Thursday, September 30, 2010

Red Sky

Red Sky at night, sailor's delight. Red Sky in morning, sailor's take warning. The red in the sky means there's moisture in the air so rain is coming which would be nice since the thermostat near Darla's school said 127 on Monday, but now they are talking about an earthquake too. I feel like if I mention it out loud, then it won't happen.
Ahoy, matey.

Wednesday, September 29, 2010

Such a Good Feeling

I was thinking about Mr. Rogers. I was thinking about him this morning because I was talking to the cat that lives here in a special meow language so he would get it, (yes, I have seriously lost my mind) and I had a flash memory to that weird puppet segment on Mr. Roger’s show. You know the part where he would set off the trolley to the neighborhood of make-believe, and then those freaky hand puppets would appear and they all sounded exactly like Mr. Rog doing a high voice. “I’m meow sad because meow I’m meow hungry”, and the queen who sounded (hello Frisco!) like a real queen if you know what I’m saying, and they all looked so endlessly odd and fascinating with their paper mache heads. I was riveted and not entirely un-giggly and light-headed. Something about the whole show felt weird and wrong, not in a perverse way, but sort of like it was made for crippled children in the hospital and NOT YOU.

But I always liked Mr. Rogers, although of course I went through the period of condemning and denouncing. I imagined that Mr. Rog was my father (this was a habit I had with pretty much any TV figure since my actual father was not in my life). I loved his whole coming home at the end of the day, walking in singing and changing into his comfortable clothes. How great would it be if your Dad really did that? Someone who gave you all his attention and time and took you to the crayon factory? Come on, don’t judge. My grandmother loved him too, though she used to say, “He’s a little light in the loafers but who cares”? She liked him because he was a good musician. His piano playing always went against the melody of his singing, like here and here. Sort of like Mr. Rogers himself: one flavor on the outside, another on the in.

Tuesday, September 28, 2010

The Wire

I miss this show but I'm ready to watch the whole thing again.

Vague Ritual

When I stay in Agoura, as I did this past weekend, there is only one place to go for coffee, I mean unless I go to the gas station or the diner, I have to go to Starbucks. I don’t hate Starbucks (or really, the gas station or the diner) but for the first cup of the day I prefer something else. (I just sat here for 5 minutes trying to come up with a better description than “else”: less burnt, less corporate, less cigar-butt-like, less empty, but none of them really hit the nail on the head, so I went for vague, sorry.)(Actually, maybe “less vague” is the exact term I was looking for!)

So at around 5:55 am, I got into the car and headed to the town. The other people who are up at this hour are mostly middle aged (I now think of 60 as middle aged) men in full Lance Armstrong regalia, and horse people, identifiable by their footwear, and they are all friendly and wide-awake.

“Morning!” “Hello!” “Another hot one today” “Wooowee”

The best part is: No one is looking for conversation. It’s all business. (Although once one of the Lance Armstrong guys was sitting, with his tight blacks and his cap and his shirt with the built-in elbow pads, in front of a lap top saying “Would you look at that?” and pointing to the screen. “How is this possible?” he exclaimed, begging for someone to come have a look. I took the bait and saw some of the guys from the Tour de France riding up the hills of the French countryside. “This is happening right this moment…as we speak!” he practically had tears in his eyes. “Technology!” I said, and that was pretty much the extent of it).

Like I said, it’s all business. There’s no thought or emotion other than: Coffee. Get. Have (sometimes there’s a “People” in there). But this weekend there was a sign on the door that said “Take Comfort in Ritual” and I blew a fuse. First I thought: I hate (love) quotes or daily thoughts put up in public places; depending on my mood I can be inspired: Yes! I will! So true! Or annoyed: Oh fuck off. Stop shouting.

Take Comfort in ritual. First, I thought yes coffee, ritual, comfort but then I thought isn’t ritual religious, isn’t it something we study about a tribe or culture to learn more about it and isn’t it weird that coffee drinking could actually be a symbol of our time that people study about us thousands of years from now like cave paintings or weird rock formations?

Then I got home and looked it up on wikipedia and it said also:

In psychology, the term ritual is sometimes used in a technical sense for a repetitive behavior systematically used by a person to neutralize or prevent anxiety; it is a symptom of obsessive-compulsive disorder.”

And then I thought, yes that’s it.

Sunday, September 26, 2010

Hello Bessie

Last night we went to a party for my friend Holly's 50th birthday. I was going to start by listing all the beautiful and fun things about it but I think instead I should get to the point. There was a band and there was dancing. I am all for both of those things in theory. I love dancing; ask any of my kids who scream out Mom! on a daily basis. I can't get enough of it. But these bands with the Three Little Birds and the Hotel California. Come on. It's almost impossible. All the ladies run out with their turkey necks and Hello-Bessie arms* (* mo's expression for the part of your arm that flaps when you wave to your friend Bess)(and calm down, I'm talking about myself), they tilt their heads to the side and wave their arms up and down like butterflies. What other option do they have? I don't like getting pissed off at people who are dancing; but I can't help it, just like my kids when I--wait a minute.
It helps to have music that you can dance to. There was a time when a person could dance to Take the Money and Run but that window was small and has long since closed and been boarded up.

Saturday, September 25, 2010

Libraries of Moments

A friend of mine was in a motorcycle crash a few days ago. He's ok, a little banged up, but feeling lucky. He keeps saying how he can't stop himself from replaying it in his memory all day and night: Car turning, hands gripping brakes, sky, ground. Now I'm thinking it too. Then yesterday I saw this vid and it made me think of the libraries of moments we have in our head. When you start recalling memories, it's much more fun than looking at a photo album. And it never ends!
This was made for Radiolab by Will Hoffman.

Thursday, September 23, 2010

Cool Pool

Wouldn't this be cool to have upstairs in your NY apartment? I don't like too much clutter(because that's all I have at my house) but I like this couple and their apartment

Wednesday, September 22, 2010

I Love This Guy

Now when you hear this song again, this is all you will be able to think of.


I was thinking about the way you are perceived vs. the way you are, how sometimes there are differences, and the ways these differences influence each other. For example, I talk slowly (which can be easily observed), but I’m also very impatient (which can’t) and while that’s going on, I also am desperate to be liked (which can sometimes be apparent, sometimes not), which I can manage by trying to be funny (same as last one). So I wonder if A (talking slow) + B (impatience)+C (eager to please) + D (humor) is the full equation of me. (i.e. the way I am) Or do they just hear the slow talking and think: airhead. (i.e. the way I’m perceived) If it’s that, then isn’t there also an element of: oh, poor thing. Yes, I sometimes think there is. In fact I have to admit, I’ve counted on it, because then when I do say something smart, it’s a total shock, and therefore worth more points, like a word with q or x in scrabble.

And does talking slowly influence my own impatience? And, though I’m not desperate to be liked by everyone, why am I desperate to be liked by people who want nothing to do with me? And while people who haven’t known me for longer than a week may read this and think it’s interesting, everyone else knows that all of this is simply my habitual disorder of wasting time.

Yet this is what is going on in my head this morning while I’m trying to get myself and two sleeping children, out of bed , dressed, coffeed up, fed and into the car before 7 am. The reason it was going on in my head is because at 5:30am while I was staring at my computer screen, I heard “Come out with your hands on your head. Your house is completely surrounded”. Carlos!

I ran to the window and saw 10 police cars in the street and cops lined in a U shape around Carlos’ house. All I could think was: how did 10 cop cars drive right beneath my window, unload a full force of vest-wearing cops and create a U formation in complete Navaho warrior silence, all while I was staring at my screen with nothing to write.

I’ve written about Carlos before. There is obviously a huge gap between the way he really is vs the way he is perceived. I mean I know he does illegal things, I just don’t know what. But I also know him as a guy with kids and a granddad and a dog with huge balls that we call Mr. Jing-Jangles.

So while I'm driving in a huge line of cars down the 101, I am thinking does the way that the cops perceive Carlos define who he is to himself, I mean partly? Or are they just an annoyance to him, usually outside of his realm of existence.

What is the equation of Carlos?

Friday, September 17, 2010


Whenever I read Deepak Chopra, I can't help hearing Apu.

"Whenever you are in the midst of movement and activity, carry your stillness within you. Then the chaotic movement around you will never overshadow your access to the reservoir of creativity, the field of pure potentiality."
Thank you, come again.


Every time I open the front door that goddam cat runs out. Well, not every time. When I actually want him to go outside he sits there and stares at me like I must have lost my mind. (This is just an aside but am I seriously talking about cats right now? Yes, evidently I am. Now excuse me while I try to get this hanky tucked up my sleeve.) I have always hated cats; they smell bad, are unfriendly and will rip the skin off your hand if you pet them one second too long. The owners of cats are worse, they’re slightly off, like bad milk; they’re superior and judgmental but don’t change their underpants for a week. You know it’s true. I have no time for them. But then Morgan got a cat. And I had to rethink everything. And after I rethought and fully accepted that he will jump onto the table while we are having dinner and will only drink water out of a faucet, she moved out and left him here.

He doesn’t smell though. I know you probably think I’m delusional (oh honey, he smells) but he doesn’t poop or pee in the house. He’s outside all day. He knows everyone in the neighborhood. People talk to him like he’s a human being. Even the homies across the street. (Once when I couldn’t find Leroy for 2 days, one homie said “If anyone ever hurt that cat…” and then he looked up and shook his head at the heavens, ashamed of all the medieval violence he would have to inflict). Another time I was out walking the dogs, and I looked over at someone’s huge front living-room window and there he was, in their house, all curled up like a cobra in the sun. When I called his name, he slowly turned his head to me and winked.

So, it was ten o’clock and I was turning off the porch lights and out he ran. I chased him down the block, under cars, over a fence and down a hill. Then I said screw it and went inside. At about 3 o’clock I woke up to the sound of a cat having his guts ripped out through his mouth. Coyotes! I had just seen one two nights ago and chased him down the center of the street (I was in a car, I’m not crazy). I went outside, in my pajamas and started calling for Leroy. I checked under cars and on the neighbor’s garage roof. I wondered if it would look odd to anyone who might drive down the street to see me crawling under the bushes. And what the hell was I doing, there were coyotes. I called his name once more and went back to my porch. And of course there he was.

Saturday, September 11, 2010

Trakr the Rescue Dog

This guy worked as a rescuer at ground zero. He found the last survivor who had been buried under the rubble for 26 hours. I heard that some of the dogs' partners would have to stop them from looking because they would keep going for 15 hours straight. Trakr died in April 2009 but his cells were used to clone 5 puppies. Cheers big ears!

Thursday, September 9, 2010

Twenty Five

Today is Mo's Birthday and I don't like that we are so far apart. Instead of celebrating with her, I am left to review films of past parties like a drunk coach watching old game highlights in the dark: the first slumber party on Poplar Street where no one slept, the sweet sixteen with the awful band that no one could dance to, the house party on Queen St. with eight 13 year olds and Kyra's drunk Uncle Clive listening to music in our small yard, the pool party where Roni almost drowned after convincing us all she would be fine jumping off the diving board even though she could not swim. When people say about their grown children: "she will always be my little girl", I understand the feeling, but I have never felt that way about Mo. This is not to say that I would not (still) hold her on my lap or (try to) comfort her when she was sad. It is more that I have always looked as her (perhaps unfairly) as a person to learn from. She has always been adult-ish with her whiskey low voice and ease around grownups, but more than that she has made daring choices, in friends, in studies, in travels, with an amazing ease and commitment and I am often left thinking, How did you do that? Here are a few other interesting inspirationals:
She is left handed.
She can do a perfect imitation of the Greenfield lunch lady.
She can smack her lips.
She can belch for a full 30 seconds.
Children love her.
When she does not agree with you she is agressive and intimidating (and thinks that it is funny).
She touched a wild crocodile.
She is engaged to a person she knew she would marry five minutes after she met him.
She likes to exercise but will complain the entire time she is exercising.
She has crooked fingers.
Happy Birthday Mo. Wadoo. Mee-hoo.

Monday, September 6, 2010

Sunday, September 5, 2010


Yesterday was Darla's twelfth birthday. She was gracious enough to share the day with Harry and we had a double party at the Pier. She is old enough now that I no longer have to hold her hand in the huge crazy carny crowd or stand in line with her for rides, and young enough that she still needs a nap on the way home. Dar has been independent since the age of 3 and dramatic since the moment she was born. Here are other things I find inspirational on a daily basis.

She has been in the gifted class at school since 2nd grade.
She talks in her sleep and once said "Mrs Sandoyen, Mrs Sandoyen I love you so much" (Mrs Sandoyen was her third grade teacher).
She decided in 3rd grade that she wants to go to Yale Drama School.
She loves to sleep and does it well. I could blow a tuba directly into her ear and she would not wake up.
She can start a conversation with anyone, but at a crowded party she is always drawn to the oldest person in the room. She once had an hour long conversation with an 8o year old man when she went up to him and asked what's your favorite movie?
She can cry real and convincing tears if you ask her to.
She can fold her tongue into a three leaf clover.
She had trigger finger until she was 5 (where your last three fingers get curled closed so your pointer and thumb look like a gun) when she had surgery to have it corrected.
She refused to say the Pledge of Allegiance at school because she insisted she was French.

Happy Birthday Dar.
So much.

Friday, September 3, 2010

A Family of Dorks

We all went to Dar’s orientation for performing arts school. I was so excited, I could barely contain myself. I love school. I love September. I love new books and new supplies. I love new school outfits. I love meeting teachers and getting a schedule; I was totally acting as though it was my own first day, and could not have been more annoying to an 11 year old. But she cut me some slack; she was excited too. We got there half an hour early and got seats in the middle.
Mom, this is you, Harry said, and, scooting to the edge of his seat, he sat up straight with a huge open smile on his face and bobbled his head looking this way and that.
I mouthed the words I. don’t. care., but then I was self conscious, I have to admit. My sister showed up with her two girls and we waved them over. We were all going to orientation together! My sister was smiling too. We winked at each other. Then she took out a pen and paper to take notes! At the welcome assembly! (I just used three exclamation points)
The assistant principal came out and started talking, everyone cheered. He was completely hairless bald with a few neck wrinkles in the back.
He looks like Voldemort, Harry said.
He does not, Voldemort has white hair and a long beard.
No that’s Dumbledore, Voldemore is the Dark Lord.
Oh, you’re right, he does look like Voldemort.
“Mr. Whatdewhoo looks like Voldemort, pass it down,” I said to my niece. She started a chain through five of us. I stared at my sister waiting for her to get the news.
Oh my God, yes! She said. I nodded enthusiastically. We laughed. Someone behind us said ssshhhhh.
Mr. Whatdewhoo was telling us the schedule. “This is on Mondie, Then again on Tuesdie, Wednesdie, Thursdie and Fridie”. Every time he said the day of the week, I leaned over and repeated it to my niece. I could not get enough. Mondie. Tuesdie. I’d say it out loud like Beevus on the couch. We were all giggling like hyenas.
Thankfully, we moved in to the gymnasium where we had our second assembly, this one about rules and such. The head of security, who looked like Laurence Fishburne, (Laurence Fishburne, pass it down) did not smile once. He looked like he would have no problem handcuffing a small child to the radiator if they misbehaved. (You better not get in trouble, pass it down). He talked about theft: do not ever leave your backpack unattended it will be stolen (it will be stolen), and sexual harassment: Do not ever put your hands on another person’s person (person’s person) and dress code: no shorts above the length of your fingers when you hold them down, and no cleavage.
(Cleavage! I didn’t know what cleavage was until my college years, if you know what I mean, babe.)
SSSHHH. Someone kicked my seat.
After the assembly we went to find Dar’s locker. Before I go on, I have to say something about lockers: they are the single most exciting and important thing about middle school. No more cubbies, no more hooks, having a locker is as good as having your own apartment. Secrecy! Locks with numbers! Personal decorations! In every teen movie, play or TV show, this is where the kids: the jocks, the cool kids, the dorks, the emos, all hang out. This is where they go to mull things over. Where they confront their friends with some horrific rumor. Where they secretly take drugs or cut themselves. Where they kiss or want to kiss. This was where it all happens. We walked down halls and rows of brightly painted lockers, green, purple, blue, orange. I said Look!, and pointed. Some poor 6th grade boy was standing in front of a pink one. Aww, Harry look, I said.
Stop it! Dar grabbed my arm and hurried me along. We finally got to her row and there, right where her number was supposed to be, was a piece of sheet metal. Her locker did not exist. We stopped and stared. We knocked on it as though it would disappear and reveal a new and beautiful edition. My mouth hung open. I slowly turned my head to Dar, ready to console.
Oh well, she said, let’s go to the office and get another number.
Recovery! It is a beautiful thing.
We walked through corridors and courtyards, we checked out classrooms and rehearsal spaces, I saw some parents I knew and waved, I saw others I didn’t and gave the thumbs up. We looked at the cafeteria. We bought some sweatpants with the school logo on it. We got the new textbooks. And now, we will wait patiently til the 13th.

Thursday, September 2, 2010

Dilly Dally

Before I started working for the private investigator I had an interview on the phone. At the time I thought I was just calling to schedule. I didn’t even know what the job was for exactly, other than “Assistant: must have writing ability and office skills”. He asked me why I thought I’d be good for the job. I said, because I was desperate. He was quiet for long enough to make me feel I had said the wrong thing. How so?, he asked.

“How am I desperate or how does being desperate make me good for the job?”

“The second one.”

“Well,” I had to make something up, “ it would make me work hard to make sure you felt like you made the right decision hiring someone with no office experience.” I tried to laugh but he was quiet so I had to keep going, ” and also it would make me less afraid of making a wrong choice if I didn’t know what to do.”


I worried I sounded too much like an ass-kisser waiting for a head-pat, so I said, “After a while I would get more comfortable and slack off.”

It was the end of September, 2001. Rescuers were still searching for bodies in the rubble, I had had a baby 2 months earlier, my children’s father had told me that he was “kind of” seeing someone else, I had no money, my oldest child would soon be driving, and I was living at my mother’s house. I’m not saying these are the reasons I didn’t do a better job of editing myself, but they gave me a different perspective in talking with a stranger.

We set an appointment to meet the next day at his home near the Devon train station. I worried a little about meeting at his “home”, but I didn’t obsess. It was much easier to focus on worrying about childcare and transportation if I actually got the job.

When I checked the computer later though, I found an email from him telling me to just come in to work tomorrow, why dilly dally? I would have been more excited except that the last word stopped me in my tracks. Who uses the word dilly dally?

An insane murderer that’s who. I imagined the full scenario of him abusing me, and then cutting off my limbs with a chainsaw and throwing them into a plastic bag.

Dilly dally, dilly dally, DILLY DALLY.

I called my friend Amy to discuss. We agreed that it was possible he was gay though hard to tell because he had been so vague about the job description.

Gay people are not usually vague.


Maybe he’s old fashioned.

We practiced saying the word in an old fashioned way. Tossing it off with a shake of the head.

Maybe he wears spats.

And does the Charleston.

We laughed, and then when it got quiet Amy said, you’re doomed.

Wednesday, September 1, 2010

Today is My Birthday

I am grateful for the following:

Morgan, Darla, Harry, Joan, Geoffrey, Bub, Don, Mary, Don, Lillian, Peter, Kim, Lightfield, Juliette, Brandy, Beau, Amy, Holiday, Matt, Rainn, Erin, Raf, Elizabeth, John, Josh, Dave, Victoria, Leslie, Dallas, Michelle, Holly, Ashley, Moon, Toby, Rose, Nancy, Erin, Geoff, Miles, Ryan, Madeline, Genevieve, Alexis, Lex, Arabella, Juliet, Gail, Lester, Daisy, Leroy.

Thanks for being there, laughing, giving, talking, healing, rooting for, believing in, supporting, singing, dancing, playing and thinking I can.

I am almost halfway there.