My name is Isabel. I'm an artist and activist living in a small apartment in the city, always on my way back to Mexico. My work is for those crossing thresholds: sex and unlocked voices, birth and end of life care, artists and writers coming home to the body. I love coffee consumption, and the late night sounds of my alley cat, the quiet of solitude, the call of wild devotion, and heat. I love writing and reading lists, and letters. And I wanted a home to keep them in. So I decided to begin keeping them here.
- When my father was speaking, before he got to the stories, he would often begin by saying, “so there are three things.” It felt like a comfort, to know there was a container for all the things, a place where they belonged. It felt like a map, the way to find how things connect. Maybe this is where it began for me.
- I think I learned to write, before I learned to speak out loud.
- Some things I have written in my thirty-eight years: articles that i cared about, articles that paid the rent, recipes, years of journals that I then shredded and burned, essays which were published in books and journals, many more essays which were not, notebooks of outlines and ideas, a short story, post it notes to myself, resumes for imaginary jobs for which I might want to apply, a 365 page thesis, personal narrative, countless sentences and paragraphs that I wrote inside my head while driving and then never put down on paper, a single chapter of a romance novel.
- I have had times in my life when I wrote religiously, hours a day of filling pages, finding things, meeting deadlines, revising drafts, staying up late at night and waking up before morning. These times made me so incredibly happy. And I have also had times in my life when I did none of this. And months turned into years, and I would miss the writing then, but my life was filled with other things that needed my attention and so this is what I did. And this was good too, because not everything can or should be put into words.
- But what has always remained, is writing lists and letters. Daily. They are my constant.
- Lists. Because the order of it, categories and groupings and the sequence of numbers, is more beautiful to me than any poetry. Because they are how I tell time, and find the lost things, and make records of what mattered. Because they help me remember things: what comes next, what to pack, the location of the best donuts shops, the way I felt when I first met him. They give me a trail I can follow back home, because to write a list is to notice where all the things connect. They take all the scraps and parts and pieces, and stitch them together into meaning.
- Letters. Because writing to something is often more interesting than writing about something. I write them to places, memories, objects, experiences, and sometimes to people. Because no matter how much I plan, life seems to have its own ideas as to what and when and how, and does not seem all that interested in consulting with me first. All these things happen, and they are startling, and quiet, and sometimes shitty, and often kind. Writing letters is how I talk back, and take note, and say thank you.
(If you want to learn more about me, my writing,
or want to join the circus and work together, you can find me here.)