Two months ago, Sandra Cisneros came to speak at Carleton. I sat in the second row, took out a notebook, and didn’t stop writing until she stepped off the podium. Well, that’s not true. At one point I raised my hand and asked her a question. She asked me my name. She answered (looking at me! talking to me!) and I waited until she had broken eye contact to write down what she was saying. Here’s what I have in my notebook:
Oct. 8, Friday 2010
Convo: Sandra Cisneros talk
Sandra is wearing a blue pantsuit with white polka dots, like something my grandma would wear. She has shoulder length, dark hair with reddish brown tints. She has huge thick glasses that take up a quarter of her face. Her nose sticks out like a beak, and her lipstick is the same color of her hair and glasses, a dark wine red. It’s hard to tell her eyes through the glasses. I think her voice will be low and craggly.
Oh my gosh it’s not, it’s annoying like Karen from Will and Grace.
She says she’s wearing her pajamas and talking about talking and listening to trees. She’s using her birthday party to raise money for the screenplay for The House on Mango Street.
-Day of the Dead, “the people who crossed over are very present”
“maybe a more accurate translation of mija is ‘I love you'”
– relearning superstition
She makes art! (?)
“When you are grieving, making anything will nourish your spirit, whether it is a cupcake or a poem. Making art is like going to a monastery and reflecting.”
“… a language for the things we cannot say”
“When you die, it’s like the library of Alexandria burning — unless you write these stories. Write from the place that’s only yours. Write 10 things only you know. Write 10 things you wish you could forget.”
She says she’s Buddhist now.
“If you’re thinking about who’s going to read, you can’t write. The rules are:
1. Tell the truth
2. Don’t hurt anyone
She told us how she meditates. She imagines the Teletubbies sun-baby.
at this point I raised my hand and asked something.
She’s looking at me she’s looking at me she’s saying “… trust your heart (she’s touching her heart), because anything that comes from there will be good. You have to forget your ego. You have to forget your fear.”
I can’t remember if she answered my question. But I remember she seemed very spacey and weird. Like the kind of woman who sells you snake oil instead of tylenol for your cold. No, but I felt lucky being there because someone who says pretty things and writes pretty things makes you believe the world is a pretty place.