Thursday, December 31, 2009


I like the way the New Year speaks its name. Twenty-Ten.  Kind of like a drum beat or a mantra. So much less awkward then Two Thousand and Nine.

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

Blogging is the Porn of Writing or Journey to the Center...

I'm in Nebraska at my final MFA residency. I graduate in 6 days. But right now I'm listening to Los Angeles's own poetry goddess Kate Gale. She's here in Nebraska lecturing to me and my fellow students about writing. Journey to the Center of the Earth is the title of her lecture. Which I take to mean we are looking for that lake of fire inside us that fuels our writing.

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.  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

So This Was Christmas

Christmas Eve dinner for four. Clean-up left until the next morning. "I know you're probably thinking someone has kidnapped your real mother," I told my daughter when we walked away from the mess smiling.

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


This Friday night wasn't so different from many Friday nights of my marriage. I spent it alone. But unlike back then, there was no waiting for sound of the garage door opening, no hoping for a few shreds of affection, communication...something....anything. I knew I would be alone tonight and settled in on the couch to watch Sleepless in Seattle. I saw this movie with Mr. Ex when it first came out and was only moderately taken by it. But tonight it got to me. "Well, I'm gonna get out of bed every morning... breath in and out all day long. Then, after a while I won't have to remind myself to get out of bed every morning and breath in and out... and, then after a while, I won't have to think about how I had it great and perfect for a while," says Sam Baldwin when he talks to a radio psychologist about the death of his wife. Under the blanket of holiday angst that has fallen over me, it's easy for me to remember my year or so of breathing in and breathing out. It was a lot of breathing and there were days when many of those breaths were delivered with a searing ache. I have it pretty great & perfect right now, but I think it's good to remember the ache, feel the remnants of it, and wear it for a little while. Like Sam Baldwin, I have a dead spouse. Oh sure, there's this guy Mr. Ex. still trudging through life--but he's not the guy I fell in love with. He's not the guy I weep for when the hurt throws itself over me. That guy is dead and it's sad.

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

Wisdom from the Silver Screen

After worrying for hours last night that the hard copies of my thesis are stuck in a snowdrift on I-80, the pages clumped together and the ink defrosting off the page, I've declared today a day off & have been watching movies. We have a well organized collection of DVDs, so I began with the As. Here's a tidbit  from Adam's Rib: "Lawyers shouldn't marry other lawyers. That's called inbreeding. It results in idiot children and more lawyers. Lawyers should marry piano players or song writers..." A nice bit of writing.

Thursday, December 10, 2009


I feel so naive sometimes I don't know what to do with myself.
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

"If you drive too sexy, I'll tax your seat.."

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.