Sunday, November 30, 2008

Another reason to have a significant other...

Besides the ride to the emergency room, it's nice to have someone meet you curbside at the airport.
Why does a ride from the airport cost $12.00 more than a ride to the airport (in zero traffic)?
Why do taxi cabs have mushy back seats where you can't sit up straight and feel like a teddy bear who's lost her stuffing?
Who's responsible for maintaining the shock absorbers on cabs and why aren't they doing their job?  
Why is the Bob Hope airport known as the Burbank-Glendale-Pasadena airport when there's no reasonable way to get there from Pasadena?
What the hell, it was a fun trip anyhow!

Wednesday, November 26, 2008

This is How it Looked

Thanksgiving was always a big party at our house.  For twenty years we gathered with friends--and sometimes friends of friends and complete strangers--at this table.  I cooked the turkey, the stuffing, the potatoes, the pumpkin pies and friends brought all measure of good things to the feast.  I miss them, but now, for the second year, I will be at my son's house.  My family is spread out all over the country.  I am thankful that I have each of them in my lives even though they aren't near enough to pass me the cranberries.  I am thankful for about a billion things.

Sunday, November 23, 2008

Full Heart

I started learning to play poker last night. My friends, Carol and Dale, made room for me at the table and their friend David appointed himself  my coach. I had a little cheat sheet with the various configurations of cards listed in ascending order and with David's help I made it through a couple of hours of play and lost only $8.00. I even won one hand. I think the hardest part of the game is the "poker face." I gasped a lot when I saw my cards and that made people laugh.  I need to cultivate a demeanor of nonchalance.  That could be useful away from the poker table, too.


I ran into my old friend Barry and his fiance yesterday at a coffee shop.  Barry's had quite a few girlfriends since I met him ten years ago. Things just never worked out. One Thanksgiving he fled from a disastrous gathering before dinner was finished and rang my doorbell. "Can I come to your Thanksgiving dinner?" he asked. "I brought my own turkey." He extracted a ziplock bag of meat from his pocket and chuckled but there was a truly woeful look in his eyes.
Yesterday at the coffee shop, after the three of us sat down together, Lydia pulled a bundle of vitamins out of her pocket and set one of the piles of pills next to Barry. "You brought me my vitamins," he said, and the two of them looked into one another's eyes.  
That's what I want--someone who loves me enough to bring me my vitamins.
I don't think Barry will  ring my doorbell with a ziplock of turkey in his pocket ever again.

Wednesday, November 19, 2008

Year of the Hiker

Thanks to my friend Carol, I saw a really good play last weekend.  It's stuck with me all week. Set in a small town in Ireland, the play takes its title from the nickname given to Lacey, the husband and father who abandoned his family to fulfill his wanderlust. His cruel departure which left his wife with two young sons and a baby daughter was such a shocking event that the villagers have been known to mark time by it-- "Ah, that horse died the year the hiker left." When the play opens, the children are grown and twenty years have passed. Lacy returns in the second scene and he's an old man with liver cancer who's come home to die and of course his reappearance opens old wounds for all of the other characters.  The wife says that, at first, after he left she missed him like the beating of her own heart.  And then that feeling was replaced by ferocious anger.  It was years, she says, before she could think of him the way she thinks of a hundred other people. There's some pretty amazing reconciliation at the end.
It's at Theatre Banshee in Burbank.

Why I'm not too keen on living here......

We Southern Californians are living in a disaster zone again. Last week we had the drill for the "Big One," and then the place went up in flames. Monday twilight was at 3:30 in the afternoon and the moon that night was more brown than yellow. Like a broken Vanilla Wafer.  You can't help but wonder at every siren when there are fires burning all around. And when your neighbor barbecues you have to go outside and be sure it's kabobs you're smelling and not the wood shake roof. 
I had to go out Monday night and I drove 7 miles an hour for a good portion of the trip because that's what we do when we go out in the evening in L. A.  Rush hour crushes your soul if you're not in the mood to have your foot hovering over the brake and even NPR can't save you.
These slow drives are the worst. The litany is longer and more detailed then because there's more time to look around.  He drives this freeway twice a day.  We went to a party somewhere on that hill. There's his building. There's the Staples Center--wow, I thought we were having fun at those Clipper games we saw last year.  If I exited here, I'd could find my way to that hideous duplex we rented in Culver City.   This is how my divorced brain works and I don't know how to stop it. At this point in time, I no longer feel the debilitating heartbreak, but the memories are there just the same.  Why, exactly, am I living here? 

Down with Agoraphobia

I hate to go out.  I'm okay in the mornings, but when it gets hot and smoggy, I like to be finished with errands and business and be back home. And once I'm "in," I hate the thought of going out. My books are here.  My laptop.  The dogs. The cats. I have really good o.j. and an espresso maker. I have yummy sesame seed cookies I brought back from Greece.  I can have cookies and a latte sit with the dogs and my laptop on my caramel colored leather sofa and not get up for hours.  Why would I want to go out?  I have writing to do and as long as I have eggs, goat cheese, apples and salad, I won't starve.
But I've been forcing myself to go to the movies.  I like movies.  I just don't like to go out to them. I'm doing it though because it's good for me.  A little nighttime drive with the windows open and cool air blowing in.  A person to talk to--"One, please."  Popcorn.  Other humans breathing in the dark.

Eye Q

My eye continues to heal.  For the first time in a week, I won't have to check in with the doctor tomorrow.  I can drive in the light of day without weeping and I haven't had an Advil in more than 24 hours.  I can even take off my sunglasses and work at my computer with both eyes open.  I have a nibble on another piece from a very nice online lit mag and I just finished editing it. 

Retail Therapy

I've been craving some new lingerie for weeks.  Mission accomplished. Macy's is having a fab "buy 2 bras, get 2 free" sale!  I hope my efforts find  an appreciative audience.

Saturday, November 15, 2008

Under Cover of Darkness

I'm waiting for the sun to sink a little lower so I can go out and walk the dogs without traumatizing my injured eye.
Maybe I'll find a nice neck to sink my fangs into.


I eschew cliches--as all writers are taught to, but sometimes an experience really brings home the appropriateness of a couple of overused words.  I had to go back to the eye doctor today and figured that since my eye was feeling better it would be a piece of cake. My eye felt right as rain at 6:30 when I walked the dogs.  Just a little blurring.  No pain.  I could open it.  It was a whole new day until I drove east in the morning sunlight. Driving home later with the sun on the south side of the car shooting daggers into my left eye--also on the south side of the car--was a living hell and I cried buckets.
Now that I'm back inside, I can open it again.  But the contact lens must be left in.  The scratch is a bit better, but not healed yet and I have to go back again on Monday and drive into the blinding sun.

Ta Da!

I got word that a personal essay I've been trying to place has been accepted at Two Hawks Quarterly which is an on-line lit journal.  I like the piece a lot and it's cool that it's found a home. It's an excerpt from my second memoir (the one about the you-know-what) and it chronicles part of the road trip I took with my older daughter right after Mr. Ex delivered the news.  I miss C. a lot a the moment so it's especially nice to have her present via that story.
It will come out in November--so that means very soon.  

Friday, November 14, 2008

Oscar vs. Emmy

There are only so many things one can do with a painful and squinty pirate eye. Reading is out. Ditto watching a movie. Writing is a pain.  So I feel a blog binge coming on.  I've been surfing the net and found some information about the guy who had the potential, all those years ago, to derail my wedding plans.  He's the one in the tux holding the Emmy.  I wrote him a note and sent it off in care of his agent. Maybe it will make life more interesting.  Maybe not.

I've fallen and I can't get up......

I've figured out why people get married.  It's not the love or the sex--it's for the transportation to the emergency room.  I thought about calling friends last night.  I thought about calling a taxi. Instead, after Layla, my 55 lb. collie shepherd mix, helped me jam my finger straight into my left eyeball, I took 2 Advil, put some eye drops in my eye and went to bed.  I figured if I could sleep, it could wait 'til morning.  
So this morning I had my 3rd doctor's visit this week (3 different doctors for 3 different reasons.) I have a large scratch across my eyeball and am now wearing a contact lens coated with antibiotic ointment and am sitting on the couch with an ice pack on my lower back and a hot pack on my left hamstring.  After hiking countless rocky uneven hillsides in Greece during Mr. Ex's nuptials, I returned to The States and and sprained my right ankle while walking from my studio to the residence hall one night in Virginia.  Then 4 days after I got home with a still swollen and sore ankle, I got up off the couch a little too abruptly and strained my left hamstring (probably because I had been babying my right leg.) 
About a month after Mr. Ex left me, I looked into some assisted living condos in my hometown in Iowa on behalf of my mother.  The place was lovely.  You got to go on entertainment outings and get a free haircut in the in-house salon every month as part of the purchase price!!!  And the price contained one less zero than the townhouse I was in the process of buying in So Cal. Gee, I thought, maybe I should buy one for myself. That's right--for hundreds of thousands of dollars less, I could have had a ride across the street to the hospital at any hour of the day or night. 
But I believed my children when they told me I was too young for assisted living.  They're probably right, but I think I might need a very devoted boyfriend.
Well, gotta run.  Need a fresh ice pack.  Have to run the hot pack through the microwave.  Must limp upstairs to the bathroom and put in more eye drops.  
Oh, and I gotta arrange for my birthday present to myself.  Private salsa lessons.

Thursday, November 13, 2008

This Shit is Over

"You're going to use your married name as your middle name?" the clerk at window #1 asked me, somewhat incredulously. 
"Yes, I am," I said.  The old me would have gone on to explain exactly why I'd decided to do that, but the new me kept it short.  I'd already sat for two hours and fifteen minutes on one of those scooped out plastic chairs attached to its row of  clones that insures you are shoulder to shoulder with your neighbor.  The social security office was barely controlled mayhem today--maybe due to the fact that Southern California staged an earthquake drill earlier this morning or  it might have been the absurdity of the larger than life portraits of Bush and Cheney grinning at us from the wall.
"Somebody oughta take that shit down!" the woman behind me said and the woman next to her concurred.
"That shit is OVER," the second woman said.
 I didn't want to be there a minute longer than necessary.  
"Mmmmhmmm," the clerk said said, and I think I saw her squelch an urge to roll her eyes. I waited for her to ask me about my new last name, but she didn't.  She squinted hard at her computer screen and ran her fingers over my documents, but I wasn't required to explain myself.  Yup, this shit is over, I thought.
It took me all week to find my Decree of Divorce.  I had to sort through the box where I'd been tossing everything my attorneys have been  sending me since August of '07.  A couple of nights ago, I sat on the couch and put everything in chronological order and eventually came across it. I also was required to produce photo ID, my current social security card and a completed form that required my parents' social security numbers along with the usual particulars.  This is what it takes to become a new person.
Next week, I'll go to the DMV and get a new license and then set about changing the name on my bank account, etc.
When I finally possess my new identity, my new last name will be my maternal grandmother's maiden  name.  Back in the spring when I first began to toss this idea around, I ran it by a new friend I'd made at the VCCA.  He's a poet.  "Clemen," he said.  "That's wonderful--clement,'s a beautiful name."  My new moniker has been vetted by a poet.
So, my last name will be the same as my grandmother's when she was a girl.  My daughters have both taken that name as their unofficial middle name.  I still retain Mr. Ex's name as my middle name.  My son has no middle name--just an initial, and his last name is different from mine and  my daughters' since he has a different father.  But he doesn't carry that name either-- because he was adopted and has his adopted father's name.  
Well, you know what Shakespeare said.
But I'm thrilled to have a new name.  Because this shit is over.

Sunday, November 9, 2008

Sunday Sunset

I saw a jumbo jet glinting in the sunlight tonight while I was walking my dogs and wished I was on it.  Sorry, dogs.  It seems ridiculous to me that more than 15 months after my marriage ended, I  still  have not adjusted.  I have a lovely townhouse.  I live with 2 dogs and 2 cats. When I turn out my reading light at night, the dogs come over to the side of the bed for a final pat on the head. The timid cat who spends her time licking the hair off her legs while living in my downstairs bathroom cabinet comes out of hiding and settles down on the foot of my bed.  The other cat moves closer and purrs. So what is my problem?  The problem is that it's Sunday night--the one night of the week when I used to eat dinner with my husband (I know--how pitiful is that?!) and as I was walking those sweet dogs and looking up at the jetliner, I actually thought, I should be walking to dinner with Mr. Ex right now.  Is there no hope?
My son once told me that being adopted is like being in the witness protection program. Divorce is like that too. Your past is wiped out. You're supposed to forget it and move on.  Be someone else.  Erase your history.  Good thing I'm not in the witness protection program because I'd be fucking failing and would have a bullet in my brain by now.
So here's the score: 30 yr. marriage--over.  4 month relationship--over.  Coffee date--lukewarm.  Dinner date--no indigestion; just bland.  Full moon Athens/internet/telephone romance and possible friendship--over because I felt like burning a bridge out of spite. Internet and telephone correspondence: over due to the fact that I'm not OVER the divorce.  Internet correspondence--over because I'm not OVER  the divorce.  Okay, I admit it, I'm not over the divorce.  So sue me.

Thursday, November 6, 2008

Why This is Important to Me

This is an excerpt from an open letter to Barack Obama from the writer Alice Walker:

Dear Brother Obama,
.........................................I would further advise you not to take on other people's enemies. Most damage that others do to us is out of fear, humiliation and pain. Those feelings occur in all of us, not just in those of us who profess a certain religious or racial devotion. We must learn actually not to have enemies, but only confused adversaries who are ourselves in disguise. It is understood by all that you are commander in chief of the United States and are sworn to protect our beloved country; this we understand, completely. However, as my mother used to say, quoting a Bible with which I often fought, "hate the sin, but love the sinner." There must be no more crushing of whole communities, no more torture, no more dehumanizing as a means of ruling a people's spirit. This has already happened to people of color, poor people, women, children. We see where this leads, where it has led.
A good model of how to "work with the enemy" internally is presented by the Dalai Lama, in his endless caretaking of his soul as he confronts the Chinese government that invaded Tibet. Because, finally, it is the soul that must be preserved, if one is to remain a credible leader. All else might be lost; but when the soul dies, the connection to earth, to peoples, to animals, to rivers, to mountain ranges, purple and majestic, also dies. And your smile, with which we watch you do gracious battle with unjust characterizations, distortions and lies, is that expression of healthy self-worth, spirit and soul, that, kept happy and free and relaxed, can find an answering smile in all of us, lighting our way, and brightening the world.

We are the ones we have been waiting for.

In Peace and Joy,
Alice Walker

'Til the Cows Come Home

The election is behind us but I'm still struggling with reconciling my political passions with familial allegiances.  I love my family and where we come from.  I tolerate our political disagreements even though I don't always understand why they see things the way they do.  But what really gets me is when a piece of shit like this gets sent around.  It's enough to make me want to burn my cowboy boots.  Not only is the factual content crap, but an anthem like this promotes the idea that farmers and other country folks are simpletons and gunslinging crazies. I've been a lot of places since I left Iowa, but I still think of myself as a country girl in a lot of ways. Just count me out when it comes to this bullshit.

You stink, Hank!

The country music political anthem I would choose would be Mary Gauthier's Mercy Now.

The whole album is great. Buy it.  Let your American dollar support intelligence. Play it until the cows come home.

Wednesday, November 5, 2008

Blue Means Happy

Heading home to my blue state. Making new friends at BWI with my Obama sticker on my laptop.

Monday, November 3, 2008

Road Trip

Favorite road name:  Blind Preacher Road
Favorite Church name: Mount Zion Rock Solid Baptist Church
Favorite item for sale in a front yard:  a boat named The Dallas Cowboy

Sunday, November 2, 2008

The Real World

This is the sign we see as we leave through the main gate.   I had an impulse to stop my car and put it on the other side of the post--so you'd see it driving in.  It seems to me, that this haven of creativity or other places like it, is for many artists their real world.  The place they inhabit with the most passion and commitment. Sure, before I know it, I'll be back to thinking about property taxes, getting my oil changed, calling the dentist, and seeing if the vet can figure out why one of my cats is licking the hair off her legs, but in a way all of that seems like stuff I could do while sleepwalking.  When I sit down to write at home and look out my window at my towering grevelia  tree that seems like a haven too, but it's there that I feel awake and really, really real.

Saturday, November 1, 2008


Tonight is my last night at the VCCA. There'll be vodka and dancing. Nice that we get to fall back.
Thinking of a  Tony Hoagland  poem.