Thursday, February 28, 2013

Rolling and....ACTION

Sometimes I'll see a person and get it into my head that he is, without a doubt, a murderer, rapist and/or pedophile. Instantly I am a character in my own movie, watching the brief and completely innocent meeting between two people, interspersed with splashes of a scene of me lying in a hall way with my throat slit.

Is that weird?

Last night I saw a guy at around 8 pm walking up the hill from the back alley wearing an odd sort of hard hat with a light on the front, like a coal miner. He was carrying a heavy bag on his back and walking right towards me. It was so freaky he may as well have been wearing flippers or carrying a chainsaw. As he got closer I realized it was our mailman. But this was not a relief. It only seemed more odd and made me feel more suspicious. I couldn't help thinking our conversation was foreshadowing something dark and horrific.

Hey there, you're out late tonight.
Good thing you've got a headlight.
Okay, well, see you round.
I hope so.


I worry that I'm the only one who has this sort of insight: one that relies mostly on the time of day, the sound of footsteps, or the way a bag brushes across a hedge.

Wednesday, February 27, 2013


Dear Readers,
   Sorry for all the short posts lately; I've had to use my morning writing time to finish something else (i.e. stare into space and get nothing done at all). Thanks for bearing with me. Here's some good writing rules by David Ogilvy that you should hang above your desk. If you don't write much, then just follow rules 4 (for talking) and 10 (for every day). Bye, love you.

1. Read the Roman-Raphaelson book on writing. Read it three times.
2. Write the way you talk. Naturally.
3. Use short words, short sentences and short paragraphs.
4. Never use jargon words like reconceptualizedemassification,attitudinallyjudgmentally. They are hallmarks of a pretentious ass.
5. Never write more than two pages on any subject.
6. Check your quotations.
7. Never send a letter or a memo on the day you write it. Read it aloud the next morning — and then edit it.
8. If it is something important, get a colleague to improve it.
9. Before you send your letter or your memo, make sure it is crystal clear what you want the recipient to do.
10. If you want ACTION, don’t write. Go and tell the guy what you want.

Tuesday, February 26, 2013

Boobs vs. Balls

I wasn't going to write about the Oscars but then this morning I saw this article: Seth McFarlane and the Oscar's Hostile, Sexist Night  and I had to put in my two cents. Come on! Seth's problem wasn't that he was hostile, it's just that he wasn't all that funny. Everyone knows balls are much funnier than boobs.

Saturday, February 23, 2013

Memory Mitosis

Every moment happens twice: inside and outside, and they are two different histories.
-Zadie Smith

I would say that every moment happens at least twice. There's the moment itself, there's your narration of it, but then there's also the memory it sparks, which has another history entirely. This is true especially when the moment in question involves watching your child experience something you've experienced. Then your head becomes a superdome cineplex with double-features on the hour.

Mothers especially can take a hard hit for being spacey, for being dim, forgetful and frazzled. I know I have stared at each of my children many times  before it dawns on me that they are saying: Mom, Mom, Mom, MOM! Their voices like a mirage on the horizon that eventually comes into focus. On the outside, I say Oh! then, What? and on the inside I watch the moment, but in another room I am ice skating on a frozen pool with my best friend, standing by myself at a school dance, or crying because my heart has been broken.

Thursday, February 21, 2013

Trimming the Ivy

I couldn’t help laughing. One leg was in the air with my foot pressing against the wall, and the other leg was splayed out across the table. The woman’s face was only about 2 feet away from my birth canal. How has it come to this? The hot wax, the popsicle stick, the cloth, the press, the RIP. Who came up with this idea anyway? I have underwear on. But still. There are places where they make you take it off, where they ask you to put your legs over your head and spread your butt cheeks. What? Yes it’s true; get over it (or block it out, like I do). I’m laughing now because I’m imagining different scenarios where people walk into the room.

Downton Abbey
Tom: Lady Lewis! What in the name of the heavenly father—
Me: Tom no! It’s not what you think

The Wire
Group of Teenage Boys: Aww Shit--
Me: Getthefuckout!

Louis CK
Louis: Uum, oh sorry… ah…hold on…okay just
Me: Close the door, Louis…Close the door…Go on Louis!! Just close it.

And what about the woman who performs the torture? I don’t know her name; she doesn’t know mine. It is better this way. No eye contact. No talking. Does she see it like a canvas? Or like a hedge? Or does she just see a vagina. I suppose there are worse things to look at.

Wednesday, February 20, 2013

Being A Girl

I don't remember the specifics of the suffering I did in high school but I know there was a lot of it. I only remember the general feeling of anger and frustration and hatred and misery. I can remember the utter disgust I could feel towards someone, mostly my mother, if asked to, say, rake the leaves outside with the rest of the family, but I don't remember why. And yes, why? I knew nothing about real suffering; at school I had friends, I had a sense of humor. Hey black hole of darkness, what gives? As both the subject of and twice-witness to this particular phase of girlhood, all I can say is I have no idea. Yes hormones, yes physical change, yes emotions, but the feeling is even larger than all that, it's somehow connected to nothing and everything in the world.
Do you get it now?

Monday, February 18, 2013

Fools in The Car

We all used to sit in the backseat of the car with no seatbelts, sometimes as many as six kids back there in the summer. I liked to get in the way back bucket seat and lie on my back with my legs hanging into the second row. Looking up I could see glittery trees turn to blue-sky, turn to glittery trees turn to stoplight hanging on a wire. It was like a slow motion strobe. How did anyone drive with so many kids in the car: screaming, pinching, crying, sometimes as many as three little arms out the window on one side catching waves of air. I liked the back bucket seat even long after I was too big because at least it felt calm back there. Occasionally all the kid’s voices would get quiet and I could feel hands tickling towards my shin where someone would try to pull out a tiny hair. Usually this was relaxing, soft little hands doing a spider walk, not strong enough to hurt me, but a couple times my leg would jerk and connect with someone’s upper lip and then all hell broke loose. I know it didn’t happen this way but in those times when everyone was blaming, arguing, bleeding, I have in my memory that the car swerved in S shaped swoops, sometimes leaning on the side with two wheels in the air, such was the loud screaming commotion. I remember once my Uncle Dylan turned the radio up to full scratchy volume and this song was playing.

 At the time there was so much rage in that one small gesture that he may as well have slapped me across the face; I instantly felt ashamed, completely to blame and totally confused. He divorced my aunt not long after that and it wasn’t until many years later that I realized his blasting of the song had nothing to do with us at all.

Friday, February 15, 2013

Preparing for the Shadow

Dear People who don't see a correlation between having a gun in your house and it going off,

   It's weird that the same people who think they can prepare for random events (like meeting intruders, psychopathic murderers or vengeful enemies) don't ever prepare for common ones (like experiencing rage, jealousy or passionate fits). Maybe anyone who buys a gun should have to take some psychology classes, or study human nature, and then read this:

Chekhov's gun is a metaphor for a dramatic principle concerning simplicity and foreshadowing. It suggests that if one shows a loaded gun on stage in the first act of a play, it should be fired in a later act; otherwise, the gun should not be shown in the first place. The principle was articulated by Russian playwright Anton Chekhov and reported in various forms.
"Chekhov's gun" is often used as an example of foreshadowing, with the sight of the gun preparing the audience for its eventual use. But the primary point of Chekhov's advice was to caution against including unnecessary elements in a story or its staging. Failure to observe the rule of "Chekhov's gun" may be cited by critics when discussing plot holes. The deliberate defiance of this principle may take the form of a red herring: something which the audience is meant to assume will be important to the plot's outcome, but ultimately is not.

Signed, a person who is tired of hearing about gun related deaths,

Thursday, February 14, 2013

Happy Val-y

                                            Pablo Neruda was a love-poem writing champ.

"I love you without knowing how, or when, or from where. I love you simply, without problems or pride: I love you in this way because I do not know any other way of loving but this, in which there is no I or you, so intimate that your hand upon my chest is my hand, so intimate that when I fall asleep your eyes close.”
-from 100 Love Sonnets

In sixth grade this year no one is allowed to buy Valentines, or give candy or flowers or balloons. Instead everyone gets the same link to a page with a heart on it, which can be printed out at home 26 times (that's how many kids are in the class) on regular white paper from the printer. On it, you have to write, To: the person's name and From: your name, and then "one note of appreciation".

In my head I am  thinking: What? Plain paper? "Note of Appreciation"? What kind of sterile, lame, utterly stupid, whole foods, organic, helicopter-parent, green, straight from farm to table, everyone gets a trophy, goddam assignment is this? On the outside I say, "Are you sure it's just plain white computer paper?" And then I stand there like an old person who understands nothing, with my eyes squinting and head tilted: This makes sense does not.

But then the sixth grader does the assignment, easily and without complaint, and, well, every single note of appreciation is beautiful and sweet and heart-felt, and I wish I could get and give these kinds of Valentines from now on.

Here's one for you:

Dear Valentine,
 Just when I think you might be in my imagination, I hear from you. Thank you for taking time with me even if (especially if) it means you are procrastinating. You are thoughtful and sweet and have a great sense of humor.

Wednesday, February 13, 2013

RIP Paul Sally

Paul, our salamander, died last night. He lived 5 years which seems like a long time for someone to live in a tank. At least in our house. We had a funeral for him outside under the orange tree in the dark. There had been so much yelling while I was digging the hole, I thought Harry and Dar were going to get into a fist fight: Stop laughing. I'm not laughing. You're an idiot. I can't help it. He was my pet you stupid JERK. Mom, Harry almost swung that rake at my head. I should hit you in the face with it you stupid JERK. MOM!
Stop it stop it stop it. Let's just have peace for Paul.
He was a good guy.
RIP Paul, from the age of dinosaurs to a backyard  21st century and beyond.

Monday, February 11, 2013

Year of The Sssssssssssss

I don't usually believe in horoscopes unless they're good and then I believe whole heartedly, completely and 100%. Okay that's not true, I always believe in horoscopes but especially when they are great. Okay I'm lying, when my horoscope is bad it makes me nervous. I have no idea who came up with this stuff, but I am always amazed at how accurate it is and I'm not kidding. How can you deny this, people? Check yours out here and see what you're in for. Good Luck, I'm rooting for you!

Friday, February 8, 2013

What's It Gonna Be?

                                      Mo did not want to have her picture taken so she put this on.

Sometimes it is an effort to look into another person's eyes while I am talking to them. Not that I don't care about communicating with the person. Not that I don't mean what I say. But it's just physically difficult. It's like the part of my brain that controls getting the words out and the part of my brain that's in charge of me connecting with someone are in two separate rooms. Maybe that's true of everyone. I can always look at the person's eyes after I'm finished talking, I can check in and connect then; but otherwise there's just too much going on.

Sometimes, when there is a conversation going on beneath the one you're having, it is amazing and wonderful and exciting. Other times it is like an exhausting work-out. You never really know which one it's going to be until it happens.

Have a Beautiful WeekEnd!

Thursday, February 7, 2013

The Genetics of Bad Habits

Harry is writing another paper (and by Harry I mean I)...(and by is I mean am). This one is on religion in Ancient Egypt. I know it's not right, and possibly even damaging, and could very well tarnish his ability to get things done for the rest of his life, but what can I do? It's a five page paper due Friday. He's had the assignment since the first day back from Christmas break. They have only been allowed to work on it at school (to prevent parents from doing what I am about to do) but were able to bring it home to type it up. So far he has one page where he wrote that religion in Ancient Egypt is awesome and cool because the gods had crocodile heads and wolf heads.


If Harry's homework experience was a song, this would be the refrain.

I take out the three page explanation of the assignment. His teacher, who is amazing and thorough, and inspiring (and no I'm not brown-nosing)(tiny bit), has written in very simple but specific detail how to write this paper.

Har: Mom, I know what the assignment is.
Me: I know but just follow this... like a map... Do what it says.... He's breaking it down for you.
Har: Mom.

I leave him alone. I try to have faith. Before I leave, I pull up a few sites about religion in Ancient Egypt and tell him to have a look. When I return after 10 minutes he is watching videos of the Harlem Globetrotters.


I click on the first site after googling and I read the following:

Many aspects of Egyptian theology are elusive to modern researchers. This results from the fact that there was tremendous development of religious ideas throughout the 3,000 years of Egyptian civilization, yet few concepts were discarded; instead, they were layered upon each other in an ever more complex and seemingly convoluted manner.

Me: Huh?
Harry lays his head down on the table.
Me: Let's see. 3000 years, tremendous development but no concepts were discarded... hmmm, What do you think that means?
He grunts.
Me: What?
Harry: Nothing changes.
Me: Nothing changes, hmmm. Maybe it's--
Harry: I'm hungry.
Me: Okay let's take a little break.

Tuesday, February 5, 2013

Reposting an Oldie: Genius at The Bar

Yesterday I was at the apple store again waiting for all the information on my computer to be deleted. I think I need to say that again for emphasis: waiting for all the information on my computer to be deleted. We had saved it to a hard drive first but it still felt scary. The genius helping me was an 18 year old beanie-wearing-Asian-skateboarder named Yo. He had saved everything from my computer onto this rectangular piece of plastic not much bigger than a credit card, which I was trying to fit back into the packaging, while he told me he wanted to grow his facial hair long enough that the hair from his chin would connect to his sideburns. I stared at him and then at the places on his face where he wanted hair to grow.
It's not going to happen, I said.
Come on, I've been working on it for 2 weeks.
No way, I squinted at his face and then shook my head. But you do have some crazy teeth. He did. He had a serious set of fangs, not on the front area where they usually are, but back in the middle of the upper row. How the hell did that happen?
He laughed and then smiled wide so I could get a full view.
Damn, I said. That proves you're a genius. 
He turned his head this way and that, proud of himself.
All geniuses have some sort of malformation, I told him, and very often it's in their teeth.
He thought about this for a few minutes; he wanted to accept the praise but he also wanted to dispute it.
I just made that up, I said, finally.
Aww, dude, that sucks, I was so ready to buy into that one.
You're already a genius, what do you care.
Yeah, he sighed.
We turned our attention to the computer screen and stared at it. I felt like I was watching someone have an organ removed. It felt oddly scary and mysterious and sad.
Why do you want your side burns to grow enough to connect to your chin hair?
Because it'll look awesome. But you're right, I know it'll never happen.
Don't say that, I said.
Why not?
Because geniuses aren't pessimistic, only normal people are.

Monday, February 4, 2013

Thoughts on a Monday Morning

When you wake up, is it completely silent? How long before the inside of your head sounds like Grand Central Station on a Friday at 5? Do you drink coffee? Or do you drink tea? Do you make lists? And do you check things off until you're done? Or just keep adding and then roll it up like a scroll? Do you like to hit the ground running? Or do you like to dip your toe in the water first and go in slowly? Do you mind when you mix metaphors? Do you mind talking to people who do? When you like someone, do you approach him right away, or do you watch him from afar and dream about him? Do you put care and thought into your relationships with friends and family, or do you just leave them and come back, like they're spinning plates? Do you think you'd like to be friends with yourself if you you weren't yourself? When you have some kind of pain or sadness in your life do you try to find new ways to soothe it and make it go away, or do you repress it and keep on keepin on? Or do you just fumble and fall dealing with it the same way you always do? Are the words fumble and fall in a song? Do you know that song? Do you like to dance, or do you feel self conscious and silly? Do you know how to make things happen? Or do you surround yourself with people who do? And is that, in a way, knowing how to make things happen? Do you feel in control of anything? Or are you in a position where you have to rely on luck and good timing? Do you think that's how it is for everyone? What would you do if Beyonce walked into your room and told you she was inspired by you? Do you love easily, or are you suspicious, or an odd combination of both of those things? Are you always late, or always early? Do you think if you are always late that it's because you're so busy, or is it just a bad habit? Do you blame others for things that are your responsibility? How often? Do you forgive easily? Why is that? Do you get exhausted by endless questions or do you love them?

I think next time I'm a boss and I have to interview someone for a job, these are the questions I'm going to ask.

Friday, February 1, 2013

Morning Meditation on A Hillside

Deepak Chopra says: "Accept people, circumstances, and events as they are in this moment. When you combine acceptance, responsibility and defenselessness, your life flows with effortless ease". 

I love the idea of this, but as soon as I am ready to peacefully meditate on it, all I can think is: Fuck you Rush Limbaugh. Fuck you Ann Coulter and what's that other jackass's name, whatever it is, fuck him and that nightmare marionette doll/NRA president, and fuck the Westboro Baptist Church. Fuck the people who never read or encourage thought and open-mindedness. Fuck people who torture animals and abuse children. Fuck all of you and, as much as I hate to say it, fuck the horses you rode in on. Don't act like you don't all ride the same float in this parade. You know you do. Hmph...mean, ugly, sick, crazy, hateful. 


Okay, okay, take a deep motherfucking cleansing breath: All problems contain the seeds of opportunity and this awareness allows you to take the moment and transform it into a better situation. If you do this, every upsetting situation becomes the opportunity for something new and beautiful, every tormentor or tyrant becomes your teacher.

I'm trying, Deepak.