Wednesday, December 30, 2009

The double-zeros

I started with a party and am ending the same way.

I began with a wandering heart and wound up madly in love.

I set off with dreams and went out to achieve them.

Bring on the teens.

Saturday, December 26, 2009

Adam, horrified

"The fact that she may actually be getting some dick and that she's working really hard to be the most cat lady that she can be ..."

Friday, December 25, 2009


Hanging out with my boy and my kitty. Fun fruitcake adds to it. Ask me for the recipe.

Merry Christmas to all my favorite goyim. And I mean that in the nicest possible way.

Wednesday, December 23, 2009

The Fam at the Farm


It was a rip,
an expulsion.
It was a birth.
There was no choice
but to accept paralysis
at bedside:

Wish you were here
did not begin
to cover it.

Tuesday, December 22, 2009

Today's writing

It is perhaps most strongly felt in dreams.

Within that smeary half-landscape something peels away, something else pokes out an ugly head, waves a warning finger.

I am rendered mute by abandonment. I am blindsided by loss.

Thursday, December 17, 2009

A hero lies in you

I'm working at a tea shop in Russian Hill, reading up on commercial-backed mortgage securities. Mariah Carey's "Hero" comes on. I remember my father telling me that that song gave him strength during the divorce. I don't find this funny because it wasn't meant to be.

Monday, December 14, 2009

This morning

I had one of my dreams. "I do this to myself," I said.

Adam said: "I beg to differ."

Sunday, December 13, 2009

Adam on Tiger

"Apparently it's too hard to play golf and not fuck other women. Aren't you glad I don't play golf?"

Friday, December 11, 2009

Adam, 7:18 a.m.

"There are way too many people who will argue against you for you to argue against yourself."

Why is accessibility a bad thing?

I've been having a debate with a former MFA colleague about this article. In it, author Joan Houlihan argues that accessibility in poetry is killing the form:

(An accessible poem) is a poem we can understand. Immediately. We feel no drive to delve. It is not a poem we need to analyze. There are no pesky layers of meaning. What you see is what you get.

Houlihan bats at poets such as Billy Collins and Ellen Bass:

In some ways, such writing is worse than that which obfuscates and fancy-dances in order to create a dazzling surface, a distraction from its basic emptiness of content or intellect. The (too-obvious) meaning in a Bass poem cannot compensate for the lack of a dazzling surface.

Houlihan can keep her academic snobbery. It's a major contributor to the sad fact that many people loathe poetry.

Thursday, December 10, 2009

A "real job"

A friend congratulated me on getting a "real job."

A real job? Haven't I been doing a real job for the better part of a decade?

No one can tell me freelancing's not a job. It's one of the hardest jobs I can imagine having. You make your own structure, your own schedule. You are ultimately responsible for ... everything.

And it's rewarding. Oh, it's rewarding as hell.

Full-time telecommute combines the best aspects of everything: the freedom of freelancing plus the security of full time. That said, it is no more real than any other way I've made a living.

New position, familiar territory

I'm thrilled to announce that next week I will start work as News Editor for Commercial Property Executive, which has relaunched. I worked for CPE's former incarnation, Commercial Property News, and am happy to be back!

Wednesday, December 9, 2009

From my Czech piece

There was a reason Jaroslav called Mama and Tata your family, a reason he refers to them by the Czech names for Grandma and Grandpa. They are warm like that, protective. You can see Tata kneeling to teach a young boy how to ride a bike. Mama is an awesome cook. I know because she’s left me a plate of dinner and dessert and puking or not, I’ve managed to chow it all down.

Yet in all the warmth there is a chilly streak. That streak is me.

When Mama and Tata hugged me goodnight, I fought the urge to push them backward. Each time they smiled at me, indulgent and protective, I wanted to cry out: You don’t know me! Why do you care? Let me alone!

More than anything, I want to punish myself, put my head through the bathroom mirror, cut my wrists with the dull butter knife until the blood reluctantly comes. You want someone to treat you like shit? Here you go.

Tuesday, December 8, 2009

Never been the same

Something changed after I got home from MacDowell: I became truly aware that Oliver's health needed to be watched and managed.

While I was in Boston, Adam told me he wasn't eating as much as usual. We switched food type, but to no avail. When I got home, he wasn't his typical self. I knew it the minute I walked in the door and picked him up.

Three days later he had 215 ml of fluid drained from around his lungs.

That first week afterward, I thought he may not make it. It all depended on whether he responded to the medication that would reduce the fluid -- helping the heart, but not the kidneys. He did respond. It's been two months. But every time he twitches -- literally -- I freak out.

It's never been the same. It will never be the same. Some days it's harder to accept.

I'm thinking of the day after the fluid was drained. Our vet saw what she thought were three nodules on his lung (turns out two were just congestion, which cleared up; who knows what the third one is) and diagnosed it as cancer. (Two months later, I'm not quite convinced, and neither were the other vets he's seen since.) I asked what his prognosis was. She said: "Not good."

After we hung up, I sat in the sun next to him and bawled. Then I did something even harder than having to listen to the diagnosis: I called Adam. I kept saying over and over: "I'm sorry."

Monday, December 7, 2009

Adam, when I asked him to check in on Oliver

"Of course. I'll give him a bunch of treats and scratch his prostate."

Abandoning the Planet

The Abandoned Planet bookstore is closing. I had a burrito for lunch. The Mission feels flat and windswept today, a winter victim. This song wants me to hold my prayers. Perhaps I'll listen.

Thursday, December 3, 2009

Thinking Jewishly

A major part of my reason for taking the Introduction to the Jewish Experience class was to learn more about a religion that has both always and never been mine.

Last night Rabbi Adar told us that much of the purpose of the class was to help us find our own place in Judaism -- to identify our individual interests. Mine are:

1) Judaism and meditation
2) Sex, love, romance and marriage in Jewish life
3) Bacon.

I plan to pursue these in the future.

What did you expect?

My mother tells the story of the snake and the savior (not The Savior; we're Jewish). This person rescues a sick snake and nurses it back to health. As soon as the snake is well, it bites the person. As the person is dying from his wounds, he says: "But why?"

"I'm a snake," the creature says. "What did you expect?"

Tuesday, December 1, 2009

Little Beater

Since we bought Ringo last night, it looks like my 1989 Toyota Corolla is getting sold back to the state for $1000.

It's not an opportunity I can pass up. Who else is giving to give me a grand for a 20-year-old car with a hole in the roof? (Don't ask, or better yet, ask Adam.)

I bought that car in August 2004 as I was starting grad school at St. Mary's. I was single then and living in Oakland. I needed to replace my Celica convertible. I'd beaten the thing to all hell and I needed a reliable car to get to school.

Enter Little Beater. I bought her for $1500 from an extremely responsible girl named Erin. The car was in gorgeous shape for a vehicle that old. I've only put 40,000 miles on her in the past five years. I've driven her to Los Angeles several times and San Diego once -- I think, but am not sure. We've been to Reno together, Santa Cruz too.

She was one of the last decisions I would make on my own. Last night Adam asked me if I needed more space to make unilateral decisions.

"I left for a month in September," I said. "And two weeks in July. If that isn't unilateral, I don't know what is."

Still, I'm going to miss Little Beater. Lord knows I don't want to be single again, but those days were fun.

Blues for Roberto

It’s an ugly circus, to leave you again.
It’s a carnival act: bound, chained
underwater in a glass tank, near-drowned,

I’ve gotten free. I’m incredible.
I’ve gotten so good I’m terrible.
Bring on the elephants, their great legs hobbled.

Bring on a lion, I’ll feed it my head.
Bring a small scrap of paper to wipe up the blood.
I’ll hang myself from the high wire, nude…

Once you loved me, but walked away.
Once was too often, for a girl like me—
Since then I’ve made you pay and pay.

Don’t call me, ever. I’ll tell you I’m sorry.
Don’t call me, I tell you; it’s boring, boring
always to leap to the end of the story.

And this is the end. I’m leaving town.
This is the end: the tents torn down,
the animals making caged animal sounds.

Kim Addonizio

Monday, November 30, 2009

Written yesterday at Aroma Tea Shop

Isn’t There Any Romance in Your Soul?

It is stripped,
the paint-thinner
approach to life.

It is rubbed and worn,
a shaking head,
a waggling finger.

This is not
your playground.
The heart
holds no monkey bars,
no swing sets, no slides.
Here is empty space,
a cafe, if you will –
hear it echo and search
for what doesn’t exist.

Or perhaps it
lies in hiding,
in wait
down alleys, around corners
with blue eyes telling you
I see the exact opposite.

When You Said

That I can be brutal
I answered no,
fists curled, jaw locked
in what could almost
pass as a smile.

I wanted to hit you
as you taught me,
a boxing maneuver
to your dear chin,
two knuckles
with taut skin,
to show you I care.


Spring offered
a day free
of cynicism.

When you said
my love
everyone smiled
at my reply.

Friday, November 27, 2009

I did get off the ground

To help with my new project, Rob sent me emails from before and after Sept. 11. Some excerpts from what he wrote to me:

Sept. 10, 2001: Have a great fucking time, I feel pretty good that after knowing me a very short time you've chosen only to leave the country and not life itself.

Sept. 13, 2001: Well Allison, I thought of you almost immediately when I heard the news Tuesday morning ... Nothing to joke about now, sorry your trip's been delayed, let me know if you ever get off the ground.

Monday, November 23, 2009

Dumbass Daily Nexus quotes

I have a ton of stuff to do and so of course I'm rambling through old papers getting nostalgic. I just found a bunch of quotes from me that were written down by my Daily Nexus colleages (the Nexus was the UCSB paper). Here's a sampling:

"I hope you know I've inebriated nothing tonight." - 4/15/96, "Ali's drunk night"

"Yes, I'm confessing ... to being a crack-smoker." - 4/15/96

"Am I the freak of the day?" - 4/13/96

"I have found my future husband." - 4/10/96, in reference to a large black dog that had entered the office.

"I'm an accident." - 4/29/96

"I'm totally on drugs here." - 4/16/96

"You'd think I'm the only one around here who gets any." - 4/18/96. Best one of all because as far as I can recall, I didn't get nothing senior year, or throughout the great majority of my college experience.

Friday, November 20, 2009

More of today's writing

But at the heart of it he is my friend. This is what I have lost: the companionship of someone who understands without the need for explanation. This is not to say romantic love is a lesser thing. It is companionship that provides romantic love’s base.

Today's writing

“I want to say my heart was breaking in that bed,” I tell the storefront, “and it was aching for sure. The achy-breaky, yeah? But really I just –”

I just what? What do I feel?

“I miss my friend,” I say.

Thursday, November 19, 2009

MacDowell photos

From a wonderful photo session with Joanna Eldredge Morrissey. All photos copyright Joanna Eldredge Morrissey.

Pictures of You

Adam and I were playing this song last night and talking about people who are no longer in our lives.

It's a weird thing. One day they're there, the next day? Strangers. It was once my fear that that would happen with him, that I would play this song and look at the pictures of us, and cry. I'm tearing up right now thinking of it, actually. I could never lose him. No matter what happens between us, I always want him in my life.

Tuesday, November 17, 2009

More on MacD

I think a lot of why I was depressed in Peterborough was because, though I met some wonderfully talented people and clicked with quite a few of them, there were no lasting connections. I'm not sure that I expected there would be, but it sure would've been nice. Kimmel Harding, with its all-of-four people including me, seems to have turned up stronger bonds.

Dear would-be clients

You cannot ask for samples exclusive to your line of business in order for someone to "prove" they can do the job. This is free work and is unethical. I'm not saying I haven't been dumb enough to do it in the past, but not for a long time. In this crappy economy, time is money and I'm not interested in writing for free.

Sunday, November 15, 2009

From what I'm editing right now

There are two kinds of love: the kind that is about them and the kind that is about you. When it’s about you, the loved one is but a vessel, a container to be filled with your hopes and fantasies. Chase the vessel and you chase a mirage. Cross that desert and drink from an empty golden cup.

Why is it

That the hardest writing is the stuff you actually want to do?

Friday, November 13, 2009

Adopt Bear

I feel so helpless when I see things like this: Bear is a 13-year-old dog who spent his entire life with one family who abandoned him when they moved overseas. He was too old to make the trip.

My heart aches. If I were in any position to adopt him, I would. I hope someone out there can.

When someone treats you

A week ago, a dear friend took me to Five, the new(ish) restaurant at the Hotel Shattuck in downtown Berkeley. Afterward, I found myself mulling my personal rules for when someone treats you to a meal:

- Don't get the most expensive thing on the menu.
- Offer to treat them to something, even if it's just a coffee.
- Thank them. Duh.

Thursday, November 12, 2009

Out with it

I haven't talked about this at all, not publicly at least: I was extremely depressed while at MacDowell.

I want to emphasize that these are wonderful people. They do everything possible to provide a warm and nurturing environment in which to create. Part of the reason I've shied away from talking about this is that I didn't want to give MacDowell a bad name in any way, shape or form -- as if my small experience could ever change its hundred-year history.

The depression was about me. I was homesick, lonely. Breakfasts and dinners, the times where I got to see other people -- those were great. I looked forward to those.

But the days I spent at my studio, looking out at the woods -- God. Words cannot describe what I felt in those times.

It feels good to start to talk about it.

Don't trip on the flow

And I really have no idea why this post is titled that, but there you have it.

After a few days of real peace -- the medication is working -- today I've felt a bit irritated and agitated. I'm thinking about what Sophie said: Don't push it aside, make room for it.

I'm working on that. I want to be able to accept a full range of emotions and not just cling to feeling good. That's harder than it sounds, though, and it sounds damn hard.

Tuesday, November 10, 2009

The look

I took Oliver to the vet today. I really couldn't have asked for better results. "He's a miracle," Dr. Lee said. Blood pressure's close to normal, everything else looking stable, attitude good (or healthy; not always cooperative), eating like a horse. I was very pleased.

As I was waiting for them to bring him back into the lobby, two women came in carrying a very sick dog. The dog was breathing heavily and obviously couldn't walk. I looked over and met the eyes of one of the women. Her gaze was exhausted and very, very sad.

I can't get that picture out of my mind.

Monday, November 9, 2009

All aboard the Napa Valley Wine Train

Feeling that lift

I think the drug cocktail I've been taking is finally kicking in. Let's sum it up:

Abilify (a mood stabilizer)

That's a shitload of drugs, but it's also a lot of depression. I feel good today. Not like a zombie, not eerily high, just good and hopeful. Given that Mondays are particularly difficult, this is a good sign.

Sunday, November 8, 2009


I was looking through pictures of myself. I like how I look.

Also, and this is completely random: Last night we watched "The Babysitters" on Netflix's "Watch It Now." Holy cow. Sweet teenies run a prostitution ring in their high school. Why didn't I ever think of that -- other than the fact that I ran with decidedly un-prostitute-like dorks like myself?

Tuesday, November 3, 2009

Today's writing

What does that mean, having someone? Of course it implies a relationship of some sort, but is that all there is? Did I have my parents? For that matter, did they have each other?

To have, a possessive verb that springs from a need. At some point my parents thought they needed each other. I needed – need – them.

Right now romantic love feels not all that different from parental affection. Both seem out of my fucking reach.

Richmond gang rape

This case horrifies me. I can't stop thinking about it.

Yesterday Adam and I were play-wrestling and he held me down. It was obvious how much strength the average man has over the average woman. He stopped when I asked him to stop. That poor teenager didn't have that option.

Monday, November 2, 2009

This is why he's perfect for me

ME: I should walk you on a goddamned leash.
ADAM: I should make you wear a goddamned muzzle.

When I think of New Hampshire

When I think of New Hampshire, I think shadows. I think shadows and colors that grew deeper, richer, by the day, ticking down the hour. I think of silences and rental cars. I remember loneliness, that sinister hum.
Every day is a series of minute awareness: Get up early, don't sleep in. Leave the house, don't stay on the computer too long. The little choices add up to mental health, but in the interim, you're dancing on a fine line.

Friday, October 30, 2009

Head meds

When I saw Carrie Fisher at the Berkeley Rep last year, I was very impressed with her candor about emotional struggles -- particularly dealing with bipolar disorder -- and her ups and downs with prescription medications.

I want to be just as frank about it. I've had a measure of both anxiety and depression throughout my life, and in the last year or so, I've tried treating it with medication.

Lexapro was the first. It drove me insane, made me suicidal. After a miserable few months, I got off it.

Then there was Zoloft. Helped with my emotional state, but the side effects sucked. After a while, I stopped taking it.

Lately it's been Zoloft and Wellbutrin. The side effects on this so far have been easier to handle, but still not exactly fun. Wellbutrin makes me manic, but I'm still getting used to an increased dosage. As my friend Andrea said: "Wait six weeks before freaking out." I'll do that.

Thursday, October 29, 2009

What are my own mitzvot?

In class last night we were discussing mitzvot -- the 613 commandments found in the Torah. Rabbi Adar said: "It's a world full of pain. Our job as Jews is to heal up a little bit of that. ... It doesn't entirely fix it, but it's better than it was. It's not incumbent on you to finish the job, but it's inherent on you to start."

So what are my mitzvot?

1) Honesty. By being candid, I hope to let others know they're not alone in this world, and that they can count on understanding and empathy from others.
2) Taking care of those I love. Being there for them, watching over them if need be, pushing them when necessary.
3) Using my talent(s).
4) Pushing myself to that next level. Never being satisfied with the status quo. Working to make my little corner of the world better.

I'm sure there's more, but that's a start for now.

Tuesday, October 27, 2009

Today's writing

Why the anger? Why the fury at anyone whose parents aren’t complete Charles Manson clones? I didn’t grow up in goddamned Mombasa, for Christ’s sake, born to parents who whored me out for a Kenyan nickel.


I drove down to Palo Alto today on a whim, had lunch, got a coffee, and then turned around and headed home. It felt good to strike out on the road. It's been a while since I did that by myself. Even though the Dumbarton Bridge was windy as hell and my car was wiggling all over the lanes, I'd do it again in a second.

Making headway on The Project. It's slow, yes, but steady. I think it's good work.

Monday, October 26, 2009

I was ruminating about approval and I found myself thinking: You can't live your life by committee.

That sometimes means making decisions that won't be well met by your friends, as a friend of mine did this week. Staged interventions don't work. People don't take votes before they act. Life is not a critique session, with everyone getting their share of input. Most of us, we're one-horse shows.

Climbing out

Managing depression means making adjustments to feel as good as possible. Since my depression is worst in the morning, I decided to leave the house early, even before Adam, and go to the gym.

I feel great! I don't expect to always feel this way, of course, but it's nice to know that a few changes here and there can make such a difference.

I also made tracks on The Project this weekend. I love being fired up about it again!

Random snippet I hope to use one day

She was dumb not because she was young but because it was a disease, a lifelong affliction that would cripple not her, but everyone around her.

Saturday, October 24, 2009

Santa Cruz

So I'm revising The Project. It's one of the most challenging things I've ever done with my writing, and also the one with the most potential reward. I have some good suggestions and implementing them is a bitch. I agree with all of them, though.

I'm fired up again. I'm in Santa Cruz. There are flies in this coffee shop. I'm feeling inspired.

Wednesday, October 21, 2009

When I'm depressed, it's often worst in the morning. My therapist mother tells me I'm not alone.

Last night was great -- my friend's awesome girlfriend took a bunch of us out to A Cote for his birthday, and it was a blast. This morning I just felt down and defeated.

"I wish I had more time to talk about this," Adam said, and I burst into tears.

The sun is coming out right now. I want to take that as a sign.

Monday, October 19, 2009

Five years

A bar on Telegraph, a stumble into Cody's. A drive into the rain, the hills, an awakening, a beginning.

Happy anniversary, baby.

Been a while

I feel like I've been pretty quiet around here. That's because I suffer from Seasonal Affective Disorder, which can spin me downward during the fall and winter months. Fall is particularly difficult as it feels like a death -- the leaves dropping, the days contracting, the sky varying shades of gray. By the time winter hits, I can handle it a little better, and when signs of life begin showing up in late January and early February, I handle it better still.

So right now's the tough time. I've decided to try medication again to see if it can help me handle things. I've held off on writing about this, which is unusual for me and in the end I decided it wasn't a good decision. I'm better when I'm revealing, not hiding.

I'm also working to revise The Project, which is a challenge. However, that's a writing challenge, not an emotional one. Sure, it's my baby, but if I can make my baby better, I'm all for it.

Oliver, cross my fingers and knock on wood, seems well right now. Adam and I are doing great. Most of the troubles are in my own head. That's where I've got to work on them.

Friday, October 16, 2009


Last week I had a conversation with someone who had specific ideas for revising The Project. I'm taking those ideas seriously because I agree with them, and also because he has a handle on what readers want. He also is in the position of helping me put this work out into the world.

I haven't edited or written a word in the past week. I've just thought about what he said. It's large and daunting. These are holistic edits, not line edits, and those are always so much harder to implement.

I've been distracted and stressed out too, though I've found more clarity over this last week. We've had to pay particular attention to Oliver's health, and that watchfulness is tiring. I'm happy with the good results I've seen, though, and I plan to continue my vigilance.

Today is Shabbat, and I do plan to celebrate. On Wednesday, Rabbi Adar said: "Imagine your life without -- one thing. You decide what it is." (I'm paraphrasing, but the quote is accurate enough.) For me, that thing would be multiple things -- hostility, negativity, neurosis. I can't entirely eliminate them in a night, but I can at least try to set them aside.

Thursday, October 15, 2009

I just left a message for the very friendly people at Enterprise Rent-A-Car in Peterborough. I frequented their office quite a bit during my month at MacDowell, renting cars to go to Maine, Vermont, and ultimately back to Boston. I'm trying to get a duplicate receipt for my last rental, so I had to give them a call. We're playing phone tag.

It's so cool to be able to picture that office in that strip mall on Jaffrey Road. It's a trip when something three thousand miles away feels like it's next door.

Introduction to the Jewish Experience

Last night I began this class, which is offered by Lehrhaus Judaica and takes place at Congregation Beth El in Berkeley.

I got an email about it last month. I was sitting on my porch at MacDowell, watching the trees. I did that a lot. Sometimes the trees were friendly, their changing colors showcased in the sun. Other days they snarled. I think they were quiet when I found out about this class.

After a moment of hesitation, I registered. It wasn't some huge epiphany. I didn't stand up and scream into the woods that it was time to learn about my roots. But I am interested, and last night's class was terrific.

Tomorrow, Adam and I will celebrate Shabbat.

Tuesday, October 13, 2009

I quit my anxiety group

And I bet you didn't even know I was in an anxiety group, did you?

I've been attending since April and been fairly skeptical much of the time. While theoretically I could see that the group-therapy process can be helpful, in reality it just didn't resonate much with me.

As I understand it, the concept behind group therapy is that a group is a microcosm of the world. Don't like your boss? You'll probably find someone like her in the therapy room.

The conclusion I came to, however, is this: Cut out the middleman and deal directly with the person who's bugging you. (Or whatever.) I walked out feeling no regrets.

Monday, October 5, 2009

Just thankful for the quiet

And the curry udon, and the wine, and absolutely for my kitty sleeping next to me. And for Adam coming home. And for this moment. Just this moment.

Wednesday, September 30, 2009

Last full day on the East Coast

After more than a month, I'll be packing up to head home tomorrow evening.

Has it really only been a month?

You could tell me it's been a year and that would feel closer to the truth.

I'm not going to bother with my psychology right now, with what I've learned and what disturbed me, what I walked away from whistling and what I'll miss. It's enough to sit in the North End and just enjoy.

Before and after

On my way to get my hair cut at Liquid Hair Studios in the South End ...
A half hour later and happy! Yes, a little windblown with a piece of hair sticking up (fall's blowing into Boston), but I feel GREAT!

Monday, September 28, 2009

Boston rain

A friend's post about the simple pleasures leads me to ponder that subject on this rainy night three thousand miles from home.

MacDowell is all about stripping away distractions so you can work on your art. Toward that end, the staff works its collective butt off housing you, cooking for you, and just generally trying to take as many tasks off your hands as possible so you can focus.

And that's great. How often do you get a lunch basket delivered to you in the middle of the day, dropped off as quietly as possible so that you won't get distracted? (Not that I didn't run out to greet Blake most of the time, overjoyed as I was to have company.)

Here's the thing, though: the many simple things in daily life are lost when you leave home. Bantering and bickering with Adam, watching dorky YouTube videos with my feet in his lap (yes, I know, you can commence to gagging now), going to the gym (don't even talk to me about eating rich food and not working it off -- at least I've been hiking my ass around Boston), hell, even doing dishes and laundry and feeding Oliver. Oliver -- another one of life's pleasures, a kitty who loves you and shows it by leaning his head against your knee or puking on your floor. But I digress.

In a sense, MacDowell is beautiful deprivation, and I mean that in the most positive way possible. You're up on a hill above a small town in New Hampshire. Your meals are cooked, your linens washed (though you're on your own when it comes to laundry, and I enjoyed this small task because the laundry room was Mr. T the kitty's domain), and your solitude undisturbed. Cell-phone service is poor throughout the property, though Verizon customers did better than AT&T (I, of course, have the latter), and if you want wifi, you've got to go to the library or get a PC card for your laptop.

Therein lies the matter of simple pleasures: They are many, and they are varied. My simple pleasures at MacDowell included singing at the top of my lungs in my studio -- no one around to distract, and the acoustics were wonderful. I liked to take walks, pacing the meadow area in front of my studio, that part that led to what felt like the darkest heart of the woods. I didn't dare go there; I just peeked inside and shuddered. Sometimes I talked to the woods: What's up, woods? Glad we had this talk. Sometimes they'd answer with a shrill blast of wind, and I'd shudder once more.

I watched a swatch of leaves change color more quickly than I'd have expected this early in the season, framed by a small pane of glass in the huge window overlooking my desk. I made tea, listening for the snack! that meant the electric kettle had shut off. I drank it contemplatively, sitting on the porch in the rocking chair I'd relocated from the inside, propping my feet up, rocking a little too quickly if my mood was askew.

At night I lit scented candles and incense, sat in my bedroom wondering who had been there before and then gave up because I knew the list was too long. I got up early for breakfast and ate bacon. Lots.

But I missed city pleasures, missed petting strangers' dogs, walking from neighborhood to neighborhood, people-watching. I missed the connection and the kinetic feeling of a city. Most of all, I missed my family and friends. I can't wait to see them when I return.

The world is both big and small

Right now I was standing in Harvard Square, reading Margaret Cho's autobiography in which she mentions Sean and his family. Even when the people referenced in a book are real, they often feel fictional because you don't know them. This, of course, was not the case with Cho's book.

God I love the South End!

Sunday, September 27, 2009

Peterborough to Boston

Barking Crab, clam chowda!
Boston Waterfront.
Under the umbrella ... and the hoodie.
Getting off the T on the way to the Institute of Contemporary Art.
Don and I at Acqua on my last night. Do I look drunk? There's a reason for that. They gave me a ton of shit for what I drank -- something called a Ginger Mojito Magic, a Coconut Rum, and the Pomegranate Martini that's pictured -- but hey. They also paid.
Don's very unsatisfactory tea selection.
Acqua: Me, Don, Jonty, Judy, and Alvin. I drove down, Don drove back.
Judy with the "Senior Colonist" t-shirt.
With Alvin. What an amazing guy!
With Pete, a kick-ass dude who ISN'T SMILING. He did smile when I flipped him off at dinner the other night, though.
Don with the Senior Colonist shirt. I flipped him off the night after I flipped off Pete.
Pan's Cottage, my cozy dorm.
Blake's big green truck. When you see this sucker coming, you know it's lunchtime!
Classic MacDowell. Taken from inside Judy's studio, Alexander. Hers was one of my favorites. It was like a damn stone monastery.
Just gorgeous.
A painter's studio can be so much more colorful than a writer's.
We all worked on this one when Judy was starting out, dipping our brushes and experimenting when she had an open studio for her birthday. I'd say she improved on our efforts.
With Blake!
Lunch baskets waiting to be filled.
Savidge Library, 11 a.m.
On my way!
Woody's Farm Stand, Leominster, MA.
Have a seat. Or two.
Classic New England fall morning.
Pick a pumpkin, any pumpkin.
These guys were irresistible ...
So I fed them.
Blurry but very evocative picture of the desk at which I worked (when I wasn't working outside) for a month.
Left to right: a card from Adam, a quote from Ayelet Waldman's "Bad Mother", a sketch of my studio, and some colony info. Below the card is a scrap of paper I pulled from the Oracle outside Chapman Studio on my second night. It reads: "Who will I be a year from now?"