Thursday, October 30, 2008


I will most likely be having dinner out with my mom on election night.  There's a pretty good chance the parking lot of wherever we end up will have quite a few McCain bumper stickers--and some confederate flags, too.  I've already got indigestion thinking about it.  If I go to the links below every hour between now and then, maybe that will help.

Wednesday, October 29, 2008

Beneath the Water

I finished the revision on my memoir tonight.  I've worked on it about 3 hours a day all month and I actually started the revision process last spring when I was here.  I've dropped the ball completely several times since Mr. Ex left me in July of '07, but I kept picking it up whenever I could.  The book got several rejections when my agent sent it out at the beginning of '07 and I realize now, it was not ready.  I have to figure out how to get it out there again.  Here's the beginning. 
             I come from black dirt.
             I come from tee totaling Presbyterians, fallen Catholics, and a small town where nothing is taller than the church steeples. 
I come from the river and all the muck that lies at the bottom of it.  I come from snow-white cranes on water and the hidden places in the woods that shelter a mushroom so delectable it melts your taste buds like a hot skillet melts butter.  I come from red-winged blackbirds, and the shock of a flash of scarlet as they flutter up from a ditch beside the road.  I come from fields and bare feet watching out for thistles and cow shit.  I come from people who mind their own business and yours, from whispers, party lines and pointing fingers. 
I come from weather; hail of all sizes, lightning bolts big enough to rip the sky wide open, tornadoes that will turn your town into a pile of sticks, and summer heat that just might last forever.  I come from the relief of a sigh made visible by the cold on a morning when a blizzard blots out the road and school is cancelled. I come from rain that entire counties pray for day and night.  I come from corn, and more corn--fields you can hide in where the shiny leaves are sharp enough to slash your arms; corn on the cob on a butter-soaked paper plate at a barbeque; corn in the feed trough stuck to the shiny wet-black nose of a steer that’s next summer’s steak.
I come from pitchers of peonies on old oak tables, and a girlhood of hats and gloves.  I come from children should be seen and not heard, and don’t do as I do, do as I say.  I come from mind your manners, and you know that girl was asking for it.  I come from the deer at the side of the road that bolts when your headlights blind him, and the next thing you know his antlers are embedded in your grill, and the rosary hanging from your rearview mirror won’t stop swaying.
 I come from ice-slick bridges, backseats, and beer.  I come from gravel roads, and highways coal-colored even under the full moon.  I come from red barns and hay and sweat that equals money.  I come from mom and pop businesses on a narrow-minded main street where you can see the church steps from the door of every tavern.   I come from the specter of hell and the promise of eternal salvation.  I come from litanies of saints and hog prices.
 I come from the place where a mistake can follow you as close as your shadow and be forever spoken of in the same breath as your name.
The prose style in rest of the book is not quite this lyrical.  It tells, in a fairly linear fashion, the story of giving up my son for adoption (when he was a newborn and I was 17) and of our reconnection when he was 21. 

Two Left Feet Dancing to the Beat

When I was married, we hosted a big Thanksgiving party every year. China, crystal, champagne, the delicious things that my friends made and brought to the table. Our feast occurred for two decades and I never imagined that changing.
When I was a little kid we had a tradition, too. The day was spent at my grandparent's or at my Aunt Mary's and I never really expected that ritual to change either.
But I never made it to the adult's table before my grandparents and my aunt died, and the house in which I thought I'd be serving up turkey and dressing for at least another decade isn't mine anymore. I think I'm figuring this part of life out-- things change.  
This year as I make my Thanksgiving plans, I'm discovering, that already, they're going to be different from the "new tradition" that began last year. I like rhythm and ritual, but I'm starting to see that this new unpredictability is my rhythm.  I'm a little awkward, but I think I'm feeling it. I'm dancing to the beat.

Tuesday, October 28, 2008

Why Not A Chicken?

I won at Scrabble--went out with a 95 point play that included the 7-letter word "viaduct."
And speaking of ducks, the last two walks in the woods have yielded a nice view of Mallards and a large flock of Canadian Geese.

Almost Gone

After today, only four more days here.  I'm tired of hunting for moose.  Tired of deciding if the glass is half empty or half full.  Forget the glass.  Let's just drink out of the bottle and marvel at the wine slipping through its shiny narrow neck.

Sunday, October 26, 2008

The Herd

Most of the people I've gotten to know left today.  I still have a week to go and will need to find new dinner conversation.  Start from scratch. Maybe I'll ring the blade of my knife against my wine glass and ask if there are any men, amongst the new arrivals, with a moose tattoo.

Saturday, October 25, 2008


I learned last night from my friends Toni and Elizabeth that it's been very hot in L.A.  Toni emailed me that she was sitting on her patio (where I've sat quite a few times myself) "listening to classical music with an overlay of chirping crickets."  Bang. Homesickness.  Then I realized I was homesick for my old house, which my daughters and I refer to nowadays simply by its number--"270."  For a fraction of a second, I forgot about my new place and was sitting in the candlelight at 270--a place I haven't seen for almost a year and will most likely never see again. But then I started missing lunches with Toni, and the fabulous meals we've had in the dark on her deck and I wished I could be in Elizabeth's living room with my fellow memoir writers reading from our pages. I only have a week left here in Virginia where it's raining and by tomorrow most of the fall color will be a brown mush on the ground and I know now that whether it's balmy or baking when I get back to L.A.,  it's the climate of friendship that's pulling me home.

Thursday, October 23, 2008

Some Gravity Is More Equal

While I could riff on the wild turkeys I saw in the woods, or the amazing political photojournalist who's been eating dinner with us, or another date (yeah, I know) who has probably run screaming into the blogosphere, what I really want is for anyone who has stumbled here to go to the link below. I am interested in the unpredictable life right now. Here is the literal embodiment of the metaphor at sea.

Wednesday, October 22, 2008


I set my keys on the table next to my plate tonight at dinner. Two people said, "Hey, you have an Indian on your key chain." How did I not notice that?

Desperately Seeking Moose

Okay, I know this is weird, but bear with me.  I just woke up from a nap and I dreamt of a guy and well, I liked him a lot and he had this tattoo. That's it in the picture.  I can't draw, but maybe you get the idea. Pine forest. Big ole moon (that's the thumbtack.) And a moose. Does anyone know this guy?  He's really nice. Smart. Sweet. Fun.  And a good kisser. Oh--The tattoo was on his chest and abdomen. Big. From about below the nipple line all the way to the belt line.  Call me......


This is the pond in the woods and it's lovely. When I stand there I see possibilities. A deer may appear for a drink. Mallards could paddle by. That large long-legged bird I haven't yet identified might clatter up out of the cattails and fly right over my head. There's a sturdy bench under the trees and if I have the patience to sit there (which I almost never do) maybe more than one amazing sight will present itself.  I keep wondering about that bench. It's a ways in from the trailhead and it's made of metal and wood.  Who carried it in there?

Monday, October 20, 2008


I'm trying to get that stupid quote about death and taxes out of my mind because I really don't want to go there.
While most reasonable people had their tax angst back in April, I had mine yesterday because Mr. Ex a.k.a. The Procrastinator always files for an extension and October 15th was the deadline. Which we missed. WE, because he also procrastinated for months (and probably years) about dumping me. If he'd walked out 6 weeks earlier, I wouldn't have had to file jointly with him for '07. Ah well, as Lucinda Williams sings, If wishes were horses, I'd have a ranch. I realize that in the grand scheme of things, this is a dust mote, but still I couldn't sleep last night. Every time I put my head on my pillow, I heard the lyrics to that Beatles song (no, I wasn't wearing my IPod.) All I could think was, yeah I'd like to tax your seat. I'm just looking forward to the day when the only communication I have to have with Mr. Ex goes something like this: Wasn't that a lovely graduation? Wasn't that a lovely wedding? Wasn't that a lovely christening? (That would be for one of our not-yet-conceived grandchildren, NOT one of his conceived-any-day-now new kids.) I listened to Lucinda's new album a half-dozen times last night and now today I can't get those lyrics out of my head.
Don't know why I said those things
I didn't mean 'em
Wish you were bringin' your love back to me
instead of leavin'
But if wishes were horses, I'd have a ranch
Come on and give me one more chance


Sunday, October 19, 2008

Strategically Placed

A lot of post-it notes have come down off the wall above my desk. Little ideas have become paragraphs or pages, and in some cases, are in the wastebasket where they belong. I have a decent draft of a short story, I think, and it has nothing to do with divorce or marriage which proves something good is happening here. I'm getting closer to sending Beneath the Water back to my agent--pretty sure that'll happen Monday afternoon. I have a whole new beginning to the 2nd memoir which is about you-know-what, but it's going swell just the same.  I did a critical essay on a Tobias Wolf story I adored and tonight, I'm just going to jumble up my damn novel like my MFA mentor has asked me to. I'm two weeks into this residency and I haven't felt this good in ages (about writing, anyway--but yeah, about most other things, too.) I have concluded that my brain does not work in L.A.  Too much history, too many Freeway exits where I think, hmm that's how you get to... and we used to always... and I remember when we.... the whole place looks like him and the scent of jasmine or rosemary smells like the night air coming into every bedroom we ever slept in.  You know what it smells like here?  Leaves. Frost. Stars. And absolutely nothing.

Saturday, October 18, 2008

Stacked Stones

When I walk in the woods, I pass by a rocky outcropping that looks like a low wall. Some of the stones are embedded in the earth and others are lying loose next to the trail.  I started stacking the stones into a cairn on the day I took my first walk--one per day. Then  a few days into my stay,  I discovered half of the tower had fallen over and I began rebuilding, once again at a stone per day. A couple of days ago, I noticed someone had started his or her own cairn.
This morning, I had a discussion with a fellow writer about structure and order.  She had a flashback in a piece that was so long it distracted from the present moment of the story. I had a story that I'd recently revised and in the course of the revision, I told her, I'd used almost every sentence as it had originally been written, but the order of the sentences was now so rearranged that it was as if I'd put them all in a bag and shook it. I didn't even know it was possible for that to happen, I told her.
That's how things seem for me right now--out of order, knocked down and stacked back up in some new precarious way and maybe someone else is doing a bit of the stacking.  I'm "boy crazy" at a time in my life when I should be savoring everything  I've built. A time when I imagined love would be indistinguishable from commitment. A time when  passion and comfort would have the same heft.
Instead, I'm estranged from a huge chunk of my own history, walking in the woods and wondering who the hell moved the trail.

Friday, October 17, 2008


I sweartogod I unsubscribed but there it was. His picture in my in-box saying he'd winked at me and he was gorgeous--45 and gorgeous. So I clicked.
I'd been thinking about devotion this morning. What a beautiful word it is.  How it sounds like doves, or votive or lotion, and how I wanted devotion to a partner, to a relationship, how maybe this time there would be more cooing, more peace, olive branches every night for dinner. And there it was.  The word.  Devotion. "I will add a new meaning in the dictionary to the word "devotion," he says in his profile.  
Then I scroll down. Eyes: Brown; Hair: Brown; strategically placed tattoo..........................................Politics: ultraconservative.  

Over My Head

I swam for a while today and outside it's raining.  Under water inside a building in the rain. Which is how my brain feels and my heart, too.  All the other writers here seem to have books on the shelves while I'm thinking it's me on the shelf instead of a book I wrote. We've gone from overripe insect humming summer here to a dirty white sky and a crow outside my window who must have eaten all the other birds who really know how to sing.
But it's quiet under the water in the second before you come up and hear your own breath and the splash of other swimmers.  And the rhythm of it all is soothing.  Strokeandbreathe, stroke. Stroke andbreathe.  Stroke.
Except I don't think it's quiet that I want.  I'd rather have the wail of some guitar, some serious crack of lightning instead of plink and drizzle. I want the clinking of wine glasses, banging of drums, pans in the kitchen, cooking with a lover, chanting or ranting.
Most of my damn post-its are still on my wall, I haven't yet sent my memoir back to my agent, the submissions I have out are like some cellphone call in a tunnel.
A friend said it's a myth that lighting doesn't strike twice in the same place and I said I'd stand out in a storm in an underwire bra.  I'd buy some serious lingerie rightnowtoday but there's only CVS and  Food Lion.

Thursday, October 16, 2008

Got Hope

I voted today!  Before I left California, I ordered an absentee ballot but I had no faith it would actually arrive.  I figured the days would inch by getting closer and closer to the election while my mailbox sat empty and then a  few days before the election, I'd have to call L.A. County Registrar and start over. The reason for my glum attitude was that I changed my registration address and requested the absentee ballot (which had to be sent to where I'm staying in Virginia) on the internet in pretty much one transaction. I thought the situation was far too complicated. But it worked.
Before the next election, I will have to change my name and that will be a process that involves several steps.  I'll be starting on that when I get back home. But meanwhile I've been living kind of a double life. It makes buying things on line very interesting. I send the stuff to the new me at my new address,  but the old me who has the charge card with the old billing address (where Mr. Ex still lives and pays the bills) does the buying.  But as of yesterday, that's changing too, since I finally got some spousal support and will now have my very own charge cards!

Wednesday, October 15, 2008

From the Coop

I had a really good laugh today when Spell Check tried to correct chickenshit. It suggested that I'd meant chickens hit.
In the past, Spell Check used to disapprove of waitress as a verb. It's okay now though. Maybe since the economic downturn, it's had to go out and get itself a real job.

Tuesday, October 14, 2008

Where I'm At

My sister-in-law asked me the other day where I was exactly. She was worried that I was on my own in a high crime area. I love how my family is concerned about me. I've been to my brother's house several times since my marriage ended and always feel the embrace of family there. I used to joke that I could be missing for days before my husband would wonder where I'd gone. My body would be stone cold, I'd say, before he reported me missing. I've traveled more than 60,000 miles this past year and my sister-in-law always seems to know where I'm headed. For now, I'm here under the blue skies of Virginia in my remodeled chicken coop next to this historic barn that contains studios for other writers, composers and visual artists.  In a few weeks, I'll go visit my mom and then head back to L.A.  But I won't be there for long.


Every morning in the woods, the paths are strung afresh with spider webs.  They brush my nose and cheeks, and in the sunlight you can see the shiny floss connecting trunk to branch, leaf to stem.  A visible example of connections unseen.
Like the woman in the airport.  As I was wheeling my book laden bags to the check-in counter the man behind me asked if I was carrying gold bricks.  
"Kind of," I said.  "They're the books I'll need for this trip."
"Are you an author going on a book tour?" he asked. (I should have asked him to keep holding on to that thought.)
"No," I said.  "I'm a writer though and I'm going to a writer's residency and this is the reading that will inspire my own writing."
His wife took over then.  She'd been taking writing classes herself. She'd been to the Santa Barbara Writers' Conference. What did I write? she wanted to know.
"Memoir," I said.
"That's what I've been learning to write," she said.
I gave her the one-line summary of the book I'd be working on--the story of giving up my son for adoption when I was 17 and reconnecting with him when he was 21.  She nodded and as we went to our separate kiosks, she and her husband wished me good luck.  
Several minutes later as I was dragging my bags to the scanner, she rushed up to me.  "I just wanted to tell you that I gave up a baby, too," she said.

Monday, October 13, 2008

Oracles and Ouzo

Three weeks ago, I was in Greece.  At this very moment, I was on a bus heading back to Athens after a day at Delphi. That was the day I decided I'd talk to strangers, the day I decided internet dating sites were infinitely less interesting than real places with real people.
I've thought a lot about the relationships in my life since then and about what I wish I had done differently in my marriage (this is different from thinking about what I wish he had done.)  I have a lot more thinking to do, but what I really want is to be able to do is express what I am really thinking and feeling, and listen to what the other person is saying and appreciate how they are feeling. 
The protagonist in the  novel I'm writing is such a victim that she's begun to irritate me.  It's up to me to edit that out of her so she can take her journey and transform.   
The same sort of transformation should happen in a good memoir. There's got to be transformation--at least for that one segment of life that the writer is writing about.  
All of this is why I will be spending my day inside my studio.  
Of course, I'm hoping for transformation in real life, too.
Tonight, if I can find a liquor store, I'm going to buy a nice bottle of Greek ouzo and share it with the friends I've made here--and some of the people I haven't gotten to know yet, i.e. strangers.

Sunday, October 12, 2008

Drinking Alone Under the Moon

I'm going to go outside after I finish this post and have a glass of wine while I think of my friends and family. Iowa, Minnesota, Hawaii, Arizona, Nebraska, Montana, California, Maryland, Oregon, Washington, New York, New Jersey, North Carolina, Illinois, Virginia, Colorado, Michigan...
There are a couple of you who've shared Vouvray at this very table.

Another Fall

As I worked all morning on editing my memoir, I came across this passage:
Now, a year and a half since I’d met him at the audition, the soft-rough combo of his flannel shirts and the denim of his jeans were irresistible.  He smelled like everything good in Minnesota that fall--leaves, crystal air with the promise of snow, black earth, and apples.  I was still in my body cast and couldn’t drive.  I needed someone with a car to help me gather set pieces for a production of The Matchmaker.  We were looking for a turn of the century barber chair, an ornate hall tree, tables and bentwood chairs.
Eric and I spent afternoons burnished by pumpkin-colored sunsets driving through the flat Minnesota countryside to antique stores.  Birch trees flashed by the car windows; white-hot warning signals telling us that love was coming while I tried to keep my mind on furniture.  His Dodge was old and smelled like all cars that have been through a decade of winters--the rubbery stink of slushy boots, the burn of the heater coated with the dust of summer dying to the odorless scent of a hard freeze.  The air was brisk and dry.  You could give yourself an electric shock touching the metal door handle.  But that was nothing compared to the current of desire.  I imagined sparks--hot orange, red and yellow pulled from the palate of trees lining the road.  My idea of setting things right by marrying the father of my baby was getting harder to hold on to.  Setting things right would have to happen some other way. 
Editing one's life can be tempting, but I left the passage in the book because it's part of the story.  That's how it happened.


Did I really post 3 times in 1 day?  There wasn't any alcohol involved--just blogohol.

Saturday, October 11, 2008

A Marriage Made of Teflon

One more internet dating prospect has evaporated back into the ether of cyberspace. No dinner.  No coffee date.  I have too much baggage, he says. Thirty-two years worth of baggage is pretty hard to stow in an overhead bin the size of calendar year.  Yeah, I've got baggage and it's expensive to travel with it.
But I think people who say they can pick up and go with their toothbrushes and the clothes on their backs are kidding themselves.  Where's this guy been all these years?  
I'm not sure I'd want a life (or a man) made of Teflon, but then again--this stuff is getting heavy. I'm now visualizing abandoned comes the bomb squad to blow them up.

The Things I Carry

I found a lock of my hair wrapped in a 55-year-old piece of stationary the last time I was at my mom's. I save things, too & some of them I carry in my wallet.  I like these odd mementos better than photographs.

Friday, October 10, 2008


This is my chicken coop where I spend most of the time between 9 a.m. and 10 p.m. writing and reading. I'm going to sleep here tonight because there's a skylight over the bed.  It's a bit of a trek to the facilities, but that's okay.
I have a bedroom in the residence hall, but I'm feeling especially creative tonight and I don't want to disturb anyone who's trying to sleep. Some nights I am just plain restless and have been especially so since I came back from Greece.  I guess it really doesn't matter what time zone I am in.  When you have a space all to yourself, you can rise with the moon and go to bed with the sun. 
Oh, Apollo.


I've seen deer in the woods every morning since I arrived. This morning it was just the white flash of their tails though the trees. Yesterday I startled two of them near a clearing and got to see them bounding through the tall grass as they headed for cover on the other side of a pond.  The best sighting was a group of five who ran across the trail a few yards in front of me, but then stood as still as tree trunks, watching me watch them.
Unfortunately they are less willing photography subjects than the neighbor's cow.

Thursday, October 9, 2008

Lovely, Dark and Deep

I think of Robert Frost's poem differently now than I did when I was younger. Maybe that's a sign of a really good poem.
These are the woods that I walked in this morning, on the way to which I met the snarling dog featured in the previous post.  
It's easy to get lost in the woods.  The sensuous darkness can pull you in so deep that you could forget every promise you ever made and just keep on walking.
I used to read the lines, And miles to go before I sleep, as a lot of work to be done before the end of the day, or a lot of years left in a life that was a long uphill trudge.  I read something different now, and maybe it's nowhere close to what the poet intended, but now miles sounds to me like just a few miles.  Not far at all--a distance that should be savored in this life that's so lovely dark and deep.

Sit! Stay!

I met a dog that looked a lot like this on my walk this morning.  There are no leash laws here in Amherst County and we are advised to carry a walking stick when we leave the grounds.  I brandished my stick, but Cujo crossed the road anyway.  "Just one minute," I told him, standing my ground.  "You go home. GO HOME!"
I was remembering something a friend of mine had done a few years back.  She was my younger daughter's basketball coach in middle school and one afternoon my daughter and her teammates were pursued by a dog as we walked back to the car after a game.  The dog was pretty small, but I was really afraid it would bite us. "You come here," my friend said to the dog and the dog came right up and sat down on the sidewalk in front of her. "Listen to me," she said.  "That's enough of that.  Now go home." The dog turned and left.
I find that I'm a lot less likely to spring into the panic mode than I used to be.  I think it helps to conjure up these scenes involving the calmer people in my life--like my friend, Doris.   It worked well in this case.  The dog barked a few more times and as I kept walking, it crossed to my side of the road, but it didn't follow me.

There'll Always Be Another You

Good-bye, Mr. Pill.
This is it for us.  I'm finished. Through. This past while, I haven't felt great when I was with you anyway.  I felt numb and dull and while, not depressed exactly, I wasn't happy either.  I'm fine with being sad now and then, even though it probably annoys you, but at least the ecstatic seems accessible again.  The divine, the too-good-to-be true-but-might-actually-be-true is possible. Maybe even probable.  And all of that will happen without you.

Wednesday, October 8, 2008

Over Easy

One of the composers in residence here played for us tonight.  For the past five weeks, he's been composing a sonata and what we heard this evening was staggeringly good.  As I walked back to my studio afterwards, I told myself that I'd be thrilled to accomplish a fraction of what he's done, but maybe that's the wrong attitude.  I'm still working on the same two books that I've been writing for the past three or four years.  My agent's been waiting for the revision of my memoir for months. Maybe what I need to do is work harder instead of telling myself that I'll be content with just a little bit of progress.  Of course, I've been learning to write as I go along. Probably the composer has been playing the piano like a genius for years--or at least a while before he started composing.
Anyway, here's a picture of my desk in my little studio that was once a chicken coop.  Maybe I should think of writing as laying an egg. Nevermind.

Monday, October 6, 2008


Tonight at dinner I found out that one of the poets in residence here was  an art model at the University of Knoxville during the couple of months that I was modeling  there in 1974.  She also sold blood plasma at a storefront collection center, as I did, and had a similar experience that left her on a gurney most of the day while they tried to get the "leftover" blood back into her veins. Friendships often start on these pieces of common ground and this small wedge of the past seems like a bridge to something more. We plan to do a reading together sometime later this week and I'm very excited to hear what she's working on. She's been a regular breakfast and dinner companion these past few days and we've done quite a bit of laughing together.  I'm mystified by coincidences like this, and I always find myself asking,"What are the odds..."  But maybe the odds of the past intersecting with the present are pretty good.  Unless you enter the witness protection program, the past seems to have a pretty good chance of meeting you in the present. After this latest coincidence, I spent a little time googling things like "nude+zebra rug" wondering if I'd find a picture of myself on the internet. Thankfully, that piece of the past seems to have disappeared.


There are two trails through the woods at this place where I'm staying in Virginia. This morning I walked them in the opposite direction and was surprised to find how different things looked. Yesterday I completely missed the family of giant toadstools that look like an illustration from a children's fairy tale.  I didn't see that two towering evergreens were uprooted and only remained standing because they were leaning against other trees.  The expertise of the steps carved out of the clay soil was more evident climbing up them than it had been going down.  I can only imagine how different my life would look to me now if I could walk backwards through it and see it from the other other side.

Friday, October 3, 2008

Speaking in Tongues

The 30-something German tourists at the table next to me in the Atlanta airport bar were confused.  They'd ordered margaritas  and had been asked for their IDs. Maybe they hadn't understood, their expressions said.  The  waitress scurrying between tables with trays of drinks had already explained to me in her heavily accented English that she had to ID everyone and now she was asking the Germans a second time.  "Me, too!" I told them, pulling on a lock of my gray hair and holding up my gin and tonic.  Their faces relaxed as they got out their passports and laughed at the absurdity of the situation.  Two weeks ago, I might not have spoken to them and instead stayed hunched over  my laptop, but I'm working on being a different person. Their English only covered the basics and I know only a couple dozen German words, but we kept talking. The experience made me think of two of my  friends.  During our big European backpacking trip when we were in college, Kathy was never put off by the language barrier and talked to anyone.  Once she even got directions to an automobile junkyard so we could buy a used carburetor for the wreck of a VW van we'd bought off the street in Paris. Back then, this special skill of hers seemed to me like some kind of miracle.
My new friend Rick, who just traveled to Greece alone, set out to connect with someone every single day that he was there.  He met a lot of people over a meal or a glass of wine, and  he talked to folks from all over the world.  Talking to people across a language barrier or to complete strangers doesn't seem so outrageous to me anymore.  What's weird is that I can't talk to someone I was married to for thirty years.
Miscommunication, a failure to communicate at all, silence when there is something waiting or wanting  to be spoken can destroy a relationship.  I'm just going to go through the rest of my life imagining one of those flaming holy spirit tongues over my head and keep  on talking.

The Oracle at Delta

I'm on my way to Atlanta where I will change planes for Lynchburg, VA where I'll spend the night alone in a motel and then, in the morning, take a taxi to the writer's residency I have for the month of October.
I tried to get out of L. A. earlier at the last minute so I could intersect in Atlanta with a friend I met in Greece.  No luck.  So I'm thinking of fate and connections and missed connections.  I put a lot of stock in these things when I was younger and a hopeless romantic.  Now as a hopeful romantic, I'm less sure about signs and serendipity. There are signs, there is incredible good luck and fortuitousness-- things that are completely humbling when placed next to the machinations of man or woman.  BUT love and marriage and committed relationships and friendships are a project. They are work.  They are like a rehab on Victorian house (lots of dust and splinters) or the tuning of a piano (lots of listening with your eyes closed.)
So here I am at LAX--waiting.

Thursday, October 2, 2008

Shake that Money Maker

I have a financial consultant who, now that I'm about to become a fully enfranchised adult with a regular income, is helping me invest some money.  I want to be able to take care of my mother as she becomes more frail.  I want to give my son and his family a little boost that will help them buy a bigger house that has a guest room for me.  My daughters will take care of me someday when I'm old, but I want long term care insurance too, because probably by then they will have families of their own.  And who knows...maybe I want to continue my education. A masters degree at 57. Why not a PhD at 60? Of course, I already have a PhD in him.  I had no idea it would turn out to be worthless. But who knows? Maybe I'll thank him someday.
Meanwhile, I have meetings with the financial guy.  He brings me pastry and I make him a latte. He exlplains how the world of investing goes 'round and I get on board, hoping for the best.


The coffee date with bachelor #1 turned into dinner and a walk in Old Town.  It was fun.  A very nice man.  We share some common interests.  He's not pompous and didn't talk about himself for hours.  I went for connection....but not for fabricating something out of nothing.  I paid attention to what he was saying, doing; what I was thinking, what I was feeling, what I was doing.  The evening wasn't a bust.  But there was no bolt of lightening, not even a little buzz of electricity, really.  So much of love is just out there in that invisible surge, the gesture, the sound of a voice, the way you feel when your knees accidentally touch on a bus ride. That's online dating's missing piece.
When a friend I made in Greece and I were discussing love, he told me he was broken.  I said that at this stage of life, if we're not still married, we're all broken.  Hopefully, not beyond repair.

Wednesday, October 1, 2008


"Delphi is the center of the earth," the tour guide on the bus told us. "It's the navel of Greece, the womb of the earth."   I was on my way to site of the ancient oracle--the place where the prophecies in my favorite Greek tragedies were rendered, but I'd never thought of it as a navel.  My brain began free associating.  Navel....... Ring.........I'd already tried to pry my wedding ring off my finger and drop it to the bottom of the Aegean, but that plan had gone awry with my mother's engagement ring and my wedding ring both  stuck  on my heat swollen right ring finger. Working them up over my knuckle proved impossible so I gave up fearing that the delicate gold band on my mom's diamond would snap and I'd lose the ring I wanted to keep. 
By the time my tour group stood in front of the Treasury of Athens near the entrance of the Oracle, I had a new plan.  My wedding ring would be a votive offering as I silently asked the question I'd brought to the oracle.  Dropped into some crevice between ancient stones, it would come to rest with  centuries-old fragments of statues and shards of pots.  But the rings were still stuck.  
I asked my question anyway despite the fact there's no priestess anymore.  In the 11th century B. C., the first priestess was a young virgin, our tour guide had told us.  After she was abducted, future priestesses were 50-yr-old women--wives and mothers from the community.  If there had been a wise old priestess there to answer the question I asked about love, I wonder what she would have told me.