Friday, December 26, 2014

For Christmas, There Were Stories

Bringing in Christmas with books, a celebration of turning life into stories, turning chaos into structured chaos, turning love into timeless love, turning action into detail, turning relationships into narratives with bloody, beating hearts, turning the incomprehensible into meaning, turning, turning the great world in our hands, page by page.

Books Given and Received

Not That Kind of Girl by Lena Dunham from Lola to Momma

Hild by Nicola Griffith from Maggie to Mom ( her mom :)

Robert Parker, two novels from Grandma Mary to Ed

A Life by Keith Richards from Ian to Blonde Mom

Hickory Daiquiri Dock: Cocktails with a Nursery Rhyme Twist by Tim Federle from Maggie to Aunt Kristi

My Paris Kitchen by David Lebowitz from Maggie to her mom

The John Green collection from Momma to Lola

The Story of Christmas Eve from Momma to Ever

The Naked and The Dead by Normal Mailer from Momma to Ian

The Gunslinger Series Book One by Stephen King from Momma to Dakota

Trespassing on Einstein's Lawn by Amanda Gefter from Mom to Maggie

Lesser Known Stories of Sherlock Holmes on CD from Maggie to Mom

Sunday, December 21, 2014

People In Your Neighborhood

take a dream and read!

My first piece in Your Tango with a headline I didn't create, ten truths about being married to someone with bipolar disorder

Beautiful Wildlife Crossings made by man around the world

Tia Jensen's non-fiction essay in The New Southerner is absolutely worth your time:  Empty

Help 9 year old Luke kick cancer to the curb

I recently found this blog- which I love- and this particular entry, which I love even more: Why I Told My Husband He Could Walk Away

How Exercise Changes Our DNA in the NY Times

The Heartbreaking Truth About My Mixed Race Family by Ramou Sarr

The Best Movies of 2104 in HuffPo

What Science Tells Us About the Heart's Intuitive Intelligence in Collective Evolution

I am fascinated by Jemima Kirke

Thursday, December 18, 2014

A Good Girl

{could not find source}

I felt sick and then I was sick. I felt happy and then I was happy. I felt sad and then I was sad. I felt angry and then I was cleaning. I clean when I'm angry, another in a long list of unfortunate cliches I swore I'd never fall into. Fall into: a lovely phrase, sounds Asian? Fall Into. I'd like to have a cat and name it Fall Into. A bad cold turned into a worse cold and I went running anyhow, the second I thought my body would allow it. I ran four miles and shook the sticky phlegm out of my lungs and up my throat . I listened to Bruce

i'm sick of sitting round here trying to write this book

came home, showered, mothered, sat and wrote a paragraph on my novel, which were it a baby in utero, would be in the sixth month. formed, but struggling to survive if outed. I lay in the dark of my room and watched the night sky out the window. Expansive is not a word I thought I'd associate with the sky in suburbia, but the layout allows for it. Lola sleeps with Ever and I almost every night, Mr. Curry in the bedroom upstairs for the last month as he needs that space. Often Lola and I fall asleep on either side of Ever, murmuring to each other, shushing each other to be quite if peals or snorts of laughter threaten to wake Kins. 

Lola is such a perfect person. she is many things i am not ( without hard work ) such as naturally graceful in her speech, radiantly kind, good natured, sweet hearted. i have a hard time disciplining her at all because the things she does wrong are so expected for her age and so trivial. she doesn't remember to do her chores on her own, for example, even though i had her make a prettied up list that sits splayed on the front of the fridge, bedazzled within an inch of its life and screaming LOOK AT ME I"M A FREAKING LIST. but she looks past the list. so i tell her, two more chances, blah blah, but my heart isn't in it. she comes home and tells me about her new friend at school whose house i drop her off at for two hours last week. a girl who knows she is a guy- was supposed to be born a guy- so she dresses as a boy, has a boyish rhythm to her speech. liars could say this was nothing, but we all know the hell of conformity that middle school is, and it is something. it's something that Lola doesn't even CONSIDER not being friends or being seen with someone because of the teasing she might get, or the social standing she might lose. in the most ladylike way possible, she doesn't give a fuck. when her other new friend, months ago, was being tormented for being openly gay, Lola stuck up for her repeatedly in her quiet persistent way until everyone simply…dropped it. she has a social deftness that i definitely give myself partial credit for- many long talks on handling all and every kind of relationship and social issue since she was five- but is largely due to her own natural charm, trust in people's essential sanity, and kindness. 

Lola's face shines with a true innocence- not an innocence born of not knowing the depraved and horrible things that go on in people's minds, homes and lives, but an innocence born straight from her soul, something there from the moment she was born and uncurled those long fronds of ladyfingers and looked up at me with enormous blue eyes. She has always been loved within an inch of her life, and has a faith in that that is the exact same of kind of earnest faith in God's goodness i used to crave and long for myself s a lonely, anxious child, but could not force on myself. whereas for some reason, so many children i meet seem to have the soul of a middle aged housewife, already wearied and disgusted with the world in a way that breaks my heart. Lola's faith is in love and the natural world. these are the twin towers of my own life and what i can offer to my children.

i think many people confuse the innocence of a child with a complete lack of knowing about the world. this is not the kind of Christianity i grew up learning about. i wasn't raised religiously, but my best friend was Catholic, and many of my favorite books involved deeply religious families. those families did not hide their children from all the hardships of life, but instead began empowering them from an early age to enact kindness onto those suffering. this is a value and action i pass to my children. 

in the same way, i talk to them about uncomfortable, sometimes upsetting realities they encounter. for instance Lola recently, unfortunately heard the phrase ' i fucked her ' in a movie, said by a guy, talking about a girl he had sex with. i hadn't expected this, so i turned the movie off and started talking. i told her about how that phrase, to me, feels particularly yucky not necessarily because of the use of the 'f' word, but because of the use of ownership implied between a man and woman, and the lack of any joy or respect. i told her that as a woman, when i hear that phrase i always get a little sour feeling in my stomach, because i hear a man that says that saying ' i took something from her, and i'm proud of it ', and that is disrespectful, arrogant, stupid and unmanly. sex is something between two people, i told her, they share it, and it is powerful and without respect, it is always bad. without respect, even more than love, sex becomes a weapon of power, not an exchange of pleasure of love. i told her that for some reason as a very young woman i understood this, and as i got older, i never had a boyfriend who treated or talked about me like a piece of property, or a trophy, if i was sleeping with him or not. 

Lola listened and said in her unique, direct and sweet way, i understand momma. and i could see that she really did. and we moved on. yet i did not see any of her radiant sweetness and innocence stripped from her. she was not reduced. she was strengthened, aware, empowered, more connected to me, and understood something that will probably one day in the distant future allow her to have compassion for friends, and to make better choices for herself. her innocence, children's innocence, does not come from the protection of all that is outside, but the protection of all that is inside- their hearts, their vulnerabilities, their love- to have someone who believes without a single doubt that they are capable of great love, goodness and work in this world. to protect my children has meant to me to put myself in their line of sight, not as a blindfold, but a filter. everything seen with love, intelligence, a yearning for betterment.

she is a brave, and good girl, in what i believe is the true meaning of that. a good girl, not a girl who is always good, or even always wants to be good, but a girl who always believes in the goodness in herself and the possibility of goodness everywhere she goes and inside everyone she meets.

Monday, December 15, 2014

Ridiculous Love

Sunday, December 14, 2014


at least she said, your bald yeast
loiters in the thigh places, where
bad girls go:
girls who eat too much sugar
have too much sex, 
finger themselves.
it could be worse than!
for example, you could be ugly.
but i am,
i said sadly. i am very ugly.
she licked her finger
an aloof cat in black and white.
well, she said,
i wasn't going to tell you.

People In Your Neighborhood

take a seat and read!!!

My and Lola's new favorite Christmas movie: Nativity!  ( song above from movie )

My new piece in Purple Clover on Dakota's new neck tattoo (!!!) and relationships with adult children

Malls Across America- photos from malls in the 80's

This was wonderfully written, interesting and sad: a piece in The Broad side by Veronica Arreola on her experience being pregnant and birthing after her mother died tragically young, vs. Cheryl Strayed's experience of being able to escape to the wild.

I loved this post by Rebecca Wolff about being overwhelmed and not that into the holidays until suddenly, she is Made me smile!

I can't say I understood all of this, but it's fascinating: Groundbreaking Idea of Life's Origin

This letter from Dylan Hockley's mom absolutely will crack you open. It's so important on a number of levels. Read.

Please do not buy goose down jackets. 

I liked this The Cost of Getting Lean because fitness and health is a number one importance in my life, and I have been thinking a lot this last year about the balance between being fit and being 'amazingly fit'.

Wednesday, December 10, 2014


my mom sent us to Disneyland for Ever's 4th birthday. here we are in front of a tree that stretched to the sky like the tree in The Grinch, in the Who town square. i squealed like a kid when i saw it, it was my Christmas fantasy tree come true. yes, i have a Christmas fantasy tree. i have many Christmas fantasies. Christmas might be my favorite societal creation. i love everything about it, and i love it harder every year, not less. i love the deeply spiritual meaning, i love the story of Christ's birth, i love the malls lit up like the hot greedy heart of American consumerism, i love exploding glass bulbs, i love Christmas tree lights half working, half not, i love Christmas music, i love dragging the tree through the house and needles flying everywhere, i love the cheesy, terribly acted Christmas movies that fill my Netflix, i love the old Christmas cartoon classics, i love presents!, i love wrapping paper, i love decorating, i love the magical frissure that overcomes me every year in December, that something magical is not only possible, but quite likely.

Saturday, December 6, 2014

People In Your Neighborhood

Wanderers - a short film by Erik Wernquist from Erik Wernquist on Vimeo.

If you are looking for a Holiday giving, please consider three orphaned daughters: 3 years old, 8 years old, and 10 years old. Here in San Diego, where I live, their father just ran their mother over multiple times until she was dead. It's beyond awful. The elderly grandparents on a fixed income are now the sole providers for these three children. Leonor's Daughter's GoFundMe

Large scale, enormously moving and deeply sad images of displaced Iraqis.

Salvage, Salvation, Salve by Jennifer Lunden   "For a long time, I felt like a victim of my own body. Struck by a debilitating case of chronic fatigue syndrome when I was just twenty, I was forced to resign from my job and eke by on welfare benefits, flat on my back in bed day after day, uncertain if I would ever recover. "

How We End Up Marrying The Wrong Person in The Book Of Life

For Tamir, Who Was Stolen by Stacia L. Brown

Rampant Prosecutorial Misconduct in NYT

A Revolutionary Approach To Treating PTSD

Yet more information on the link between gut bacteria and mental health by Clio Korn

Wolf Hall - an amazing work of historical fiction about Thomas Cromwell, the poor boy who grew to be the closest man to King Henry. I'm reading this and the sequel to Neither Wolf Nor Dog right now.


the silent face of space
noise from a mouthless ocean
that moves across our face
in one endless motion

how far would i go to be with you?
as far as i could go
what would i endure to please you?
only god can know

the world each world within
yet contained each in the other
i love, you love, we love
for without one, what is the other

i hear the song within the song,
i see the face within your face
i have loved you now for so long
this note held in place

your suffering, far below
the plow does not strike your heart
buried asleep beneath the snow
a silent, prehistoric art

how far can i deliver these medicines?
as far as air to breathe
how can i go on when i cannot go on?
when, is time to leave

Sunday, November 30, 2014

sometimes i want to walk in your shoes

sometimes i want to walk in your shoes
do the kinds of things that i never ever do
so i take one look in the mirror and i say to myself,
baby girl, you can't survive like this

i ran tonight, through suburbia, dark and still beautiful, despite the beige
beige, beige
the miniature ipodshufle i received for my birthday clipped to my sports bra and Beyonce and Bruce cooed in my ear. i ran four miles and each mile was better than the one before. last week a giant owl flew right in front of me 9:30pm on a weeknight, turning his great and snowy head toward me in that odd way owls have of articulating their necks as if they were not actually connected to the bird body beneath. i saw his wings stretched out, and he flew over a rooftop and dipped and was gone. it was an immense moment. an owl looked at my face. 
the sky here retains is truth because there are not tall buildings. when i run the sky is enormous and star studded and the clouds are dark and beautiful and the town is very quiet and moving my body inside of this cleans me. i come home and i can breathe.
at home, sometimes i cannot breathe. all i have are questions. i used to have many answers, but those answers got used up and retracted and wince when you touch their edges. this is a lie. i have much more than old answers and new questions. but when it comes to the balance, this is what i'm pointing to, the balance of knowing and not knowing- that has been grievously assaulted. i meditate on my unknowingness. i sit with it because one of the few answers that still holds its fullness and health that i know is running from or hiding from not knowingness only keeps the not knowing flourishing. it feeds the bloodlines and curdles the whispers from god/theuniverse/treemother or whatever name you'd like to give our connectiveness. disconnection without reconnecting somewhere else is death. to disconnect through meditation is to connect deeper within. when there is no answer and only questions, i keep moving and working and running, but not run away. don't run away, i tell myself. it's less tempting than it was when i was younger. but i'm still young, and i feel young, my heart feels young, i feel that sense of possible rejuvenation lurking in every place, and my desire to dance and make love and be ridiculous and sing and talk and meet people and travel and love and learn and all of the life stuff is as strong as it ever was, were you to hold your hand to my flame, you could feel that. 
i encounter walls everywhere. this feels new, despite the hardship my life always was, and this is scary. i don't want to fossilize within a set of walls that i paint to appear sturdy. i am looking at the cracks and the structure and the underlying bones and watching for the trembling motion of new, uncertain life. 
sometimes i want to do the things that i never, ever do. instead, i do the things that i am afraid to do, i do the things that are hard to do, i do the things that are right to do, and i wait for the silence and not knowing to turn into a tiny mewing, like a kitten stuck outside at night, certain they are home but unable to find the way in.

Saturday, November 29, 2014

Sunday, November 23, 2014

a conspiracy of silence

i am not stitched mouth, stone rubbed smooth
skeleton stomped to soil. i am !
still alive, still needy, still necessary.

the crowd grows more festive
against a backdrop of starvation and suffering.
they drink wine and dramatically, i think of blood.

i am dramatic?
i feel.
a middle aged woman who feels-

can it get any worse?
the fear is bright in your eyes and wide laugh.
i am driven from the room

by a tidal wave of laughter.
night and darkness arrive as they must
the sound of silence for the determined laugh-

there is a list of reasons it would be polite for me
to shut up.

there is a list of reasons it would be helpful for me
to shut up.
there is a list of ailments that women have died from

for thousands of years,
stitched mouths, stone rubbed smooth.
i pluck the stone,

stay up all night burning the tips of my fingers
marking the story with charcoal and flame.

Thursday, November 20, 2014

true adult

looking back, can you say what you needed and what you did not, what you could have learned with a little less learning, what you already knew but wouldn't admit? i cannot, not yet. not with any certainty.

forty years old this november tenth. i became a true grown up in my own mind, the age of forty is the land of adults for me, the age i heard as a child that embodied the all responsible, bedrock of spirit and mind embracing of human experience that i imagined true adults achieved. and now i am the mother of four children, wife to one, a published writer, working poor by accident- two of them- and by choice, a la stay at home mother to babies for many of the last 20 years- a woman who had a baby out of wedlock not once but twice, and yet i can say that my life has been lived as true to my values as i could bend my body and break my bones to fit those shapes after a childhood locked into fear. perhaps i was born afraid or made that way by a father who to me was and always will be the epitome of male control, power and manipulation, from his deep and enormously muscular voice to his mustache and irritability, the same irritability which scraped itself raw on his own skin until became anger, until became rage. how can one turn forty and not think of your parents? those people who were are you now. i shouldn't like the easy slide of that- it's not true, of course, in many ways- but in a structural way, the way we all are skin and bones and slide into consciousness on the firing of synapses, it is true. our parents were the adults. now we are the adults. this is forty for me.

in the show True Detectives, a murderer and cult follower is caught by Rust and Marty. Locked in handcuffs and on his knees, naked chest needled with tattoos, he mutters about time being a flat disk that repeats. Rust skulks that life is simply a nightmare we wake into over and over again, that yes, we reincarnate, but damn, into the same life. these thoughts have been companions of mine since i can remember, the wondering of how slippery time feels and yet how anchored, as if we are both pinned beneath it and all around it and inside it at the same time. sex feels this way, anchoring, grounding deeply in the body, and yet completely escapist, beyond the flesh and the concrete, out there into the something we all reach for when afraid or lonely. i am here, but where is that?

in this last year i have been encroached on by new realizations about myself, most unwanted. the constant strain of personal stressors have worsened and stripped much of the bounciness out of my step, and part of me fears the forties as a time of possible tar pits and fossilizing. i do not want to become the culmination of my worst habits while accepting them as foregone conclusions about myself.  my teen years were about escape and survival. my twenties were about freedom and motherhood. my thirties were about devotion and family. my forties, i sense, will be full force motherhood and writing, sparring friendly like at times, keen enemies at others. although many writers who are mothers talk about finding a balance, i have none- none that lasts, i should elucidate. like parenting a baby- as soon as you understand one stage, they're on to another. my children come first. i will and would never sacrifice being the kind of mother and creating the kind of family i feel morally and spiritually drawn to doing for a great work of art. in fact, i know my novel that i am completing now is not the novel it could have been with more time, great hot gulps of time like coffee. every writer has a different process, and my best work has always, even in my twenties, demanding large spaces of time. i have a delayed response in writing, like a feinting orgasm that just won't quite make it. when it comes, though…

the day i turned forty i felt exactly the same as i had the day before. and perhaps that is really the most important point of note regarding the entire birthday.

Monday, November 17, 2014

the work around

Spent the day is a fog of pain. A grief haze for the cells, where you look up from the computer- where I work- and there is a bird in the bird feeder that Ever and I filled together yesterday, and that yesterday is a long way away, many more hours than 24. Pain extends time just as a human body on a rack. It pulls each second, micro-second, to its fullest being and ejects it balloon like with sensation so that the outer layer of cellular makeup shimmers with an energy just barely- but not all the way- contained. My lower right back, something there- something awful, or something pedestrian, I don't know. I will wait for insurance, soon! and then, maybe, an ultrasound, an x-ray.

Ailments As Possible Cause For This Lower Right Back and Groin Area Pain:

endometriosis scar tissue and lesions
kidney illness
intestinal blockage
deep muscle injury

I don't think it's muscular. It feels embedded, like a tick in my organs, just as swollen, hot and immobile.

The top right of my buttcheek went freezing cold. This means pressure inside.

Five Advil and a small relief. I am whitish in color and look exhausted. I feel the pinched lips of a person with chronic pain, the way I hold my body parts carefully and tightly in particular to the proximity of their space to the injured area, the way our family works around Mr. Curry right now, so unavailable, withdrawn, angry, stamped clear of emotion or empathy. Life has always required this of me, not in self pity, but just truth, I have never had a free place to breathe. At first, this happened to me, then I created it myself, again and again, like people do. 

The worst of pain occurs for me when I am unable to weep. Rage builds inside of me as damaging and futile as scar tissue encases the dried up lesions of disease across my abdomen. I ran four miles last night and finally during the third mile, I cried and cried and cried. It was pitch black and cold and the only witness were the robotic faces of cars flying by, headlights moving over me in a hot flash and then gone. I cried until I was less angry, and then I woke in the middle of the night, clutching my side and back in pain. Today I ate very little and breathed deeply and worked and took my girls to do the grocery shopping and I am going to by a heating pad and wrap it around my waist and back and put that baby to sleep. In the morning I will wake and do the things that mothers do and make as little as room as possible for the pain, not wanting to encourage her to stay.

Saturday, November 15, 2014

People In Your Neighborhood

take a seat and read!

I remember when she announced her cancer. This post was necessary for me right now.

I am obsessed with this issue right now.  Spraying our food with Roundup. The comment stream was interesting, too, I read all of the comments. I buy organic.

I read the book The Wave in one short burst in Barnes and Noble one day. The memoir of a woman who lost her entire family in one moment, her two sons, husband and parents. Interview here

Merit Badge

What does your tongue tell you about your health?

Lola and I laughed a lot reading these: 21 Texts From Mom

As a working remotely mom, I loved this blog post: How Melissa Got Her Groove Back

9 Reasons My Child is Not Too Old To Breastfeed

Do you have Imposter Syndrome?

Friday, November 7, 2014

People In Your Neighborhood

take a seat and read!

This is one of the most up front, as in stripped down to essentials, as in honest, as in brimming with clarity, as in laid like a gift at your feet, first person essays I've read in a while. On Kindness by Cord Jefferson in Medium

Mental health care in this country is in a terrible state. Everyone knows it. The way to change, as exemplified in this nightmarish story of one senator who was stabbed repeatedly by his psychotic son who then killed himself, is through personal narrative and petitioning which drives those who create law.

Something about kids you probably already knew, if you had a moment of unstructured day to remember it.

GMO's aren't 'all evil'. But they are not understood yet, still we unleashed them anyway, way before we knew what the hell we were doing. Here is one result. 

A photo series that reminds me of all the real magic in the world.

I just finished reading The Heart of Everything That Is: The Untold Story of Red Cloud, An American Legend As usual, the recounting of American history in the 1800's is devastating, provocative, engrossing, illuminating, humbling, heartbreaking, thrilling, beautiful and awful, all at once.

 Theo Padnos was kidnapped and held in Syria, tortured and shown the video of the journalists beheaded by Isis as he himself awaited news of his fate. Reading this was difficult, I had to stop twice and close my eyes and begin again. To imagine living it…impossible. We are only required to be brave enough to bear the truth that he had to live.

On Scary Mommy, You Know You Have A Toddler When…

I watched Girl Rising with Lola one night last week, and was so glad I did. Completely engrossing, often startlingly beautiful and imaginative, other times leaving us both crying a bit, this is a wonderful profile of 9 young girl's lives from 9 different parts of the globe. 

Thursday, November 6, 2014

Lola's Poem: Priceless

Lola's class was assigned poetry- they had to write a poem about happiness, or depression, and Lola chose depression ( she's the least depressed kid, ever ) She wrote about coming out of the fog of pleasing other people, and finding yourself.

Her poem blew me away. I am so proud of her spirit, I am running over with it. I am going to show her the comments here, so if you want to encourage a young poet, this is it.


Dried blond wisps of hair blow into the eyes that crack open with tears. Cracked red nail polish like blood running through your veins. Diamonds fall to the ground. And remind me of those tears. You look at me; you know why I"m crying. 99 cent mascara eyes run, black horses running down my cheeks. Nervous tapping and looking down. I wish I could express myself in a book where I could be put into so many words. Maybe then they could understand. Heart bruised, hands bruised. Long days. Beating heart set apart to my own world and offered my imagination, happiness and slight love. I now walk stronger, I don't cry rivers anymore. Don't love me out of regret, love me because I am what I was meant to be. Not anything more, not anything less. So maybe the black horses get tired and stop running down my cheeks, and maybe I looked up and steadied my hands. And slight love turns into real love. And self respect has been earned. Remember you are priceless.

Sunday, November 2, 2014

Response To 'Excavation' a memoir

I wanted to read Excavation because I heard about it everywhere I went online- on Twitter, Facebook, in various groups I was a part of, people were talking about this book. Wendy Ortiz has written a quietly and persistently honest recounting of the sexual molest that her eighth grade teacher- a guy without, it seems, any redeeming qualities, being that he is whiny, demanding, annoying, creepy and oh yes- a predator- perpetuated on her for four years. 

From the beginning this memoir affected me from a deeply personal place, largely because my Lola is in seventh grade, almost 13, and it was nearly impossible not to transpose my daughter into this situation as I read. As soon as I got to- " "Fondle?" he asked. "You want to know what 'fondle' means?" He gently poked me in the shoulder again, chucking. I could hear the purr in his voice, the one I was getting used to hearing on the phone almost every night. " I felt a rage that came from not only Wendy's own evocation of her confused, clumsy teenage desires and this man's lecherous flirting, but from a place that too many share, a place of recognition of being handled and passed over like a dark cloud by these kinds of men. Only Wendy was not passed over. Wendy's teacher had sex with her in her living room. 

What follows is part Wendy the novelist and part Wendy the teenage girl's journals. The glimpses into her journals are heartbreaking, as we are made aware of the fumbling attempts of a child to understand a dark predatory dance that she perceives as validation for her talent in writing. A full section of the beginning of this memoir revolves around Wendy the thirteen year old asking herself repeatedly, breathlessly, if he really- really?!- thought she had talent. 

Wendy's home life is evoked strongly, with scenes of lounge chairs, silent bedrooms and absentee parents that are drawn movingly. I was floored to learn that Wendy's mother is still alive and has never learned the truth of what happened to her with her English teacher, floored because of the guts it takes to write out such a dark personal story knowing that you do not know, and cannot control, what effect it might have on your life as you set it out into the world.

As the memoir works its way to increasingly sexual encounters, there is a growing disgust that breeds in the reader for this pathetic man, how he wheedles and whines at a teenage girl to know if they will 'still be friends' years from now, over and over, before and after he is molesting her. How he greets his 'girlfriend' with a kiss and introduces Wendy as his 'friend'. How he was the reason Wendy could write this sentence: ' It was not fair for him to have an orgasm, and then beg paranoia for us to stop what we're doing, me orgasmless. ' One is reminded of the quote which I will paraphrase:  if you didn't want to be written about, you shouldn't have been such an asshole.

Wendy's determined, consistent work to climb out of the hole she found herself in as a young adult is admirable and beautiful. She chipped away at herself and her past to heal and that is the most important thing about this story- the ability to heal. 

The beating heart of this memoir lies in the title- Excavation. Wendy mines here not just what her English teacher did to her, but the secret within a secret within a secret, the family legacy of silence that she finally broke through, most triumphantly so here, in this brave book.

Buy Excavation here

Wednesday, October 29, 2014

A Picture Worth A Thousand Words

the mother woke on Saturday and immediately set herself. before opening her eyes she was priming herself for strength. this day will be good, she thought, this day will be good. she pulled her hair into a giant, floppy topknot and put on enough makeup to look if not refreshed, then less tired. she wore the dress, the one worn so often in the last two years it was thinning and sagging, coming unplucked. this Halloween at the pumpkin patch was a first. neither of her sons would be there, not the oldest- who hadn't come last year, either- nor the younger, just turned 18 and suddenly vibrating with a restless energy to launch himself away from any obligations of family. despite the mother's heartsore missing of these boys- eternally so, in her eyes- this is the only childhood the girls get. she knew that. she valued that. she honored that by rising to meet any joy that would meet her halfway.

the oldest daughter was turning thirteen as quickly as Sleeping Beauty's finger pricked that spindle, and her lanky beauty, so like her missing Aunt Lura, was becoming carved with the ferocious critiques of a teenage girl. the mother was becoming stupider and more embarrassing to the oldest daughter at a rate so rapid this year that she felt subhuman, reduced to a clumsy bunch of laugh track one liners that left the audience scrolling through their iPhones. still, the oldest daughter deeply loves the mother, and her sister, and her father, and her brothers- whose absence she fussed over that morning, braiding her long, blonde hair- and all her pack, so there is a smile underneath narrowed parameters of her gaze, if you look for it. you are twelve, the mother hummed in a little song all morning, you are twelve years old, lalala, twelve, you are, lalala. there were only two months left of twelve.

the littlest daughter was thrilled when she went to bed- nursing to sleep- and thrilled when she woke up, rubbed her eyes and bounded out of bed, tearing off her underwear and crowing ' i am going pee!  come on, Momma! ' the littlest daughter was in love with her family, from the two dogs with horrifically bad breath to the kitten that procured many time outs for the little girl, all the way up the totem pole to her grandparents. she was the smallest of a large family, and she felt, as did her older sister, the safety net of that love and support in her every step. unlike the older daughter, the littlest daughter was happily and totally immersed in her pack, and not straying at the edges with a restless flick of hair. the littlest knew the pumpkin patch meant the horse ride, and ice cream, and movement. movement was life, and life was happiness. 

the father woke earlier than everyone else in the family, as usual. during the workday he woke at 5:30am, sometimes earlier if the job called for it, and often on family excursions he paced annoyed but patient as the three girls pulled brushes through their hair, jeans over their legs, lotion on their skin. he was priming himself, also. this day will be good, he thought. i'm going to make this day good. his eyes were swollen and the arch of his back and neck were curved as if already exhausted. yet he stood in the beautifully lit valley basin and snapped a photo of the three girls. and it was good.

this family: everyone doing something for everyone else, all but the smallest, who did for everyone what she knew nothing of, but was essential- loved unconditionally and easily, found joy in everything.

Sunday, October 26, 2014

Dakota's band at The Viper Room

how can my son be 20 years old and playing at The Viper Room?

because time and reality are experienced by us in such a limited way. sometimes i do wonder if everything happens. sometimes it feels like everything has happened, like i can feel all the options and detours moving toward their conclusions, and the fork that this life takes is only one fork that my one mind in this plane can follow. sometimes i think that at the exact moment i embrace my oldest son i am also holding him as an infant, a toddler, a child, each and every moment happening like a chorus alongside this embrace, in this moment. i can feel those tributaries rushing all around us, as if i could simply move and place my hand in the river of my son at two years old, and be there, pull my hand out, and be back here. 

and sometimes i just think, AWESOME

Friday, October 24, 2014

People In Your Neighborhood

take a trip and read!

I got sucked into a 'Between Two Ferns' and watched like eight of these. This one with Brad Pitt that's been going round gets me when Brad whispers ' I like that song..' The interviews with Sean Penn and Charlize Theron and believe it or not, Bruce Willis, were especially funny. 'Whatchu talkin about Willis?' hahahaha!

Halting Schizophrenia Before It Starts- exciting new research reported on NPR

In The Gaurdian, a man from a well known image of himself hanging off the Golden Gate Bridge, contemplating suicide, talks about what happened.

Love is Not Enough

This woman featured in Daily Mail Online has the same stage endometriosis I do. It breaks my heart to read of someone being completely ruled by chronic pain. I spent my 20's in pain, and it took so much of my life. I wish she would try nutrition and lifestyle as healing therapies. Those have changed it all for me.

I can't remember how I came across this little girl's story, but now I can't get it out of my heart. She was Lola's age, and hit and killed by a man in a stolen car. Her little sister was badly injured and remains in a coma, and their mother is still hospitalized. You can find many news stories about this online. It's both beyond imagining and all too easily imagined for me. The heartache is vast and agonizing for this little family. The man who hit them ( they were just about to leave a busstop ) ran away from the scene, leaving the minivan on top of the three. If you have 5 or 10 or ??? dollars you can give, please do. Justice for Joie Sellers

This is an incredible piece of work in Orion magazine: Exposed If you are a woman, I hope you choose to read this. It is not only beautifully written, but incredibly important and timely and wonderfully researched and fleshed out. The writer weaves her personal story of possible breast cancer with the facts, science and research on breast cancer detection.

A list of the 10 best non fiction books of 2013. You had me at booklist.

Can I go? 

Tuesday, October 21, 2014

A Preschool Halloween Short Story

I came into the living room to find all the Halloween decorations gone- the pumpkin faces, the standing ghost.
' Ever, ' I asked, ' where are all the decorations? '
Ever answered casually ' I put them in the garage. '
I said ' The garage? Why?! '
She answered slowly, as if speaking to a very stupid person, ' Because Momma, they were all LOOKING at me when I was playing. '

Saturday, October 18, 2014

People In Your Neighborhood

take a seat and read!

Me, trying to fit into my skinny jeans

"Be like water " the revelations of Bruce Lee

This small article contains such a profound, unique thought. The Healing Machine 

If your child plays on artificial turf, you should be aware of this.

When old, often famous photos get colorized, it's pretty startling and wonderful.

The discovery a super cancer fighting berry prompts testing

I am a big Agatha Christie fan and grew up reading her murder mysteries. I had no idea that she had disappeared at one point and the amazing, Gone Girl plot that went along with the disappearance.

From NPR: A Montana Doctor's experience of one month of treating Ebola patients. As awful and heart-breaking as you would expect. Thank god for the brave and compassionate.

 This article, Letting Go by Atul Gawande in The New Yorker, should be read with care. It made me weep, and I finished it with a stomachache, AND it is important to read and take in and consider. In addition, it is beautiful storytelling combined with thought. Everyone who is going to die should read this.

Dirge, by the incomparable Edna St Vincent Millay

Your gut contains your 'second brain', that is all powerful over your emotions. ( Treating anxiety by treating your gut is important, for instance ) It is the center of your immunity as well. 7 Foods That Will Work Wonder On Your Digestion

Wednesday, October 15, 2014

the affair

i want a truth that feels like you. i want this roadway to rut, birth trees. i want pikes of green and the long haul. i want water on my feet. i want the jut of my breasts stung by cold. i want the hoary back of old hills on one side, the slit of running water on the other. i want a solitary cry. myself. owl. wolf. i want holes in the sides of mountains to tremble like the inside of a mouth. i want the sky to thrust and parry, kill with cold. i want the pinpricks of rain so cold it feels like ice. i want my lips to swell. i want endless lazy grass. i want dirt that smells like health. i want bone marrow strong as an oxe. i want worms through my toes, red ants the size of jelly beans, fish that throw themselves toward the sky as if they think they can fly. i want the heat of fire. i want the sun to peel me like paint off a barn. i want my freckles as bold as soot. i want the blue in my eyes to be confused with cold, when it is heat. i want the hair on my legs to tangle. i want the swell between my legs as strong as the tang of a peeled orange. i want my feet to find the ground again, this pebble, this stone, this soil, this water, this grave, this bed of seeds. everything is here. i want a truth that opens like the land and births mountains and oceans. i want a truth that sets me free. i will find it like coal. i will be covered in soot. i will find it like a gold. i will be afraid of the dark. i will find it like a pearl. i will nearly drown. i will find it like Dorothy. i was already home.

image from julia blog ( cannot find link…did she delete her blog?)

Saturday, October 4, 2014

People In Your Neighborhood

take a seat and read

Blog ' A Cup of Jo ' interviews Lena Dunham.

One of my closest friends, Taymar, had a baby boy recently, Benny. He's THE CUTEST. She wrote this incredibly honest, deeply moving blog post on her pregnancy with Benny, who has Down Syndrome.

Another friend of mine, the talented and irrepressible Jen Pastiloff, had her essay We Are Not Dead up at The Rumpus.  I love this writing. I love the story, the voice, the details. She is SO talented, and you can look out to hear her name more in the future, because she is definitely going to keep blowing our socks off.

Sign this petition to support help for children in Syria.

Benny Cucumber as King Richard

Roche breast cancer drug 'unprecedented' in extending lives. However, we also really need to be talking about and educating ourselves and our children about prevention

This was a gut wrenching, upsetting week for the writing community that I am part of. ( i don't know what that means, other than overlapping friends of friends of friends all who are writers and run the gamut from FB friends to best friends 'IRL') Here's one reason why.

I became obsessed with the Mitford family ( like so many before me ) and entrenched in their drama a few years ago when I read my first Mitford biography. I was off, and have read many more books by and about those amazing, sometimes horrible, always incredibly sharp and interesting sisters. The last of the famous original group has died, Deborah Mitford, and The End of the Mitford does a nice write up summary if you are interested in what they are about.

So this is the kind of thing I"ve been reading about lately regarding my health, and it sucks.  I'm in pain, and scared. But I'm also OK, and able to sleep, and mostly not scared. In other words, I don't spend my days in a panic.  I have come along way with anxiety over the years, so for that, a motherfucking SALUTE. Also a grateful shout out to my mother, who is a fount of knowledge regarding nutritional and supplemental therapies for disease, and who makes the most amazing veggie quinoa chicken soup ever. xo

Wednesday, October 1, 2014

popsicles and showers

summertime at auntie kristi's, now gone.

fall is here.

time for showers with goggles.

Monday, September 29, 2014

Meet Maybelle

Lola got a kitten.
After asking for a year, and agreeing to all kinds of responsibilities which I repeated ad nauseam, she still wanted a kitten.
We found her online and went with Ed to a shady part of town where some really sweet college age guys who sounded Romanian had let their Siamese cat get pregnant, and Maybelle was one of two kittens left from that litter. Covered in fleas and shy, we brought her home. Lola bathed her, cuddled her, fed her, and took her to bed, and Maybelle never looked back. I have had animals my whole life, including kittens, and I've never seen a kitten adapt and bond so immediately. Maybelle is actually sleeping on the top of my back as I write this, wedged in between my back and the chair. She loves all of us, and we love her. Even if I did have to put Ever in time out today for twirling her maypole wand around Maybelle's neck for the tenth time. 

Friday, September 26, 2014

People In Your Neighborhood

take a seat and read!

This is really important, thought provoking information about what concerns studies are raising over pregnant women getting the flu shot.

After My Sister Died I Became Holey by Jessica Yaeger in Manifest-Station…I really loved this piece, and came back to read it again. The illustrations are very effective with the simple, direct tone of this essay.

Some of Flux's long readers may remember when Chelsea King, my oldest son's classmate, was murdered while jogging near our home. I wrote this about her memorial, which I attended with Dakota and Evan. She was raped and killed by a convicted sex offender, and now years later, her little brother has made a documentary about this loss. 

Carley Moore in Mutha magazine: UNHAPPINESS

Artificial Sweeteners May Disrupt Body's Blood Sugar Controls

One of my best friends and favorite people ever, Taymar, had her second child, a baby boy named Benny. Benny has Down Syndrome, and his older brother Caspian is a little confused about what is going on, because Benny has to have oxygen. Benny has a heart defect that, very soon, will need surgery. So the boys grandmother wrote a letter, ' Why Your Brother Needs Oxygen '. It's pretty freaking awesome.

Mortician, writer, comedian, death activist. Meet Caitlin Doughty  ( anyone else suddenly really want to re-watch Six Feet Under? )

Why We Sleep Together Jon Methven in The Atlantic 

This is gut wrenchingly painful to read ( warning, you may cry ), and beautiful, and stirring. Most importantly, it is a call to live. Live your life, now, right now.

Tuesday, September 23, 2014

Four In the Bed

Our new home. There are two backyards, one the perfect size for a nice large wooden table and chairs- here where the kids stand- and separated by a rickety, white wooden fence at the strange point where the house almost meets the fence, but not quite!, there is on the other side, grass and a sandbox, and a small patio area where I've put our old white, shabby chic coffee table for Ever's drawings and Play-Doh. Both areas are covered from the San Diego sun. I love this.

Dakota came from Long Beach right after we moved in and I snapped this photo. I was so satisfied that Dakota was here for this shot. Taking a 'here are the kids in our new house' photo without him would have been right- he is 20, and lives in Long Beach!- but for me, painful and not right all the same. Taking pictures that mark memories and times in our family life and include the kids but not all the kids is sad for me, every time. No matter how happy, there is a patina to the photo, a bright spot where the flash went off and I think 'that should have been him.' It's always one of the boys, of course, with Dakota being 20 and Ian 17- but already graduated high school- they are the ones missing. And I am the one doing the missing. I miss, all the time, like a low rumbling far inside, the hustle and bustle and noise and life and chaos of having many young kids. I was pretty good at it, I think. I felt alive and inspired and real. I've always had a problem feeling real in the world. I miss Dakota every day. Ian still comes every Friday and we see him at least two days a week, with Friday night still being Family night, so I enjoy the hell out of that, I am there for that all in, because soon…

Ian and I went on a run a few Friday nights ago, and we were talking about what he might do after he gets his associates in college. He mentioned moving to Arizona, at least 'for a while', which wasn't surprising, because he has extended family there and has always visited and loved it. He hunts and the laws there are much easier for hunters. I was telling him that Arizona is a good choice, because inside I was leaping with happiness to think that maybe Arizona would be as far as he'd go, and no more. Dakota always says he thinks he'll move back here to a specific beach community one day, and I like to daydream that all my children will be within reasonable reach when they are grown. Of course, we all know how those plans go, which is why they are daydreams, not plans. Lola has always mused about going to college in New York, and I told this to Ian, who responded ( so sweetly, oh my heart! ) that maybe that wasn't such a good idea, after all, Lola is special, Lola is very sweet and innocent and New York might not be a good idea for her. Just last week, Lola told me that really, Ian was her best friend. Those two are so close these last two years, sealed for life. 

The show Parenthood is the dream of my life, along with traveling, changing the world and helping abused or at risk children, publishing a novel and staying healthy. In this show, which many of you probably know, the four adult children of a family are all moved back and living near their parents, most of them- eventually all of them- with kids of their own. Bliss.

Those four faces above, bliss. For as long as I nurse them, sleep with them and keep them home with me, one by one, they keep rolling out of the bed all the same. 
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