Tuesday, December 31, 2013

new year

the new year approaches
without bells, without whistles.
i lean against a warm tree trunk, knees to face.

the sky gazes impassively
without mercy, without cruelty.
my children scream and pick their noses.

now cat, i call
now dog, move your fat ass.
i am an animal lover.

the tirade of my mind encroaches
the entire veil of consciousness.
life is not a democracy or a Marxist theory.

everything comes down to
how you feel when you sit
against a warm tree trunk, knees to face.

Sunday, December 29, 2013

People In Your Neighborhood

take a seat and read!

Staring this list with the passing of Loren Nancarrow. Loren was a San Diego newscaster and part of the background of my life for twenty years or so. A deeply loved father and husband, he found he had a brain tumor less than a year ago. In his blog entries he revealed a truly inspirational way to die, to let go of life. Read this one he wrote days before his death yesterday. 

My short mainly non-fiction piece went up at Literary Orphans Tavern Latern, and will be published in their new edition this January.

Here are all the movies expiring on Netflix at the New Year. I watched Capote last night off this list.

In the Daily News, young women poets making their mark.

Cynthia Hawkins was recently diagnosed with breast cancer. Her blog post Outbreak is so beautifully crafted and ends with a gut punch.

In Salon, boys and girls get different, tailor made breast milk.

How 'hygge' can get you through winter

Obama commuted the life sentence of nonviolent drug offenders. This is great, and- we need policy change. Serious policy change regarding drug sentencing- especially when it comes to marijuana. 

Because I'm interested in almost everything about writers.

Anne Sexton (one of my favorite poets) daughter Linda writes 'In the Shadow of My Mother's Suicide'

In The Boston Globe, The Poet As A Rock Star

Thursday, December 26, 2013

beyond Christmas

If you ignore how I felt, it was a beautiful Christmas.
I tried to ignore how I felt, so why should you be any different.
The truth is that my heart is absolutely broken.
I don't think you'd have any idea if you saw me
pretty much anywhere.
One reason so many people who love someone who gets into deep mental trouble can gasp and tremble 'but they seemed fine…' is because when you love your people, and when you have a deeply ingrained sense of your place in the scheme of things- all of us wrestling on the shores with our own Sad Fish, all of us head above water and swimming in the skin kissing sun and then drowning, terrified, or floating, accepting- then you do your job well. You mother, parent, friend, work, clean, caretake yourself in appropriate amounts, maybe you even make lists, pros and cons, write in a journal, pray, cry hysterically in the shower or the car, eschew foods that make the insanity sharper, jog, stretch, gently rub the tenderloins of your underfoot, dutifully log in correct hours to move your body parts, offer what you can to the world around you, recycle. 
The worst thing I've ever done to myself, in my entire life, is to pretend, categorically and ongoing, that I don't feel how I feel.
This blog and this space is where I can say this is how it really is for me, right here, right now and not worry that I am burdening someone unfairly or asking for something I won't receive anyhow. 
One of my best friend's was here with us all day a few days ago, her and her little family, and I was able to tell her this is how it is for me right here, right now. And she didn't say 'but what about your beautiful children?' or 'what about just trying not to feel that way' or any other pointless and ignorant one up. She heard me and she loved me, and that is all I want, and all most of us want. I was supremely grateful.
I am grateful for everything, for life itself. And, my heart, my poor red ragged heart missing half it's lung capacity in a terrible accident, it is working as hard as it can to beat on, to carry the ship of a universe of chemical storms and neurological misfirings and muscle bone and sinew and the entire ocean in my skin. The ocean inside of us, our spirits the sky overhead that falls in the rays of sun and water deep into that ocean, and our hearts, human and vulnerable and stronger than we think and more scarred than we often admit, our hearts a tiny ship in the vastness of ocean and sky.
I am acknowledging my heart. 
Christmas was beautiful, even with the ship half sunk.
There is always help coming, and I am keeping my eye on the horizon. 

Friday, December 20, 2013

life is ridiculous

The morning started with poop and ended with poop. In the span of two days I have spent $400 unexpected dollars on my car brakes, cleaned up Ever's poop that went down into her boots-both sides- and threw away her pants, stepped in bare feet the poop that fell onto the bathroom floor then later stepped in my new running shoes in a huge pile of dog shit while cleaning up dog shit, given up cleaning the two million one trillion four quadrillion tiny hairbands the size to fit a child's pinky that Ever threw like confetti around my bedroom floor- which, by the way, nicely covered the spot of, you guessed it, POOP that Ever left when she dropped a load on the floor last week, broke down in tears twice, Christmas shopped three times, cleaned the house over and over, felt constipated depression from writer's block, had insomnia, went to sleep ridiculously early and woke all night feeling ill, wiped Ever's nose a million times ( Mommy, there is a little achoo on my shirt! ) cooked dinners and made lunches and realized I forgot to shower two days in a row, edited a manuscript, written fashion reports, babysat, sent out a few Christmas cards, and

today set the oven on fire.

Ever also found my lipstick:

Tuesday, December 17, 2013

rock slides

incredible, the uncivilized nature of nature.
how rocks kill moss, peat and pine
crush the tiny skulls of baby mice.
last year an entire family of human beings
crushed, by rocks.

your brain fills with landslides and eruptions
of lava: am i watching you die?
i am not allowed to say this.
if i do not, part of me will die.
what is more dramatic
than the truth?

when you blink at me cruelly and slowly,
i am afraid of you.
in contemplation i realize
not afraid of you, afraid of watching you leave.
i am a mother and a spiritual warrior,
these i have earned.

when it comes to romantic love,
i am only cowering underneath the boughs
covering my tiny skull
praying for mercy from an uncivilized nature,
which cares nothing for your singular self.

maggie may ethridge

-rock slide kills entire family except for teenage girl

Monday, December 16, 2013

The Pop Liberation of Beyonce

If you are online, you know that Beyonce dropped a pop masterpiece in the depths of the night with nary a peep or a tweet in advance. Queen Bey, Queen B, Beyonce- or my favorite (and the shortest song/video on the groove spectacular) Yonce. As in i sneezed on the beat and the beat got sicka / Yonce all on your mouth like liquor / Yonce all on your mouth like liquor Godamn- in the high half-crazy shriek of Beyonce's own music- she is killin it

This is the best pop album of the last ten years. If you like pop, you want to listen to it, watch it, get excited about it! I am.

Pretty Hurts, the first and one of the few weaker offerings of the album, is an easy song with predictable rhythm and chorus. The important thing about this song is that it announces, gently, maybe hoping to keep eye to eye with some less adventurous B. fans, Beyonce's theme: empowered women.
The empowerment of Beyonce is the seed of this album. In Flawless she says momma taught me good home trainin / daddy told me to love my haters / sister told me to speak my mind / my man makes me feel so goddamn fine - this is a woman who has had support and love her whole life and could have been restrained, even gagged by the seal of approval she already had from the listening public. She chose to dare some here, and that daring, however much it represents of what she has to offer, is pure pop gold. Beyonce is in flow. She is in the epi-center of herself- that amazing, powerful creature: a woman who has risen in career, love and motherhood and found her deepest love, and from that love creates a wave that washes over everything in her life- her husband, children, self, and with an artist, the art. The weakness of Pretty Hurts also lies in the sand in mouth syndrome- it's hard to take Beyonce seriously wailing about the demands of being pretty when she just had a baby and has an incredible, fit figure and gorgeous, seemingly perfect face. 

Ghost is one of my favorite songs in this platter of great pop, and opens with a Prince like mesmerizing drone: all the people on this planet / workin 9 to 5 just to say alive and then a beautiful, haunting chorus what goes up / ghosts around / in a Sarah McLachlan like epic emotional call, rolling seamlessly into a blend of Beyonce talking to us song not for sell / probably  not gonna make any money off this / oh well / reap what you sow / perfection is so… and here, in the video she throws a look to the side, nailing it- she's telling us- She's telling us look, I am bringing what I love. If you don't like it, YOU CRAZY. It's beautifully sung and at less than 2 minutes, could have been 5. Perfection. Haunted has elements of many of the songs on Beyonce, pop beats, electronic synthesizers and emotive vocals with sexual overtones. No Angel is one of my favorites here- a great mash up of intimate revelations i know i'm not the girl you thought you knew and thought you wanted / underneath that pretty face there's something complicated , great singing, pop tones and beautifully mixed melodies. Liberated B. is telling us that her husband- who we know is no angel, a man who grew up in Marcy Projects and sold drugs- picked her for a reason. She's no angel either. There is some strange echo of the 80's in this song, too, and it all works.

Standing in front of trophies, handed trophies, breaking trophies, dragging trophies through the sand in Drunk In Love, there are trophies scattered and beaten throughout this album. Drunk In Love starts out slow and unassuming, then adds a trick drum beat and Beyonce throws a growl into the chorus and the song picks up it's power. Trophy wife? Hell no. Jay-Z shows up on the dark beach of this video, wine in one hand, a lazy cat got the canary gleam in his eye, rapping about pulling his wife's panties to the side because he doesn't have time for it, eating her breasts for breakfast, while Beyonce rolls dirty with the arms and attitude in her dance, at one point staring at Jay-Z while he raps in a moment so intimate I felt voyeuristic. They manage to make the erotic both fierce and adorable in this video and in verse.

Speaking of erotic- here we go with Blow and Partition and Rocket. Whew, anyone else pregnant around here? When I wrote about Rihanna and her sexless, glazed look, Beyonce was at the other end of the world grinding out her own sexuality and lyrics in one big liberated, exuberant shebang to show what it looks like when a grown woman takes possession of her own desire and sexuality in art. Blow is directed by Hype Williams and a shitload of fun to watch, with day glow seventies inspired hair and workout gear on a roller skating rink that goes with the homage to Donna Summer and Prince here. If Blow is for the languorous love making session, Partition is for the part where you squeal- ' Beyonce, I didn't know you like it like THAT! ' Partition is one freaky, awesome song and the video- with it's role playing sex games ( Beyonce with her hair neatly tucked and librarian good-girl glasses on, Beyonce with glittering ball gown and oversized hat) is so much good fun. Love the French sexy talk--The synthesizer pulse gets it going and Beyonce takes it off-  driver role up the partition please / i don't need you seein Yonce on her knees The chorus: take all of me / i just want to be / the kind of girl you like / the kind of girl you like / is right here with me is kind of a dirty 'i'm every woman' for all of us married women who keep it fresh with our husbands and also the truth about how a feminist woman can still fall prey to want to be all things to her man. Part of what liberation is for women is to claim all sides of ourselves, to integrate- that bastion of mental health. B. is liberating her sexuality, her jealousy, her street, her grief, her love- in this album, all.

Jealous is a song you listen to for clues to Beyonce's vulnerable side, more interesting for the story about the singer than song itself. i know i'm being hateful but that ain't nothin / i'm just jealous / i'm just human and part of the storyline of this album, claiming all parts of herself. XO is a lovely whitewash, free falling love song with a video of Beyonce wearing a Biggie hat and falling and rising on a roller coaster. It can't be said enough how much eye candy is in this fantastic video collection, in this example, Beyonce's copious jewelry draped and layered and dripping and long fangish nails in all colors.

Flawless : I am mad crazy in love with this song. First of all, it opens with a little kid synthesized voice rapping with a nasty edge and drops an immediate beat that nails your listening ears- then B comes in with her sweet strong voice i know you when you were little girls / you dreamt of being in my world / don't forget it don't forget it  and then snarls at us respect that / bow down bitches and then we are schooled:  i took some time to live my life / but don't think i'm just his little wife / don't get it twisted get it twisted / this my shit / bow down bitches with bitches yelled out in a high pitched shriek that is so satisfying. With her buttoned up to the neck flannel, shortish wilder hair and dark eyeliner, B keeps throwing the camera half crazed looks and shaking her hands in her face and It Is Awesome. Then we have the much talked about call to feminist arms from Chimamanda Adichie's Ted talk and the gravitas are undeniable. Back to Beyonce flossin flawless, and it's pretty much perfection. 

A large part of what makes this album exceptional is that Beyonce is a master cultural chameleon. She absorbs what she sees and is able to express it in a way that still keeps herself powerful, so that she is never overshadowed or doing cheap imitations; instead she takes what she sees and hears and turns it into new, even better magic. What in other pop performers is a one trick pony- however good that trick- Beyonce takes for one, hot shining song and brings it with full, liberated power. So in Pretty Hurts she is safe Beyonce, the one we already know, in Yonce she brings the street, in Blow she's accessing the tremulous notes and crazy sexy mashup of the seventies, Rocket runs smooth, wet and old school like D'Angelo did it, Ghost is an electronic emo Prince mesh that worked beautifully without striking a bogus note.

Mine is a pretty song and video with Drake- that's about it. Superpower with Frank Ocean is a great listen with its soulful lyrics and playful beats. Beyonce brings Destiny's Child to conquer the world in this post-apocyliptic styled video. and just like you i can be scared  / and just like you i hope i'm spared  / it's tough love Yeah. Yeah. Heaven is a rip out your heart ballad of loss, possibly about the baby Beyonce and Jay-Z miscarried. It's a stand-out, beautifully sung and heart rending lyrics i fought for you the hardest / it made me the strongest / so tell me your secrets / i just can't stand to see you leaving / but Heaven couldn't wait for you / so go on, go home Blue is the opposite end of the spectrum, about the life and love of their baby Blue- a sweet song, but one of the weaker on the album. Grown Woman is irresistible, high energy voltage beatbeatbeat with the cumulative theme of this album, the rallying cry:

i'm a grown woman / i can do whatever i want

Amen, Bey. You keep doing what you do. I love it. This is an album you can dance to, have sex to, get ready for a Friday night or sit and dream. 

Saturday, December 14, 2013

all that shines (bodies)

where does this electricity tremulous to the root behind 
move when moving toward your eyes, pupil's blown
with desire

i am the water that set herself on fire

i'm gonna put this baby down with my breast
lay her tucked and come downstairs to
get fucked

i can live with this but not without that

hide me from the mop heads and unclaimed sweat
stained clothing i am naked and moaning
like a wild thing

i am a wild thing

you married a wild thing
i never said i promised you a rose garden
only this body, only this heart, only this mind

all you received and all that shines.

Wednesday, December 11, 2013

the contradiction

My life is condensed in a way that it has never been before. The focus is unprecendented unless you include my intense sexual drive, and since that is a pleasurable pursuit with no other benefits than jouissance, it is not comparable to this: write, care for children, take care of household. Repeat. Sleeping, eating, running, working out..aside..aside… but the yolk is rich and it is only three. Write, care, house. My marriage has been on hold for over a year, as long time readers know. For now, in the last waking month, bipolar has taken a back seat to my actual husband. I admire this like a landscape you know will soon change. 

To be two at once: I am more focused and less engaged than ever before. I float slightly outside my own skin, observing my behavior, correcting myself when needed, reaching for my ideals, approaching the mundane with proper respect. I am the mother of a toddler- I touch all day. We kiss and roll and romp and hug and snuggle and nurse. I think of a medium, calling the spirit into the room. I call myself, attempting to attract a complete experience by enticing with chocolate, good food, laughter, great books, fascinating learning, debate, love. Nothing works. Although I do it all as I should- eat well, take the blue pill, exercise, connect, touch the warming stones beneath my feet at the park, notice the sky, bathe, sleep- I cannot bring my full self into play. However long this will go on, I do not know, but it is painful in it's own way. 

I must finish my novel. I must finish my novel. I must finish my novel.

Sunday, December 8, 2013

People In Your Neighborhood

take a seat and read!

I just finished readingThe House of the Spirits: A Novel ( soooo good ) , and am now reading
Arguably: Essays by Christopher Hitchens ( heaven )

Top Ten Dysfunctional Family Books

This NYT write up about a marriage is just a lovely, interesting read. The columnist of 'Ask Amy' and her husband found themselves quickly tested in their marriage.

Dog shaming is hilarious. I laughed out loud!

My fashion piece on Budget Fashionista: 10 Best Trends for Winter Fashion 

Hearing loss is more common younger and younger now due to noise pollution. No one talks about it but I think we should bring it up more- it's one of those things that's easy to brush off until it happens to you. I have tinnitus in one ear that isn't too bad but still sucks. I teach my kids (not that they will listen, but I have to pass it on) to keep their ear buds down low, music at reasonable level and wear ear plugs if surrounded by a crush of noise.

Letters To an Incarcerated Brother looks like a fascinating and sobering read. The author Hill Harper wrote this after entering into correspondence with young men in prison. Here's his interview with NPR

Richard Dryfus reveals he has bipolar disorder

I love Maya Rudolph! She's brilliant.

A piece I wrote her on Flux was republished by Jennifer Pastiloff, also including a picture of the tattoo that a Flux reader got ON HER ACTUAL BODY of MY WORDS!! I still can't believe it. Such an honor.

Friday, December 6, 2013

Emilie Parker, Her Mother, Evil and Love

I'm going to hold on to this for as long as I can. I've been reading so much about life and death since my friend Carrie's death from ovarian cancer, a young single mother of a boy who she loved as much as you can love. I've been reading about NDE's… I guess trying to understand what I can't  understand. And the thing I keep reading over and over again is how important free will is for choosing love, and the incredible power of making that choice.  So to hear this mother who lost her beautiful irreplaceable baby girl say the same thing- I cannot dishonor that wisdom by letting myself forget or reach for any less in my own life. I started crying when she reached up and touched her daughter's little bike, and you might cry too. It's a horrific loss. And, there is an 'and'. Dakota recently reached out to a young guy around his age who just lost both of his older brothers within four months. Dakota was deeply shaken and upset that he couldn't do more for this guy than the discussions they've been having. He said ' I told him I know it might be weird because I don't really know him, but I love him anyway just because we are all human. " And I told him just to be present, just to reach out and then stay present with love in the face of so much suffering, is the most important thing you can do. I'm so proud of him that he is choosing to do so.  I think that translates to our entire experience of life- Just stay present, with love, in the face of all the suffering- such an enormous task. Some people can't do it. I can't always do it. We aren't perfect. We fail the people we love because of those weak places, but it's the overall that counts, that lasts. Some parents can't do it for their kids, and those kids pay a deep price for it. That kind of abandonment is not talked about much in our culture, but it is behind so much of the emotional and mental disease we see.  On a small scale, it takes me to when Ever was in the hospital and screaming for over two hours as they pinned her down and pricked her black and blue, Ed and I took turns holding her hand and looking into her face. If you had seen her eyes-- she kept searching the faces of each doctor and nurse, nailing each one down and making them SEE her, then meeting our eyes with so much begging.  She was covered, head to toe- her actual toe- in large angry bruises on her tiny one month old body. She wanted us to make it stop, and all we could do was look at her with love. To be there. We felt like shit. We felt like we failed her, not figuring out a better way or stopping them until we could. But looking back, I think we did what we were called to do as her parents. And I think this mom is doing that, too, on a scale so large and terrible I can't truly imagine it. Facing loss- an absence- is so different than facing a person's suffering, and then what that loss is your child… I don't  know what it's like, but I know what we all instinctively know, that it is the worst pain a parent could experience. Joan Didion says that loss is to face the essence of meaningless, and that is the echo of what I feel when I imagine what it would be like. So to create meaning and love must be the only way to stop from being annihilated by the loss.  I can carry this with me--

Tuesday, December 3, 2013

Everkins is Three

She turned three today. Today three years ago I was numb breasts down, unable to feel pain but experiencing quite vividly the sensation of being a frog at the dissection table- jerked and tugged from the innards out, and pause- then the scratch kitten cry of my sweet baby, my Kinny, my beautiful two colored eyed dynamo, a ball of non stop energy, curiosity and determination with heavenly sweet spots of adorable hilarity and charm. She is my Tiger eyes- 'my', I can still write- at three, she still clings to me and me alone in that singular flame still tethering us between bellies and breast, her head on my abdomen as she falls asleep at night, her hand in mine as she takes me to a creation, her calls for Mommy! Mom!, her eyes meeting mine, her arms around me and one fat hand curved around my neck, her sweet breath on my face, her silky thin hair feathering through those impossible long, thick eyelashes as she laughs hysterically again, her perfect complete weight in my lap. 

She is afraid of loud noises that sound like cows and has a tentative agreement with vacuums and lawn mowers, easily broken if they get to close.

She loves us, Curious George, the red park, the train station down the block from our house, cereal and milk, 'sugars' ( probiotics) in her orange juice, hide and seek, Daddy's truck, Dakota's phone, Ian's game of come and get me, Lola's room, bath time, swimming, rain, Halloween, Christmas, running, jumping, tickling, singing, music of all kinds but especially Mickey Mouse Clubhouse, orchestra and Christmas music, snuggles, nursing, chunky kisses, the wide wide world, building blocks, cars, digging, kitchen play, chocolate, pizza, Rubios ( black beans, chips and quesadilla or tilapia ), Mickey and Minnie Mouse, books, reading, Emily- Lola's best friend and a lover of Ever, or 'Tinny' as Emily calls her, which is Everkins shortened to Kinny changed to Tinny, Barnes and Noble, the sky and sun and moon, our bed, our house, life. 

Here's classic Ever Elizabeth: I am on the computer, which is next to my bed. Out of the corner of my eye I see Ever slide silently onto the bed and underneath covers, then just as silently pulling an enormous and heavy heap of sheets and comforters onto her body. I wait. Nothing. Not one movement or sound. I wait and wait and it's been five minutes and I can't stand it anymore; I'm starting to get creeped out. So I say Ever? Ever? and nothing- not a giggle or flinch. I find a toe sticking out and fling the covers off of her, and she is lying with an entire pack of forbidden Trident gum clutched in both hands against her tiny breast and a huge wad of chewing gum in her mouth. She meets my eyes. MMMMMMM, she says.

Ever has one of the most effective smiles I have ever seen, if the purpose of a smile is to give the impression that the heavens have parted and the sun is shining with all its might and life is new and beautiful again and joy is possible and real. Which of course it is. I absolutely adore the way her nose looks when she smiles, the way it flattens just so against her face and the creases from nose to mouth deepen- I often leap over to her yelling I WILL KISS YOUR FACE OFF YOUR FACE and she shrieks happily and I kiss her all over her face, often ending up kissing every inch of her.

When Dakota was an infant, I once read that psychologists did a study which showed that babies and children who were touched in affection all over their bodies had better body images and more self confidence, and I never forgot it. With each child I playfully smack or pinch or kiss every part of their bodies until they get sick of it, sometime around three or four. Ever sometimes stops and says ' Mommy do not smack my chunky booty right now. ' It is all I can do to answer seriously, ' OK, sweetie. '

In Target this morning we were almost at the toy aisle, when Ever, apropos to nothing, stopped, squatted and did a startling imitation of twerking, while singing at the top of her lungs ' you can't get my chunky booty, you can't get my chunky booty ' There was a young mom with an infant in her arms to our right who turned bright red and burst out laughing simultaneously. I could tell she didn't know if she should be horrified or delighted. I say go with delight. I can tell you from raising Lola that a child prone to singing or doing such things at three has no baring on their tendencies at older ages. Lola is an extremely proper young lady and sometimes I feel she must be slightly mortified to have such a weird and impulsive mother, but she assures me it's a nice balance. So nice of her.

My days with Ever often remind me of camping in some remote area of wilderness. One moment it's thundering, storming rain, soaking the campsite and ruining hours of manual labor that must be repeated as soon as possible, keeping you up all night and waking you from light sleep to find that someone has turned over all the dog bowls and thrown the dog food to the bears! And then the sun breaks, the clouds wring their rags of the grey and shake themselves into a pearly white glow and the sky opens it's wings over the trees and you are in tears with the joy and beauty and magic of life. After ten minutes, you are berating yourself for not being able to hold onto that magic when confronted with the entire contents of your backpacks strewn across the campsite and your best sunglasses broken and in the fire pit. 

Ever is smart as a whip. After a year where I had to again and again and again day after day coax her to sit and listen while I read, she now reads to herself off an on all day, at least three times a day usually more, and has memorized many of her books, word for word. I read to her twice a day. She knows where we are and when she does not, she asks why I'm taking the wrong road. ' Which way are you going Mommy? ' She knows if we are on the way to Grandmas, or the store, or Starbucks, or Lola's school. She still has baby talk but an extensive vocabulary. She asks questions all day. What is that, how does this work, show me this, why is that… She counts to 20 and knows her ABC's and shapes. She memorizes songs after three or four hearings. 

She never stops moving, learning, laughing, crying, demanding, apologizing, kissing- she never stops. Her vitality is absolute and although it exhausts me, conversely or more true to life, parallel, provides endless rejuvenation for me, just when I think I've hit my limit with  the house, or the dogs, writer's block, family- whatever the issue, however small or large, when I look at her, it's an absolute truth, and she meets my gaze directly and breaks into that smile, I feel love wash over and through me and am released of anger, fatigue, resentment, irritation. I am brought back into connection.

Right now, she is still mine. Very soon, she will start breaking free in small but persistent ways. For each of my children, three has been an age where they realize their own personhood in a profound way, and there is something altered in our bond that feels almost like a physical disconnection, a phone hanging up. The realization of selfhood begins to inform their reality, and my adult awareness of connection is so dependent on the power and intensity of a child's reality of connectiveness that when their brain begins to inform YOU ARE NOT A PART OF YOUR MOTHER YOU ARE YOURSELF I feel it deeply.

For now I feel the energy and connection between us physically. When I am away from her for longer than a few hours, I start to feel a sense of free falling in my body, like phantom pains. We have not been apart for longer than four hours, as was with all my children, and somewhere along this third years, that might change, too. For now, it is perfection as it is. This part of my children's lives is the most simple for me. While absolutely physically exhausting and in all ways engulfing, I know what to do and how to do it. To give them love and security is everything. Everything. It sets the stage for every single important thing in life, from how they learn to how they form relationships to self esteem to how they view the purpose of human life. I watch my older children with their inner glow that is so attractive to other people and draws them near, and believe absolutely that this starts with love, at the very beginning, love and total security in at least one person and if they are so lucky, more than one person. Ever is so lucky, and has known nothing in her short and beautiful life other than complete and total trust and love and security. Even when she was hospitalized, Ed and I slept in her room for nine days, and never left her side, even the horrible dark hours where they pricked her entire body black and blue trying and failing to find a working vein, and she wailed and wailed in a horrible way I have never heard her do before or since- but- but- every time she opened her enormous, hurt and terrified eyes, either the face of her dad or her mom was right there, looking into her eyes, standing through the fear with her. I think that matters on a cellular level.

Ever is three. I love her more than I could ever express in poetry or prose, but I do try.

Monday, November 25, 2013

the book where a neuroscientist dies and goes to heaven

he describes death as heaven
upward into the snail shell spiral
of white and musical color.
a Nabokov experience 
of afterlife, where each reality
is seen twice in the brain.
i hold the yoga pose 
awkwardly, forward thrusting jaw,
the thin foil skin of my abdomen
puckering slightly where the fat lets loose.
i just need enough to hold on to
i think in my yoga-centric way
to pass peace on to my children
so they will not be afraid to watch me die
or afraid to die themselves.
the pinnacle of parenting and wisdom
might be half in teaching how to live
half in teaching how to die.
a little death, every day
loss in every twenty four hour:
a dog, sunglasses, the earbuds again,
best friend moves, favorite lipstick recalled,
the slant of sun there every day
suddenly gone.
ah- we could say, wise and peaceful-
i will simply move like a cat
and lay elsewhere.
he described heaven after fifty two years
of not believing we are more than synapses
firing and misfiring in the dark
now he believes there is everything
we do not know, everything we do not comprehend,
and that we are a part of all of this unknown
even after the slant of sun has taken it's invisible being
and moved where we cannot see.

Saturday, November 23, 2013

People In Your Neighborhood

take a seat and read!

Daniel Menaker's piece What Does the Publishing World Look Like On the Inside? reminded me of Nora Ephron, a touch more cynical. I loved this- touched on my late in life realization that in most areas of life, the people who are 'experts' are often decidedly not so.

Lena Dunham and David Sedaris….sigh.

The Year I Didn't Kill Myself by Gabrielle Calvocoressi…the title sums it up.


I'm on Henry's sixth wife and love this page that matches Tudor scenes and art work with the real life inspirations behind them.

Jennifer Pastilof always has truly amazing stories or thoughtful points of view from guest posters on her blog Manifest-Station. This is no exception.

I loved this post so hard. Dudes are Such Whiny Baby Liars About Girls With Short Hair

I have mentioned Madonna Badger on Flux before. I started following her on Twitter and FB some time after her three daughters- all her children- and her parents were killed in a house fire on Christmas Eve. That sentence is hard to even write. This interview with her is similar to watching a delicate flower be buried in snow and frozen half dead, stomped on mercilessly by nature and then somehow survive for the slant of sun that follows.

Full Grown People, an essay on Comma Momma, is written about a different type of relationship than I have with my daughters, and I still found it so familiar because her writing is so dazzlingly honest and to the heart of the matter. Beautiful.

Can A Writer Escape Vulnerability in The New Yorker made my brain have a hard on. 

Thursday, November 21, 2013

Ever Elizabeth's Early 3rd Birthday Party

“Everything is ceremony in the wild garden of childhood.”
Pablo Neruda

“So was I once myself a swinger of birches.
And so I dream of going back to be.”
Robert Frost

“What is patriotism but the love of the food one ate as a child?”
Lin Yutang

“Sister. She is your mirror, shining back at you with a world of possibilities. She is your witness, who sees you at your worst and best, and loves you anyway. She is your partner in crime, your midnight companion, someone who knows when you are smiling, even in the dark. She is your teacher, your defense attorney, your personal press agent, even your shrink. Some days, she's the reason you wish you were an only child.”
Barbara Alpert

“I also believe that parents, if they love you, will hold you up safely, above their swirling waters, and sometimes that means you'll never know what they endured, and you may treat them unkindly, in a way you otherwise wouldn't.”
Mitch Albom

“One day you will do things for me that you hate. That is what it means to be family.”
Jonathan Safran Foer

"We are all travellers in the wilderness of this world, and the best we can find in our travels is an honest friend"
Robert Louis Stevenson

“You can kiss your family and friends good-bye and put miles between you, but at the same time you carry them with you in your heart, your mind, your stomach, because you do not just live in a world but a world lives in you.”
Frederick Buechner

“You are born into your family and your family is born into you. No returns. No exchanges.”
Elizabeth Berg

“These are the quicksilver moments of my childhood I cannot remember entirely. Irresistible and emblematic, I can recall them only in fragments and shivers of the heart.”
Pat Conroy

“Well, one can't get over the habit of being a little girl all at once.”
LM Montgomery

“I know how syrupy this sounds, how dull, provincial, and possibly whitewashed, but what can I do? Happy childhoods happen”
Marisa De Los Santos

“Little girls are the nicest things that happen to people”
Allen Beck

“What was wonderful about childhood is that anything in it was a wonder. It was not merely a world full of miracles; it was a miraculous world.”
GK Chesterson

Monday, November 18, 2013


am i enough of what should be
for you to lay down the anchor the sword

the killing that's killing me?

baby blood leaks from your capillaries
while you tell me you are fine just fine

all the love i had
not enough

i couldn't wait to hold us together
broken angles and bones and nobody home

all the love i had
a bluff

i can't take you home
i am home

you are home-
where can anyone go?

baby your hands, workman hands torn up
while you tell me you are new brand new

all the love i had
love i have for you

but i know that home remains an illusion,
my freckles find a field to lay and brown.

i miss your irish eyes and the breath of your breath
baby you say fine and fine is death

all the love in the world
circles round our heads like vultures

i am selling a dream and the dream sells well
we all want  a happy ending

without anything ending.

Thursday, November 14, 2013

My First Ebook with Shebooks & A Writing Contest

I have a publishing contract. This is so rad, this is so good, this is so worked for! Shebooks is a new publishing company put together by some powerful and talented women in writing and publishing. It is an online format that will charge a subscription fee month by month to read short ebooks written by women authors- novella length. With an amazing line-up of women writers, Shebook plans to launch in January and is working with Good Housekeeping and BlogHer for promotions and connections.

My Ebook is Scenes From A Marriage, the idea taken from my blog posts here and expanded into a cohesive telling of our story. I am thrilled to be working for and with these women.

Shebooks is holding a contest, for all you women writers out there. Here is a link about it. They are looking for a memoir about mothers or mothering, with a prize of $2000 and a publishing contract. Sweet.

you are the one

Monday, November 11, 2013

jump for your love ( my 39th birthday )

I turned 39 November 10.

To celebrate, all six of us plus E., Lola's best friend and a family member at this point, went to the new local trampoline jump. AND JUMPED OUR LITTLE BUTTS OFF.* We had so much fun. I was smiling like a fool- the most happy- the entire time. Afterward, we met my mom and she took us all to dinner, and after that, all the kids watched a bad movie with me. Mr. Curry had work and went to bed on time. Like a boss.

For my birthday, Mr. Curry had the kids clean, and he brought me breakfast and Starbucks, and took the kids shopping to get a present for me which was bright colored purple running shoes with neon laces- LOVE. Speaking of, that picture Mr. Curry took of my butt made me happy,  because I've been working really hard the last three months- working out five days a week and running two or three of those times, and it is paying off. My body feels like mine again, strong and capable.

*Helpful Hint- if you've had kids and go to a trampoline house, wear a mini pad. Because you might or might not pee yourself.

Friday, November 8, 2013

People In Your Neighborhood

Take a seat and read!

No One Brings You Dinner When Your Daughter's An Addict- I have written about this exact thing myself, the fact that physical illness brings much support in every way, while mental illness brings, too often, silence and isolation.

A Real Time Map Of Births and Deaths Around The World

A tiny symbol of an airplane on Google maps turns into a staggering story of loss, memory and the power of symbol and art.

Treating an Ulcer Without Medication

I just finished reading Vera, by Stacy Schiff, on the life of Vera Nabokov, wife of Vladimir. An engrossing biography that won the Pulitzer prize. I became interested to know what was happening with their only child, son Dmitri, and when I looked, I found this.

This woman's essay is unusually good. If There Was A God, She Has a British Accent at Life, Redacted

Half of All Babies Use a Smartphone Before Age 2. Here's Why That's Bad

A human story from my hometown, Mississippi

8 Foods The Experts Won't Eat

20 Ways To Help Prevent Child Abuse

And~ I had to add this one last minute, because IT IS EVER ELIZABETH as someone else's child. Rebecca gives us ten ways to deal with a spirited child. Yo. And, I totally agree with the look the other way when the sibling is helping thing. I let Lola do this with Ever. It's more important they have that bond and trust and intimacy than I control it all. xo


for there are quiet ghosts afoot
who walk aside our mouths
and breathe the air we expel easily
with love, in and out.

they smooth our hair, 
marvel at our shiny nails
the thud of our feet on concrete
the tiny blast of air in exhales. 

for breathing is their preoccupation
breath- the ghosts of the living
where our souls enter and exit ceaselessly
until they day that life stops giving.

they think to kiss our lips
and come back to ticking clocks
but nothing brings them body or mind
for there is nothing that death cannot stop.

but love! the audience cries.
what about love, you forget!
they cannot see my tears-
i have not cried them yet.

for i hold all my sorrows
like jewels for the crown
if love survives this place
i will gladly weep, and drown.

Wednesday, November 6, 2013

Reluctant Teachers

The hyper awareness of my own mind and thoughts after my two friend's death is in stark contrast to my sense of deep loss yet peace after my Grandmother Elizabeth died. I am lucky, just lucky very lucky that I have not had to deal with much loss that is close to the bone. My Grandparents are the only people that I was very close to who have died, and both died, while at the end of a long and complicated life, at the end of a long and complicated life. If you see what I mean. My friends, on the other hand... Michelle died in her forties of metatastic breast cancer after five years of battling the disease. She left behind a husband two young children. Carrie died this week of complications from the brutal surgery of her ovarian cancer, complications that I cannot begin to let my mind truly approach, the details being so terrifying and upsetting that I do not let myself dwell. I find my brain returning there, anyhow, despite my protestations, hovering over a distant and blurred image. 

When I was twelve or maybe thirteen, I read Rilla of Ingleside, the last book in the series of Anne of Green Gables, and definitely the most dark of all the books. War has come to Anne and her family. Anne's son is terrified of war, and death- but most of all, of suffering. He is a sensitive poet and not brave at all, he tells his sister, not the kind of man who can face what he imagines to be the utmost suffering, the bayonet. He cannot bear it if he is called off to war, and yet, just as in life, he is called anyhow. He goes, and is killed. But not before finding peace. Not before finding he can do the thing that could not be done. And this is my lifelong fervent desire- to find a place of internal peace and meaning so fortified and true that nothing can kill it. Lifelong desire? Yes. I have always remembered- not forgotten and then remembered at a later age, but simply never forgotten- one day in elementary school. I was playing tether-ball on the courtyard and the sky was overcast. There were, as always, throngs of kids around me, playing ball and four square and running. I stood still and let the tether-ball swing round without hitting it, for at that exact moment, watching all my running moving living classmates, I had the impossible but absolute realization that one day, every single one of them was going to die. Every. Single. One. This is how it echoed in my head. I saw the courtyard empty. I realized that the only thing that might be left of where I was, one day, was this overcast sky above my head. And I was filled with the desire to find the secret to life- how to live so that your impending death cannot make you feel like nothing.

You can see I was not invited to many parties.

For a few horrible years I struggled terribly with a fear of death, until one day, I was not afraid of simply death- a new fear had taken place in my mind, one that I can now see was parallel with the emotional suffering I lived with, a fear of suffering and early death. So now I was afraid of two things, whereas before I was only afraid of plain old endless eternal death. Thank God I was a reader and thank God my parents gave me access to not only all and any books that filled our home, but as many books as I cared to take from the library. Books were the only light in that endless tunnel. I could read about how other people feared the exact same thing as I did, what they went through and most importantly, what they learned. I wanted to understand what made some people able to face life's worst with their own best. I wanted to understand how I could do that too.

Carrie had died. She died at 42 and was a single mother to one beautiful boy named Gabriel. She was a  wonderful mother and a good friend. She suffered, physically and emotionally. It is very important here that I explain that I cannot speak for most of Carrie's experience. We were friends but not best friends, and although I heard much from her in writing about her experience, I am sure that is only a drop in the bucket of what she felt and thought. I cannot honestly say what she went through, because as a writer I am all too aware of how we pick and choose what we reveal. I am not writing about what Carrie did or did not do and would feel gross in doing so. I am writing about how her death has affected me. Were Carrie and I very close, I think this timeline would be different.  For me, it was the doppleganger of what is presently almost my worst fear in life- to die when my children are still young, to suffer, and most importantly to me, to be afraid. No- to be terrified. Of course I recognize fully the complete banality of this fear, the commonality. My fear, Carrie's fear, is most of our fears. I have lived in fear for most of my life. I do remember some years in the beginning where I was not afraid. I remember that peace. But most of my life, I have been afraid, and later in my childhood and all throughout my pre-teen and teen years, I was deeply afraid, all the time. When I saw Carrie suffering, I wanted to stop it. Half of this was because I wanted to stop it, and half of this was because I wanted her to show me how to do so.

That incredibly selfish and self absorbed desire was aborted immediately as I recognized it. You see how many times I have written ' I ' in these words? That is because as you have realized, despite the fact that Carrie died, my puny little mind is still revolving it around me. My heart, my spirit- no. I pray for Carrie and her son and her family off and on all day. But my mind, trying to grasp the enormity of her death, flails around like a fish on land. I can only hook my brain into what is alive, and that is my memories of Carrie, which are stored in my brain, and my own thoughts and feelings about mortality.

After my grandparents died, I had none of this. I did not feel selfish, nor do I remember constantly relating their deaths to other things or mulling over them, trying to learn something or understand something. This is because I was at peace with their deaths. I can wrap my mind around dying old and loved. But when faced with the overwhelming truth of what happened to Carrie, my spirit quakes.
I want something solid to hold on to. I have been watching The Tudors, and happen to be right at the moment in time when poor doomed Queen Anne Boleyn and her falsely accused lovers are all executed- beheaded. As Anne wailed in horror and despair watching her brother being murdered from the Tower of London, I wondered what peace there could be to be had there. I know it's possible-for some. Other people have faced as much and found peace and courage. Sometimes I wonder if it's possible for me to find this kind of deep inner peace, because I have no deep faith in God as I understand it/him/her, and my brain has been wracked with fear and sadness my entire life. Just today I read an article in NPR about a new study showing what we already know, which is that children who have great trauma and fear have brains that do not process fear normally. They end up, essentially, afraid of everything. 

In place of a wonderfully shored up brain and a deep religious faith, I will have to put my strong belief in love and it's powers and meaning, the actions of my life, and a study in those who came before me and learned what I am still learning. Death or suffering reminds me, profoundly, of why some choose to make their life about learning how to be alive, while the rest of us run around trying to make a life out of much ado about nothing with moments of meaning. When faced with the worst of the human experience, we want solace so badly, but can we find it if we put no time in looking?

Do I believe that if we just try hard enough, we can always overcome suffering? Of course not. Maybe that is our destiny as human beings, but we aren't there yet. I imagine the worst, and I cannot imagine how I would 'overcome' it, to such degree that it has to be put in quotes. But. It is, and always has been, my deepest instinct is that alongside the greatest terror and horrors we can imagine ( which, nowadays, are expansive ) there is also a river that runs through it, some kind of access to a great belonging and peace. If that is annoyingly obtuse, I apologize. You are the recipient of merely the contents of my inferior brain and what I can pull forth from my heart, and if you find it paltry, imagine how I feel. But I refer back to the teachers, many of whom- all?- were furious, fucking furious at being put in that role. Nobody wants to be a fucking TEACHER. We don't want to suffer so others can learn their lessons. We want our lives as they are- beautiful and messy and painful and awkward and weird and lovely and joyful and horrible and exhausting and interesting and all of it- in private. Not to be Angelina and Brad, a lesson for everyone else on how to survive in a bubble. But those people are there, and I watch them. 

Madonna Badger. I don't know if you know of her, but she is the mother of three beautiful little girls who are all now dead. Her three girls died in a house fire on Christmas a few years back. I saw the news report at the time and filled with the awe and horror that probably every parent felt seeing that news report. Somehow I found Madonna on Twitter and followed her. She wasn't on Twitter anymore so I don't know why I followed her. She hadn't posted since her daughter's deaths. But at some point, she did, and she linked to her FB page, and she followed me back, and I have been 'watching her' ever since. For a long time, she barely lived. She was almost brain dead. I think of how your heart can be stunned still by a virus, and sometimes, the doctors will say the heart muscle died, when really it's not dead, it's temporarily paralyzed by the virus. When tragedies too big to process happen to people, it seems like this happens to the brain. Madonna moved in with her good friend at some point, and just stumbled around the house for months, a year, just holding on to life, barely. After a long time more, she ventured further, on the road and eventually into town. Stumbling around but around. Finally she reached a point where her brain started to wake up, just a tiny bit, out of the constant enormous suffering. Lately she's been posting pictures on her Facebook page. She's been giving out gifts in orphanages in some part of the other side of the world. She's hugging the children. She's riding an elephant. She's talking about love.

Part of me imagines the worst and wants to erase every fucking word I just wrote. Because see, immediately with that kind of horror I feel a rage at the facts of life. The facts of life as Carrie knew them were, among many others, that she got cancer and died young, being forced to leave behind her young son. What if, I wonder, those were my facts?

" When the mind thinks of death, it looks at it and calls it something to keep from experiencing what it- the mind- really is. Unless you know that death is equal to life, you'll always try to control what happens, and it's always going to hurt. There is no sadness without a story that opposes reality. The fear of death is the last smokescreen for the fear of love. We think we're afraid of the death of the body, though what we're really afraid of is the death of our identity. But through inquiry, as we understand that death is just a concept, and that our identity is just a concept too, we come to realize who we are. This is the end of fear. "

" Did you have a foot before you thought of it? When there is no thought, there is no foot. When there's no thought of death, there is no death. "

" Everyone can accept death. Everyone does. There's no decision in death. People who know there is no hope are free. The decision's out of their hands. It has always been that way, but some people have to die bodily to find out. No wonder they smile on their deathbeds. Dying is everything they were looking for in life. Their delusion of being in charge is over. When there's no choice, there's no fear. They realize they're home and that they never left. "

-all quotes Byron Katie

These are the quotes from a book by Byron Katie I read weeks ago. These are the kinds of ideas I like to torture myself with. I don't know what I think about it, and I can't yet make my brain really slow down enough to process these thoughts in the deep and thoughtful way that they require, but I do believe there is a lot to be gained from thinking about these things, from reading about things I don't understand or even agree with, and from watching the teachers, reluctant though they may be.

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