Saturday, March 16, 2019


Two mornings now the cactus wren has woken me, but I'm not complaining because it's Mexican. I'm in Mexico. It's hard to believe that the creature making such a ruckus is a bird, and I haven't actually seen it but imagine it to be chunky and grossly sociable. There's a hardscrabble beauty to everything around here in Baja. Yesterday, I took a walk alone toward the ocean, my footsteps the only sound on the sandy path, and the crash of surf only anticipated. An enormous ridge of sand rises at the end of the path, and you have to wind around a long narrow tide pool, edged with grasses and cacti before you climb up and over the ridge to the deserted beach below, the roar (waves crashing) meeting you. I hadn't yet gotten there, gotten to the point where the sound meets you, when I saw in the distance a pack of dogs, maybe five, come up over the far ridge on the other side of the pool. At first I fancied coyotes, then contemplated wolves and settled on dogs, their ears dark v's, spaces between them and wondered where they were going and whether they were wild and what would I do (dumb, non-dog loving American) if attacked and would anyone hear me if the roar of the Pacific was not yet discernible from bird calls much less screams. The dogs were so in the distance, but I could have sworn that they saw me, that they scattered over the dune, scattered toward me, so I stopped and turned around and walked back, quickly, trying not to look back over my shoulder. Over my head, high up in the sky and then past my line of vision flew a long streak of a bird, black-edged and elegant and alone.

A great frigate, the Bird Photographer told me later.

Frigatebirds can stay up in the air for two months without ever touching the ground.

I'm not sure what I want to say about this, how my mind conjures both threat and wonder but it does and it does again no matter the place.

RIP W.S. Merwin

The Solstice

They say the sun will come back
at midnight
after all
my one love

but we know how the minutes
fly out into
the dark trees
and vanish

like the great 'ohias and the honey creepers
and we know how the weeks
walk into the
shadows at midday

at the thought of the months I reach for your
it is not something
one is supposed
to say

we watch the red birds in the morning
we hope for the quiet
daytime together
the year turns into air

but we are together in the whole night
with the sun still going away
and the year
coming back

photo by Carl Jackson

Friday, March 8, 2019

24 Years Around the Sun

Happy 24th Birthday, Sophie! Happy International Women's Day!

an excerpt from my memoir-in-progress, But Mostly We Bend

How do I write about this day? Fifteen years of staring into the dark pools of her eyes, wondering what she is thinking or what she sees or whether she knows anything or everything. Tracing the thin scar that lies one inch above her right eyebrow, the mark of a fall, long ago when the pool of blood under her head made me draw in my breath and out to her. Tracing the thin ridge of her nose, the faint freckles, the delicate flutter of her breath. The full beautiful lips that form no words but curve, gently, rarely, in a smile. The soft, curly hair and tiny rounded shoulders, the downy hair on the nape of her neck, the straight back and gentle, graceful body. Her hands are like birds, long slender fingers untouched by labor or use, tapered, they make notes in the air, an ethereal musician. How do I write about this day when she is fifteen years old? I love birthdays, my own included, but especially those of my sweet children. For Sophie, the birthday is something different, something more ephemeral, something to be seized, to mark, to feel sorrow and gratitude.

Another year, another year, another year.

Tuesday, March 5, 2019

The Small of the Back

Some Venus

The folds of this ancient goddess' stomach. Her foot's low arch.

A memory:
When I hear the crunch of steps on gravel, outside the apartment, I know it's not him because he is so quiet. I lie there on the bed, wrapped in sheets, waiting. It is warm. The plastic blinds click together as the breeze runs through them. The word rustle. Later, his hand on the small of my back. A hand on the small of the back is a beautiful gesture. Resting there. On the small of the back. 

I wrote this down in my small blue leather notebook:

The new way to live: reading and reading and coming up to take a look around

I don't know if I heard that or thought it myself, but it's a good one.

I'm dipping into Toni Morrison's new book The Source of Self-Regard, and I've just begun Say Nothing by Patrick Radden Keefe. I'm finishing Sigrid Nunez' novel The Friend, and I've loved it. Sigrid was at Hedgebrook with me, finishing that book. She is a lovely person, someone I wish I knew better, especially after reading her book. It's curious and funny and sharp and original. I wish I could finish my book. Maybe I will later this month when I retreat to Mexico with the Bird Photographer. Immediately after I type that, I feel I need to explain. Explain how I can go to Mexico, explain how I can get away. Do I need to explain? I have a free place to stay, a generous gift from a dear friend. Sophie's father and Saint Mirtha will take care of her while I'm gone. I am determined to get away, to take respite when it is offered, by whatever means I can. Yet, I explain. We define ourselves by how much we can suffer, and who am I otherwise?

In other words, I'm reading and reading and coming up to take a look around.

Tuesday, February 26, 2019

Tuesday Night Grumble and Gratitude

I was going to just grumble grumble grumble. Grumble about that silly movie Green Room winning the Oscar for Best Picture (see my very early dis of it here), grumble about the Bird Photographer leaving town for a week, grumble about all the dumb shit and people we have to put up with who are supposed to be running the country, grumble about always feeling like I need to lose some pounds but knowing that I'll probably never lose some pounds, grumble about doing my taxes and figuring out how to pay for not one but two children in college, grumble about still not having a good doctor to take Sophie to for general issues, grumble about the state of my house, how it's overflowing with books unread and the stack of papers that make up my manuscript that will, perhaps never get written. Grumble, grumble, grumble. The Catholic Church, Paul Manafort, The Methodist Church, sex trafficking, the mediocrity of culture, obscenely rich people -- the grumbles are rolling.

You wanted to hear that, right?

Here's the thing. Despite that silly movie winning, there were a host of truly beautiful, mind-blowing films that should have won it, and I'm grateful for having seen those movies and beyond grateful that there are artists in the world with vision and grace and bravery doing their work. Despite the Bird Photographer leaving me to go shoot birds (with a camera not a gun) in another state, I'm grateful to be partnered with such an extraordinarily talented and sweet man who is doing what he loves best, observing beauty, making beauty. Despite the state of Terrible America, I am grateful for investigative reporters that continue doing their work informing us, digging deep, and I'm grateful to have a brain that is willing to dig deep and wrap itself round difficult things and parse them out. Despite needing and wanting to lose weight, to look like I did twenty-five years ago, I'm grateful to have this strong body that on its best days can lift a 75 pound woman, can walk up a hill to an overlook and gaze out on a shining city with snow-capped mountains and blue skies behind and above it. This body can love, and I'm grateful for that, too. Despite the horror of going through my medical expenses and all the other paperwork I need to do, including just facing the numbers, the dismal numbers, I'm grateful that I finally have a great job that I love. Despite the existential threat to my sanity that thinking about BOTH sons off and away from me in the fall, I am so grateful that they are such fantastic beings with their whole lives ahead of them. Plus, they're damn cute. Despite the tedium of finding a doctor for Sophie and the grappling with CTSS (chronic traumatic stress syndrome), I am grateful that she is doing well on her current regimen of CBD and IVIG, and that she has such a terrific aide at her adult day program. In fact, I think you need to see a recent photo of  the girl:

 Here she is contemplating Art.

And here she is contemplating the Bird Photographer:

Despite the cluttered house, the books to be read and the books to write, I am grateful to be surrounded by all of it, all of it, to have so much beauty in my life, so much love, so much for which to be grateful.

The end.

Thursday, February 21, 2019

Whispering Pines

We are having such crystal clear days here, cold and bright and wintry. We are getting rain, too, and earlier this evening there were reports of snow and hail in Malibu. I don't feel clear, though. I feel as if I'm moving around, doing stuff but only half-way, my mind divorced from my body, and I'm hard put to describe the dissociation. I've got the lines to the Band's "Whispering Pines" in my head, the if you find me in a gloom, or catch me in a dream, inside my lonely room, there is no in-between and whispering pines. Whispering. That's what it feels like. My mind and body, whispering. I had a dream the other night that I lay on a crowded city street with people crouched over me, around me. I was being administered some kind of intravenous fluids, yet I felt no pain nor panic but only this insistent loneliness exacerbated by the presence off-screen, off-dream, in one of those city towers of Carl's old girlfriend (!) who was somehow involved in the ministering to me. Yeah. I woke from this dream and felt it like a hangover for hours, the vague, unsettling head fatigue and nausea of it.

Whispering Pines is a song for old love, from an old love, long love, early love, lost love, gone love, forever love and lovers.


Need, like an echo.


An angel came today and did Reiki with Sophie.

Friday, February 15, 2019

Trauma in an Insane World

So yes, the world is broken. We have fallen from the Garden. But this is just a reflection of our own broken relations. Instead of obsessing over the fallen state of the world, it is incumbent upon each of us to take universal responsibility by looking within. It is only from that internal place of healing and strength that we will find the cure for what ails the world.

Zhiwa Woodbury, from Healing Our Trauma Together in an Insane World

When my Lyft pulled up to the intersection near the school where I work, a line of cars blocked the view, but it wasn't hard to see how many police cars were parked alongside the building. I got out of the car and walked toward the corner, my heart beginning to race. Yellow tape blocked the perimeter of the school, and traffic was being diverted. It was Valentine's Day and the one-year anniversary of the Parkland shooting. I spoke to a bystander who told me that there had been a shooting outside the school. It's a Jewish school and synagogue. You don't need to know much more than that to feel dread. I was allowed to go into the school in a private entrance and faced a sort of controlled chaos that I won't soon forget. This is what happened. A self-identified transgendered woman (I am loathe to write that out, but it has context as for the next few hours we spoke of "him," and "the guy" and evidently those hunkered down in the identity wars claim that it's a sign of persecution) had roamed about the school for nearly an hour, surveying it and taking photos and videos with a sophisticated camera. This alarmed the armed security guard, for obvious reasons. It's a Jewish school. All of this was monitored inside by women in the office who can see everything through security cameras. The security guard asked the woman to stop taking photos. They "got into it." The women inside called the police. They called the police several times. The guard went inside the locked gate, an open vestibule that protects the inner, also locked door. We don't know what was going on inside the guard's mind, but eventually he pulled his gun out of the holster  (live-streamed by the woman who, it turns out, is a You Tuber) and cradled the gun, insisting that the woman stop filming the school. We don't know what prompted him to, but he shot the gun toward the sidewalk where it evidently ricocheted and hit the woman in the leg. All of this is on the woman's live stream with narration, including constant profanity. Eventually, the police came. They arrested the security guard and took the woman to the hospital who walked out with what is called "a graze." Meanwhile, back in the school we spent the remaining periods talking through the drama and calming the girls. It was intense. Later, we learned that the woman has a history of provoking incident at government facilities. She claims to be protecting the 1st Amendment. She does all of this live and streams it o YouTube. The language. You Tube. Live-stream. Transgender. Self-identified. Hate. The guard has been charged with committing assault with a deadly weapon.

I know what I think. I think it's insane to carry a gun. I think the belief that you are protecting yourself with a gun is dumb. I think it's unfortunate that the security guard felt he had to fire it. I think it's insane to believe that the YouTubers identity as a transgendered woman should be an issue in this story -- on any side. I think it's terrible to walk around a Jewish school in Los Angeles and live-stream the recording. I think YouTubers are sick and disturbed people, their vocation useless. I think it's horrible that the LAPD didn't respond more quickly and that the security guard felt so much pressure to shoot. I think it's terrible that school shootings and hate crimes are so prevalent, our minds naturally go toward them at the slightest provocation. I think that you couldn't possibly make this shit up, and if you do, you are disturbed.

With all that in mind, I read this amazing article today about trauma and environmental catastrophe.

There is so much good in the world.

Wednesday, February 13, 2019

Amusing Health Insurance Anecdote of the Day: Matchmakers

Old Lady Sophie

Sophie's estimable private health insurance company, Blue Shield of California, has been sending out a number of "helpful" missives in the last month. Today we received a notice that as a PPO member, having a PCP means you have a doctor you can turn to for healthcare advice -- whether it's preventive care, treating common illnesses and injuries, or help determining if you need more specialized care. The letter then politely continues to explain why Sophie received the letter and what else she might find enclosed: a list of members covered under your plan and each member's PCP match. Your PCP match was based on factors such as where you live, your age and your primary language. I scanned the rest of the page's verbiage that I've read quite literally hundreds of times, partly to stave off what generally ends in some nightmarish proposal for rate increases or claim denials, and partly because there's always some fodder in them for the old blog. I was pleasantly surprised to see that this time, Blue Shield of California had indeed made a match for Sophie and the match had a telephone number with an area code quite close to mine. Sophie needs a general internist, so I considered it serendipitous. I have an open heart and the hopes of flocks of birds.

Reader, I looked him up.

This doctor's specialty was GERIATRICS. In fact, he is a prominent geriatrician who has been in practice for over 45 years. I am now wondering what sort of algorithm was used to make this match. The tiny little mother mind™ is thinking all sorts of funny and probably to some of you, sad things, but mostly she's shaking the damn head that holds her that she fell for this gesture of humanity from an American health insurance company.  The last line of the missive was this: We hope that you take advantage of the opportunity to build a lasting relationship with your PCP. 

Yours in good health.

Bless their hearts.

Tuesday, February 12, 2019

A Show About Humanity with Two Guys In Charge

Have ya'll been listening to Jason Lehmbeck's and my podcast? I sure hope you are, but if you're not, you should start today because two of the finest young men on the planet had a discussion with us about what it's like being a sibling and growing up in a family with a child who is medically complex or who has special needs. Confession: it's getting more and more difficult for me to figure out how to write a descriptor -- how to describe my daughter in language that is clear and factual and that doesn't further stigmatize her or others like her. Special needs, medically complex, disabled, differently abled, people first, etc. etc. ad nauseum in these -- what should I can them? -- fraught times.

Anyway, my son Henry and his roommate Toby spoke on Who Lives Like This?! about their lives growing up in families with one or more children with disabilities. They also talked about their feelings, their friendship, their futures and their hopes. They shared their wisdom and experience. I think they will open your minds and break open your hearts.

Here's the link to the show. Please do us a favor and share it far and wide. We hope to continue to build a community, and this show is not just for those affected by disability or medical issues or caregiving. Dare I say it's a show about humanity?

Who Lives Like This?!

Saturday, February 9, 2019


I haven't written here in over a week, and I haven't visited many of your blogs. I have, mainly, been out of sight. I was helping to take care of my uncle who had a bad fall and was recuperating in rehab and then my house. I was glad to do it as he's family and has been very good to us, but man oh man. Caregiver central. Fortunately, my father and cousin Philip came out this past week and helped me with all things caregiving, so I'm feeling a tad more sane. Here's my cousin Philip getting all the love from me. He is really more of a brother to me than cousin as he lived with my family for a number of years when his parents, my aunt and uncle died, and my parents became his guardians.

I sure do love him. I didn't get a good picture of me and my dad together, although I did get a good picture of my dad wearing a man purse, but I won't post it here. I'll tell you this much -- he looks good even in a bright orange cable sweater AND a man purse.

I went to Portland a week ago with my dear writer friend, Tanya Ward Goodman. She sprang me from the confines of home and caregiving, got us a fabulous hotel room and coaxed me to not only do some writing of the goddamn book but to walk over 12,000 steps on both days we were there! We went to see the glorious Pam Houston, Lidia Yuknavitch and Cheryl Strayed celebrate the recent publication of Pam's new memoir Deep Creek: Finding Hope in the High Country. I haven't yet read it, but I heard her read parts of it, and it sounds beyond beautiful.

I was called up on stage that night with Pam, not because I'm a writer or because I am about to finish my goddamn book, or even because she knows me, but because she was playing Truth or Dare with Cheryl and Lidia, and one of the truths was that she was in a sorority, and one of the dares was for her to sing a sorority song. She was up on stage and turned to the audience to ask whether anyone else was in this particular sorority, and I don't know what came over me, but I revealed that I was (Reader, you might not be aware that I was in a sorority, and it's not something that I talk about nor will I, but even though it's sort of embarrassing in this day and age, I actually found beautiful lifelong friendships and had a smattering of fun back in the day -- plus, you know, Pam Houston was one, too), and there was an enormous roar in the place and I fainted dead away. Just kidding. I raised my hand, and because this was in PORTLAND and everyone there was a Lidia, Pam or Cheryl acolyte, no one else in the entire place (and there were hundreds of women in there) owned up to being in this particular sorority, EXCEPT FOR YOURS TRULY. So, yeah. Pam called me up on stage, and everyone around me yelled at me to GO! so I went. Pam sang and I pretended to sing one of our sorority's stupid songs, and it was actually kind of fun if you like singing with a famous author in front of two other famous authors and an auditorium full of Portlanders. Here's the still photo from the video that Tanya took:

And here I've gone and revealed it to more people. Holy shitoly. Now you know everything about me. Just so you won't hate me, here's a photo of me back in the day at a party. I was not drunk but I was wearing a wig for some reason, and that blue shirt is actually a dress that I tucked into a pair of tuxedo pants. It was 1983, for god's sake, and I was thin.


Here's another one.

How about that clown collar? Underneath was a black velvet dress with a jewel neck. The collar buttoned on. A few drinks later, here I am:

So, there you go, Reader. I showed you what I was doing back last week and then way, way back to when.

What's happening with you?

Thursday, January 31, 2019

What the Creature Read

I haven't really looked at myself in a long time, but I think this is what I look like to my students, especially today when I sort of lit into them about rudeness and respect and the difficulty of teaching when they're walking around making cup o'noodles and chatting to one another and blurting out questions completely unrelated to the subject I'm talking about. I'm not kidding about the cup o'noodles. I think they got the message, though, because they got really, really quiet and apologized and then sang me some kind of song which was kind of embarrassing, but, damn, they're sweet and I just love my new job. I had them do this presentation in small groups about What the Creature Read, and each presentation was so original and interesting and funny and intelligent, that all my frustration melted away. If you're interested, we are finishing up a unit on Mary Shelley's Frankenstein, and since the theme I chose to dwell upon was empathy in the novel, and I found a really good curriculum on the world wide webs, the project was for each group to review a famous novel or work of literature that the Creature read when he found a bunch of books in a bag outside the home where he was staying. They had to answer a series of questions about why Shelley had chosen for the Creature to read those books and think critically about all of it. (Lord the whole phrase critical thinking!) The books Mary Shelley had him read included Milton's Paradise Lost, Goethe's Young Werther and Plutarch's Lives, and in lieu of my students reading all of those, I printed out some summaries and they went from there. If you're interested, The Creature basically learned from these books how to feel and how to live, so my students worked in groups and placed themselves into the Creature's shoes. They were incredibly creative, down to re-titling the books themselves, which was part of the assignment. For Paradise Lost, they changed it to Garden Gone Wrong. The Sorrows of Young Werther became The Book of Sad Love. One group did a silly play that was quite funny and each group made astounding drawings.

I hope it's okay that I put this up on the old blog. I am filled with delight over these girls when I'm not wildly distracted by their chattiness and unruliness and devotion to cup o'noodles. I'm looking for book selections for the 3rd term for the 12th grade -- thinking of Virginia Woolf perhaps, but which one? For the 11th grade, I'm thinking of Song of the Lark by Willa Cather. It's so profoundly American and has lots of music in it to break up the dryness. What do you think? Any ideas? Remember that I have massive restrictions on what I can teach -- no sex or romance or extreme violence or teenage pregnancy or suicide or mutilation or abuse or or or or or or.

The Bird-Catcher

When fighting time is on, I go
With clap-net and decoy
A-fowling after goldfinches
And other birds of joy;

I lurk among the thickets of
The Heart where they are bred,
And catch the twittering beauties as
They fly into my Head

Ralph Hodgson, b. 1879, Northumberland 

Thank you, dear Andrea, for sending me this poem.

Sunday, January 27, 2019

Dispatch from Los Angeles, via Holland and Italy*

dedicated to my comrades, particularly Sandra

When my friends and family check in with me of late, I reply with the above Bitmoji. Those of you who live on another, better planet, or who don't own a smart phone, or who disdain pictorial representations of oneself or, worse, words, who bemoan the dwindling use of language and/or have no idea what a Bitmoji is or even an app, should stop reading now. I wish I lived on another planet, wish I didn't own a smart phone, disdain pictorial representations of myself and, worse, of words, and I bemoan the dwindling use of language, but I do love the Bitmoji app and find endless delight finding exact representations of myself thinking certain thoughts, having certain emotions and otherwise living. 

It's going. My uncle is recovering very well here at the house, and Sophie is on her second day of her sixth month of intravenous immunoglobulin infusions. I have successfully navigated the World of Sub-Sub Acute Rehab by scheduling my uncle's health aide, bathing, OT and PT home health visits. The highlight of my week was when I paid $1.69 for his medication which filled my tiny little mother mind™with wonder, as you can imagine.

If you can't imagine, I wondered what our lives might have been like if Sophie's medications cost $1.69 over the years, as opposed to at least $70 after countless hours of wrangling and upwards of $500 when the wrangling doesn't work. All thinking by the tiny little mother mind™ is rhetorical, of course. Socialized medicine works effectively, I guess, for some of the country but could, apparently, be disastrous for the rest of us (I don't want no government coming between me and my doctor!), so we continue to grease the wheels of capitalism, the free market and Big Pharma in the labyrinthine corridors of the greatest country on earth's medical system, Brazil.

What else?

Speaking of capitalization, I've CAPITALIZED on the increased caregiver duties by increasing my meditation practice which means at this point that I've started meditating off and on all day long. Reader, I can already feel those neurons in my brain firing off peace as opposed to chaos.

The trick (for me) is to be truly mindful of even the shitty stuff, to acknowledge it in whatever way you need, to dwell on it, to muck around in it, to weep profusely over it, to wallow in it and to take your time doing it. It's only then that it rolls off your back, maybe even disappears. I say trick because, let's face it -- I generally feel completely unhinged and at the edge of consciousness, especially when I learn at 7:15 in the morning that Saint Mirtha will not be coming in, that I won't be able to attend my friend Tanya's screening, that the IVIG nurse is going to be early and -- well -- I won't bore you.

So, that's the dispatch from Los Angeles. The upcoming week includes continued caregiver duties on two fronts but also more teaching of English literature, a Clippers game with my love and, hopefully, a trip to Portland next weekend, planned for months.

* This title is a nod to those who were subjected in the early days of their child's disability or diagnosis to the treacly treatise by a certain writer who compared the journey of special needs parent-dom to landing in Holland instead of Italy. Don't ask.

Sunday, January 20, 2019

Self Subversion

My uncle has come to stay with us for a while to further recover from a head injury he suffered several weeks ago after a fall. He's been in a rehab facility in the deep dark valley, and yesterday I went to pick him up. I'd like to say that it all went smoothly, that the medical system worked well, that all family members participated, that I never once lost my cool or spoke in the tone of voice I have acquired, somehow, despite myself, that lies somewhere between Stepford Caregiver cheerful and a dripping condescension. I'd like to say that getting lost in the facility and finding myself for a few minutes wandering through several rooms filled with disabled adults who milled about muttering or sat staring and nodding was at the very least, familiar.  Except that the medical system did not work well, all family members have not participated, I lost my cool a couple of times, and my tone of voice didn't just drip but splattered with irritation. And my wander through the halls of adult institutionalization resulted in a bout of sadness about nine hours later that I told Carl was something that just happens, sometimes, this wave of emotion that is best dealt with by assuming a kind of dead man's float, the better to not be drowned. The morning light brought so much relief it felt nearly funny, and I made blueberry muffins that I ate with the three men (one old, one in the middle and one young), along with pancetta that I scrambled with eggs. I cut up two blood oranges, and we ripped the flesh from the rind.

As the hours tick by and the caregiving continues, I think of self-regard, of self-care, of the illusion of the self.

Question: What do you have to look out for? 
Answer: Resentment. 

Resentment. If I could give it a shape, it'd be the infinity symbol or something impossible. If I could give it a color,  I think of something burnt red. Like the gray of embers with bursts of light. The word implacable. Women. Keeping our mouths shut. Resentment is not to be mistaken for anger which is the open mouth or red lips drawn into a smile.

Tuesday, January 15, 2019

Head Swimming with Wants

We're getting rain here in Los Angeles -- buckets and buckets of rain -- and the most beautiful winter sunsets. That picture above was taken on Saturday in Santa Monica. Carl and I were on the beach, and that's facing east, away from the ocean.

Turn around.

Today marked the first day of the second week of my new job teaching English to a group of eleventh and twelfth grade girls. I have three classes, two groups of eleventh graders and one group of twelfth. Each class is unique and one is particularly challenging. Anger and resistance make the air crackle in that room. Heads swim with wants. Take notes, I think. Keep taking notes. I have a mind and a memory like a steel trap, and these girls will join all the other hostages that wander the labyrinthine paths.

I get this newsletter every day from The New York Times newspaper cooking section. It's called What to Cook Right Now. I love it so much -- the recipes, the commentary, the links. Today I learned that it's the writer John Dos Passos' birthday (1896). I read nearly everything he wrote back in the last century, in my early twenties. I probably read him lying on a bed somewhere, maybe in the apartment where I lived with my first love, out in the country in Chapel Hill, a mattress on the floor at the top of the stairs, sandwiched between two walls and a window at the foot, a bookcase stuffed with used paperbacks. I might have been chewing on some Twizzlers when I read Dos Passos, red plastic mingling with brown must. Dos Passos was a hostage, though, wandering around my mind, lost down some dark corridor, until I read about him today.

Teaching these girls, doing the research for lesson plans, revisiting stories and poetry -- it's all packed in there, in my mind, and it seems that there's no end to what one can stuff into it. So, yeah. Take notes, I think. Keep taking notes.

Here's a passage from The 42nd Parallel that Sam Sifton, the guy from the NY Times newsletter thinks describes the writer's life. I agree.

The young man walks by himself, fast but not fast enough, far but not far enough (faces slide out of sight, talk trails into tattered scraps, footsteps tap fainter in alleys); he must catch the last subway, the streetcar, the bus, run up the gangplanks of all the steamboats, register at all the hotels, work in the cities, answer the want ads, learn the trades, take up the jobs, live in all the boarding houses, sleep in all the beds. One bed is not enough, one job is not enough, one life is not enough. At night, head swimming with wants, he walks by himself alone.


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