Thursday, December 31, 2009
The verse in this tattoo across the arm of someone I love very much reads:
To wonder at beauty
Stand guard over truth
Look up to the noble
Resolve on the good.
It will be my New Year's resolution.
Wednesday, December 30, 2009
Here are her rules for writing: #1. Find what sets you off as a writer. #2. After that fuse is lit let your mind go wherever it wants to. Don’t stop yourself. #3. Keep writing past that painful sticky place instead of wandering there forever. Don’t stop with the beating. Go past the beating. Write what happens next on the other side of that painful place. There’s something else past the pain. #4. No matter what you are writing, you are going to write something really good. Don’t save the good stuff for something else. Don’t hold anything back ever. There’s more where that came from. You are a fountain of amazing ideas.
Here's what isn't writing: Emailing. Blogging. Sending work out.
But she likes blogging. She has a blog. http://kategale.wordpress.com/ She says if you blog you should blog everyday. It's practice writing. Warm-up writing. But she also says that blogging is the porn of writing. After all, you can drink while blogging, she says.
Imagine. Me--a porn queen.
So what I'm taking away is this. Blog every day while drinking. Which means I should write first and blog and drink second. New mantra: Write first. Blog and drink second. Write first. Blog and drink second.
Monday, December 28, 2009
Then with Christmas morning light edging the window shade and me still in bed full of love and cake, I woke to a clatter in the kitchen. The man who loves me had cleaned up the entire mess.
Do I want my old life back? Oh no. For a million reasons, no.
Saturday, December 19, 2009
My dog Layla tries to help when I cry. She falls all over herself rushing to me and hurls her 55 pounds into my lap and pokes her pointy collie nose into my chest as if she's giving me some kind of canine CPR. But she seems to know the difference between the wails that tore out of me when I was still struggling to get out of bed every morning and the phantom grief I feel every now and again these days. "It's okay," I told her tonight and she settled right down. But I wonder if she misses Mr. Ex when I clip her leash to her collar or pour a cup of chow into her dish. If she's sniffing for the scent of the guy who used to do those things and she wishes would come back. I'm glad Mr. Ex hasn't returned my calls or emails about taking the dogs. It's probably better that way--if he's dead to them, too.
Monday, December 14, 2009
What we have here is 47 pages of muck in which the division of Mr. Ex's and my joint assets are hopelessly mired. Established in 1995, our Irrevocable Trust is just what it sounds like--unalterable. Except that Mr. Ex seems to be treating like a pair of pants that has gotten too tight. A lot of things in life can be altered, revoked, annulled, dissolved, taken in, or let out. But an irrevocable trust is not one of them. So here we are, nigh unto 2 1/2 years after the split tethered to a past compulsion to plan for a future that won't ever happen. I've said it before, but I think it bears repeating. Invest in love. And trust--the sort that doesn't need to be set up by an attorney and spelled out in 47 pages.
Saturday, December 12, 2009
Thursday, December 10, 2009
The scene: A party.
The speaker: A gorgeous young woman. Tall. Centerfold body. Pretty face. "Men cheat," she says. "that's what they do." I've gleaned from the previous bits of conversation that her ex-husband is a producer. She has a couple of kids with him, and they're not exactly divorced. Separated, but they live in the same house or something like that...sort of.
I hear this and think, "What if?" What if people were honest and then just coped with the honesty? What would that mean? In my particular situation. I can't quite imagine it. Would Mr. Ex have treated me better if he could have had his new young thing and me and I'd said, "Well that's what men do..." I don't know. But I do know I wouldn't have wanted that.
Lack of imagination bothers me. Imagination is key. Now that I've been cut loose, I imagine my future with many different scenarios. But accepting a cheating man isn't one of them. But then it's not quite cheating if you admit to it up front. Still, I don't like the idea. Not one little bit.
And I don't really believe that's "what men do..." unless they are crazy Hollywood producers, or sheiks, or are part of Mr. Ex's law firm.
Tuesday, December 8, 2009
There's an unfortunate fact about alimony and income tax that I didn't know...until recently. Alimony is taxable income. That's bad enough, but I find it particularly irritating that Mr. Ex gets to count the alimony he pays me as a tax deduction. So here's how our little math problem shakes out. California (a community property state) + 30 years of marriage = half of Mr. Ex's income for me - 50% of what I get for the taxman + a tax credit for the dastardly Mr. Ex.
Update on the division of joint assets: Still undivided.
Monday, December 7, 2009
Thursday, December 3, 2009
Sometimes things are not what they seem. The moral center of your universe slips into a black hole. The person you thought was too different from you turns out to be someone you can't get enough of.
And--these packages of printer paper. Look closely. Not blank paper at all. A thesis. My thesis.
Sunday, November 29, 2009
This advice from the poet Linda Gregg seems applicable for prose writers, too.
She's written this piece, The Art of Finding, as a prose poem. This is how it begins:
I believe that poetry at its best is found rather than written.
Traditionally, and for many people even today, poems have been
admired chiefly for their craftsmanship and musicality, the
handsomeness of language and the abundance of similes, along with
the patterning and rhymes. I respect and enjoy all that, but I would
not have worked so hard and so long at my poetry if it were primarily
the production of well-made objects, just as I would not have sacrificed
so much for love if love were mostly about pleasure.
If you'd like to read the rest follow the link above.
Thursday, November 26, 2009
Next year I might be home, my table set with the china my mom gave me, her silver, the crystal from my stepsister, the candlesticks from my grandmother whose name I now claim as my own, and I hope it's not too late to persuade the people who used to share that table to come back. I hope too, there will be new people at the table and that we might even round up a mystery guest or two as we have done many years in the past.
Of course, I'm at the stage of life where my children have dispersed. By next Thanksgiving, it's quite likely, they will be flung across the country in three different states and maybe we won't all be at the same table. I may become a new version of a Thanksgiving pilgrim, traveling from turkey to turkey.
Or maybe not. Maybe my Thanksgiving dinner will be much smaller next year. Two cornish hens instead of a turkey. I really don't know what the future holds.
That's why I'm thankful right now--for this first Thanksgiving in Ragdale, for new friends, for all of the old friends, for family, for all of the people I love.
Tuesday, November 24, 2009
Sometimes it's hard to put a frame around a story. What does a writer leave in or leave out when constructing a short story or a novel? This real life story, I find, is presenting the same challenge.
Maybe I will review the time frame for the judge:
Mr. Ex told me he wanted to leave me and marry someone else on Sunday, July 29, 2007.
By mid-August, he still hadn't filed for divorce though plans for his wedding were going forward, so I filed.
We received the final decree of divorce on July 31, 2008 which worked out well since Mr. Ex got married six weeks later. It was the fact of bifurcation that allowed that decree of divorce to be issued because Mr. Ex and I were nowhere near settling our financial affairs.
And ever since then I have been pushing, pulling, pleading, cajoling for him to give me the half that's mine.
Judge, I invited him to DINNER and brought him a peace offering--a book about WWII that I knew he would like. (April 8, 2009) and we actually AGREED.
But yet there's been no progress with the division of joint assets because Mr. Ex has NOT been at all helpful in providing necessary information. NOT AT ALL.
Really Judge, THIS HAS BEEN DIFFICULT AND I HAVE PURSUED HIM THROUGH TRYING TIMES to no avail. I've called him and emailed him repeatedly trying to pry information out of him. I spent a week correcting the woefully out of date list of assets that he generated. I've had to research and explain to him the finer points of an irrevocable trust. This mess has gone on so long that Mr. Ex and his new wife have had time to conceive and bear a CHILD. The kiddo will be sprouting teeth before we know it and still no division of joint assets.
Judge, I have humbled myself greatly and asked Mr. Ex's older brother to please intervene. I told Mr. Ex I thought we should bring other friends and family members into the discussion (this got me answers to two emails). I have called Mr. Ex as I stood on a bridge weeping while begging for mercy and contemplating jumping. I've bought him a Mont Blanc Pen and asked him to please use it to sign the document that will allow for the division of our joint assets.
Judge, other than my sandwich board idea where I parade up and down in front of his building wearing a message that reads Mr. Ex Unfair to Ex-Wife, I'm out of tricks. So really Judge, I don't know why this case has endured for so long without resolution. Can you call Mr. Ex and ask him? You already have? Ah--you left a voicemail and he hasn't called you back?
Friday, November 20, 2009
Tuesday, November 17, 2009
But it upsets me that he doesn't answer my emails. I don't email him often.
It's not hard to answer an email.
So here's what I'm asking. If you read this blog, have a go at answering the 2 emails below. (Just put your responses in the comments section) Maybe it will ease my mind and I'll stop checking my inbox.
My humblest thanks.
Sunday, November 15, 2009
Friday, November 13, 2009
The Petition for Dissolution of Marriage was filed by Petitioner in the matter on August 23, 2007. Respondent filed his response on September 7, 2007.
Thursday, November 5, 2009
Wednesday, November 4, 2009
Tuesday, November 3, 2009
I have softened the hurt with milky tea and roses. With beer in green glass bottles. With airplane gin. With red wine, the oak lingering on a lover’s tongue segueing to the morning’s kisses and espresso. I’ve softened the hurt at my mother’s kitchen table, in the company of Iowa songbirds and in my daughters’ cars on I-80, and the Lincoln Highway. I’ve softened the hurt lying on the floor with dogs, around the Monopoly board, with a handful of Canasta, and breathing in the dark with a grandchild in the crook of my arm. The hurt, the hurt. The hurt of a bed too wide wrestled and lost to dirt trails and ragged steps cut out of mountainsides leading to blinding white chapels high above the Aegean. The hurt lost to ancient stones and bridges spanning dark waters, to blizzard and dessert, to lake and plain. I am a traveler now, and the hurt tried to find me but I'm the one who is finding, finding, finding.
Tuesday, October 27, 2009
Thursday, October 22, 2009
Tuesday, October 20, 2009
It's embarrassing, but I'll go ahead and say it in the hopes that it will help keep some people going who should keep going -- I wrote for 17 years before getting a book contract. During that time I spent the better part of five years writing a novel about Haiti that never sold, and got enough rejections from magazines to fill a mid-size car. Had an agent who dropped me in the classic way, by not returning phone calls, never answering mail. It took about ten years of getting beat down for me to decide why I was writing, which was: I wanted to write. I wanted to get better, to write something that pleased me -- that struck me as authentic and real and artful. And it seems as if I had to burn through all expectations of worldly success before I could start doing that kind of work.
Monday, October 19, 2009
Sunday, October 11, 2009
"Le troue Normand," said the wonderful French sculptor who'd made a delicious lunch at her house just outside the tiny village of Saint-Sixte yesterday. She was explaining that sometimes in between the courses of a big meal, it's traditional in the French region of Normandy to have a shot of Calvados. The theory is that it aids digestion and opens up a place in one's stomach for the rest of the food. I remembered exactly when and where I'd heard first heard this expression and its explanation. It was 1985-- May to be exact. In a restaurant having dinner with with Mr. Ex as we traveled through Normandy. The owner came over to us with 2 glasses of Calvados and a little while later we were able to finish the delicious pork chops on our plates.
Friday, October 9, 2009
Thursday, October 8, 2009
Tuesday, September 29, 2009
Wednesday, September 23, 2009
Tuesday, September 22, 2009
An "emerging" writer like myself can benefit immensely from receiving a fellowship to a writers' residency like the one here in Auvillar http://www.vcca.com/programs.html. The opportunity to write most of the day, or all day and even into the night is harder to come by in ordinary life. And being in a new environment in a foreign country changes one's perceptions. New ideas for stories are sparked by being in a new place. If you're someone who can't get away for an entire month, or a writer who wants more of a workshop environment, there's Astra Writing in Greece. I went last spring and it's even better than it sounds.
Monday, September 21, 2009
Sunday, September 20, 2009
Wednesday, September 16, 2009
Tuesday, September 1, 2009
Wednesday, August 26, 2009
Monday, August 24, 2009
Mr. Ex is a new daddy.