Archive for September, 2010

Don’t think in bed

Thursday, September 30th, 2010

The I Ching master I met with in Shanghai told me to guard against thinking too far in any direction. My brother told me the same thing one time, don’t think so much, honey. I slept well last night, deeply, and woke up in a groggy haze, with the fog still rolling out of the Bay.

The fog is still there, folding up over the East Bay, but it’s not here, where I am. I will set off today with one plan in hand – to relax and enjoy whatever comes my way this fine day. And as for the rest of it, like Scarlett said, there is always tomorrow.

Flower said to me the other day she wanted to listen to the birds singing and feel the sunshine on her face. So do I. I want to take the reigns of the areas I control and be present when it matters and to allow myself to check out when it doesn’t or when I don’t have the ability to change it.

My horoscope today – as usual – right on:

September 30, 2010

  1. TaurusTaurus (4/20-5/20)

    It’s time to savor the joys that really matter. So slow down and give yourself some space to breathe. Plan a great meal and invite your dearest friends and family along. Whether you’re cooking or gathering everyone together at a favorite restaurant doesn’t matter — what is important is that you can take the time to appreciate the simple joys in life. Those always end up being the most important, anyway.

Networking or buzz?

Wednesday, September 29th, 2010

When I got into town I met with a woman I worked with many years ago, she said “network” as her advice of the day in these times. Almost as if networking replaced plastics –  advice Dustin Hoffman had in The Graduate – tonight after a long day that started at 3:30 this morning and a day trip to Los Angeles I just stumbled out the door to get a bite to eat and sat by myself at the sushi bar when a woman came up and sat beside me. In minutes an entourage joined her – they sounded like colleagues, vibrant, optimistic, cocky – reminded me of my colleagues years ago and I thought about life then and now, wistfully. We started talking, she’s a lesbian – go figure – in a relationship for 16 years, black, beautiful, and we talked a little about life, she whispered to me her advice: “healthcare” and I laughed it was “plastics” yet again. Because plastics and healthcare and finance and networking are all buzz words, advice to those people who are looking for just a job – I’ve always sought a life, something more than a buzz word.

Where are they today?

Wednesday, September 29th, 2010

I’m walking the streets of San Francisco and the memories are tugging me down to the ground and saying GOOD LORD what happened? Who were you then? Who are you now? I remember vividly coming of age in this city. I recall turning the corner of Kearney and Columbus and running smack into Herb Caen and him writing about it the next day – he with the sparkle in his eyes which caused me to smile ear to ear and him saying, a pretty girl smiled at me today. I remember the Tosca, getting kicked out of Vesuvios, Hunan Homes for mui shu, and then I passed Kho’s – the tailor and drycleaners and there behind the counter was the woman whose children were always with her, he’s 20 now she says, OMG he looks just like his father, like Kho and she says, you think? everyone says that but I don’t see it, where did you go? Where didn’t I go I tell her, I moved to New Orleans to be by my mother who was ailing, she passed this last year, I adopted a boy, I left my husband of 16 years, I … well, I am okay now. I say you look exactly the same. She says thank you, on the outside, but inside I’m different, I’m changed, I’m stronger than the woman you knew. I said, me too. Me too.


To thine own self be true

Wednesday, September 29th, 2010

I met with a friend today who has had enough of being the artist everyone wants her to be and has spent her time recently dedicating herself to her own artistic fancies. It’s the person I want to see in her – not the one who wants to succeed in artist-ness but the one who wants to express herself no matter the outcome. To thine own self be true.


Me, you and, um, how’s that again?

Wednesday, September 29th, 2010

I met with a good friend for dinner tonight in North Beach at Vicoletto’s – a small intimate Italian restaurant where I had broccolini and house made papardelle and chanterelle mushrooms and well, there we were in North Beach, her in the window, me in the chair looking out the window, and the lights went out and it was 91 degrees outside and we were drinking Planeta Syrah, and talking about life.

She meets a man, he is older, reluctant to have intimacy but then he comes very close, closer than others have been, and then he pulls back. A friend of hers says – “He has range” and she thinks to herself, I need range, I don’t need a man who is needy and I don’t need a man who is aloof – but this man who is both offers range.

I tell her intimacy is the thing that you think you are having all the time you are having sex and fantasies and togetherness only to find out that intimacy is the thing that has been the white elephant in the room because when you are too much you and they are too much them, running for the hills sounds better than being in that cramped room.

So I tell her that my program is that I want to be bigger than I am and I want to believe T can be bigger than she is and I want to believe that who I came into the relationship in and who she came into the relationship in are capable of exponential growth because we don’t have that much time left on the planet to explore the magic of intimacy and togetherness and we have all the reasons to do so – we love each other, we have a child together, and we really don’t have much reason not to try to make this expand beyond the seemingly limited roles we have played thus far.

In the dark of the restaurant who had no emergency candles, and the din of the night with people still eating their way through ravioli and tagliatelle and papardelle and wine and bread and olive oil and the lilt of Italian spoken all around the periphery, I ask you, you are here with me why? I grant you this audience and now I must perform and you must perform and if this is daunting, step down, because I don’t want it any other way.

It’s you and me and the rest of the chorus and it’s showtime.

Hello it’s Mom

Tuesday, September 28th, 2010

I miss my little boy something fierce and called and spoke to the babysitter who said, “I love watching Tin!” and so I begged for some minutes on the phone to say “Mommy loves you” – Tin was busying drawing with his new babysitter whom he likes a lot – HELLO, MOMMY CALLING – silence.

sigh whimper pout

City by the Bay

Tuesday, September 28th, 2010

I’m woolly from lack of sleep and too much talking and thinking and went outside to enjoy the seasonable unusual hot weather in San Francisco. Here is why I went outside – this is the view from my hotel room:


I walked over to the Ferry Building and smelled Fairy Cap and Black Trumpet mushrooms and almost walked off the planet; I had a small cup of Turkish Pistacio gelato and came back down to earth; and then I sampled a sea salt caramel truffle and took flight again. Would you look at these Heirloom tomatoes:


Why did all this abundance get on my nerves, I wondered to myself, in remembering the cornucopia years of my life in California. The bounty that exists here makes me flinch when the normal reaction should be to say hell yes, but instead I find abundance overwhelms me. A friend of a friend designed this rocket ship and good Gavin Newsom who always has good ideas decided to let it go up on the Embarcadero as temporary art, because everyone knows if it were erected as permanent art the entire Bay Area would rise up in protest – transient is the world here in San Francisco where most people, things, and art are just passing through and that’s how they roll.


But in this modern city by the Bay, I find most of the designs that I stumble upon whether a tea cup or a postcard are all retro – why’s that? Even the rocket ship that you cannot see in its entirety above is pure retro rocket a la George Jetson.

Would this be my grief, I’d fall under

Tuesday, September 28th, 2010

On Sunday, we were going to try to head out and see the second line parade – a friend said this one in particular was one of his favorites – but we never made it there as all of these second lines are in the afternoon during Tin’s nap time. There will be a time for second lines. Sitting here looking out at the Bay that is now vividly blue from my hotel window, I received this email that a little boy was killed at the parade – I hadn’t heard this had happen, I’m grief stricken for Jeremy, for Jeremy’s family, for Jeremy’s mother – my heart is breaking – my two year old was napping when this happened – the world would know no grief like mine had this happened to my little boy – my heart is breaking for this family – this senseless violence that can’t quit New Orleans:

Tragedy resonates through our community once again, as we mourn the shooting death of two-year-old Jeremy Galmon two days ago. As citizens and officials cry out, we must work through our shock and sadness to action–action with the substance and sticking power to make a true difference. We are faced with these unbearable moments too frequently. This time will we find the turning point we need as a city?

Our Mayor has called for action by the community, but also to maintain reason in our responses. Thank you, Mayor Landrieu, for asking that we not blame cultural leaders when tragedy strikes the very communities they are trying so hard to heal. The Young Men Olympian have worked for decades to strengthen New Orleans citizens and communities. New Orleans benefits from their dedication and vision, and groups such as the Young Men Olympian are an important component of a culturally and societally respectful city–ultimately, a healthy city.

As we call upon witnesses to take part in a criminal justice process that should bring some measure of accountability and comfort to the family, we should also remember just how broken that system is. And remember that the family’s need, and the community’s need, do not end when funeral expenses are paid. Earlier today, a father flew in from Texas for the murder trial of his young son, Gervais Nicolas. When his plane landed, he learned–via text message from the ADA trying the case–that tomorrow’s trial date has been canceled. This man has lost his son in a senseless murder; he has tried to participate in the criminal justice process from a distance; he has taken time off work and purchased numerous plane tickets—all to learn time and again at the last minute that the trial is not proceeding. One of the witnesses to the murder, Guy McEwan, was himself killed over a year ago. The criminal justice system has come with nothing. And we wonder why witnesses are reluctant to come forward, and why the community is discouraged from taking part in criminal justice?

As the shock of Sunday’s tragedy subsides, do not let our resolve as a community subside at the same time. Let’s keep our memories longer this time. In memory of two-year-old Jeremy Galmon, and out of respect for his family and all families who lose loved ones in this horrific way, we must look both backward and forward from such an event. What can we do before such a shooting takes place, to prevent it? How can we respond to this shooting with both compassion and responsibility?

SilenceIsViolence will attempt a small start by hosting a series of grief support meetings for families and friends of those lost to violence. The first meeting will take place on Saturday, October 9. With the assistance of a therapist specializing in grief support, we will provide an outlet and a supportive community for families afflicted by the violence. We will also ask for families’ input toward community-based responses and solutions. Through this grief support group and the Victim Allies Project, we will continue to serve victims and victim-survivors of violence, to advocate for a responsible criminal justice system, and to seek ways to stop the violence from happening in the first place. Please contact program director Tamara Jackson at (504) 453-1155 for more information.

Fear has no home here in my heart

Tuesday, September 28th, 2010

A friend recently used an odd descriptor for a mutual friend, he told me, “Have you ever noticed how nervous he is, he is motivated by fear.” Hmm, I thought, thinking about it and seeing verisimilitude to my own observations. “Yes, I noticed,” said another friend, “I noticed also when he let go of fear, didn’t you? I heard it in his voice not too long ago, the way he began cracking jokes and seemed relaxed, he let go of caring about this because he was already someplace else.”

My thoughts on fear is to rail rail against fear when it rears its ugly head, rail and knock it down to its knees, because fear is a paralysis, fear is what tells you that living comfortably is better than living on the edge, when life is a knife blade, where emotions are real and thoughts are pure. Fear sucks your soul out. The other day I was supported by the bare feet of my yogi and flew through the air with my arms outstretched and that was a transformative moment – that is where I want to be – wings spread.

I love the hell out of this poem by Lawrence:

Song of a Man Who Has Come Through

By D. H. Lawrence

Not I, not I, but the wind that blows through me!
A fine wind is blowing the new direction of Time.
If only I let it bear me, carry me, if only it carry me!
If only I am sensitive, subtle, oh, delicate, a winged gift!
If only, most lovely of all, I yield myself and am borrowed
By the fine, fine wind that takes its course through the chaos of the world
Like a fine, an exquisite chisel, a wedge-blade inserted;
If only I am keen and hard like the sheer tip of a wedge
Driven by invisible blows,
The rock will split, we shall come at the wonder, we shall find the Hesperides.

Oh, for the wonder that bubbles into my soul,
I would be a good fountain, a good well-head,
Would blur no whisper, spoil no expression.

What is the knocking?
What is the knocking at the door in the night?

It is somebody wants to do us harm.
No, no, it is the three strange angels.
Admit them, admit them

In the beginning

Tuesday, September 28th, 2010


In days of caves and communal songs, in days of old,
There was no morphine. The humans’ brains
Were just as quick and big as in 2010,
But there were no bookstores or even any libraries,
So when a situation came up which seemed new
There was little guidance, only the oral history bullshit.
In unendurable pain from just about anything,
Cancer, diabetes, eye infections, gangrene, hunting bites,
Severed limbs, a widespread deadly arthritis to die from
That hurt more than our arthritis now,
A decayed tooth, all the forms of cancer I should have
Mentioned specifically instead of it generically, since there was no morphine
And no books, they thought about the beginning, the very
Beginning, the person who was in unendurable pain and those bedside
Thought and thought and suspected that if they came up
With the answer, how it all began, they could have a say
In how it was turning out or how it was structured,
And get at the pain that way. They thought (remember,
Their brains were as capable as ours) of the
Big bang and of the it-was-always-here idea
And once thought of the it-would-always-be-here idea
Applying the latter as the non-end of the bang and the non-never-end
Of the always here. None of that helped of
Course. What, did you think I’d tell you it helped? Or
That they found out by thinking what the correct answer was?
So they invented morphine and books, took a while. These have solved
A lot of problems, but not the big ones.
I know you suspect they must have had their
Albert Einstein and their Stephen Hawking. Hawking
Has just said yesterday that we are doomed
Unless we go into space far and often. Their Hawking in days of old?
Said the same thing, don’t ask me how I know, I know.
Our Einstein said six decades ago that the bees
Better not disappear or we will disappear four years from then. He
Maintained it was his most important discovery (ok,
So he didn’t think it was the most important, so what) and now
Half of the bees disappeared last year, no shit. Their Einstein
In days of old said the same thing about the bees, but
He studied nothing else, was not a mathematician or physicist, just
The bees, which were all around him, as were the plants. (Do
You really want to ask me how I know, come on, use
Your common sense, it’s not in the books and it is in the books.) Also
The artist is the main figure in the landscape
No matter the year and that’s me. Think of it
That way and see if it doesn’t make you feel better.


Boston Review
September / October 2010