Monday, December 31, 2012

A List

Why can't I compile a list too? I was sitting here thinking about my writing topic options today which include "A list of things I've done that I can repress 99% of the time that I know will get me into Hell" and I thought I do not want to end the year with that thought. I want to think hopefully and positively because really, I know that 2013 will be the best year ever. So Cheers Big Ears, have a happy New Year tonight. I'll be home watching a new show I've discovered that is amazing and fantastic. It's called 30 Rock. Have you heard of it? Best wishes for Love, Joy, Prosperity, New Discovery, Good Health and Peace.

Some of my favorite things that I wrote

The Futility of Rage
Repetoire of Funny
Walter's Camera

And I couldn't find another place for this video but I had to include it because I think it's the best live performance I saw all year.

Happy New Year!!

Thursday, December 27, 2012

Ways To Trick Yourself From A Plunge Into Debilitating Sadness

                                                                    Grandpa Harry

The week in between Christmas and New Years always seems about 3 months long. You never really know what day it is and if you're not mainlining sugar, you're fighting off the need to completely re-evaluate your life and make some serious changes. I spent part of yesterday looking online at photos of Celebrity Couples Kissing; and it wasn't something you just scroll through mindlessly, it was one of those things where you have to click the arrow and wait a few seconds for the photo to load in. This was a full commitment to insanity. There's a pretty good chance I did this for a few hours. I didn't even know who half these people were. Ugh. I didn't even mean to just write that, now I feel like I'm forcing you to waste time too. I'm sorry. I wanted to write about things that made me feel better during this weird twilight zone week and I got distracted. These are secret tricks I bust out to make myself feel better in times of need.

1. Heat up the oven for about ten minutes, then stand close enough while opening the door so your glasses get completely fogged up. Turn to your teenager and say: Mary? Is that you? You look so young.

All right, you know what, I'm just trying here. That's all. I can't say this is the remedy you need, but it works for me. Sometimes. And it's just one secret trick. Not an entire list.

What day is it again?

Tuesday, December 25, 2012


Merry Christmas Everyone! Have a great day filled with joy and comfort and sweetness, and try not to get too annoyed with your relatives.

Don't eat 18 cookies, run up and down the stairs until you feel like vomiting, and then cry watching this commercial.

Merry Christmas. xooxoxo

Friday, December 21, 2012

Happy Weekend

It always feels a little odd to have Christmas without snow or cold weather, like we're just pretending, but I have to say I liked sitting here at my desk yesterday.

Something to listen to. It was supposed to be the end of the world today. Hopefully it'll just be the end of certain parts. Fingers crossed for 2013!

Something to read. I liked what this guy had to say.

Something to make. I don't think I've ever posted a goddam recipe before, but this looked good.

Something to go see. I love Kathryn Bigelow. I love Jessica Chastian. I love Jason Clark. I love having the realization that women can be great leaders because they are not afraid to trust their intuition.

Here are some photos of my neighborhood.

Thursday, December 20, 2012

The box! the bow! the plop!

One of my Grandfather's Christmas traditions involved wrapping an old brown shellacked dog poop in a box with paper and ribbon, and handing it out to someone on Christmas morning. Every year. The box. The bow. The plop. My little chubby Italian Grandfather in his bathrobe with his jams buttoned to the neck, with his brown leather slippers, his hair uncombed and sticking up on the side, would bring out this box after everyone had finished opening their gifts, hand it to someone and then turn and shuffle back to his place on the sofa. He'd sit with his shoulders up and his lips pursed tight, practically IMPLODING WITH UTTER JOY.

Go on, open it, he'd say, his voice quivering.

No really, I can't.

You're gonna love it. (eeeeeeeee)

No, you've done so much already.

You deserve it! (ooooooooo)

Let's drop it at the orphanage.

But I had it engraved. (nnnnnnn)

Each time he'd respond he'd pan to all our faces sitting and watching as if to say, Wait'll you see this!!!!

Well all right, if you insist... Wait a....just a....WHAT?????

And then he'd dissolve into a full minute of giggling and coughing and crying while we all filed into the kitchen for the next portion of the day.

Wednesday, December 19, 2012

Looking for the Helpers

I've been a little stuck in my writing since the shootings because I didn't know exactly what I wanted to say about it, and it was too hard to write about anything else; one thing I kept thinking is that it's a sad time for so many people right now, more than the usual it seems: cancer, divorce, floods, hurricanes, financial struggles, unexpected deaths in the family, husbands having affairs, addiction, mental illness, earthquakes, tsunamis, 20 six-year-olds getting shot in their school classroom.

Is it always this bad?

I mean of course we 're going on, and there are holiday parties, and people laughing, and the tiny turd in the hallway that your dog left that you just step over because you can't be bothered just yet, and traveling to be with family, and last minute school projects, and ordering stuff from Amazon, and looking out the window at your neighbor starting her car, and talking to friends from far away on the phone... but then... there's the sadness too.

I keep coming back to that. And it seems more than just the usual amount.

And I'm not sure what to do. On Friday I read this quote from Mr. Rogers (who, in an odd way, I think of as my father) He said:

"When I was a boy and I would see scary things in the news, my mother would say to me, "Look for the helpers. You will always find people who are helping." To this day, especially in times of "disaster," I remember my mother's words and I am always comforted by realizing that there are still so many helpers – so many caring people in this world."

I included his signature there because it makes it feel like a personal letter which is a nice thing to send and an even nicer thing to receive. Write one today

Sandy Hook Elementary School
12 Dickenson Drive
Newtown, CT 06482

or to someone else who needs to hear from you.


Thursday, December 13, 2012

Do you Believe?

         Yesterday our gas was shut off, so we had to wash dishes, bathe and make coffee the old fashioned way, by heating water in the microwave! Here's an oldie to get in the holiday spirit.

Last night Harry wanted to go see Santa. He is nine and has been mulling over this for some time. He still believes, but Darla told him he’s too old to sit on Santa’s lap, and there are kids at school who have told him Santa isn’t real, so he feels a little self-conscious. Mo believed until she was 13, I think, when she wrote him a letter saying she had been told he didn’t exist but she still loved him and believed in him and could he please just leave some proof. Dar loves the idea of Santa but can’t help reasoning: Who can fly around the world in a sleigh with reindeer in one night??
So we went to see Santa. The only other kids in line were two infants and a three year old on a leash. "See Harry?", Dar shrugged and held her hands up. I shot her a glare, while Harry walked away with his hands in his pockets and his head down.
I found him leaning on a column around the corner. “Come on Bub, you don’t have to sit on his lap or anything, you can just go over there and say hey how’s it going.”
We’re here. Might as well just say hi.
I don’t want to.
Really? You might feel sad if we leave and you didn’t even wave at him.
I’ll just email him.
Ok. Well let’s go say goodbye then.
I started to walk back to Santa’s throne, but he didn’t follow. I looked over at Darla who was trying on sunglasses at the Kiosk and looking in the mirror, turning her head this way and that. I walked over closer. Dar! I whispered. She turned her head slowly towards me like I was an annoying paparazzi. Go tell Harry you’ll come say hi to Santa with him.
She looked at me with her big Elizabeth Taylor goggle sunglasses.
"If you’re rolling your eyes, I can’t see", I said.
She took one last look in the mirror, took off the glasses, placed them slowly back on the table and brushed by me in Harry’s direction.
Be nice, I said. I walked over to Santa. As far as Santas go, this guy was the top of the line: real white beard, little chubby, twinkle in the eye. He was sitting by himself.
Santa? I whispered and he looked over at me. I actually got a little nervous myself. The guy’s a superstar. “My boy’s feeling a little shy. He really wants to see you but he’s worried he might be too old.”
Where is he? He got up out of his chair. Dar was walking him over; she had her arm flung around him like they were buddies back in Nam. I pointed with my thumb.
What’s his name, he said quietly to me. I told him.
Harry? He said and waved him over. Hi Harry. Come here, lad. He leaned on the white fence that divided his little area. I thought maybe in real life he might be a farmer, or a plumber. His voice was high, a little strained. He definitely did some sort of physical labor.
Dar kept her arm around Harry and walked over, Hi "Santa", she said.
Hello, what's your name?
He looked at Harry who was still looking at his feet.
Is this your sister?
How old are you son?
Nine! That’s fantastic. And what do you want for Christmas.
A Playstation 3.
Anything else?
Harry shook his head.
And you’re a good boy?
He nodded.
“I can see that. Your mother told me you are. Come here a second, son.” He let Harry in through the gate and put his arm around him and walked over to the throne. They were talking but I couldn’t hear because the photographer came over and began trying to talk me into a series of photos for 46.99. I shook my head and he said, Just a meet and greet?
Yeah, just a meet and greet, I said. I was trying to see around him to catch what Santa was saying, but by the time he moved, Harry was walking back towards me with a coloring book in his hands. His head was up and he was practically laughing. He could barely speak.
Did he tell you it was all a charade? This from Darla.
Dar, stop. I looked back at Harry, What’d he say, sweets?
He said you’re never too old for Santa.

Wednesday, December 12, 2012

The Caveman

There's a guy in my neighborhood who walks around in swaddling clothes. We call him the Caveman. When I say swaddling clothes, I mean essentially a small piece of fabric tied around his business like an old school cloth diaper. He has a beard and long hair filled with twigs and dreadlocks. His body is smeared with dirt and he doesn't have shoes. I don't know how he gets food but he must because he is muscular and lean, though not very tall. His face is clear, not puffy or curling-in like a heavy drinker.

My neighborhood is made up of mostly Victorian and Colonial Spanish types of houses, but on one side we can see high rise apartment buildings and city skyscrapers. On the other side there's a couple blocks with hipster coffee shops, book stores, bars and beauty salons. Across the street that way is Dodger's Stadium, and then to the other side of that is Elysian Park with hiking trails, super steep hilly climbs and a man-made waterfall and reservoir. I imagine the Caveman lives there, but honestly for all I know, he could have his own apartment on Douglas Street with a flat screen TV.

I see him a lot, most often at the big intersection near Sunset. In six years, I've never seen him beg. He's always just patrolling the area, sometimes foraging and scouring. Other times  he's having a more thoughtful stroll, looking up with his hands clasped behind his back, taking long slow strides. When he walks in front of my car at the light, time usually stands still and I follow him with my eyes. Who is this guy? What happened to him? How is he content to live like this? I mean he's a neighborhood guy, I should be able to roll down the window and wave: Hey Cave! What's goin on? Good, how bout yourself. Gettin chilly huh? Yeah...Yup. Hey have a good one.

A few blocks down Sunset there's a mega church. It's basically like an event stadium, big enough for basketball teams but not baseball or football. On Friday and Saturday nights, hundreds of people, mostly Filipino and Mexican, pour in and then out of it, smiling and excited like they've just been to the goddam ice-capades. I'm curious about that too and have often thought of, what the hell, just popping in one Friday night to see what goes on, but I'm wary of a righteous man with a headset and microphone, and I (ignorantly) assume I'll be done after ten minutes and will be stuck in there.

I might go.

I bring this up because yesterday in traffic on Sunset, I looked over and saw Cave walking down the street, hands clasped behind his back, deep in conversation with a well-dressed older Filippino lady carrying a purse. Time stood still and I followed them with my eyes. Cave? What the hell is going on? I was fascinated and wished I could follow them with a video camera or tape recorder. I wondered if they each thought the other was Jesus Christ.

I watched them stroll down Sunset and turn into the Taco Stand on Echo Park Ave.

Tuesday, December 11, 2012


I played lacrosse in high school. This wasn’t really a special achievement since at my school everyone had to play a team sport. Still, just as a quick aside, I have recently realized the importance of team sports. Now, finally, light-years later, I get it: the team, a group of people working together, depending on each other, communication without words, all that. Why didn’t our gym teacher just say that to begin with? Miss Guilfillan, Miss Yarnell, in your kilts and your kneesocks, your whistles and windbreakers, why didn’t you just tell us: Okay okay ladies, hustle up! Everybody in. You know all this? The teamwork, the practice, the skills, the goals, the winning and losing and how you deal with it? It’s a metaphor people. It’s a goddam, motherfucking metaphor. All right? LET’S GO!! (I don’t know why I just made Miss Guilfillan sound like Samuel L. Jackson).

Yeah. I played lacrosse. The first year I played goalie. I didn’t really want to, but I did. Even in my formative years I was the person to volunteer when no one else would.

“”We’re doing shooting drills today ladies and we’re gonna need a goalie. Who wants to put the pads on?
Manning?....Featherman? Come on, we can’t practice until we get someone in the goal.
(sigh) I’ll do it.
Atta girl, Lowry.

I wasn’t very good. I was too small and I did not like having balls thrown at my head (insert crude joke here) but I didn’t mind being alone and I was the only volunteer. In a few weeks I was on the varsity team. I remember my mantra was Let’s get this over with. Everyone did their best to keep the ball at the other end of the field which was fine with me because it gave me time to daydream and watch the sideline activity. 

At this time, there was a new teacher at school, Mr. Driscoll. We didn't have many male teachers then, I went to an all girls school, so he was a superstar celebrity. Handsome in that preppy/ half-ugly/ long teeth/short upper lip way, he loved all the attention, and made sure to make regular appearances at lunch, sporting events and school dances. 

And now introducing for your learning pleasure, the fabulous, the fantastic, the one and only Mr....Jim....Driscoll!
(swirling lights, loud applause, trumpet theme song)

I didn't buy it. There was something creepy about him, not in a dangerous pedophile way, just in an ex-jock teaching at a small private school way. He sniffed and crossed his arms before speaking. He was sarcastic. He used big vocabulary words. He taught philosophy.

Once at one of our last games he put his hands around his mouth and yelled Get Lewis out of there. She's a sieve! At first I heard my name and thought he was cheering me on but then I realized the word he used was Sieve. Sieve! The guy was trash talking a 14 year old. Me! With a fancy word! And I had volunteered!

I don't know what ever happened to Mr. Driscoll, maybe he's still teaching philosophy to high school girls, trash talking easy targets in his spare time, walking through the hallways with a jaunty little spring in his step or maybe he's working in an office, following orders, philosophizing over why things are not always what you think they are.

Thursday, December 6, 2012

Coffee Porn ?

This is the sound my grandmother's coffee pot used to make. I was thinking about this while I made my own coffee this morning, while I was waiting for the water to boil. A watched pot never boils, I know, I've heard that, but I was watching it. I was wondering who invented the coffee maker I use, how it's a pretty simple design that works, but beautiful too, like the corkscrew. And then I was remembering my grandmother's coffee pot which involved so much labor. I mean just the sound! It was so stressed. I can remember sitting on a stool in her kitchen back near the nook where she kept the pot plugged in. I'm sure at the time it was a very fancy contraption, much fancier than the coffee maker her own parents used, which probably involved a campfire and a thin sock filled with coffee grains. I used to watch that thing, the way that, after much wheezing and hissing, the brown coffee would splash up into the glass knob at the top. It would go on that way for a good 10 minutes it seemed, chugging, hissing, chugging, hissing, until finally it worked it's way back to being still: a little coffee orgasm.

Coffee's ready!

Every once in a while I was allowed to have some. It's just Sanka. And I can remember putting cream and so much sugar that I had to push the spoon through it. It was disgusting and delicious. Always worth the wait.

Wednesday, December 5, 2012

Hump Day

Today I have to finish some work, then go to work and somewhere in the middle clean the salamander tank which involves gallons of water, rocks, water plants and sally poops and I've put it off for three months. So here's something else to read:


Tom Sachs, A Selby Film from the selby on Vimeo.


Tuesday, December 4, 2012

What's It All About, Selfie?

                                                       Is it just for the moment we live?

I can't hear this song without thinking of something sad and desperate and lonely, like the sedated moms in the apartment building where I grew up, who started cocktails at 4, chain-smoked long thin cigs and stared into space a lot. They were so humorless and tired and pretty; they sent us on errands to the Pharmacy and gave us five dollars to take the bus to Wanamaker's (a huge department store) where we hung out all day when we were 9.

It's also the song I think of when I think of the word Selfie. I wonder if the kids of the generation who take photos of themselves all day long, when they wake up, when they are eating cereal, when they are watching TV, at the dentist office, in line at the cafeteria, while driving; the ones who send pics of their fingernails, feet, cocks and titties to friends for fun will think the same thing.

Monday, December 3, 2012

Who Is This Person?

At Trader Joe's I stood in line to sample something, I think it was meatloaf and mashed potatoes, it doesn't matter really it's more that I was IN LINE WAITING for it. Like I was at a soup kitchen, or an insane asylum just gettin' my meds. In my jacket, with my purse in the baby seat part of the cart, checking my Instagram, I was waiting. I think my 13 year old self just committed suicide when she had a glimpse of that, just walked into the kitchen, pulled open a drawer, took out the dull serrated bread knife, and cut her/my head off. It's a good thing too; she missed the part where I got the thimble of meatloaf, said Thank you! and then after walking away, said "Mmmmm" out loud, to no one in particular.