Monday, September 28, 2020



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                       


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. 


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



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.


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