Wednesday, July 30, 2008

the reversal of despair

*gone to Ms. Basilworth's files*

M.M.E. july 08

Sunday, July 27, 2008

Poem Talkies

everything i can think of to say comes in poems, that happens to me sometimes, i'm not saying they are good poems, but there they are---

the grass out back is burnt
turning it's rosy wheats to the sky
like the bottoms of my daughter's feet

the kittens three
pounce through the toes of sprout
chewing silently on a brother's tail

the birds are chorusing
so loudly today, the sky is pale faced
and bald, my spirit could be soothed

but i am too fragile
my nerves rock in clumsy rows
like boats left out in storm

i am eager for life
and also hiding in the closet
' very well, i contradict myself '

some journals
don't like poems that say ' i '
so much as this

the same journals,
probably, that would
have thought Walt's poems were subversive

and not in a good way.


are you sleeping, brother john?
everything is metaphorical
when my mind opens all drawers
at once, i am tumbling in old clothes
stained and smelling of mold
sicked up and cleaned, to be kept
here, where you keep items you'd
like to forget, but refuse to be forgotten.

the phrase WORD VOMIT comes to mind.

coo coo.
the bird cleans itself
hard knocks into the plume.

he shakes his red
head, the cat swings her eye.
he nods to her, hello

what a very polite fellow.


Friday, July 25, 2008

Oh So Jealous

you are, that is. why? because today i went to a thrift store and scored 6 books for the lump sum
of 1 dollar, 08 cents.

here they are, in no particular order:

Animal Poems compiled by Jennifer Curry (for my 6yr old daughter, Lola Moon)
-- excerpt:

' Quick as they are
and slick they are
and swooping through
the air
as if they couldn't
stop for joy-
and j0y had tossed them

All Quiet on the Western Front by Erich Remarque

Saint Maybe by Anne Tyler

Animal Dreams by Barbara Kingsolver

Personal History by Katherine Graham

A Year In Provence by Peter Mayle

OH happiness!

Plus- I got a beautiful red and white pillow that looks new for 3 buckssss.

And as an added random bonus, I have one of my all time favorite, cheer me up, funniest songs ever stuck in my head. I know the entire song by heart. And yes, I'm proud of that.

I LIKE BIG BUTTS AND I CANNOT LIE ( big whoomping sound)


Wednesday, July 23, 2008

What The Living Do by Marie Howe

I read this book in Borders yesterday. It was one of those beautiful, falling in love experiences where the words wrapped around me like vines until nothing around me was recognized, only the world that these poems were making. A true transportation into the writer's unique view of the world. The weight of this book distinctly rests in it's culmunative powers. These poems tell a story, and the story becomes more urgent and heavy with primitive truth with each passing poem. The strength of this poet, as I see it, is not in her metaphor or fancy foot-working of words, not in her form, but in the sparse beauty and illumination of what she is able to convey. Her experience of life is truly profound and filled with dread and awe, and not only could I entirely relate to that, I found it extremely comforting. To have someone acknowledge the truth- especially when a talented artist does so- is anchoring, even when that truth is about our suffering and confusion. If we acknowledge, we can begin to look further, and that is what these poems do. Highly recommended, one of the best books of poems I've read in a long while.

The ending of this poem is the perfect example of that uplifting recognition. I have experienced this exactly, and to have someone beautifully and perfectly convey the experience is amazing.

What the Living Do

Johnny, the kitchen sink has been clogged for days, some utensil
probably fell down there.
And the Drano won't work but smells dangerous, and the crusty
dishes have piled up

waiting for the plumber I still haven't called. This is the everyday we
spoke of.
It's winter again: the sky's a deep headstrong blue, and the sunlight
pours through

the open living room windows because the heat's on too high in here,
and I can't turn it off.
For weeks now, driving, or dropping a bag of groceries in the street
the bag breaking,

I've been thinking: This is what the living do. And yesterday, hurrying
along those
wobbly bricks in the Cambridge sidewalk, spilling my coffee down my
wrist and sleeve,

I thought it again, and again later, when buying a hairbrush:
This is it.
Parking. Slamming the car door shut in the cold. What you called
that yearning.

What you finally gave up. We want the spring to come and the winter
to pass. We want
whoever to call or not call, a letter, a kiss -- we want more and more
and then more of it.

But there are moments, walking, when I catch a glimpse of myself in
the window glass,
say, the window of the corner video store, and I'm gripped by a
cherishing so deep

for my own blowing hair, chapped face, and unbuttoned coat that I'm
I am living, I remember you.

-marie howe

Monday, July 21, 2008


Friday, July 18, 2008

Kathy Griffin, How I Love Thee

Kathy, oh Kathy, how I love thee. You lay me down in small towns of Mexico with los ninos, making la biblioteque, crushing on underage children. You bring me waters of tears, oh redheaded Oprah. You taketh me to pastures of hilarity with your curly locks and tilting winks, your eagled eye observations and fearless forays into the black heart of celebrity. You sootheth
my heartaches and hurt with your Billionaire Nerd and Team Griffin. Yahay, for the valley of the shadow of liquor breath go your mother Mary, she who disbelieves in the redheaded Oprah.

Oh Kathy Griffin, you get it.

You have the tears of the world behind your jokes, like all genius comedians do. Last night I watched your D-List show and you made it to the A-List of my heart. ( What? What? I'm just being honest here. OK, honest and disgusting. Honest and revolting? Like spit swappers in the movie theatre? What can I say? Sometimes love is corny. Like corn dogs. Corn nuts?
Corn candy or is that candy corn? Does that sound like a porn star name OR WHAT? And now, winner of 2008's BJ of the Year....Candy Corn!!! I digress. )

Kathy Griffin, you may tell Jesus to suck it, but I know he loves you anyway.

Last night my husband and I realized we were getting OLD:

Kids: asleep
Us: cuddling on chair
We were beginning to go the room when we realized-- but Kathy Griffin's on! And it's a new one we haven't seen!

We chose Kathy Griffin's D list reality show over sex. Is this the true disintegration of America?
Or is this Kathy Griffin's plan to take over the world?

I still love you, Kathy. You rock.

Thursday, July 17, 2008

Uncommon Heroes

Click on the title of this posting to see my friend Taymar's video on uncommon heroes- the surprising forces fighting fires in California. Taymar made this piece and it ended up being selected for broadcast on television! Go Taymar, I love you!!! :)

Friday, July 11, 2008

Here I Go

I quit my job lalala to write the words lalala I write the words lalala to feed the beast lalala I
feed the beast lalala to say the least

I am now a full time writer and student. I am vying for local freelancing jobs and have a few articles written up for spec that I'm still editing. I found a wonderful class at University of California that requires at least 50 pages of a novel to enter. I have around 90 pages of my novel in mostly rough draft form, and the class is geared toward the goal of producing 50 pages at end.
It is taught by a published novelist and it would be my first time taking a class geared toward serious writing of any kind. I hope I could get even more out of it and complete the rough draft of the novel.

When I was interning for Dr. R.E., the former editor of Scientific Mind and now contributing editor to Psychology Today, I had a few passionate conversations with him about writing, books, culture, etc. I made a mistake in pronunciation of a name and realized it immediately when I saw the look on his face- ' Oh- that's not right is it? ' I said. He was such a gentleman.
He said ' No, no matter, you are a autodictat (will go look spelling up! ) and that kind of thing goes with the territory. Never feel bad about it. ' What an awesome thing to tell me, a writer who passionately loves to learn but did not have the opportunity to attend full time college or university.

It was only last year I learned I have been pronouncing Proust wrong in my mind my entire life.
I never talk about these things with anyone, you see that's the problem, I don't HEAR people talk about things, I read. I've never heard a professor stand up and give a lecture on Tolstoy but I've read him. I grew up surrounded by literature in bookshelves everywhere- one of the greatest and most lasting gifts of my childhood- and so I was reading ' Sophie's Choice ' and ' Rabbit Run ' in middle school. Much more European than American- allowing a young person to decide the strength of their own mind. I've never dissected the style of Austen or Camus or Plath or the real merit of Fitzgerald's writings in class but I've thought about it! This is probably why I love books on writing by writers so so much.

So here I go. As it stands I have one half a novel, one poetry book completed and I've begun to now order the poems, three short stories (two in submission), forty poems revolving in submission ( just heard from an editor at Opium that one of my poems is being considered by the final poetry editor and they'll let me know soon. they even apologized for taking so long, which was very nice of them! ) and two articles for spec in rough draft form. I can do it!
I can! I can, right?


Wednesday, July 9, 2008

this is the goodbye we do not understand

*Gone to Mrs. Basilworth's Files*

rough draft, for my grandma Elizabeth Gardner, the most beautifully talented painter
and piano player and a woman who lived through one great hardship after another
and never stopped saying ' oh look how beautiful the clouds are today! '

Monday, July 7, 2008


Coenzyme Q10 and Cancer

Stephen Sinatra, MD, hypothesized that just as the deficiency of Coenzyme Q10 underlies heart failure, so it too underlies the immune failure that leads to the development of cancer. To a significant extent, cancer may turn out to be a CoQ10 deficiency disease. One of the functions of CoQ10 is protecting DNA from oxidative damage. Another is the enhancement of immune function, and the regulation of aerobic metabolism and energy production. It has been established that 100 mg of CoQ10 per day is the dose required to provide antioxidant protection for LDL cholesterol. Since cancer patients show deficient levels of CoQ10, we need to establish the dose that is likely to prevent cancer.

It is interesting that the most lethal of human cancers, pancreatic cancer, is associated with the greatest CoQ10 depletion. Interestingly, vegetarians are not likely to obtain much CoQ10 in their diet. According to Dr. Sinatra, vegetarians might be in particular need of CoQ10 supplementation, especially as their ability to synthesize it declines with aging. Dr. Sinatra stressed that CoQ10 has produced dramatic tumor-regression results (particularly in metastatic breast cancer) when used together with other treatments, alternative or conventional or both. This reiterates one of the main principles of holistic and anti-aging medicine: Do not seek a single "magic bullet," but use several treatments simultaneously.

Dr. Sinatra warned that dry powdered CoQ10 is poorly absorbed, and it is difficult to achieve therapeutic levels of CoQ10 with it. The gel form in which CoQ10 is combined with an oil is preferable.

Sunday, July 6, 2008


I tried to grow Foxgloves for two reasons: they are achingly beautiful and home for fairy, and the word Foxglove is one of my favorite words ever. I know one day I will use it for the title of something. I want to name a foxy looking cat Foxglove. The word is just beautiful to look at. My Foxgloves won't bloom. They die and die and die, like Ms. Plath's Lady Lazarus. Every time I think they are on the verge on blooming, a brown crepe foils over their skins and they shrivel up like burnt children. I have planted them in the full sun and I think this is the problem. I also recently found that they are extremely poisonous. Hm. I have two dogs, four cats and a herd of gorgeous children. I hope Child Protective Services doesn't haul me away.

Today is so beautiful that I can think of nothing to write but beautiful things, and those are the hardest. My poison poems are easier, the images are abundant and spill out. When I write about beauty, it's much harder to say anything fresh. Hm. Maybe to stay fresh I need to write from the underground of only my personal experience with beauty in the context of the greater and obvious experience.

The 4th was strangely fantastic. I think about the soldiers and civilians and wonder what the appropriate gestures are on holidays like this to acknowledge their sacrifices and suffering.

My son is away at Sea Camp, where he is to boogie board, kayak, snorkel, touch sharks, dissect invertebrates, go behind the scenes at Sea World and in general explore and learn about marine biology. At the actual camp where E and I dropped him off there is an actual pool, like an oversized kiddie pool similar to the one Lola has, full of REAL SHARKS. They were a foot away from me as I looked at them, with no barrier between us, when one of the small grey sharks lifted up it's head OUT OF THE WATER and made a nodding gesture at me. Apparently this is normal for captive sharks but it scared the shit out of me.

I am reading the biography of Anne Sexton and finding amazing parallels between her and I.
The most notable difference is her lack of parenting, her abuse toward her children. I would never allow myself to get that bad with my children, and I have the experiences to back up that statement. My childhood was rotten and when I became pregnant at 19 I could have gone a very dark direction. I fought myself tooth and nail and four years of therapy and other supports gave me the restructuring I needed to be a good mother.
I can relate to her feelings of isolation in suburbia.
It's difficult to be surrounded by beige attitudes, cars, dress, hearts and minds when you are detonating color bombs.


Thursday, July 3, 2008

new poem, freshly baked

porn star

you are caught between transmissions
beautiful mute, a silent film on pornographic reel.
the bottoms move in musky light like strange beasts,
breasts toss in waves.
elapsing in lisped desire, drowned but still intact
a muscled rolling of arm conceals your face-
framing the stubborn clip of jaw, the jaw
framing the stubborn face your mother slapped.
you left with a backpack full of crayons,
room frantic and purple, like the skin around her eyes.
the hairless baby of your cunny
meets mouth after mouth in echo of the silence
above; the panic rooms of your eyes
are empty. no one goes there to escape anything.
the small bow of your mouth plays string-
an enduring note pitched too high to bear,
turned like the rim of an unused cup, clean of this mating.
the long line of your tongue on phallis,
the tender soles of small feet
your father tickled with his greying beard.
your legs move scissors, oiled and stripped
mined to their exhaustion, forgotten ballet lessons
flickering along your muscles like phosphorescent fish.
the tiny caves of your nose breath shallowly if at all;
i think you hold your breath.
a corrupt seizure of film, grainy and absolute,
determined to seal you shut.
your mouth, your eyes, the startling demure lines
of your fingers-
all trapped this way on film.
you roll silently in sperm, anchored
to bottom feeders with your heavy breasts
and solemnly pink and white vagina,
opened and left agape, like an unwanted Valentine.
your mouth strains the highest appeal, it's tiny bow red
slicked on the places we call private.

-maggie may ethridge

Wednesday, July 2, 2008

Lola, and Writers as Parents

Lola Moon (left in picture) is six years old and one of the funniest people I have ever known. She is a true original. Her age assures that her comments and her person are unfiltered and pure.

At home playing dolls:

' Dear, we are having a baby clown. Yes, I know this is a surprise, but you'll get used to it. '

She is a wisecracker from time ago. She plays ' tricks '.
On April Fools Day she waited for me to get dressed.
I put on my shoes and felt a sharp jab. On inspection I saw that she had put a rock in each of my shoe. ' April Fools
Mommy! '

She calls farts ' flabbergasting '. Her idea, not ours.

She is a great mimic, like most kids this age. She makes songs on the piano:
' i know love will keep us clear / i know it's hard to hear ' in honor of Hannah Montana.

She shares with her brothers under strict rule: ' If I give you a bite of this, you have to share nicely with me next time, and I'm not asking twice. '

She asked me: ' Is my skin always going to be white or do you take turns being black or something? ' Now THERE is an idea for the ages.

I just adore her every aspect. I think often on being a writer and a mother because so many of the stories I read pursue the writing as the thing, really the ONLY thing, the Great Motivator.
However I have a great talent if I will only keep learning and sharpening it, and this seems to conflict with great parenting when it comes to writers, or at least our perception of them. I love my writing, and I have been writing since I was six and wrote my play ' The Sun and the Moon '. (Already making use of these timeless muses :) ) However writing will not calm my heart when I am terrified to the core. Writing does not keep my soul still when it is sorrowful. Writing is a release and a joy and a burden and a great working and a love. But my children are the essence of the meaning of life as I understand it: love in action. It is the first great essential for poetry. Who can imagine a poet without passions? I am conducting a great experiment- can I be a devoted and wonderful mother and a devoted and wonderful writer?

I am not a mother without interest outside my children. ( This should be obvious by now ;)
and I do not place my entire existence around that great label of Mother. However, I know that
loving my children in heart and action, and to paraphrase C.S. Lewis ( I am not religious ) ' sharpening my soul against the great blade ', makes me a finer person and a person more deeply satisfied with my life.

I suffered through a difficult childhood. It was made clear to me from the beginning of life what the essentials were, and although as I said, I have always needed and loved to write, I knew it was not enough, or first.

Do I believe that having children is the only way to do this? Of course not. It is the way I found the opening, the tear in the fabric that had been around me, and birthed myself messy into the world. For others it is caring for grandparents, or an ill friend, or their work in UNICEF- but I do believe that the life that so many writers are famous for living is essentially hollow. It does not keep them safe. None of us are ' safe '. We all come in and go out. The thing is- how fat and healthy can we make our souls as to survive the great and small deaths life brings, and how do we go about doing so? When an artist slavishly devotes to their art, it is of great benefit for the rest of us, but it feels cannibalistic. A person cannot keep shaving off parts of themselves without revival, or they do hollow themselves out to a point of great suffering. Love must come and go like the tides refreshing the shore. We dry out easily. In the end to die with handfuls of your papers stuffed in your hands and a look of terror on your face is hardly satisfying and it's not enough. ( Can you tell I just read Savage Beauty?) The art itself is not enough. Love has to come first.

check out this blog about Little Warrior. the blog is run by the mother of a cutie patootie three year old going her second bout with cancer, and encourages acts of kindness in her daughter's name.

Tuesday, July 1, 2008

Review: Savage Beauty written by Nancy Milford

I began this book not having the slightest idea about Edna St. Vincent Millay other than a few poems of hers I remembered from a poetry collection, and came away from it enthralled as much with the story as I was with the care Nancy Milford took in every detail, every analysis, every description. A biography has twin hearts: the first being the story, the life itself, and the second being the biographers interpretations- of not only the happenings, but the particulars of a life in photos, cards, lines tossed onto paper, diary entries, ticket stubs, oftentimes going as far back as early childhood. It would be a blessing for any person to have Milford as caretaker of their legacy, as she takes these particulars and views them in complete context of the life and person they document, then reflecting on their meaning or truth with the light touch and piercing insight of a revered Aunt. She never scolds or allows herself to be entirely swept up into the awe beckoning when viewing the personals of a major literary figure from the past.

Milford approached Norma Millay, the surviving relative of ESVM, and eventually, with much persistence and patience, persuaded her to help Milford write the life story of Edna St. Vincent Millay. Milford had the conviction, borne of an instinctual feel for how people work, that Norma would have papers and records of her sister, never revealed. And she did. The diaries and extensive collection of letters from throughout ESVM's life, letters exchanged with lovers, friends, family and her husband, provided the foundation for this amazing biography. Intermingled with the telling of ESVM are stops in the story where we are brought back to present time, with Norma and Nancy Milford talking. Norma's sharp personality and fierce devotion to her sister bring the entire story headlong into significance, for even if we were to deny or miss the significance of the story for ourselves or our times, we cannot dismiss the meaning and relevance for this sister. The meeting of historical significance with personal seals the depth of the story.

Edna St. Vincent Millay- known as Vincent to friends and family- was born at the tail end of the 1800's and grew up primarily with her two sisters, Norma and Kathleen, ( Kathleen having a small side story throughout, as the sister who wrote and published but resented her lack of status next to her more famous sibling, eventually dying of alcoholism after fierce descent including hospitalization, divorce and financial ruin )and her mother, Cora. The story begins by poking the ashes of the family history, which is quite interesting enough to hold up on it's own, and involved the outrageous affair of Cora's mother and her eventual death, thrown from a horse. Cora eventually marries and leaves her own husband, taking care of her three girls, or as she called them, ' little women ', for they were to bear the brunt of their own caretaking as their mother traveled for long periods of time, working as a nurse to provide for her daughters. Vincent's father had moved away and had no contact with the family outside of a few letters to Vincent.

Vincent's childhood was marked by a few pointed circumstances: her father had left, her mother was often gone, the family had no money and therefore no status and little respect.
Left alone to housekeep, school and socialize, the Millay girls no doubt all developed their own coping mechanisms. Vincent daydreamed and wrote. Her diary became her confidant and her daydreams involved the typical savior prince. Through the cheerful letters back and forth from mother to daughters, we hear the ' chin up ' attitude they all tried to maintain, but this unnatural separation took its toll. Vincent was prone to small rages, rages private and perhaps totally so because of the family's lack of money and competitive socializing, but extremely important in view of Vincent's life as a whole.

There is the story recounted by Norma of Vincent stuffing her sister's mouth with geranium leaves, pushing her underneath a pillow and sitting triumphantly on top. The detail of ' geranium leaves ' at first makes the story very amusing, but as we read we realize that the undercurrents provoking Vincent were not light. It was a fierce lonliness for her mother and resentment at the responsibilities thrust on a girl who wrote:

' I'm getting old and ugly. My hands are stiff and rough and stained and blistered. I can feel my face dragging down. I can feel the lines coming underneath my skin. They don't show yet but I can feel a hundred of them underneath. I love beauty more than anything else in the world and I can't take the time to be pretty. Crawl into bed at night too tired to brush my hair... '

Millay's literary story takes it's place in history when she almost takes first prize in a major poetry contest with her poem 'Renaissance'. By the time the contest was over and poems published, Vincent had a written relationship with Mr. Earle (an important editor ), secured herself a fully paid scholarship to Vassar College and received the attention of many in the poetic world who believed that Millay's story should have taken first place.

Millay attends and graduates Vassar, and it is here in this setting that we see her personality as it was to remain for many years- seductive, freewheeling, intellectually stimulating and stimulated and uncommonly confident in her poetic ability. She had affairs with men and women, drew people to her red haired, keen eyed and potently spirited beauty, upset Vassar faculty, did passably at school and at the end of her four years published her first book of poetry, ' Renascence and Other Poems '. ( The spelling discrepancy is discussed in the book. )

From here, Vincent Millay took off to the skies, shining brighter and brighter in the world, fiercer and more admired, called ' a genius ' by almost everyone who met her and most who read her, widely published and respected, eventually called ' America's girl poet '. She was beguiling completely, utterly charming, much beloved by men and women, and married to Eugen Boissevain, a handsome, tall and intelligent man from European money. They would both have affairs and spend, at times, years apart, but they always remained married and in the end of their lives were for each other, only. Eugen was, from the beginning, completely sure of Vincent Millay's genius and took it on himself to be her ' almost perfect husband ' as the caption under his picture reads in the book. He supported her and coddled her, but exactly how Vincent treated him on a day to day basis remains a bit of a mystery to me, not through any lack of Milford's, but because the focus in their life was so primarily on Vincent and her writing that little was spoken of how she treated Eugen outside of expecting him to support her writing completely, including taking on most of the household duties and putting up with an extended and serious love affair she had with a poet.

The brightest burn in this lifeline is during this ' Jazz Age ' where Millay mingled, played and loved with many of the most prominent writers, editors, publishers and poets of that time. She was the first woman to win the Pultizer Prize in 1923, for the poem ' The Harp Weaver '. Millay was very productive, publishing books of poetry, writing abroad for Vanity Fair, completing essays, fighting for politics she believed in, ( highly unusual for a woman ) all the while helping support her family. Again, the details of Milford's research are entwined with her gentle but pointed observations, making this already interesting time in history even more fascinating for it's revolutions around this extraordinary woman.

Millay's life winds tighter and at an increasingly melancholy note from this point on. I found the ending very difficult to read. Millay and her husband settle into their beautiful home ' Steepletop ' and there is much heartbreak, estrangement, an evocative feel that Milford creates reminding me of an old person wandering, and the harrowing descent of Vincent into drug abuse. Her medical condition or conditions remain a mystery. Milford guesses at the truth, but is not as assured here as other places in the story. Reading what documented evidence there is, I was myself persuaded that Millay had two afflictions: physical and spiritual, both which contributed to her addiction. Millay was afraid of getting old, as we all are to some degree, but for her I believe it was the snuffing of a candle that had been her main source of light for her entire adulthood. She herself sobs to a friend at one point that she cannot write, is not beautiful, no one wants her anymore, and is much cheered up when he assures her this is not true.

The pictures twice enclosed in the middle of this large book are fantastic; I referred to them over and over reading the biography, wondering at the details they revealed. Milford closes the picture section with a picture of Norma Millay in her later years, reclining against a fence, cigarette in hand, looking entirely iconoclastic and defiant as well as slightly mischevious. She seems a fascinating character in her own right.

Again, it is Milford's amazing persistence, psychological compassions and tender touch that illuminate this life completely. Savage Beauty reveals not only the life of Edna St. Vincent Millay but the intelligence and talent of it's biographer.

Highly recommended.

' My candle burns at both ends;
It will not last the night;
But ah, my foes, and oh, my friends-
It gives a lovely light!'

--- Edna St. Vincent Millay
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