Thirteen Ways of Looking at a Bio

I

Bio, from the Greek,meaning life, course, or way of living.

II

The house in Topanga was at the end of the road, and beyond the road there was a creek that in winter swelled with swift muddy water that tumbled over a waterfall just past the horse corral.  When it rained I loved the smell of the dark wet earth and the sound of the muddy falling water I could hear at night from my bedroom.

III

Bach is a religion.
Beethoven is a religion.
Brahms is a religion.
Other composers, like Chopin,
or Debussy,
are not a religion,
but are still worth playing.

IV

His mother found the love note I’d given him.  After that, he was forbidden to play with me.  Later, he told me he would sit by his window after school and listen to me practice—the sound of the Steinway carried across the horse corral, carried all the way across the creek and the dirt-road turnout on the other side and up the steep slope to his lonely house on the hill.

V

Who may take the California High School Proficiency Exam?
A person may take the California High School Proficiency Exam only if he or she meets one of the following requirements on the test date:
• He or she is at least 16 years old, or
• He or she has been enrolled in the tenth grade for one academic year or longer


VI

Places where I studied French:
Cal State Northridge (B.A., 1986)
UC Santa Barbara (M.A., 1989)
Princeton University (Ph. D., 1996)
French places I’ve lived in:
Aix-en-Provence
Bordeaux
Paris
Some reasons I love France (partial list):
liberté, égalité, fraternité
François Villon, Victor Hugo, Marcel Proust
“Par ce que c’estoit luy, parce que c’estoit moy.”
Rameau, Berlioz, Poulenc
Le Quai d’Orléans
Jean-Louis’s riz aux poireaux

VII

It was exciting to have a real job.  I could take the bus to the Nordstrom’s in downtown Seattle and buy a sweater, then walk to the Elliot Bay bookstore and buy the new novel I was dying to read in hardcover, and there would still be money in my checking account.  Hardcover!

VIII

“People start doing tai chi when their lives are about to change.”  George Fulginiti-Shakar, Friday morning community tai chi at Malcolm X (Meridian) Park, Washington, DC, April, 1998.

IX

GWM—PROFESSOR, 34, seeking a gay man, 30-ish to 45-ish, who shares some of my passions: classical music, conversation, the natural world, New York, cats, sensual touch, books, sunlight. (Washington Blade, June 1998)

X

You go to my head,
always and forever,
moment to moment.

XI

It was standing on the roof of Emile’s house in Big Sur that brought me to my senses.  It was an early evening in October.  I was alone on the roof, but not alone: so much beauty!  Sea and sky and mountain and trees and horizon in such enormous and elemental proportions I felt all my masks evaporate in the autumn evening light.  I was pierced by the knowledge that I did not want to be a professor of literature any more.  I wanted to come home to California and write my own stories.  The following year, we moved to Monterey, and four years later, to Emile’s house in Big Sur.  Every day I still find ways to come to my senses.

XII

I ♥ MY HUSBAND (homemade sign hoisted at a rally in downtown Monterey protesting the passage of Proposition 8, which took away the rights of California same-sex couples to marry)

XIII

Improvise, from the French improviser, meaning to compose (music, speaking, writing, etc.) on the spur of the moment; to provide for the occasion.