Thursday, September 30, 2010

So much for who's who at the turn of the century

Trash can in Los Angeles High School parking lot

The Willow Manor Ball

This post is going to seem very strange, perhaps even a tad loony and maybe you'll just roll your eyes and think that I've got entirely too much time on my hands, but I'm off to a ball at Willow's Manor. Yes, I've been invited  to attend this annual event of romance, intrigue and dancing -- and I've fallen completely under Willow's beauty and her manor's spell.

I was told to find my date, but my date found me. Mr. Yeats, when he heard of the ball, wrote me an exquisite poem and sent it to me with quite an impassioned request to allow him to escort me. Here's the poem, although typing it out on a blog doesn't do justice to its poignancy and deeply personal intent, and you must, you really must, read it aloud:

Had I the heavens' embroidered cloths,
Enwrought with golden and silver light,
The blue and the dim and the dark cloths
Of night and light and the half-light,
I would spread the cloths under your feet:
But I, being poor, have only my dreams;
I have spread my dreams under your feet;
Tread softly because you tread on my dreams.

With that sort of stringing together of the most gorgeous words, how could I refuse him (although I'd had my sights set on Michael Ondaatje -- has there ever been a male writer whose understanding of women is more evident in words than Michael's?)? 

Mr. Yeats sent, with the poem, an antique dance card similar to the one that Willow showed us this week, and on every line were the initials W.B. Dear William. Here's the little bag in which I'll be carrying my dance card and pencil:

Attached to the card, too, was this sweet comment:

O body swayed to music, O brightening glance,
How can we know the dancer from the dance?

And I will be dancing, all night with Mr. Yeats and perhaps he'll leave me for a brief time, as I know he pines for dear Ms. Gonne, who has broken his heart so many times, but my heart strays, too -- I'll see my old and dearest, most morose friend, Mr. Dostoevsky, sitting over in the corner because he rarely dances,  

and he'll kindly enquire about my daughter Sophie, empathetic to her struggles with epilepsy. Dear William Carlos Williams (asphodel, that greeny flower), ever the pediatrician, despite his cerebral poetry, will probably join our brilliant conversation about the strange and wonderful, sometimes terrible, workings of the brain.

So, too, will I make a point to have a few words and perhaps some secret laughs with the dashing Marcello (my god, he always looks good) --

and Virginia and I yes Virginia Woolf and I yes will steal away perhaps outside in the air with flowers in our arms and a line between our eyebrows and knit we will we'll knit our eyebrows expressing how perfect how perfectly perfect it is to be amongst those we love those we admire but how tiresome it must get sometimes the wear, the tear the tear not of the eye but of the heart 

When we come back, we'll pass one of Willow's glorious rooms, I believe a parlor, and see Richard Burton and Elizabeth Taylor, perhaps having had a bit too much to drink and up to their old hijinks, but, really, aren't they truly the most glamorous couple that ever was?

Which reminds me that I haven't even described my dress -- imagine Anita Ekberg in all her voluptuous glory

with very dark hair. 

That would be me. 

Mr. Yeats will be dressed in the appropriate poetic style -- a bit mussed, a bit melancholy, belying his fiery passion.

Please stop by, or stare through the windows, if you'd like --
Now, I'm off to the Ball!

Click HERE to see the Manor and the gorgeous host!

Wednesday, September 29, 2010

What I Learned Today

Each Wednesday I get up extra early, get dressed (as opposed to stay in pajamas and drive carpool or take care of Sophie) and put on make-up, grab my giant white plastic binder and attend a day of LEND (Leadership Education in Neurodevelopmental Disabilities) where I am a Fellow in training. Each Wednesday, I hope to highlight something particularly interesting that I've learned.

What I learned today:

The Civil Rights Act, passed in 1964, as we all know was originally based on race, but the heart of the Civil Rights Act is Title II which also pertains to people with disabilities. Title II:

1. prohibits discrimination of individuals using public accommodations, such as hotels and lunch counters.

The Act provides a broad framework against which other marginalized and disenfranchised groups advocate for equal access and treatment. (Women and  more recently, the gay, lesbian, bisexual and transgender population, have utilized the Civil Rights Act of 1964 to frame their arguments to remedy violations of their rights to equal treatment.)

The Fourteenth Amendment of the U.S. Constitution does not specifically protect women, LGBT individuals, nor individuals with disabilities.

Examples of the Civil Rights Laws and Judgements applied to people with disabilities:

1. Brown vs. Board of Education (1954)
2. Separate is NOT equal
3. The impetus for Education for All Handicapped Children Act (IDEA) -- inclusion/least protective environment is based on that law.

Next time you hear someone slander the Civil Rights Act of 1964, plug up your ears and start humming.

Tuesday, September 28, 2010

Days Away from Change

I've seen this video posted in a lot of places of late, and it makes me tear up a bit every time I watch it. It's not the music, although that helps tweak the sentiments; it's the faces of the women -- their variety and beauty and strength as they express If you could go back to right before you had your first child, what would you tell yourself?

There isn't that much difference between what I'd say about Sophie and what I'd say about Henry or Oliver. But there is a difference, and I think navigating and walking this path that we're on and expressing that might be helpful to those who are new to the path.

 Here's what I want to do. I want to make a video like this for mothers and fathers who have children with disabilities, special needs, broken children -- whatever you want to call them -- children who are or have been sick, who live, who have lived, who live in our hearts. 

If you could go back to right before you had that child, or right before he or she was diagnosed, what would you tell yourself?

Please help me to make this video. If you want to participate, make a poster of your answer and have someone take your picture holding the poster. Email me the photo -- elsophie AT gmail DOT com. I will make the video -- I live in Hollywood, folks! I know people!

Let's do it.

Banned Books Week

Did you know that September 25th marked the beginning of Banned Books Week? In commemoration of the week, you can visit your local library and tell a librarian how much you love him or her; you can visit your local independent bookstore, purchase a banned book and tell them how much you love them or just pick up a banned book that you might own and fondle it lovingly.

I'm staring, right now, at my copy of Maurice Sendak's  In the Night Kitchen, stunned that it was banned. I read it near nightly to both my sons when they were small, and we all delighted, positively DELIGHTED  in the plight of the boy dreaming, falling through space, losing his clothes, all in the night kitchen.

I've been striving for moderation of late, and tolerance, especially given the anxiety provoked by the trolls (anxiety, of course, I invited, and which was added to my already considerable anxiety over things way more important than politics), but I have to say that the whole banned books thing, throughout history, is just plain bullshit.

What are your favorite banned books?

Monday, September 27, 2010


Someone found my camera hanging on a chair at the table and contacted me! 

I am so glad!

(When I googled the words "vintage joy," looking for one of those old-time drawings/photos to use on this post, I came upon this fantastic still of the 1964 movie Joy House with Alain Delon and Jane Fonda -- click on it for the ultimate in viewing pleasure, thanks to the Internets.)

The Helper Syndrome

I posted a few light words about working for non-profit foundations over at Mama Manifesto and then weirdly  read these words this morning by Ezra Bayda:

Often our efforts, even for a good cause, are made in the service of our desires for comfort, security,and appreciation. Such efforts are still self-centered because we’re trying to make life conform to our picture of how it ought to be. It’s only by seeing through this self—the self that creates and sustains our repeating patterns—that we can move toward a more life-centered way of living.

You can read the light stuff HERE.

You can read Ezra Bayda HERE.

I'd love to start a discussion about non-profit organizations, the mechanics and need or otherwise of fundraising, what your experiences and thoughts are.

Sunday, September 26, 2010

I'm thinking about

The more we persist in the misunderstanding of the phenomenon of life, the more we analyze it out into strange finalities and complex purposes of our own, the more we involve ourselves in sadness, absurdity and despair.
Thomas Merton

I could just cry

I was all ready to upload my photos from yesterday onto my computer -- photos from the music benefit that I attended yesterday, when I realized that I forgot my camera at the giant Westin Hotel Long Beach in a banquet room where I sat and ate dinner last night with the Epilepsy Foundation of America.

I called the hotel this morning and spoke with the director of housekeeping and she told me that no one had turned the camera in. I then left a message on the director of banquets' answering machine with my name and number, but I haven't heard back.

I could just cry.

Saturday, September 25, 2010

Keep Me in the Music

If you live nearby, come on over to The Global Cafe in Sherman Oaks, buy an inexpensive ticket and hear some great music. Touched by an Angel is raising money to keep children with disabilities in music therapy. I am reading my essay from the anthology My Baby Rides the Short Bus, The Husband is cooking some incredible food, and from what I understand, the music represented will be outstanding!

See you there!

He's rude, but...

New Rule: The next rich person who publicly complains about being vilified by the Obama administration must be publicly vilified by the Obama administration. It’s so hard for one person to tell another person what constitutes being “rich”, or what tax rate is “too much.” But I’ve done some math that indicates that, considering the hole this country is in, if you are earning more than a million dollars a year and are complaining about a 3.6% tax increase, then you are by definition a greedy asshole.

Bill Maher


This guy's not rude, but he is interesting:

Yet if you want to find real political rage — the kind of rage that makes people compare President Obama to Hitler, or accuse him of treason — you won’t find it among these suffering Americans. You’ll find it instead among the very privileged, people who don’t have to worry about losing their jobs, their homes, or their health insurance, but who are outraged, outraged, at the thought of paying modestly higher taxes.

Paul Krugman (for the whole op-ed, click HERE)

Public Service Announcement

I was involved a while back in presenting my "story" to a group called Women in Film. I think I wrote a post about it somewhere, but I just don't remember. What happened is that the Epilepsy Foundation of Greater Los Angeles, of which I serve on the board, won a free public service announcement from this group of incredible female filmmakers. The PSA will air nationally during November, which is National Epilepsy Month, so please be on the look-out for it if you watch television. Hopefully, I'll be able to post it here on the blog as well.

The Epilepsy Foundation of America is having a big shindig this weekend in Long Beach, and as their hosts, our affiliate used the occasion to "launch" the now-completed PSA.


It's the most amazing, intense commercial I think I've ever seen. The woman who made it, Katie Davison, introduced it and thanked yours truly for my story, for making her cry and for inspiring her. Sophie and I were at the back of the room, and I cried a little at being thanked. I cried a little more when I watched the rough cut of the advertisement and then a little more when everyone in the crowd stood up and applauded Katie and all the people who worked on it.

During all the hoopla, Sophie had a really big seizure. No one really noticed (and I wanted it that way) but I was tempted for a second to shout out Everyone turn around and look! THIS! This is what it is. You don't need a PSA because you can see this!

But I didn't. I took Sophie and sort of slid out of the room. We got on the highway a few minutes later and sped back toward LA. I cried a lot more, then.

Friday, September 24, 2010

High School

So, I told you last week that I pulled Sophie from the school where she was enrolled for various reasons. I'm not going to write anything about the reasons until I have her new IEP (which is next week). And for those of you who know about these things, yes, I have to have ANOTHER IEP at the "old new school" to transfer Sophie into her "new new school" even though she attended the "old new school" for about eight total hours last week. I have to sit down at the table with her "old new teacher" who will rewrite the goals (the exact same goals, mind you) onto another IEP, authorizing the switch to the new new school, our home school. Then I have to take that new document over to the new new school, and go through enrollment there. Hopefully, Sophie  will enter the new new school next week.

That's the way the cookie crumbles, as we used to say.

In the meantime, I thought I'd better go over to the new new school and pick up the new enrollment packet because the forms are numerous and there's a lot of filling out.

Let's kill two birds with one stone, I thought.

So yesterday, I drove over to the new new school and went inside. I picked up my VISITOR badge, asked where the special education office was and then wandered the halls for about twenty minutes, looking for it.

It's a big school. That's just one of the many halls I wandered, halls that have so many classrooms, I lost count. I believe there are close to 3,000 kids in this high school. On the plus side, when I poked my head into doorways, everyone seemed like they were actually learning. Teachers were at white-boards, and kids were taking notes. It was quiet.

I kept wandering the halls.

Yes, that's the same picture. I just wanted you to feel, a bit, the aimlessness of my wandering.

I finally found the special education office, and the very nice man inside told me that I actually needed to go back to the main office where they processed enrollment forms.

Oh, I said.

When I got to the main office, the receptionist told me that I needed to go to Room 38 on the first floor, just around the corner, because all enrollment forms were dispensed there.

Oh, I said, Thank you.

I found Room 38:


Eventually, the Enrollment Package Lady returned to Room 38, and I left the school to go pick up my sons from their schools. (Yes, schools in the plural because we are now a family with three children in three different school locations).

While I was waiting in the carpool line, I started flipping through Sophie's enrollment package and began reading the new school's dress code. You must remember that the old new school was an all-special needs campus, and this new new school is a general education campus with a special day class that Sophie will be in.

Got that?

I almost broke out laughing when I read the dress code because it's certainly emblematic of what we're getting into. Here are a few examples:

Blankety-Blank High School

1. No hats on Blankety Blank High School campus unless part of a school activity.
2. No hair nets, bandannas, wave caps, shower caps or rollers.
3. No belt buckles with initials or extra long belts.
4. No handkerchiefs ("rags"). No red or blue shoe laces.
5. No baggy pants (if belts removed pants fall below hips), cut-off pants with high scoks, pants with spit seams, pants with staples, tacks or safety pins.
6. No see-through or mesh shirts or any clothing that becomes associated with an off campus group or gang.
7. No bathing suit tops, blouses or shirts, which expose the mid-riff or back, no tank tops.
8. No T-shirts or other items of clothing with profanity, with messages that may be inappropriate or offensive or which promote/advertise the use of controlled substances.
9. No white pressed T-shirts are to be worn as outer clothing.
10. No Walkman type radios/headphones/cassette players are allowed.
11. No beepers/cell phones are allowed on campus without the permission of the principal.
12. No unbuttoned shirts with expose the chest.
13. No sunglasses worn in any buildings, classrooms or offices.
14. No plaid or "Pendleton" type shirts buttoned to the neck.
15. No articles of clothing with "Kings" or "Raiders."

My boys and I are relieved that Sophie can't wear curlers to school, but we're wondering whether she can wear her bandannas.

It's a big city, folks, and an even bigger world.

Thursday, September 23, 2010

What makes Henry, Noah and I laugh every day when we pass it

(in case you can't see: Made in Korea MAN SUITS)

Something we can all understand -- and it's not biased

Last Night's Moon and a Parable

The master Ryokan lived in a poor little hut on a mountainside. One moonlight night he came home and found a burglar looking for something to steal. But Ryokan was a hermit who owned nothing.
     "Poor fellow," he said to the robber. "You have come a long way and have found nothing. But I don't want you to leave empty-handed. Please take my clothes." And Ryokan stripped, and handed the clothes to the robber.
     "Poor fellow," said naked Ryokan, going outdoors again when the inconsiderate robber had left, "How I wish I could have given him this wonderful moon."

-- Zen parable

Wednesday, September 22, 2010

What I learned today

My fellowship with LEND -- Leadership Education in Neurodevelopmental Disabilities --  is proving to be fantastic. Each hour of lecture and exercise is more interesting than the next, and I'm surrounded by an incredible interdisciplinary group of psychologists, neurologists, psychologists, occupational therapists, physical therapists, dentists, administrators, Title V folks and parents. I'm so excited about it and will do my best to share bits and pieces as I go. Please know that I'm not going to post charts and statistics, except for a few -- the source of this information is an incredible faculty of physicians and professionals devoted and dedicated to improving the state of healthcare for children in this country, particularly those who are disadvantaged, live in rural areas and have developmental disabilities.

What struck me today were POVERTY STATISTICS and their close correlation with developmental delay and  disability -- and then further down the line, enormous economic loss. In other words, how much we, as citizens, land up paying when basic healthcare needs are not met.

1)Children in poverty in the United States: 18%
2) Those state/cities whose politics are the most progressive have the LEAST poverty (San Francisco is one example). The Bible Belt -- the most politically conservative states -- have the HIGHEST POVERTY RATES.

3) Since Johnson's Great Society, poverty rates have risen during conservative/Republican eras and fallen during progressive/Democratic administrations with NO exceptions, EXCEPT for the over-65 year old group. Why do you think?

chew on that for a while


5) Poverty is one of the strongest indicators for developmental disability.

There's my spiel. Stay tuned.

Tuesday, September 21, 2010

Say it's true

The secret of happiness is in your power to sacrifice and uplift others. Happiness is in giving, not in taking. God will give to you. Trust in the fact. The fact of life is that you and God are one identity. There is no place for duality.

-- Yogi Bhajan

On Being Called Mom

Come visit us at Hopeful Parents!

Monday, September 20, 2010

Trolls, Again

I'm over at Smartly Los Angeles, talking about trolls. Read it HERE.

Who's Pouring the Tea

My blogger friend, Kimmie, suggested that I post a bit on the Koch brothers and their influence on the Tea Party. Here's an excerpt from a recent New Yorker article about them (and a link to the entire article below):

On May 17th, a black-tie audience at the Metropolitan Opera House applauded as a tall, jovial-looking billionaire took the stage. It was the seventieth annual spring gala of American Ballet Theatre, and David H. Koch was being celebrated for his generosity as a member of the board of trustees; he had recently donated $2.5 million toward the company’s upcoming season, and had given many millions before that. Koch received an award while flanked by two of the gala’s co-chairs, Blaine Trump, in a peach-colored gown, and Caroline Kennedy Schlossberg, in emerald green. Kennedy’s mother, Jacqueline Kennedy Onassis, had been a patron of the ballet and, coincidentally, the previous owner of a Fifth Avenue apartment that Koch had bought, in 1995, and then sold, eleven years later, for thirty-two million dollars, having found it too small

 There's a lot written about the Tea Party members and those who sympathize with their platform. What I find interesting -- and repellent -- is that most of the members appear to be naive about just who is funding them and why. It sort of reminds me of the rise of the Christian Right during the Reagan years -- a group co-opted for purely political purposes. When I listen to those who are sympathetic to the tea partiers, I always wonder what they think is going to replace the "big government" that they so despise -- because it seems to me that big corporate interests are what rules the place -- money -- and those corporate interests are really only using the ideals of "liberty" "freedom" etc. to further their own agenda, which is profit and profit only.  My favorite example of this is all the folks crying about healthcare reform and socialized medicine -- the "government" somehow coming between you and your doctor. I'm living proof that what stands between me and my doctor has ALWAYS been my insurance company, and will always be my insurance company until something changes --  you're dreaming at worst and probably never been sick at best, if you think any decisions will be made purely between you and your doctor. My doctor is at the mercy of my insurance company, not only in how and what she is prescribing for my daughter but in the timing of receiving proper care. If insurance companies continue to work, unfettered by regulation, do you really think the free market is going to work healthcare out?  I'd be happy if we took the profit completely out of insurance companies -- and I'm still a believer in universal healthcare for everyone.

And yes, I'm perfectly aware that government, the government, is often a source of enormous dysfunction and ineptitude -- but I think it's profoundly cynical to write it off as a sort of behemoth incapable of change and great good.

If you want to read about who's pouring the tea, click HERE.

Sunday night dinner conversation on Monday morning

The boys, Sophie and I (The Husband was working, as usual) sat down to spaghetti and tomato sauce, buttered bread and salad last night. Sophie had had a not so good day and was all quivery and jerky from too many seizures. It was difficult to feed her and difficult to watch her, difficult to wipe the drool from her mouth and stay calm and centered. We managed.

Oliver: Do you think Sophie will ever get married?

Me: Hmmm. Probably not.

Oliver: Why not?

Me: Well, I think it would be hard for her to be married. She'll probably be with us for a long time or maybe with a group of people a bit like her.

Oliver: Well, then I hope she does get married. Do I have to get married?

Me: No. You don't have to get married. You only get married if you fall in love with someone and want to be with them for the rest of your life (Jesus, Mary and Joseph, that sounds crazy, right?).

Oliver: Oh, OK. Then I could be married to my friend Tim.

Me: Really? Do you think you'd get married to Tim?

Oliver: I could, couldn't I? Two men can get married, right?

Me: Absolutely. But usually two men get married because they're gay and then they're attracted to each other and not to women.

Oliver: Can I marry an animal? (the social conservatives are rubbing their hands together!)

Me: No, why?

Oliver: Yes, I can! Because we're animals, right? Human animals!

Sunday, September 19, 2010

Words of wisdom

I find the following words so much more helpful than

God only gives you what you can handle 


 There's a larger purpose to this kind of suffering 


Sophie chose you to be her parent because she's an angel and you needed just this type of blessing.

The period of greatest gain in knowledge and experience is the most difficult period in one's life. Through a difficult period you can learn; you can develop inner strength, determination, and courage to face the problems.
His Holiness, the Dalai Lama

The only Tea Party I'd attend is one where this guy speaks

We didn't get you out of this hole, and we're sick about it and we don't mind you being mad. But it was a $3 trillion hole, and that $800 billion stimulus – only a third of which went to create jobs – was not enough to get us out of this hole, he said Democratic candidates should say. But we're going in the right direction. Just give us two years – you gave [Republicans] a lot more than that. If it's better you can re-elect us, if not you can throw us out. But don't make a U-turn. Don't start digging again.

-- Bill Clinton

They think the little guy gets the shaft, and that's largely been true. But they are pawns in a larger game. The Boston tea party] was a protest against abuse of government power. The people that are funding this tea party are trying to weaken the government at a moment where people are queasy about the government because there was nobody else to step in when the economy was flat, so they can have unaccountable private power.

--Bill Clinton on the Tea Party and those who are really running things

Who's up for a road trip?

Rally to Restore Sanity
March to Keep Fear Alive

Saturday, September 18, 2010

Friday, September 17, 2010

It was the best

Oliver and Sophie, September 2001

This morning dawned difficult -- another change in routine or back to the most recent routine, since Sophie isn't going to go to the "old" new school and I now must go through the machinations of registering her at another school. She's home, again, with me at least for a short time. I love her to death, as you know, but:


I had planned on going to Oliver's school this morning for the weekly "sing," which I missed nearly every Friday morning last year and continue to get grief about. Oliver is nine and in fourth grade. What else can I say about him that I haven't said before? Here, particularly. Of the two boys, he has struggled a lot more with intense feelings regarding his sister and has expressed his frustration, his embarrassment and his sorrow in very articulate ways. This morning, I asked him whether it would bother him if I brought Sophie along to the Morning Sing, and he replied, No, you can bring her.

When we arrived at the school, the mini-concert had begun, and all the students were seated in a huge semi-circle on the asphalt playground. I slipped in behind the rows of parents and teachers standing behind the students, pushing Sophie's stroller out of the sun. I couldn't find Oliver, at first, in the crowd , but he soon found me and stood with us for a bit. When the concert was over, he lined up with his class, many of whom have never met Sophie and were either staring at her curiously or clearly uncomfortable. I braced myself and stole a look at Oliver's face, but when I caught his eye, he smiled and waved and when he walked by us, he stopped, leaned over Sophie and GAVE HER A KISS ON THE CHEEK!

I feel like I witnessed a rite of passage right before my eyes.

Thursday, September 16, 2010

Who am I kidding?

An extended break from both reading blogs and writing on my own is about as likely as me walking out of the Antiguan sea looking like I did here almost twenty years ago.

I so appreciated your kind send-offs, your prayers and well-wishes, but I honestly only intended a week-long break.  It turns out, though, that blogging -- reading your blogs, writing my own, using my own writing as a jump-start for the offline writing I do -- well, it's essential. And that doesn't even take into account the essential community that has grown up here -- I missed doing it each and every day and I have to say that it might be one of the most positive, mindful experiences of my life right now. And it's not an addiction like smoking or alcohol or drugs. It's something good, something for which I am grateful.


Sophie started a new school this week, an all-special education campus, and I'll put it mildly by saying that it's been one of the worst decisions I've ever made in her life. I'm withdrawing her tomorrow and putting her in our local high school which is like a mini-version of Los Angeles -- not for the faint-hearted but must be better than the alternative. I'd write more about the special education school, but I'm sort of afraid to, afraid to unleash my emotions regarding it, cognizant of their complexity but also their strength. And since she only went for a few days, well -- I'm going to pretend like it never happened. But, if you're so inclined, and want to hear more about it (especially those of you who are contemplating the regular ed versus special ed campus thing, feel free to ask questions, and I'll answer them in another post. In fact, I think a dialog about this would be great!

 I also started my fellowship with a program called LEND -- Leadership Excellence in Neurodevelopmental Disabilities. It's an interdisciplinary program, a sort of training academy for leaders in all areas of disability. It's through the University of Southern California and Children's Hospital of Los Angeles.  It was a privilege to be awarded the fellowship, but I've certainly got my work cut out for me over the next nine months. Early in the week I was running all over town, ensuring that I got all my paperwork in correctly -- vaccination evidence, TB exposure, questionnaires, etc. etc.. I wondered more than once why in the hell I was embarking on yet another "thing" but when I went through the first session, all day on Wednesday, I realized that it was going to be very cool. More on that later, too...

Henry and Oliver started school for real this week, too (their first full week), and Henry is now on a different campus, a very old building that is in the middle of Koreatown (and feels a bit like 14th Street and Broadway in NYC) and right across the street from the colossal $600 MILLION dollar public school that used to be the Ambassador Hotel (the place where RFK was shot that sad and shocking day). Despite our school being a wonderful one -- a charter school with very progressive values and incredible teachers and family involvement -- the new middle school campus faces this:

It's a little disheartening, once again, to see luxury and glamor trump education, but, hey, this is the oligarchy we live in now, right? The school was funded by a bond measure passed by voters, years ago, and those of us who live in CA know how cockamamie that system is (think 30+ pages of initiatives to vote on, etc.)

At best, the place will serve well the 4,000 or so disadvantaged children it was built for, and then I'll be skinny and glamorous, walking out of the Antiguan Sea.

Right back to full circle, right?

Monday, September 13, 2010

New Haircut

Get you through the day quotes

Oliver, upon waking and the first words out of his mouth:

I'm going to start using the word Firetruck instead of a curse word. Because it starts with an f and ends with an uck.

Henry, while working on an "all about me" essay for school was asked what his three wishes were:

I don't know because I have everything I need.

Sunday, September 12, 2010

Keep Me in the Music

Did you know that in the State of California, 230,000 children and adults with disabilities have had their services cut or reduced by the 2009 State Trailer Bill? Yes. 230,000 children and adults with disabilities have had their belts "tightened," cut off from those services that in some cases are essential to their quality of life.

I have written several times on this blog about the power of music therapy in Sophie's life. An essay I wrote on the subject, titled Small Victories was published in the anthology My Baby Rides the Short Bus. Here's an excerpt:

Minutes ticked by and Jackie continued to sing. The guitar, resting on Sophie's and Jackie's knees, hummed. I closed my eyes and willed my anxiety down. When I opened them, I looked at Sophie and saw what I can only describe as her appearance. But not the appearance of beautiful skin and curly hair, distant eyes and a mouth not often softened by expression. I saw the essence of her, and it was emerging from deep within her, from the baby that I had once had and that had died in bits and pieces over the years. It was as if her skin had thinned, allowing her soul a surface upon which to light. Jackie's voice, the plucking of the guitar, the vibration of the instrument on her lap had coaxed out an inherent intelligence that I had fixed onto over the years and defiantly and sometimes only half believed in. It seemed less a victory than an acquiescence from the universe.

I will be reading this essay at a fundraiser for Music Therapy that a non-profit foundation called Touched by an Angel is having on September 25th from 2-4 in the afternoon. I hope that those of you who live nearby might be able to purchase a ticket ($20) and come by for the reading, great music, performances by two music therapy students and good food (cooked by The Husband, of course!). For those of you living far away, if you are so inclined, please feel free to donate.

I'd sing to you now, or play the flute (my eighth grade instrument), but then you might be scared away!

Click HERE for tickets and donations.

Saturday, September 11, 2010

And still, the world goes round

and round.

I saw a new business today, in my neighborhood.

It was an agility school for dogs and a canine social club.

Evidently, franchise opportunities are available.

A September 11th Poem

Beloved city, looking south, March 1993

On a Quiet September Day

The quiet morning light shines on the small black table,
once my mother's, and on the silver bowl from my wedding,
and on my grandmother's purple cut-glass paperweight.

            (Now four men are standing in line, waiting
for their bags to go through the security check.)

I move into the bedroom and pull my mother's trousseau
quilt, embroidered with lavender butterflies, smooth on the bed.

            (They are boarding the airliner now, moving
quietly into First Class, walking quiet, sitting quiet.)

In the kitchen I put down fresh water and food
for the cat, and then I move again to the faucet
to water the plants.

            (The men sit tightly clasped by their safety belts.)

Now I move outdoors, down the deck, to feed
the goldfish. They flash and suck into the surface
for the flakes, winding around the lily pads
below the waterfall.

            (The plane taxis, rises into the morning-blue
sky. The young stewardess smiles,
begins to move down the aisle, offering coffee.)

I come indoors to make coffee. I sit
down to drink slowly and to watch the hummingbirds
flash swift gold, swooping at the feeder, then away
in great free circles, then returning, radiant,
glittering in the sun.

            (The men have moved, have seized the
beautiful flashing plane, now head it toward the high tower, feeding on their dark fuel.)

Now I turn away from the shining morning,
and I turn on the t.v. to watch
this day's news.

-- Jeanne M. Nichols


Be kind, for everyone you meet is fighting a hard battle.

Friday, September 10, 2010

Contemplating my life next week

Alain Delorme

I'm the one with the tires. (and I think he's doing a pretty decent job, as I'm hoping that I will!)


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