Monday, June 30, 2014

Smells Like Bullshit, Round 4,567,893

I used to regularly do a Smells Like Bullshit post, back in the days when George W was at the helm, and it was near impossible to spend a day without catching a whiff. I've done less ranting and raving on this blog to some of you's delight and haven't really engaged with any conservative trolls in ages and ages, mainly because it's pretty boring to listen to rants and raves from whatever viewpoint you espouse. I'll admit to always having what might be called a problem with authority that hearkens back not as long as my childhood, as I was quite a good girl back in Mid-Century Times. It might have started when my 35 year old boss at the retail brokerage firm where I was working advised me to take on the railroad companies and I said NO! and he said Don't you think we know best what's good for your career? and I said, NO! and quit my job right there, packed up my little photos and African violet and objets d'art from my desk, turned off the gargantuan computer and walked out the door. True, I became a waitress at a restaurant on Music Row and was later trained as a cook by a wife-murderer on furlough, but I didn't respect his authority, either, and I would have been hard put to come up with entertaining stories about utility companies and the craven men who worked in the corner offices of that company, anyway.


My first impulse this morning when I read about the Supreme Court rulings (both the Hobby Lobby and union ones) was f!#*k the Supreme Court. I've always hated the word supreme anything. I like even less the phrase the law of the land which apparently means less and less in this godforsaken primitive country anyway. It's the law that women govern their reproductive rights, their bodies, their health. Isn't it? Apparently not. Screw all the fundamentalist Christians who believe their right to practice their religion trumps a woman's right to get appropriate access to medicine and treatment. I imagine the legions of crafty women who shop at Hobby Lobby making little rubber Jesuses fly around on dinosaurs at this point and their husbands coming to pick them up afterward with machine guns slung over their shoulders, the better to protect them from the likes of us. What kind of name is Hobby Lobby, anyway? Is this a joke? The Supreme Court and Hobby Lobby sounds like a new Taco Bell menu item and definitely smells like bullshit.

Sunday, June 29, 2014


It's barely two o'clock, and I've just collapsed on my bed after helping Sophie to her room, peeling off my sweaty clothes and guzzling cold water. I walked Sophie to LACMA this morning, loathe to sit around the house and wait for the teenagers to arise. As you know, Sophie can walk, but not for great distances, so I pushed her along and periodically stopped, helped her up and out to stretch and walk for a bit. What a good idea! I thought to myself many times as I made my way to the museum. No, this isn't build-up to some catastrophe. Look on it, rather, as the proverbial drop of water on the forehead, tortuously slow but torture all the same. What's going to happen? A caregiver and her daughter -- more and more, as Sophie ages, I morph into Caregiver and less Mother. We took the elevator up to the third floor and walked around big empty galleries lined with Greek sculpture.

I thought the dim lights and empty echoing rooms would somehow calm Sophie as she was moaning and groaning, shifting and fidgeting in her chair. She wanted to get up, she wanted to sit down. She wanted something. I don't know if she wanted anything.

Drip. Drip. Drip.

I might have hissed a few times for her to be quiet. Stop moaning. (Caregiver/Mother knew she wasn't in pain or uncomfortable. Don't ask me why. I just knew.)

Sophalofa Sophamona.Sophamoaner.

I was acutely aware of the random people walking through. Sophie's groans and moans echoed, and people stared. I looked straight ahead. I set my jaw. I pretended not to notice. The imaginary conversation that runs in my head nearly non-stop included Relax! No one notices! It's like when a baby that's not yours cries -- it's really only irritating to the mother! Except for on airplanes! Maybe Sophie is just vocalizing now that her brain isn't so occupied with seizing! That's a good thing! You're dreaming! It's fucking obnoxious, and I don't think I can stand it anymore! My life is ruined! But isn't that statue amazing? Those implacable faces, sightless. Should I take a photo of the headless woman? She's more ruined than I. 

Drip Drip.

I got on an elevator and made my way to the Southeast Asian art rooms. They were totally empty and even more dim than the Greeks. I thought that surely here Sophie would be quiet. I imagined myself as Tibetan, calm and tranquil, also implacable, yet with a smile that hinted at humor. I let my shoulders relax and let Sophie moan. I didn't hiss.

The ideal woman in Tibet had large breasts, was curvy and earthy. I wished I were Tibetan, knew that I'd be a better Tibetan woman than American, pushing my disabled groaning daughter around a fancy museum, stifling my own hisses.

You can't strive for implacability, much less equanimity.

The walk home was excruciatingly hot. Sophie moaned the whole time, kicked off her shoes and kept dragging her bare toes on the sidewalk. I kept having to stop and put them back up on the footrest. I felt sweat dribbling down my back and my face in flames. I even stopped hissing and just did it. Pushed and walked, told Sophie that we'd be home soon and she could walk around her room and I'd leave her alone. At some point I stopped to rest, took a selfie and sent it to one of my fellow extreme parents with the caption Angry Caregiver Mother. She texted back We should start a calendar! I won't include it here but rather let you think of me more like this:

Drip Drip.

Maybe this:

***Angry Caregiver Mother

Saturday, June 28, 2014

What to do on the one day you have a caretaker other than your mother all day as she watches lacrosse in Manhattan Beach

Sleep, of course, and have no seizures or need to walk around outside or be otherwise distracted and entertained. Make sure that your saintly caretaker has nothing to do for the majority of the day but take adorable photos of you and send them to your mother while she sits in Manhattan Beach watching her teenager play lacrosse and fields her other teenager's incessant questions and requests for food.

What to do before driving to Manhattan Beach for a lacrosse game

Lie in bed and read Roz Chast's new graphic memoir Can't we talk about something more PLEASANT?, laugh your fanny off, periodically text a couple of friends and continue to laugh your fanny off, wake the still-sleeping teenager at noon and inform him that he needs to begin his toilette in order to make the lacrosse game in Manhattan Beach, continue reading Chast's brilliant and brilliantly funny memoir (how does anyone manage to convey so much emotion and life with a bunch of brush strokes?) and post a selfie of yourself with your vehicle, a sexy white Mazda that is really your better half.

Friday, June 27, 2014

I'm writing, I really am

via Distractify

Just when I thought there was really nothing, nothing going on today other than to patiently wait for The Teenagers to arise from their boudoirs at noon, I stumbled upon both the website where the photo above appeared and Medscape, who emailed me Rare and Unusual Psychiatric Syndromes. Distractify is totally terrific, chock-full of amazing black and white photos of both celebrities and ordinary people doing ordinary and extraordinary things. You should check it out if, like me, you're dilly-dallying with your writing, waiting for your own teenagers to arise from their slumbers and go out into the wide world to make something of themselves, or waiting for the district school bus to bring your daughter home from her extended school year program.

If one of those teenagers does wake up, you can quickly switch over to MedScape, the interminably boring academic medical site where those of us who have children born before the Golden Age of  Easy Information (basically, Huffpost users) used to slog through -- usually in vain -- trying to figure out what might help our kids by reading abstracts about neurologic conditions, pharmaceutical studies and rare diseases. Today, Medscape sent a tantalizing abstract entitled Rare and Unusual Psychiatric Syndromes. It's a smorgasbord of a slideshow detailing the strangest psychiatric conditions known to man and womankind, including many that I've heard of (Stendhal Syndrome! Love it!) and many that I haven't. My favorites today were Paris Syndrome, an unusual state exclusive to Japanese nationals who experience a mental breakdown while visiting the famous French capital, Foreign Accent Syndrome, whereby someone speaks their native language as if they had a foreign accent and Alien Hand Syndrome, the misattribution and belief that one's hand does not belong to one's self but that has its own life.

Wow. How can anyone be bored with stuff like this to read and wonder about? If The Teenagers even speak of boredom or ask me what they can doooooooooo, mom? I might fake Capgras Syndrome, characterized by a person's delusional belief that an acquaintance, usually a spouse or other close family member, has been replaced by an identical looking impostor or several doubles.

I don't know who you are! I'll say to the strange yet incredibly good-looking teenagers that ask me to drive them somewhere. Then I'll watch as my hand, as if alien, places itself on the steering wheel and drives the imposters to lacrosse practice in some godforsaken place in the deep, dark Valley.

Thursday, June 26, 2014

Sometimes, if you yell loud enough, yammer on enough and yoke the Powers That Be,

you can yodel in joy. I pulled out of my driveway this morning to go to an appointment and saw all this hullabaloo on the street.

Those are curb cuts going into our neighborhood. Remember when I wrote that open letter to our councilman? I'll be honest. That probably would have been as far as I'd take it. If you haven't figured it out already, I'm beat and bushed, bitter and nearly broken. I might be able to write a good letter and make some calls (years and years worth of calls), but I was basically just extra pissed the day I pressed publish. Perhaps ten years ago or so, I might have just put on a hard hat, gotten Oliver to go buy me a jackhammer with his lemonade stand money and done it myself. But, these days? I'm closer to being my Italian grandmother -- you know -- the one who walked around with a rosary, muttering pray that I die, pray that I die. Well, several wonderful folks in my neighborhood read it and jumped on it and encouraged me to pursue it. We all did it, and lo and behold, it worked. Thank you.

Yup and Yessiree Bob.


When I got into my car this morning to move it from the driveway and make space for Sophie's aide's car, I noticed immediately that the interior was trashed. Everything from the dash had been dumped in the front passenger seat, papers were everywhere, the box in-between the two front seats where I store CDs was also open and the contents strewed in the back. My little copy of Frank O'Hara's Lunch Poems that I keep in the compartment on my door was draped over the driver headrest. I don't feel like making metaphor of that. I've felt such unease of late, a sort of restless dread and tamped down anxiety. I could probably list the reasons for these vague feelings, but I won't because I'm also feeling over-exposed and loathe to reveal anything more. Even yesterday I witnessed a terrible breakdown of a Facebook friend that played out online and made me feel old and disconnected from what moves many people these days. When I went for a walk the other day, I stood at the bottom of this old, enormous tree and looked upward to where the branches spread out and laced the sky. I wanted to embrace it, lay my head on it, be absolved.

       Have you forgotten what we were like then
       when we were still first rate
       and the day came fat with an apple in its mouth
       it's no use worrying about Time
       but we did have a few tricks up our sleeves
       and turned some sharp corners
       the whole pasture looked like our meal
       we didn't need speedometers
       we could manage cocktails out of ice and water
       I wouldn't want to be faster
       or greener than now if you were with me O you
       were the best of all my days
       Frank O'Hara (1950)

Wednesday, June 25, 2014

On being "legit"

I have absolutely never been any good in any sport except, strangely and inexplicably, bowling. I am a damn good bowler. I took Oliver and his friend bowling this afternoon, tied those lovely size nines on and started with a spare. Ya'll, I haven't bowled in probably five years. I think the last time might have been at Henry's birthday party that I know I chronicled on this blog. I'm too lazy to find the link. But my ever-growing Italian peasant arms are strong as hell even if it felt as if my thumb got some nerve damage.

I got a couple strikes and spares, one gutter ball and miscellaneous. And I beat both of those teenage boys. Afterward, when I treated the losers to lunch, I was mocked during a brilliant discussion about french fries for never using the right phrase when ordering a certain kind from In N Out (I'll admit here that I purposely use monster fries instead of animal-style fries just to get their teenager goats. Don't tell.). I sighed and said, Yeah, I guess I'm just a big uncool dork. Oliver's friend told me so is my mom (his mother is a beautiful, very funky, very brilliant and very accomplished artist with multiple degrees from Ivy League universities and about as removed from uncool dork as I am from world's greatest and leanest female athlete), but later they said that I was legit as far as bowling goes.
Here's the proof:

I bet with a little practice I could join a league and start traveling. This might be my ticket out. What do you think The Teenagers would think of me, then?

Carrie and Today's Blog Inertia, Overturned

I've been sitting at my computer all morning, filling out online health insurance claims, making neat stacks of paperwork, listening to the tinny strains of the Los Angeles Unified School District's hold music and periodically staring at this blank white space wondering what to write. I posted the daisy photo as inspiration because you just never know what'll strike you. As you know, I rarely have blog inertia, but in feeling sort of over-exposed and dry, dry, dry, I've been basically just conjuring up tidbits and observations of late. Offline, I'm working on a short story and -- well -- enough blathering about nothing.

My writer friend Carrie Link of love. and the author of one of my favorite memoirs, Will of God, just heroically rose out of her own self-described blog inertia and posted an amazing review of my mini memoir. You can read it here.

Thank you, Carrie and thank all of you who've downloaded and read this thing. It means the world to me, to use a blog inertia-provoked phrase.


Tuesday, June 24, 2014

Tiny Spikes

I feel a little bit like a woman careening out of control with a strange compulsion to tell all to every person I meet on the street and otherwise. I bet if you emailed me or asked me a question here, I'd answer with so much detail you'd be embarrassed for me.

What's the difference between being impaled and picking tiny little spikes out of yourself?

I have a tiny little terrarium with a tiny little cactus with tiny little spikes shooting out of it, just perfectly tiny and tinily perfect. I put a tiny little woman with a tiny little sign in front of it, zoomed in with my cellphone and took a picture. I feel like her, except for the tiny part.

P.S. If you've read my e-book and feel so inclined, would you mind leaving a review on Amazon? Here's the link.


American Crow by John James Audubon

Some days call for crows, their diabolical hop across the street, their strident harping at one another. The other day I could swear two of them, hanging at the end of the neighbor's driveway, were arguing. I thought I heard a derisory remark about the new Georgia gun law from the smart one, the one who sits up in the tree all day long, translating to the others. The others are always bewildered, screaming about this house or that, about the cat who looks more like a dog at the corner. The others are paranoid, feel threatened, exercise their liberties by stealing nuts from the old man in the gray house's tree, dash them onto the pavement, stoop down and pick at the pieces, like bits of brain. The smart one had enough at one point, it seemed to me. He flew down more like a bat out of hell, driving the others apart with his scream.

Monday, June 23, 2014

Hexagram 31

Do any of ya'll throw the iChing? Well, without going all Nancy Reagan on you, I do -- particularly when I'm stumped in life which is, of late, nearly all the time. I've got three pennies that I throw after asking the oracle a question -- I've used the same coins for nearly thirty years, ever since I took Chinese language and lit classes in college and bought myself the Wilhelm/Baynes translation, that thick gray and yellow The I Ching or Book of Changes. I also use R.L.Wing's The I Ching Workbook to help me decipher the reading. I'm not exaggerating or acting all I only dress in red designer clothes if I told you that this ancient divination tool is incredibly illuminating and often a bit scary. I guess you could say -- given those principles of synchronicity -- that it's only as scary as your own scary self, and if you don't know what I'm talking about I apologize. I'm really not in the mood to spell it all out.  I'm too suspicious to tell you what question I asked today, suspicious and also deeply respectful of the principles of synchronicity (that Wilhelm/Baynes translation has a kick-ass introduction by C.J. Jung himself). Anyway, I got Hexagram 31 or Attraction, in its static form. Here's what Wing has to say about it:

In an unchanging form, ATTRACTION indicates it may be necessary to be receptive and open to all that comes into your life at all times. KEN, tranquillity and stillness, is in the lower trigram attracting TUI, joy and pleasure. A tranquil openness allows you to influence and be influenced, bringing the joy of shared experience into your life. This spontaneous mutual influence, perhaps a love affair, must be experienced before there is change.


Reader, if you have thrown the iChing, do you have any interesting stories to share?


I don't know those people in the photo, but a week ago, when I took the photo, that was the about the fifth time that they had passed Sophie and me and stared, openly, at her. You can't see their children, either, all of whom openly stared with nary a remonstrance (how's that for a phrase) from their parents. I finally lifted my phone and snapped them, deciding that I would perhaps start a new hashtag. The #don'tstarepaparazzi.

Call me bitter or call me dark humored. I don't care.

Yesterday, as I struggled to push Sophie's wheelchair up over the curb -- remember, we don't have curb cuts on our street because the city of Los Angeles is taking its sweet time and only doing so in certain neighborhoods -- I felt beleaguered about feeling beleaguered. These are the times when the perpetuity of this caregiving job sort of overtakes the glory and honor of it all.

Call me bitter or call me dark humored. I don't care.

I pushed Sophie up the small hill that leads to the pathway that leads to our front door and stopped to rest for a moment. I was chatting with a friend from up the street. Multiple minivans were parked in front of my house, the vehicle of choice for the many Orthodox Jewish families that live in our area. They have lots of children because there is some kind of edict in the Old Testament that demands for them to multiply. I have no trouble with the Old Testament and have no trouble with the Orthodox other than a faint discomfort with the oppression of the females, but that could be the subject of another post where I could perhaps rope in my feelings about the current Pope of the Catholic Church who people love to lionize but who might actually be just another chip off the old Catholic block.


A neighbor was having a birthday party around the corner, hence the minivans. As I stood there, bitter and dark-humored, resting from care-giving in perpetuity, a woman who looked to be about twenty-five with a baby on her hip, pushing a stroller with another baby inside,  and three little children trailing her, walked right past us. The three little children trailing her stared at Sophie. One child stopped and swiveled her head, Exorcist-style and stared. Her sister scurried to catch up with her mother, her head turned owl-like, her eyes bugged out. The mother turned to call her trailing children to her minivan while I simultaneously reassured the children Hi, there! It's okay to say hello! Her name is Sophie! No one said anything, not even the mother. Sure, she might have been exhausted having just hauled her five children to a birthday party with the rest of the day ahead of her. She might have sensed that I was a Bitter and Dark Humored Caregiver in Perpetuity. She and her three hundred children scurried into their minivan, the automatic door swung shut and they were off, leaving me to my bitter thoughts.

I might have thrown back my head and howled the laugh of the maniac. Yeah! I might have cried, Keep that ridiculous wig on, covering your shameful sexuality! And you, little girl, keep staring! One day, if you choose to stay in the faith to which you've been born, you'll be stared at, too! If your mother keeps having babies, you'll be bound to have a sibling that will have something worthy of staring! I might have grabbed my phone and taken a picture, labeled it #don'tstarepaparazzi.

Instead, I pushed Sophie up the path to the front door and went inside.

Call me bitter or call me dark humored. I don't care.

Sunday, June 22, 2014

California Lacrosse

Henry and I drove up to the Santa Barbara area on Friday morning for a big southern California lacrosse tournament. Did I tell you that Henry turned his passion for living from a baseball oriented one to a lacrosse oriented one? We arrived a few hours early and decided to poke around Summerland, a town just up the road from the polo grounds where this massive tournament was held. We parked our car on a little, winding road called Eucalyptus Lane and walked toward the ocean.

I bet some of you don't know that the entire coast of California is considered public and that beach access is public, too. That means you can walk past these crazy big private estates and gazillion dollar beach shacks but still put your toes in the Pacific. When I saw this path and this view and took the following photos, my thought was How and why would anyone live anywhere else than southern California? Remember that it's golden sunny, the air is about seventy degrees and there is no humidity. There's a soft breeze, too. Since I didn't arrange any of this, it's not like I'm bragging, but really -- why, why would anyone not live here?

I know there are lots of reasons not to live in southern California, but I was hard put to figure out a single one except if living in southern California also required a two day, seven-game lacrosse tournament (three games on Friday evening and four on Saturday, the first with a check-in time of 6:15 am). Then again, when you play in  a lacrosse tournament in Carpinteria, you play on a polo field with bougainvillea ringing the green grass, beautiful horses grazing next to the fields and smoky mountains reaching up through a fine early monring mist into the bluest sky that turns pink and golden when the sun goes down.

I guess that's enough rhapsodizing about the weather and the landscape and complaining about being a teenaged boy sports mom. Henry's team didn't do very well, losing to some of the best lacrosse teams from California, Arizona and Nevada, but I know he had a load of fun and slept nearly the whole way back to Los Angeles.

The next tournament is in Morgan Hill, up near San Jose, in July.

Help me, Rhonda.

Saturday, June 21, 2014

Thursday's Child

The publisher at SheBooks let me know that I was one of the seven women who "dared to do it their way," selected by a writer at BlogHer. Paige Bennett wrote a review of her favorite seven memoirs, one for each day of the week, and she selected Hope for a Sea Change as Thursday's pick.

Thank you so much, Paige and BlogHer!

Here's the link.

Here's the link to download my ebook at Shebooks. 

Consider signing up for a membership/subscription to Shebooks. For only $7.95, you can download all the short fiction and memoir you'd like -- I have found so much great writing on this new platform and am proud and excited to be a part of it!

P.S. I just got back from a grueling trip to Santa Barbara where I drove and then sat and watched seven lacrosse games. I will recover soon and try to post some photos.

Friday, June 20, 2014


What delights me is this: sitting on my bed with a cup of coffee in a yellow cup, planning what I'll read next, what book, what collection of essays, what poetry, what to download and what to hold in hand. I'm finishing Updike's Couples, have devoured its smutty pages even while walking. The story has made me feel lonely in the best way. I've got Lily King's Euphoria next -- she was a college classmate of mine, an old friend with whom I've lost touch, but I love her novels. Helen Oyeyemi's Boy, Snow, Bird sits beside my bed, the cover green with a snake and a pink rose. I've read a few of the chapters but will start over because I was distracted by the same loneliness with which Updike seduced me. I read an interview with Oyeyemi this morning (my yellow cup at my mouth), and she spoke of Maggie Nelson's Bluets, a book about the love of blue.  I read a bit of that, know I'll read the rest.  These things delight me, yellow at my mouth, blue breath.

Reader, what will you read next?

Thursday, June 19, 2014

Sophie and Sandra Cisneros, Part Two

It's hard to see with this screen shot, but she's smiling broadly. Another sparkly day for the Soph.

Exposed and Nauseous

I sat at the DMV this morning, waiting for Henry to complete (and pass!) his driver's permit test. He passed. I'm the mother of a young person who is learning to drive.

I've been thinking about exposure this morning. I keep getting emails from all over the world since I spoke at the Epilepsy Pipeline Conference a week ago. The emails are long and involved. They tell me about treatments for seizures and they include abstracts from studies. They ask me questions and expect me to reply. When I don't reply, they wonder why. Sometimes I feel bored with this blog, and then I remember that people are reading it, that it's not all about me, but it is, and then I feel exposed. Self-exposed. Just something to think about.

It's been a while since I've written a rant and, frankly, rants sort of bore me now, too. At least my own rants bore me. I've been feeling sick to my stomach the last couple of days, thinking about that nasty Dick Cheney and his nasty spawned daughter and their jointly penned nasty piece in The Wall Street Journal. Have ya'll read it? If nothing else, Dick Cheney is proof that there's probably no God, at least a god of justice and light, because -- well -- Cheney is still alive, still believes in the righteousness of America's invasion of Iraq and still justifies our country's use of torture on prisoners. On top of it, he accuses President Obama of "not caring about terrorism." Maybe saying that Cheney is proof that there's no God is too strong a statement - maybe he does, in fact, prove that there is certainly an evil force in the world, some dark beast crouching toward -- forget it. Really, though, why the hell is he still talking, still spilling his fake heart-less venom all over us? Even George W. Bush has retreated to his ranch and self-portraits in the bathtub. I suppose there are plenty of people out there that think just like Cheney -- people I'm even related to, maybe -- so he has an audience, but like I said, I'm bored by rants and Cheney's viewpoint makes me sick to my stomach.

Here's a rant that's awesome in its vulgarity. I wonder if I'd feel liberated from my nausea if I'd written it.

Wednesday, June 18, 2014

Tiny Matters

Dang. I have some beautiful children.

The older I get, the more I'm conscious of ways very small things can make a change in the world. Tiny little things, but the world is made up of tiny matters, isn't it?
Sandra Cisneros

Sophie and her aide M got off the bus this afternoon, stepped down into the green grass and out into the sparkly air. It is sparkly, this sunny day in Los Angeles. M reported that Sophie had had a great day. She said they'd visited the school library, just down the hallway from The Ugly Room. She said that they had sat down and that she had read aloud from a collection of Sandra Cisneros' short stories. Sophie listened intently, M said, and focused on the book. She seems to really like print, M said, and I nodded. I've noticed that, too, a tiny matter that makes up the world.

This day sparkles.

Summer Poem

Summer Song

William Carlos Williams1883 - 1963
Wanderer moon
smiling a
faintly ironical smile
at this
brilliant, dew-moistened
summer morning,—
a detached
sleepily indifferent
smile, a
wanderer’s smile,—
if I should
buy a shirt
your color and
put on a necktie
where would they carry me?

Tuesday, June 17, 2014

Reuben Casserole and Yeats

Misery doesn't always reign over here at a moon, worn as if it had been a shell. Since I just had to type out that ridiculous title to this blog, I think I should apprise those of you who are new readers why it's so unwieldy. Then I'll tell ya'll about the titular Reuben Casserole. When I started this blog almost exactly six years ago, I thought it was going to be a little poetry, a little parenting, a little of this and a little of that. I didn't know blogs from War and Peace, so I gave it a line from one of my favorite W.B. Yeats poems. The poem is called Adam's Curse, and I'd venture to say that some of the lines are the most beautiful in the English language, particularly when you say them out loud.

Here, try it:

Adam's Curse

We sat together at one summer’s end,
That beautiful mild woman, your close friend,   
And you and I, and talked of poetry.
I said, ‘A line will take us hours maybe;
Yet if it does not seem a moment’s thought,   
Our stitching and unstitching has been naught.   
Better go down upon your marrow-bones   
And scrub a kitchen pavement, or break stones   
Like an old pauper, in all kinds of weather;   
For to articulate sweet sounds together
Is to work harder than all these, and yet   
Be thought an idler by the noisy set
Of bankers, schoolmasters, and clergymen   
The martyrs call the world.’
                                          And thereupon
That beautiful mild woman for whose sake   
There’s many a one shall find out all heartache   
On finding that her voice is sweet and low   
Replied, ‘To be born woman is to know—
Although they do not talk of it at school—
That we must labour to be beautiful.’
I said, ‘It’s certain there is no fine thing   
Since Adam’s fall but needs much labouring.
There have been lovers who thought love should be   
So much compounded of high courtesy   
That they would sigh and quote with learned looks   
Precedents out of beautiful old books;   
Yet now it seems an idle trade enough.’

We sat grown quiet at the name of love;   
We saw the last embers of daylight die,   
And in the trembling blue-green of the sky   
A moon, worn as if it had been a shell   
Washed by time’s waters as they rose and fell   
About the stars and broke in days and years.

I had a thought for no one’s but your ears:   
That you were beautiful, and that I strove   
To love you in the old high way of love;
That it had all seemed happy, and yet we’d grown   
As weary-hearted as that hollow moon.


Did you sigh, particularly after that penultimate verse?

Anywho. This casserole is outrageous, especially if you like a reuben. Vegetarians, vegans and bottled Thousand Island dressing haters need read no further.


1 32 oz. jar of sauerkraut
2 tsp caraway seeds
1 medium onion, diced
1 pound Swiss/Gruyere cheese, grated
3/4 lb. sliced pastrami (or corned beef), cut up roughly
1 giant bottle of Thousand Island dressing (I got Ken's Steakhouse brand under the illusion/delusion that it's less chemical-y than the standard brand) or 2 cups
6 slices of Rye Bread, cut into 1-inch cubes
1/4 cup butter, melted

Preheat oven to 375 degrees.

1. Drain sauerkraut and rinse.
2. In a large bowl, combine sauerkraut, onions, caraway seeds.
3. Spread mixture evenly into the bottom of a casserole dish.
4. Top with half of the cheese, half of the salad dressing and all of the pastrami. Top with the remaining salad dressing and the remaining cheese.
5. In a large bowl toss the bread cubes with the melted butter to coat. Sprinkle bread cubes over casserole.
6. Bake, uncovered, about 35 minutes or until heated through and bread cubes are browned.

Knock yourself out.

Mini Cannabis Update and Pigs Flying

Sophie has been struggling this week, right through the full moon and beyond. We've added THCa to her medical marijuana regime and have refrained from another Onfi wean. That sentence sounds almost like a foreign language, doesn't it? Last night I spoke with our fantastic Dr. Goldstein who had heard from a few other patients that the newest batch of Charlotte's Web has a lower ratio of CBD to THC, and she suggested the drop might be part of the reason why Sophie is having increased seizures. So far, the best reaction to Charlotte's Web, for Sophie, has been the 28:1 - 32:1 oil, and the one she's using right now is 21:1. We're waiting to see whether we can get a higher ratio, and I have a feeling that that will do the trick.

It's more interesting to me than anything else -- this tinkering and observation of this fantastic new medicine for Sophie. I have a good amount of faith that we'll figure it out, and Sophie will be on her way again to seizure freedom.

I know this blog has been weighty of late -- the Blog of Misery, one of my friends told me -- but I actually feel pretty positive about Charlotte's Web and the stellar cast of characters who are making it happen. I saw that Florida's Bozo of a governor actually signed a medical marijuana bill into law today.

Look out, folks. Pigs are flying!

Monday, June 16, 2014

Rolling around with Tolstoy

I know that most men, including those at ease with problems of the greatest complexity, can seldom accept even the simplest and most obvious of truth if it be such as would oblige them to admit the falsity of conclusions which they have delighted in explaining to colleagues , which they have proudly taught to others and which they have woven, thread by thread, into the fabric of their lives.


I love that quote -- have been rolling it round and round in my mouth (I wish I spoke Russian!) as I go about my day. It pertains to the growing debacle in Iraq, and it pertains to the federal re-scheduling of medical marijuana and it pertains to our recent discussion of special education and private/public schools. It pertains to my earlier lament about Sophie's summer school location and this article I read today about the biggest house in Los Angeles being built, a whopping 85,000 square feet, valued at $150 million dollars.

Roll it around, baby, roll it around.

And P.S. One of my seesters reminded me that it also pertains to the NRA and 2nd Amendmenters and their inane arguments against gun control.

How We Do It: Part XLV

There's a lot of crying going on behind the green sunglasses, and this morning there was crying without them. The morning was gray in the way of June gloom, and I had just dropped Sophie off at her summer school location, a middle school in the heart of Hollywood that I had visited many years ago when I was looking for a middle school for her. It's an ugly school -- maybe one of the ugliest schools you'll see in this part of Los Angeles, and I remember crying when I left it the first time. I had dragged Sophie out of bed this morning, fed and dressed her, something we are generally loathe to do before she's ready. On Saturday I got a notice from the school that if she didn't "show up," she would not be eligible for the four weeks of the summer program. It was a threatening letter in the way letters from the Los Angeles Unified School District are threatening. They are bland. They are mediocre. This is the sort of thing that frightens me -- the bland, the mediocre. I need something to do with Sophie for a few hours every day. I can't pay for everything. There are groups of mostly boys and young men in clumps at the entrance. I know some of them from Sophie's regular school. One young man screams wildly, flaps his arms and runs around in circles. When I pushed Sophie's chair into the tiny elevator to take her onto the second floor of the ugly building, I couldn't help but wonder what would happen in the event of an earthquake. I couldn't help but wonder why they would put disabled children into classrooms on the second floor. I remembered the room I was shown so many years ago at this same school, a trailer across a giant concrete courtyard, not a speck of green in sight. Condensation from the uniform cleaning factory across the street fell on my arm, and when I worriedly asked the aide what it was from, she told me that she thought it was bleach. When it gets too heavy, we bring the kids inside.That was a long time ago, but I couldn't help but remember it during the ride up the elevator. The doors opened, and I pushed Sophie into a bleak room whose windows were covered with landscape posters. The fluorescent lights blinked, and Mr. G introduced himself. He asked me what Sophie's problems were, and I told him. When Sophie's aide M walked into the room, I felt a rush of relief, but I still felt terrible leaving Sophie in such a place. Remember. I need something to do with Sophie for a few hours every day. I can't pay for everything. I can't give her a nicer life. There is nothing for these kids to do. They are, evidently, not worth it. The legion of disadvantaged kids that go to these schools, these ugly, impoverished schools, are not worth it. I don't know how they do it. I know how I do it. I drop my daughter off. I leave her with a beloved aide and strange Mr. G on the second floor of a building in a room that has no sunlight. I walk down the stairs and out the door and get into my car and drive off. I cry, openly, without sunglasses and don't care at the stoplights. All the way home. When I get there, I go into Sophie's purple room and make her bed. The sun is out now. I'll do my thing. I'll wait for her to get home at 1:00 and try to make it up to her.

Sunday, June 15, 2014

The Funk That Doesn't End All Funks

Andrew Wyeth

I had to stop myself from looking through the photos of Sophie's birth when I looked at one of myself and noted how "awful" I looked. I was rummaging through for a picture to publish with this post. Obviously, I didn't find one.

I teared up today, right before I went on a walk with Sophie. Henry asked me what was wrong, and I told him that I felt burdened. The words came out before I could stop them, and Henry said by Sophie? And I said, yes, and he said, we all are, and I told him that was true but I wanted to hold it for him and his brother, too. The burden, that is. Then I went on the walk with Sophie and cried some more, in the sunlight, behind my green glasses. I'll always have to pay someone to help me with the burden, I thought. That's an awful thought, for those of you who don't know what it's like, but it's an awful thought even for those who do.

Why do we loathe our graveyard thoughts? Why not let them rise to the surface, simmer there and evaporate without mockery? Why at the very least not treat them lovingly? I should say I, not we, as I can't speak for you.

I'm re-reading Updike's Couples. It really is scandalous, but I really do like it.

Here's a sentence that would knock my socks off if I wore them:

Harold believed that beauty was what happened between people, was in a sense the trace of what had happened, so he in truth found her, though minutely creased and puckered and sagging, more beautiful than the unused girl whose ruins she thought of herself as inhabiting.

Happy Father's Day

I love you, Dad.

Saturday, June 14, 2014

June 14, 1995

Sophie was diagnosed with infantile spasms on this day, nineteen years ago.

I'm not much a one for "anniversaries" -- all that "never forget" blather.

We really don't ever forget, do we?

It's been a long, freaking ride.

Darkest Hour Before Dawn Thoughts

The g-d dog woke me up again this morning, her nails clicking on the floor back and forth up and down the hallway, needing to go out. She needed to go out to eat grass and retch which was after she had thrown up on the floor at the foot of my bed. I let her out into the honeymoon-lit back yard and then I let her in, closed the door of my bedroom and pushed the wicker hamper in front of it so that she couldn't push the door open and back in. Perhaps as a punishment for my lack of compassion, for my un-dog-loverness, I was unable to go back to sleep and lay on my back for what seemed like hours having the darkest hour before dawn thoughts of loneliness and despair, and then the mediocre thoughts of the awake too early in the morning women. I wonder if Henry will have sex too early? My god, they never gave me a copy of Sophie's IEP before school let out! Should I email that director of the SPED office right now to ask him what the hell? What the hell, anyway? I read a Lydia Davis short story. It was 4 am and then 5am. I served my time, fell back asleep.

Friday, June 13, 2014

Orange and Pink: Stirring Things Up

I wish those of you who aren't could be a part of the discussion on my Facebook page about an article I posted today called Why Do President Obama's children go to a segregated school? Here's the link, and I'd love to hear what you think. I'll start you off with the same thing that I said when I posted it. As soon as I get their permission, I might post some of the other comments because they're incredibly enlightening -- on both sides of the debate.

Please read and think about it. And if you have children in a private school, let me know if your children have any classmates with disabilities.
Not one of Sidwell Friends School’s more than 1,100 students has a physical disability.                                       


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