Saturday, January 31, 2015

People In Your Neighborhood

take a seat and read!

Anna Leahy writes The Give and Take of Grief on The Weeklings "Spread out, grief feels less heavy—the word grief comes from the Latin meaning to make heavy—and there’s some room to breathe and speak. I’m not stealing anyone else’s grief, but I’m letting my own spread or reach further than I’d expected it could."

Some beautiful writing in Fragment by Sally J. Johnson on The Manifest-Station

Jordan Rosenfeld takes a familiar subject and says something new and smart about it: women and mid-life crisis or 'opportunities'… I Think I May Be Having a Mid-Life Crisis at Dame

A fascinating article on our immediate future as human beings by Tim Urban The AI Revolution

This blogger Sarah Bessey wrote a blog on what love looks like, and it made me feel very sad, I admit. It reminded me of the kind of posts I used to be able to write. I'm so glad that she knows what she has, and beautiful written. 

One more reason I won't be giving my daughters the HPV vaccine even though I have had pre-cervical cancer and cryogenic surgery for it. HPV Vaccine and Primary Ovarian Failure

Higher Dementia Risk With Use of Common Drugs- important information.

I was introduced to a poet new to me, and her amazing work Song

Pushing my running a little this week: Getting Through Speedwork I run 3x a week for just under 4 miles, and do squats and lunges etc. another two days. 

I've Got Leaving In My Blood by Anthony Hamilton, a man who can write!

Wednesday, January 28, 2015

Dream Analysis

lost lake by Owen Perry

i had one of the worst dreams of my life. i woke at 4am. i forced myself out of a nightmare. after lying semi-concious for a moment, i opened my eyes to escape from the recurring images and sounds. i saw a movement out of the corner of my eye and rolled over. Lola, who slept with Ever and I, was awake and rose. she sat up silently and reached her arm out to me, lay it on me. i rubbed her arm. 

'mommy, i had a bad dream', she said. me too, i told her. i scooted over Ever and lay next to Lola and kissed her head and she fell back asleep.

i rose and peed and lay back in bed with a dim light and the life of Mary Boleyn. i read determinedly until the images and sounds of the nightmare let way to the stamped black type of some else's life.

My Dream:

a little Asian girl, three years old, falls to the ground from somewhere- where? she has a beautiful round face and her hair is shoulder length. she lies unconscious on the floor. i look at her and shake my head. she's dead, i think to myself.

i turn and take a few steps away. i hear a noise. a soft and childlike noise. a little girl giggling and then saying ow and then saying ' mommy? '

i turn and the little girl is still lying on the concrete, only there is an enormous, python sized snake behind her, jaws dislocated and open, only he is not a python, because he has enormous teeth, teeth which he has sunk into back and forefront of the little girl's head. 

for one horrific moment the little girl thinks the snake is her mother, petting her head. this is the worst moment of any dream i've ever had, this child's soft giggle, the snake's fangs pierced into her tiny skull, her belief that is the love of her life, when it is the worst suffering she will ever know.

the little girl starts to scream. i scream. i grab the snake. i scream for Mr. Curry to help, help, help. he appears from the nowhere of dreams and says no, there's nothing to do, but i keep screaming, so he grabs the snakes head and pulls it off of the girl. the large wounds bleed. i hold her and rock her and rock and rock harder and harder until i can rock myself awake.

i have been thinking about this dream all day. yesterday, i read a news story about a local boy who was on a hike nearby my home and a rattlesnake struck him from the bushes and he was bit. he grabbed the rattlesnake from his leg and threw it. the same news story mentioned a teenager here last year who was bit three times on his stomach.

and then i read this story. this little girl, a blonde, solid little girl with a beautiful smile, like Ever, was brutally injured and eventually died from a car accident where she was in only a booster and a regular seatbelt, instead of the 5 point harness. her dad was driving.

in the last few years, in order to survive, in order to not go insane with anxiety, fear and heartbreak, i have faded. i have numbed my emotions to the point where i feel very little. i am more aware of my values than my emotions most of the time. i taught myself how to do this as a young person, when i realized that the depression i lived with at that time did not allow me to have normal feelings, and 'normal feelings' are the basis of civilization. i knew if i wanted to stay sane, i had to attach myself to actions based on values instead of emotions. 

there are times when i am afraid of myself, of how deeply i can put my arms into the lake and not find the floor. i have emotions, but not the ones that i would be having if i had a therapist- a guide across the lake- or if. 

these combinations of factors were poured like colored dye into the lake of my brain, and this dream is what it gave back to me. 

just as i am sometimes in complete awe of the beauty of life,  also i am in awe of the horrendous, inexplicable suffering that human beings experience. nothing has ever made me so attune to this than having children, children who emerge from the womb for many mothers with a god face. our children represent not only the meaning of life- love- but the reality of life- reproduction, and become everything. in my nightmares, i allow them to be hurt. in my nightmare, i walk away.

Monday, January 26, 2015

Book Response: Karen Lynch's 'Good Cop, Bad Daughter'

I started Karen Lynch's 'Good Cop, Bad Daughter' one night in bed after my girls had fallen asleep, and by Chapter Two liked it so much I was annoyed that I was too tired to keep reading. I finished this engrossing story the next night, and I swear that I tell the truth when I reveal that as I read the last few sentences of this memoir, I burst into tears.

Karen's story starts during her tumultuous childhood, raised by a nice but distant father and a mother who cares for Karen- an only child- in a way that feels partly loving and secure, and partly ominous. With a child's sometimes disturbing intuition into the machinations of their own parents, Karen understood something at a visceral level even before it was apparent: her mother was highly unstable, with a mean streak. Karen matter of factly but clearly chooses telling details of her childhood that reveal the menacing environment she grew in, until in one final stroke, the truth is outed: her mother, in a first bipolar psychosis, presses her little girl's hand against a hot pot on the stove, burning her badly. I cried reading this, for the exact location in a life of when innocence was lost is not always so candidly recalled, and a mother purposefully hurting her child is a demarcation of the worst kind.

As Karen enters adolescence, her mother moves in with a man who becomes Karen's step-father by default. And for me, this was the the secret heart and true meaning of this life story. Karen builds the outer structure of her life in the telling of her mother's mental illness, her father's desertion and her entrance into police school, but it is the love story that runs through all these markers that most impacted me- a love story between a father figure and a little girl. What is particularly touching and interesting about this relationship is not just the love, but the human frailties of the man- he is not a hero, he is not even successful in his own life by any standards of society, as he is without much money at all, owns little to nothing, has no successful romantic relationships and doesn't 'save' Karen in an overwhelming, sweeping way.  And yet, because he loves Karen and makes the effort and room in his life to reach out to her, to help her and to shelter her, he changes her entire life. 

It is Karen's ability as a writer that made this revelation so profound when it does come, as she doesn't hurry this along. The slow build up of situations and realizations that grow in Karen grow also in us as we read along, which is why the ending, which she essentially devotes to him, is so emotionally powerful. 

I was totally engrossed ( as in, I won't hear you if you try to talk to me! ) as I read about Karen's experiences- twice- traveling overseas with her mentally ill mother who drinks herself into psychosis, and once Karen even ends up in a foreign orphanage! Karen's sketches of her experience in police school are interesting and at times hilarious, and she captures the portraits of the cadets and police in charge with precisely guided words that give the reader an immediate and clear idea of the person. I know next to nothing about police training and was interested in the progression of the cadets and the tricks of the trade, as well as the depth of camaraderie and support. 

Karen's experience being a female cadet during a time when women had just been granted permission to join the active police force is a testament to feminism, and I applaud her guts, smarts and perseverance through some rocky moments where she could have- and almost did, once- quit, but did not. 

Great storytelling with a beating heart. I loved this! Buy this book! Good Cop, Bad Daughter 

* here's a great short interview with Karen Lynch: 5 Questions

Friday, January 23, 2015

People In Your Neighborhood

Obsessed with Kiesza. Love this song and video. Love her style. Love the 80's influence, background singer, her crystalline voice.

Amanda Charchian's beautiful photos of nude women in landscapes.

Lena Dunham on ABC, short interview. Love.

Bought this book today, read an excerpt in Tin House and was really impressed. Lacy M. Johnson's The Other Side

Wounds That Time Won't Heal: the neurobiology of child abuse

Rene Denfield writes a deeply moving essay on the legacy of suicide in her family:  The Other Side of Loss

The murder of Tamir Rice continues to horrify me, and America. Tamir Rice and The Value of Life the new release of video showing him lying, dying, unattended to, while his 14 year old sister is thrown to the ground and handcuffed will make the most hardened heart cry out. 

Mark Lucach writes stirringly about his wife's nervous breakdown from Bipolar, in The Pacific Standard

Karrie Higgens is one of the most exciting new voices in writing I've come across in a  long time. Her essay Strange Flowers is, without being hyperbolic, brilliant.

Tuesday, January 20, 2015


once life has a rhythm and color and taste you realize the true depth of despair that you had been in. that does not mean the despair had no value to you, had no life. it had subtlety, endurance, resilience, craftiness, craft, evocation. it had beauty. if you were not connected to other human beings- and you were not- you were connected to the natural world in a way that bordered on animalistic. you played inside of bushes, emerging briar filled and with the drops of rain from leaves on your lips. you played in canyons, brushing against coyotes and snakes, worshiping the sky, dirt, venomous and snappish hermits that lived there, emerging with sticks and reeking of sage. you undulated in the great Pacific, stung by a jellyfish on the shore, rubbed raw by sea salt. you understood that you were alone/not alone. you survived with your mouth full of dirt and hands full of bees, stingers embedded in your fat little palm. you spent years like this. you were not in a cave with only shadows, you were in a shadow with many caves. 'i don't understand this life. and i don't want to leave it.' olive kitteridge says, following the motion of birds above the great ocean outside her window. that's right. yes, that's it.

Sunday, January 18, 2015

People In Your Neighborhood ( I'm in The Rumpus, ahhh!! )

take a seat and read!

I am thrilled to be the Sunday essay of the week in THE RUMPUS. Please take a read and comment, I'm nervous! We, The Crazy Ones

I donated for this lovely writer and blogger and speaker and lover of women, Jen Pastiloff. She could use our help, ladies. She's one of the good ones.

This essay by Emily Kaiser in The Washingtonian is a beautifully expressed piece on loss and the shaping of a generation. How Millennials Mourn

Interesting story of a 16 year old boy who ran away to avoid chemo and years later is now healthy and cancer free.

Astonish yourself and look at our universe

One small step in the right direction for a cause near and dear to my heart, something I fight for and will continue to fight for is an end to solitary confinement at all in prisons- in Penn. they have stopped using it for mentally ill prisoners.

New research supporting that depression is an allergic reaction to inflammation. All the more reason to eat an anti-inflammatory diet, and the largest part of that? Avoiding sugar. Take your fish oils and probiotics, people!

Janine Canty writes a searing and original essay for The Weeklings: Don't Blame Yourself I really loved reading this and read it twice.

We use primarily glass and stainless steel for everything. Another reason why: BPA-Free and Plant Based Plastics More Dangerous Than We Thought

Wednesday, January 14, 2015

Justin Timberlake and The Baby

It is 2001 and I am in Culver City, California, on an enormous sound stage worthy of old queens like Elton John or Cher. Music thrums through my body, at maximum capacity volume before eardrum rupture, so loud that the bottom of my feet sting slightly from the constant vibration. I am dancing, I am covered in shimmer body lotion and my taut mid-section is exposed as I tip my pink cowboy hat over blonde braids and wink at Justin Timberlake.

The room explodes in an incandescent shimmer bomb of confetti and Justin, two feet from myself, is perfectly groomed, gorgeous, slim, electric- a dancing dynamo with twenty-five cameras pointed at his face. CUT! the director roars, and the entire room sags like a deflated balloon. Justin smiles at me as I pantomime being overheated, waving at my pink cheeks, and I smile back. The group of girl dancers I have been hanging out with for the last ten hours giggle behind me like a cartoon chorus. A few hours before, when I stood in a circle of four people talking, one of which was a world famous pop star, I felt the same kind of ridiculous giggle threatening to erupt inside of me. ' Everything is so close to happening, ' I thought. ' There are so many things that I believed were out of my reach and now I know that they aren't. '

Two weeks later I was looking at the pink positive sign on a pregnancy test. I was twenty-six, unmarried, and already a single mother with a child from the same man I was now pregnant with again. We had broken up just a few months before.

I was working part-time at a preschool so that I could work my hours around my son's hours at school, also attending college at night, when I decided that I was going to pursue my life long interest in acting. My own ability to handle so much more than I thought I would be able to- school, good grades, single motherhood, work, writing- had inspired me to look above and beyond goals already set.

I began answering ads for bit parts and auditions, sending a headshot and an inflated 'resume' of my past entertainment experience. I answered an ad for dancers in an N'Sync video, and received a yes, you are hired! The set for the video was enormous and thrilling, with two gigantic white staircases on each side, climbing up to a top platform with a circular spinning disk that N'Sync danced on, and in the middle of all this, on the ground, there was a gleaming dance floor with secret doors and mirrors for special effects. All the N'Sync members were friendly and sweet, some definitely on the prowl for a quick hook up with an 'extra', which is what I was. Justin was very likable- polite, funny, charming and an incredibly hard worker who contributed ideas to the director all through the shoot and entertained us with an impromptu beat box session on the overhead mike. We danced and stopped and danced and stopped from 5pm one night until 5am the next morning. We ate free food and smoked cigarettes and chatted with the singers.

The positive pregnancy test two weeks later was possibly even more life altering for me than the first one had been. The first time, yes, I was young and had nothing- but: I was young, I had nothing- nothing to lose, everything to gain. This time, I was in a place in my life I found intoxicating, a place of empowerment and learning and mothering and dancing on sounds stages with famous singers. Meeting and watching Justin work was a formative experience. Not because of his celebrity, but because of the level of success he had achieved at such a young age. It was clear, watching him talk with the director and shoot jokes to the staff before practicing his dance moves while the rest of the group chatted up the gorgeous extras, that Justin was the standout,- and not only because he was talented, but because he clearly did not take that talent for granted. I was impressed that despite his fame, he was not smug.

I had to make a decision. I have never in my life felt so entrenched in a cliche- the fork in the road had come thundering out of the sky and Zues's hand, and speared me right between it's points.

I chose my baby. I chose to be a single mother of two. I chose to become large and unwieldy and impregnated and breastfeeding, everything opposite of a lithe young dancing queen. At first, I mourned. I knew I was giving up something, something mysterious and thrilling that probably would never come my way again.

I felt deeply at the time that I was being tested. I am not a religious person, or a person who has a particular set of beliefs about what human life means or is. Yet I had a sensation so powerful it reminded me of a physical workout, in which you are tempted to give up, but know that enduring will bring a deep satisfaction and sense of pride that will last long after the memory of a struggle has faded.

I know that my bright lights, big city moment did not come at the cost of my heart. Am I pro-choice? Yes. Do I believe that everyone should do what I did? No. Do I know it's what I had to do? Yes.

Now we tease Lola that Justin Timberlake is her 'real dad'. She actually looks so startlingly much like him that I am tempted to wink up at the sky and say ' I get it! '

Tuesday, January 13, 2015


Ever is diabolical.

EVER: Mommyyyyyy!!

ME: I'm on the phone, just a second.

EVER: No!!! Mommy!!!

ME: Ever be quiet please.

EVER: yelling, No, nooooo, noooo I won't! Mommy answer me!!!

ME: Sweetie, give me a minute. I'm almost done, please be quiet.

EVER: Mommy I need you!

ME: No you don't.

EVER: Yes I do!

ME: Ever stop!

EVER: Mommy answer me!!!!

ME:  What is it?


ME: Ever? What? What did you want?


ME: inarticulate noises of frustration


EVER: Mommy? Mommy? Mommy!!!


Saturday, January 10, 2015

People In Your Neighborhood

take a seat and read

" Without feminism, I would have been the worst bitch in the world " Vivian Gornick in The Believer

A blogger is being publicly, repeatedly flogged in Saudi Arabia. Please sign Amnesty International's petition to free him: SIGN

Melatonin as cancer treatment in Life Extension

'Sister, Interrupted: A True Story' by Maria Alexander in Medium, a heart rending story of what the consequences of distracted driving can be.

'The Disappearance of Rosemary Tonks' by Ruth Graham in Poetry Foundation. A writer with ascending renown and fame who walked away from it all.

I love this! A dad creates drawings based off things his toddler says, and things he hears himself and his wife say to her I Am Not The Babysitter

I am looking forward to reading this novel: Descent

A night out with Lena Dunham and Her Girls, in Inside TV

Continuing the important, national discussion about concussions, one family talks about the son they lost to concussions playing high school football.

Thursday, January 8, 2015


January, you little fucker. Just when I…

Underwater eye, rolling in the water. Observation without action. Being alive is…

There I was. In a different light cone, there I am. Quarks glued perfectly together. Happy with big shoes on a Chevy in a hat I bet one of my Grandmother's  knitted. They are both dead now. In a different light cone, do you think they are there, knitting for their first grandchild?

I'd like to say Hi Daddy.

I'd like to hug my sister.

They're still alive. In a different light cone, do you think it was all all right, in the end?

In the end, there was a BIIIIG sign that said:


So if you have your eyes squeezed shut, like I do on the very top of the roller coaster, you won't see the sign. 

lala my eyes are open

I have this book I bought for the kids, when Lola was a toddler, by Maya Angelou, called Life Doesn't Frighten Me. And I've been fascinated by this book, this poem with art, since. It has Basquiat paintings. Of course it's possible for life not to frighten anyone for a period of time, you know- a few days, a month, even a highly lucky streak of a years. But a lifetime? A lifetime of mostly, almost all the time, not being afraid of life? It's been the work of my life to not be afraid of everything, of myself, of other people. The strange, amazing, wonderful thing it that somehow I never learned to be afraid of love. That has been the engine that has powered my life. That, and sex and awesomeness.*

*thank you Jack Donaghy for your mind vise.

Saturday, January 3, 2015

People In Your Neighborhood

take a seat and read!

This is a newsletter from The Realm of Caring that has a feature from my friend Elizabeth Aquino, who writes on her blog about her daughter Sophie's seizure disorder and the amazing results they've had with cannabis- after many medications have failed. 

One of my favorite authors gives one of the most entertaining writing interviews I've ever seen. Pat Conroy, and his wife who is also a writer, Cassandra King.

in The Gaurdian, It's Silly To Be Frightened of Being Dead by Diana Athill

If you believe that your reality is valid, that is matters, you can change the world like this 10 year old little girl did. As I read this, I kept wondering: What if she had told herself she was wrong, silly, just a little girl and didn't know any better?

An old one from Dressed Up Like a Lady: True Love and Divorce

Oren is a dad blogger of two who has Stage Four lung cancer. Read his words: Chemo Talk

Black and Missing Foundation: Providing An Equal Opportunity For All Missing

On 37 Paddington, important, deeply personal writing about the police and black people: PTSD 

So in love with this song It's on my running playlist and I dance down the street :)

Thursday, January 1, 2015

so long and hello again!! 2014/2015

haters, hate. potatoes, potate. everyone else, swim in love and energy. it's what we got.

While I saw complaints about the Facebook end of year summary- a NYT article, even- for me, it was poignant and eye opening. I suppose it's very modern that it took a Facebook app for me to realize that the last year of my life was exceptional.

Last year I made the biggest professional leaps of my life- I moved from freelance, pieced together work to working for a large corporation from home. I continued writing freelance: exhaustion, accomplishment, fatigue, discipline, coffee, stress, joy, exhaustion. 

My first book was published. This is a touchstone that will, for the rest of my life, light up underneath my gaze. 

Mr. Curry quit his job and moved into another profession, one that pays for overtime and gives him paid time off, one that values and rewards his incredible work ethic with what work is meant to reward us with: money. As in, 'you did a great job' is awesome, but it doesn't pay the bills.

Ian turned 18. He's in college, working, and Lola's best friend.  Dakota started recording his band's first album while going to school and working. Lola continued being a perfect person: she makes movies, writes poetry and short stories, spends time with her friends, watches Ever, climbs in bed with us almost nightly to talk and read or watch Netflix. And Everkins, the light: literally. Ever is atomic energy. I look into her face and am filled with joy and boundless love, and I have been the luckiest person on the planet to love the way I love my children. 


Everything that is most important to me, I have. This is a secure knowledge that is an 'it from bit'- a reality created from information. My children. My children. My children.

My mom ( hi mom! ) and I have the best relationship we've ever had, in my cone of light. ( inside nerd joke ). 

My in-laws live close and my sister in law and family live close and we are so blessed with their love and friendship, our family.

Lura, if you read this, I love you, I miss you, I think of you all the time. You don't have to come home to come back to me.

Blog readers, I love you. Blogging has transformed my life. I am enriched, emboldened and comforted here. 

This next year is going to be about family first. always. and then: my work
                                                                                                          my novel: it will be finished.
novels and books of all kinds, all sizes 
playing outside
family get togethers
eating delicious, organic foods
coffee ( made at home, add organic whole whipping cream )
ridiculous behavior of all kinds, all sorts



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