Sunday, April 29, 2018

Frank Ostaseski on authenticity

Waking up in this human experience is not easy. Authentic spiritual practice is not about maintaining high altered states, transcending the body, bypassing difficult emotions, or healing all that remains unresolved within us. It is more grounded, real, and alive than that. Spiritual practice helps us settle into the utter simplicity of being ourselves. The healing that it engenders happens when we bring awareness to the places that have hardened in us through the conditioned habits of grasping, resistance, and avoidance.

Mindfulness is a de-conditioning. It cultivates a merciful, awake presence of mind that no longer blocks the heart. Then things are free to be as they are. We allow the difficult, dark, and dense. We become more intimate with our pain and difficulties, our joy and beauty, embodying our full humanity and discovering an ever-deeper, vast sense of wholeness.

Sometimes what is over there seems more valuable than what is right here. But being who you are can only arise from accepting where you are.


It took us more than three hours to get up to Gualala, and that was after flying into San Francisco. A drink is definitely on the menu. We find adjoining seats at the bar and survey the goods. Mostly it’s beer on tap. Some wine, some basic liquors, and really, that’s about it.

“I’m getting an IPA,” Evan says. “They’re known for that here.”

“Here as in Bones?”

“No, dummy,” he says, and kisses me. I’m not sure whether to take the statement or the action more seriously. “Northern California.”

“Like you know anything about this place?”

There. Retribution for the dummy comment. If it stings him, though, I can’t see it. Instead the line becomes just another one of those unexploded grenades, the ticking that underlies our marriage. Maybe it’s not just our marriage. Maybe it’s every marriage, even the happiest of unions.

Saturday, April 28, 2018


Now that I've submitted BEARDED LADY to Miriam and Kiley, it's time to return to a project that's been in the back of my mind ever since I finished it three years ago: THREESOME. Here's how I described it in the original query:

THREESOME is the story of Leigh and Evan, a couple who travel from their home in the Midwest to a vacation spot in Northern California in order to rekindle their marriage in the wake of the murder of their teenage daughter. During dinner on their first night there, they meet Annie, a young woman who awakens both paternal and sexual feelings in them. What ensues will test their relationship not only to one another, but within themselves.

This book is an exploration of love and loss, longing and fulfillment, temptation and resistance. It delves into the idea of emotional geometry to look at the difference between a pair and a triangle, coming away not with any hard-and-fast conclusion but rather revealing the vulnerabilities of each configuration. Ultimately, Leigh, Evan and Annie learn difficult truths while teaching unexpected lessons.

Miriam likes it. I'm there!


We went to the Bay Area Book Festival and I just couldn't handle it. Too many crowds, too many bullshit panels that didn't interest me in the least, overpriced food, typical Berkeley characters begging. This isn't about reading and writing. This is about community (Adam always makes fun of how I say that), and that ain't my bag.

I've shut down pretty hard lately. People who don't know me well wouldn't know. People who do would.

Friday, April 27, 2018


Man, it's so much easier to post a cute picture than to tell you what's going on in my brain. So here's Baz this morning at the Lawrence Hall of Science.

Bay Area Discovery Museum

The heart of it

I woke up this morning pissed. I knew it was floating anger. I knew I was blaming it on the wrong things.

It came out in conversation: I feel like we're on a hamster wheel, like all our resources are getting sucked into a black hole, like we can't get ahead and do the things we want to do -- i.e., travel.

I haven't been out of the country in years. I haven't been out of the state in more than a year. I've barely left the Bay Area lately.

Fuck me. It can't all be about responsibility.

Wednesday, April 25, 2018


And all the king's horses
And all the king's men
Couldn't put Espresso Roma's window
Back together again. 

It's about time

I finally updated my homepage! Check it out!

New York heritage

I took my kid to the Cheeseboard Collective today and got him a bialy. Then we sat outside watching the buses and cars and flowers. That pretty much makes my morning.

Thursday, April 19, 2018

Last one for tonight

“Meredith,” he says, “I want to tell you something.”
           He used to be a drunk. I knew that. It’s not like he told me explicitly on the train, but I figured it out easily enough. You don’t speak at an Alcoholics Anonymous conference if you don’t have some experience in the subject matter.
           “I loved someone once,” he says.
           I lift my chin and look him in the eyes. This sounds like Confession Time. I like confessions.
           “We were never together. We were friends. But we were way more. We would sit in the car and talk until two in the morning. We texted constantly. She helped me get sober. She helped me to see that there was more in life than a bottle.”
           My stomach starts to hurt. But why?
           “I mean, she wasn’t perfect. She was demanding as hell. She’d text and get pissed if I didn’t respond straight away. She wanted honesty at all times. I mean, she wasn’t easy.
           “But I loved her more than I think I may ever be able to love anyone again.”
           Oh my God. How old is Paul? Nineteen, twenty? And they say kids my age are dramatic.
           “You’re looking at me like I’m crazy.”
           “You are crazy,” I say without thinking, out of some weird form of anger that I can’t really figure out. So this guy loved someone. So what? “I mean, you were never even together.”
           “Sometimes those are the ones that hurt the most. Look at your situation.”
           And that is why my stomach is hurting. Would Matt be able to say the same about me? Does he even love me? And at this point, what exactly are we to one another?
           “Yeah,” I say. One-syllable words. That’s pretty much all I can handle at this point. Except curiosity comes up and the question comes out before I can figure out how to stop it. “So what happened with you guys?”
           His face slams shut. Something turns a key, locks it. But he speaks anyway.
           “You know, Meredith, sometimes a relationship gets bigger than the people involved. That’s what happened with us. There was just too much to handle. Too much between us. We couldn’t be just friends. We couldn’t be more. We just couldn’t be. You know?”
           I don’t know. If there was so much between him and this phantom girl, woman, whatever, how could they possibly let go of one another?
           “Who ended it?”
           “I did.”
           He’s obviously in so much pain. How could he do that?
           “Sometimes,” he says, “the person who ends it is the one who loves the most.”
           “They have more invested, so when they’re not getting their needs met for whatever reason, they call it quits.”
           “You miss her?”
           This time he doesn’t say anything. His face shuts and stays shut.


I had some sort of blackout. That much is clear. Something happened. That’s obvious. I have to keep repeating these facts to myself because it’s pretty much what I know.
All else is a mystery.
My worst fear has come to life.

From the book

“Meredith,” Matt says, and turns my face to his.
It’s about the least romantic thing you can imagine. His fingers on my skin feel like the fire has shifted, been blown upward, embers dancing across every bit of territory they can find. At home, fires like to jump the freeway, blown by winds whose only job is to hurt.
His lips on mine: an invasion.
His tongue in my mouth: terrifying.
And yet I respond. Why?


Editing BEARDED LADY and understanding exactly what got me here. It was a hell of a lot. A lifetime, to be precise.

Stepping out

I'm usually a lot more bullish on parenting than I am at the moment.

I took Baz to Fourth Street for lunch. He whined and refused to eat anything I got. Then my shoulder bag snapped in the middle of paying for everything. Then this woman with a giant stroller kept blocking us at Peets.

Then ... Totland.

Enemy territory. I hate Totland with ferocity. While I was pushing him on the swing, one nitwit was trying to scare another nitwit about preschool. "You're already late," she said, gesturing to the other nitwit's year-old kid. "I mean, when people find out they're pregnant, that's when it's time to get on the list."

Aw, bullshit. We got into New House without a problem when Baz was 16 months. No muss, no fuss, no crying or promises of undying loyalty and awesome Yelp reviews. Just a shitload of paperwork and there you go.

Right now he's eating his second round of peanut-butter toast -- pretty much the only thing he's eaten today. Actually, it's peanut-butter hamburger bun because that's what we've got. And Jack is coveting it. Actually, no. He just ate it.

Jesus fucking Christ.

Stirring the oatmeal: from BeliefNet

Stirring oatmeal is a humble act–not exciting or thrilling. But it symbolizes a relatedness that brings love down to earth. It represents a willingness to share ordinary human life, to find meaning in the simple, unromantic tasks: earning a living, living within a budget, putting out the garbage, feeding the baby in the middle of the night. To “stir the oatmeal” means to find the relatedness, the value, even the beauty, in simple and ordinary things, not to eternally demand a cosmic drama, an entertainment, or an extraordinary intensity in everything.

Tuesday, April 17, 2018

Counting Crows, "Einstein on the Beach"

What you fear in the night and the day comes to call anyway.

Those who stay by you will stay by you. End of story.

What I was discussing with Adam this morning

From Daily OM:

Parenting asks us to rise to some of the most difficult challenges this world has to offer, and one of its greatest paradoxes arises around the issue of attachment. On the one hand, successful parenting requires that we love our children, and most of us love in a very attached way. On the other hand, it also requires that we let go of our children at the appropriate times, which means we must practice some level of non-attachment. Many parents find this difficult because we love our children fiercely, more than we will ever love anyone, and this can cause us to overstep our bounds with them as their independence grows. Yet truly loving them requires that we set them free. 

Attachment to outcome is perhaps the greatest obstacle on the parenting path, and the one that teaches us the most about the importance of practicing non-attachment. We commonly perceive our children to be extensions of ourselves, imagining that we know what's best for them, but our children are people in their own right with their own paths to follow in this world. They may be called to move in directions we fear, don't respect, or don't understand, yet we must let them go. This letting go happens gradually throughout our lives with our children until we finally honor them as fully grown adults who no longer require our guidance. At this point, it is important that we treat them as peers who may or may not seek our input into their lives. This allows them, and us, to fully realize the greatest gift parents can offer their offspring --independence. 

Letting go in any area of life requires a deep trust in the universe, in the overall meaning and purpose of existence. Remembering that there is more to us and our children than meets the eye can help us practice non-attachment, even when we feel overwhelmed by concern and the desire to interfere. We are all souls making our way in the world and making our way, ultimately, back to the same source. This can be our mantra as we let our children go in peace and confidence.

Monday, April 16, 2018

Birthdays and no regrets

I turned 44 yesterday. For some reason I wanted to revisit this shot, which was taken at last year's fete. It was taken by someone who knew -- and no doubt still does know -- me very well, as evidenced by the composition.

And from Crosby, Stills, Nash and Young: Wasted on the Way. Beautiful.

Saturday, April 14, 2018

Editing this

             Sometimes we know when a moment isn’t just a moment. Standing here in this ridiculous space that doesn’t even feel like home, that’s exactly what I’m experiencing. The sun dims slightly, as if it can’t compete with the heat inside this house, bouncing off the ugly bamboo and against the stupid chandelier that is a serious earthquake hazard, mark my words.
            I never just wanted a mother. I wanted a mommy. Same was true with my father. What a nice, neat conclusion to my tale if only I could upgrade Nails to Mom, Rooster to Dad. What a pretty ending that I can only dream of, not actually experience.
            The words press against my throat, but they go no further. “I’m busy,” I say, and start to head up the curving staircase, up to my room where I actually do feel at home, where I can lock the door and sit on my window seat and think my thoughts and possibly, probably, cry some more, from sadness and hope and the weirdness that is life.

            Nails lays a hand on my arm. It’s been so long since we’ve had any sort of contact. This isn’t exactly what I’d been hoping for, either.
            “You could have had him,” she says. “You blew it. Now he’s paying the price.”
            Um, I’m sorry. What-what-what?
            “Matt is cute,” Nails, my mother, the person who cried into the void and gave me life, says. She says it like it’s the world’s most important thing, and to her maybe it is. She wears an oversized sweatshirt and leggings, like Flashdance is about to call and ask for its outfit back. She looks at me like I’m one of those dust motes shimmering in an irritating way, just something else she’s going to have to ask Elvira to wipe from the balcony.
            “Let me tell you,” she says, and you just know she’s about to lay down the intel. “You may never get that chance again.”

            I know this is supposed to hurt. I’m aware that it’s an insult. I’m supposed to find a sweet dark corner and lay down my head and cry for all the opportunities missed because I’m not only a dork, but an ugly dork.
            Instead I feel amazing. Matt? He wanted me. It’s obvious. He can’t just leave this alone. He can’t let me be. He’s going to keep worrying it like the dogs at the shelter gnaw after their frozen Kongs. Difference is that they eventually get their peanut butter. Him, he gets nothing.
            Finally I’m sure of it.


I don't have any pictures of either of my parents reading to me. I'm not saying it never happened. I'm just saying I don't have proof.

Baz does.

Five lessons from Words with Friends

One: Play. Don't hesitate. Just play.
Two: Don't be afraid to swap if what you've got isn't working.
Three: Try. Don't cost nothing.
Four: Don't engage in small talk with strangers.
Five: Sometimes you've just got make up that shit.

Friday, April 13, 2018

Editing this

The oldies station is playing Michael Jackson, “Rock with You”. I was just a little kid when he died, but I remember Nails crying and Rooster trying his best not to laugh at her, which is the most you might expect from him.

Man, the most talented people are the ones who are also the most messed up. The guy could sing like there was no tomorrow, but if Nails was to be believed, his personal life was an entirely different story. “He liked the little boys,” she said between sobs. “He was a freak.”

Freak, always one of Nails’ favorite words. There have been so many times I’ve wanted to ask her if she sees me as a freak, but I’m terrified of the answer.

Editing this

After Nails had reported to me that Matt had been accepted to UCSB – early, as planned – he showed me the email on his phone. “Check it out,” he said.

Check it out, like it wasn’t that big a deal, like it wasn’t his future, right, Mrs. Love? Except it was a huge deal. Every time I thought about it, my stomach tightened to the point where it felt as though water couldn’t even pass through. My throat constricted too as if to keep it company, making me feel like I was being strangled from the inside out.

He wasn’t leaving for months.

But he would leave.

And I would never have the courage to tell him I loved him.


Last night's Why There Are Words. Holy shit. There is a reason that every Bay Area writer wants to read there. And I got to do it.

Fucking amazing.

Thursday, April 12, 2018

Sold the car, kept the dude

From tonight's Why There Are Words reading

An excerpt of what I'm reading at tonight's event:

Nails never cried about what happened to Raffie, how we neglected her, how she died in the backyard without being noticed for nearly a day. She never even talked about our dog. It was as if she’d never existed, that she didn’t spend more than a decade as part of her family. And maybe in Nails’ mind, she didn’t. She was just some piece of the backyard, something akin to the pool and built-in barbecue.
She wasn’t she. She was an It.
Just like me.

Wednesday, April 11, 2018


Of course not talking about it doesn't mean I'm not thinking about it. It's that for once I don't care to share my thoughts with the world.

Daily OM wisdom

Our role as masters of our own destinies is cemented when we choose to make change work in our favor. Yet before we can truly internalize this power, we must accept that we cannot hide from the changes taking place all around us. Existence as we know it will come to an end at one or more points in our lives, making way for some new and perhaps unexpected mode of being. This transformation will take place whether or not we want it to, and so it is up to us to decide whether we will open our eyes to the blessings hidden amidst disorder or close ourselves off from opportunities hiding behind obstacles. 

To make change work for you, look constructively at your situation and ask yourself how you can benefit from the transformation that has taken place. As threatening as change can seem, it is often a sign that a new era of your life has begun. If you reevaluate your plans and goals in the days or weeks following a major change, you will discover that you can adapt your ambition to the circumstances before you and even capitalize on these changes. Optimism, enthusiasm, and flexibility will aid you greatly here, as there is nothing to be gained by dwelling on what might have been. Change can hurt in the short term but, if you are willing to embrace it proactively, its lasting impact will nearly always be physically, spiritually, and intellectually transformative.

Sounds of this morning

Oingo Boingo
Dead Boys
Tracy Chapman

Only I need to know why.

Tuesday, April 10, 2018

With my baby

Two of Bazzy's greatest hits

San Rafael Community Center, April 10, 2017.

Alta Bates Summit Medical Center, September 7, 2015.

Junot Diaz in The New Yorker

This isn't simply about childhood trauma, nor is it only about rape, though those elements of course figure largely here. It's about finding oneself, and finding the person who can hold that person without reservation.

Balance Project series!

Thrilled to be part of Susie Orman Schnall's Balance Project today!

Monday, April 9, 2018

Some great quotes here

Right here.

This one in particular:

 Maybe I’m just a dreamer, but I believe that love should be easy, it should be simple and clear. It shouldn’t be all questions and games and it shouldn’t leave you wondering or waiting.

My baby's sick day

Sunday, April 8, 2018

Editing this

Reason Number Three: When something disappoints you, why would you return to it like some sort of lost dog? Some Pit Bull maybe, banging its face against the bars in fruitless hope? The promise of love, of care, of commitment, only to be leashed, walked, and killed?

Wherefore art thou? Thou art euthanized.

I gather my books and stuff them into my bag. Time to leave the classroom, go find my janky Civic, get behind the wheel, and drive over to the phony-swank spaghetti palace, except it feels like my Converse are Super-Glued to the floor. Super Glue does no good Rooster always says. Duct tape. That fixes everything.

Why am I thinking about my father’s opinions on household adhesives?

Why can’t I handle the fact that the roof is coming down, that the walls are closing in?

Matt’s gone, Romeo too. The best friend I trusted waited until my back was turned and then hand-crafted a KICK ME sign.

The places I went to for help instead harmed me. The doors I knocked on for support stayed closed. 

Thursday, April 5, 2018

The Bazzy playlist

The child likes what he likes:

Elvis Costello
Beach Boys
Mark Ronson, "Uptown Funk"
Portugal the Man, "Feel it Still"
Beatles, "Love Me Do"
Harry Belafonte
The Bangles

I've got to get this boy on The Cure and The Doors, stat.

The value of discipline

I'm learning that many parents are too lazy to discipline their kids. Take right now, for example. I'm at this cafe with a play area where I take Baz and he behaves himself like a little gentleman. I'm not saying that because I'm his mom. I'm saying it because it's the truth, because I lay down the law otherwise.

I am not a pushover. I don't let him get away with shit. He not only says please and thank you, but he treats people the way they should be treated: with respect. Not every kid in this place is like that. It's not my job to control them, but if they don't watch out, they may find my foot up their collective ass.

Tomorrow is 10 years

Wednesday, April 4, 2018

Carmel and Monterey

Carmel Bakery.

Kissing the doggie.

Somewhere where there were lots of flowers and fountains. Like, everywhere.

A really cool paseo that was brought to you by, um, Thomas Kinkade. Can't have it all.

I driving!

Dennis the Menace Park. This place actually scared the shit out of me because it's insane, but he loved it.

Santa Cruz and Monterey

Bean Hollow State Beach.

Bookshop Santa Cruz.

Abbott Square Market, Santa Cruz.

Abbott Square, Santa Cruz.

Moss Landing.

Moss Landing.

Cannery Row.

Cannery Row.

Lily Mae's Cinnamon Rolls.

Monday, April 2, 2018

Can't go home again

The other day I asked Adam: "Do you think people can ever return to what they once were?"

He shook his head.

This picture makes me cry. Taken at Prizefighter. I was four months pregnant, radiant, and so damn naive.

Sunday, April 1, 2018

Home run A's!

Or, as Baz says, touchdown Patriots!

Bradley Whitford on hope

Infuse your life with action. Don't wait for it to happen. Make it happen. Make your own future. Make your own hope. Make your own love. And whatever your beliefs, honor your creator, not by passively waiting for grace to come down from upon high, but by doing what you can to make grace happen... yourself, right now, right down here on Earth.