Friday, May 31, 2013

Eighth Grade Semi-formal

Henry, oh Henry

Walt Whitman's Birthday

(The moth and the fish-eggs are in their place,The bright suns I see and the dark suns I cannot see are in their place,The palpable is in its place and the impalpable is in its place.)
Walt Whitman, from Song of Myself 

Thursday, May 30, 2013

Epilepsy Patches, Medical Marijuana, War and Peace and Prancercise

Marcie, my alter ego

So, I'm sort of embarrassed that I posted a video on my blog that was apparently viral well before I saw it. It reminds me of the time during the summer of 1985, when I was not quite 22, and  I mentioned to a dear friend of mine that I loved that song where all the stars sang We are the World and had she heard it? Julia? Do you read this blog? Are you there to corroborate the darker bits of my history?

Once a bit of a geek, always a bit of a geek.

Today I took Sophie for her twice-yearly trip to The Neurologist. I love this neurologist, both personally and professionally. She tolerates my dark sense of humor and my forays into the World of Alternative Medicine. Today's visit included a bit of an interesting exchange about medical marijuana. While she can't write a prescription (and I have yet to pay a visit to Dr. Bullwinkle to get my card), she knows of several families who are using it and reporting good things. One of them is a young person with severe cerebral palsy who never sleeps. Now he does. She told me to go for it. We also talked about the Trigeminal Nerve Stimulation System or "epilepsy patch." The patch is a gel electrode that is worn on the forehead for twelve hours a day. Given that it's not invasive and has some compelling success stories, I'm looking into it. One of the lead researchers happens to be a neurologist at UCLA, so even though I like going to the neurology department at UCLA about as much as I like listening to a Catholic priest condemning homosexuality and abortion, we're getting a referral. If you want to read more about the Trigeminal Nerve Stimulation System, go here.

In the meantime, I'm imagining Sophie taking medical marijuana with the gel patch on her forehead while I read War and Peace and prancercise.

Shaking things up

Remember my intention to read War and Peace by my fiftieth birthday in late August? I'm working on it. It's sitting on my bed right now, and I've fallen behind. At the rate I'm reading it, I might have to shoot for my sixtieth birthday in late August of 2023. As you might recall, I took up the tome in lieu of losing fifty pounds by my fiftieth birthday, and I'm now considering getting back on that bandwagon through Prancercise.

Reader, what do you think? Who wants to join me in donning white stretch pants and a tiny jacket?

A murder of crows woke me this morning. I heard them in the back of my dream mind and listened until they pecked at the back door. When I got up and opened the door, they massed in a tree and I stood there in a black slip, my shoulders bare, my ears filled. I might have sprouted wings and flew off, over the hedge, over the tree where they perched on their crow legs. Shush, I said, Shush. You'll drive me to murder. Finally, back in bed there was silence, and I drifted, the bed a boat. At some point the murder flew off, the air was again silent, the sun rose

You need a shotgun, he texted me.

Shine like a sunflower.

Wednesday, May 29, 2013

On financial anxiety, freedom, socialism, Denmark and the senator from Vermont

Vilhelm Hammershoi, 1864-1916

In Denmark, there is a very different understanding of what "freedom" means. In that country, they have gone a long way to ending the enormous anxieties that come with economic insecurity. Instead of promoting a system which allows a few to have enormous wealth, they have developed a system which guarantees a strong minimal standard of living to all -- including the children, the elderly and the disabled.
Senator Bernie Sanders 

Read the rest of the article here. 

Boy Conversation, Number 2,349,671

I picked up The Brothers and My Carpool Kid this afternoon early from school because it's Tuesday, and for some reason that I don't yet understand despite having been a part of the almighty LAUSD in some capacity or another for nearly fifteen years, there's always one day a week in the LAUSD where the kids are dismissed early so that the teachers can work.


The Brothers and My Carpool Kid were in a jolly mood, given that it was an early out day and summer is just ahead. They launched into their usual scintillating conversation during which I stay silent, behind sunglasses, and act as cool as a nearing fifty years old, moderately over-weight and slightly bittersweet woman can.

That means I'm silent. Totally silent.

Younger Brother: Did you know that they found a mermaid for real?

Older Brother: Who did?

Younger Brother: THEY did. I don't know who they is, but we heard about it. A real mermaid.

Older Brother: That's stupid.

Carpool Boy: Cool. I guess a fish mated with a human.

Younger Brother: So, a fish and a human humped?

Older Brother: That's impossible. Gross.

Younger Brother: Nope. It can happen. All you need is a hole.

Here's what I looked like:

Cool, right?

Tuesday, May 28, 2013


I realized after reading about prostration -- the act of lying, face-down, on the ground in supplication to a higher power or the universe -- that my prostration has been for a number of years. Surrender happens slowly, in drips, and it isn't until you notice the puddle around you that you realize what has happened. And that is good.

Scorn Me

but I've got nothing but peonies and one small seahorse.

Oh, and

Monday, May 27, 2013

Memorial Day on the tightrope

So, yeah. Memorial Day. Every year it rolls around, I get all squirmy because I know I'm going to post something and I know it's not going to be all patriotic. I know there's going to be someone or many someones who object and there are all those flags on Facebook and beautiful tributes to loved ones who've fought and died in wars for my liberty and freedom.  Then I'll think about Wilfred Owen's poem Dulce et Decorum Est  and pro patria mori (how sweet and honorable it is to die for one's country) and how he called it The Old Lie, and  incurable sores on innocent tongues. I'll read that poem and look at his pale, wan face and think about the trenches of World War I and the men who lived in them for months on end, men who knew nothing of the drones that would replace them nearly a century later, strange silver shapes looking for x's below, bombs dropping and evil men skittering to caves, little children flattened in the name of liberty, again, and freedom. I'll wonder why peace and nonviolent principles aren't celebrated in nearly the same way and why those who wish it so are visited with scorn and condescension -- I'm glad you take for granted the liberties and freedoms awarded you, Elizabeth. I'll continue to protect you, a relative once said, witheringly --  and I'll realize that I, too, have been scornful of beautiful flags blowing in American breezes, have condescended to those who believe that it's only through killing that liberty is won.

I think that today I will make my own memorial day. I will sit in this paradox of honoring those who kill and those who are killed. I will stand and hold both, like every day I live, the tightrope under my feet, my arms outstretched, tip here, tip there, creep and then skitter along, the abyss -- or freedom -- below.

Sunday, May 26, 2013


It was suggested to me this morning by the great poet Maya Angelou to be a rainbow in someone else's cloud. Miles Davis was playing while she told me not to complain and to make every effort to change things that I do not like. When I asked what happens if I cannot make a change, she suggested that I change the way you have been thinking. I generally don't like jazz -- kill me -- but Miles' played a perfect accompaniment to Maya's sonorous admonition. I wiggled my hips and even tapped my foot. Today, I'm changing the way I'm thinking, and this might be as simple as the bittersweet chocolate frosting that I'll put on the pale yellow cake, the nod of my head toward the next door neighbor's dog that continues to yip, the bean on the vine at the back of the garden, the dirty feet of the boy lying on my bed, the purple cloud of the jacaranda tree above and the carpet below, half sweet of rot and half of a new solution.

***inspired by literary jukebox

Saturday, May 25, 2013

There's not much more beautiful than a peony

There's not much cuter than this boy:

There's not many more mothers who are more AND less ready for the End of School and the Beginning of Summer than this one:

An Outstanding Article about Marriage, Gay Marriage and there's no cursing, like yesterday

American conservatives are frightened by this egalitarianism, or maybe just appalled by it. It’s not traditional. But they don’t want to talk about that tradition or their enthusiasm for it, though if you follow their assault on reproductive rights, women’s rights and, all last winter, renewing the Violence Against Women Act, it’s not hard to see where they stand. However, they dissembled on their real interest in stopping same-sex marriage.

Rebecca Solnit, from her article in Financial Times Magazine

Friday, May 24, 2013

Yakety Yak

Me and my yak

Have you ever had one of those days where you talked and talked and talked, so much that it was too much? I had one of those days, and while every conversation was a good and deep one, I'm talked out. Today I talked about my children and I talked about medical marijuana. I talked about dyslexia and I talked about gratitude. I talked about how difficult it is to receive things gracefully. I talked about marriage and I talked about divorce. I talked about turning fifty years old, and I talked about losing weight. I talked about the books I'm reading and the jobs I'm looking for. I talked about advocacy for children with special healthcare needs, and I talked about my family. I talked about others and I talked about myself. The only thing I didn't talk about was drinking.

That's why I'm grateful to my baby sister Jennifer for directing me to this website called Thug Kitchen and this particular post. If you're at all offended by cursing, avoid it. Otherwise, have fun.

Now I'm going to stop talking and go make myself a Blackberry Bourbon Fizz.

Then I'm going to chill the  ------ out.

Day four of walking brought carpets of jacaranda flowers and wayward looks from men with blowers. The thoughts were cliches, too much thought for the body beautiful and too little breath. My intention was to go to see Dr. Bullwinkle, the next step, but I was reminded of a forgotten Terracotta Warrior left on a desk that very much needed to be delivered to school before sixth period. There's never enough time. What you need to remember disappears, a moment when the blowers are quiet and there's nothing but trees and sky.

Thursday, May 23, 2013

L'Arche, BLOOM and Jean Vanier

I 've written here a few times about L'Arche, the worldwide communities that bring together adults with intellectual disabilities and young adult volunteers who call themselves assistants. The model was conceived by humanist, theologian and philosopher Jean Vanier, and one of my favorite advocates and bloggers, Canadian Louise Kinross at BLOOM, interviewed him earlier this week.

Here's a snippet, but I urge you to click on over and read the whole thing.

BLOOM: Do you think our culture will ever change to the point that people with disabilities are accepted?

Jean Vanier: I think there will always be a tension. I think something has to be done in schools. I think if one can teach right at the beginning of school, not just the need for success and to go up the ladder, but the need for being together. I was at a school in Calcutta where they were in a circle and the ones who were better were helping the ones who were doing less well. It’s to help children to discover the power of love. That togetherness is something incredibly beautiful. 

The fear is that our schools are being run on the power system and children are not learning to be together in a place of happiness and love. This is the problem of deep individualism.

But of course parents are struggling with this. Parents of assistants at L’Arche are struggling with this. I was speaking at a school of one of our assistants and one of the parents said ‘What are your problems at L’Arche?’ 

I said one of the problems is that you’re very happy if your child comes to stay at L’Arche as an assistant for six months. But if your child wants to stay longer, you’re upset. Because you say ‘staying with people like that is degrading.’ 

There’s a whole change needed and let’s begin at the school level, to help children so that they no longer despise a child in the classroom who’s weaker, but they can see that it’s a benefit to everybody and it brings forth the beautiful qualities in children.

Forays into Medical Marijuana

So, I just got back from a walk through the neighborhood, day two of a renewed effort to get more exercise. So far, so good. Despite the dirty sidewalk, I appreciated the street art above, just around the corner from where I live. Yesterday, I finally got around to visiting a medical marijuana pharmacy. After doing a bunch of research, I found a place in West Hollywood that sells the stuff that people with epilepsy are reporting is helping them control their or their children's seizures. The place was on the same block as several stores that had interesting displays of sleazy -- what should I call it? -- costumery -- masks with spikes on them, leather jock straps, whips, and what I guess is the paraphernalia for visits to pleasure dungeons. It's West Hollywood, baby. Anyway, I walked past the large security guard at the entrance and into the weed store, which reminded me a bit of a European pharmacy -- all clean surfaces and white-lab-coated professionals. There were glass apothecary jars filled with bits of this and that and the place smelled divine. It wasn't the smell of pot that I remember from college days -- that sickly perfume that permeated the air -- it was more clean and fresh and pleasant, for lack of a better word. I spoke at length to two people there and got further instructions which include a visit to a Dr. Bullwinkle (all names changed) who will write me a prescription so that I can return to the pharmacy and consult with them on what dosage and component will help the Soph. I'll keep you posted.

Wednesday, May 22, 2013

Headlines you don't want to miss (an extremely black humored post)

Vintage portrait of an Amazigh woman, immaculately dressed and adorned.

the following is dedicated to my fellow Parents from the Land of Epilepsy 
or other Disorders 
and all those who love me and whom I love

So, I'm wondering what to do about the following headlines that came through my email box this afternoon:

Leading Causes for Epilepsy in African Children & Adults

Preventing SUDEP

Next Week Do Not Miss:

  • Valproic acid lowers IQ in kids to age 6
  • Valproic acid is linked to decrease in brain volume

Just so you know, I haven't clicked on the top headline although I have an idea that it's about a strange bacteria or even a  kind of tapeworm. I  know this because about eight years ago, I spent a whole night and several hours of the morning -- the darkest hours before dawn -- Googling seizures, weight loss, fleas, dogs and tapeworms and discovered that there's a tapeworm that makes its way to the brain and causes seizures. Even though this generally happens in Latin America and Africa, I thought at the time that I had discovered something new, that Sophie had been bitten by or swallowed a flea from our new dog at the time, and that said flea had laid eggs, a tapeworm had grown and made its way to her brain and was causing severe weight loss and even more seizures than she had before. I was so convinced of this that when the sun rose, I called our pediatrician and insisted that we do a fecal test to which he happily complied (bless his doctor heart). When it came back negative, I think I only sighed and thought onward.*

The second headline is about SUDEP, or Sudden Unexplained Death in Epilepsy Patients, a sort of SIDS for the epileptic set. It's something to be terrified about and something that has finally, after eons, taken hold in this country as a topic to research and talk about. I've even heard it described as a hot topic in the same tone that some in the epilepsy community use when they lament the fact that autism gets far more publicity and dollars than epilepsy despite the fact that it affects far fewer people. I did not click on the SUDEP title, either, because I'm certain I already do all the things one can possibly do to prevent it outside of being born again and claiming Jesus as my savior. If someone has direct proof (through a double-blind study) that doing so prevents SUDEP, let me know because I'd be all over it.**

The third headline is so enticing, no? A sort of teaser, something tantalizing, held out of reach and done so in order to make the drudgery of our days pass more quickly. Valproic acid or Depakote, is an old-line drug for seizure disorders, and Sophie took it back in the dark ages -- the 1990s! -- when she was not even six months old. She took two forms of it for a few months and despite warnings of stomach ulcers, I am not sure we were aware of its effects on IQ nor the volume of her infant brain. Evidently there have been advancements. Good to know. But we have to wait until NEXT WEEK to read about it.***

So, that's it for today. Next time you read the paper or the headlines and grow insanely confused about what to eat and what not to eat, what will make you fat and what will make you thin or what will give you cancer and what won't, add the above facts to your getting addled brain. Then mull on them for the next few decades, feed a dog and plan a trip to the dark continent, drink a Diet Coke and eat a slice of pizza with extra cheese. Adorn yourself with African jewelry, knit a blanket of sorrows and smoke a shitload of cigarettes while lying on your back on the plain.

*For any of you seizure parents out there who might run to your computers and Google seizure inducing tapeworms, here's the link to the headline that I posted above. Don't tell me what the article says.

**To read more about SUDEP and perhaps check your list of how to prevent it, go here. Again, don't tell me what it says.

***Check back next week.

On a morning walk, without a camera

Picture what looks to be an enormous honeysuckle plant, the bloom as big as the palm of your hand, the pistil as long as your middle finger. Imagine the fragrance as you walk past it and look up to see what that smell is, look up and see it hanging over a wall. You pull one off the vine, apologetically looking up toward the window of the house behind the wall, in case someone is watching, but no one is, so you pull out the pistil (or is it the stamen?), slowly, anticipating the tiny drop of nectar that will appear at the end of the tube. It's dry. Hear, too, the sound of too many crows squawking as they dart and fly and hop over green lawns, the hiss of sprinklers on and off. Picture their black disfavored bodies, wings outspread, the one loud one just overhead. Jump at the crack beside you in the middle of the street, bits of a nut shell, scattered, the sound a tinny gun shot and the crow swoops down to peck at what is freed. Imagine your own head exploding like that, bits of bone, whatever is extraneous, littering the street and only the good stuff left to pick over.

Tuesday, May 21, 2013

How We Do It: Part XXIX in a series***

I'm lying next to Sophie in her room. The sun is going down, and we're watching the light dim through the palm fronds that hang outside her window. They need to come down, but they'll cling there, dry and brown, rustling, until some wind makes it too much. When they fall, they crash. Husks are not supple. Sophie's seizures are elemental like that. They come, errant, and they stop. Dry palms, then clammy, then dry again. A glass mermaid hangs from a paper mâché elephant trunk, and a line-up of Japanese dolls look on. Pillows and rolled up blankets and a thick carpet cushion the fall. Bill Callahan is singing about too many birds. If you could only, if you could only, if you could only stop. If you could only, if you could only, if you could only stop your. If you could only, if you could only, if you could only stop your heart. If you could only stop your heart beat, if you could only stop your heart beat, if you could only stop your heart beat for one heart. If you could only stop your heart beat for one heart beat. Sophie and I are lying here on the purple bedspread, our arms entwined. I'll remember this, the rustling palms, the dry, small palm of her hand, mermaids floating and too many birds.

One more bird, one last bird, and another.

**inspired by Bill Callahan's Too Many Birds which you can listen to by clicking on the title

Monday, May 20, 2013

Bill Clinton called me today

dedicated to my good friend Mary Beth

So far, I've had a very productive day with some really good possible employment leads. I'd be tempted to say that Jesus was involved (especially after that chain email from last night), it was so positive, but unless Sophie spontaneously stops having seizures at some point today, I'm going to attribute my progress to luck and a bit of perseverance rather than the mysterious workings of the Lord. What actually made me the most excited, though, were two things. I discovered an old Tiffany's merchandise credit that was too small for anything Tiffanyish but large enough for a pair of pretty earrings that I ordered online and that will come in a Tiffany box which is really what I like best, anyway. I figure it's a Mother's Day gift for myself. Ahem. The other great thing is that Bill Clinton called me on the land line today. I picked up the phone and when he said, Hi, there. It's Bill Clinton, I felt that old faint, shuddery feeling. I clicked off my computer and settled down to talk. That man can talk. His breath traveled through the wire and right into my ear, and while he talked the whole time about another woman, some woman who is running for mayor in Los Angeles, I was just happy that he'd call at all. Good golly, Miss Molly, as those of us who keep the man a special place in our hearts, say. Good golly, Miss Molly.

New Week, Old Profession

So, I went through my downloaded files on my computer last night and found the above photo, doctored by a dear friend and sent to me a while back. While I normally associate more with the nerdy Marcy and less the bitchy Lucy, her persona is going to work for me this week as I ratchet up the cake business again and look assertively for a job. I have an appointment to go to a pharmacy to procure some medical marijuana this week, too, so I'll be on the other side of the consult table as well. Things are slowing down here, in Los Angeles, and temperatures are heating up. We're in the last weeks before school is out for the summer, and nerves are frayed. Last night, I received one of those goofy angel/God chain emails and actually passed it along to ten of my friends. I'm waiting for the fifth friend to pass it back to me so that someone I love will quietly surprise me. Last night, God is going to fix two BIG things in your favor, so who knows what the day will bring?

Sunday, May 19, 2013

Purple Haze Lenin

So, this was a fairly relaxed weekend. Other than baking cakes and going to one baseball game, I didn't do much. On the way home from Oliver's game, he screamed out Look, Mom! Lenin got a cotton Schwab! That enormous sculpture is right around the corner from our house -- it's a sort of art installation at a gallery that used to be a car dealership and now hosts raucous parties instead of art, except for the great leader. It appeared overnight last fall and is entitled "Lenin with Madame Mao." That's evidently her on the top. My mother takes great offense to this installation as she imagines it's another sign of the great Liberal Conspiracy That Has Enveloped Her Daughter. I try to allay her fears by only wearing my Communist pajamas at night. This weekend, another installation appeared, a dirty cotton swab. My quip was that it apparently signified the reason why Lenin didn't actually listen to the people. He had wax in his ears.

I also made a second cake, this one milk chocolate. I think chocolate is my specialty, to tell you the truth. I'm hoping that I get lots of orders for cakes and cupcakes over the next few months -- enough to buy a new pair of communist pajamas.

This afternoon, a large iguana was sighted strolling through our neighborhood. Here it is on the pathway leading to the Crazy Cat Lady. That thing gave me the creeps, but actually far less so than the Crazy Cat Lady and her infernal cats.

And here is Sophie and me in the late afternoon, as the sun goes down and makes a sort of purple haze in her bedroom. She had a fairly decent weekend. I took her for walks. She stayed in her swing outside while I watered the flowers. She had some seizures and lay beside me while I read a TC Boyle short story in the April 15th issue of The New Yorker. The story satisfied me and had one of the best ending lines I've read in a long time. Sophie loves words on a page and stares intently as I read. I like to imagine that she, too, can read and has a wealth of stories in her head, things to turn over and over and never feels the need to talk about them.


So we woke up this morning on a Sunday like a thousand other Sundays, and I gather no one I know won that Powerball lottery. Yesterday I bought my very first ticket on the way to Oliver's baseball game, along with a glazed jelly donut and an iced coffee (with whole milk). I figured that if I won, tomorrow, I'd have the availability to hire a personal trainer. Today, no one I know won the six hundred million dollars, it's half-sunny out, the fejoya tree is heavy with fruit that no one likes, and I have to bake a chocolate cake with milk chocolate frosting. I'll need to get some exercise and do some laundry, War and Peace is languishing on my bed, I'll avoid The New York Times so that I don't have to read about the IRS, and I'll probably curse under my breath a few times in irritation at some thing or another, and then I'll finger some beads and pray that a job will fall into my lap tomorrow morning. Sophie will have no more seizures, Oliver's eyes will suddenly let go of words that writhe and hide, Henry will hit consistent home runs, The Husband will decide that I am a goddess, and I? I will stand like a tree first and then fly.

Saturday, May 18, 2013

Hula Hula

The Baker is very, very tired.

WARNING: This cake is not subtle.

Blue Velvet Cake with Vanilla Buttercream

The Baker is Back

via Etsy

This morning I was up at 6:30 baking a cake. I've got two cake orders today, orders I took at the last minute because My Other Job has drawn to a close, and I need the work. I have a Blue Velvet Cake with Purple Frosting and a Luau Theme to make today and a Milk Chocolate Chocolate Cake tomorrow. I will, of course, post photos later.

If you know of anyone who needs to hire a baker, please let me know. I can also advocate for children with special healthcare needs, review grants, create caregiver manuals and train caregivers, write grants and pull my legs over my head.

Reader, what are you up to this weekend?

Friday, May 17, 2013

Words and Mules

Last night I drove east while Mr. Darcy read The End of the Affair to me and even though the mountains were a postcard backdrop to the winding road and the sky above a hazy gray, it was words that enveloped me, perfect English words, strung together just so, so that I knew nothing but the story and the story was mine, remembered. Naked, we wrap ourselves in words, and stories find us precisely at the moment they should, where the sky meets the mountain and the mountain meets the road and the road meets us, hurtling forward. A Moscow Mule at the end, with a moon slice of lime.

Thursday, May 16, 2013

You cannot prevent the birds of sorrow 
from flying over your head,
but you can prevent them from
building nests in your hair.

Chinese Proverb

Gone Missing

Even though it's from the satiric newspaper The Onion, this story resonated and made me laugh out loud:

ROANOKE, VA—According to reports from stunned Melberg family sources, Mom just walked up the stairs, slammed the door to her bedroom, and locked it.
The shocking incident occurred shortly before dinner time in the Melberg home at 46 Fairmoor St. Although Mom had reportedly been silently chopping vegetables in the kitchen, showing no signs of outward agitation or anger, multiple sources confirmed seeing her walk briskly through the living room and up the stairs before locking herself in her bedroom at approximately 6:38 p.m.

It reminded me of some notes I'd scratched in my little purse notebook the other day when I was listening to NPR in the carpool line at The Brothers' school. I was listening to a story related to the saving of the three women who had been kidnapped and held hostage for nearly a decade in Ohio. The woman on the program was some kind of official at a national organization that compiles data on missing persons, and she had a thick, lovely southern accent. She sounded matter-of-fact and kind at the same time even though she was basically detailing statistics about how many people "go missing" each year, how many are found and how many of these are children, runaways, etc. As you might suspect, while there are hundreds of thousands of people reported missing each year, most are resolved and only a tiny percentage are open cases. At some point in the woman's discussion, she said (in her thick southern accent) -- and I'll paraphrase here -- that some folks just go missin' on their own accord. They up and leave their families and disappear. They might start a new life in some other place, change their name, you name it. It's your right to go missin' and some do just that. 

Reader, despite the gravity of the Ohio story and the prospect of losing one's child, I practically burst out laughing when she spoke. I thought, as I sat in the carpool line I want to just go missing. Now, before you act all concerned and leave earnest comments, I'm not threatening to go missing. I'm just saying. 

Wednesday, May 15, 2013

A Notice That Yours Truly (me) Will Be Reading in the Southland

along with other contributors to my favorite writing teacher and mentor, Barbara Abercrombie's new book, Kicking in the Wall. I have two small pieces that Barbara included in the book and will probably be reading one or both tonight along with a few other people and the great woman herself. Here's the notice for any of you Los Angeles, Pasadena or southern California people out there. It'll be fun!

You can read more about Barbara's book here and purchase it at your local bookstore or here.

The Best Blog Post Evah

In case you missed it, you can read my earlier post HERE. I got this graphic novella from a Reader named Missy Slick.

illustrated by Missy Slick

My posse is growing and my gratitude overflows.

Tuesday, May 14, 2013

I am wondering whether you

would rather see the pile of papers in my filing box, papers that I need to go through and make sense of, insurance claims, etc., that reach all the way up to suicidal Virginia Woolf's nose:


see what I made myself for lunch today, smoked lemon pepper salmon with cream cheese on a toasted bagel, positioned in front of hydrangeas and roses?


listen to the poet Frank O'Hara read An Airplane Whistle (after Heine) which is not from his collection titled Lunch Poems.

Stealing Jimmy Dean

Bonnie Parker, 1934

The woman in front of me in the check-out line had at least thirty cans of dog food on the conveyor belt. She was dressed in tiny shorts and a tee-shirt, her hair too blonde for her age, her voice brassy and loud, too loud for the grocery store line at 10:00 pm. I felt judgmental. I had promised The Brothers that I would buy some of those frozen biscuits with sausage and cheese for this morning's breakfast. The Brothers have to take onerous state standardized tests this week, so a hearty breakfast is in order, and the crap will ease their hearts if not sharpen their brains. The cashier was a buoyant young man, trim and neat, and he kept up a constant stream of chatter as he scanned each can of dog food. What kind of dog do you have? he asked the lady. Oh, he's a mix, she replied. What's his name, the cashier asked. It's Salad, the lady said, and then quickly added that her dog had seizures and that's why they called him Salad. The cashier looked blank but laughed quickly and loudly when she clarified. His name was Caesar, but he started having seizures so we call him Salad, now. As the cashier put the last can of dog food into the woman's bag, I pulled out my pistol and shot straight through the can with such force that dog food splattered both cashier and customer who were both struck dumb as I picked my way through the mess and walked out of the store with the Jimmy Dean sausage biscuits stuffed into my bag. I nodded at the thin sliver of moon that shone down on the parking lot, stepped into my car and peeled off, toward home.

Monday, May 13, 2013

He slid further down as it reached his shoulders, in a kind of
nirvana not based on freedom from desires but on attainment.

-- from Salter's All That Is

The dog prances like a circus pony, silly in purple. The Filipino caregiver next door hoses the lawn, his phone on speaker, and as he inches toward her in navy Crocs his voice grows loud, Tagalog, and the water in the hose smells like childhood, redolent of summers. A car goes by, too fast, and the girl in the wheelchair drools over the hairbrush that she rubs over her mouth, over and over. The woman looks down at her arched foot and blue toenails, a pink ridge on the top from her clogs, the resignation of age. A crystal wine glass sits on the stone pathway, from another marriage, an unaccustomed sauvignon blanc. The sun sets slowly behind her back and the mockingbirds jeer.

Redolent of the Sea

A Tiny Clue

You could spend your entire life
eavesdropping on the mermaid
before you'd pickup the tiniest little clue
about where she was really from. One autumn day
    I happened upon
her and her child
while she was comforting it under her shawl,

'You are not the blue-green pup of the seal.
You are not the grey chick of the greater black-backed gull.
You are not that kit of the otter. Nor are you
the calf of the slender hornless cow.'

This was the lullaby she was singing
but she stopped short
immediately she realized
someone else was in the neighborhood.

I had the distinct sense she was embarrassed
I'd overheard her in the first place.
I also came away with the impression
the lullaby was, to put it mildly, redolent of the sea.

Nuala Ni Dhomhnaill, from The Fifty Minute Mermaid, translated by Paul Muldoon

Sunday, May 12, 2013

It's Enough

Let's be honest. I dreaded writing a post for Mother's Day. I knew things were going to be -- interesting -- when I came home from an all-day writing workshop yesterday afternoon and had to reassure Oliver that it was all right if he had forgotten to take the money Dad had given him and walk around the corner to our neighborhood store to buy me a present. A few hours later, Henry came home from his last baseball game, angry and upset that he had only played two innings and that they had lost the game and baseball was over and he sucked as a player and I don't want to talk about it anymore, Mom. An hour or so after that, The Husband came home and I overheard some tight whispering and then Oliver stormed down the hall to his room.

Reader, why the hell is there this silly day that we call Mother's Day? Why, why, why are we set up, year after year to engage in this charade of celebration? As much as I love and am grateful for my mother, I can't remember a single Mother's Day as a child. Did we do enough? Did Dad buy appropriate gifts for her? Was she happy? Did she feel taken for granted? Sigh.

I woke up this morning to texts from both of my sisters, Melissa and Jennifer, whom I rarely write about or mention on the blog. They are both terrific mothers, and we are probably better friends now, at the ages of 39, 47 and 49 than we ever were as children. We share the same brutal sense of humor and realized that even now at our advanced ages, we are hard put to appreciate enough our own mother and feel appreciated enough by our own children. We won't even talk about The Husbands. What the hey?

I woke up this morning to no presents, but The Husband made me my favorite breakfast and gave me perfectly gorgeous flowers. It's enough. It's enough. It's enough.

Happy Mother's Day to the rest of you. Now let's begin again tomorrow, my favorite day of the week.


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