My friend and former student Mark Chambers died on 4/20/15 at 4:20pm. He was 61 and had been living with ALS for three years.

The henna lizard I took forever to choose.

The henna lizard I took forever to choose.

One summer day fourteen years ago, he photographed me as I shaved my head and got a henna tattoo. He also took one of the best portraits of my 3-person family; the head-shaving took place when I was carrying number 4.

Today I am kicking back in his honor, and won’t be available for mental lifting, so I’m sharing our correspondence, edited mostly for repetitions and unimportant details.

If you think you find any unimportant details, you’re wrong.

Mark initiated our Facebook correspondence just after I reported receiving my certificate in writing and directing for the camera from SCC.

June 8, 2009
Hi there!  long time no see.  so, congratulations is in order, huh? what’s next?

June 9, 2009
Really, really long hair.

June 16, 2009

Hi Pearl!  I thought I’d surprise you and write a little letter.

We’ve been in N.Y. for the last week, enjoying a little vacation and here for my sister’s son’s wedding. It was a good affair, the bride and groom are great kids and their friends are too, and all the family was there. Fun times. My dad, 88 now, lives with my sister, as all his sons (myself and my two brothers) have all moved to Washington (Seattle and Olympia). After the wedding we came back to our rented house, and my sister came over, and pleaded with us to take dad back with us. Seems her husband and she would like a break. So we’re going to have the old geezer with us for a while.

Back to Washington tomorrow. I’m hiring insulation and drywall contractors, so I’m looking forward to watching someone else do the work. It’s been such a long slow process and man how wonderful it will be to see the changes of the drywall, the rooms will finally take shape and it might seem, finally, that it might actually someday get done.

(Drywall is probably only the halfway point, but please don’t remind me of that!)

This afternoon we’re going to Olean, to see the old farmstead and my sister’s new house, which is being built below the house my parents used to live in. It’s 90% done, and after it’s finished my sister, her husband and my dad, I guess, plan to move there. We had all thought that dad was welcomed in with them, and it was a revelation that they need a break from him. It’s only reasonable—my sister took care of my cousin after his stroke, as soon as he died my mom’s Alzheimer’s got bad and she moved right into taking care of her, and now she’s got dad. She should have a life of her own too. But it’s pretty hard to say that to dad, he at 88 thinking his daughter would like nothing more than to wait on him.

Sometimes I wonder about myself at that age, who will I lean on. But maybe with global warming that won’t be a problem. If that ain’t it, we’re moving in with you. I assume you knew that already.

Well…have fun! We’re back Thursday, then off again on Sunday to Oda’s family reunion in Billings. Back on June 29. We should get together sometime this summer.  It’s been far too long.  I hope you’re having a great time.

Shoulder length, or down your back?

In 2001 I shaved my head. If I want a divorce, I can do it again and avoid having a conversation.

In 2001 I shaved my head. If I want a divorce, I can do it again and avoid having a conversation.

June 18, 2009

Dear Mark,

Your letter was both a surprise and a delight. I myself am working (gradually) on reviving the art of letter writing, sometimes even using old technologies like paper. Doing that requires finding people’s IRL addresses, though, and at least one of my friends doesn’t know his own. He gets mail at his mother’s house, and his housemate has the bills in her name… and don’t get me started about lacking land lines. I don’t know if I can get used to this century.

Here’s what I can get used to: I look at the story of my life and I can’t figure out what makes me so lucky. How did any of this happen? I am a non sequitur; I was going along fine, living a varialby fulfilling life as a professorial wannabe, and then when I was, I … I still don’t know the words to say all this. I failed? I was thwarted? I made choices that led to other choices that led me out of a place I wasn’t fully comfortable into a place that I am ignorant of? What has happened to me? What have I made happen?

What I know is that I am a filmmaker. I am a writer. I really want to direct another play. I really want to get good at directing. I need to leave some things behind on paper and while there is plenty of time, I need to use it as fully as I can. That leads me to write more these days (I’m aiming for 2 hours daily, with no particular project) and to continue auditioning for plays. The show I’m currently rehearsing in is “Revenge and Sorrow in Thebes,” a contemporary adaptation of Euripides’s “The Bacchae,” which opens the weekend after Independence Day. Rehearsals are just gearing up and I have no idea yet what the production will be like, but that doesn’t mean I wouldn’t be thrilled to have you see the show.

When I think about my aging parents, I focus on their order of survival. Since I have no control over this, it miust be a form of denial. I want my mother to outlive my stepfather because I can’t see keeping in touch with him and I can’t really get out of that relationship—seeing as he’s my children’s Boppa and all. My father is very likely to predecease my stepmother, as his unnamed neurological condition appears to be progressive, and since her recovery from colon cancer, she’s been the picture of health. I wouldn’t balk at taking care of Dad, though I have a weird and uncomfortable feeling that I wouldn’t be trusted to join in—or that I would be excused on account of my emotional delicacy. At least, that’s been my perception around my dad, perhaps fostered by my ultra-competent and helpful younger sister. My father-in-law outlived my mother-in-law and seems destined for a long, alone life.

So hey, now I’m thinking about all this and saying things I normally try to suppress. I’m grateful to you for this. No kidding—feeling more intensely is a treat. For a good catharsis, I recommend the movie “Up,” which on the surface is a kids’ movie but goes beyond most adult-oriented stuff in its approach to the varieties of love.

My hair reaches my shoulders and tickles them when I swim.
Love, Pearl

June 19, 2009
friday, champagne friday.
thanks for your post.  it’s beautiful.
there’s thoughts there, and I could say stuff,
and that will come, yes,
there’s more to write
so much more yes oh yes, I’ll just warn you…now\
too busy now
dinner and champagne and and and
consider yourself acknowledged.

June 21, 2009

Hi Pearl!

Here’s a more sober little letter for you.  But still just bursts of machine gun firewords.  Random I am.

But, as for my last post, and not to say that I didn’t want to encourage Champagne friday for you as you know I should.

I can’t help but wonder: Your hair actually tickles your shoulders under water?  That’s pretty amazing that you could feel that under water, and laugh, which is the natural reaction to tickling.  I can imagine you swimming along and giggling and then a big smile and you just can’t stop laughing as your hair tickles you and you try to tell your hair to stop but you can’t you have to keep swimming!

I read your letter again and ask why you should be so happy?  It isn’t like you.  Torture my dear, is the only path to salvation.

We have agreed in this house to not get to heaven so we can be pretty fat and sloppy here and now.

I would be excused on account of my emotional delicacy.

There’s a beautiful sentence.

We leave at 5 today on a train to Montana for Oda’s family reunion.  We’re gone for the next week.  I love her family as they are all wonderful people so it will be fun to see them.  I’ sure you won’t remember how I used to wax poetic about them, but this was true then as it is now.  Anyways there’s an air here of excited expectancy for the trip about to come.  Zzzz

On Friday I passed my electrical inspection and then before we went to N.Y. I passed gas—that’s right, I farted!—and I passed plumbing.  After the sprinklers then we get to put in insulation and then drywall and then this long long road will take a good turn towards completion and for that I will be so happy!

But that’s in July after we get back and this is now.  It’s a beautiful day here, cool, rained during the night, everything is massive green and special.

I can only say, for you, I hope you have a good day and a good week and enjoy!  Write a novel.  Fuck film making.  write three novels.  Be sure no one will publish them but once the fourth one gets written you’ll only need to write one more.  These should be fast and very sexy you should have at least one good sex scene every 30 pages.  Also they should be written very quickly, like over a couple of weeks just jam them out.  Maybe just 120 pages each.  Very different plots.  This is what I think you should do.

Haven’t seen up yet and if I go to the big screen ever it’s star trek.  Am a boy you know.


June 23, 2009

Dear Mark,

Not sure about the whole novel thing; need more info. Why novels? Why me? Are they more important than scripts? The thing I’ve learned about writing scripts (as opposed to, say, poetry) is you can share them with an actual, literal audience (though at SCC, NOT  a literary audience; most of those kids don’t read, even the actors, who should be reading all the time—which I guess is why They say actors are dumb). Poetry not so much. I used to care more about being famous, and that’s not my current motivation. I just want to do something that can actually affect somebody’s moment. Okay, I probably achieved some of that in teaching, some of the time, and that’s great, but I’m done with that. Now I want to do something that makes somebody say, “I never thought of things that way. This is so true.” I have that experience all the time—though not so much during Star Trek. (More on that soon.) Mostly, it feels strange to say, watching TV. Not Ruykeyser, which I’ve never gotten into. But series dramas, the well-written shows that seem to be exploding all over cable for the past ten years, and some non-cable stuff of quality that sneaks through broadcast TV from time to time. Once I got over my worry that TV was a lowbrow waste of time, I discovered actual art on the tube. Stuff that makes me feel, and makes me think. One reason I’m drawn to acting, though I don’t think it’s at all my strength, is that I see people doing these amazing things in performance, either live or edited, that take my breath away. When I was directing The Woolgatherer (one of the top experiences of my life), I saw actors do things that were inexplicably perfect—and then do something completely different the next time. My favorite moment was one word—”Why?”—asked as perfectly naturally as if the actor had no idea what the answer was, though he’d heard it a hundred times. No straining for effect, just a question. What joy! I want to do that, some time, at least once, and not for the observer actually as much as for myself, to know that one true moment that may not be recreatable. I used to hate that about theater and now I love it. The rarity, the moment, the fullness of the unrepeatable experience.

Novels are great too.
Love, Pearl

June 23, 2009

Here’s what I think, it’s not capital T truth but something close to capital O my Opinion Truth.  Which is all that matters.

I did the UW movie writing program with Geoff Miller and Stewart Stern and what was her name?  A wonderful woman teacher, kind of like you but not so much fun.  It was a good program and we learned to write scripts and big deal.  Then after that I worked with NW Film Forum and produced a movie, and indie.  It was finished and went on to several film festivals and even won awards, which I thought just meant all the other films sucked even more, which I didn’t rally think was possible.

I wanted to write a great script and get it to hollywood and make people laugh and cry and say something that would matter to people.  After all that study and the movie and all the contacts that I made in all that stuff I concluded that you won’t ever get your script made into a movie.  Sure, some movies get made.  No absolutes.  But do some research into movies that get made, and who writes them.  You’ll find almost never, if not never never, do movies written by people in cities other than L.A., people without agents to sell their stuff and people without friends in high places, that just doesn’t happen.  I’m excited if you can refute this but I don’t think you can.  Your script won’t ever get read.  The reason is that they fear your lawsuit if the make anything like your script, so they just won’t read it.  It never happens.  The big studios have people on staff that write movies for a salary.  Those people live in L.A.  (Or they used to when they wrote their first few movies.)  There is an occasional exception, sure.  I can name one.  Sad fact is one in a million.

Also there is that fact that the screenplay is just a tiny little bit of the movie.  It’s just the start.  The director, cinematographer, actors, etc, the budget, all that is so important in the making of the movie.  The writer doesn’t even get invited on the set.

Or you can write your script and get somebody to fund the making of it as an indie, and then if you get enough money you will hire a big star, and then you have a chance.  If you know that person then all this doesn’t matter.  Assuming you don’t:

If you write a book you can actually get people to read it, and even get it published.  That too is a long shot but you can actually get it read by people that want new authors and new books to publish.

Which is where I give you a compliment.  Since you are a very good writer, with a great sense of words, the novel is your baby.  You write beautiful sentences.  Sentences to taste, to look at again and again, to make you think and then smile and then know.  All that can be in a beautiful sentence.  Which is all up to the writer of the novel and doesn’t depend on anybody else.

think about great books.  Still being read and loved years after they are written.

Great movies, 100 million dollar movies, last three or maybe six months and then that is that.  Soon you say   I saw that one.  Can’t remember it but saw it and so if I’m going to the movies I want something new.  How many movie lines can you quote?  And even if you can quote 50, you’re special.

Vs. gosh I can name favorite authors and I look forward to their next book.  There’s so many of them.  And they are loved.  And their words live.  And that could be Pearl too.

As for the sex scenes that is just my advice if you want to get published have some good sauce with the meal.

I’d like very much to read some of your novels.  But you know best.  It is just like me to start writing something and then it’s there and now we both have to think about it.

I’m in montana at Oda’s mom’s getting ready for this weekend’s family reunion in Billings.  It’s about 80 and dry and nice.  Today we went out to Oda’s stepdad’s old farm, saw baby chickens and baby turkeys, and big turkeys and big chickens, plus ponys and calves, plus some big horses, plus a tractor or three.  It’s a wheat farm flat as far as you can see and his grand daughter is living there with husband and four kids and they have all these farm animal pets.

You gotta love it.

June 24, 2009

And another thing…

If your story is so good they’ll want to make a movie out of it.  You’ll get to write your movie then…of course you’ll be so famous and having such fun doing book signings you probably won’t care, but by then it’ll be up to you!


June 28, 2009

I thought I sent something a few days ago, but it’s not in this list, so I’m going to either repeat myself or not. Actually, I am repeating myself, but maybe not to you. In any case, I put Mark Chambers Photography down as a job contact for my latest unemployment claim; I wanted to be a photographer’s assistant, but it turned out you weren’t hiring.

Secondly, and more importantly, when I say “script” I mean both screenplay and stage play. I go back and forth about where I most long to be heard; when I see really good TV series that go on for more than 2 years, what I really want to do is act in them. But I have a strong desire to write plays that can then be seen, or heard, and interpreted by a group of live humans and their director, and all the other creative types involved. The show I’m in rehearsals for right now may or may not be a good show, but I enjoy seeing it take shape.

Of course, what I really want to do is direct, and again, I’m not convinced I have to direct movies—though I had a dream my friend Monica agreed to make a movie with me again (we made a short in 24 hours), and when I remembered it the next day, I cried. (I was already crying, actually, because I heard Fleetwood Mac’s “Never Going Back Again” on the radio, and it reminded me of a very happy, very creative time in my life, and Monica was there…). Today I dragged my family to be extras in an indy movie (for which we were compensated in pizza and sodas), and since I had hours to sit and think, I wondered if I was really up for all the delayed gratification. Theater isn’t like that. Gratification—if it comes—is instantaneous. Plus respectable. Like novels—only that gratification is delayed. Yes, I know you’ll gratify me.

I really wish I could really really act, and once my family finances settle down, or pick up, I’m gonna take more classes, away from the safety of Shoreline. I’m so grateful for everything I’ve gotten at Shoreline, except for a few things, but I need to be uncomfortable at times to grow.

Here’s what I’m working on right now: looking for a conflict between 2 characters based on the notion that what is good for one is bad for the other, and vice versa. Like, he needs her to live and she needs solitude to live. The kind of conflict I seek is not limited to a love story set-up, but that’s a ripe area to work in.

But I could make a movie if I wanted to, for limited budget, using relatively expensive equipment that I plan to invest in. So there.

Love, Pearl

July 9, 2009


I’ve been on the road june 10 to 29 and then back in a whirlwind and couldn’t get a chance to write.  Actually I’ve been at the Bar-O which doesn’t have internet, and with facebook you can’t write it and then send it later, you have to be online to write at all, so there’s my excuses!

How are ya?  I hope alls well.

we did have a wonderful time in N.Y. and also in Montana.  My sister’s kid got hitched, and then we had a great family reunion in Billings.  Someday some photos will follow.

then we got back and I’ve been living up at the Bar-O trying to get the inspeciton for my sprinkler system, which is my last inspection before I can get my framing inspeciton, which is the last inspection before I can get my insulation and then my drywall done.  And you know how important that is.
The nightly news is saying swine flu swine flu, if it didn’t get you it will try again swine flu

there’s an old negro spiritual about that isn’t there?

someday I’ll write some more about what we were talking about the last time you worte.  about that 2 caharacters one is good is bad for the toerh

i you should see me dthrinking tometime.d

my cat has entered this and now there’s nothing to do bout purr.

love, M

July 10, 2009
i you should see me dthrinking too!
Love Pearl

July 24, 2009

Hi Pearl!

I finally got some time to write again.  I’ve been working at the Bar-O, without internet, and staying there much of the week.  But, we passed our sprinkler inspection yesterday! Yahoo.

I’m taking the day off!

I called in for framing on monday, which I’ll probably fail, but that just means there’s something I have to change.

Yahoo! And then of course there will be lots of work with the painting and the trim and the new floors and the new cabinets and the tile in the kitchen and the bathrooms and the entry way slate floor and then all the new doors and then finishing the electrical and hooking up the plumbing fixtures lights and mirrors and then the stereo throughout the house and the tv’s and the surround sound systems and then we moove…whew! So I’ve got just a little to do…but…

No for an aside…when I was a kid I remember getting out of school in june and summer was a special time when you didn’t have to go to school and you could just do whatever you wanted. I grew up on a farm remember so we didn’t have all that town stuff to do we had farm stuff, but that included working in the barn which was fun, and working with the animals, and we had horses so there was time to ride them, and there was the garden and the watermelons, all this I remember in some idyllic sentimentality, like there was a summer of great joy, and I’ve alway wanted to recreate it, or at least I’ve always wanted summer to have that same specialness. When I started working in the summer, well that just sucked and then it wasn’t the same, and it has almost never been the same I guess it can’t be, we can’t go back.

Last year my mother died after many years of slow decline with Alzheimer’s. She died in May, but began her dying in earnest in March, and my whole family had the honor to get around her and share some of that very sad by heartwarming time. We got to say goodbye and we shared a great love with her. After she was gone I declared it the “Summer of Love.” And I tried to share that with everyone last summer -it was all summer of love.

people have wanted to know what’s next? you probably wondered yourself.

this summer, even though I’ve got all this work to do, I’m declaring it “Summer of fun.” Cause it is obvious all that stuff I listed above is going to get done, it is slowly getting done, and this summer is only going to come once. And the weather is beautiful and Obama is President and what’s there to worry about?

This is the SUMMER OF FUN!

I thought I should let you know that because when you see it on the news I want you to remember you heard it here first.

I’ve been thinking about the notion of you writing plays, ignoring my best advice about the novel.  Of course, darling, write some plays.  Go for it!  I’m sure they’ll be tremendous.  Please do have plenty of sex in them as you’ll remember that I wanted plenty of sex in the novel and that advice still stands.

After you write your first Tony winning play and that’s made into a movie then I’ll feel pretty dumb that I told you to write a book.

Fuck!  What did I know?

July 27, 2009


Seems like a read a poem once that went something like this… You may find my words memorable, but I remember reading all about your leaky glass roof, so there.

Steve and I both have the summer off, due to NOBODY EVEN INTERVIEWING HIM, so we are having as much fun as possible. Due to the fabulous generosity of our parents, my kids are doing as many day camps as they can stomach, culminating in this week of wonder: Leo 9-2, Mara 1-4 at the same locale—plus dueling cousin play performances on Friday! Then three weeks of one kid at day camp at a time, interrupted by a “vacation” to Ocean Shores, staying with my mom, her husband, and a bunch of more fun people for three days.

I’m thinking of this as the Time of the Mother. My friend Mark Hershey (also known as Magurshy) came home from Viet Nam to take care of his mother during her cancer treatment. By the time he figured out how sick she was, she died. Literally, the day he met with hospice personnel, they told him hospice wasn’t going to happen, and that night, she died. He’s been an expat for 20 years or so, coming home once or twice a year from whatever Asian country he was teaching English in. Now, he is settling her affairs, probably selling her house, and what place will now smell like home?

So my mom and I went to the memorial, and of course, I thought about our relationship. The week before, we went on a walk and out to lunch, and at some point, she said Magurshy probably wasn’t interested in his mother’s stories (there’s a context; forgive my skipping over). I said, “I’m interested in you!” and she said, “No, you’re not.” Conversation moved on. I was irritated but not sure why so I went away to ponder and practice letting go. Trying to break old patterns and so forth. After the memorial, I said when I said I was interested in her, I meant that I thought about her, talked about her, and wrote about her a lot, so I wasn’t sure what she meant by saying I wasn’t interested in her. She said none of her children were interested in her present life. Maybe she’s right. Maybe when we’re having a conversation, she can say what she’s interested in saying and I can say what I’m interested in saying. Maybe I can show (feign?) greater interest than I have before.

Maybe I’m luckier than people named Mark because I can still hug my mother.
Love, Pearl

July 31, 2009
Prickly Pearl, pretty pixie, pubescence plastered
in the first row center
behind the girl,
pleasant peter pesterer.
in the inkwell pink
up up up the follicle drink
into the brain it weaseled
into her brain the pixie princess
she abandoned hope
of writing great words,
and instead, near sighted her friends, with humor befitting
the clown

Thanks? I’ll be working on my interpretation and exegesis for a while to come…

August 1, 2009

I suppose you were there at home expecting some reasonable attempt at communication, letter like, and instead upon receiving the above attempt at poetic lawbreaking, were disappointed beyond words.  I understand completely.

As a teacher of the subject, you must feel, at least and certainly with respect to me, a failure.

Oh well.  I’m a pretty good plumber and can do all my own electrical, and put in my own sprinkler system, and now those have all been inspected and have passed, as has the framing. I’m so excited about this I thought I could take a minute off from writing you sillyness and report it straight up.  And I hope that makes you happy.

So, are you writing a play then?  You mentioned that was your wish, so I wonder, are you getting it?
I know you’re having the perfect summer of fun yourself and for this I am happy.  I did not know that Steve had lost his job.  Is this new?  I suppose it is of some concern, how much you may not want to say.  I hope he gets something!

My dad was with us for the last 6 weeks, shared between the three sons, Lee in Oly and Jery and myself here in Seattle.  I took him to the airport Thursday.  It’s a relief to have him go, and sad of course since he’s 88 and you never know.  He seems strong but anything can happen.  He’s sad still, so sad that we couldn’t talk really, I just can’t coax anything out of him.  Mom is gone and he’s got nothing to do but wait to die.  And no matter what we did to entertain, he’s just waiting.  That sucks.  We talked about my uncle, dad’s cousin, who’s older, 96 or something, lost his wife to Alz just like dad, and he’s living alone and having fun still.  Writing poetry and stuff.  I tried to get dad to see that as a path, if one has possible 10 years left, one mights well get on with trying to enjoy them.  But that went about like lead filled balloons.

Anyways that mother of yours she’s something different, they’re all different.  I bet you really are interested in her, more than she can possibly know.  Would you make her a character in your play?  Do you have ulterior motives?  Or would you be afraid to make her a character because if she saw if well, goodbye Pearl…

with love,

August 19, 2009
If I’m not mistaken, tag you’re it.
what’s going on out there Pearl Klein?

August 20, 2009

For a few days (4) my excuse was that I’ve been out of town. But that was only 3 nights, so I think I need to move on. Before that, it was the heat, and the fact that not only was human discourse impossible, but I didn’t want to be anywhere near a heat-generating electrical appliance (like a computer). In between was the slicing open of my index finger, which seems to be fine for today’s typing.

Then I went back and reread your last letter, and I am truly sorry to have left such intense and immediate self-exposure just lying out there, unresponded to. I think about your father’s 10 years left, and I have to say, that wouldn’t comfort me either. I can’t get much comfort about having my whole lifetime again in front of me—it’s not yet enough, but I can imagine being widowed and feeling it’s just too much. I’m not being entirely flippant when I suggest that maybe you’ll all be lucky, and your dad will marry a nice lonely widow within a year! I know kids hate their parents to do such a thing, but can you imagine the potential comfort it could provide, to know that you’ll have a companion who has lived through the same long portion of a century you have? So just support your father’s wedding, please. It would mean so much to me.

I returned from my family weekend (Steve & spawn, my brother Danny and his two spawn, my sister’s spawn, Mom & hubby) with a gold star in family relations. Much of my decoration is based on my heroic final hours, in which I avoided getting sucked into my brother and mother’s argument about the word “please” and the phrase “the bottom line,” and the more serious underlying hurt my brother can’t name that keeps him primed for explosion. This culminating act of selfish calm and reflection capped a weekend of letting things go that didn’t matter to me, of talking explicitly to others about my needs and desires, of mediating family decisions, big and small (from who gets what bed to what does each person most want to do today), and of listening to my own reactions. For me, the stages of dealing with a family vacation are: initial excitement, slowly dawning realization of what I’ll be stuck with, review of past parallel experiences with horror, concentrated strategizing for derailing potential flashpoints, getting through it, celebrating successes.

I’m not currently writing a play, but I am writing a lot more letters, and writing down brilliant insights on scraps of paper. More and more, it looks like I’ll be starting some version of a theater company within the next year, but not unless I’m persuaded it can pay for itself. Last week, I kept having encounters both deliberate and semi-accidental with artistic, creative, and inspiring people (see, you and I could get together in public even with a heat wave and a sliced finger, if we were smart enough. In the meantime, print these letters for my posthumous library, please, and I’ll do the same for you). I’ve had several positive auditions this week, but no casting offers. I’m going to keep auditioning for audition practice while I wait to see what happens next with life. Somebody in my household will need an income. See, Steve worked for the bank failure formerly known as WaMu; he got severance, and he’s collecting unemployment so we have been able to hold onto the severance, but he hasn’t gotten bite one on job applications. Some days, this depresses him, but overall (since February), he’s been upbeat, and we’ve been having a fun time. More free activities, more cheap beer drunk at home, more movie downloads, more long walks. Could be so much worse; I know from two prior experiences with him.

Enough for now; I have some sweat equity editing to do. More later! Keep up the momentum!
Love, Pearl

August 21, 2009

Goodness Gracious Pearl, That is a long letter and so beautifully written of course I’ll print it out and keep it.  I’ll have to start a journal where I paste each of your letters.  Someday maybe I’ll get an actual autograph and keep that there.  Then in 2050 it’ll be worth millions!  Incredible idea, thank you.
But what I thought I would say is that it is a long letter, deserves a response, and will get one, but just not now.  It’s friday at 5:37 and not just any day but friday i said and don’t you remember, of course you do, champagne friday.

typing is pretty fast but nothing comes close to the speed of my love,

January 26, 2010

Our Novel: You can be my publisher, my patron, or just my muse. I’m beginning to think you’re onto something with this “Pearl oughta writa novel” thing. Not instead of plays but definitely instead of poetry, which I’ve pretty much kissed off. I hate to say it’s irrelevant, but yeah, I think published, literary poetry has little relevance—though there’s plenty of vital poetry showing up in song and music and hip-hop and out of the mouths of babes (my lovely children, e.g.).

So a novel about one woman, a lone voice in the wilderness of others’ problems, which are all either overly big or overly small compared to hers, which are never just right but always a little off. A bit like Roseanne Roseannadanna, but less comic. More pathetic. I need to write this piece, however long and in what form it ends up, to process my own life. Playback Theater Northwest helps with the processing—and the comparing. Whose hurts are the right size when everyone either thinks theirs are the wrong ones or never even think about it (the tragedy of the unexamined life). (Did I mention I hate stupid people? I try not to say this too often because of the hate part, first off, and how one should try to avoid such a toxic emotion, rather than court it, which is what most of us do, I think, and secondly, because people might get the wrong idea, me being a teacher and all and therefore INVESTED in not describing people this way. But stupidity isn’t about lack of ability; it’s about lack of effort. It’s about not entering the race, and never having loved at all. Stupid is generally omission rather than commission (that’s what evil is for). There’s a line in a Long Winters song: “How stupid would I feel / If fifteen years from now I see her / And she says why didn’t it happen between us, stupid?” The song is entitled “Stupid.”)

Maybe Stupid is the name of the novel. It’s a rumination, nearly philosophical but not quite as boring, on placing intelligence as the highest value, above kindness and generosity. Clearly, the heroine (possibly anti-heroine) will end up alone, embittered, dug into her self-created unhappiness, like a character out of Edith Wharton but punished more harshly for less reason. She must be punished for the sin or pride, and for the sin of soulless, heartless intellectualism.

Now all I need is a plot.
Thanks for your ears.
Love, Pearl

a novel about people failing to assess their own hurt — leo hsu

January 27, 2010
I love leo’s vision
but it’s your novel
stupid is not the title
alone she will never be
now it isn’t possible
except in too small stories
out of favour
and you’re not
heartless, that too
doesn’t describe the situation
for it should be full of heart
in sin of heartfelt thought
i must tell you pearl
it is hard to write
with this cat in my lap
but it’s his lap too
i’m not sure if you need a plot
to start
you need a character
maybe not even the main character
maybe just a voice
that you can let talk, narrating
in your head and on screen
the start of the writing
love to you!