Wednesday, October 7, 2020

On Repeat

 


(I sat down and wrote
The best words I could write
Turn, turn, turn again
Explaining to the judge
I’d be there on Wednesday night
Turn, turn to the rain
And the wind)


Please come to my Substack to read the rest of this. Subscribe for free. 


Sunday, October 4, 2020

What it's like to be afraid






What's it like to face death every night? you ask. What exactly is it like I ask myself. Tonight. Every night, almost. Every time Sophie has a seizure. Every morning when I go to her room that short walk down the hallway to her room. Will she stop breathing in the interval between my comforting my attendance and my stance at the sink rinsing the syringe clear of the syrup (poison) I've shot into her day night day night day night day night day night day night day night day night. Will she have stopped breathing in the night and lie warm or cold in her bed? This is not morbid. I am not a soldier. The things I carry. What's it like to face death every night? you ask. What exactly is it like? I ask myself. I am not a soldier. I carry nothing but a syringe, a couple of pink pills, a white capsule, a cup of juice diluted with water. No arms but my own. I am not a soldier Sophie is not a warrior and this is not a battle. What's it like to face death every night? you ask (you have never asked). It's a song may the long time sun her gray face turned pink shine upon you my finger at her wrist all love her pulse furious surround you my hand at her brow and the pure light it's okay it's okay within you over and over guide your way on. It's the water rushing through the syringe at the sink afterward my head tilted. I am not a soldier Sophie is not a warrior and this is not a battle. I'm thinking not of crosshairs my perspective is the narrow tunnel of the hall the bed at the end and her small form. Focus.



Don't forget I'm moving to Substack.


Monday, September 28, 2020

Migration

 

Migrating Nashville Warbler
photo by Carl Jackson 
Instagram: @mo_better_birds

I'm slowly easing myself out of Facebook and Blogger to Substack -- migrating in a sense. I hope you'll come over there with me. Eventually, I might even get subscribers, but for right now you can get notification that I have a new post via email. Please don't ask me anything else, because I only know the basics, and I've been trying to get off Facebook for years but just don't want to cut ties with certain communities. If you migrate with me to Substack, you can read everything I write, add little hearts and likes and dislikes and even comments! It looks neat and streamlined, and I'm in need of neat and streamlined. Even my blog on Blogger is cluttered, and I'm tired. 


The Substack form is at the end of this post!


And how about that photo of the Nashville Warbler that The Bird Photographer took about a week ago in a park? He was walking through some Sycamore trees. He said that these little birds tend to bounce between branches under the canopy. It's rare to see them in sunlight as they tend to stay in the shadows, blending in with the leaves, hunting for bugs. They migrate from Canada to Mexico and Central America. 

I would love to migrate to Mexico or Central America right about now. Jesus Christ. May I say one thing about Dear Leader's new nominee to the Supreme Court? Or two things. One is that Amy sounds like an intelligent person despite her "orthodox Catholicism," and good for her balancing career and motherhood and raising adopted and disabled kids all while climbing the ladder to the highest office in justice land. That ladder, though, was placed there by the person she's succeeding, Ruth Bader Ginsburg, and it seems to me that Amy's going to pull that ladder up from her high perch and slam the door in the face of all the women who follow her. That'd be us and our daughters and grand-daughters.

Secondly, I can't respect anyone who takes a job from Dear Leader. Amy should have waited for an appointment by another Republican President, if there ever is one. Anyone who colludes with that piece of shit isn't a decent human being.



Wednesday, September 23, 2020

Power to the Peaceful

 



In reaching deep I discard let go of all the old things but not for new things new ways new anything. This place where I find myself is not the flip side of light or the flip side of dark but the point where the flip happens. It was foggy this morning, the sun orange through what might be smoke from the Bobcat fire to the east and I think of what's burning what's burned how we take it all in to our bodies face lifted. The little yellow green birds that splash in the blue fountain. That thin strip of decay the yellow tulip will bow                       

 over 

tomorrow. A thin strip of fabric veils our bodies, 200000 dead despite. The mediocrity of evil. Each dust mote and the way the way it moves in air.


Watch this video.

Saturday, September 19, 2020

May Her Memory Be a Revolution

 


What more is there to say? We all wept yesterday when we heard the news that RBG had died. We all felt sorrow that she had hung on for us, for the country, for the ideals that she had fought for so long. We owe her so much.

What moves me most about yesterday's news was learning that in the Jewish tradition, a person who dies on Rosh Hashanah is a tzaddik, a person of great righteousness. They are the ones that God takes at the last moment because they are needed most. Even the earthquake that shook us all out of sleep last night here in southern California seemed righteous. 


Re-fuel.

Be Ruth-full.

Don't give up.





Saturday, September 12, 2020

Little Birds Everywhere


 

What it looks like every morning when the sun rises


I think all I want to do right now is cook and read and write. And talk on the phone to my old friends. Like Louise and Jessica and Sarah and Moye and Chris and Tanya and Debra and Johanna. I want to read and write and cook and talk on the phone with women. The books are piling up around me, and I don't care anymore. I went to Loews today and bought some plants. I bought some dirt, too, even though that's so weird. Buying dirt. My car is coated in ash. So is the apple tree in my backyard, the little apple tree with bent boughs heavy with fruit. It's impossible to describe apples trees bent with fruit without using cliche. The word groan. I bought some stakes and ties to help the boughs. I'm embarrassed to say that I don't know what type of apple tree this is and whether I should pick them.  Yet. Sophie is sleeping. She seems exhausted. She is not beset by seizures these days but sleeps a lot, like some fairy tale princess. I'm besotted with a writer who writes about fairy tales. Her name is Sabrina Orah Mark. Have you read her work? I'm reading a book written about wild women and wolves -- you know the one because it's been around forever -- and it embarrasses me sometimes. It's too. Too too. I'm reading it with two of my students, and then we will look at Anne Sexton's confessional poems, her transformations. But then there's "The Handless Maiden." Have you ever read "The Handless Maiden?" You should. You should read all the fairy tales, actually, because they're all.

I'm reading Chanel Miller's memoir, Know My Name and I'm reading The Mere Wife by Maria Dahvana Headley and I'm saving Hamnet by Maggie O'Farrell because I think I won't be able to stand it it'll be so good. I'm anticipating that it'll be one of those every five years or so books that I read. Do you know what I mean? Never mind.

I'm watching Friday Night Lights (the series) for the second time with The Bird Photographer. He points out the racial cliches, and I feel defensive until I don't. I don't know why I love this series as it's about two things I hate. Football and Texas. Well, I don't hate Texas,  but I do hate football. Unequivocally.

Last night I had a hideous nightmare. I was wearing a football helmet in the dream and my ex-husband had his fingers in it and was about to bite off my tongue. I had to write that out. It helped me. I screamed so loudly that I woke myself up. I was screaming in my dream and in real life. I can't remember when the last time was that I've had such a nightmare. It seems obvious what this dream means, but feel free to give me your best interpretations. 

I feel sick for our country and right now, particularly, our beloved west coast. My friends in Oregon and Washington, my god. All up and down we are burning and choking and every single morning the sun comes up baleful and orange. Ash covers everything, and there are a lot of little birds everywhere. I mean a lot. I think they must be from up north. The Bird Photographer said probably when I asked him, so I made a little fountain for them and put out more bird seed. I am hoping that The Tenant's (ask me about The Tenant sometime as it's not a pretty story, not a fairy tale not even a nightmare) cats steer clear. I do not like cats. Sorry.

My friend Ebony (whom I neglected to list up there) texted me an article about a motel in Orlando whose owner has left where the power is out, the garbage is piled up, drugs, rats, children, all the miseries of the world and just down the street from the Disney bubble where basketball players are playing their hearts out in a bubble, their Covid watches blinking, their owners counting cash. 

Yesterday I joined a Zoom call with a small group of women (five of us) from around the country. I knew none of them, but now I do. We wrote postcards to swing states, urging people on lists to vote. Dear Janice. Thank you for being a first-time voter. Who you vote for is secret, but your voting record is public information. After the election on Tuesday, November 3rd, local organizations may contact you about your voting record. Thank you! Elizabeth. It was a script, and I thought it sounded a little coercive, not to mention the use of the word who instead of whom, but I dutifully wrote it down because there had been marketing and studies showing that it worked. There are good people all over this country working hard figuring things out. Despite there being only five of us on this Zoom call,  I felt cheered. We are doing this. We can do this. We chatted. One of the women is somewhat famous. I told her about my parents, how they came together. What an interesting story! she said. Over one hour, I wrote and addressed and stamped 12 postcards. I ordered 200 and gave some to friends to write. I've got about 60 more to go, and it's pleasant work. Honestly. It seems inane and hopeful.

Wednesday, September 9, 2020

Serious


 


My kindergarten picture makes me feel an enormous sense of relief. It grounds me. It makes me smile. I'm not the sort of woman who smiles easily, and I've been the sort of woman who, when asked to smile (usually by men), feels but doesn't act (I'm that kind of woman) irritated. That's partly because it's always annoying to be told (by men) to smile (and also to be called, cheerfully, by medical professionals Mom), but also because a serious person generally has a lot of wackadoodle inside herself, no small amount of weird and a predilection for dark humor that those who wish for smiles don't see. At worst, the men who tell me to smile might/would prefer that I not be so serious, that I look pretty or would look pretty when you smile. I was serious at five years old for my very first school picture. I didn't like birthday parties or cartoons, and the show Zoom gave me a headache. I read every single book in the children's section of the library, made my way methodically through even the biographies. I imagined myself a changeling, dropped in the middle of a cheerful family. I grew up in a happy family, but I imagined myself somewhere else, a  Jane Eyre, an orphan. Being serious doesn't mean I'm not joyful, though. I know that I was filled with joy that day despite my serious expression. I'm a serious woman who doesn't smile easily but am busy, in there, laughing. 


That's all I'll say about that.


I've been thinking a lot lately about my Italian grandmother and my Syrian grandfather. I've been wondering how they'd respond to this weird world, this circus, this Terrible America. They lie on opposite sides of my family tree, my father's mother and my mother's father. I've been thinking about them because of two separate details I remember, that stand out, that define them for me, decades after they died. I feel both of them in my bones. My Nonni wore a black dress and rolled thick stockings with black shoes for as long as I can remember. In her later years, she stayed with my family for a significant part of the summer. She walked around the house with her rosary beads, muttering, Pray that I die, pray that I die. Over and over she prayed that she'd die. She was serious. My Syrian grandfather chain-smoked even after having part of a lung removed. When he got riled up, which was a lot, he yelled the Arabic word for SHIT! which is pronounced Cutta! with a hard back of the throat c. He was serious, too.

Monday, August 31, 2020

What I think about when I think about guns



That photo of me during what would become the peak of my adolescent geekdom is at the top of the fourth most viewed post on my blog, titled "Let's Talk About the Gun." Approximately 32,000 people have found it since I posted it in 2014 shortly after I posted the photo for the first time and was deluged with inquiries about "the gun." 

Again, it isn't a gun. You can read about it if you click on the link.

People love guns in this country or google the words a lot.

I was reminded of it tonight when I read about a group of Trump-loving fools riding up Ventura Blvd this weekend in some kind of caravan. I believe shots were fired, but who did what is unclear. The POSPOTUS, of course, tweeted  The only way you will stop the violence in the high crime Democrat run cities is through strength!, which I guess means guns. A friend from Michigan reminded me of the Trump-loving gun-toting cowards who stormed their capitol, fully armed, to protest masks or something or other, their foolish faces screaming into the masked soldiers standing at arms outside the legislative body's door. Those dudes didn't blink, their mouths still behind their black masks, even though there was a bunch of Covid 19-laden spittle hovering in the air. Afterward, I guess the White fools went home and ate some terrible food cooked by their wives who had shopped for it, ignorant that it had been picked and packed and slaughtered and quartered by the immigrants they hate and other sufferers of the fake virus. I was thinking about that hateful White 17 year old fool murderer who drove twenty miles to protect some property in Kenosha, Wisconsin, killed a couple of people and then walked right on by a bunch of cops. I was thinking about those two tacky fool lawyers in pink and khaki and stripes who came out of their faux chateau in St. Louis, Missouri, fully armed as peaceful protesters strolled by, eventually lauded by the POSPOTUS himself at his hateful foolish sycophant fest. Good for them! I heard someone say about them. I started thinking about how people I know keep guns in their house to protect myself and my family. I was trying to imagine what it would feel like to get trained using a gun and then to carry one around in anticipation of or just in case you'd need to kill someone. And then I thought of the brilliant quote by writer and deeply Christian thinker, Marilynne Robinson. It's been over there on my sidebar since I plucked it out of an essay some years ago -- an interview she had done with President Barack Obama. She said, 

Normalizing the idea that we should all go around capable of a lethal act at any moment is completely corrupt and crazy. I wouldn't carry a gun. The reason I wouldn't carry a gun is because it is an immoral act walking around imagining you're going to kill someone. It's a recipe for a completely deranged society. It's grotesque.


Tens of thousands of people have viewed that one silly blog post of mine, and I know it's not because of my gingham dress. We're a completely deranged and corrupt society in the big fat ugly year of double twenties in Terrible America. We are grotesque.

Saturday, August 29, 2020

"You are not behaving like a decent person, and I do not respect you."



You are not behaving like a decent person. 

I do not respect you.

Gabrielle Blair, The Consequences of Your Actions


I hope you'll read the above link, because in this post Gabrielle, otherwise known as Design Mom, writes literally everything that I think, on a nearly daily basis, as I struggle to maintain relationships even in my own family. It's incredibly exhausting and debilitating to all involved, I'm sure, even as I acknowledge how it pales in comparison to my fellow human beings who are fighting for their lives.

A lot has happened in the last week or so since I've been here on the old blog. I tested negative for Covid, thank goodness, and I'm sorry I didn't let you know earlier. I took Sophie to the beach for the first time in years -- down to the water -- in her new beach wheelchair that my parents bought for her. I think I'll leave you with these glorious pictures. Having access to the beach again is transformative and brings me to my knees in gratitude. Sophie was so happy.








Saturday, August 22, 2020

Schoolmarm



I don't think I can express to you, dear Reader, how grateful I am to have a job teaching and how much I love my students and the place where I work. I teach at a school that uses a one-to-one model, and we went virtual back in March after a week or so of Windexing our rooms and wiping down surfaces to ward off the beginnings of the plague. Sigh.


That seems like forever ago. It was forever ago. The transition to virtual was virtually seamless, to tell you the truth, and while I miss seeing my students and colleagues in person, and Zoom can be exhausting in a weird way,  teaching English literature is doable. I had only a few students all summer long, but the fall term is picking up, and next week I have a nearly full schedule with about 12 students. They range from a darling sixth grade Language Arts guy who bounced up and down all through our fifty minutes together, to a young woman and young man in their last semesters of 12th grade English. I'm also what we call a Tutor/Mentor to a couple of students who struggle with reading. Each student is like a miracle, to tell you the truth. They show up on this weird platform and we work together to learn about literature and writing and life. I am encouraged by their and my own sons' general resilience to #weird world. The term ahead has Catcher in the Rye, Macbeth, Clarissa Pinkola Estes, Anne Sexton, Little Women, The Laramie Project, Anne of Green Gables, Out of the Dust, Roald Dahl, Flannery O'Connor and so forth. There's really nothing better than back-to-school for geeks like myself.

In other news, I've been doing a little bit of art these days. I've taken a couple of Zoom classes and dabbled a bit in a handmade book with collage, via an old blogger friend of mine, Suzy Banks Baum. I also ordered an embroidery kit.


This morning, I spent an hour doing paper cut-outs, Matisse style, via Zoom and the London School of Drawing. The instructor even had a jazz playlist on Spotify for us to listen to, and damn if it wasn't the best hour of quarantine that I might have spent.







I feel somewhat at peace of late due to meditation, I guess, and turning things over to a higher power. Just kidding on the higher power. Sort of. Things had gotten so bad that I sort of broke into my higher absurd dark-humored self. Or she came around again after taking a hiatus. Praise Jesus. Even today, for instance. I've been feeling covidy lately, so this afternoon I made an appointment and went for a test. I paid big bucks to stand under a tent with a guy in full PPE who handed me a swab and told me to first cough hard a few times into my mask and then wipe the swab on the inside of both cheeks and on both tonsils. You'll know you've gotten the tonsils when you gag, he said. I then dropped the swab into a test tube and went on my less than merry way. I'll find out by midnight tonight. I don't mean to be glib. It's hot as shit here and northern California is burning. There are people in Terrible America who believe the virus is a hoax, and there are people I love who still support Dear Leader. There are, quite obviously, two Americas and who knows what will happen? I'm struck by the ease with which I got a Covid test, by how much it cost and by how quick the results come in when you have the money to pay. This is not right. This is totally fucked up. But like I said, I'm feeling more at peace these days having surrendered in a small way to all the fuckery in my own world and the outer world. We can only live in the now, as they say.








Wednesday, August 12, 2020

Grifters

Making gazpacho on the verge


 A series of movie clips:

So, I can't go into it here, Reader, but I'm being grifted. It's outrageous and frustrating and hurtful emotionally and financially. There's nothing I can do about it, and while I wish I could tell you more, I don't want to enable The Grifter. I've gotten good legal advice about The Grifter and have accepted it. Accepted that I'm being grifted and can do nothing about it, that is.








My tiny little mother mind™ learned from a friend about a concept called status inconsistency which is fascinating, especially when I look on it as a kind of personality disorder. It would explain The Grifter, for sure.






In real life, I am thinking of that old Pedro Almodovar movie Women on the Verge of a Nervous Breakdown. Have you seen it?




In more cheerful news, both my dudes are home for a short time before leaving to go to their respective campuses where they will be studying virtually or doing some sort of hybrid thing during The Great Pandemic. They are really the greatest sons in the universe. And Sophie is doing pretty well. We had a scare with a person close to us who came down with The Covid and had to be hospitalized, but she is recovering, and we all tested negative (this time, for what it's worth). Sophie had an EEG the other day, and I had to badger The Nice Neurologist for the results, but I'm happy to report that it's the same old, messed-up EEG that it's always been with no ESES.













We have a lot to be thankful for, including the recent appointment to Vice Presidential-candidate, Kamala Harris. I think she's exciting, strong, interesting, brilliant and presidential. At this point, Terrible America could use even a kindergartner to replace the present POSPOTUS, so we're on the way out if not up with Harris.

What are ya'll doing?

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