Friday, August 30, 2013

People In Your Neighborhood

take a seat and read!

Little irreplaceable, endlessly loved Emilie Parker was killed at her elementary school in Sandy Hook. Her parents started a blog called The Parker Five, and her mom Alissa wrote this post, Running Shoes. Devastating, powerful and a call to un-arms. I am with her.

This post by the Bloggess 15 Things You Must Know About Social Media or Your Face Will Melt Off And Get Eaten By Goats is funny, but also really just full of social media common sense as far as I'm concerned. A lot of what she says are truths that I have observed and believe myself. She makes me feel like less of a black sheep in the blogging world, and for that, gratzi!

The Fifty Best New Poets of 2013

Call it ' Not Your Momma's Disney Princess ' - this parody Disney song is hilarious and smart.

This photo essay is pure joy. Unusual, beautiful, funny and completely charming: Ballet Dancers In Random Situations  They should do Tom Cruise jumping on that couch ;)

Blogger Heather Solos just lost her sister to suicide. She took the time to write this impassioned and articulate post on organ and tissue donation, I urge you to read and think about your choice.

If you grew up with The Goonies and The Lost Boys as part of your DNA like I did, this post will alternately depress the hell out of you and make you laugh out loud. I Went To Corey Feldman's Birthday Party 

I enjoyed reading this interesting account of How Kat Cole Went From Hooters Girl To President Of Cinnabon by Age 32. While there weren't any surprises in her attitude or actions- never give up, always say 'yes' and figure out how later, dress for success, actions and attitude are more important than degrees- it is inspirational and empowering to read how a person took truths and made them into a wonderful life.

A worthwhile and truth telling piece by Evan Handler- who I absolutely adored as Charlotte's true love match on Sex and the City- about his dx as a young actor with acute myloid leukemia : 8 Steps To Surviving A Medical Crisis- The Realist's Rendition 

Thursday, August 29, 2013

The Fat Bridget Bardot and Other Lies We Buy

What do you see when you look at this picture?

I see a thousand nasty comments on TMZ, Jezebel, Mamamia. I see an US Magazine feature debating if she is or isn't pregnant. I see articles in women's online magazines on how to lose the last of your gut, or how to dress for one if you have it with detailed ideas of what to wear, from fabrics to cuts. 

I see a national sex symbol that would, in these times, never let this image be released.

Years ago, I bought this magazine- many of you will recognize it because it's in the front of supermarkets everywhere- because it was the Best and Worst Beach Bodies edition. I like looking at other people's bodies. I like looking at celebrity bodies. I did not like the slow burn of shame that crawled over me as I looked at one female celeb, voted 'worst' body next to an image of her bending over, cellulite on the backs of her legs. I realized that if I am a feminist- I am!- then I could not buy that edition of that magazine ever again. I realized that if I am a woman- I am!- then I could not participate in shaming other women for their bodies. I realized that if I am a mother- I am!- then I could never again put my money or harder, my mouth, in use to criticize women's bodies. 

In today's world, this promise to myself looks like this: 

I won't buy magazines that shame women for their bodies.
I won't click on links that have images or words that are shaming women for their bodies. They aren't getting my page views, my comments, my retweets, my time. Sometimes, you know what? this is a pain. It's easy to think it's not a big deal, just click on it, who cares. I have to fight with myself, because I want to look, because I am a serious voyeur, because I am interested in everything. But I make myself imagine the link I'm going to look at is one of my daughters. Or myself. Or my best friend. And that is enough clarity for me. So the link with the 'knee vagina'? Saw the link five or six times floating around, never clicked it. The 'least sexy star' piece? Won't view it. 

I'm not giving page views to any organization or person who shames women's bodies, or who creates, as would have happened with the above image, a completely fabricated and false idea of something on our bodies that is 'wrong' that could be 'better'.  

Let's all steer clear of that bullshit, and make our own rules about sexy. I want my daughters to live in a world where they can look at this picture of Bridget Bardot and think nothing but 'Wow! She is divine.'
And when you see that written out- what I want for my daughters- doesn't it make you stop and think how pathetic it is that such a ridiculously easy thing to do- admire a national sex symbol!- has to be a wish? That is MESSED UP. If things are going to change, which of course they can! because we are in charge! We make the rules, we got the money and the clicky things! then we start with what we simply walk away from, don't participate in. 

When Lola's friend made fun of a woman's outfit in the car last week, I was inclined to agree. I opened my mouth to agree. And I stopped, and instead briefly mentioned to them that now that they were in middle school, it was going to become very easy to bag on other girls. Second nature, off hand, even. And how hard I wanted them to fight the urge to do that, because we are all for each other, right?
We have to stick together. I told them how there were going to be lots of times the world would make a girl feel bad, and when we say mean things about other women, we are just making our own home more hostile to ourselves. 

I think they heard me.

Saturday, August 24, 2013

People In Your Neighborhood

take a seat and read

A delightful blog, all about a dog. A dog on things

This article on Gwyneth Paltrow, whose name I can never spell rightly the first time, made me laugh out loud. And I agree with most of it. 

This photographic essay on Albanian women who live their lives as men is absolutely fascinating. I feel a story coming on.

Has school become hostile to boys? I think so, after raising two.

Josh Anderson was the last child of four kids, his mother's baby, a beautiful boy with much to offer the world. After a few medium bumps in the road, he killed himself. His mother does not want any other young adult to feel that they can't tell someone how desperate or hopeless or sad they feel, she wants to offer them education, support, resources- and she wants to educate those around them on what signs to look for to get more serious help to a troubled teenager. The Josh Anderson Foundation

I started taking resveratrol as part of my healing from Stage Four Endometriosis and hypothyroidism. Life Extension explains why it is awesome for your body.

Emily Rapp writes her soul out. We are lucky enough to read it at The Rumpus: Grief Magic

Thursday, August 22, 2013

Interview: Sara Rivara, Author of Lake Effect

This is Sara Rivera, a poet and writer whose first poetry book, Lake Effect, I read over the summer, and then re-read, again and again. I have known Sara via internet and admired and enjoyed the writing on her blog, La Belle Dame Sans Merci . Her writing there hints at the poetry in Lake Effect, full of fierce and unique metaphors, beautiful and just right choices of words placed effortlessly to create the shadows or illumination desired. I relate deeply to Sara's love of specific words, the names of things- the details of this world. So many words that each are indispensable once you know them, as are the poems you fall in love with. Lake Effect is full of a passionate intelligence, a story told in steel and liquid, or as one review asks: Ever married the wrong man? There is a fury loose in these poems....

Sara was game to do an email interview, and after sending her the questions, I received back these beautifully thought out, honest replies. Thank you Sara!

1. When did you start writing poetry, and what do remember most about those first poems?

I’ve been writing for as long as I can remember—stories, mostly, at first. I always thought I’d be a novelist, but I’ve got attention problems—I can’t make it past the first few pages. In high school I took my first creative writing courses. I was a rotten student—I think I graduated with a 1.8 GPA—and hated everything except choir, acting class, and creative writing. I wrote lots of flash fiction.  I loved Cisneros’ House on Mango Street and thought I’d write a novel like that, in vignettes. Then somehow I ended up in Senior AP English and we were reading Chinua Achebe’s Things Fall Apart and Mrs. Goldberg, our teacher gave us Yeats’ “The Second Coming” to read and it was like I was struck by lightning. I loved that poem. And then I wrote a poem about Persephone—first person, dramatic narrative—and came back to it as a freshman in college, before I started taking college-level creative writing classes. It’s funny, now, to think of that: Yeats’ blank verse was so powerful and musical and Persephone has been the story I’ve clung to throughout an abusive marriage and then my divorce. I started writing poetry ‘seriously’—I say that in jest now, because I was definitely serious then, but so young, and those poems were so awful and sincere and strident—as a sophomore in college, in poet Diane Seuss’ classroom. I wrote lots of confessional poems, feminist poems (I was also living in a women’s collective at the time), narrative poems. I’d attempted a short story class, but the professor was such a jerk, all film noir and masturbation, I dropped it after the first class. So I guess I began writing poetry because I loved Di’s classes, loved how poetry was synonymous with being my self. And it stuck.

2. What poets inspire you most, and what about their work specifically grabs you?

This has changed over time. When I started writing poetry seriously, Lucille Clifton, Mary Oliver, Charles Simic, Galway Kinnell were my favorites. Sylvia Plath. Then it shifted to poets who write about the landscape: Charles Wright, Katherine Stripling Byer, Jane Hirshfield, Robinson Jeffers. I was reading a lot of William Carlos Williams when I started writing the poems in Lake Effect. I love Sylvia Plath, obviously, but particularly her bee sequence poems, Eleanor Wilner and Marianne Boruch’s work, Mary Ruefle, though she’s so very different than I am. Laura Kaisischke, who’s another Michigan poet. Diane Seuss’s work.  Roethke. What draws me to a particular poet is their use of image and metaphor, I think: I like things that verge on the surreal, poets that are ambitious with language and music, poets that aren’t afraid to write about really particular experiences. Diane Seuss and Laura Kasischke, for example, write gorgeous, surreal, musical poems about a particularly female experience. And they are fierce and lyrical and weird. And I’m drawn to poets, like Jane Hirshfield and Charles Wright, who write about the natural world. I’m obsessed with learning the names of things: scientific names for plants, folk tales about places.  The most recent book of poetry I’ve fallen in love with is Kimiko Hahn’s Toxic Flora, which is weird and brilliant and based in science and nature.

4. Talk a little about your background as a writer- do you have a degree related to writing, are you involved in what you'd consider a 'writing scene' and if so, what is that like for you? If not, how have you involved yourself in the world of writing?

 I have an MFA in Poetry from Warren Wilson College, which I received 11 years ago, when I was a baby. The MFA Program at Warren Wilson is a low-residency model, which was the only kind of program I was able to do at the time, as my then-boyfriend, now ex-husband wouldn’t move and I didn’t feel like I could or should end the relationship to pursue a traditional MFA. However, it was one of the best things I ever did, and I was able to work with some really amazing writers and meet some of the best writing friends and writing community. After I graduated in 2002, I lost touch for a few years, but in 2007 I reconnected with the Warren Wilson community and it has been a huge—though remote—influence in my writing life. Every year the alumni hold a conference, and once my son was four years old I began attending them.

Particularly after having gone through a difficult divorce, and after a time where I felt absolutely isolated, the WW community made me feel like I was part of something, confirmed the “writer” part of my identity which is probably the most sacred, and most intimate part of who I am. And the part that the rest of the world doesn’t give a damn about, most of the time.

Kalamazoo, where I currently live, actually has a pretty good writing scene as well. I recently joined a writing group that meets bi-monthly, and has a number of prominent local (and nationally known) writers. I’m certainly not a star in the community, and being a single mother makes some but being part of the scene—attending readings at the local colleges and universities, but I love having a group of women to hold me accountable every month for producing new and quality work. It’s hugely important for writers to have a community. The other community that has sustained me is the blogging community. I started blogging in 2007, right after my divorce, as a direct response of having believed, and been told, for 10 years that my experience was invalid, crazy. I didn’t think anyone would read the blog, but having it public (ish) made me write more consciously, not like in a journal which can be, at least for me, rather indulgent. And that community of bloggers was the first to reach out, to make me feel part of something, to feel like my experience wasn’t so isolated.

Having a community—whether online or in person—has been instrumental in helping me rebuild myself. And it’s crucial to my life as a writer too. Because, after all, we write in order to be in communion with the world.

3. When you began writing Lake Effect, did you know it was going to be a whole book? Were you writing the poems as they came to you, or were you in a writing routine?

I don’t think I assumed it would be a whole book, but I’ve been working toward a manuscript since I graduated in 2002. At first, I thought my graduate thesis would be book, but those poems—mostly written during my early to mid-twenties—were indeterminate, almost there but unformed. I remember, actually, a fellow student saying to me while in graduate school “your poems will be really good when you figure out what you’re writing about”, which irritated me at the time, but she was completely right. Over the next ten years, I wrote poems, and published some of them. “Tree of Heaven” which is in the current book is actually a fairly old poem, maybe from 2003 or 2004. I started writing again in earnest in 2007 when I was going through a divorce and living on my own for the first time in my life. By 2010 I thought I had a full length manuscript called “The History of When” but it still felt—for lack of better words, squishy. I’ve always, always had an editing problem, unable to get rid of the dead weight.

Many of the new poems in Lake Effect were actually written between 2010 and 2012 and sometime at the end of 2012 I began to cut poems—so the manuscript went from a 53 page book to a 24 page chapbook. I decided to take all the poems in “A History of When” that mentioned Lake Michigan, which I found was a recurring theme—and which in real life is one of the only places that can calm acute anxiety attacks.

And somehow, by the grace of the universe, Karen Kelsay, at Kelsay Books, accepted the manuscript in February of 2013. I had been sending that manuscript, as well as the longer one, out for almost two years. I got the acceptance email when I was standing I the lobby of the post office, and I let out a scream, my knees immediately shaking. A little old lady rushed over and asked if I was okay, and I began crying and said “Yes! My book is going to be published!” I suspect she thought I was crazy, but she patted my shoulders and said “Oh, good for you dear.”

4. Why 'Lake Effect'? 

If you live in the Great Lakes region, the term “Lake Effect” is a common weather term. Much of our weather around here is determined by the Lakes—as Michigan is on the windward side, our winters are determined by lake effect snow squalls—a phenomenon that occurs when cold air goes over the warmer lake.

If you’re not from the Great Lakes region, it’s easy to think Lake Michigan, or Superior or Huron, or the others, are just like all the inland lakes you know. Except they’re not. When I saw the Pacific Ocean for the first time this past summer, (I know! at 36.) my first comment to my boyfriend was that it looked just like Lake Michigan. They are remarkable. Sweetwater seas, they’re often called.

I also like the double meaning of Lake Effect—it’s a weather term, of course, but the Lake has also had a profound effect on my writing, and on my sanity. It, and the other Great Lakes, are huge, primeval, and that landscape near the shore—of sand and grass, water and sky—seems elemental, brutal, wild. During the first few years after my divorce, when I was struggling to piece together my life, I had an image of myself as being flayed by the wind off the Lake, until all that was left of me was bone—until all that was left of me was what was essential and strong. It’s the only place I can go, the lakeshore, that calms my anxiety.

5. The poems in Lake Effect feel pressurized, as if the careful accumulation of images and thoughts are in a pressure cooker, ready to explode. Did you feel this when writing them?

God, yes. So many of those poems were written in a hugely difficult time in my life. I’d been married for 10 years, and had gone through a difficult divorce that devastated me, lived on my own for the first time in my life (at the age of 30, with an 18 month old son). And then those six years where these poems grew out of were a kind of explosion.

I have never been good at revision: I’m always too in love with my babies. But something shifted in me, and my love of language, of the tension between sentence and line, of the way metaphor can bridge the gap between what we know and what we believe—and the poems felt like they were written in a crucible. And of course, my life WAS a crucible. I live in a town where I have no family, where at 30 I had to make a new life for myself and my 18 month old son, where I lived in fear of my ex husband, where I had to unlearn believing that I was stupid and irrational and useless. I sometimes think of poems as being Shrinky-Dinks—remember those weird toys from the ‘80s? Those plastic things you’d color and then put in the oven and they’d shrink down to thumbnail-sized. That’s what I began to want a poem to be. That’s how I felt my life was: barely holding it together, learning to feel anything for the first time in 10 years, being head over heels in love with my baby who I couldn’t protect, not fully, from the crazy of his father. And my own rage at how I’d lost myself, how I’d been had. The poems definitely came out of that, and it shaped how I was writing.

6. What is one of your favorite poems in Lake Effect?  My own would have to be Family Vacation. The specificity of the setting grabbed me immediately,  the uncertainty of both the driving situation and the bridge mirroring the emotional state, and then the brutal ending revealing what there really is to be afraid of. I love how the poem goes from walking to running, in the way the words create a sense of suffering.

 It’s one of my favorites too, though I know it’s different than many of the other poems in the collection. I hate to say that writing poetry was a kind of therapy (because writing can be therapy, right? But sometimes therapeutic writing isn’t always the most artful writing) but I remember writing that poem. I was living in beautiful city apartment—first place I’d ever lived in alone (with my son, o course) and I had no money, at all. My ex had taken everything in our bank account when I’d told him I wanted a divorce, and at the time I was paying rent and the mortgage on our house. When my ex would take Jonah, our son, I had zero distractions but Mr. Bill, my idiot dog and the cats. I had no cable, internet, nothing. I would sit at my desk in the living room, and write madly. I wanted to write the truth of everything. Only a few poems survived, but that was one of the ones that I liked the most.

I think my favorite poem, though, is the last poem, Instructional Design, which I’d originally thought of as a love poem. There are a lot of years between Family Vacation and that last poem—I’d been through a number of failed love affairs, my son had grown from a toddler to a boy, I’d bought a house and moved upwards in my career, and fallen in love with another writer. But it didn’t turn out to be a love poem, per se, but a poem that declared independence. I was happily surprised to see it do so, and though I am still with my writer partner, I realized I didn’t want the collection to end with a love poem but with a statement of self.

I remember when I was seven or eight, and I was best friends with two neighborhood girls who were both a year ahead of me in school, and popular and pretty—anyway, I remember catching sight of the three of us in the vestibule of one of their houses. It was a terribly 1980s hallway, all mirrors and white lacquer. Anyway, there was our reflection, all three of us red-cheeked from the late-fall chill. And I remember thinking, being completely amazed: “I have a reflection, just like them!” There was nothing to mark me as invisible in that reflection, and yet I always felt like I was the invisible one in the room, for years. So when my ex husband told me I was crazy of course I believed him. And when a series of not-the-greatest boyfriends told me what was wrong with me, I believed them. Until one of them, with whom I’m still friends, said something along the lines of how he saw my marriage as being a kind of performance art. And I held onto that comment too. So much of the writing of this book was an assertion of self-in-the-world, or so it felt, so by the time I wrote the last poem, which is probably one of the last poems I wrote—and I had a partner, still do, who loves me just for being the messy person that I am—I found myself writing a love poem not to him, but to myself.

7. What are you writing now? Do you have a writing routine? I know some writers take breaks with a lot of reading in between working on poems, novels, essays- whatever they are creating. 

I’m always writing. Even when I think I’m not writing—which I often despair that I am not writing—I am writing. I wish I could be more disciplined, write for X amount of hours a day/week. But I’m a single parent, and I work full time, and I write in the margins of my life. But it’s the non-negotiable part of my life. I write all the time: in the spaces between Little League games and parent-teacher conferences, when my own students are writing, after my son has gone to bed at night. I don’t have much of a social life—my partner, for now, lives 2,000 miles away, and most of my friends here are young parents and have as much time as I do to socialize—which is to say, not at all. Up until this year, I didn’t even have a television. Sometimes, I get up at 5 AM and write for two hours before my son wakes up, watch the sun rise over the reservoir woods in my back yard. But that’s mostly drafting. I have to be more awake to do any significant revision work.

These days I’m writing a lot of prose poems, which was a conscious decision of mine, after Lake Effect was published. I realized in that process that my long lines would necessarily be altered when published in a non 8/11 format, and I needed another kind of thing to write. I’ve been writing creative nonfiction for ages-on my blog mostly, and for online magazines—but wanted to see how a prose poem would affect my work. I thought it would be a one-off assignment for me, but it has become a project. I am also deeply tired of writing about my first marriage. It sucked, it defined the first decade of my adulthood, but Jesus Christ. I’m tired of it. So in theory, I’ve got the first half of the second book done, much of it prose poems. But I don’t know what the final product will look like, and that’s okay. Hell, I don’t know what my life is going to look like 6 months from now.

8. Where do you like to go online to read poetry and essays? What about in print?

I wish I could say that I have regular subscriptions to literary magazines, but I don’t. I read Poetry, The Cortland Review, Blackbird, and I am constantly ordering new collections of poetry to read on suggestion of my friends or other writers I admire.  But I find myself turning toward places online like Jezebel and VIDA’s website at the end of the day. Oh, and internet kittens and the HuffPo and weird science blogs. I like reading everything, to be honest. I read novels like they are oxygen, and have been obsessed over the past three years with biographies and memoirs and science writing. But I love the stuff that Beloit Poetry Journal publishes, and I love reading poets from Ahsahta Press because they are so different than I am. H-ng-m-n is another good site for poetry unlike the poetry I’m writing. I devour Mother Jones and The Atlantic and love picking up local, small town newspapers when I travel, particularly in Northern Michigan, as Michigan still feels like a foreign country to me (I’m from Chicago, originally). And one of the things I love about Facebook is that my writer friends always post when they get work published, and a link to the site. It’s one of the best ways I know to read new work, get acquainted with new literary magazines, and discover new writers. 

Wednesday, August 21, 2013

Monday, August 19, 2013

when the light changes

i took Lola, Ever, Ian and E. to the outdoor movies at our local park

Dakota was here last night and after he dropped off one of his best friends, and his girlfriend, who had all been here late at night eating chicken, he returned home to spend the night. I was watching Parenthood and Ever slept, arms flapping, mouth open, head pressed agains the wall, next to me. Dakota came in and crawled on the little bed that is shoved up against the bigger bed and I actually got to tuck in my nineteen year old son and run my fingers through his beautiful blonde wavy hair as he fell asleep. The line of his nose as he slept crushed me. 
Dakota took Lola out for a second ' you are going to middle school ' pep talk, and Lola came home glowing. She adores her biggest big brother and his attention means much for her- her views on boys, men, her self worth and expectations of how boys should treat her, what expectations can you have of boys at all?-- all of this and of course at the bottomy bottom where the water plunks loudly once before swimming off to join the great lake, there is just the blossoming of being loved when you are young. You can shower a young person in love and literally watch them expand into a stronger, more vital and realized human being. It is incredible. It is heart breaking. I am having one of those weeks where every beautiful thing brings to my mind those suffering who cannot have this beautiful thing. I do not believe there is anything worse in this life, anything more poisonous or terrifying than feeling completely un-loved. I have done embarrassing, difficult, awkward and ill received things to leap over to someone- usually a child- who I can see feels un-loved, and let them know that there are people in this world who will love them. I think you can tell that to someone if you look at them the right way, with your heart in your face- you can tell that child, I love you simply because you are alive, and a human being, and I believe you have beautiful things inside of you. And then they can tuck that in their hand and then in their chest and then it can move quietly into their blood and break the blood/brain barrier and move into their dreams and then maybe they can believe that one day they will find someone to love and who loves them. I absolutely believe that this is true and I also believe that things like this happen more frequently and are more powerful than people are often comfortable believing. Magical realism! No. It is easier to think that, because otherwise, there is so much responsibility. 
When I fail myself and other people, when I am nasty and removed and distant in the face of pain, not only am I hurting myself and that person, I am also stealing my own joy. My joy in life is knowing the beauty of this world and knowing the great and triumphant possibilities of human beings. However it would be a lie to say that I do not receive great comfort from knowing the impossibility of perfection, in others and myself. Novels are the lightening rod for triumph and failure. I am in a period of rabid and passionate absorption of books. I just finished Charlie Wilson's War and began the last written Fire and Ice, and am excitedly waiting Marisha Pessl's new novel, coming out in a few days, Night Film.
Lola has her best friend over for one last summer sleepover. Tomorrow night is the first 'school night' and all will change. I have wanted to cry twice today as the realization that the sounds of happy laughter and shrieking and fighting will be gone as Lola and E. will be in middle school all day, and I will be here with Ever and little M.  Of course Ever and little M. will still laugh ( and fight ) but without the older girls the balance that I treasure is gone, and I am left as the only one who can talk about things other than bugs, bikes, Mickey Mouse and boob. This summer has been magical, not in a light, happy way, but a more profound, adult magic. The kind of magic that will give me reams of good writing, when I tap into it with just the right touch. When the light changes... 

Friday, August 16, 2013

People In Your Neighborhood

"you are beautiful because you don't look at love as a competition / and you know how to lose"
that quote is going up somewhere in my house. i think it is a profound and life changing way to look at love, especially romantic love- knowing how to lose. It fits well with the way I use Buddhist principles in my life and the kind of person I am always trying to be.

This little memory essay is so evocative and moving... I loved it. Through The Darkness

Have you heard about the death of  18 year old Israel Hernandez?  He was an artist and a tagger, and while tagging a building he was caught by the police. He ran away, they followed and tazed him, and he died. He died for tagging. Now, his family is questioning why he had bruises on his face. Yes, I know the police have an incredibly difficult job, yes I know that it's much easier to backseat navigate than make the choices the police make in the heat of the moment, yes I realize that if they simply tazed him, they had no idea he would die. None of that means it is not completely worthwhile and imperative for us to look at this situation and ask if tazing is a necessary or acceptable means in a scenario where the person has done such a lesser crime. 

A new study has shown a significant link between the drugs used to induce labor and autism. 

I loved this piece in Salon on Generation X and how we are doing midlife. Some parts resonated clearly with me, especially Mrs. Scribner's questioning why so many of our generation's intellectuals have retreated from public life. I have been noticing the same thing in the last few years and wondering why that was- take Dave Eggers, for example. He works consistently and beautifully on a variety of projects involving movies, novels, memoir and his organization for young people, 826 Valencia  as well as the magazine McSweenys, but rarely gives interviews of any kind, and has been notably withdrawn from the face of his own organizations.

Of course you are going to feel your heart breaking as you read this, and yes, it is worth it. The Gift of Charles

Issue 8 of Unshod Quills, the literary mag of my insane talent posse of friends, Dena Rash Guzman and Wendy Ellis, is live. ENJOY.

Probiotic Cleaning in San Diego with Naked Clean With OFFER!

Call it the best of being a blogger: a free house cleaning, in exchange for a blog post on Flux- and this cleaning company, Naked Clean, uses a probiotic cleaning system. The terms were simply an exchange- I received no guidelines of what to post here, other than a link to their blog. Where do I sign?

Naked Clean is a new cleaning company in San Diego that uses probiotic cleansers. Probiotic cleansers kill germs and bacteria for three days after they are used, making them the perfect tool for kitchen sinks and counters, toilets, sinks and anywhere else that germs proliferate. 

Probiotics are everywhere- in soil, on our skin and inside of us, specifically, inside our stomach and intestine, where they are crucial to a healthy immune system. Instead of using harsh cleansers ( which I have avoided for years ) Naked Clean uses probiotic cleansers, and as you can see by my counters and sink, they work not only to kill germs and bacteria, leaving a protective coating of probiotics, but they also leave a beautifully clean surface. My sink was as white as the few times I have caved and used Extra Strength Magic Eraser Cleansing Pads. 

Probiotic cleansers have health benefits, especially for anyone who suffers from a negative response to breathing in the chemicals used in regular cleansers. Probiotic cleansers are great for anyone who has breathing issues such as asthma or emphysema, for example, or anyone with allergies. 

Arranging an appointment was straightforward and easy, and I was given a on hour window in which the maids would arrive. They arrived on time and were friendly and quickly got to work after I insisted they have a glass of ice water from my kitchen- hot day! Each maid worked an hour and half, this is considered a three hour cleaning. Every area they cleaned was sparkling clean and smelled delicious to boot- like oranges. 

I even picked up a tip watching them clean: the person who was cleaning my grout lined kitchen counter top made a solution of the probiotic cleanser and then used a handle scrub brush to scour clean the grout- it has not looked that clean since the day I moved in! I am going out and buying a handle scrub brush. :)

The prices are ( I researched other cleaning companies for comparison ) very reasonable and on the cheaper side: beginning at $65.00 for five rooms.

Ending on a great note, I can offer anyone who mentions the  Flux Capacitor blog when making an appointment a $40 off reduction in services!  

Contact them here to make an appointment :)

Thursday, August 15, 2013

rain dance

' Once, I danced naked in the rain, ' I tell my daughter. ' It was very late and dark in suburbia and I was seventeen and in love, and my boyfriend and I were sitting in his room. He was playing guitar with his long, blonde hair over his face as he bent in concentration. I sat cross-legged on his bed and looked out the window. It began to rain and I smiled. I love the rain- you know that. I was writing a poem, and the notebook lay in my lap, a pen in my hand, and I took both of them and placed them on the counter. I'm going to dance naked in the rain! I said to my boyfriend. And he laughed, and he knew I meant it. So he followed me downstairs and out front, and after the door closed behind us we stood together under the street light for a minute, just watching the rain, listening to the rain. It flew in straight arrows underneath each street lamp, and my hair was beginning to feel damp. A dog barked twice down the road, otherwise there was only the sound of the rain. I took off my shirt, and threw it down. I took off my pants, my underwear and my socks, and threw them down, and I took off running down the middle of the street, shrieking pointlessly, joyfully. I ran back toward the house and saw my boyfriend, arms folded, grinning and wet, and as I grabbed my clothes he kissed me. It was a small thing, nothing really. No one saw me but him, and we went back in as quietly as we came out. But I was seventeen when I did this, and I am thirty-eight now, and I still remember like it was yesterday, the sight of the arrow rain, the sound of that dog barking, the feel of the wet asphalt underneath my feet, the smile on my face. '

My daughter laughs. ' Oh mom. That is just like you. '

Tuesday, August 13, 2013

My First Video Poem Reading : some things cannot be understood

Movie on 8-13-13 at 1.52 PM #2 from Maggie May Ethridge on Vimeo.

I love this poem. It was my first time doing this, so go gentle on me. xo

Monday, August 12, 2013

Summer 2013: the locals

see me, in this last picture, right in the middle? 

summer is drawing to a close here. we are savoring each day ( still marking off things on our 'Summertime' list pinned to the kitchen wall ) while taking a few days to prepare for school: shopping with Grandma, school supplies, and this Sunday Lola and I ( and Ever, although she didn't help so much as rearrange ) spent hours- all late afternoon and early evening- gutting her room, compiling a total of eight trash bags, pulling an enormous amount of everything from underneath her bed ( including a bag with spilled food and MOLD ) and dresser, creating an enormous laundry pile, scrubbing the dressers and bookshelves and beds and putting everything left back, neat and tidy and cute, followed by a vacuuming. And we still have to deal with her closet, which after peeking in, I could not deal with in the same day as the rest. She has a bookshelf in her closet, and books, that the last time I looked, were neatly piled in stacks. Now she has a bookshelf, a cluster fuck of books everywhere, toys and dolls piled everywhere, on which top clothes are piled, on which top- just to be sure every available inch was being used- there are many baskets piled in which is, you guessed it! more stuff!    ah. i asked a family friend who is in college- a smart, beautiful, kind and incredibly easy going girl that we all love- to take Lola out to lunch and talk all things Middle School with her, to ease her mind, and they went to Chinese today and did just that. Lola came home glowing. It's amazing how much the attention of a good hearted and kick ass super cool older girl does for a girl. That goes for me, too. :) I won't name names, because lots of ladies still bristle at being 'older', but there are some of you out there who are that, for me, and I hope I am that, for some of you.


Saturday, August 10, 2013

Things I Taught My Kids That Really Were Overkill Now That I Think About It

1. Do not, no matter how desperate or under any circumstances, use toilet paper thrown in the trash can of a public bathroom to wipe your vagina or butt. Or any body part. If necessary, take off your underwear and use them, then dispose.

2. Most serial killers will not take you if you pretend to be a crazy person and scream MY MOTHER WAS A PIG AND I ATE HER ON MY PLATE or something great like that.

3. The thing is, no one really wants to hear a three hour dissertation on World of Warcraft, even if they could reach Level 3 and have a totem spirit like, three times faster than usual.

4. I wish you had been a dwarf. I always wanted one of my kids to be a dwarf.

5. If you go on a date, clean your ears in case the girl sticks her tongue really far down in your ear and gets a load of earwax. Buzzkill.

6. Baby pee really doesn't taste like anything.

7. In order, shit, goddamnit, fucking nuts and crap. Although taught may be a strong word here. 

8. Your dad likes breastmilk too!

they are listening

Friday, August 9, 2013

People In Your Neighborhood

take a seat with Flannery OConnor and her peacocks, and read

It's hard for me to share this, because it's exactly the kind of story I was writing a few years ago. But I support this woman's beautiful writing and truth telling about her marriage.

I loved writing this one for Budget Fashionista: How To Wear Converse

Circumin reduces Alzheimer's symptoms by 30%: Brain Food

The incomparable Dena Rash Guzman writes for Dirt & Seeds:  People I Would Marry As a Polygamist 

My tailbone has been hurting for the past handful of days.

Hilarious, totally entertaining, great apartment, and free: Marriage and Other Tragedies ( your welcome xo )

Esme Wang writes about Healing From OCD ( plus, her blog in general is awesome and getting added to my reader )

I have mentioned him before on Flux- Loren Nancarrow has been a newscaster for what feels like forever here in SD- I grew up watching and liking him, as did everyone I know. He was diagnosed with brain cancer just months ago, and now his wife has written one of the most touching blog posts I've ever read: No Panicking Allowed, These Are The Easy Times

Wednesday, August 7, 2013

Blonde Selfie

I dyed my hair and I love it. I did a terrible, awful job; it was supposed to be highlights but I didn't like the hair cap so I tossed it, and as I started glopping on the cream, I overshot ( this sounds like a bad porno ) and as you can see, ended up with big skunky blonde, but somehow, especially when down, it works, and I love it anyway. I was blonde my whole life- a towheaded child, and then dark blonde until my pregnancy with my son, when my hair truly became light brown. I dyed it Marilyn blonde for years, until I became concerned with the effects of that on my health, and for the last few years I"ve been browny-blonde. Now I'm blondey-brown. I feel more myself as a blonde, probably just because it's what I am most familiar with. The light color also makes me feel cheerful. It's a strange thing, but true regardless of if I am looking at a sparkling bright lake or my daughter's blonde halo, that light in any object makes me feel lighter myself. Here I am, reading Saul Bellow, who I love the hell out of. His writing is so damn grown up. So confident, strong, descriptive, intelligent, insightful, interesting. I read myself to sleep pretty much every night. I'm reading Saul Bellow, Charlie Wilson's War and as soon as that is done, starting the last Songs Of Fire and Ice that has been written so far. 

I have taken life by the balls this summer and I feel good, even though I feel bad. This is my idea of what it means to be a grown-up, and I'm finally coming closer to achieving it. Being productive, responsible to love, a good mother, making my own dreams come true, being disciplined with self-care and health, while facing the deep sadness that is in my life, every day. I hold the joy of my children, their accomplishments both personal and in the world, the summer leaves, water, shouting voices of my home, the dogs and their exuberant, stupid love, the Western sky, the tapping of keyboard and successes of my work this summer up next to the heartbreak, and I acknowledge and value and hold both of them. Twin. I am both. I am all my life. 

This summer I finally got into a rhythm, a routine with working out, and am on a schedule of working out five days a week, while also maintaining a very outdoor oriented lifestyle with the kids. We swim, walk or hike ( or all ) every day. I do laps in the pool, a DVD workout, and have taken up running. This shocks me, as I have always hated running, and running hated me. Everything hurt when I ran- my ears, skin, throat, eyes, and I always had cramps and shin splints. But suddenly, I run, and I feel free. So once a week, just a slow beginning, I run with the dogs for 40 minutes. I also do yoga a few times a week, and walking meditations. I want my children to see what to do when life turns their guts inside out. This is motivating beyond anything I might be able to do for myself.

My work is taking off, too. I have a few freelance writing jobs now, and although none of them pay well, they all pay. I am also doing an editorial internship with Velocity House Publishing that just started last week, and with a big hiccup and learning curve of Office Word, I have rounded the bend and feel confident. When I applied, they said I was the only person who ever got 100% on the editorial quiz. That was awesome :) I have a handful of things in submission limbo, and a few pieces that will be coming out. Motion!

previous next