Archive for February, 2014

I have no use for virgins

Wednesday, February 26th, 2014

My 15-year-old friend boldly sent a letter to her crush and said simply, “I have a crush on you.” The response was awkward – “We’re cool.” I told her, you cut through the ambiguity – you’re brave – if he remains ambiguous, that’s him. Do you.

I went to a wedding last night – a man was marrying his dream bride – he wore black and she wore white. I had hoped to dance, instead I found myself deep in Spanish with the sexy Cuban drummer and in the throes of speaking my own truth to a friend (emboldened by the 15-year-old) and then, as an afterthought, flirting casually with the doppelgänger who sported grey dreds. I came home and found Heidi had ripped apart my beautiful robes hanging on the back of the door. The green satin one from Shanghai; the orange one with quince flowers from San Francisco. Thunderstorms drive her to madness.

I lay in bed with my own madness and read Jane Hirshfield — she came rushing at me across the pages as if she had been my date and saw what I saw and heard what I heard and thought what I thought.


I have no use for virgins–
give me the cup
with a chipped lip,
whose handle is glued back on
and whose glaze is dark from use.
Let many men and women
drink from us before
we drink–
I taste their breasts on your breast,
you cover their blaze between my legs.



How sad they are,
the promises we never return to.
They stay in our mouths,
roughen the tongue, lead lives of their own.
Houses built and unwittingly lived in;
a succession of milk bottles brought to the door
every morning and taken inside.

And which one is real?
The music in the composer’s ear
or the lapsed piece the orchestra plays?
The world is a blurred version of itself–
marred, lovely, and flawed.
It is enough.

I took this photo in Qingdao – they have a wedding day and brides + grooms go to the waterfront to be photographed.

Beauty is in the eyes of the beholder

Tuesday, February 25th, 2014

This morning as I was counting, ONE [pause] TWO [pause] for Tin to come brush his teeth and let me pick his hair, I was in mother mode and when he came running before I got to THREE [thank you 1 2 3 Magic] I took a deep breath and began putting the creme in his hair.

I muttered under my breath, “Your hair is getting long.” And then I said, “Is my hair getting long?” Joking with him.

And he smiled (first smile of the morning). “You don’t have any hair.”

I know, I told him, but I used to have long beautiful hair.

“You ARE beautiful,” he said.

And that is why today I dedicate to Tin for starting my day off right.


‘tit Rex Scores Big

Saturday, February 22nd, 2014

I love Mardi Gras – don’t get me wrong – but the crowds, the traffic, and the hassle do wear thin at times. So enter ‘tit Rex, a parade with micro floats (read: larger than a bread box but still small) that a serious krewe put together a few years ago and you have instant fun. It feels like old time Mardi Gras where there are kids playing in the grass and you can hear everyone speaking and you can get up close and personal with the floats and their captains. The throws are miniature organic king cakes, pecan-sized coconuts, wee-sized bracelets, paper umbrellas – all lovely and carefully crafted.

I am loathe to even bring attention to this wonderful parade because I don’t want it to get crowded with a bunch of yahoos coming in to rape and pillage the culture as has happened on Bourbon now Frenchman Street, but this parade gets my top vote for Carnival in New Orleans.









La Tata

Thursday, February 20th, 2014


Our friends’ second mother and nanny passed yesterday. She took Tin under her wing when we first arrived in Zahara de los Atunes almost five years ago. Her love of children was self-evident in the way she spoiled him and he adored her. Every summer for four years, we’d walk down the narrow street calling “Tata, Tata” as we approached her open window. She’d have the cookies ready – Galletas Maria – and she would dote on Tin and fuss at us if we did not give into his every whim.

La Tata was a force who oversaw the conception and evolution of a family.

And now, she’s transitioned into another realm.

You left an indelible mark on our hearts, Tata, you will be missed and never forgotten.

We love you Tata – vaya con Dios.

Authenticity – what is it? and where can I get it?

Wednesday, February 19th, 2014

I’ve stumbled upon the word “authenticity” lately in more ways than I would care to count and I started wondering how authentic has become the buzzword for 2014. In an age where we are posting our daily doldrums and peccadilloes for everyone to see, who is going to be the one to judge authenticity?

We went from email to blogs to social media causing babel to explode and truth to tell, I’d be hard pressed to know when and where my authentic voice shows up as opposed to where I am speaking to the audience.

So I hereby declare authenticity dead – yes, just as it was ascending to be 2014’s buzzword, I’m going to say meh. (Another word that must die.)

Are you for real? For real? B 4 Real. Get real. Real is a buzzword.

Authentic is not. Authenticity is not.

Authenticity immediately sounds not real.

You feel me?



Tuesday, February 18th, 2014

Faced with the impossible task of getting the number of calls I needed to complete two reports, I came within a mouse’s breath of doing just that mid morning. I also had to deal with a gift card that didn’t show up and the never ending saga of ADP having double paid me thereby wrecking havoc on two check accounts – but a simple phone call on each yielded a loving, sympathetic person on the phone and within minutes – problems solved.

I was thinking back to our Sunday session with our What is Love? topic and the conversation we had – someone had posted on Facebook the other day that when someone loves you they see the magic in you. I was brushing my teeth and looking at myself in the mirror – the bald head, the wrinkles, the softer around the edges than desired me. I thought of a man I loved who I used to watch get out of bed naked and walk across the room and how I loved everything about him that he saw as flaws – I loved everything because they all added up to him. I had loved the magic of him.

The other day when our group talked about self-love, I told them how when I first lost my hair, I would look at myself in the mirror and a voice would say, “you’re ugly” “you’re alien” “you look like a freak” “no one would love you” and how after a long time of hating myself, another voice started showing up who would shout back, “that’s mean” “shut up” “that is not nice” – and as these voices vied for control of my mind, I took up meditation and waved goodbye to the both of them. Oh, but they do sneak back – both of them – and I’m aware of each one and how they want to dominate the conversation. I watch the argument ensue and I stay out of it.

I want to be still in my mind.

As I brushed my teeth and looked at my wrinkles and my bald head and my softer edges, I thought about how I have been loved for the magic in me too.

On Valentine’s Day, I, sort of in a half-joking manner, posted Queen’s Somebody to Love on Facebook. Then that Saturday when Tin returned from soccer, I was helping him take off his shin guards and long orange soccer socks and we had sat on the carpet in a patch of sun that was streaming through the window. We had been through this grueling winter and it was a pleasant day and the sun felt so good on our bodies. Tin said, “Mommy, would you lay down here with me and cuddle?” And so we did – we spooned on the little patch like cats sun worshipping and he said, “I love you.”

He said it was such feeling that I knew he truly meant it – there wasn’t a doubt in my mind.

Today, a friend asked to treat me to lunch. We went to Namese – one of the latest Vietnamese restaurants to crop up in the city – and over bún we caught up on work, love, and kids. At some point, she was talking about her relationship and I told her about how I had learned to love the shadow in me, and I had learned to stop passing judgment on me, and in doing so, it was helping me stop hating the shadow in others and judging them and it was helping me really learn about love.

I told her about the voices in my head.

I told her about my meditation.

She said, “I love you.” And she said it with such feeling that time stood still for that moment because I knew she truly meant it. The sun was causing me to squint and my eyes were tearing up and I felt loved to my core.

My friend loves me and I love her. But more importantly in this love, I saw that she wanted to return home to her love and love him better.

I came home feeling high – floating – and I went to go get Tin from school. The weather was beautiful despite the warnings of storms and humidity.

Later, I was taking him to Tatjana’s, and another friend called and asked if I could go have a quick dinner with her. We went to Houston’s and as we were finishing our meal, the manager came over and said he had seen me in there a few times and I told him that I used to work at the Houston’s in Metairie back when dinosaurs roamed the earth. He picked up our check and said that dinner was on him.

A RED LETTER DAY. Mark this one down.

The Meaning of 5

Tuesday, February 18th, 2014

Well, this is the year I turn 55 and Tin turns 5 — five has a vibrant meaning in the world of numbers and myth – it’s dynamic and constantly changing and it is represented in many areas of spirituality. The are five books of the Torah, there are five-pointed stars, and in numerology, five is molded from an equal mix of masculine and feminine while it bends more to the feminine.

My motto for this year is “55, Arrive and Thrive” and so it is.

Tin’s five-year birthday marks a deeper sense of himself and his relationship to the world. I see it in the way he has gained confidence in his rhythms in life – his five year transition comes with the addition of chores – making his own bed and dressing himself. Today he dressed himself, shirt on backwards, however, he is none to keen to begin making his own bed!

And as he is getting older, I feel as if I am getting younger. Yesterday, a friend came and set up Tin’s surprise birthday trampoline in the backyard and I got on it and jumped and jumped for joy. Yes, these are not the salad days, but they are certainly the kale days – sturdier with more nutrients (wisdom) and totally all the rage.

So let’s all hail the number five:

Let’s hear it for turning five:
IMG_5700 - Version 2

And let’s hear it for older mothers who bring the wisdom of a rich life well lived to bear on a young mind:
'The Parent’s Tao Te Ching' by William Martin

Because it’s Carnival time

Sunday, February 16th, 2014

The rest of the world can’t know what is means to live in New Orleans especially during Carnival. Last night was Krewe du Vieux followed by Krewe Delusion – it’s the beginning of Mardi Gras for real.

Other parents were telling me they don’t bring their kids to this parade past a certain age because of the raunchy satire invoked but as I told Tin later, you missed all the giant pishas (his Croatian word for penis – spelled pica). Tin had hooked up with his friend and wanted to watch Ice Age on his friend’s iPad with her instead of going outside to the parade. I took the liberty of letting him stay with her, not knowing they would be in front of an iPad, so I was a bit disgruntled that all of these creative spirits had poured themselves into these parades while my son was inside watching a tiny screen. Tsk tsk.

Live and learn – next time, there is no other option but the parade.


What is Love?

Sunday, February 16th, 2014

My Sunday group met this morning to talk about What is Love? We covered it all including some delicious chocolate vegan pudding with fresh raspberries and strawberries and toasted walnuts and then dining al fresco (finally) with a nice southwestern veggie stew over quinoa.

Broad brush:

Love of work – finding your right livelihood as the Buddha expressed. When you work at what you are aligned with, the vibrations are positive and light.

Love of self – recognizing the Spiritual Shadow and learning to love the shadow inside yourself and that helps you love it in others.

Romantic love – the divine spark, the erotic, the attraction that is necessary to sustain romantic love.

And then there is aligning your basic self with your higher consciousness and recognizing when someone is aligned with one or the other or in the best case scenario – both.

The divine was in the details, and I cannot wait until we meet again.


Tossed Upon the Sea of Love

Friday, February 14th, 2014

Wow, what a difference a number of hours, a day or two here and there, make to your outlook and perspective. I went from being in a frantic state of whoa I’m going down down down the economic rabbit hole to suddenly doors opening up like Zeus was throwing lightning bolts at them.

Really, yesterday was cosmic in its YESNESS and so I’m here to say that love is all around me.

Today is Valentine’s Day and I have received so many sweet messages that my heart is warmed all the way down to my toes.

But the best part of this day was listening to the podcast that my son starred in yesterday – that’s right this almost five-year-old boy wonder was on a podcast and he totally rocked and rolled with it.



photos by Douglas Lloyd Engel