Monday, June 30, 2008

Sometimes, After Making Love

When we feel the blood slip
through our arteries and veins,
sliding through the capillaries, thin as
root hairs, bringing bliss to the most
remote outposts of our bodies, delivering
oxygen and proteins, minerals, all the rich
chemicals our cells crave and devour
as we have devoured each other, I
lie there as sound reasserts itself,
and listen to the soft ticking of the clock
and a foghorn, faint from the lighthouse;
a car door slams across the street,
and I want to say something to you,
but it's like trying to tell a dream,
when the words come out flat as
handkerchiefs under the iron and the listener
smiles pleasantly like a person who doesn't
speak the language and nods at everything.
It should be enough that we have
lived these hours, breathing
each other's breath, catching the wind
in the sails of our bodies.
It should be enough. And yet
I carry the need for speech, strung
on the filaments of my DNA like black pearls,
from the earliest times when our ancestors
must have lain still, in amazement,
and groped for the first words.

- Ellen Bass

"Relatively few problems at L.A. rave"

Tell this to my brother, whose phone was stolen while he was doing whatever raving people do at the L.A. Coliseum. He was really bummed to have lost his phone. He'd been hoping to call anyone and everyone to tell us how much he loves us. About a year ago I got this long-ass message from him while he was at one of these things. He was foaming at the mouth about how great I am and how much he loves Adam and how daisies basically sprout out of our nether regions.

Come to think of it, I'm bummed he lost his phone too. I would've liked another one of those calls.

From what I just sent Adam

In the movies, this would be where I catch my own eye in the mirror and see something that changes me, or devastates me, or has some other fundamental and dramatic effect.

Me being me, however, the drum roll comes to the beat of irritation.

“Goddamn it,” I say, my favorite expression. Goddamn it just covers so much.

Reworking the prologue for the project. I just sent the beginning to Adam and immediately he recognized what I was trying to do: "It's like Wesley says," he said. "Start where the heat is."

We always joke that he got his MFA along with me. I always came home and told him what went on in school that day. He went to just about every party. Now he's my first reader. A damn good one at that.
Lose your dreams and you will lose your mind. - Rolling Stones

Sunday, June 29, 2008

From a piece of notepaper marked "San Paolo Imi"

In my handwriting:

"Humanity has advanced, when it has advanced, not because it has been sober, responsible, and cautious, but because it has been playful, rebellious, and immature." - Tom Robbins

Adam, Saturday night

"In porn, guys should be seen and not heard."

Saturday, June 28, 2008

"I Had Always Thought ..."

Garen Patterson's doing his solo performance in our backyard tomorrow at 6 pm. Looks like it'll be a good crowd, including Marcus and Dave. If anyone tramples my licorice, though, I'm going to have to kick some ass.

Friday, June 27, 2008

Domesticity and the inevitable

Sounds a bit like a '60s pop band, doesn't it?

Friday night. Adam and I have plans for the rest of the weekend, so we're just hanging out, listening to music, making vegetable soup, talking about everything and nothing at the same time. "I love being married," I said. "I love not having to worry about what I'm doing over the weekend. It's the best of both worlds. I'm still totally social, I still see my friends all the time, and there's always somebody around."

"I love being married to you," he said. "My first four marriages just weren't the same."

(Note to the irony-challenged: No, he has not been married before.)

For some reason, I'm thinking about the first time his sister met me. She said: "If you get married, Adam will have two brothers-in-law named Adam." She was referring to my brother Adam and her husband, Rabbi Adam, who in fact officiated at our wedding. Guess she was onto something.

Makin' money the fly way

How sad is it that Adam and I had to look up the "baller/shot-caller" song to figure out what the hell it is and what it means?

I'm really liking my workplace on this late Friday afternoon: my couch, sitting with Adam and Oliver, who as usual is tucked between us. If only we could see David Sedaris at Diesel tonight -- but apparently you can't get in there without heavy artillery. Hm, maybe we can get in ...

More random pictures

Antigua, Guatemala, end of December 2006.
Inner Sunset (I think), San Francisco, January 2007.
Austin, Texas, January 2008.
Carl. Perennially dork-beyond-dork, but this time was at our Super Bowl party, where he and Warren almost splattered our TV across the entire Farm. Jesus. Late January, 2008.
Gualala, Calif., July 2006. Sea Pines Cottage, St. Orres. Paradise. Except for the wild turkeys.

Random pictures

From top to bottom: My studio, The Julia and David White Artists' Colony, Costa Rica, December 2006; feet, San Francisco Airport, February 2008; Old Town, Prague, February 2008; Talia, my Cocker Spaniel friend, Costa Rica, December 2006; the couch outside my studio, Costa Rica, December 2006. I would get wired on good Costa Rican coffee and sit on that bench at night, listening to the wind whip through the trees. It sounded as though there was a beach in the blackness down there, invisible waves crashing so only I could hear them. I usually liked the wind, except when it blew the wifi out.

Thursday, June 26, 2008

Stream of consciousness

An exercise written while at Delta of Venus in Davis tonight:

Two girls discussing relationships, a guy named Ben. What would it be like to be in love with a guy named Ben? How would his name roll off your tongue, your mind? "I didn't know what I was going to do, so I decided to just throw myself at it." Is that like tumbling through a plate-glass window? Rolling down a hill? Talking about application processes, conference deadlines. In my mind somebody turns to me and says, I understand you.

Adam read it, smiled, and said: "I understand you."

Of course he does. He understands me better than anyone. He knows me better than anybody. It has less to do with being my husband than with being my best friend.

I'm flashing back on this time long ago, years before we were dating, when we went out drinking at some Irish bar in the city, in the Richmond, I think. We wound up so drunk that we were sitting on the sidewalk on Geary and he was brushing my hair. Then we made it back to the East Bay (shamefully, I drove -- something I haven't done for a long time and won't do again, this driving while messed up) and I dropped him off at his car. He was parked at Lake Merritt BART for some reason. I don't remember why and it's not important.

Five minutes after I dropped him off, my phone rang. I rarely hear my cell phone because it's always on vibrate, and I rarely answer it because I still hate cell phones and probably always will, but this time I heard it and I answered.

He'd made it home and had just gotten out of his car. "I wanted to make sure you made it home okay," he said. Then he leaned over and puked in the street.

"Sure," I said. "I'm just pulling up now." I was in downtown Oakland passing the City Center buildings. I was drunk and lying and driving, and I shouldn't have been doing any of those things.

I don't know why I just related that story. Stream of consciousness.

Wednesday, June 25, 2008

We walked into Armadillo Music in Davis. On the register was a sign commemorating the death of its owner and announcing a memorial this Saturday.

My heart just opened up. We don't know when we're going to go and we don't know how. Adam's right. Life's not a competition. It's about loving who's around you and enjoying the time that you have.

Road trip!

We're going to Davis to celebrate my landing a new client! Top down and 85 degrees in Davis -- we're there, baby!

Tuesday, June 24, 2008

One of the highlights of our recent Southern California trip was seeing Adam's mom. We've pretty much always gotten along, the bumps of melding families notwithstanding, but things have felt even better post-wedding.

We spent a typical LA heat-wave Monday with her, just hanging out at her place, chatting, having dinner. At one point she handed me a packet of personalized pens that happened to land at her workplace. "They said 'Allison'," she said, "and I said, I have an Allison!"

That made me feel hella good.

Say what?

I don't generally comment on job ads or job-related stuff much at all here, but these lines from postings today made my head spin around Linda Blair-style (no green puke, though):

This is a professional job, not an hourly job, and like most work in publishing, don't even begin to think you can count the hours you work, which will be way more than 40 hours per week.

Really? Many, if not most, of my jobs have been in publishing and I can't recall ever working under those terms.

We have a small team that kicks ass and we are demanding of new hires. You will be given a lot of responsibility from the first day you work for XXX -- this is not an administrative assistant position. If you're looking for a chill job to help get you through the summer, this is not the one for you. This job will be stressful and demanding but you will have the opportunity to gain invaluable experience in the worlds of technology, social media, and publishing.

And the kicker? Can you guess?

This position does not pay -- at least until you prove your worth to the company.

Ah. Of course.

Oliver on LSD

"A travel story spewing douchebag"

My boy has a way with words. His Yelp review of Manpuku, the unfortunately named but kick-ass Japanese restaurant where we had lunch today:

At risk of being a travel story spewing douchebag, I have to relate what went into making my experience here so great:

In December, my wife and I booked an impromptu trip to Tokyo. We both had an amazing time there, and one of the great parts was the nearly ubiquitous curry house. It was very simple. Next to the door was a vending machine. Insert yen, press the button with a picture of a tasty looking dish, collect your receipt and hand it to the person behind the counter. In less then two minutes, a nice, cheap bowl of rice with curried meat was placed in front of you. For the hungry gaijin (foreigner), there was no better sight than the curry house. One sad thing was the difficulty of finding good Japanese curry rice in the Bay Area (surprising given the Japanese/Korean population around here!).

Fast forward to this afternoon, and my wife suggests Manpuku for lunch on the strength of her previous visit getting the $5 giant bowl of udon. We walk in, and it is the closest thing I have seen in America of the curry house. Walk up to the counter, and order from at the register rather than through a machine, but a similar idea. When I saw curry rice on the menu, my choice was made. I ordered the Chicken Curry Rice, a couple of nigiri, took the receipt and sat to wait for my food. It took slightly longer than in Tokyo, but maybe only 5 minutes. When my curry was placed in front of me, the first bite brought me back to the experience of a Tokyo curry house. The experience was even completed by the guy at the counter reading the paper, true Tokyo businessman style even if it was the NY Times and not the Japan Times. The nigiri was also very good (I got hamachi and tomago, the wife got shiro maguro and sake). Minus 1 star because Tokyo children are much quieter and better behaved than Berkeley children, but plus six stars for my best curry rice experience since Tokyo. The only thing that would have improved the deal would be a Japanese Toto toilet seat with a heated seat wash and dry functions.

I'll be back in a second!

Jerry Seinfeld on George Carlin

I know George didn’t believe in heaven or hell. Like death, they were just more comedy premises. And it just makes me even sadder to think that when I reach my own end, whatever tumbling cataclysmic vortex of existence I’m spinning through, in that moment I will still have to think, “Carlin already did it.”

Dying Is Hard. Comedy Is Harder.

Oh, doggy!

Adam took this awesome picture last week in Santa Barbara. We'd stopped for lunch at Aldo's with Yelles and a little bit of cafe time on our way home from Southern California.

I love this picture. Not just because it's a dog -- though that certainly helps -- but because of its clarity, its totally unique subject matter (you can't avoid those eyes!) and the striking simplicity. Adam's a great photographer. I like his eye. So to speak.

Monday, June 23, 2008

I'll leave you to figure out the meaning of "lie-down"

From Adam, sent with the comment: I wonder if having a lie down instead of a nap has a better effect? The joys of working from home!

Einhorn's Secret Weapon: Napping


I wrote a recommendation for Warren's LinkedIn profile, and in turn he wrote one for me -- totally unsolicited. Here it is -- I'm prejudiced, of course, but I think it's beautiful.

As her editor at Inman News, I immediately noticed Allison's gift for storytelling that seemed almost effortless. Now friends, I've seen Allison's career as a writer and performer take off through a combination of hard work, drive, and a need to explore both her boundaries and potential. Courageous, funny, thoughtful and original, Allison is probably the most natural writer I know.

Another RIP

This time for George Carlin. You kicked ass, man.

Sunday, June 22, 2008


After dinner, Adam and I went to Peoples for some coffee. He paid and asked me if I had change for the tip. I got crabby and muttered to him: "How much do I have to give her?"

I don't often get like this and don't like myself when I do. Times are tough all over. All the more reason to drop a little bit in the tip jar and not begrudge the person who receives it.

RIP, Cody's

Apparently, no one reads any more. What, you didn't know? The fact that Cody's has left the building is all the proof you need.

Sarcasm aside: It always sucks to see a bookstore shut its doors. But I have a feeling that bad management decisions are more the culprit than Andy Ross's notion that people no longer crack books.

I love my Monkey Boy

Just finished I Am Not Myself These Days by Josh Kilmer-Purcell. Among the rave reviews, I found one that was not quite so glowing: Bookslut.

I appreciated Kilmer-Purcell's clean copy, sharp dialogue and deceptively simple structure, but I wasn't crazy about this book. My professor Wesley Gibson always urged the use of "vertical moments", or going deep inside the character to give context to the book's events and why they unfold as they do. This book could've used more vertical moments and more nuanced reasoning for why Kilmer-Purcell's life was what it was. An amusing and quick read, but not particularly meaningful.

Becoming a better person -- how quickly can it happen?

Yesterday I attended a daylong on Insight Meditation and Patience that offered by Insight Meditation South Bay.

Other than the fact that it was in Mountain View and hellishly hot, it was a day well spent. It was a mix of meditation, walking meditation, yoga (yes, I actually do yoga on occasion), and a talk in the afternoon.

Patience is far from my strong suit. I'm a foot-tapper and a hand-wringer. That's why I got up early on a Saturday to drive down for this. It can't be very helpful to be impatient. This program helped show me that patience is an active, not passive thing, and that's a good start.

Saturday, June 21, 2008


Got Ethiopian food with Dave, then cruised around in his new RAV4. It was a hell of a feeling riding around with the windows down and the sunroof open on the longest night of the year, circling Lake Merritt and singing "Golddigger" for anyone willing to listen. Later, Dave said: "I'm cracking up because I'm driving around the lake with these two rapping Jews."

Later, while we were hanging out at the Farm:

ME (refusing Adam as he tries to pour more champagne into my glass): I don't need any more.

HIM: You don't have to drink it. I just wanted to give you some. Want some champagne, Dave?

DAVE: Are you trying to fuck me too?

Friday, June 20, 2008

Sometimes I really see so clearly what a great person Adam is, and I wonder -- how the hell did I get so lucky?

Why lie?

I'm a straight shooter and I value that in others. I don't fuck around and refuse to be phony. Obligation is a dirty word. As far as I'm concerned, this is something to promote, not fight.

Wednesday, June 18, 2008

Why do I loathe frat boys?

Is it their expansive jocularity?

Is it their douchebag baseball caps?

Is it the fact that they can turn 50 and still be frat boys?

I'm taking suggestions.

Why I'm neither a sports fan nor an East Coaster

"The Boston Celtics did not just win championship No. 17 last night. They snatched it. They swallowed it. They demanded it."

This from the Boston Globe homepage. Chest-pounding sports fans make me want to hurl in every team color imaginable.

Tuesday, June 17, 2008

Tonight I am in love with ...

In not much of a particular order:

- The smell of Grant Street at ten o'clock at night;
- The fact that our landlord took wonderful care of our cat, our plants, AND our recycling;
- A Ford Focus with satellite radio;
- A purring cat with his feet on me and his head on Adam;
- The quiet of our cottage;
- My husband.

And to all, a good night.

Same-sex couples make history!

Uttering the two simple words "I do," dozens of same-sex couples were wed in the Bay Area on Monday evening as California became the second state in the nation to grant marriage rights to gay men and lesbians.


Monday, June 16, 2008

Taken verbatim from my brother's MySpace profile

I'm the token Jew. I say things like menorah, chanukah, and moseltov. However, there is a bit of black in me, so I also like to say things like damn, shit, and that was wak!

Sunday, June 15, 2008

God, I love writing. I love it in just about any form. I would never be the same if I couldn't do this.
One of my mom's friends showed up to the barbecue she threw yesterday. "Where do you live?" she asked.



"Yeah. I deal in illicit substances. It's the best place for me."

Blank stare. Meanwhile my mother-in-law is sitting there laughing.

"Actually, I'm a writer. There's no difference, really."

Should I have been offended when she called me weird?

Friday, June 13, 2008

I only 70 percent get this myself, but that's enough.

Christina’s house reminds me of my own, its largeness, its loneliness. We live in subdivisions consisting of expansive lots, obedient gardens, homes in need of Jenny Craig. You can’t walk anywhere from here. By the time you get out of the door, down the driveway, and to the neighbor’s house, you’re already pallid from the heat and dripping sweat from your forehead to the tip of your nose.

I wipe my own face with the knob between my thumb and wrist. I understand how Petey must have felt in his own cage, bouncing himself against subtly colored walls, squawking to the audience of his own ears.

Where does this wild ebony vortex originate? Do the exquisite coifs of slender women cringe behind each filmy curtain in our neighborhoods, howling door to stained-glass door with isolation? Is this what drove Nails to seek distraction? Was the untidy shards of our family less painful than facing the silence?

Thursday, June 12, 2008

On the drive down to San Diego, Adam told me: "You're a taskmaster." Apparently that's a compliment. Awesome.

We're here now and sitting in my mother's kitchen. He just did something disgusting and I gave him a look. "What?"

"I'm just going to stare at you while I try to figure out if there's a date by which I can return you and get my money back."

There's no place like North County.
Adam and I went to pick up the rental car at Hertz in Albany -- it's a Ford Focus with satellite radio, pimping style. We saw the same girl there as the last time we rented from Hertz. She's clearly too intelligent to be working that kind of job. She's a bit of a comedian and she makes the rental place her stage. I like that.

As I drove home, I saw how beautiful our neighborhood is, how wonderful Berkeley is in an early-summer afternoon. Everyone should see their neighborhood like that.

Wednesday, June 11, 2008

Small talk

When we were hanging out with Carl, Rebecca, Warren, and his friend Dave on Saturday, the talk somehow turned to weather and stayed there.

This was unacceptable. I insisted that we discuss oral sex at once. The conversation livened right up.
I was struck by this post on depression, which was written by Derek Powazek a few weeks back.

Derek, who has been one of my favorite bloggers for years, writes:

More and more these days I see life as a giant spiraling clusterfuck of bad craziness. A swirling mass of desperation that’s indifferent to any single participant in it. The vortex eats future plans and good intentions and shits them back out as chaos and sadness. It’s like the local news.

So if you can find a moment of joy in your life, you hang on to that thing for all it’s worth. It doesn’t matter what it is. Get whipped. Smoke pot. Fight. Paint pictures. Organize your closet. Create a magazine. Have sex. Make art. Take a photo of a stranger. IT DOESN’T MATTER WHAT IT IS so long as it keeps you off of the edge, keeps you thinking, moving, feeling, wanting something more.

The vortex hates hope. And not pie-in-the-sky hope - that shit gets eaten up like corn chips. The vortex hates actual excitement about the future. The sincere stuff clogs it right up.

So if you can maintain that spark of hope for the future, if everyone could, we might just be able to get through the vortex together.

Well written. Amen.

Tuesday, June 10, 2008

Cafe de la Paz, the week after the wedding

There is this absolutely disgusting woman sitting on a couch at 33 Revolutions. The couch is unfortunately close to where I am.

This woman is disgusting in her personal conduct, which influences how I view her personal appearance. Suffice to say she's spilling all over, in voice and in body, and if I can control myself enough not to spill my iced tea on her (green with mint, thank you), she and I will both be lucky.
Next month, I am taking three days for a work-practice retreat at Green Gulch Zen Center. This was first recommended to me by Betsy, who went for a week and got a ton of writing done.

Green Gulch holds a lot of appeal for me. I've been getting more into meditation practice over the last year, and I'd like to take some time for silence and focus of my own. Since they have wifi, I'll be able to work on my paid projects as well as my writing.

Most of all, I'm just looking forward to a new experience.

Typical doings around my house

From Adam:

I have about 6% of the couch and Oliver 94%. He still thinks I'm taking up too much space.

Monday, June 9, 2008

My mom is funny

Over email: Why didn't you say so -- I'll just bring the old bongs out and you can take your pick. I've got milchedik and fleishadik bongs.

Today's writing

There is a telephone in the bathroom. We installed one here just as we’d installed one in every possible room: no need to run for a ringing phone, to leave our sequestered spaces, to cross paths with one another. We were generous with phone hookups and door locks. We live in a large space bisected by individual partitions.

I pick up the receiver. It is not pink to match the toilet or green to pair with the tile. It is beige, and the ordinary familiarity of that color comforts me.

I call my grandfather in Los Angeles. Bernie hasn’t smoked since my grandmother died of emphysema complications two years earlier, so that couldn’t be the sound of him lighting up as I fill him in. Maybe it’s him spreading Smart Beat butter on a low-carb piece of toast. “This is that Bill Solomon?”

“Sullivan. Bill Sullivan.”

“And you smashed his cat?”

“His pig.”

“He has a pig living in the house?”

I didn’t think Bernie lost his hearing. “A fake pig. It had money in it.”

“Well, why didn’t you say so?”

I hear a trilling on the other end of the door: Nails is knocking with her acrylics. My heartbeat starts preparing for the three-minute mile. “She says I have until noon to get out.”

“Or what? Her friend Solomon will drool on you for a while?”

Adam and I were snipping at each other today. We fight. It's part of our relationship. Typically we laugh it off and figure we've moved forward, not back.

I do occasionally wish I could tame myself, that I were a little less feisty. Fortunately, he doesn't agree. I love you, baby. You jerk. :)

Mike Daisey, 21 Dog Years

"We were delirious in love -- we spent all day having sex and fighting, both at the same time when we could manage it."

All I can say is: Harrumph!

Sunday, June 8, 2008

While I was at the gym just now, I saw Ed McMahon and his wife on Larry King Live. Seems they're about to lose their house and are going public. His wife says that when she feels badly, she goes and shops at the dollar bargain bin at Target. Then a reader wrote in and asked if there was a fund to donate to so that Ed and Pam can keep their $6.75 million home. I almost fell off the elliptical.

Then I saw the last guy I dated before starting to go out with Adam. I haven't seen him in years. He was walking over to say hi. I gave him a half-wave and then busied myself with my iPod. What a bitch I was. I absolutely hate when I do something to hurt someone else. He never did anything to hurt me and, in fact, was always quite kind. I emailed and text-messaged him when I got home, just so I knew he'd get my apology for the way I acted.

Why is it that we chase around after people who have treated us like dirt, meanwhile blowing off those who have been kind? If it's part of being human, let me be a robot.


Sad, shocking news about a rampage in Tokyo's Akihabara district -- first a 25-year-old man plowed into a crowd of pedestrians with a truck, then jumped out and started stabbing. Seventeen are injured, seven of whom are dead.

This led me to look up the Tokyo Storm Trooper, who dances around many of the areas Adam and I explored while we were in Tokyo in December. Here's a little more light-hearted entertainment, direct from Harajuku.

Today's writing

In that moment I wanted to let go of the laundry, drop the hopes, grab what I could and run. Bill’s change still jangled inside my backpack, which sat securely across my shoulders. I’d counted, separating quarters from nickels and dimes, placing the coins into comforting piles: several hundred dollars. He must’ve been saving up chits from delivering cheeseburgers for months. Maybe a year. Perhaps more. He must be good at his job. He must be both efficient and personable. A skilled actor, manipulative, good at getting what he wanted no matter who stood in his way.

His earnings could get me a night in a hotel room, a bus ticket. I’d strike out, piece together my movements one at a time, a jigsaw that could move me from Point A to Point C. I’d make up Point B as I went along. For once I wanted to fix what was wrong, fix my situation, fix myself. Standing in that hallway at seven-fifteen in the morning, my hands folded around falsely fresh laundry, I grasped at an emerging sense of focus, clarity, purpose, cleanliness.

Then my eye caught on the wall and got hooked there: the pictures. My dignified great-grandparents, dressed in black and forever retaining their Russian accents. My parents, in their early twenties, in wedding getups, a blend of formality and nerves. Adam and I, gap-toothed, bowl-cut, grinning. Jonathan.

The brother I hadn’t wanted.

The brother I couldn’t live without.

Jonathan’s and my bond began at the beginning of everything. From the moment I saw the red-haired screamer in his hospital cot, my heart fell into a new, yet-unintroduced place.

Was it sisterly?

Was it maternal?

Was it the meeting of two new best friends?

My belief in reincarnation began with the birth of my youngest brother. I knew this person from back in the day, from another lifetime. God had recycled souls and we were the result.

The teen girls on the corner in Alameda are selling car washes, but only as a side dish. The main meal is their short shorts, their giggles and wide gestures, the bimbo packaging. I want to hit them, but not because I'm angry. I want to punch them for sport.
ME: I wonder if any old friends of mine have said: "Man, she's changed. I have nothing to say to her."

ADAM: I'm sure. And I'd rather someone say "Man, she's changed. What a drag," than "Man, she's stayed exactly the same. What a drag."

Musings on memoir writing

Marcus writes of this morning's taping of West Coast Live at the Freight & Salvage , which he attended along with Adam and I.

As he notes, the taping included a panel of three female memoirists discussing unusual paths to motherhood and, in one case, grandmotherhood: Andrea Askowitz ("My Miserable, Lonely Lesbian Pregnancy"), Mary Pols ("Accidentally on Purpose"), and Adair Lara ("The Granny Diaries").

At one point, the panelists fell into a discussion of regrets: How do my friends, family, and other associates feel about their portrayal in the book? What is my responsibility as the author when it comes to including others? Do they have a say? Adair Lara flat-out said that if given another chance, she would not choose to write her memoir about her daughter ("Hold Me Close, Let Me Go"). Mary Pols said she'd taken some flak from people she'd included in her book. Andrea Askowitz said her family was supportive about her novel.

I found this part of Marcus' post particularly relevant:

The compulsion to lay bare painful stories for public consumption is curious. For serious memoirists, honesty is the most important value. Your identity as a writer is more important than the connections to the people and places that have made up your life. Your identity as a writer is more important than the connections to the people and places that have made up your life; this is very hard to explain to the vast majority of people who will never write a memoir. Needless cruelty has no place in a memoir (or anywhere else), but there's no getting around the fact that candid reflections are going to strike too close to the bone.

Every memoirist has to decide how honest to be, and what is too personal or potentially harmful.

I call my memoir The Project. Same diff. I nail my parents. I peel open family turbulence. I talk about shit I couldn't imagine myself revealing even six months ago. What will this eventually mean? My mother knows what I'm writing about. My father has no idea. My mother will probably read the book, cry, and be proud of me. My father will be furious.

I go back to what Marcus wrote: Your identity as a writer is more important than the connections to the people and places that have made up your life. This is something to chew over. Every time I write about Adam, I ask: Is this okay? He's never said no.

But I'm not about to clear what I write with the people I portray: My parents, my doctors, my classmates, my friends, the various associates and acquaintances who appear in what I write. I'm tempted to say in my typical defiant manner: It's my story and I'll tell it as I please.

It is my story. And I will tell it as I please. Regrets may come. They will be more mild than if I'd decided to turn away from speaking the truth.

Saturday, June 7, 2008

Scott did his dissertation on death and cinema. We were talking tonight, as we have over the years, about filmed representations of death and what they signify.

Are we seeking an answer that can never be provided? Are we voyeurs? Are we trying to quantify the incomprehensible? Do we just like the patent falsity of Faces of Death?

Tonight a new aspect of the argument arose: Technology as a means of making images of death accessible to just about anyone, anywhere. To wit: YouTube, Google Video, or any one of a number of sites showcasing more gruesome fodder. Adam also brought up the point that with most people owning cell phones, we have at our fingertips a video camera ready to capture anything at any time.

The question most certainly is not Are we interested in death? We all are. It may not even be Do we want to see it? In a way, I think we all do, even if we're too scared to actually look.

Scott's question: What is the exact moment of death? Can that be captured?

Define the exact moment of death. Is it when the last breath leaves the body? The soul? Is it before? We'll never know unless it's too late to describe.

Friday, June 6, 2008

I love our place. I adore our place. Just now I was looking at the red-painted kitchen and through the windows, where it's all blue sky and green foliage.

When we went to Japan in December, we rented a tiny room near the heart of the city. It was so tiny that I would wake up in the middle of the night and resent Adam for taking up a body-shaped space. That tiny.

When we came home, we were so thrilled at how spacious and sunny our cottage was! We spread out everywhere and just enjoyed it.

Today's writing

“You’re back,” my mother says. It is seven o’clock. Morning light streams through the portals of my room, playing rainbow havoc on the window seat. I’ve always liked lying there with a book, feeling the sun on my hand while I turned the pages, growing pleasantly drowsy.

We custom-built this house. We bought the land and found an architect who would help us lay our plans. He gave me a feminine paradise, a walk-in closet with its own window, a cherrywood ladder that led to an upstairs loft.

Steve was the architect’s name, the same as my father. Steve put his skills to bear on that loft, creating and designing it, tweaking its elements, and when things came down to things, I never much used it except for novelty.

“I didn’t ask you to come back,” Nails says. She is fully dressed and sitting on my bed, the same canopy I grew up with, still draped in raspberry-sherbet colors. The bed is made, dust ruffle and everything. She’s been doing bills. Her glasses are pressed up onto the top of her head. There is a calculator by her knee.

I look at her and there is that pleasant mom-feeling: Underneath everything, this is the woman who cried into the void and gave me life.

“Leave,” she says.

A few weeks ago I saw a fellow performer do a solo show that included pointed black comedy about the Holocaust. He was Jewish, in fact, and his remarks spurred a lively discussion afterward.

The three performers -- myself, Ira, and Lynn Ruth -- didn't have much problem with what Ira said. We're all Jewish.

However, my friend Dave, who is not Jewish, felt uncomfortable. I appreciated his sensitivity and found the division of opinions interesting.

It also reminded me of when I was a teenager. My mom got a secondhand Mercedes 240D in her quest to become a successful Realtor (capitals necessary, as I have learned as a real estate writer). My Landa grandfather caught wind of this and was not pleased: "You're sitting on your ancestors," he told my mom as we munched our salads and steaks at the Hungry Hunter in Rancho Bernardo. She was not amused.


I got up early for yoga this morning. During class, I looked in the mirror and I liked what I saw. That doesn't mean perfect. That means moving in the right direction.
Girl-drinks tonight with Marcus and Christian. Adam joined us after his game was over. I got tipsy, blurted out embarrassing but funny confessions, and all was well.

Thursday, June 5, 2008

Donate pet food to food pantries

I try not to get preachy, but I'll make an exception for animals. This story in the Chron talks about pet owners who are having to give up their animals because of tough economic times.

Please consider donating pet food to your local food pantry or food bank. End of public service announcement.

This should be written about

Should I be offended that someone who poses like the statue David and asks his girlfriend if he looks like an Adonis thinks I'm too ugly for my husband to love?

Let's call the poser George and the girlfriend Weezie. I met up with Weezie, a longtime friend of Adam's and mine, last night for dinner. We were browsing in a bookstore and gabbing and I was telling her about congenital adrenal hyperplasia, which is my official diagnosis. I'm on the more mild side of the spectrum, which means that my symptoms are largely annoying, frustrating, and embarrassing as opposed to being life-threatening.

Later she mentioned that George had a few observations after having seen Adam and I together last weekend. "He sees the symptoms," she said, referring to me, "and he said: 'Adam loves Allison.'"

I was confused at first: Did she mean Adam sees my symptoms? Of course; they're pretty obvious, and besides, he's my husband. Of course he knows what I suffer from.

Then I realized she meant George. As she continued talking, it became clear: George was surprised that Adam could love me. After all, in George's eyes, I'm ugly. No one who's ugly is worthy of love.

I blinked, and for a single second thought about papering over my feelings. Saying It's okay. No worries. This tea is good, want to try some?

Then the tears came. They were subtle. No one else but Weezie saw. I wrapped my arms around myself. I needed protection.

"I find that offensive," I kept saying over and over, the statement's relative formality another layer of protection. "I find that so offensive."

Weezie moved closer and put a hand on my knee. Long ago she was Adam's housemate, someone I greeted as we passed on the stairs late at night. Then she met me and decided she wanted to be my friend. That was three years ago. "I understand," she said.

I feel better about myself then I've ever felt as an adult or teenager. Between medication, laser hair removal, and gym visits, I'm seeing changes.

That's why George's assertion got to me. It's not because I have low self-esteem. It's because these days I have higher self-esteem than ever before.

I also have a husband who is the most decent, kind person I've ever met. Being with him makes me believe everyone thinks like him. That everyone sees the world as he does. That people like George, who believes people he deems ugly aren't worthy of love, who poses and asks for affirmation, who shoots his mouth off about attractiveness yet is too embarrassed to discuss sexual topics with his own girlfriend, don't exist.

They do.

That's why I'm writing The Project.

On some level, I always knew I'd write about this. I just didn't how how I would ever address it. It was such a vortex of shame. How could I ever put it on paper and tell other people this is what's wrong with me? They saw it, but I could never openly address it with them.

Then I went to a workshop at Joyce Maynard's house in Mill Valley. She talked about At Home in the World, her memoir about the love affair she had at 19 with the 53-year-old J.D. Salinger. She said she knew she had to write it, and that afterward she wrote two books in quick succession. She had to get it out in order to move on, not just in art but in life.

During my second year of grad school I started taking notes. Finally I shared the idea with a professor I liked and respected. He encouraged me and I pushed further. I finished a draft in Costa Rica and now I'm revising and largely rewriting that draft.

I'm writing about this: What happens when your physical abnormalities, however benign, are too apparent to hide? For me, what happens is you embrace the truth. You become addicted to it. You find someone who loves you and tells you each day that you are beautiful, you are hot, you are Landa, inescapably.

You tell the world that this exists. You tell the world that you don't expect them to overlook those abnormalities, but that you would hope they'd see more.

To those who do see more: Thank you. This book I'm writing -- it's for you.

To those who don't: I say both Fuck You and Thank You. Fuck You for judging me. Thank You because I know what I'm up against, and I'm gaining ground because of it.

Wednesday, June 4, 2008

"I think they're trying to scare the Marines. I mean, there's Fallujah and then there's this." - Adam on the Code Pinkers caterwauling some version of "A Hard Day's Night"

I'm the daddy of the mack daddy

That line is running through my head.

Scott is in town for the summer! He's taking Adam and I to dinner on Friday. Very few people make me laugh as hard as Scott.

The last time we saw each other was in Queens. I was in New York taking Mike Daisey's intensive and had booked a hotel in Brooklyn. Scott and I went to dinner and I was back at my room, getting ready for the next day, when I saw a mouse pop out from behind the television and scuttle across the floor.

I lost my shit.

I called Adam. It was midnight West Coast time. "There is a mouse in this room," I said, using the voice I reserve exclusively for sex and terror.

He cracked up. "Welcome to New York," he said.

After I went through my whole litany of how he was a motherfucker and how could he laugh at a time like this, I insisted that he help me reserve another hotel room. "For tonight?" he asked.

"Yes," I said. I wasn't getting a good wireless connection and kept bugging him: "Did you find anything? Where? Jamaica? I'll take it."

I'd reserved the damn thing when he convinced me to stay put for the night and just switch places in the morning. "How do you scare away mice?" I asked.

"They don't like motion," he said. So I bounced up and down on the bed for about a half hour before realizing I wouldn't able to simultaneously sleep and bounce.

Next day, it was Scott to the rescue. I checked out of the scary mouse hotel, went to SoHo and had the first day of the intensive, canceled my room in God-knows-where-Jamaica, and showed up at his place in Astoria. Clean and vermin-free. I slept like the damn dead.
I'm very, very protective of my freelance career. Flying solo has given me an unparalleled quality of life. There's not much I wouldn't do to hang onto that.
I dream that I am on a balcony on a skyscraper, a building of Las Vegas or New York proportions. I am facing my father, both of us with blades in our hands. His is weightier, larger. We fence, jab. I wake and am calm.

Tuesday, June 3, 2008

I love to bug Adam, especially if he's paying attention to something. Just now he was looking at his political blogs and I came up with one of these songs that you just love when you're six -- in this case, "Love Will Keep Us Together" by Captain and Tennille. I put it on YouTube and started singing at top volume. He didn't even try not to look pained.

He just left to go vote: "Don't hurt yourself singing." I'll try.

Today's writing

Who am I kidding? I do want those boundaries. I don’t just want to be a woman – I want to be a girl. I want to be the person who would’ve enjoyed the Barbie townhouse and childhood canopy bed, who read Sweet Valley High books and actually liked them. I want to hide behind the skirts of my sisters, revel in that safety, roll in that feminine carpet of sweet-scented rose petals.

There is wanting and there is wanting to want. Six degrees of longing.

I used to go out with a guy who was so into what he did that he near-literally jumped out of bed in the morning. If that sounds obnoxious, it may well be -- but it was also inspiring.

"Like you can't do that?" he said when I told him how lucky he was. He was right.

The song poem

It was when Adam and I both had office jobs and quite a while before we started dating, which should tell you how long ago this was.

We used to play a game: Create a poem of song lyrics. Our creations combined Journey and Tom Petty, Steve Miller and Blondie. It made us think. It was fun.

It's been a long time since I frequented an office and, if I have my way, I'll never do it again. Today Adam and I are sitting across from each other at Caffe La Scala in Walnut Creek, working.

I just started a new game of Song Poem. Here's what we've got so far:

I'm the daddy of the mack daddy
Mack Daddy's gonna make you jump, jump
You tryin to get crazee wid me, ese?
Oh what a lady, what a night.
But she whooped out a dick that was bigger than mine.
No woman, no cry
I didn't know she had the GI Joe Kung Fu grip
They were fast as lightning
Do you love me? Will you love me forever?
I just called to say I love you
Operator, can you help me place this call?

Monday, June 2, 2008

Who knows why? Love between people is not something to be understood by onlookers. No one might have guessed that my father, a genial and charming man from the city, could have loved this whisper of a girl. But a transformation took place in him, and he saw something in her either that no one else could or that they refused to recognize. He saw a light, he would often say. Your mother is a light.

- Cristina Henriquez, Come Together, Fall Apart

From Tracy

So, it's a memoir. I wondered if that's what you didn't want to talk about . . .

It's brilliant. Absolutely heart-wrenching and completely brilliant. Seriously.

Her words gave me a great start to my Monday. Not only is she capable of judging the writing, but she knew me as a kid and understands exactly where this is all coming from.

Oh, smiley dog at the door of Mudrakers

Be mine.

Sunday, June 1, 2008

Misplaced New Yorker

We ran into Catherine and Serdar at Pizzeria Gialina tonight -- doubly funny since we were there to use the Gialina gift certificate they'd given us as a wedding gift. Adam asked the host to change our reservation from two to four and we had a great time eating highfalutin pizza and splitting a ridiculously good hazelnut dessert.

At one point, Serdar said: "You're really East Coast!" I sure am. We could move to the East Coast and while I'm sure I'd have some settling-in difficulties, I have a feeling I'd find like-minded folk fairly quickly.

In other news, Adam just flung himself on the couch and almost sat on Oliver's head. Great. I'm now having flashbacks to when Christopher crunched Adriana's dog, Cosette, on the Sopranos.

Mission District, this afternoon

Look closely in the motorcycle's mirror.
A friend told me someone he knew saw my last performance at the Marsh. She wasn't impressed and suggested I do some work on my delivery.

I welcome critical feedback. Though hearing this stung a bit, I'd always rather get an honest assessment than a pretty bouquet of lies. I'm also a more natural writer than a performer, and I know I have a lot of work ahead.

That's why I've refocused on sitting behind the computer rather than standing on the stage. I'm sure I'll return, but for now, this is where I'd rather be.