singing away about the Chrysler Building, and a hot cup of Bengal Spice tea by my side.  I lit up some candles, ambience you know, and slipped into my yoga pants.

After taking a few amusing photographs of my larger than life hair.

The foggy ride home did a number on it, it is gigantic.

I mean really.

The last time I had hair this big was when I was in Paris and I went and saw LOUISAAAA performing at a club.

I was out until the wee small alcohol soaked hours of the literally underground music scene–the club was a gigantic cavernous underground space–and my hair was smashed with cigarette smoke, sweat, and the vodka fumed breath of thousands of early twenty something grinding away in a night club.

I walked home that night through the chilly mist and felt like my hair was expanding off my head and it certainly was.

I took photographs of myself in the kitchen of the apartment and posted them up.

Partially because I felt sexy for being in Paris and being up at five a.m. at an underground night club, and well, my hair looked freaking amaze balls.

It did not smell good, but that’s the magic of photographs, they’re not scratch and sniff.

I have Paris a lot on my mind.

Harking back to this time last year as the last few days were winding down to my inevitable leaving, because I was given a book tonight “Time Was Soft There” a memoir of a man who lived above the infamous Shakespeare & Company on the Left Bank of Paris, and because of the aforementioned novel-writing month thingy.

First, let me say that I have no plans on writing a memoir of my time in Paris.

Second, let me say that I will be using every single experience, taste, touch, smell, notebook and blog post that I wrote to help me write this novel.

I wrote the synopsis on the website last night after I registered to do it.

I have had this idea kicking around for a while and thought I would be writing a short story but, no.

I am writing a novel.

I am further writing a science fiction novel.

Despite the last science fiction novel I read was when….

No clue.

I don’t really read sci-fi or fantasy.

Although I do love a good bodice ripper sci-fi read once in a while.

And some of my favorite writers, especially short story, were science fiction writers.

H.G. Wells.

Phillip K. Dick.

Frank Herbert.

Ray Bradbury.

I feel the general style of the writing will be something akin to Dick or Bradbury.

I do not put myself at their level, nor will I ever label myself as such, I am however, going to explore writing this genre.

My setting will be Paris.

The Paris of a post-apocalyptic world and the Paris of the near recent past.

Like, oh, beginning a little over six months ago.

I have the opening line.

“The monkey is off my back, but the circus is still in town.”

I have a thematic “man against the world”.

And there will be a love story, the near recent Parisian past will frame the love story.

Despite my not having a romantic liaison there, many, so many romantic things happened to me, not excluding receiving a package with mixed cds in it from a lover back in the states.

The night I got it was raining and I was disconsolate and the rain sluiced down in the courtyard and I was cold and lonely and it was raining in Paris and then I open the package, see the book, cry to find a few Euro tucked in the book, and then the cds.

I made it a quarter through one of the songs and started to leak tears.

Two songs in, maybe, it could have actually been the first one, I was sobbing.

Gut wrenching sobs.

Heart breaking open sobs.

And did I regret things?


I actually wanted to feel some regret, but I knew that the feeling was bogus.

The choice to move to Paris, abandoning so many things, so many loved ones, lovers, and familiar places and faces to embark on a new journey into the unknown, carrying its own kind of romantic peril was totally the right decision.

It was.

My heart got peeled down to cordon and tendon.

I was not just wearing a heart on my sleeve, it was bleeding all over and it was a mass of sinew and song.

I won’t ever forget that night, it was ghastly romantic and it was all in my head.

It usually is.

The stories.

The story was already there.

It was just waiting to be lived.

The places I walked, the people I met, the kindness and sometimes unkindness of strangers, the Trocadero Bridge, seeing people come into visit that I had not really known very well and watch them become my friend and compatriot and supporter over night, all the museums and smells, the chocolate and boulangeries.



I have some material.

“Carmen, most writers would kill to have had the experiences you have had,” Alan Kaufman said to me once from his perch in the corner of his room up in the Tender Nob.

And that was seven years ago.

I have had a few more experiences to add to that.

I have a wealth of material to exploit and exploit I am.

“Write a book in a month?  Seriously?”  A friend who I poked to join the challenge e-mailed me back.

I could hear the incredulity in his voice.


I did it when I took Kaufman’s class, and I do it every day, here, in this blog.

You think this isn’t some kind of book, The Book of Carmen (versus the Book of Dave, which I will also not compare myself, ever to Will Self, that is just retarded to think that), then you would be wrong.

This is a living memoir.

I am my own version of Anais Nin.

Sexy in my own way, courageous in my failings, leaping again, and again, into the arms of the unknown, fraught and full of angst, but also laughing like a fucking idiot when I do.

Because it is a kind of crazy love, this romance with the written.

I realized today when I was writing my morning pages that I did actually have time, Monday, Tuesday, and Wednesdays between work and early evening commitments to sit down in a cafe, maybe Tart to Tart or the Beanery at 7th and Irving, and write a 1,000 words or more, and Thursdays.

Well, shit, Thursday is easy, I will write during my charges THREE  HOUR nap.

Friday I have currently booked as a half day, so I can get that kicked out then.

Saturday and Sunday, when I am not surfing, heh, I will also write.

I won’t tell you the rest of the story, but it’s there.

I have it.

I don’t know how it ends.

But I know how it starts.

And I know that I can do it.

Oh, yes I can.

I Met My Old Lover In The Street

March 22, 2012

Last night.

I met my old lover in the aisle at Rainbow Foods tonight.

He startled me, he was not in the aisle he normally is in.

He works at Rainbow.

I used to avoid days that he worked there.  I was embarrassed for breaking it off with him.  Some times I flirt with the idea of hooking up with him again.  We had fun.  He was great in bed, a good dancer, we liked the same music, and he could kiss like a maniac.


You know there’s always a but…

It was not going anywhere and I decided I wanted children and marriage and all that implies.

How funny it is then to bump into some one and see that four years later you are not married and you don’t have children and he looks good.


It would end the same and I don’t need to play that song again.

When I run into some one like that I reflect on what is different in my life and where it has gone and how funny some things change and some things just do not.

I also have had many a moment of retrospection and internal reorganization of my self.

Most of this has to do with the writing and the blogging and the getting up early and working on submissions and where do I go next with this.  I have been working on a proposal for City Lights and I realized at one point that I should dig up the letter of recommendation that Alan Kaufman wrote for me.

I stumbled upon a chapter of my book Baby Girl that I ended up cutting from the book as superfluous to the story.  I still feel that the material in the chapter, “Challenges,” is fairly pertinent information to my life story.  To my life in general, and to the period of time that I got to have in a relationship with a significant player in my early romantic life.

John, John Morgan.  He was probably my first real love and my first real relationship.  I ended up breaking up with him to follow Elliot, his room-mate, out of Madison to South Florida, where most of the action for my memoir Baby Girl takes place.

I think about John once in a while and I wonder whatever happened to him.  I think I owe him an apology and then realize nope, my motives are ass.  I just would like to see him and there is the old played out story in there as well, he was the one.

No he wasn’t.  He was just who he was.  He was, however, the first compassionate and truly kind man I dated.  He was always a gentleman and he was always sweet.  He helped me out of a lot of scraps, more than a few involving my crazy sister, her baby daddy, and numerous other hooligans in my life, my mom, my dad, the crazy room-mates I lived with.

God, the first time John met my mom she got us all stoned and we played Monopoly.

Welcome to my family.

I actually do owe John an amends, now that I think about it, and funny, haha, now I am not so interested in getting back in touch with him.  I owe him $500 for convincing him to give my sister’s boyfriend, said baby daddy, bail money.  And then I left him holding the bag while the baby daddy and my sister bounced.

I knew they were going to bounce and so I bounced too.  I left poor John in a dormitory room on the eighth floor of Ogg Hall wondering what the hell happened and fled Madison with Elliot in his two door Datsun Z.

Ah, memory lane, you are such good fun.

Never the less, I am also remembering something that Kaufman told me when I read aloud a chapter to the next piece that I worked on for the class, and ultimately for the book that was to become my second major work, The Iowa Waltz.

He said, “Carmen,” shaking his head in complete astonishment, “there are writers who would kill, kill, to have the material that you have been given”.

I was not in the mood to hear that.  I was both flattered and annoyed.  And more than a little scared.  Kaufman spoke so glowingly about my writing and my abilities, it freaked me out.

Hell, it still freaks me out, but I can’t sit in it any more.  I am using his words as fuel for the submissions fire.  There are more recommendations that he wrote for me that I have filed away and have not used more than once, perhaps twice.

Alan and I had a falling out.  Then we had a quiet cooling off period, then, well, I won’t say we are buddies, I barely see him anymore.  But when I do, a hug, a smile, a quiet acknowledgement.

I owe him a lot.  I owe myself a lot as well.  I owe the woman he invested time and energy into encouraging a talent.

One of the best pieces of advice that he gave me was to the effect of this: “Stop with the creative writing crap, so you can write pretty stuff, who cares?  Action and dialogue, action and dialogue, and then this happened and then this happened.  Fill in the details later, action and dialogue”.

I took that advice and I ran hard with it.  The majority of the work that I did was all action and dialogue.  It feels like I am watching a movie when I read it now.  It feels like a movie when I write sometimes too.

Terese Taylor just came on my stereo shuffle play list.  A song from off Good Luck Investigationship.  The Universe smiles on my writing.

Terese was my writing partner.  It was such a privilege to work with her.  I have not seen her in years, but I know she is playing her guitar some where, breaking hearts and cracking open souls.

Always looking for a reason to cry, blink and smile, water damn your eyes, be sure and whisper the anwser when you die

Ah Terese, you were good to me.

All that time spent in cafes, all those old lovers, always looking for a reason to cry.

Dirty hands mine, you’ve gone and given me a reason to cry

I have memory.  I have a place to utilize my experiences.  I have fodder for my grist writing mill.

Tomorrow I will arise and write and submit again.

I will forget the old lovers, I will forget the old wounds, I will forget the reasons why, and I will just watch the film and dictate what I see as it flows across the screen of my mind.  I am lucky.  I am blessed.  I have a fortune of inexhaustible stories and experiences to write about.

And write I shall.

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