Saturday, July 29, 2023

Morning at my window

 Thank you, friends. So many of you get it. 
I wish you didn't, yet it's a comfort that you do. 

Friday, July 28, 2023


I'm in a dark place this evening. Slammed into a negative thought loop, spiraling down, unable to interrupt the things my brain is telling me about myself, unable to breathe a full breath, unable to climb out of the hole, to find my way back to the sun. It was such a small thing that sent me spinning, such a tiny thing, a moment, yet it cut me to the quick, rocked me back on my heels, and now I'm spinning, spiraling, trying to write my way out of the murkiness, trying to grasp that all of it is just story anyway, hell none of this might even be real, all the same anyone who says you can choose your thoughts is propagating a damn lie, because why on earth would I choose this this this.


Thursday, July 27, 2023

Nothing compared


Sinéad O'Connor


Life was hard for her this time around, but she was bold, unapologetic, heart on her sleeve, a fighter to the end. She offered up her gifts to help leaven the pain, hers and ours. She made her time count.


Monday, July 24, 2023

The crew

Arsenal played Man City in an exhibition game at the Meadowlands this weekend, and of course, my family full of Arsenal fans was in the stands, all of them decked out in Arsenal gear. If you doubt their passion, peep the matching Arsenal cannon tattoos sported by my son and one of his best buds. I didn't go. I loved imagining my loves together at a stateside premier league soccer game, enjoying themselves, but for me, the trains, the stairs, the heat, the crowds, it sounded a bit like one of the circles of hell. Mitigated by the fact that I would have been with beloveds, of course. Still, I was very happy to have a peaceful day at home writing. I took a break to sit in the gardens for an hour with my friend Jane, who is struggling with vertigo right now. It's hanging on way long. We commiserated on body betrayals before moving on to more cheerful things. Then I went back home and finished the hardest chapter of the book so far. 

My kids and their loves sent me lots of photos, knowing it was my absolute preferred way to take in that game. My husband forgot his phone at home, and got separated from the kids twice among the 80,000 people in attendance. The first time was at the train station. Fortuitously, he ran into our nephew Matthew, who had traveled down from Toronto with friends to see the game. It was so random, he had no idea Matthew would be there. Luckily Matt has our son's number in his contacts, because my husband doesn't know it by heart, he only uses speed dial. I later observed (very unhelpfully) that this is why I never use speed dial, so I'll remember everyone's number in a pinch. 

The second time my beloved got separated was in the concession area soon after the group arrived at the stadium. My man bought himself and our daughter yet another Arsenal jersey each, then looked up and realized he could see no one he knew. They hadn't gone to their seats yet, so he had no idea where to go, as my son had all the tickets. My son finally found him, and scolded him, "Pops, you can't keep wandering off! Remember, you don't have your phone." The man and I were in stitches when he recounted this story to me later. Oh, how the wheel has turned. 

They all had a wonderful time. I did, too. I snapped the picture of our garden's back yard as I was walking home from where Jane and I had sat in the courtyard in front of her building. Everything is in full flower and a little bit wild. And now it's the end of July already, and the orange one may well be indicted for his insurrection activities this week. As a woman I know likes say, "It's a good day to have a good day." May that be true for us all.

Monday, July 17, 2023

"Breakfast is the canvas on which you paint your day" —Unknown

Virtuous breakfast

 Not so virtuous breakfast


I'm just spitballing here, because the truth is, I have no time to post thoughtfully right now, yet if I stay away I miss you all, and want to get back in community. Life gets busy sometimes, and I'm grateful for it. Less time to brood on my own dark thoughts when I just have to get cracking doing. In this reality, however, breakfast can be a crap shoot. I'd love any ideas you might have for quick, labor light, nutritious canvas on which to paint my day.

Sunday, July 16, 2023

Octavia Butler's Parable of the Sower, an Opera

"What you touch, you change. What you change, changes you." 

Those lyrics are Octavia Butler’s, the opening lines to her prescient master work Parable of the Sower, from which Toshi Reagon has adapted an extraordinary opera, written and composed with her mother Bernice Johnson Reagon.
My friend Maryam Dilakian, a gifted Armenian-American writer whose work I can't wait for you all to read, invited me to see the show with her on the final evening of its New York premiere. I'm so grateful to have been in that sold-out auditorium at Lincoln Center last night, experiencing the opera’s shattering beauty and power to transform. 

As Maryam put it, “Toshi shifts culture. Toshi takes us down South, then throws us forward into the future. Toshi is the future. Her voice, like her mama's voice, is the sound of America's longing. Her message is clear and unwavering. Her humanity is the definition of hypersensitivity and compassion. Toshi is a cultural icon.” 

Last evening, Octavia Butler’s call to revolution was fire on that stage. I felt as if my head was exploding. My heart too. 


Saturday, July 15, 2023

While gazing out at my front yard on Saturday morning

"The best thing for being sad," replied Merlin, beginning to puff and blow, "is to learn something. That's the only thing that never fails. You may grow old and trembling in your anatomies, you may lie awake at night listening to the disorder of your veins, you may miss your only love, you may see the world about you devastated by evil lunatics, or know your honour trampled in the sewers of baser minds. There is only one thing for it then — to learn. Learn why the world wags and what wags it. That is the only thing which the mind can never exhaust, never alienate, never be tortured by, never fear or distrust, and never dream of regretting. Learning is the only thing for you. Look what a lot of things there are to learn.“ —T.H. White, The Book of Merlin


Wednesday, July 12, 2023

Pressing on

We had another book team check-in this morning. Zoom meetings are now completely normalized and even seemingly preferred. No one considers assembling in person anymore, and we are the poorer for it, I think. Don't get me wrong. I still appreciate rolling out of bed and getting decent from the waist up in order to meet. And I continue to be in love with every single person who is a part of this team. Book writing is hard, especially in the first rounds, but I don't think I've ever enjoyed a collaborative experience more, or felt quite as purposeful. May we all go from strength to strength on this project, and in every other corner of our lives. This is a prayer.

There's a lot going on, including my cousin who lives in Boston staying with us for the past week. She is the primary caregiver for her 96-year-old dad, my uncle Quintin, the very last of our parents' generation. When I started writing here fifteen years ago this summer, all but two of my mom's nine siblings were still alive, and all their spouses, too. Now they are all gone, but Uncle Quintin speaks with them regularly in the course of his days. He hallucinates, a feature of the particular kind of dementia with which he has been diagnosed, and my cousin just rolls with it, whatever he's seeing, wherever he happens to be in his mind, whoever is visiting from the other realm that afternoon.

My uncle is a lucky one, the second of his three daughters lovingly caring from him as bit by bit, he prepares to take his leave. "Why am I still here?" he sometimes asks her. She tells him he is allowing her to be of service to him, and that is reason enough. But she desperately needed a break, so her sister flew from San Francisco to relieve her for the week, and she came to stay here. She knew I had to work, but all she really wanted was a place to be where there was no one to take care of but herself. She goes for walks, visits with friends from her college years who live in the city, and some days she doesn't get out of her pajamas. It turns out her energy is easy, I can focus completely on the writing while she is across the dining table from me, meditatively working on a jigsaw puzzle. 

Once I grasped what her days and nights have been like, I just wanted to pamper her, help her unplug and get restored. We've be watching Younger together (rewatching for me), which a lovely, cotton candy rom com series in which a divorced mom named Liza Miller pretends to be 26 to get a job in publishing. There is the young hot tattoo artist in love with her, and the older hot publisher who's aghast that he's falling for a 26 year old assistant, and wonderful and hilarious characters around the central love triangle, including Debi Mazar as Liza's lesbian best friend who she moves in with in Brooklyn after her marriage crumbles, and who has the bright idea for Liza to just pretend she's younger when she can't get a job as a 40 year old. 

The binge watch experience with my cousin has been delightful, with lots of belly laughs. And because I have already seen the series (a few times in you want to know the truth), I can even keep working while it runs in the background.

I thought I might try to catch up here on everything that's happened in the past couple of weeks, but I wont, after all. It's too much. I'll just move forward from here.

Tuesday, July 11, 2023