Tuesday, February 28, 2012

The Aftermath of Divorce

Once upon a time my divorce fit into an medium-sized cardboard box.

 But then it grew and soon needed a large file box. Then two file boxes. Now with just a couple of things yet to be accomplished, I decided it was time to put some of that paper through the shredder.

I kept the important stuff. And the stuff that's just too interesting to throw away.

It all fits in one file box again.

Monday, February 27, 2012

What I Wore to the Academy Awards

The first time I went to the Academy Awards, my evening bag was crammed with  a spare set of nursing pads. I wore a turquoise silk tunic and skirt, and would have been mortified to cast my eyes towards my chest and see two widening circles of wet radiating out from my nipples. Oscar, with his lack of genitalia, probably would not have understood the biological necessities that come with fully involved motherhood. And I, perhaps, didn't quite understand how to balance the disparate elements of my life. Motherhood, wife-dom, the big fat L.A. life that was already encroaching on what I thought would be my one and only true love.
The moon, not the sun, was the center of my universe before my daughters were born. I rotated around the night life, albeit a low-budget one, until I was thirty-four years old. When I gave up doing theatre, parties, and going out with friends, I never looked back. A few years later, perched in my theatre seat at the Oscars, I lapsed into a fit of embarrassed giggling when the wife of the client we were with opened her bejeweled bag to reveal her own set of nursing pads. I wonder if she struggled with balance the same way I did, if she's still married, if her children have brought as much happiness and worry to her as my own have brought me.
And I wonder if the people whom I am legally restrained against writing about were at Hollywood's biggest love fest last night. I wonder too, if a certain heavy bearded man in a tux should get some kind of statuette for attending the Academy Awards the most times with a woman who has nursing pads in her purse. Then again, Warren Beatty probably took home the statuette for that.

Sunday, February 26, 2012

Credit Card Debt and Divorce

Credit card debt and divorce don't go together like "horse and carriage," "love and marriage," or whatever that old song is. Credit card debt and divorce do not make you want to hum a catchy little tune. But I will think of the check inside this envelope as a Christmas present to myself. 

I've lost more than a little sleep over the mounting credit card debt that is accruing in my name due to an unclosed account leftover from my marriage. Styling itself as a sort of Catholic Pope of the financial world, U.S. Bank, as is typical of credit card companies, does not recognize divorce. You can read more about that HERE if you like. 

I thought the document my attorneys prepared governing the division of joint assets had me covered, but I was MISTAKEN, so I've done what has served me best in my divorce--relying on my own gut.  In the course of my marriage I possessed little talent for reading the writing on the wall, but in the four years and seven months of the divorce process, I've been schooled.

Since my email of more than a month ago to the co-owner of the account went unanswered, I figured the ball is squarely in my court. After emailing him again yesterday morning, I closed the account and made a rather substantial payment on the balance in order to keep the peace. Worth it.

A open credit account in the wrongs hands equals the destruction of my credit score, and possibly the derailing of plans that will allow me to move to a house where my mom can live with me. I won't let that happen.

An excerpt of my letter, for anyone who may need it, is below:

I am enclosing a copy of the final decree of divorce and an excerpt from the document detailing the final division of joint assets in which XXXX is assigned responsibility for this account. Unfortunately, there is no incentive in place for XXXX to close the account, and I fear the balance will continue to mount, damaging my credit even further. I am also enclosing a check for XXXX.00 to be applied to the current balance of the card on the condition that the account be closed immediately to all future charges so that no further indebtedness can be incurred. You may continue to send future bills to XXXX at the address of record. 

I also ask that this letter and its supporting documents, including the enclosed photocopy of my check, be entered into my file. My current name is XXXX and the last four digits of my social security number are XXXX. My current address is XXXX.

I would very much appreciate a response to this letter.

Friday, February 24, 2012

Gluten Free Dairy Free Cheesecake

C's birthday was yesterday, and I made her a gluten-free, dairy-free "cheese"cake.  Inspired by  a fellow blogger, I deviated from my usual gluten-free chocolate cake without considering the fact that I no longer  have a food processor. When I moved out of my house, I both needed and wanted to downsize, and I was possessed by a somewhat irrational fear of being accused of taking everything. So I left as many small appliances as I took: Toaster, blender Kitchen Aid mixer, coffee maker: mine. Food processor, icee-maker, soft-serve maker: his. Okay, so it wasn't perfectly even, but maybe I'm forgetting something.

It was labor intensive to make this dessert without a food processor.

Insane, actually. I had to grind up the five cups of cashews in tiny batches.  The crust went quite smoothly and required just a couple of batches. But the "cheese"? Craziness ensued. There's not a lot of moisture in the filling. Blenders like moisture. Food processors don't care. But I prevailed, and the cake reaped an interesting side benefit from my ignorant determination. The coloring was rather beautifully rendered in tones.

Luckily, our day was planned for a late birthday celebration, and, in fact, due to the tiredness that resulted due to the birthday parasailing adventure, we shifted our celebration to this morning. The verdict? Amazing cheesecake-like texture. But the flavor is more nutty than cheesy. Maybe because I used vanilla extract instead of vanilla paste because the vanilla paste I found disclosed that it contained some kind of wheat product. But with the fresh berries drizzled with boysenberry sauce? Yeah...cheesecake, cashew cake....whatever. It's darned good.

But if you're getting divorced, take the food processor.

Wednesday, February 22, 2012

Dear Visitors of Margaritaville,

I've travelled to another small town today. Pack your chastity belt, and come visit me there.

Monday, February 20, 2012

Meme Fever

I've been sick since Saturday night. I have a furry feeling in my chest. Like I could cough up a pomeranian. My ears sound like a bowl of Rice Krispies when I swallow. My neck might be broken. I try to read but I think all my books are in a foreign language.
I did, however, manage to watch the entire first season of "Downton Abbey" while lying in bed with my iPad during the  three hours or so that I've been awake in the past two days.

And I tried to amuse myself by looking at memes. The writer meme says it all. But it made me feel worse.

This one made me laugh until I cried. I might have a fever.

And there's this one that my daughter C. made--which I love, of course. Even though I like to think I do a pretty good job of not worrying about her when she's at sea. And I'm glad she's staying with me right now because she brought me soup and orange juice and ginger ale and ginger candy.

I like the progression of these "what I do" memes. The final two panels were a bit of an eye-opener when I did the divorcée one.

Friday, February 17, 2012

Friday & Food

The man who loves me just called to tell me bought some wild salmon at a local farmer's market. That ought to get us out of the salad rut. Of course, I'll make a salad anyway, but it will have a supporting role for a change instead of sitting center stage. I've been serving salad for dinner every night for months--which is not to say that it's always the same. I have a number of ingredients in my repertoire. Avocados, tomatoes, pine nuts, other nuts and seeds, roasted peppers, any number of vegetables--raw or cooked, apples, tangerines, berries of all kinds, cranberries and other dried fruit. Even so, C. has rebelled. She goes out now for In 'N Out or something. I love salad--the way I do it with super fresh organic mixed greens. Arugula is one of the most amazing flavors on the planet. To me it tastes like greens crossbred with pepper and peanut butter.

And speaking of food, here are a couple of food blogs for your weekend enjoyment:
1) Wild, Fresh + Tasty (where, if you read the post that features MADE, the coffee/gift shop at the Downtown Women's Center, you will see a photo of me working the counter in my barista hat.
2) How To Eat I have the good fortune to know Elizabeth personally, and when my divorce is completely over, she's going to bake me a cake. Now that's something to hope for!

Now for a Los Angeles food scene trivia question:
At which cafe are you likely to come upon a patio table with a pile of poop on it? 

ɯnʇǝɹoqɹɐ ʎʇunoɔ sǝlǝƃuɐ sol ǝɥʇ ʇɐ ǝɟɐɔ ʞɔoɔɐǝd ǝɥʇ

The name of the place says it all.

The image used in this post is a painting by an 18th century painter named Luis Melendez.

Thursday, February 16, 2012

A Pen and Poison. But Not a Poison Pen.

1) Overheard on the Gold Line between Mission and Chinatown. Night.

A guy: There's a million dollars in this cup. All you have to do is drink the poison to get to it. Do you know how much a million dollars is? C'mon all you have to do is drink the poison. It's a million dollars!!! Right here in this cup. Just drink the poison and it's yours! You can do it. Just drink the poison and the million dollars is yours.

2) Valentine's Day. San Pedro and 4th, downtown Los Angeles

Guy #1: (stepping out of a beat-up van) M'am, excuse me, do you have a pen I can borrow? Just for a second? I have to write a note.
Me: Let me see. (formerly striding down the sidewalk, but now stopped and rummaging in purse) Here's a pencil. Just keep it. (striding again)
Guy#1: Thank you very much!
Guy #2: (walking a few paces behind me, now catching up and holding out a pen to me) You can have my pen.
Me: That's okay. You might need it. 
Guy #2: I doubt that. You're the one who might need a pen. 
Me: Nope. Keep it. It's Valentine's Day. You might have to write someone a note.
Guy #2: (laughing) That's not gonna happen.
Me: You never know.
Guy #2: Did someone write you a note?
Me: Yes, as a matter of fact, someone did.
Guy #2: I thought so. You seem like a very nice lady.
Me: Thanks! (Guy #2 turns the corner, while I keep heading straight, but he walks backwards for a couple of steps as he blows me a kiss.)

Scenes from the City of Angels...and devils.

Tuesday, February 14, 2012


Dear Cory, Colette and Maddy,

The days of Lego strewn across my family room floor seem a long, long time ago in a galaxy far, far away.  But still, I hand you my heart.

Dear Katie, Sophia, and Jake,

I hand you my heart now and for all time. Be good. Do good.

 Dear  Man Who Loves Me,
You have my heart. Thanks for making my world feel like this.

photo credit for the stop-sign photo: The fabulous and talented Benjamin Le'Rawk Mattson

Monday, February 13, 2012

I went to another L.A. Literary Event last night. The daughter C. and I soaked up the neon atmosphere of Chinatown before we entered into the crimson cave that is The Mountain Bar. Hipster dive bar, I've heard it called. C. says all hipster bars are dive bars. But not all dive bars are hipster bars. In her line of work, there are always true dive bars in the neighborhood. Tall ship sailors hang out in ports, and ports are not the gentrified end of town. But in the sea of literary dive-y-ness that washed up in the Mountain Bar last night, there was literary gentry, and it was cool to think, hey, yeah, I'm in the the same lit mag those folks are in. It makes the beer taste better, anyway.

Sam Dunn was one of the readers last night. She said something about "the psychosis of place" as she prefaced her reading, and the phrase has been bumping around in my brain. Place effects me tremendously. In a new place I sometimes feel as if my old self could be taken over by a new me. As if something akin to the French concept of terroir might grow a new person.

Place is context. I couldn't help noticing that in the hundred or so people crammed into the reading, that I was the lone silver-haired woman. There were silver-haired men. They stood at the bar and ordered Cosmos for their wives or girlfriends and carried them back to women who were not gray. Ah, well--this is aging in the context of The City of Angels--even in a bar in Chinatown.

Sunday, February 12, 2012

Wash That Man Right Out of My Hair

I crave water. I want a boat to take me somewhere I've never been with him. A boat to the island of myself. Boat on water rocking me into some new satisfaction. Rocking me until he is washed away, washed under.

I have a disorder. When I travel to a place I like, it's never long before I tell myself I'm moving there. Here's my street. My house. I will paint the door red. Redo the flower beds. Down the street is my bookstore, my favorite coffee. Around the corner--that's my bar. The bartender will mix my drink when he sees me step through the door.

This weekend I  found the place where I will move to. Really move. Not pretend. There is water. There are boats.

I haven't yet found my house. At night while I sleep, I move my furniture into one house after another, trying them out. Sofa here facing the water. Table and chairs facing the water. My bed facing the water. Me facing the water. A baptism into my new life. Every last piece of my divorce floating away from me, floating out so far that all of it is just a speck on the horizon. A speck between land and sea. Between him and me.

Thursday, February 9, 2012

Old Haunts

I've been taking a class in the Writer's Program at UCLA Extension. Tonight I gave my driving jitters a break and came out early before the traffic got jammed and agressive. On campus for the first time while there was still some daylight, I noticed that the building where my class is held is very near the Law School. I went in and had a look around, used the restroom, and tried to figure out why it all looked so familiar. It was The Someone who went to law school there--not me. But I guess there were presentations or award ceremonies or something. Or maybe I gave him a ride a couple of times when his car was in the shop. And I think there was a cocktail party or two.

I'm always amazed how a place can roil the waters of memory and before I know it there are bodies floating on the surface. Last week after class, I decided to take city streets home instead of braving Freeway detours, Cal Trans' late night habit of road work, and the outtage of dozens of lights. Dark strange roads plummet me into a panicked despair. Driving through streets and neighborhoods that I haven't travelled since the 70s took me on a different sort of detour. I had conversations with The Someone. Sometimes these talks are replays of real conversations that we had in the past--or at least the gist of them. Sometimes I'm talking to him in the here and now. Inventing conversations that will never happen. But really, if I saw him in person, I wouldn't rush over and get chatty. So why do I talk to him in my head? And how do I stop?

Tuesday, February 7, 2012

Excuse me....hello...my name is Mother. Mother Nature. Can you help me? I'm lost. Confused.

On rainy days in Southern California people hunker down into their Uggs. They wear scarves and hats and polar fleece jackets under their rain gear. It's not at all out of the ordinary to see flannel pajama pants tucked into those Uggs because when you live in a poorly insulated stucco box, and you're faced with getting naked for a second while rain is pelting your sky lights and palm fronds are hurling themselves at your windows, you think, "Fuck it. These are pants and I'm going out in them."

It was still dark at 9:00 a.m. at my house. Rain wasn't exactly shooting bullets at my skylight, but it was loading the gun. Or so I thought. I wasn't about to give up my three-mile walk to and from the train and onward to the Downtown Women's Center--rain or no rain. I chose a long black overcoat, layered over a wool cardigan that was itself layered over a long-sleeve tunic. I slipped on my less stylish version of Uggs. Wrapped a velour scarf around my neck. For god's sake, I put a pair of rain pants in the plastic shopping bag that I also tucked my purse into to protect it. I stopped at the drug store and bought a new umbrella.  And I was sweating by the time I got to the corner. The few drops of rain that fell felt like bath water. Did someone move my house to an orchid farm in the tropics in the middle of the night and forget to tell me?

Last year it rained for eight straight days, and it was so cold in my living room that whenever I sat on my couch I hunkered under two blankets with the gas fireplace roaring and a brand new portable radiator at my feet. That's winter  in So Cal.

Something is happening here.

I pruned my roses finally just last weekend.  The blossoms from the flowering pear tree outside my window reminded me that it was spring. Except that it's winter.

This rose was too gorgeous to prune so I left it on an otherwise stripped rose bush.

Um...Hi.....Are you okay, M'am? You seem a bit lost. Call you Mother? Mother Nature? Okay.
What can I do to help you?

Monday, February 6, 2012

Beginning Anew...Again

You know you're not doing so well with the personal goals when you get an email from the goal-tracking website reminding you to update your chart. I've gotten two or three of those since my most recent personal foray into self-motivation. And I hate the stupid fancy pedometer I bought because its battery only lasts a day and it fucking talks to me when I turn it on. And wants to entice me with games. I hate games. Except when it won't turn on at all which is where things stand right now. So I'm going to send it back and see if I can get a more basic one off of a cereal box or something.

As for the goals, I'm not doing horribly at all of them. And some of it is so trivial, really. I'm exercising very consistently, and making fresh vegetable juice for myself every day, and drinking less wine--which is not exactly going to rock the world. I feel fabulous though, I must say, and if Madonna weren't trotting around on national TV promoting the idea that this is what a 53-year-old woman looks like, I'd probably feel even more fabulous.

But I went to the Chinese New Year celebration at the Huntington Gardens yesterday, so hey, it's the new year all over again. Fresh start, right?

I think my problem is that I am too often in the land of "Should." My bed is made, the laundry is done, the bills are paid, the litter box is scooped, the dishwasher unloaded, the patio swept, even the paint cans in the garage are alphabetized, and wow, look how late it is--there's no time to really dig in and revise that story now.

But it's the Year of the Dragon. This year could be different, right?

Sunday, February 5, 2012

A Weekend of Substance, i.e. Meat

After reading THIS, despite the fact that it is not at all well-written, I decided to take a break from vegetarianism for an evening and seek out some grass-fed beef.  C., the man who loves me, and I went out to a place on the Sunset Strip called The Burger Lounge.

It was good. Really good.

There was more meat to come--at a reading for the launch of Issue 2 for The Rattling Wall held at the trés chic Hollywood Standard. Lots of opportunity for people watching as we waited for the show to begin. And support for C's theory that the hipness of a hotel bar is inversely proportionate to the light in the bathroom. All those pretty people are so dang fine that they don't need to check their eyeliner or their lipstick, I guess.

There was interesting signage--which made us wonder if pictograms ought to employ

There was a sort of real-life pictogram, too. Behind the check-in desk in the lobby, there was a large glass case with a gorgeous woman lying on a bed. As if to say, "Hey! This is a hotel! And we have beds! And maybe you could have a someone as attractive as this in your bed if you hang out in this neighborhood long enough!" It seemed too awkward to photograph her, so I didn't. You'll have to take my word for it that a hotel on the Sunset Strip would display a woman on a bed in a glass case.

But the real substance of this Hollywood night (held poolside with a view of The City of Angels spread out before us, of course!) was the reading. I was fascinated by the way the featured writers presented their work--prefacing it or not. Interjecting comments or barreling straight through their material in full-out performance mode. Reading from the magazine or choosing something else entirely.

This morning the man who loves me and I were still talking about Jon Sands's poems, how there really are those moments in life that change everything, how an artist's commitment to his material can be so profoundly moving.

Saturday, February 4, 2012

What I've been doing lately instead of blogging...

...visiting botanical gardens, of course.

There's been high tea and photography with friends   at
The Huntington Library and Botanical Gardens.

There's been a visit from writer and artist Thordis Niela Simonsen that not only included another trip to the Huntington, but the Los Angeles County Arboretum as well.

And the fabulous Greene and Greene masterpiece The Gamble House--which we were not allowed to photograph, but was full of images of birds and trees and flowers like the ones we were seeing.

When Niela saw the delphiniums at the Huntington, she thought of her grandmother's garden. I thought of the people in my life who are like the stakes that keep the delphiniums from toppling over.

And before these forays into urban nature, I drove 400 miles through the desert and back to visit my son and his family where there is a girl who loves horses.

There has been such beauty laid out before me.

photo credit for the botanical erotica at the top of the post: Sandy Walker
The rest of the photos are my own.