What was. What is. What happened in between.

The chair is uncomfortable as I type – perhaps it’s because my last essay dates back to June of 2014 or, more likely, because a lot has been nesting inside.

The other day I read an article about endorheic basins (from the Ancient Greek endon, meaning “within” and rhein, meaning “to flow”) and their hydrologic cycle. I don’t know why the Caspian Sea had come to mind, but I had suddenly grown curious about their drainage system.

The more I read about the great importance of these lakes – regardless of the lower quality of their water – the more I felt like one. Just like them I  have been retaining emotions and life experiences in lieu of water but yet allowed no outflow other than slow evaporation – humorous name for nervous breakdown. I have been taking notes and started writing the new book. But I did not purge the emotional and belligerent surplus nonetheless. I forgot about honest writing. 

My loving husband daily pays the high price for a life with me.

alice carbone benmont tench coffee with alice
Photo by Julia Wick

Oh, right, I still have not put this down in black and white: Benmont and I got married on February 19th. It was the perfect day on Leo Carrillo State Beach, in Malibu, with only our best friends, the ocean and Italian gelato. The most beautiful day of my life.

I am officially Alice Carbone Tench (even though Google sadly left the ‘Carbone’ out.)

I decided to write in order to break the silence and introduce Season 2 of Coffee with Alice the podcast, an entirely new bi-monthly show that will primarily be focused on the guests. My introductions will be brief from now on – the approach thereupon more direct.

At times, writing-meditative state seems to easily converge with my eternally discontent, apathetic one; I constantly doubt my practice of the first and despise the umpteenth fall into the pits of the second.

I pause to analyze my current use of punctuation; I read this piece out loud. It sounds wrenched, so I abandon the idea of harmonic flow, for today. I take a break at every line – approximately fifteen words. I need it to let go of the tension, relax my shoulders and touch base with my many blessings, with what I’m allowed to do at this desk.

It’s twelve-noon on Thursday, March 5th. I’m still in my white bathrobe and my hands are cold.

Sit with me, please, on this uncomfortable chair. You are witnessing my attempt at rehabilitating the swift progression of letters, sentences and paragraphs on the keyboard. You are bearing witness to my return to writing and to the vulnerability of being me – searching for answers to questions I have grown to distrust.

I feel a newcomer all over again, to the game of life and writing altogether.  Lately, obstacles, poor health and my unwillingness to accept what I cannot change have given way to livid anger, a caustic one that I believed gone. So I seem to be consciously letting fury control my actions and  distract me from the beauty of nature and human beings I’m surrounded by, on a daily basis.

I look out the window – facing north – and I see the Santa Susana Mountains, infinite horizon on my right, clear from clouds and only partially covered by a lush, robust Ficus Benjamina. My future is not much different on paper and yet I’m unable to trust it. I live in fear.

“Who am I fighting?” I ask myself. Why comes later – too much thinking doesn’t help my migraines. 

The wind gently blows the fragrance of a premature spring, and an off-white butterfly rests on a thin, bare branch. I wish I could feel light of spirit and elegant as the butterfly seems to be – carried only by her tireless paper wings.

I’ve always found the life of butterflies fascinating – relatively short, intensely lived and seemingly immune to the physical signs of burden, exhaustion or regret.

Speaking of regret, I’m glad I continued to record the podcast.

In the past three months, many artists and friends came over to be interviewed. Among them, Jackson Browne, Sara Watkins, Blake Mills, Susanna Hoffs, Gaby Moreno and Women of The World featuring Benmont Tench and Dominique Arciero,  just to name the opening acts of this entirely new Coffee with Alice.

We laughed and cried. We talked about art, love, beginnings and ends; we sang and took selfies. We also paid homage, when necessary. We enjoyed the rhythmical interchange of words and silence, of teaching and learning. I practiced patience and humility. I tried to quit the show but never went for the easy way out. Above all, I felt grateful and very lucky. 

It’s been taking me an entire day to write this essay. I asked myself why of such a long writing hiatus – that coincided with the rampant awakening of old fears and ideas.

Truth is, I had temporarily abandoned the writing analysis whilst continuing the moral quest. I found out that my violent anger attacks have been affecting me since the early childhood; I admitted that I’d rather be angry than sad and understood that letting love in is, for me, the difficult part of marriage.

I accumulated notions and emotions without processing them – explanation for the surplus with which I opened this column.

I am very proud of how Season 2 of Coffee with Alice has evolved. I am very grateful to those who said yes and came over as well as to my husband for never letting me quit, patiently walking the darkness through, with me.

I can’t wait to share my work with you. Season 2 will start with Blake Mills, very soon.

You can listen to Season 1 HERE. (Moby, Benmont Tench, Mike Campbell, Kate Micucci, Marc Maron, Sean Watkins, Janet Fitch, Jerry Stahl, Phil Hendrie, Mark Ebner, Anna David, Bill Pullman, Sharon Robinson and many more.)
For The Sex Girl, book launch and tour: HERE.

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