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hopeful holds the tension/ dew jewels cling the sway/ clasped tight against the world/ not yet knowing it's ok/ the waiting deepens color/ trying to accept every sun ray/ gathering its truth song/ beauty at bay so long/ awaiting opening to day/

Tuesday, November 10, 2009

Bending in Oregon, Part 3: Sherman Alexie (Junior, apparently)!

"Dubya so screwed up the economy that the only person making any money is a Native American poet." - Sherman Alexie

On Friday, Sherman Alexie asked me if I really thought my life was that ordinary. He barked out curses against technology and it's community-cracking habits. He made fun of conversations people have just after landing in an airplane to their home destination. He swore a lot. Sherman Alexie is sort of an asshole that uses sex to get people's attention; I love him because when he's got it, he asks us why we blame the elementary school teachers (my mom is one and I believe she has one of the hardest jobs you could ever have...she's Special Ed) and "poor white" (he's Coeur D'Alene Native American) for the collapse of the economy. He tells us that what we have for breakfast is amazing. He tells us how to give good gifts to each other, explains the romance behind mixed-tapes (no, it's not their antique quality, it's the hard word and time that has to go into making one if it's going to be good).
He made me think about how I didn't miss my cell phone when I was in Europe: "I watch you guys kill yourselves every day with these things. Why not, when you land on that plane, have an extraordinary conversation?" He tapped into my horror at how fast time is going: "I know I'm hard-wired as an Indian and a Catholic to mourn, but I'm growing increasingly nostalgic and I'm 43! Apparently 43 is the new 80." Ah yes. And people are just dust in the wind, temporary as the flowers of the fields which are themselves ephemeral. We are hard-wired from and because of our childhood; he is hard-wired to grieve and run (his father was alcoholic to get away from his past as, mainly, a war orphan) - Alexie says he's not much different; I am hard-wired for conflict. If people don't worry about me, I wonder if they care. I don't blame this on my childhood (though I do see that my poor mother gets it from her poor mother...), but I do wonder if it was because I somehow got conflicting messages simultaneously: "Be happy or we won't hang out with you" and "If you're happy, you must not need any attention or companionship", which is really just the arrogance of finding one's worth in how you provide care and love for one another.
He, though not Christian (I don't think), gives excellent advice for the "spiritual searching" he sees in and from "us Euros" (white people, not money, though money is a important thing here, too): "If money changes hands, run" and "There is no shame in getting out of a situation that makes you uncomfortable." He does satire (saying exactly what you mean in a funny, sometimes darkly so, way) not irony (saying one thing to mean another), and wonders aloud why people equate seriousness with intelligence. He's deadly serious when he's 'funny', and he's funny so "he doesn't kill you." This guy is a prophet who would really rock the world and change the systems he rattles against so hard (rightfully so); I identify SO much with this guy and his voice, his thoughts - we're both 'native' poets, the only difference is that people know this about him.
I really admire this guy for that and the other reasons listed above. Mark admires him for his big head...

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