Thursday, May 07, 2009

Country without a name

Cleaning the house today, I thought about the Latina woman who cleans the apartment in New York. I shall refer to her as Juana -- already she goes by a pseudonym in her daily life -- so Juana is her third name. I love her; it's joy when she's near. We embrace. Juana showed me one day what her husband had done to her before they divorced: She pantomimed punching herself, knocking herself backward. She finally sought protection, and he was deported, to Nicaragua, I think, but she didn't say, "Nicaragua." In everyday life, one's country name is not always spoken. Imagine being from out of town that way.

Arthur Miller's penultimate play, "Resurrection Blues," is set in an unnamed Latin American country; during the performance at the Guthrie in 2002, I remembered the black-haired and green-eyed aristocrat from El Salvador or Guatemala who had come to me for "coaching" -- paid bickering about writing was more like it -- whose novel's country-at-war is not named. It was his dime. (I earned $30/hour to Juana's $60/hour.)

One novelist friend says naming "characters" by their real names doesn't matter in the business if the "character" doesn't or can't read in real life.

I clean alone and think of Juana; she misses dust in places, but her arrival each Friday and her cleaning save lives -- literally and spiritually. She talks to me once a week from New York and asks about my mother. She calls me "Ah-nna" after calling me "Lady" for a year.

Yesterday's Google lines: "white women friends," "white female friendship," "women writer friends," "literary friendship," and so on, lead to interracial dating websites and sites about Hawthorne and Milton.

The writing trigger for today is "Scrabble pieces in the driveway."

My trouble is in the group and not usually with doctors -- I was a distinguished student, so doctors are teachers to me. The Hippocratic Oath is a plaque on the wall and a practice. The group's trouble is with the status quo, the establishment, or in the case of AA, with higher powers other than God, with authority.

I realize that to say, "I do not believe in God" is footsteps away from "I do not rely on God" and "God left me."

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