Wednesday, September 19, 2018

The current Bazzy hit list

Uptown Funk ("Julio, get the stretch!")
Yellow Sudnarine (sic)
Don't Let Me Down (also known as "Don't Let Me Go")
Happy
The Doors
Anything else by The Beatles
Mahna Mahna. Always.

Monday, September 17, 2018

American Beauty

I saw this twice in the theaters, discussed it to death over beer and cider and hand-rolled cigarettes. I'm watching it in bits and parts right now and this is really calling to me in a new way.

Realization before dawn

I am not living up to my potential.

I don't think I ever have and usually that's been okay because at heart I'm kind of -- lazy? Into life-work balance? Whatever it is, I need to kick things into a higher gear.

That could mean leaving the Bay Area.

That could definitely mean incorporating teaching.

That could certainly mean getting BEARDED LADY into print.

I feel on fire.

On the Cusp at Lit Crawl 2018

We're popping our Lit Crawl cherry! Also, please consider donating to the cause. See you on Oct. 20! #litcrawlsf

Wednesday, September 12, 2018

Mill House Residency

I'm honored to have been selected for the Mill House Residency in Bend, Oregon. It was curated by Pam Houston, which is especially flattering as I love her work. Nice to have some good news!

Sunday, September 9, 2018

5779

The last year according to the Jewish calendar was rough and amazing all at once. I lost two major friendships and ended my relationship with my literary agent. I also marveled at the beauties in my life, not the least of which is the little boy to whom I gave birth.

This year I want to be a better person -- for myself as well as for others. One major way of doing this is to stop promising more than I can deliver. I've become a bit of an unreliable narrator. I don't love that.

Shanah Tovah, everyone. A sweet New Year.

Random

First: I love this story about Obama getting the boot from Disneyland because he was smoking on the gondolas. Love you, Barack.

Also, a pregnant woman with a kid younger than Baz walked into the cafe. Two of them! How do people do it?


Saturday, September 8, 2018

Today's writing


I don’t know whose idea it was to fuck. Fucking as killing time, yes, that’s an idea. How can you relax enough to have sex when your child is missing? But that’s what leads to amazing sex sometimes – the tension that propels people into one another’s arms, the search, the hunt. The same way you turn over your child’s pillow for clues. The way you call their name in the backyard, hoping. The hard, hot tears you shed right before reaching for the only other person who really understands.

We start right there in the kitchen, his hands on me as we sit in our separate stiff seats. Kissing him is different than the typical. His tongue is more snakelike, a serpent looking to strike. His hands hit their targets, investigate. It’s almost like I’m cheating. I keep running my fingers over his wedding ring, dreaming reflexively of a faceless and forbidden other. But it’s not. It’s him, the one I gave myself to years ago, the one I promised, the vows I’ve wished so often to break.

Boys


Wednesday, September 5, 2018

Written just now


I should have been nervous the day Mike replaced the windows. That just wasn’t something he did. We’d lived with the same shoddy, cracked glass for years. But replace the windows he did, and not only that, but with swanky double-paned ones that made us grin. This winter our typically outrageous heating bill might prove manageable.

Never did we think we might not see another winter at McGee’s Farm.

I should pause and explain the genesis of our home’s name: It was once a co-operative preschool named – one guess – McGee’s Farm. The door still says that, and I’m looking at it as I type those words. After we’re gone, after they’ve replaced the faulty sink and the bedroom glass slider door that always falls off its hinges and the sink that’s looking like something’s chewed it up, after they’ve staged up the place and it feels like they’ve deep-cleaned the oxygen between viewings, they’re going to paint that door over.

Daily OM is psychic

The word "home" has a wide variety of connotations. To some, home is merely a place where basic needs are addressed. To others, home is the foundation from which they draw their strength and tranquility. Still, others view home as a place inexorably linked to family. Yet all these definitions of home imply somewhere we can be ourselves and are totally accepted. There, we feel safe enough to let down our guard, peaceful enough to really relax, and loved enough to want to return day after day. However, these qualities need not be linked to a single space or any space at all. Home is where the heart is and can be the locale you live in, a community you once lived in, or the country where you plan to live someday. Or home can be a feeling you carry inside yourself, wherever you are. 

The process of evolution can require you to undergo transformations that uproot you. Moving from place to place can seem to literally divide you from the foundations you have come to depend on. Since your home is so intimately tied to the memories that define you, you may feel that you are losing a vital part of yourself when you leave behind your previous house, city, state, or country. And as it may take some time before you fashion new memories, you may feel homeless even after settling into your new abode. To carry your home with you, you need only become your own foundation. Doing so is merely a matter of staying grounded and centered, and recognizing that the pleasures you enjoyed in one place will still touch your heart in another if you allow them. 

Your home can be any space or state of being that fulfills you, provided you are at peace with yourself and your surroundings. A person can feel like home to you, as can seasons and activities. If you feel disconnected from what you once thought of as home, your detachment may be a signal that you are ready to move one. Simply put, you will know you have found your home when both your physical environment and energetic surroundings are in harmony with the individual you are within. 

Sunday, September 2, 2018

After nearly 12 years

Our landlord is selling the property and we need to be out by Dec. 1. No relocation, no debate. All the lovely rent-control laws that apply to Berkeley do not apply to us as we live on a Golden Duplex property and that's an exception.

We alternate between feeling powerful and desolate. We've talked about leaving the Bay Area, but not because someone else threw us out on the horrid rental market. Yesterday I met some wonderful landlords who were very dog-friendly, and that gave me hope. I need to hang on to that.

Thursday, August 30, 2018

Counting Crows, "When I Dream of Michaelangelo"

You know I don't like you
But you want to be my friend
There are bodies on the ceiling
And they are fluttering their wings
It's OK, I'm angry
But you'll never understand
You dream of Michelangelo
They hang above your hands
And I know, she is not my friend
And I know, cause there she goes
Walking on my skin again
And I can't see why
You want to talk to me
When your vision of America
Is crystal and clean
I wanna white bread life
Just something ignorant in the rain
But from the walls of Michelangelo
I'm dangling again.
And I know, she is not my friend
And I know, cause there she goes
Walking on my skin again
Saturn on a line
The sun afire of strings and wires
Spin above my head and make it right
Anytime you'd like, you can catch a sight
Of angel eyes on emptiness and infinite
And I dream of Michelangelo when I'm lying in my bed
I see God upon the ceiling
I see angels overhead
And he seems so close
As he reaches out his hand
We are never quite as close
As we are led to understand
And I know, she is not my friend
And I know, cause there she goes walking walking walking
And I know, she is not my friend
And I know, cause there she goes
Walking on my skin again and again
On my mind
Oh Lord no
Yes she's walking on my skin again and again

Wednesday, August 29, 2018

After-school date at French Hotel


From THREESOME


And here’s Evan, stuffing his face like he has a right to the food, to the control, to me. I still love this man, but sometimes I forget. Sometimes the resentments that simmer beneath the surface pop up and create one hell of a rolling boil.

“I don’t see why not,” I say.

“What am I going to do?”

“Whack off,” I say. “Otherwise, your ass can just wait for me to return.”


Till There Was You

Tuesday, August 28, 2018

Two things

One: I'm treading into crazy territory on THREESOME while I wait for things to come together with BEARDED LADY. Crazy.

Two: We're talking about moving to Denmark.

"Live the hell out of this day"

We've all heard it before, but how many of us listen? My friend Rebecca posted this today and I thought it worth a repost.

Monday, August 27, 2018

More


Jeremy and I never went exclusive. Not technically, at any rate. I don’t think he ever stopped seeing other people. Me, I was never interested in multiples. Not multiple pets, multiple clients, or multiple boyfriends. One of everything has always been enough for me.

There were times I would try to pull together enough courage to ask: are you? With who? That came to a head the night he wanted to go without a rubber. I’m sorry, but homey don’t play that.

I asked the question.

He slid on the rubber.

I got my answer.

You’d think I would have either slapped him or cried my ass off, but instead I just came like a steam engine, harder than ever before with him or anyone else. Afterward we lay together, not talking, just breathing.

“You don’t mind?”

“That you’re seeing other people?”

“Yeah.”

A long time lapsed – 30 seconds, maybe more, and that’s a lot in conversation – before I could bring myself to answer. When I did I wasn’t looking at him, only at the depth of the dark.

“Yes,” I said. “I do.”

Another Noir snippet


Spange – now that’s language of the street. Spare-changing, for the uninitiated. If you haven’t heard of it, you haven’t lived in Berkeley, or perhaps in most of the urban Bay Area. It’s just a fact of life here, more so than anywhere else I’ve ever been.

“I did.”

“I figured you’d just pass me right up.”

“I was going to.”

“So what happened?”

How can I tell him that what I saw in his eyes scared the hell out of me? Chilled me down to whatever core I still have?

“I guess,” I say, “I just decided to be kind to the unfortunate.”

Somehow we both laugh.

We’re sitting in the back garden. It’s what Jupiter is known for, the reason that people come here, though the Cassiopeia pizza, with its thin-sliced potatoes and bacon bits, isn’t far behind.
Berkeley does its backyard gardens right. This one – fire pit, multiple levels, stage in back – is a bit legendary. God knows how many hookups, doctoral dissertations, and hangovers first took shape here.

“No,” I say. “That’s not it.”

Then I feel my phone vibrate in my purse. Jeremy. It’s got to be. I don’t get a lot of texts. His was the one I’ve been waiting for. I want to look at it. I do … but I don’t. Something whispers in my face, showering me with its hot breath, telling me that it’s nothing I need to read. 

Sunday, August 26, 2018

Thoughts on the writing process and art

Being inebriated really helps with this, by the by.

Right now I'm reading The Nix, which is gloriously flawed. I just dragged through a bit of dialogue that had me turning pages to get through it.

But I'm loving the book. I love flaws. My own writing is beyond flawed, but I also believe it adds something -- an accessibility, a depth of character, perhaps. I have no interest in chasing perfection, which is a good thing because I will never catch it.

We Can Work it Out

Try to see it my way,
Do I have to keep on talking till I can't go on?
While you see it your way,
Run the risk of knowing that our love may soon be gone.
We can work it out,
We can work it out.
Think of what you're saying.
You can get it wrong and still you think that it's alright.
Think of what I'm saying,
We can work it out and get it straight, or say good night.
We can work it out,
We can work it out.
Life is very short, and there's no time
For fussing and fighting, my friend.
I have always thought that it's a crime,
So I will ask you once again.
Try to see it my way,
Only time will tell if I am right or I am wrong.
While you see it your way
There's a chance that we may fall apart before too long.
We can work it out,
We can work it out.
Life is very short, and there's no time
For fussing and fighting, my friend.
I have always thought that it's a crime,
So I will ask you once again.
Try to see it my way,
Only time will tell if I am right or I am wrong.
While you see it your way
There's a chance that we may fall apart before too long.
We can work it out,
We can work it out.

- The Beatles

Rocking the table while he's operating

Up and writing in the middle of the night with Eminem as the soundtrack. A little more of the Noir piece:


“Hey,” he says again, and this time there is the slightest quaver of expectation in his voice. “How’s it going, beautiful? Got a minute?”

Sometimes I feel like all I have is time. Telling him this may be a bad idea.

“Sure,” I say.

Freeze this picture: two people standing on the street in the middle of downtown Berkeley, California. If you’ve been here, I hardly need to describe it to you. For the uninitiated, you need a little bit of context. Usually downtowns are the spines of a society. In the case of Berkeley, however, it’s more like the funny bone.

Ratty. Tatty. Bohemian, if you’re trying to sell something. I like to be a little direct: shithole. If I don’t have to come here, I don’t. Fact is, though, I have to a whole lot. That’s what happens when you live in central Berkeley and work in San Francisco. Eventually you wind up climbing on BART with the rest of the people trying to ignore what goes on around here.

“I got a story to tell you,” he says. They all have stories. It’s the currency of the street.

I’m not down to listen. I didn’t sleep last night. First off, Jeremy and his great disappearing act. Scares the hell out of me, if you want the God’s honest. Pushing 45 and still no real romantic commitments, just a series of stupid hookups that sometimes verge on more serious but never get all the way there. Then there’s Romeo. Cat makes it to nearly 22 years old and you know you’re going to find yourself stuffing pills down his gullet every day whether he likes it or not, but to consider the alternative is nothing I can make myself do.

Saturday, August 25, 2018

Beginning of Berkeley Noir piece


Downtown Berkeley does not lend itself well to noir. It doesn’t understand subtlety. It doesn’t know nuance. It wears itself on its incense-singed sleeve, letting it all hang out the way that this city does both so well and so terribly. I should know. I’ve been here more than two decades, and either this place has gotten more extreme or I’ve become less so, and in either case I’ve been wondering if a split-up is imminent.

“Hey,” some dude says, and I cringe out of reflex. I’ve already been having a tough day. Jeremy hasn’t been returning my texts and I know damn well he’s been reading them. I mean, it says it right there on the phone. READ 1:46 p.m. READ 2 p.m. Technology is the worst tattletale out there. You can’t hide anything anymore because we’ve made it impossible.

The guy is relatively clean-cut for someone sitting on the sidewalk, and I have to wonder if he is even a part of the typical path of human debris that lines Shattuck Avenue on a more-than-regular basis. Maybe he’s just a student trying to experience Real Life by immersing himself in urine-scented concrete. Maybe he’s a tourist checking his iPhone for a likely Airbnb. Maybe he’s just an observer, and God knows there’s plenty of those here. Maybe, but as it turns out, he’s exactly what I thought he might be.

Berkeley, will you please surprise me from time to time?

Friday, August 17, 2018

Holy shit, The Paris Review

I am reading this astonishingly beautiful and prescient essay with my mouth hanging open. You will too.

Friday, August 10, 2018

Today's writing


I pop a Klonopin.

“They don’t even work for you,” he says. We’re both still naked, but it feels like such a long time ago since we were having sex. The stitch is fading slowly, leaving remnants of pain like a vapor trail along my torso.

“You heard of a placebo?”

Sixteen years together and I sometimes still can’t tell whether we’re bantering or bickering, or if there’s even a difference. Marriage is a dance of pushing the envelope back and forth between one another. Sometimes I just think we should tear the damn thing to pieces and get it over with.


Thursday, August 9, 2018

This nails it

This was the relationship.

I haven't even finished reading it and I don't know if I can at the moment. But so much resonates. Particularly this passage:

Every plan on having a conversation with a narcissist is useless, because the narcissist, while very charismatic, is a very manipulative person too, and will try to blame the empath for his and their pain as well. It will make the empath feel responsible for all the problems in the relationship.

I didn't dodge a bullet. I ducked the fuck down and then ran as fast as I could.


Tuesday, August 7, 2018

Davis

Smoky as it is right now from the fires, this place clears my head. I needed the hourlong drive up I-80. I needed to look out at the yellow fields, the place where I used to work, the exits you usually only hear about on the traffic report.

I needed to be here.

Saturday, August 4, 2018

More from Frank Ostaseski

"We took an intimate dive into the challenging waters of forgiveness tonight.
Forgiveness goes to the heart of the matter. Our capacity to extend and receive forgiveness is integral to all healing.
The transformative power of forgiveness is that it heals what divides us. It releases the ties that bind the heart. It is the melting of the armor of fear and resentment around the heart that keeps us separate us from others, from ourselves, from life itself. It is a relative practice that brings us to an ultimate truth. It heals us by allowing us to set down old pain, and it helps open us to love.
While a whole lifetime of pain can be released in a moment for most of us forgiveness is a process. It cannot be rushed or manipulated. When there have been deep wounds it may take some time, but time alone is not a healer, this is a misconception. The healing comes from honestly and actively engaging our suffering.
Forgiveness is not a Hallmark Card. Forgiveness is a fierce practice. It takes real strength, a willingness to be with what is difficult. It asks us to face our demons. It requires absolute honesty. We must be willing to see things as they are, bearing witness to painful acts that happened to us or the harm we may have done to others or ourselves. Sometimes we need to rage. Sometimes we need to grapple with our guilt. Sometimes we need to fall into a deep sorrow. Forgiveness isn’t about squelching any of these emotions. It is about facing them with kindness, paying close attention to what is getting in the way of our letting go.
We explore with awareness and gentleness that which has been closed, by touching with kindness and mercy that until now has only been met with fear. In this way, all forgiveness is about self-forgiveness."

Thursday, August 2, 2018

Lindsay Wildlife Experience, Walnut Creek


Daily OM does it again

While awareness of the pain of others in the world can be a valuable way to keep our own struggles in perspective, it is not a legitimate reason to disregard our own pain. Disparaging your feelings as being less important than other people's emotions leads to denial and repression. Over time, an unwillingness to experience your own feelings leads to numbness. It is as if our internal systems become clogged with our unexpressed emotions. This in no way helps other people who are suffering in the world. In fact, it may do just the opposite because when we devalue our own sorrow, we become impervious to the sorrow in others. 

Fully experiencing our own hurt is the gateway to compassion toward other human beings. Feelings of loss, abandonment, loneliness, and fear are universal, and, in that sense, all feelings are created equal. Regardless of what leads us to feel the way we do, our comprehension of what it means to be human is deepened by our own experiences. Our personal lives provide us with the material we need to become fully conscious. If we reject our emotions because we think our experiences are not dramatic or important enough, we are missing out on our own humanity. We honor and value the human condition when we fully inhabit our bodies so we can experience and feel life fully. Accepting our emotions and allowing ourselves to feel them connects us to all human beings. Then, when we hear the stories of other people's suffering, our hearts can resonate with understanding and compassion--for all of us. 

Wednesday, August 1, 2018

I believe it, too

I just posted this on Facebook: Someone else's drama shouldn't eclipse your sunshine. 

I've spent too long playing therapist to other people and I've finally started to get a handle on it. It feels good. Going into details would compromise someone else's privacy and I'm not interested in doing that, but I'm just talking about myself here. Too long I've spent with the whole how may I be of service? mentality just to keep people by my side.

Fuck 'em.

Tuesday, July 24, 2018

Auburn

Baz and I are up here for the night. It's 82 degrees right now -- at nearl midnight -- and this trip has been one of the hardest things I've ever done with him. He's a real toddler now. It's hellish and sweet at the same time.

Saturday, July 21, 2018

Frank Ostaseski

Heart Practice

The thread of heart runs through everything. For me, a path with no heart is not a path for human beings. That seems to be an important part of spiritual practice to recognize and appreciate the heart of Being. It is also what helps us deal with conflict and difficult emotions.

Have you ever noticed what happens when your partner gives you that disapproving look?  Or maybe she/he uses that tone of voice, (Isn't it interesting how in our mind she/he is the only one in the world that uses that certain tone of voice?)

The trigger happens and out of nowhere, there’s this whole felt sense of dread or anger, refusal or deep sadness.

Usually, we are not even aware of what is happening. Te nervous system is just firing away in response to a collection of object relations. Before I know it I'm reacting and defending in the way I did as a teenager! I realize—at a cellular level—that my entire personality was designed to never go toward this particular feeling of being helpless, unloveable, inadequate or vulnerable.

Before I know it, we get sidetracked with our words, with thoughts about our emotions with all our strategies, which are always designed to move away from the felt experience. And the inevitable result is that the emotions escalate.

I’m sure this only happens to me….probably not any of you!

Meditation can help interrupt this pattern. We can develop the capacity to allow us to feel strong emotions, live them, taste them, gain insight into them.

Suppose we didn’t battle with our experience. Allowed it to change, stay the same or go away. That is really is not your business. Our work is to hold it with loving awareness.

One way that works for me is to allow the emotion in all its glory and then to ask. "Is there any part of me that can be with this experience?"

Just that question inclines me toward discovering the deeper resources of my nature. The thread of heart.

Frequently it helps to unhook me from the habitual pattern which includes the way I attach stories to my emotions which escalates them and causes me to swept away, losing all perspective.

When I ask, "Is there any part of me that can be with this experience?"  I find much-needed perspective an often something more essential like compassion emerges. Then I allow the two to meet allowing the destructive out of control emotion and its physical manifestations like my clenched jaw, my tight chest to mingle with the compassion or other wholesome qualities that have been evoked by the question.

I’ve found relief from my suffering not by turning away but by turning toward what is most difficult with heart. This helps me to regulate…and gradually I see and feel something that is more substantive and more true that my emotional reactivity.

So, the balance doesn’t come through control or denial. There is no value in denial. There is no freedom in those strategies.
Freedom comes from seeing more of the truth and feeling the thread of heart.

Thursday, July 19, 2018

Albert Einstein on problem-solving


No problem can be solved from the same consciousness that created it. We must learn to see the world anew.

Monday, July 16, 2018

My junior conductor


This, after I deactivated Facebook

Granted, editing your real life isn't always as easy as erasing a line of text. If you've carried emotional baggage or held on to an unhealthy relationship for a long time, these may be difficult to edit out. But when you do cut out what isn't working from your life, you'll feel lighter and more alive. Editing out activities that you find stressful, disassociating yourself from people that drain your energy, and letting go of your emotional baggage are all beneficial cuts you can make. In the empty spaces that are left behind, you can add in anything you like. Just as you have the power to edit out negative situations or beliefs that you no longer wish to have as part of your life, you can now include the kinds of positive experiences, people, and beliefs that you would like to fill your life with. 

Friday, July 13, 2018

Take it from Aesop

105. THE WOLF AND THE HOUSE DOG
There was once a Wolf who got very little to eat because the Dogs of the village were so wide awake and watchful. He was really nothing but skin and bones, and it made him very downhearted to think of it.
One night this Wolf happened to fall in with a fine fat House Dog who had wandered a little too far from home. The Wolf would gladly have eaten him then and there, but the House Dog looked strong enough to leave his marks should he try it. So the Wolf spoke very humbly to the Dog, complimenting him on his fine appearance.

"You can be as well-fed as I am if you want to," replied the Dog. "Leave the woods; there you live miserably. Why, you have to fight hard for every bite you get. Follow my example and you will get along beautifully."

"What must I do?" asked the Wolf.

"Hardly anything," answered the House Dog. "Chase people who carry canes, bark at beggars, and fawn on the people of the house. In return you will get tidbits of every kind, chicken bones, choice bits of meat, sugar, cake, and much more beside, not to speak of kind words and caresses."

The Wolf had such a beautiful vision of his coming happiness that he almost wept. But just then he noticed that the hair on the Dog's neck was worn and the skin was chafed.

"What is that on your neck?"

"Nothing at all," replied the Dog.

"What! nothing!"

"Oh, just a trifle!"

"But please tell me."

"Perhaps you see the mark of the collar to which my chain is fastened."

"What! A chain!" cried the Wolf. "Don't you go wherever you please?"

"Not always! But what's the difference?" replied the Dog.

"All the difference in the world! I don't care a rap for your feasts and I wouldn't take all the tender young lambs in the world at that price." And away ran the Wolf to the woods.

There is nothing worth so much as liberty.

Thursday, July 12, 2018

As seen on Facebook

Every time I write to a former friend, I'm sorry I did it.
Every time I post something that I consider something significant on Facebook, I'm disappointed in the lack of response.
Every time I eat an entire bag of peanut-butter cups from Trader Joe's, I have regrets.
Somehow these things all seem connected.

Wednesday, July 11, 2018

Gilman and San Pablo

I used to hit this intersection every day on my way to work. Half the time my car's engine would flood and it would die. One day my naive ass ran over to the guy lying on the bench. "Sorry, honey," he said when I asked for help. "I've been pushing bottles all night."

Oh, I thought. Poor man. He works in a bottle factory. 

Tuesday, July 10, 2018

Today's Daily OM

And life is more of an improvisation than it is like a play whose lines have already been written, whose end is already known. Like an improviser, we have choices to make and the more we embrace the illusionary quality of the performance, the lighter we can be on the planet, on others, and on ourselves. We can truly play with the shadows cast by the light of the projector, fully engaging without getting bogged down.

Thursday, July 5, 2018

Beginning of an essay

Life, Abridged


You would be pressing up against 13 now. Could be we wouldn’t get along at all. You’re not guaranteed a friend when you have a child. You’re not even guaranteed that child will be born healthy or be born at all.

Daily OM nails me

Drama, however disastrous, can be exciting and stimulating. But the thrill of pandemonium eventually begins to frustrate the soul and drain the energy of all who embrace it. To halt this process, we must understand the root of our drama addiction, be aware of our reactions, and be willing to accept that a serene, joyful life need not be a boring one. 

Many people, so used to living in the dramatic world they create, feel uncomfortable when confronted with the prospect of a lifetime of peace and contentment. The drama in their lives serves multiple purposes. Upset causes excitement, prompting the body to manufacture adrenaline, which produces a pleasurable surge of energy. 


...

When you confront your emotional response to drama and the purpose it serves in your life, you can reject it. Each time you consciously choose not to take part in dramatic situations or associate with dramatic people, you create space in your inner being that is filled with a calm and tranquil stillness and becomes an asset in your quest to lead a more centered life. 

Sunday, July 1, 2018

Sonora

I highly recommend taking 24 hours away from your life. Rent an AirBnB, get up early, listen to the hum of the window-box air conditioner and the chatter of Animal Planet. Drink coffee. Grapple with the fact that it's going to reach 98 today. Plan your trip to Murphys. And then home. Blessed and sweet, and missed.

Wednesday, June 27, 2018

Put this on FB

I drove to school watching the people cross the street, the dog walkers, the parents holding their children's hands. The guy glued to his phone as he navigated my neighborhood, the woman who waved when I stopped to let her by.
Through the gate there was so much cheer. The parents looked at each other with weariness in our eyes. We held our children tight, so tight.

Seattle, eight years ago today



Monday, June 25, 2018

Truth

I saw Art yesterday. He was in town for a reading. He's the kind of person who lifts you up when he hugs you, spins you around. I love it.

On the drive to SFO, we talked about people to whom you grow so close that there is no return. You simply become part of them when they are in your life, and then afterward they are nothing.

It makes some horrible, warped, real sense.


Sunday, June 24, 2018

Today's writing


I came to Berkeley at the age of 26. Like everyone else here, I was looking for something. Two decades later, I’m still not certain that I’ve found it. That’s what time does – if it doesn’t give you what you’re seeking, at least it blunts your desire for it. When it’s not sharpening it to the point of heart failure.

In other words, I still have no idea what I’m doing with myself, my life, my time here on the spinning orb. I want to walk around, checking in from table to table, asking: Do you?

But you don’t do that here. There’s a certain sanctity in being alone in public, a social contract: thou shalt not communicate. And most of the time I’m so very grateful for it.

Today is different, as it always is when you start a tale. That’s how I learned to tell a story: why is today different than any other day? Or maybe that was a prayer I said in synagogue. It’s really all the same thing.

*

When I first moved here I lived in a three-story house on Sutter Street, right near the entrance to the Solano Tunnel. It was and remains quiet there, one of those leafy parts of Berkeley that you can’t really even rent any more, a place you can drive or walk through and admire and that’s really about it. In 1998 things were different to the degree that I could get a piece of North Berkeley for less than $500 per month, and even that was a stretch that tapped me out until the calendar flipped and I got paid again.

Newspapering never paid well. Not then and not now. Even then there was the stench of mortality about it, like a puff of air from a dying man’s bed. Still, I was young and when you are young you have that optimism that you don’t understand at the time, don’t even necessarily know exists amongst the corners of angst that you know all too well. You know them because they don’t let you forget them. They poke you in all the uncomfortable places, cause you to squirm. The discomfort masks all the good stuff.

Those days I commuted from Berkeley to Fairfield, twenty-four k’s per year, the standard benefits and barely any vacation time.


The roids

I'm on Prednisone for bronchitis. Damn is this nice. Not only am I totally motivated and focused (sort of, actually) and feeling better, but I'm energetic. I missed feeling like this. Can I get a Prenisone smoothie prescription?

Friday, June 22, 2018

Sometimes

It's a gift to see the holes in your heart, those empty places that drop all the way down to some unfathomable bottom that will take your life to navigate.

Helplessness

Check out the lead picture on this story. Totally brings me back to being a kid, having that weird, slanted, half-comprehending view of the world.

And the helplessness. The lack of control. The need to rely on others.

World events this week were so triggering to me and others, and continue to be that way. No, I wasn't separated from my parents and put in a cage, numbered like something lower than the lowest. I just watched my father beat the shit out of my mother. I just cried when my mother threatened to take my brother away and put him in foster care. I just threw myself between the two of them to stop the fighting in any way possible.

That's all, really.

Recovery

I don't write about it much any more.

I thought that I was done with that.

I knew better.

I was -- abused? Messed with? Harmed at? Whatever it was, let's finish this sentence by saying at the hands of a narcissist. He was right all the time except for when he conceeded wrong, and he did that infrequently. He belittled my life and my loves. He shit-talked my husband constantly.

And I allowed it. 

I don't yet know whether I hate this man. I only know that he is toxic, and that we were toxic together.

Two major needs

Spirituality
Exercise

Both require getting up earlier.

Monday, June 18, 2018

Thank God

I had the opportunity to betray Adam. I did not take it. I look at pictures of him, watch him sleeping, and think, I never would have forgiven myself. Never. 

Tuesday, June 12, 2018

Second day of little sleep

It's like being wrapped in soft cotton candy, or being on mushrooms. I wouldn't know. I never ate cotton candy.

Monday, June 11, 2018

More from Facebook, because I'm lazy

After a while, you move someone over into the Loss column. It's kind of a misnomer, loss, because once you start to accept it and it becomes real, it doesn't hurt quite so much any more.

Sunday, June 10, 2018

Sometimes

I feel like someone has hit the Pause button on me. I can't describe it any better than that.

Saturday, June 9, 2018

Bourdain on existence

Life is complicated. It’s filled with nuance. It’s unsatisfying. If I believe in anything, it is doubt.

Friday, June 8, 2018

Posted on Facebook

Why, when a celebrity dies, do we so often feel we've lost a friend? I think performers -- particularly those who suffer from depression and anxiety -- project outward in a way that makes us feel seen and included. In Anthony Bourdain's case, we traveled the world with him, peered into New York City kitchens, ate oysters in San Francisco. We were friends, he and us, though he never knew it. Then again, he probably knew it all along.

Promise

I'll love you forever
I'll like you for always
As long as I'm living
My baby you'll be

Thursday, June 7, 2018

Trying

I took Baz to four Berkeley classics today: Fourth Street, Berkeley Bowl, Tilden Little Farm, and Masse's Pastries. It made both of us happy. But shit, I'm having a hard time. I need a vacation. I told Adam I was going to check myself into the funny farm yesterday. "That," he said, "is not a vacation."

I love my kid dearly, but this parenting shit is not for the weak.

Wednesday, June 6, 2018

Ugh

I feel really fragile today. I had an allergy attack this morning that swelled my eyes shut, the water heater threatened to burn down the house (and I'm still freaking out about that one) and I'm nervous about Bazzy's field trip to the Botanical Garden.

At least I was able to find an outlet at Philz. It's the little things, right?

Facebook sucks

I admit it: I've been a Facebook addict for years. It's starting to fade.

I don't know if people on there are getting more shallow (on my particular feed, at least) or if I'm starting to require more. Sometimes I'll post things I find interesting, that are deeper than just some stupid picture of Baz being cute, and get absolutely no feedback.

I'm not saying I deserve all this attention (though of course I do), but that I'm finding the platform itself fairly useless. As I said on Facebook itself this morning, maybe that's a good thing.

Tuesday, June 5, 2018

Kate Spade and depression

Kate Spade killed herself. At first that line makes you blink -- I mean, she had success. But what does that even mean? How do you define success of the heart?

RIP.

Thursday, May 31, 2018

On the Cusp

Baz Franklin Sandler, age 2.5, serenading the crowd with his rendition of Yellow Sudnarine.


Saturday, May 26, 2018

Morning has broken

Not a lot of sleep, hanging out at a cafe, watching the sun come up, thinking. You know, just like anyone else right now.

Wednesday, May 23, 2018

Daily OM nails it

Cooperation

BY MADISYN TAYLOR
Cooperation is allowed to flow more easily, when we let go of the necessity to be right all the time.
Cooperation seems simple: working together toward a common goal for the benefit of all involved. But amazingly it can be quite challenging, even when we have so many successful examples all around us. Human society is based upon the concept of cooperation, but finding a balance to ensure the good of all members of society is difficult. In nature, symbiotic relationships form between unlikely allies: a bee and a flower, a bird and a rhinoceros, small fish and sharks. Yet nature also shows us instances of constant competition in which only the strongest survive. Given the choice, it seems most people would choose the more peaceful path of cooperation. Intellectually, we know that together we can create something greater than what one could do alone, but cooperation still seems to be one of the greatest challenges people face. We don't always agree on how goals can be reached. Our priorities may be different, or our methods, but in the end, cooperation offers the best chance for success.

So how can we learn to cooperate with each other? We can gain greater perspective by trying to understand one another's point of view, perhaps even putting ourselves in their place. We can search for commonalities as well as differences, and look for the good in different approaches. There is always more than one way of doing things, and some approaches are better suited for certain situations than others. All this is easier when we let go of the necessity to be right and to call others wrong. More important, we must believe that there is a solution that benefits all involved, not just one side.

The results of cooperation can be as simple as effortlessly getting everyone in your household to their appointments to large-scale social shifts to changing minds and hearts or policies that affect the future.

Tuesday, May 22, 2018

That moment when

When someone who used to mean something to you doesn't have shit to mean to you any more. When you think of them and all you can think is, damn, boy. You a fraud. 

That's a first

I just got mom-shamed by a dad.

I hate kids' parties

Yes, this. All of it.

I mean, I'm an introvert. I'm the one who got high at my son's second birthday parties, riding the carousel at Tilden Park with my head spinning. I had to. 

The small talk. The insincere compliments. Who made those robot cupcakes? They're lovely! Why is there not more alcohol at these things?

Sunday, May 20, 2018

Back on the Fulbright train

Before I had Baz, I applied for a Fulbright Scholarship to Romania to study street dogs with an eye toward eventually writing about them. I haven't given up a dream like that. It's only grown stronger.

Saturday, May 19, 2018

Something new

Outlining a new project after all this time is like dating after a 40-year marriage. Whoa.

Thursday, May 17, 2018

Well, now

ME TO BAZ: Do you know how much I love you?

HIM: Tractor. Fire truck. Something unintelligible.

Wednesday, May 16, 2018

Observation

Take a breath, go, and push open that door. You'll be amazed at what you find waiting for you there.

For the past three years, I've worked with the wonderful Miriam Altshuler of DeFiore & Co. She's a warm, compassionate person and a wise agent. I've learned so much from her and her associate, Kiley Frank.

Very recently, however, I've realized that the memoir is a memoir and not a Young Adult book, which is what we've been pursuing. With this in mind, I've gotten Miriam's blessing to pursue that dream.

I feel really, really good right now.

Tuesday, May 15, 2018

Drawing board, glad to see you

BEARDED LADY started its life as a memoir. Then it became a Young Adult novel. Now it's back to its original incarnation.

I'm glad. Tired. But glad.

Saturday, May 12, 2018

Forgiveness

I have no idea if you'll read this, but if you do:

I forgive you.

At its heart, we were the best of friends. 

I understand why we met.

Joyce Maynard, "The Best of Us"


“But even as his body wasted away, and his mind lost its sharpness, something about Jim had become more substantial. Something about me had changed too. I was a different person than the woman I’d been eighteen months earlier. Grief and pain had been harsh, but they had served as teachers. We had been through a conflagration, the two of us, and I would have given anything to have avoided it, but we’d emerged like two blackened vessels from the forge – our two beating hearts and our trust in each other all that remained.

“An odd irony came to me at this moment, when it seemed as if there was almost nothing left of the man I’d loved, almost nothing left of the two of us, as we’d been, or the life we’d made together: it seemed to me, as we approached the moment when everything would be over, finally, that the ordeal of the disease and the treatment – two separate kinds of hell I would wish on no living human – had turned us into two people we might never have become if the disease had spared Jim. Better ones, though only one of us would survive to benefit from this brutal education we’d received.”

Friday, May 11, 2018

Life-changing

I just wrote to Joyce Maynard to tell her that her memoir The Best of Us changed my life and resounds in my marriage. It's not important why, simply that it is.

Canta, Bazzy, canta!

Es el tiempo para musica al New House Day School. :)

Thursday, May 10, 2018

You're Beautiful

I sang this to my baby on his second day of life, watching the sun rise from my hospital bed. And now I'm listening to it while up at o'dark-thirty working, while he sleeps on the couch next to me.

I love him more than I can ever say.

Wednesday, May 9, 2018

From Yelles

I say, if you're going to have clarity on something in your life, make it something so big and bright and meaningful that you will get out of bed and chase it until you grasp it or die. Bring forth a desire that is unbounded and even scares you a little bit, that will demand all the best that is in you, that takes you out of your own orbit and into the stratosphere of the remarkable. That kind of desire changes your life, and it changes the world. - Brendan Burchard

Tuesday, May 8, 2018

The cocktail

Coffee for mornings, pot for evenings. A trifecta of head meds so I won't ever have to remember.

Monday, May 7, 2018

My own Me Too

But not what you're thinking. My Me Too is about chronic depression.

See, I was just reading Wil Wheaton's awesome blog post about this subject, which spurred me to start this one. Thing is, I don't exactly remember the first time I got suicidal. I just remember being in my early 20s, comparison-shopping for aspirin in the foofy market across the street.

If I was that concerned about money, I figured, I might as well live.

When I tried Lexapro a few years later, it landed me in bed, unable to get up. Adam would almost literally have to pry me out. One day I actually did get out. I went to Marin. On the way home I thought about veering the car off the Richmond Bridge. Too much effort.

I've been successfully medicated for the better part of 10 years. A trifecta: Wellbutrin, Zoloft, Abilify. But when I forget a pill -- and it happens -- watch out.

Watch out.

Possibility