Saturday, February 6, 2016

Girl I Love

I love the red of this, the crop, the soft focus, her.

Friday, February 5, 2016

Outside my window at this moment

“I'll be safe and happy 
when I'm no longer afraid 
of my own mind.” 

― Marissa Meyer, Winter

Thursday, February 4, 2016

Melissa Harris Perry in Iowa

While MSNBC news anchor and Wake Forest University professor Melissa Harris Perry was in Iowa earlier this week, reporting on the Iowa Caucus and mentoring a class of journalism students who were there for the real world instruction, an unsettling thing happened. As she was standing in the lobby of her Des Moines hotel, watching the returns, a man came up to her, pressing so close she could feel his breath.

How did you get credentialed to be here, he wanted to know. His tone was ugly.

She didn't know if he was there to kill her, but she felt his malevolence, and knew at once it was a possibility. She says things became a blur, a response to being violated that she'd learned in high school when an adult neighbor held her down and raped her. Now, in that hotel lobby in Iowa, she heard the man say the words "Nazi Germany" and she heard him say, "I just want you to know why I'm doing this." She knew whatever this was, it wouldn't be good, but she stood there, frozen in that helpless stupor that had overtaken her as a young teen.

It was only the sight of her students some feet away that rocked her back to the moment, that made her think that whatever this man intended, she didn't want her students to witness it, and so she jumped away from him, moved to the other side of the table at the same moment that her friend, who was almost surely white, stepped between her and the man. Now everyone's attention was on the man, who turned and ran out of the hotel, got into a waiting car, and drove off.

What the holy fuck.

That man was basically saying that as a black woman, she had no right to be there, in his part of the country, doing her job.

Some people tweeted that Melissa Harris Perry is just being dramatic, that this was no attack. Those people are tripping. I don't have a hair of doubt that she knew the true nature of what was going down. But why on earth should this hardworking journalist not be as free as her white peers to go where the news is happening and report on it? Why should she be more in jeopardy simply because her skin is a darker hue?

I blame Trump. I blame Cruz. I blame the hate speech of every right wing Tea Party or GOP candidate who's been out there, encouraging bigots to victimize and do violence to others based on nothing more than their difference from them.

Someone told me this morning that Clinton was just a Trump or a Cruz in disguise. Well, even if she is, at least she's not out there telling people it's okay to give in to their basest instincts. She's not out there stirring up the forces of hate. There are no perfect candidates in this presidential race, but some are intensely more dangerous than others.

Melissa Harris Perry wrote about the incident here.

Wednesday, February 3, 2016

Dr. Ellamae Simmons at 97

"I am almost one hundred years old now. With the passage of years I have developed a hard-won peace and a deep sense of gratitude for the great gifts that have been bestowed on me in this life. I now want nothing more than to share the bounty of my experiences as evidence that no matter how bleak the moment we are living through, we can overcome. We will overcome. But we may need the help of another person who believes in our vision as strongly as we do. I have come to appreciate that in medicine and in life, our greatest human need is for the hand that reaches out to touch another; the hand that closes around another’s and pulls that person forward in a supportive embrace." 


Stay tuned for the publication of her memoir 
Overcome: My Life in Pursuit of a Dream

Sunday, January 31, 2016

Business Casual

I'm not feeling much like writing here lately, perhaps because I'm doing so much word work away from here, but I also don't want to abandon this space, where so much of the recent history of my family has been recorded, along with so many wise and sustaining comments from all of you. I'm thinking I'll do what our dear friend Yolie did one summer, just post pictures for a while, maybe with a caption, maybe with a quote, maybe with a thought, or maybe with nothing. My daughter texted me the photo here yesterday. She's back at school in the snowy north, and she and her friends, both also seniors, are at a women's empowerment retreat in Syracuse this weekend. The dress code was business casual. She texted that she made her friends pose with her before they left their shared hotel room for the morning workshops. She wrote, "I told them it's for my mama." Love those young women. Don't they look ready to take on the world?

Thursday, January 28, 2016


I think this is a gorgeous picture of my babies. I love those radiant faces and the way the photo captures their sibling-cousin togetherness.


I've been watching the Amazon Prime series, Transparent, about a Jewish American family in California whose secretly trans father finally decides to live her truth openly, transforming from Poppa to Moppa, as her three grown children now call her. The acting is amazing; easy to see why season one swept armfuls of awards at the Emmys.

Anyway, toward the end of season two, a character says, "I'm NATO—not attached to outcome."

Well, that struck a chord with me, the control freak who can't help herself as she tries to engineer all outcomes. I've been thinking about it a lot, the idea if being NATO. And I wonder, does being not attached to outcome require the belief that if we just keep doing what's ours to do, things will turn out okay? If only I could release worry and be truly NATO.

I'm working on it.

Wednesday, January 27, 2016

Feeling Quiet

The Nor'easter Jonas dumped 27 inches of snow on the city last weekend, and it was quite beautiful to watch from the comfort of our apartment. It snowed continuously from Friday night until Sunday morning. My daughter and I did venture out at 2 a.m., without coats, just to experience the first snow of the season.

On Monday our girl left to return to school for her last semester of college. I keep writing those words as if that will help me grasp them. I still can't wrap my head around the dizzying speed with which her college years have gone.

Meanwhile yesterday my son tried sprinting on his rehabilitating knee, but it bit back, not yet, no, no.  Nevertheless, he is almost healed. By May he should be fully back to where he was before tearing his ACL while playing soccer—on concrete. He's in a new job at his company, with more responsibility, in fact he's now doing two jobs combined into one. As my dad always used to say, the reward for good work is more work.

I'm immersed in page proofs for Dr. Simmons' book, trying to work as fast as I can to make sure the book will be ready by her 98th birthday at the end of March. Maybe we'll have a big book party.

I'm feeling quiet these days, just doing my work, doing a lot of thinking, trying to be mindful in all my relationships, to treat them with loving care. But I'm still reading you all. I'm still right here.

That's how it looked as I cabbed it to choir rehearsal on Monday night. Two days later, the snow is turning to murky gray lakes on street corners.

Sunday, January 24, 2016

Today would have been her birthday

Your first birthday on the other side. I like to think you and Daddy are kicking your heels up together.  I didn't put this up on the day itself, because I missed you too much, even though I had the presence of mind to be grateful you were no longer in pain. But now, it seems like such a gap in the record, and so, belatedly, I'm posting this to mark the day your cherished being was born in this world. In another month, I will mark the day you left us, and were born to the next world. I imagine you happy and at peace there. 

Thursday, January 21, 2016

Home life

Our girl will be heading  back to school in a few days for her final semester of college. The snowstorm Jonas, arriving this weekend, will likely delay her departure for a day or so, but I'm not complaining. We've been binge watching Jane the Virgin till the wee hours of the morning and engaging in roaming conversations about any and everything. Having her home has been lovely. Hard to believe she'll be back in the city full time just a few short months from now.

Our son is still here with us, our third roomie, my sweet boy, though he's making plans to move into his own place come summer. He and his dad were brewing beer in our kitchen last evening. His dad gave him the home brewing set-up for Christmas. Our son read the instructions and said, "Pops, this is a two-person job." His dad said, "Well, son, I was counting on that."

Meanwhile, my girl and I are happily working on and off on a puzzle that she gave me as a  Christmas gift. She had it custom made from one of my favorite family portraits. I didn't even know you could do that. So cool!

Tuesday, January 19, 2016

Opening gambit

The story seems to begin with catastrophe but in fact began earlier and is not a tragedy but rather a love story. Perhaps tragedies are only tragedies in the presence of love, which confers meaning to loss. Loss in not felt in the absence of love. "The queen died and then the king died" is a plot, wrote E.M. Forster in The Art of the Novel, but "The queen died and then the king died in grief" is a story.

This lovely passage opens The Light of the World: A Memoir by Elizabeth Alexander.

The book is simply gorgeous.


I'm having one of those days when I wonder if I should be doing something completely different with my life. People don't really want to pay what deep developmental editing costs; some of them simply can't unless they already have a book deal, so although I get nibbles all the time from people who want to hire me, when we get to the point of talking money, it's often "Oh, that's more than I was thinking." I had such an exchange today. The agent seemed to think my estimate was reasonable, but the writer, who is on round three of revising a potentially wonderful book that her agent believes in but hasn't been able to sell, thought it was out of reach. For every ten money conversations I have, it seems only one or two results in us moving forward and doing work together.

It's disheartening.

It's life.

It's up to me how I look at it, though.

My cousin Helen, who is a spiritual success coach (and I say that with absolutely no irony), told me that when I start thinking, I know I'm worth this and the people who won't flinch at paying me what I'm worth are out there, looking for me, then people will step up to the plate. Until then, she says, they'll read my energy, the belief circling in the air around me that says, I know you won't pay me this, because, you know, in your shoes, I might not want to pay that either. Helen insists it's not a matter of what people can afford, but a matter of what they choose to invest in. I know very clearly that I'm good at what I do. That's not conceit talking, just experience and a love of the work. But I don't seem to trust people to know what it takes to do what I do, and why it costs what it does. Yet, I have to make a living. I need to be realistic about that. Helen says I have a scarcity mindset, and I need to adopt an abundance mindset. But maybe I have a little touch of it, because so far, we've done okay. I mean, we just paid my daughter's last college tuition bill. We did that, for her and our boy. We saw that through. And here's the crazy magical thing: I never for one moment doubted that we would.


My anxiety, though, is not about being okay today. It's about whether I will still be okay six months from now. Today, I want to run away, not deal.


Okay, back to work, because at this moment, I still have work, quite a bit of it, in fact. But there's nothing sure in the pipeline for when these two projects are done, even though there are a few more money conversations waiting to be had. I kind of wish someone would call me up and say, I'd like to hire you and I'll pay you X, and then I'd say, Done, because X was more than fair.

It's happened before.

Okay, universe, more of that please.

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