Thursday, August 15, 2019

Have You Listened to Clio Yet?



Just in case you haven't, here's the link to our latest podcast. For new readers, my friend and co-host Jason Lehmbeck and I have a podcast for caregivers. Actually, it's a podcast for caregivers and the rest of humanity. We interview siblings, too, and the one with Clio Chazan-Gabbard, the daughter of author Chris Gabbard, will, I think, enlighten you no matter what you're doing in your life.

She's a very special young woman with profound insight and heart-piercing honesty.

Listen here.

Friday, August 9, 2019

Help



The title is not a cry for it.

Help!

On help

I learned recently that Sophie was eligible to receive a home health aide, but I felt dubious about the whole thing for reasons I won't spell out since you've heard them ad nauseum for as long as I've been tapping away here. When she received a very generous number of hours, thanks to the great State of California and the Regional Center, I told my father and he said, I find that hard to believe, and I said, I know. I told my therapist about it, and she said, Wonderful! and I said, What will I do with myself in the mornings? and she said, Rest! and I said, What do you mean? and she said, Lie on your bed and read or go into your room and write and I mused on that for a while, lying there on the couch in her office where I've spilled the darkest of my guts and wept and been guided and helped for years. Asking and receiving help is acknowledged by most caregivers I know as two of the most difficult things to do, and while a lot of that has to do with the actual busy brain and body work it takes in terms of time and arrangement (CEO of Sophie, Inc. reports), a lot, I think, has to do with this deep, psychic attachment we have to our unique children and young adults.  It's less about burden, more about acceptance  and everything about love. Throw in guilt and responsibility and the ridiculous and very much American ideals of individualism and pull yourself up by your bootstraps culture, coupled by an ableist society that looks on disability as something so hideous and burdensome that we hear things like would you have had an abortion if you knew? or I'd rather be dead than dependent on someone or I could never do what you do -- well, it's damn hard to ask for help and even harder to receive it.

I am receiving it, Reader.

Sophie's morning aide is a delightful young woman who comes to the house weekday mornings and gets Sophie up and dressed and groomed (see above). She makes her breakfast and feeds her, brushes her teeth, packs up her stuff that she needs for her adult day program and then drives her there in our accessible vehicle. She talks to Sophie and is incredibly gentle and meticulous about her hygiene, the style of clothes she will wear that day and can fix Sophie's outrageous hair into all manner of amazing styles. She gives her choices and treats her with dignity and respect and humor. It's unbelievable, actually. The only thing that she's not allowed to do is administer medication, so I do that. It took me some time to train her and even more time to will myself into letting go, but guess what?

Reader, I am resting.
























The universe is abundant.








Here's that Extreme Parent Video Project that I made years and years ago with the help of other caregivers, many of whom I had only met online. You'll see that asking for and receiving help was a common theme. Enjoy, share, ask for and receive with gratitude and grace.


Tuesday, August 6, 2019

Beloved



The world is in this room. This here's all there is and all there needs to be.
Sethe, from Beloved 

It seems like everyone is mourning the death of Toni Morrison, and I've been tearing up off and on all day thinking of her, of her spirit, her words, her regal presence, her books, what she meant to me my entire adult life, as a reader and a writer and a human being, and then I was thinking of all the people slaughtered over the weekend, of the piles of dead children, of the human stain of racism in our country, of all that we have to do, to fix and how to be. I first saw Toni Morrison at Spelman College in the late 1980s, shortly after Beloved was published, and I sat in a huge auditorium with hundreds of people, mostly African American young women, and before She walked out onto the stage, a group of women played drums, the beat so steady and rhythmical they presaged her voice, her voice with the words, always, that she put on the page. She walked out, probably at the age I am now, and I was struck then by her presence and by the impact she had had on the women in the room. She was their voice. I read nearly every single thing she wrote. The second time I saw her was not too long ago in Los Angeles, in a theater downtown filled with the mix that is Los Angeles, yet when she walked into the room, she was so grand, so regal, her voice so rich and deep with humor and wisdom, all of us so rapt and smiling and nodding our heads that I thought then: she is all of our voices.

Rest in peace and power, Toni Morrison. Thank you.


This is the time for every artist in every genre to do what he or she does loudly and consistently. It doesn't matter to me what your position is. You've got to keep asserting the complexity and the originality of life, and the multiplicity of it, and the facets of it. This is about being a complex human being in the world, not about finding a villain. This is no time for anything else than the best that you've got.

Toni Morrison, in an interview with writer Pam Houston, Oprah Magazine,  2003





Friday, August 2, 2019

Dog Days





It's hot.

Here's a poem.

Heat

Here in the electric dusk your naked lover
tips the glass high and the ice cubes fall against her teeth.
It's beautiful Susan, her hair sticky with gin,
Our Lady of Wet Glass-Rings on the Album Cover,
streaming with hatred in the heat
as the record falls and the snake-band chords begin
to break like terrible news from the Rolling Stones,
and such a last light—full of spheres and zones.
August,
              you're just an erotic hallucination,
just so much feverishly produced kazoo music,
are you serious?—this large oven impersonating night,
this exhaustion mutilated to resemble passion,
the bogus moon of tenderness and magic
you hold out to each prisoner like a cup of light?

Monday, July 29, 2019

My Response to Everything Concerning Everything (that strange flower)

Sunset at Allison's
Twin Peaks, CA July 2019




is poetry, and it's not what I write but what I want to read, words floating up or by like fish in my mind. Wallace Stevens comes to mind complacencies of the peignoir.

In the span of let's say five minutes I scanned just scanned words strung together (scan, scroll, read?) Mitch McConnell Mitch Moscow his voice a drone the rap something about something and then a star not of the sky (the stars' wrapping) but of rap his radiance in Sweden who threw a guy across a street which I believe is assault (the Swedes say) but whom POSPOTUS wants out (of Swedish jail) encouraged by the Kardashian paper doll who put on clothes that her husband ordered up designed that covered her famous breasts and ass and fly waist and Cinderella feet so that she could pose with the men in orange, most recently, take a selfie and

S
T
A
N
D

U
P for justice reform and Ikea be boycotted (Ikea being Danish not Swedish but who cares but meatballs and lingonberries and soft-serve cones) and wait, who do we support here? 

remember: five minutes (maybe ten including the footage of the blue-eyed Eilish)

they ended with Meghan Markle editing British Vogue and insisting on freckles and then the photo of the boy standing in grass his thin-lipped sweetness smile shot dead at a garlic festival by another angry white man with a gun.

Precious child.

Another one (or two) added to the piles of dead children.


I've stood in a sunflower field with my sons in Gilroy.

















There's humor in befuddlement or is it wry or rue?





Here's the poem.


Gubbinal

That strange flower, the sun,
Is just what you say.
Have it your way.

The world is ugly,
And the people are sad.

That tuft of jungle feathers,
That animal eye,
Is just what you say.

That savage of fire,
That seed —
Have it your way.

The world is ugly,
And the people are sad.

Wallace Stevens



I think we (you) suffer from an intellectual laziness, a lack of imagination.


Like Stevens' also wrote:

People are not going
To dream of baboons and periwinkles. 



On another note, I am learning about pleasure.







(and no, I am not going mad but rather writing and wrestling with words)


Saturday, July 27, 2019

It's aturday and my s key i sticking


I'm not going to fix the "s" thing, so you'll have a little game today, I guess, this lazy Saturday afternoon.

Both boys have gone to the eat coast to spend the week in Hilton Head. I've decided to tay here with ophie and try to feel calmer and more relaxed. Hilton Head is not my happy place, to use a loathsome cliche, but I hall mis my family and the feeling of being together, however fraught with family drama. Perhaps it's a trial run for when Oliver goes to college in late August, and Sophie and I will be fairly alone and defenseless except for the large guard dogs we have and the crowbar I keep beside my bed, ready to swing at the first person who sets off my fancy Nest security system.

Reader, beware.

Today I went to see Dr. Jin, and when she stuck a needle in the flehy part of my arm just below my elbow crease, I felt a surge of -- something -- and then tears or were they water? started leaking out of my eyes and down my face where they pooled, I'm sure, on the white paper I lay on. What i this? I asked Dr. Jin, but she was already down at my feet and remarked, Almost done, it's good to cry. Cry and then relax. he put the tinny Chinese music on, and I cloeed my eyes and drifted, like I always do, to the past and a kind of lucid dreaming where I am at once aware that I'm lying on the table with needles sticking out but drifting through past lives and memories and boys and babies and it's all very zen and soft and humid and sensual without any exertion. Before I left, Dr. Jin reminded me to take the special pills she'd given me last week. I imagine they are some form of Chinese prozac and will help me to regain my former effortless composure and sunniness.

o.

What are you doing this weekend?

Thursday, July 25, 2019

It's This Kid's 21st Birthday



A lot of you have been around, reading the old blog for over a decade, so this may come as a surprise that my Henry is 21 years old today! He tells me that he went out to lunch with his gorgeous Annika and had his first legal drink. He also brought home a bottle of gin so that we could make Negronis before we go out to dinner tonight to celebrate. Lest you think alcohol is all we're doing today, he also announced that he'll be heading to the nearest cannabis dispensary.

Just kidding.

WHO DO YOU THINK I AM?

`


I've said it each year, and I'll say it again: Henry has been the light of my life since the moment the doctor pulled all ten pounds of him out of me. He is sweet and smart and beautiful, inside and out, and I love him.

Happy Birthday, Henry!


Saturday, July 13, 2019

They're Getting Kool-Aid™ Jammers and Animated Movies*




Children do not belong in detention centers. "Detention centers" appears to be a more acceptable term than "concentration camps." Families belong together. This is now a popular trending hashtag. So is Close the Camps Now. Last night I attended a vigil downtown at the Los Angeles Metropolitan Detention Center, where over 1000 men are being held. We gathered outside the facility with 4000 people, just over the 10 freeway. Some people brought Mylar blankets as a sign of solidarity, fashioning brilliant flags and scarves out of them. The incarcerated children have been given such blankets to cover themselves during detainment.

We held our flashlights, electric candles and phone lights up toward the building, and the men inside flashed their own lights through the tiny slits in the imposing walls. It felt futile to be there and powerful at once, but mostly futile.













One of Sophie's caregivers, a legal resident originally from Guatemala thanked me for going, and I felt ashamed. There is much tension in our city as families gear up for tomorrow's ICE raids.



Meanwhile, Terrible America provides snacks and movies to the thousands of children separated from their families, languishing in private facilities whose boards are stocked with profit-hungry rich men, rich men who've protected one another in the vilest of ways. Perhaps the vilest of them all, the POSPOTUS, plays golf, presides over rallies and is cheered by the most ignorant people in the country. The most powerful people in the country who continue to support him have lost whatever shreds of moral authority they might have had and will, I imagine, go down in history as spineless, lacking even a modicum of integrity.

I'm curious. I had an exchange last year with someone who objected mightily to my outrage over separating children from their parents when they sought asylum at the border. Anonymous, what do you think of the camps now? How about the children separated from their parents? How about the conditions of the camps where thousands of men, women and children are being held?

Is this who we are?




















* So reported F*^king Vie President Pence after a recent "visit" to a detention camp in Texas and proceeded to blame Congress for the over-crowded conditions in the men's facilities. The photo of him and his entourage smiling their greasy smiles of paternal solicitude made me sick.

Wednesday, July 10, 2019

Portals



I took 24 hours and left with Carl on Sunday morning for Ventura and a boat that took us to Santa Rosa Island, one of the remote, uninhabited Channel Islands. We spent the morning looking at whales and dolphins and the wide-open Pacific, the water choppy and sky overhead gray and moody. It took over two hours to get to the island, but once we were there, the skies opened up blue and we wandered around the fields and explored the deserted buildings of the ranch that had once displaced the native Americans who made the island their home. It was very beautiful.
















No one lives on the island anymore, but some people brave its isolation and camp, and there are volunteers who stay to lead tours. Carl and I avoided the few people who had gotten off the boat and made our way alone down to a beach that might as well have been in some tropical paradise, such was its wildness and solitude.







I lay in the sand and read and dozed and we ate a bit of the food that we'd brought -- turkey, crackers, cheese, grapes and plums.

I tried to let everything go, everything.





to be grateful for love and companionship
for whales
for the ocean
for the souls that were banished from this place
for the sand and the breeze that bends
the poppies
for the wide world that still holds us up

the deep world


Saturday, July 6, 2019

A Whole Lot of Shakin' Going On


Reader, we are fine so far after two of the biggest earthquakes we've felt in the twenty years I've lived here. Last night I went outside a bit after dinner and stood in the front yard looking up at the sky. It was a beautiful night, a typical glorious southern California clearness to the air and the temperature, and I noted how quiet it was -- no sirens, no voices, no birds. No birds.

I do not like earthquakes. I do not find them exciting, particularly when they happen really close to one another. I do find them similar, in some ways, to living with a person who has uncontrolled seizures. That means that I never get used to them. They come out of nowhere, cause the same burst of cortisol (or is it adrenaline), and one makes you feel nauseous and like you can't trust the ground under your feet while the other makes you feel nauseous and like you can't trust -- well -- anything. So, I generally practice being mindful, or at least try to be mindful even as I dissociate a bit during Sophie's seizures and marvel/wonder/holy shit! during earthquakes. But we're fine, honestly -- taking stock of emergency supplies, wondering if the 30 gallon container of water in the backyard shed is still good and whether I should go ahead and pack a "to go" bag specifically for Sophie and her meds.

Those meds control Sophie's seizures about as well as preparing for an earthquake controls my nerves. We could stretch out that metaphor to say that all is vanity and there's nothing new under the sun.

I read something the other day about the importance of a belief system -- higher power, etc. etc.  to allay anxiety. I remember feeling somewhat faithful in my Catholic childhood and early adulthood, was obsessed, briefly, with the lives of the saints and even went to a Billy Graham revival with my Bible beater college friends, but when I look back and read back (lots of religious agonizing in the journals), from this vantage point of general/relative unbelief in any higher power other than the universe itself and, of course,  love, love love, I'm struck by how I labored to believe and how the whole religious thing banks on the myth that it takes labor to believe, to love, to have faith, etc.

which

leads

me

to those I've engaged with over the last few days who argue semantics (the term concentration camp) and wave their silly flags and insist on the rule of law and God and Jesus and prayers and then exclaim should we just let them WALK over the border, then? and bite into their charbroiled burgers and slide some mustard over their hotdogs and watch some hulked up millionaire swing a bat at a ball as American as pie.

Speaking of pie, The Gig Economy Worker made seven peach pies this week and is taking orders for the rest of the summer.



(I picked those donut peaches from a friend's tree, a tree that had a ridiculous number of peaches and bowed branches, so heavy was its fruit. Alas, the taste was not as sweet and generous as the number, so I used very ripe, very delicious peaches from Trader Joe's)

Thursday, July 4, 2019

The 4th of July in Terrible America

Children and workers are seen at a tent encampment recently built near the Tornillo Port of Entry on June 19, 2018 in Tornillo, Texas.
 Getty Images


I was sitting at my computer, paying my American Express bill and waiting for a peach pie to finish baking in the oven when what was the biggest earthquake I have felt in several years began. It started as a jolt and then it grew in waves even as I glanced up and saw the chandelier swaying and heard the pots clinking on the pot rack that hangs over the stove. I willed myself not to panic and walked toward Sophie's room, the hallway a galley in a boat swaying back and forth. I nearly put my arms out on either side to keep my balance and when I passed the boys' room, I shouted to Oliver, Earthquake! and sat next to Sophie who was lying in bed, her eyes open, my stomach lurching the pots clinking and windows creaking. It seemed to go on forever and then it stopped. Everyone is fine. We are all fine. Sophie, who had a ridiculous number of huge seizures yesterday out of the blue, as she'd been doing so well, is fine. I know that she had those seizures now because she is exquisitely tuned in to the strange and elemental goings on in the universe. I imagine she feels relief now, her brain settled even as we settle. It seems like relief, now, after the simmering rage and unease I've felt for days, a rage that I attributed to what's going on, the unease to the imperative to celebrate, to wish happy fourth of July when so many are suffering, when tanks are being power-washed to shine at military parades for that POSPOTUS, the empty rapist in chief of Terrible America. Yes, my words are harsh, but isn't it true? And what can we do beyond cutting our pie crusts out with END THE CAMPS letters scattered over caramelized peaches? How can our voices be anything but tiny and inexhaustible (Faulkner)? I just can't wish anyone happy anything this 4th of July. I feel angry and ashamed to be an American, to be so ineffectual, to be able to do nothing but post horrible photos and satirical cartoons about the POS we have leading us and the incredible injustices that he and those who support him, those we know, those, even, we love, are doing in our name. It makes me so sick to my stomach that the very real earthquake that rocked our house was a kind of relief.

Thursday, June 27, 2019

After the Doctor



The light in Sophie's bedroom in the late afternoon is incredible. I'll walk by and just stand there staring at it and her and wish I could walk into it, truly walk into light so that I might become light again. Because I'm near spent. Because I almost never feel light these days. I feel heavy, literally and figuratively. I am not as resilient as I once was or perhaps, if I'm kind (always kind) to myself I might attribute this heaviness to the years, the years or perhaps to upcoming transitions (Oliver leaving), those existential changes that take even the strong by surprise in their intensity. Today I went to the doctor, and I tried to explain this malaise, this lack of resiliency, this burning feeling in my throat that persists and this ache in my hips. Is something wrong? Really wrong? I think, I wonder. I have scanned the worldwide webs, have allowed the slip in -- you know how that goes, right? -- of guilt, of reckoning, because, really, how fortunate can one possibly be when one endures so much stress on an ongoing basis? I let that slip in my mind, the thought that it was all going to come home to roost, as they say, that instead of morphing into my peasant grandmother and die demented at 88, I'd get sick and who has time for that? I spoke with rue of my weight of the necessity of exercise and losing weight and the doctor agreed. You'll feel better, he said. And what about these? I showed him the starbursts of blue on the backs of my legs. They don't hurt, I said, and he said, I wouldn't worry. The blood work was fine, the blood pressure is normal and the new burn in my throat from stress, he said. Here, take this. The way these things are doled out, so casually and why would he know that I in my peculiar writerly way will note this, will note the casual shrug, the burn in the throat reduced to acronym (GERD) and take this for 8 weeks and do this (exercise) and that (lose weight) and you'll feel better but I'll know better from better and there's still that light, nearly spent.

Here's a poem by Mark Doty:

SPENT

Late August morning I go out to cut
spent and faded hydrangeas — washed
greens, russets, troubled little auras

of sky, as if these were the very silks
of Versailles, mottled by rain and ruin
then half-restored, after all this time...

When I come back with my handful
I realize I’ve accidentally locked the door,
and can’t get back into the house.

The dining room window’s easiest;
crawl through beauty bush and spirea,
push aside some errant maples, take down

the wood-framed screen, hoist myself up.
But how, exactly, to clamber across the sill
and the radiator down to the tile?

I try bending one leg in, but I don’t fold
readily; I push myself up so that my waist
rests against the sill, and lean forward,

place my hands on the floor and begin to slide
down into the room, which makes me think
this was what it was like to be born:

awkward, too big for the passageway…
Negotiate, submit?
                           When I give myself
to gravity there I am, inside, no harm,

the dazzling splotchy flowerheads
scattered around me on the floor.
Will leaving the world be the same

—uncertainty as to how to proceed,
some discomfort, and suddenly you’re
—where? I am so involved with this idea

I forget to unlock the door,
so when I go to fetch the mail, I’m locked out
again. Am I at home in this house,

would I prefer to be out here,
where I could be almost anyone?
This time it’s simpler: the window-frame,

the radiator, my descent. Born twice
in one day!
                In their silvered jug,
these bruise-blessed flowers:

how hard I had to work to bring them
into this room. When I say spent,
I don’t mean they have no further coin.

If there are lives to come, I think
they might be a littler easier than this one.





Saturday, June 22, 2019

We All Know This Is Not Right


I'm beside myself about this.

It seems irredeemable, in the vein of the Native American genocide or slavery. The Holocaust. The actual conditions under which these children and people have been subjected are horrendous, but it is the people that gaslight, argue, justify and prevaricate about what is happening that freak me out the most. We all know that this is not right.

It seems like it might be the end of us.

I'm sitting on my bed typing on my fancy laptop, about 129 miles from the Mexican border. It's hard to think straight or do anything at all.

What does it mean -- this beside oneself? I think of metta -- loving kindness directed first toward oneself, then toward someone you love, then toward someone with whom you have difficulty, then toward all.

May I be well. May you be well. May all sentient beings be well.

Terrible America.

I remember the practice of tonglen.

Breathe in suffering. Breathe out love.


WHAT ELSE CAN YOU DO?

Three Ways to Stop ICE's Detention Policies




Sunday, June 16, 2019

Negative Capability




Several things dovetailed in my mind, & at once it struck me, what quality went to form a Man of Achievement especially in Literature & which Shakespeare possessed so enormously — I mean Negative Capability, that is when man is capable of being in uncertainties, Mysteries, doubts, without any irritable reaching after fact & reason — Coleridge, for instance, would let go by a fine isolated verisimilitude caught from the Penetralium of mystery, from being incapable of remaining content with half knowledge. This pursued through Volumes would perhaps take us no further than this, that with a great poet the sense of Beauty overcomes every other consideration, or rather obliterates all consideration.

John Keats

Thursday, June 13, 2019

Super Nose

Guess what's in the bag?


My ex-husband once told me that he thought I was a super-taster or had a super-nose (he's a chef), but my kids always mock me when I ask, what's that smell? They think I'm prone to exaggeration in addition to being, possibly, the most annoying human on the planet. I don't want to make this post one of those kid-basher ones, filled with the cliches of teenagers and the insufferable arrogance of young adults (I am perfectly aware of my own insufferable young adulthood but shhhhhhh, don't tell my parents). I don't want to badmouth The Brothers because they are divine in many respects, but damn if they haven't been helpful or even supportive in the rat saga of this past week. Neither agreed to handle any trapped rats (my feminism comes to a screeching halt when it comes to dead rats in traps) and last Saturday, after the traps were set and lined up behind the stove and the microwave stand in the kitchen, and we all heard the most horrific clatter and then silence, no one stepped up to check it out. Well, Henry did actually come out of his room with a bat and Carl did shine his phone light behind the stove, but the only thing we saw was one of what we thought were five (this is a crucial hint) traps a little skewed. No rats, though, and everyone carried on their days and nights as if nothing was the matter, as if roof rats, flying through trees and into the attic and jumping from vents onto pot racks over stoves and nibbling beautiful pears and cherries and making their way into the dining room to feast on the bits and pieces of food that fall from the wheelchair and then making their way back to their home or nests in the Christmas decorations and vintage toys and suitcases and skittering all about were NO BIG DEAL, were a problem that would magically take care of itself because that's the way things went in their home with their mother lying about all day.










The days went by.












I think I smelled something a couple of days ago but was met with the usual derision and mockery. I don't smell anything, they said and then rolled their eyes or did what boys do when my back is turned. I'm annoying -- it's annoying -- when I twitch my nose and sniff.  Today was the day that The Rat Man was coming back to seal all the holes in the house where the rats were coming in and out. I planned my day around this event because The Brothers were busy. I imagine the gears in their adorable heads clicking, clicking, pondering. What does she do all day, anyway? Does she even exist outside of my supreme sphere? The Rat Man arrived on time, bless him, and began his work. He is a peculiar guy in the way that certain occupations command peculiar, but Reader, I love him. When I told him about the clattering episode and asked him to shine his light behind the stove, he complied and then I swear I saw his nose twitch and he said, I smell rat. I practically shouted, I SMELL SOMETHING, TOO! and then thought about jumping up and down in excitement (not about the rat but because having someone actually confirm my suspicions which means affirm my skills, my extremely honed intuitive senses, my super-nose, my infallibility, etc. etc. is everything in these late middle-aged times) but instead said nervously, Do you see that fifth trap a bit at a distance from the other four? And he got down on his knees and claimed that the smell was urine and then he said, no, it's rat, and where's the sixth tra -- and before he got out the p and just as I said, SIX? I thought there were only FIVE? he said, I got him! Do you have a plastic bag? and I ran and got him a plastic garbage bag and reverently shook it out and handed it to him and left the room.

We have one rat bagged and every little hole in this hundred year old house screened up and against them. I texted The Brothers and Carl the good news and included a bit of my own exultation over smelling something funny. No one has acknowledged this, of course, but Henry did text me back:


Monday, June 10, 2019

Just Ten More Minutes



Here are 3 reasons I might consider relocating to China:
1.
Sophie had an unexpected seizure this morning, right before I fed her breakfast, and instead of waiting for her to fully recover, I acted impatient and shot a syringe of her medicine into her mouth which I believe went down the wrong hatch which precipitated a bout of coughing and gagging which necessitated me putting together the suction machine and suctioning her mouth for what seemed like a half an hour which necessitated a 911 text to my friend Sandra about my inability to do this. I believe I texted I can't do it and she replied What's happening? and I said life and she said, then you can. And it's all fucking impossible. And you can. I then listed a litany of complaints and wondered if I should go on or try some gratitude? Sandra texted back:


In a nutshell -- or should I say the nutshell, Sandra's advice is to take time and whatever horrors it's throwing at you in ten minute increments. Can I do it for ten more minutes? Another 10? Another 10? Until I get through another full hour...then day. Suffice it to say that the 10-minute increment rule worked for me today, and I managed to get Sophie to her day program, but I've said it before, and I'll say it again: I'm done, toast, burnt. Sandra sent me this, too:


Reader, I do love a good sign.


2.
I'm struggling financially despite a near full-time job and will soon have two sons in college. Will I ever get ahead? There's my actual head, I suppose, which is stuffed full of all kinds of lovely things, but if it weren't for my neck, it would have long since spun off into the cosmos. Is there such a thing as ahead? I love my job teaching English, but there's no work over the summer. I've put together a few writing workshops and am still baking cakes, but neither is a living. Sure, I'm grateful for the help given to me by my parents and by the State of California, but I feel shackled and can't help but fantasize about a simpler life -- something I imagine is as illusory as getting ahead.



Are you still here, dear Reader?

3.
We have a rat infestation in our attic. Yes. We have a rat infestation in our attic. One more time. We have a rat infestation in our attic. 



Did I ever tell you the story of the job I accepted to teach English in Taiwan upon graduating from college? I was obsessed with all things Chinese -- had studied the language for two years, read avidly the poetry and religion and history and was just gobsmacked by the possibilities. I was 21 years old with all of life in front of me. Alas, I was persuaded to give that up for -- let's say -- love, and while I don't regret the choice I made because it brought me the rest of my life, I have a chance here to -- well -- flee that rest of my life. Reader, do you wonder? Is she serious? Has she lost her mind? Was it a rat that drove her to it? 

Stay tuned. Just ten more minutes.

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