Saturday, February 28, 2009


I went to the theatre twice today--a matinee of the Martha Clark dance narrative, Garden of Earthly Delights, and tonight, Blithe Spirit. Garden of Earthly Delights, based on the Hieronymos Bosch painting, traces humankind's fall from innocence into corruption and then ultimately into an ascendancy or transfiguration back to our higher nature. That was my interpretation, anyway. But I'm not sure if the choreographer/director wanted her audience to consider the possibility of achieving this last transformation on this earth or after we leave it. It's a question, oddly enough, that carried over quite nicely to this evening's performance of Noel Coward's farce, Blithe Spirit, in which a husband is faced with the ghost of his dead wife who comes to visit him after a seance and causes havoc between him and his second wife. Love, the absolute pull of it, is what brought her back, the medium explains, and the ghost herself admits that she missed him terribly. The ghost is the same charmingly troublesome person she was when she was alive and ends up inadvertently causing the death of the second wife who comes back to haunt the husband as well. It's all very funny, of course, but the moments where we see the longing that reaches from one world into the next and where husband and wife carry on  their quarrels even after death are more than just farce.
I thought about depravity this afternoon after the matinee--about the way people destroy one another in both large and small ways. I felt profoundly sorry for my Mr. Ex. He hurt the people who loved him most and it may be a very long time before he's again regarded with love and respect. And I thought, too, about what a losing game revenge is and how hard it is to lay down that sword and shield--and how heavy it is if you keep carrying it.
Tonight, I thought about ghosts and the two that I've experienced. My father came for a quick look at my older daughter a couple of days after we brought her home from the hospital, and my father-in-law (whom I never met in "real" life) came to me in a very vivid dream welcoming me into the family the night our second daughter was conceived.  
In these post-divorce months, I've never been more convinced that Love is a life-altering force. Love is so strong that it can pull our ghosts back to visit us, and it's what saves us from destroying each other and ourselves.  Without it, we are doomed.
I walked back to my hotel after the play tonight--16 blocks and I took it slow, trying to notice the people and the sights around me, and think about all the times I took those after theatre walks with my husband.  Over the years, he and I saw more than 100 plays in New York City, but now the curtain has come down.  It's an odd feeling--a little bit ghostly--but I'm having a wonderful trip without him.
When the curtain came down after Blithe Spirit tonight there was a ghostly image of the playwright lightly hovering on its surface.  A wonderful directorial choice,  and I left the theatre contemplating what I'd like to leave behind in this world,  and what I'll be dragging behind me when I "cross over."  I hope it will be lighter than the giant suitcase, I'll be rolling to Penn Station tomorrow. 

Wednesday, February 25, 2009

Where I'm At & Where I'm Not

It's and cold, the difference between Vermont and Southern California. Here, chunks of snow are sliding from the roof in the winter sunshine and now there's a crater in the snowbank outside my studio window big enough to lay a body in. I haven't gotten used to the shroud-like masses that plummet past me and thump onto the ground. The maintenance crew here shovels the snow from the flatter rooftops in the complex, and with that image in my head of men on roof-tops, the falling planks of snow scare me every time. NO! I think, and look up expecting to see some crumpled human on the ground.  
I had some imaginings like that about myself some months back and now all of that seems like a very long time ago. I'm in a different state of mind completely one year and seven months since my marriage ended. But still, I feel I have to be careful--the way I am walking on the icy sidewalks here. Pay attention. Look out for the slippery spots. If I pay attention, I won't fall down.

Friday, February 20, 2009

Things About Snow that I'd Forgotten

1. It's really sparkly.
2. Snowflakes, as they fall, can look really raggedy.
3. Snow looks amazing on a red coat.
4. Snow makes a lot of things look good--old cars, dirty sidewalks, those ugly green plastic patio chairs....
5. It smells clean.
6. It erases memories of Southern California with Mr. Ex.

Saturday, February 14, 2009


"Anti-valentine--(n) a curative measure, most often administered during the month of February; a kind of medicinal tonic, often melancholy, bitter or dark, traditionally made from paper, glue and epistolary materials," so read the party invitation sent our by the visual artists to the whole Vermont Studio Center community.  
Some made anti-valentines.  Some made valentines. The latter, I'm relieved to report, outnumbered the former.
It was fun.  But I'm not going to send it.

Tomorrow, they say, is Lupercalia, an ancient Roman festival of wolves that traditionally involved much drinking, carousing, and a ceremony where young men ran around clad in goatskins lashing people with strips of goat skin for good luck.

I'm feeling like my luck is pretty good, actually.

Friday, February 13, 2009

Bifurcate This!

Mr. Ex left a year and seven months ago and, really, I'm ready to move on. Wrap it up. Call it a marriage. Be done. Change the title of this blog to My Big Fat New Life. And then get one.
I can get past being dumped for someone younger, someone with a better wardrobe, more expensive shoes, and an actual resume. Really, I can.
But bifurcation is holding me back. I don't know if bifurcation exists in other states, but in the state in which Mr. Ex and I are dissolving our marriage, you can get a final decree of divorce (so you can have a big fat Indian wedding) and leave your financial affairs hanging on like a lawsuit in a Dickens novel. If you are me, i. e. enduring bifurcation--you may enjoy the temporal bliss provided by temporary alimony, but until you get permanent alimony you live under a temporary restraining order that prevents you from engaging in major financial transactions--okay, maybe not prevents entirely....but you have to get the okay from the mr. ex and his attorney and if that doesn't immediately choke you to death, it does inhibit you from stepping across that threshold that says, "new life." And if you can't cross that threshold, well, then you are still in your old life--or at least lodged in the doorway.
Want I want most right now is to open my heart. Really. And I'm finding that difficult as I stand with one foot here and one foot there. What I'm picturing is this: Two things.  A sort of bifurcated image in my head, if you will--A closed door. And an open heart.

Wednesday, February 11, 2009


Here's a pre-Valentine's Day thought for those of us who might be afraid to risk an open heart. Risk is.....risky. But I guess I'd rather experience that vision of the pond's edge than close my heart to love altogether.

Safe Sex
by Donald Hall
If he and she do not know each other, and feel confident 
they will not meet again; if he avoids affectionate words; 

if she has grown insensible skin under skin; if they desire
only the tribute of another’s cry; if they employ each other

as revenge on old lovers or families of entitlement and steel— 
then there will be no betrayals, no letters returned unread,

no frenzy, no hurled words of permanent humiliation, 
no trembling days, no vomit at midnight, no repeated

apparition of a body floating face-down at the pond’s edge

Tuesday, February 10, 2009

Reincarnation Check

In the aftermath of his big fat Indian wedding (which occurred in September) I am trying hard to be a new person. The new layers of me include: 3 writers' residencies, 2 published personal essays, 57, 000 words of a new memoir manuscript, 2 short stories, progress 1/2 way through an MFA program, & 2 blogs. So I hope that means I am shedding the skin of attorney's wife and becoming a writer.
I also hope to become an increasingly better daughter, mother, mother-in-law, grandmother, & friend & colleague.
New projects for becoming: mother-in-law for a second time, more socially/politically involved citizen. Incredibly thin and attractive 57-year-old hottie.  Comedian.

Thursday, February 5, 2009

Buried, Then Not

I had a dream about Mr. Ex last night. A dream that moved me into the future (it was February 12th, for some reason.) We were in New York with our daughter M. for the weekend.  M. & I had flown from our respective locations and he had driven all the way from California, his trunk and backseat loaded with M.'s old toys. By the time I arrived at the hotel, the two of them and the toys were installed in our room. There was a large Buzz Lightyear, 2 child-size wooden stools I'd stained and stenciled just before she was born, remote controlled cars and a stack of other stuff. Mr. Ex had just gotten up from a nap and left the bed that I would later sleep in all rumpled. "Why did he bring all your toys?" I kept asking my daughter after her father had left. "We can't get all this to the airport...he's done this just to make problems for us." I left the room feeling upset and when I came back I couldn't remember which room I'd been in until I found the key envelope with the number, written in Mr. Ex's handwriting, in my pocket. There were someone else's children in the room when I entered and they were playing with M's toys. The three boys introduced themselves to me very politely--Raintree (he was a little apologetic about his name), Ernest Moon, and the third name drifted away as I awoke.
I don't think I've dreamt about Mr. Ex since he left me and I woke up feeling like things might fall apart today. But in the dream, I kept wanting to get back to my writer's residency and here I am. 
The quote from yoga class this morning that I heard most clearly: "Breath is always in the Now. We can't take today's breath tomorrow and we didn't breathe yesterday for today."

Sunday, February 1, 2009

Ice And Ice

These are views from my Vermont windows--the motel last night in Burlington 
and here from my bedroom at the Vermont Studio Center.
Note to self--Don't stand beneath icicles.  When it warms up midday and the sun is hitting them directly, they break loose and fall.
An icicle through my heart might have been appropriate last winter, but now I have writing to do.