Wednesday, September 30, 2009


I wrote this poem at a time when I was rich with hope, tempered with caution, but still, rich with hope. It's not easy to place yourself in the hands of another, and sometimes you learn and grow from your worse fear.
I know I speak in double talk sometimes. i do that because it's a failed relationship I can't find the right words for. But at the time I wrote this, I was rich with hope...
I’d like to be funny tonight.
Sit in my favorite chair,
Across from you, grinning,
And tell you stories
That start with glee and end with awesome.

I’d like to lean over and
Touch your knee
So you know I am present
As surely as I sit before you.

I’d like to know how you feel
On vacation and at work
And on Sunday mornings
When you read the New York Times.

I’d like to watch your mind
Dance down the street of curiosity
And stop at the curb
Where that lucky penny finds you.

I’ll listen to your stories
Into the night,
Even of the time you eloped
Only to find your mistake
Under the Las Vegas sheets

My eyes will follow you
Into the doorways and along the pathways
And I will nod with empathy
And the commonality of approval.

I can do all these things
As sincerely as I breathe
Because I was given this gift
Long long ago.

I’d like you to know
I keep secrets and honor wishes,
Even the dark ones,
And even when I’m bribed.

So when you slip on your coat
to take your leave
I’d like to think
We both heard you well.

And because there are two of us,
Listening requires
The unveiling of
my own footprints in the squeaky sand.

Tell you who I am? That is harder.
I can tell you why.
It starts with a fact that startles me still:

I can tell you everything
But I will not know
if you see me strong and clear
Or dazed and fragile.

I’ve been apologizing for both and either
Most of my life
And that is a confused place
Not found on any map.

Here’s how it goes:
If you tell me I am strong and confident
I will tell you back--
No, please know I am sensitive,
I cry and fold in two
When I have no back door

And if you tell me I am sensitive
I will be speechless,
Apologizing for a weak defense
And readying to watch you walk away.

It’s not that I don’t know myself:
I cry over love
And when dogs whimper,
And nobody would say I was unkind.

I take to the streets
When integrity’s at stake
And I hide under the bed
When I bite my lower lip
In anticipation of a harsh word or deed.

I am confident and sensitive.
Strong and insecure.
Wise and weak.
Tiny and tall.
That’s what it is.
And yet
I cannot tell you why this fact
Decks me until I finally

Relax for the count
Or rise for the occasion.


Tuesday, September 29, 2009

Citizen kj

Scene 1: Eleven women and seven men, all white, file into a large room with eight rows of plastic chairs to watch a video on the court system and how to be a juror. Each is given a number. I am # 5.
Scene 2: All eighteen people are escorted to courtroom # 2 and asked to sit down. The presiding judge introduces himself and one by one each of the attorneys, the defendant, and all the witness stand and turn to the jurors to introduce themselves by name.
Scene 3: Seven numbers are called out and those jurors are escorted to the jury seats, which looks just like it does on television. I am not selected.
Scene 4: Four of the seven jurors are then dismissed for reasons that are not explained. They are free to go home.
Scene 5: I am called as a juror, followed by three other people. Everyone remaining is thanked and told they can go home
Scene 6: The judge explains what will happen. The defendant is an Hispanic male charged with a criminal count of assault and battery. He must be found innocent if the State Attorney does not present evidence that he is guilty "beyond a reasonable doubt." In order to be found guilty, all six jurors must agree.
Scene 7: Both lawyers explain what evidence they will be presenting.
Scene 8: First Witness for the Prosecution. Mr. S explains he was sitting in his car in an apartment complex parking area when the defendant, who was dating his girlfriend's sister, walked up and greeted him. They exchanged pleasantries and the defendant turned to leave, but instead swung around and punched him in the face, breaking his nose. Mr. S. was pulled from the car, blood everywhere, and they scuffled.
Scene 9: Second Witness for the Prosecution: Police Officer was called by a neighbor who reported a fight. When he arrived, no one was in the parking lot but he observed a puddle of blood beside Mr. S's car and drips of blood on the inside door. He knocked on several apartments and finally found Mr. S, who was icing his face. Police Officer is asked to draw a map of the apartment buildings and the location of both Mr. S's car and the blood drops.
Scene 10: First Witness for the Defense: Mr F, the defendant explained he came out of his girlfriend's apartment holding his one year old son and with his girlfriend and they noticed three men standing in front of their car. The men started yelling at him. He said they approached the car and Mr. S shoved him, so he punched him in the face in self defense. He said when Mr. S got up and ran to his car, he and his girlfriend drove away fast because they did not know if he was going to get a weapon.
Scene 11: Second Witness for the Defense: Mr. F's girlfriend collaborated Mr. F's story. She is asked to draw the location of Mr. F's car, which she notes is a short distance behind Mr. S's car.
Scene 12: Rebuttal Witness for the Prosecution: Mr. S's girlfriend, who is the sister of Mr. F's girlfriend, reported she called her sister after Mr. S told her what happened and her sister said, "I don't know anything about this" and hung up on her.
Scene 13: The lawyers give closing arguments. Both acknowledge that the versions of what happened are 100% different from each other.
The jury is escorted to a chilly room and discuss the evidence over sandwiches.
Scene 14: The jurors think every one is lying. They then examine whether or not Mr. F acted in self defense, and they cannot reconcile Mr. F's story because if the fight took place in front of his car, why was the pool of blood in front of Mr S's car?
Scene 15: Within an hour, there is consensus for a guilty verdict.
Scene 16: The jury files back in the courtroom, the verdict is read, the defendant has no reaction, and Mr. S's girlfriend makes the sign of the cross.
Epilogue: Juror kj thinks the correct verdict was reached. But the case seemed frivolous. Neither Mr. S or Mr. F reported the fight to the police, neither presented a motive, which obviously existed but was not discussed by either attorney, and it was the state, not either man, who pressed charges. The case came to light only because a neighbor involved the police.
Still, Ms. kj completed her civic duty and found it all pretty interesting. She then arrived home by 3 PM, took Stella for a walk in the park, checked her blog, worked on her taxes, called her good friend, talked to JB who is in Iowa City on business, fixed dinner, and fell asleep on the couch.

The End.

Monday, September 28, 2009


I thought I'd have an rare day off and to myself on Tuesday. I moved my clients to another day because I was scheduled for jury duty, with instructions to phone this evening to see if I and the group I was placed in was needed. I did not expect it would be. I made plans to write, relax, catch up, take Stella to the park, maybe even finish these damn "08 taxes that should have been done last January.
But NO, I have jury duty. I will show up at a courthouse 25 miles away tomorrow morning at 8 AM and do my civic duty. If I am assigned to a case that goes more than one day, I will sulk. And please don't give me a serious case like murder two: I'm not in the mood.
When my beloved daughter Jessica was just 18 years old, not a month out of high school, she was called for jury duty. She was indeed assigned to a murder 2 or was it manslaughter case: a young man with no prior record who was present when his friend pushed someone out of a moving van after snatching his wallet. Jessica came home crying her heart out because she did not know a guilty pleas would mean a mandatory five year sentence for being an accessory. She said the young man's mother was in the courtroom sobbing. She also said the names and addresses of all the jurors was leisurely left on one of the courtroom tables, and she did not sleep by herself for almost a year after that. She was only 18, too young for this experience.
And then there's me. I've managed to wiggle out of two prior jury pools, but this time I have no good excuse. I could say I need to prune my garden. Write a chapter about true love gone bad. Exercise my dog. Pay bills. Catch up on my rest. I could say I need to replenish my soul. I could even say I think I have swine flu symptoms.
Instead, I will walk into the county courthouse and try to utter not one complaint to my very expert complaining self. Tomorrow I'll be citizen kj instead. And if I get dismissed a half hour after I sign in: well, that would be just fine with me.

Sunday, September 27, 2009

Seeing is Believing

I took a simple walk today
along a path, with a friend.
Somewhere along the way
I remembered
It's up to me.
It's up to me.
It was a perfect day
on my walk, with my friend
To look around
And see.
To look around.
And see.

Friday, September 25, 2009

Six Word Saturday: Blogland Lane's Wishes & Dreams Foundation

Last year around the holidays I wrote about a twelve year old girl who due to poverty was not likely to get anything for Christmas. Within a week more than a dozen contributions totaling more than $ 200 allowed me to buy her a variety of art supplies. I gave them to her mother, who wrapped and readied them for Christmas morning.
It was amazing to see how happy and grateful she and her family was but it was even more amazing to see how happy and grateful WE were to have the opportunity to be generous, to give, to make a difference.
I am creating The Wishes & Dreams Foundation as a non-profit organization, opening just now on Blogland Lane. It is my hope and intention that this Foundation will provide the means and magic for many of us to support a variety of good causes
Just because the address is Blogland Lane, that does not mean that support is limited to the neighbors who live there. Anyone can help. Please take a moment and see if this is something you perhaps want to and can be part of.
I have three suggestions for the first worthy recipients of the Wishes and Dreams Foundation. You could pick one or all three-that's up to you.
1.She is a 13 year girl named Shane. She is extraordinary. She has been in a restrictive foster care home for almost a year, after being removed from her mother after she and her sister became homeless, after watching her mom beaten up, after needing to be far too grown up for her age. Shane goes to a poor school with few opportunities, yet she manages to get very good grades. Last summer on her own she wiggled her way into a four week acting program (Shakespeare!) and she loved it. She found herself among high achiever peers and it did her a world of good. Recently her assistant principal donated equipment to her so she play soccer.
I would like to raise enough money so Shane can enroll in another acting program, perhaps even an overnight camp next summer.
2. Many of you already know of the work of Dr. Maithri Goonetilleke in helping the orphan children of Swaziland. Swaziland has the highest incidence of AIDS in the world: a whole generation has been infected, often leaving eight year old children to take care of their younger brothers and sisters. Maithri has started his own Foundation to help the work he does there. Any money raised goes directly to families in need, for clean water, for food, for medicine.
3. The last option does not necessarily involve money. This choice requires that you become some one's secret angel, that you do a kind and helpful act for someone, somehow, and not get caught doing it. BUT you have to tell us. You have to share the details so we can enjoy and rejoice with you about your act of kindness.
I am writing this at the end of September. I will post this announcement again sometime in November, just as the holidays begin to gear up. But starting now, if you are able to participate now or later, let me know any time which of these three options you would like to be part of. You can contribute any amount of money you would like, by check or through my Paypal account. You can email me and I'll send you my mailing address.
And please, let me know and let us all know. Kind acts inspire more kind acts. Our blogging community is world wide. I would like to see the Blogland Lane Wishes and Dreams Foundation be world wide also. I can just about guarantee you will get more than you give.
Thank you.

Thursday, September 24, 2009

Thursday 13: Influences

Recently I've been thinking about some of the people and events who have shaped and changed me. I'm an optimist by nature, and I'm generally a cheerful and fairly healthy person. The last year has tested me. But every day is getting better and I can see some of my humor and spunk coming back. And, for what it's worth, even my heart knows better than to second guess having loved in the first place.
So this Thursday 13 is about people and events who influence me, large and small:
1. Trader Joe's: Do you have a Trader Joe's near you? It's a unique discount grocery store that sells easy-to-prepare food that tastes as good as homemade. I buy chicken marsala, french onion soup, guacamole, artichoke dip, key lime pie and so many other luscious things that I am no longer cooking like I used to. I don't know if that's good or not, but man is it convenient.
2. My new Apple I-Phone: I just got it last week and it's incredible. I can check my blog and my emails from where ever I am, the phone is easy to use, it has a great to-do list, I can check the weather, get maps, watch Utube, take photos, play games, etc etc. If you haven't seen the this phone, I advise you to check it out. Incredible!
3. My family: I am blessed with a wonderful family. My partner JB and I have been together now 25 years (unbelievable). She has so many wonderful qualities, but my favorite is that she lets me be myself and she loves me. My Jessica now has her own family, including my son-in-law Mike and two wonderful little boys, and knowing she is loved and happy means everything to me. And my mom, now 93, is sweet and engaged and vibrant. With zero memory and 100% humor, she lives her life as fully as she can.

4. Blogging: I don't read as much as I use to because I spend much of that time blogging instead. But I've entered a whole new world and I wouldn't trade a minute of it. Art, writing, photography, philosophy, love, friendship: it's all there for me. I've learned so much, I've fallen in love, I've become a writer. I don't think I would have written and published my first book if it weren't for my blog and my blog friends.
5. Children: I did not expect at my age to have children so front and center in my life again. I did not expect I would love being around children so much. My grandson Mr. Ryan is so much fun I can hardly keep up with him. And at six months old Mr. Drew smiles all the time. I love getting to know him. Eighteen months ago I took a job as a Psychotherapist. I told the agency I could not work with children because I never had, but one thing has led to another I now have young"clients' of all ages, from 4 through 17. It's wonderful. I "get" them, respect them, care about them, and they know it. And they give me all that back.
6. My Laptop: I can't live without it! I've become a writer on this laptop. And if my Internet is down for some reason, I'm like a caged animal. I probably shouldn't admit this so readily, but if you're reading this I won't be surprised if you feel the same way.
7. Isabelle: That's not her real name and I am careful what I want to say. She meant the world to me, we failed, and my heart got cracked open. As time passes, I hope I will never have regrets, not even from the parts that hurt like hell. It pains me to know she looks back with contempt and distain, and I hope for both of us someday she and I both can be thankful for what we gave one another.
8. You-know-who-you-are and thank you so much: She offered me friendship at a time when I was reeling. She mails me sweet cards, listens to my problems and joys, doesn't judge me, and thrills me with her art. Our birthdays are a day apart, we make each other laugh, and I think we'll be friends for life.
9. My camera: I carry it with me almost everywhere now. I still don't know more than 'point and shoot', but I love taking pictures and I love sharing them. I love making cards from them. I love the creativity it affords me.
10. Provincetown: It's a quaint 'anything-goes' town at the ocean's edge. You can walk one end of town to the other in less than an hour. It has art and galleries and freedom and weather and beaches and incredible light and restaurants and free love. I feel free there. I walk the beach and I remember that my life is good. I remember to be thankful.
11. Dogs: I'm partial to dogs. I adore their loyalty and willingness to wag their tales without a single complaint. I wish I could rescue every dog on the planet who deserves a loving home. If I were to choose one thing to devote my life's work to at this point, dog shelters and rescues would be right up there.
12. Writing: A couple of years ago if you asked me I woul dsay I was "becoming a writer." I don't say that anymore: I know, finally, I AM a writer. It's now in my blood. It's not something I can not do. I have to write. I want to write. I do write. I write stories and poems and essays and novels. I write about life and love and lessons and loyalties. All I ask of myself is that I improve and learn as I go along.
13. My heart: It's not that I don't use my head and mind: I do. I'm good in a crisis and I know how to solve problems But I can be fragile and vulnerable and sensitive because of my heart, and sometimes that takes me somewhere that feels or hurts pretty deeply. But it's too late for me: my heart is wide open and I'm pretty sure it's staying that way the rest of the journey. Don't ask me what it means for me ahead. I can only tell you I'd rather open up than shut down.

There you have it: thirteen influences. How about you? Anybody else want to share?

Wednesday, September 23, 2009

A Little Gift

Trust me on this one. If you're having a tough day, this will help. If you feeling punchy, this will help. And if you're in the mood to lighten up anyway, this will definitely help.
Just click below:

Tuesday, September 22, 2009

Mom in the Hospital

Mom: What are you doing?
Hospital Worker: I have to take your blood.
Mom: Why?
Hospital Worker: They need your blood.
Mom: Well, I need it too.

Sunday, September 20, 2009

Amazing Grace

It's fall in New England. There is just a touch of the changing of the leaves, but the spectacular fall foliage is coming.

And the crisp as the autumn air.
These are fresh flowers FROM MY YARD! Unbelievable.

HAHAHA. This picture of Donald Duck is how I look when I am indignant--honest to God. And this wirery woman: I made her from electrical wire and wrapped an old shoulder pad around her for her dress.

The little bathroom off the kitchen. Please don't ask about my vantage point

Did I mention the hydrangeas I planted last year have been a wild success?

It's a daycare center. My little four year old client is learning to use my camera. This shot might be worth enlarging if you have any interest in seeing how truly immature I am.

I think of my friend Renee, her nephew Sheldon, and her sister Jacquie when I see a sky like this.
And I think of my sweet friend Lolo when I fall over laughing from this scene in a store window.

"We're in the arms of the angels. May we find some comfort there."
Have a great day. It's really all we have.


Too much cancer: I'm witnessing a strength and character demanded of too many of my friends and family these days and it leaves me bewildered and astonished.
I wrote a poem about astonishment about three years ago, just after I lost my friend Willa to lung cancer and well before my heart got cracked wide open--that journey I am still on, still unsure about, still pushing forward, one foot in front of the other.
This poem is actually one of my very favorites of all I have written: I often think of my daughter Jessica whenever I read it, and yesterday I read it again thinking of Renee, a friend to many of us on the blogs, who been given a very hard and very sad burden to carry.


If I were dying tonight,
Lying in my bed with plastic tubes and half-filled bottles
on the small table nearby
and bedpans and oxygen there to diminish any shame,
Perhaps forcing my breaths
with the strength of a desperate parent
who implausibly and frantically lifts two tons
of mangled steel off a broken daughter—
If I were dying tonight and I wished to tell you
What will astonish you,
I would tell you this:
Be sure to notice white flowers in the moonlight,
Because the softened glow is like no other.

Appreciate the lingering scent of garlic on your fingers,
Because healing is possible from that alone.

Tell the truth when it matters least
Because then you will be sure there is another honest person in the world.

Always spend the extra money for dimmers
Because light that builds in intensity and then gently fades is
good for your spirit.

Over and over, ask yourself, “What is the lesson here?”
Because then you will forever be a student and never a victim

Never believe for a moment that the world is going to hell
Because you only need to love outside yourself to know better.
If I were dying tonight, I would tell you all this
Because astonishment is brethren to curiosity,
Which leads to observation,
And dedication,
And finally appreciation.
If I were dying tonight, perhaps there would only be minutes,
Perhaps only seconds,
To tell you that I will leave with all the love
I have ever felt, and ever given.
I will take it all with me, tucked under my angel wing—
The accumulation of grace from every breath I have ever taken.
Here’s what’s astonishing: I will also leave all that love behind,
It will be imbedded in my daughter’s stunning light and my partner’s quiet
It will guide my friends and coworkers when the layoff comes.
My brother will remember how I tried to do my share
And Joey will find someone else like me to help him tame his fears.
Even the woman at the grocery store that day I let her go ahead of me—
will remember how we were both comforted from that simple act.
If I were dying tonight, I would also tell you
That within, under, because of, and from the little moments
Comes all the wonder and astonishment you could ever hope for.
The little moments that aren’t so little.
I would tell you to let those moments astonish you.
I would tell you this because it is all you need to know.
Even in tough times, let's count our blessings, dear friends. And thank you once again for being one my special blessings. Thank you big time.

Saturday, September 19, 2009

To Renee

For Sheldon:
A Fearless Warrior Gone Home

This is not the post I wrote earlier this afternoon. I've changed it because I visited my dear friend Miladysa's blog and her tribute to her father stopped me cold. The quote she included was so much what I wanted to say to Renee and Jacquie and their families all along:

"Death is nothing at all. It does not count. I have only slipped away into the next room. Nothing has happened. Everything remains exactly as it was. I am I, and you are you, and the old life that we lived so fondly together is untouched, unchanged. Whatever we were to each other, that we are still. Call me by the old familiar name. Speak of me in the easy way which you always used. Put no difference into your tone. Wear no forced air of solemnity or sorrow. Laugh as we always laughed at the little jokes that we enjoyed together. Play, smile, think of me, pray for me. Let my name be ever the household word that it always was. Let it be spoken without an effort, without the ghost of a shadow upon it. Life means all that it ever meant. It is the same as it ever was. There is absolute and unbroken continuity. What is this death but a negligible accident? Why should I be out of mind because I am out of sight? I am but waiting for you, for an interval, somewhere very near, just round the corner. All is well. Nothing is hurt; nothing is lost. One brief moment and all will be as it was before. How we shall laugh at the trouble of parting when we meet again!" - Henry Scott Holland

Renee and her family are grieving right now. But I know the sun will shine on them again, because they carry their light into the world. Like Sheldon, they are fearless. This is what I've learned from them, and this is what will shine forever:

"You might think that, when you experience fearlessness, you will hear the opening to Beethoven's Fifth Symphony or see a great explosion in the sky, but it doesn't happen that way. Discovering fearlessness comes from working with the softness of the human heart." Chogyam Trungpa

"In the difficult are the friendly forces, the hands that work on us." Rainer Maria Rilke
"A Broken Heart is an Open Heart." Elizabeth Lesser
Rest In Peace Sheldon
You will never be alone

Friday, September 18, 2009


Sometimes the truth I see is hard and painful. I wouldn't change seeing it, though I sometimes wonder how I've come to be doing this work that has found me somehow, wrapped itself around my intentions these days, and keeps a hold on me that I can't say I mind at all. I'm honored, actually. And I hope you don't mind sharing some of the hard and painful too. I think it's worth it....
These are the tales of an urban warrior. Not the kind who suits up with armor or compass, but one among many who drives the blighted streets and looks for openings. Looks to bandage wounds that shouldn’t matter—shouldn’t even exist, but there they are: cuts from neglect and abuse and opportunities that never come. These are the tales of children who learn to wait forever, and finally stop waiting because no one comes through. They stop waiting but not longing, sometimes knowing and sometimes not that they are getting a raw deal. They go to bed at night without a tuck and they get up each morning in crammed apartments where somebody they’ve just met commits to their safety, assures their cereal and clean clothes, but can’t offer the hearty hugs and hungry hearts that feed and clothe them in different ways.
These are the tales of children in foster care, and I can tell you now, without ambiguity, the tales suck.
She’s four years old, this little girl named Angelina. She has a mother and a father and two small brothers, an uncle Teddy and an aunt ZZ. But one day, now ten months ago, the police brought her back from North Carolina, arrested Teddy and ZZ for kidnapping her, for molesting her at least once and maybe dozen of times, perhaps over days and perhaps over months.
“They touched my pee pee and my behind,” she told me, finally, months after she could not answer the district attorney, months after the charges against Teddy were dropped, months after her sexually transmitted disease was treated, she looking at me with caution, not fear, not anything in that moment, until she added that her foster mother told her only the doctor or a mommy should touch her there, and she asked me if I was happy she told me and when I responded I felt sad , she stared straight through me for maybe ten seconds before she began to cry, before couldn’t catch her breath, when she crawled into in my lap, this child four years old, sobbing, we two with nothing more either of us could say.
She’s too young to have a context for any of this. It’s been months since she and her mother and her brothers huddled on the front porch of the green house while the sheriff supervised the angry removal of all their possessions to the front lawn, months since the state social worker took her brothers to one foster home, she to another, months since the last time she saw her mother, who no longer visits, who is pregnant again, who’s newborn will be taken from her the same day the hospital notifies the state she has delivered.
Angelina. She is a beautiful child. She runs to me with a huge smile and her arms in the air as soon as she sees me at the day care door. We hold hands and walk to the little teacher’s lounge, where we sit on a small grey couch, we color, I show her how to use my camera, we play hide and seek. Most weeks she tells me she is still peeing on her clothes and I ask her what she thinks about that. We sing twinkle twinkle little star, the song we’ve chosen for the moments she is alone and she feels afraid, and I remind her she can tell a grown up if she wants to talk to me if she’d rather do that than pee on herself. Most weeks she wants to kiss me on the lips and I tell her, no, let’s kiss on our cheeks, and she throws her head back and says, “I like your shoes.” When I got new glasses, she was the first to notice, she laughed and told me, “Oh you changed your circles” and I cannot help but tell her she is a wonderful little girl and I ask her how is she doing and most time her huge brown twinkle eyes just look straight at me, no words, just those eyes saying she is hopeful and alone and goddammit, doing her best.
She and her brothers will go into the adoption program this month. The court is terminating her mother’s parental rights and her father, who sees his children once a month at the local state office in a room with folding chairs and a few old board games, is an illegal alien who cannot care for or have status to influence what will happen to his children. He is trying to find a godmother or a family friend who will take his children, but that will not happen and you can see the sadness in his eyes.
Myself, I love her and I am good for her and she trusts me and I am an anchor but I am not enough. I cannot fill what she should not lack. I find myself looking at the faces I see every day, women and men and families like me and mine, and I wonder, “Can you? Can you take this child? Please,” I think, “It would matter so fucking much.”
please pray for Angelina, and with all your heart for Renee and her family.

Wednesday, September 16, 2009

Some Favorites



That's how many visitors I've had since I started my blog.
I think the 30,000 person is going to be special.
I will leave it to the universe to figure that out.
But I'll be on the look out.
Just so you know: many of the blog-begun relationships I've been the happy beneficiary of have a permanent place in my heart.
And I love that.

Tuesday, September 15, 2009

A Moment of Immodesty...

(Click to enlarge)
The absolute best part of having a book published is the attention. Maybe my ego needs to calm down, but I am over the top when someone tells me she/he liked my book, or when a review or article appears somewhere in print.
This chapter excerpt appeared in Provincetown Magazine last week. I chose the chapter and they did me the honor of gracing it with a great layout. I published 'The Light Stays On' myself: actually, I "created" a small publishing company which I playfully named Chihuahua Press. The book design and page layout came to life through the work and talent of my friend Bill Michalski, and I was blessed with the gift of an original painting for the cover by my incredible friend Valgal In case you don't know, the painting is my partner jb's studio, located in our side yard. We call it The Magic Cottage.
I am responsible for promoting and publicizing the book, and I admit I've taken my good old time. I've been slow in finding the right momentum. But still, every book signing, every reading, every interview, every review and excerpt gives me a certain rush that is indescribable.
So please forgive me for tooting my own horn today. The truth is when I flipped the pages of Provincetown Magazine and saw this, I just couldn't help toot-tooting.

Sunday, September 13, 2009


I have just finished a weekend of writing with my Big Yellow Writing Group. We meet twice a year, write and read from Friday night to Sunday at noon. There are 8 to 10 of us, including four singer-songwriters, and on Saturday night, after we write, we sing.
The following piece is long and if it's too long for you to read, please, no need to be polite about it, I understand. It was hard to write, probably overdue, and perhaps more hopeful than is often the case. Still, I'm glad it's out. xoxo

It might have been a little slice of danger from the start. Whatever is exhilarating is also risky, kind of like riding a roller coaster with your hands above your head and your feet so casually placed they won’t help you brace, especially during that first long wild dip, when your hair flies behind you at lightening speed and you can barely hear your own screams because they are folded into the chill of the collective scream, all the way down, until you level out waiting for the next rapid rise and fall.
True, there is a steel bar across your lap that holds you to the seat, makes sure gravity will not pick you up and throw you into mid air and sudden death, but let’s face it: you want to ride that roller coaster that way—reckless and reflectively—and you hand over a piece of yourself without knowing the ropes, the same as if you choose a back country trail without provisions or a map, You do it that way and you’re taking your chances that you’ll know what to do when the danger rush comes flying at you, when there’s no time to think and certainly no time to plan.
You know in general it makes more sense to size things up, take your time and venture slowly, get familiar with what you know and what you don’t. You know It’s better to not be surprised when you are not prepared, to keep the rudder steady, to drop Hansel and Gretel corn kernels behind you so the path stays familiar, but then again when you know your way, you’re not surprised, and when you’re not surprised, you’re not deep in the thrill, and the rush the ride that’s lost to you is not exactly small.
Isn’t that why sooner or later you’ll come to admire people who just throw their arms up and go with it and venture forth, no map, no plan, no umbrella, no kernels of anything except the wild stallion within them, why you react with amazement when someone decides to let loose, finally, fully, foolishly yes, but who’s to say the benefit will not be the lovely freedom of unleashed passion, newly minted wonder, a way of moving in a sometimes flat world, a level of deciding that transcends and transforms everything that’s come before it? Don’t most of us envy people like that, wish we could do it that way too, at least sometimes? Don’t you want the earth to move, the foundation to shake, the stars to explode right in front of you, to throw you off your feet and in high into the air in one explosive bolt? Really now, don’t you?
I knew a woman who traded in her compass and her raincoat for the thrill of the open road. She burned her house down and everything in it one October morning and she never looked back. When she ventured forth, she was anchorless, weightless, unencumbered, clueless, totally wide and open and fresh and full. It was like her had heart split down the middle, pulsating with a raw recklessness, spilling forth deep love everywhere, no fences, no ambivalence, no back doors, not a molecule of second guessing. She slid onto that roller coaster seat and for two years she rode up the track and down, letting an unfamiliar and totally exhilarating passion slap her face, toss her from side to side, spike her right off her seat. Treasured moments, vibrant images, new possibilities flew by her with lightening speed, new colors and new words and new ways previously unknown to her.
She lived that way for two years. She cared deeply and loved foolishly and picked up a palette knife and painted amazing faces and landscapes and emotions, mostly in the caladium reds and brilliant oranges and an occasional tempering blue. She made love at least once a day, losing and finding herself in the ecstasy of her muffled screams and unbridled lust, savoring the sweat that trickled onto to her breasts in the smallest molecules, she lying there having been taken and expelled and depleted all at once.
One roller coaster dip after another, thunderous conditions that told her she was alive, ready to be taken and expelled and depleted again, and then again. She was free, a wild stallion without fences, finding her way to the top of the terrace, looking down on small pebbles and unsure footing that caused her no trouble.
It’s hard to know what happened next. The change was imperceptible, like that story of the sleepy frog in tepid water, who does not notice the temperature is rising until the boiling point is reached and all options of the frog’s escape are gone.
It might have been a brilliant day in early May, or perhaps a heavy rain in late August, but one day she was simply no longer herself. Her heart was still split open alright, a straight incision so wide and so clean she had failed to notice how much of herself had slipped away. She looked for a familiar fence in the distance, wanting to confirm the boundaries of her territory. She walked along the woody path she had traveled since childhood, shocked at the erosion of its sturdy riverbanks, dismayed that the steady current had over spilled on what was once dry and fervent land. She still rode the wild rollercoaster, but the lifts and spikes now exhausted her, no longer satisfying her reckless hunger, and instead blurring her vision, knocking her into a crazy dizzy confusion where the quest for passion had heightened her hunger to an unsustainable level. She had lost herself when she thought she’d been found. .
Did you know this could happen? Have you already learned that fences sometimes protect, not just restrict? That passion sometimes overtakes, not just exhilarates? Do you know that hearts can roam free and wild for only so long, before they need to slow down, level out, open up and wide, yes, but did you know that hearts prefer the a clean cut that expands instead of explosives that blast? Because when your heart explodes, dozens of shards blow and fall everywhere, and you may spend years picking the blown apart pieces, trying to put them back together rightly.
That is what happened to this woman I knew. It took her a long time to stop running around looking to find and repair all those pieces. It took her a long time to learn about balance and safety and steady sails. But she did learn. Every once in a while she is back on that roller coaster, whoopy-ing her way through a wild arms-in-the-air ride, letting the wind take her again, leaving her umbrella and compass in a back room somewhere.
But still, she has a back pocket now. And in it she has the smallest folded map, just in case, that shows her the way home, just in case. There are still nights she screams in wild passion, risks it all with gleeful abandon, but that little map in her back pocket: well, let’s just say she knows her way.

Friday, September 11, 2009


Here’s the thing that I would say
If I were invisible today:

I would smile first and then begin
Starting with my oldest sin.

I’d tell you why I never learned
Protection first before I burned.

I’d willingly admit my part
In following this touchy heart.

I’d take my time and spill it out--
Every vision, every doubt.

You’d hear my voice and wonder why
I showed up here to even try.

I’d hide of course but even then
I’d have an eye out for a friend.

In moments when I take up space
I’d like to trust this just in case.

I’d like to stretch and drop my clothes,
See who misses and who really knows.

And when I finished I would grin
Wondering if let you in.

Wondering if you see the whole
Where wisdom meets the tale untold.

I’m quite invisible, but not unseen--
I’m just here hiding between.

Funny to be visiting poems I've written a while back. Someday I will tell you about my decision to Love Deeply and how it changed everything. But for now here are some words along the way.

Wednesday, September 09, 2009

Animal Wednesday: Emily & the Stock Market

Hello, it's me Emily. How are you today? I have had a fun week stealing carrots and radishes and three sunflowers.
But I have a sad story to report. Last April I took $ 6 of my $ 10 and instead of buying jellybeans I invested it in the stock market because I heard kj say maybe this might be a good time even though she didn't I still did because I think I am a smart little rabbit who most of the time is not afraid to ride the roller coaster with my paws in the air over my head. I just yell YIPPEE! and WEEEEE! and okay I do try to tuck my feet under the seat to be sure I won't fall out, but that's just being smart, right?
Anyway, I invested my money and instead of anything good I only got something bad. So yesterday I wrote another letter. This time I typed it so they would know I am not fooling around. I also mentioned my Mother which kj says it usually helps when you mention your mother:

Dear Templeton Growth Fund:

I read a letter that said I lost money instead of getting extra.
This is very bad.
My Mother and I prefer that things either stay the same or grow.
So please send me back my six dollars and I will do something better.


Emily V. V. Rabbit

Even though I am little, I am planning to carry a sign in front of the post office that says "Templeton Owes Me Money" if I do not get my $ 6 back. kj says I am wrong and should have known I was taking a risk, but that is not the way I see it and I should do things the way I see it, right?
Next time I am going to invest my money in chocolate pretzels.

Yours Truly,

Sunday, September 06, 2009

Keep It Simple

This from National Geographic, 1936
Several years ago I began writing my first book. It was/is a study of happiness: who is, who isn't, and why and why not. I identified 10 "principles" that I believed were essential for a happy life, and I set about some serious research to prove me right. The most exciting challenge I had was transforming stuffy research into vibrantly readable & helpful information.
I put the book aside when my agent and I could not agree on how to "package" it. She wanted each chapter to be light and simple: something like "10 Easy Steps to Happiness." I didn't want it to be so light and simple. I definitely did not want a sing-song-y-how-to. I will finish this book in my own way some day, and I still believe it will be welcomed with open arms. The reason I believe this is that it seems most of us actually aren't sure if we're happy or not.
Anyway, my sister-in-law gave me a little book for my birthday, called The Architecture of Happiness, by Alain de Botton. On page 239 I found the following:
"I once spent a summer in a small hotel in the second arrondissement in Paris, a stone's throw away from the chilly seriousness of the old Bibliotheque Nationale, where I repaired every morning in a vain attempt to research a book I hoped to write (but never did). It was a lively part of town, and when I was bored with my work, which was most of the time, I would often sit in a cafe adjacent to my hotel, named, as if out of a tourist guide, Chez Antoine. Antoine was dead, but his brother-in-law, Bertrand, had taken over the cafe and ran it with unusual conviviality and charisma. Everyone, it seemed, dropped by Chez Antoine at some point in the day. Elegant women would have coffee and a cigarette at the counter in the morning. Policemen lunched there, students whiled away the afternoons on the covered terrace, and by evening there'd be a mixture of scholars, politicians, prostitutes, divorcees and tourists, flirting, arguing, having dinner, smoking and playing pinball. As a result, although I was alone in Paris, and went for days hardly speaking to anyone, I felt none of the alienation with which I was familiar in other cities--in Los Angeles, for example, where I had lived for a few weeks in a block between freeways. That summer, like many people before and since, I imagined no greater happiness than to be able to live in Paris for ever, pursuing a routine of going to the library, ambling the streets and watching the world from a corner table at Chez Antoine."
I read this and immediately thought of one of my Principles: Keep It Simple. I will travel much of the world, I expect, and my life is rich and deep with all the highs and lows of loving and laughing and succeeding and failing, but some times what I most want is a simple little place to go, to quietly belong there, to be reminded I am never alone.

Wednesday, September 02, 2009

Thursday 13: Awards

This week I've been thinking about blogging. What a treasure it's been for me: a chance to share colors and words, a means to meet people all over the world, and, never lost on me, a surprisingly lovely way to form and hold dear real friendships.
Perhaps because of Blogland Lane (see sidebar if interested) I've been "meeting" some new friends and visitors. I like that, and if you're new to my blog, I'm appreciative. I'm not interested in having hundreds of followers; I try to be selective and stick with the blogs I truly enjoy and value. Some teach me (Mariana), some make me laugh out loud (Deborah); some inspire me (my dear Studio Lolo); others touch my soul and give me courage (Renee).
Anyway, this Thursday 13 (okay, okay, I'm a day late--I've been a bit sick) is about Blog awards. I've had my share. And I'm not above giving some I haven't received. If you can't give and receive freely in the Blogs, where can you?
So start the drum roll: here's a tribute to some very special people. Please take them and share. I don't have the time to add links, but you know who you are and if you want to find someone, they'll be somewhere in my comments....
.Every time I walk away seeing something a new way: Mariana Soffer, Tessa, Renee, Sidney, Snowbrush, Walking Man, Allegra, SweetMango, Kate, Singleton
No me-me-me in these blogs. Just sharing and caring: Studio Lolo, Mim, Julie Ann, Kate, Marianne, Lydia, Caroline, Sonia
A beam of sunlight to you: Kay (Chief), Soulbrush, Chewy, Middle, Jessie, Marion, SStudio Lolo, Marianne, Baino, Debra Kay, Lavender, Lydia, Carla, Suki, Carla, Ribbon, Lori Ann, M. Riyadh Sharif, Aimee, Wieneke, Pieterbie, Dedene, Nolly Polly, Pattee, Deborah, Saggitarian, Julie Ann, Sweet Mango, Suki, Laughing Wolf, Yoon See, Kris, J- (Hopeful Notations), and my pal Cam. You can feel these hearts through the keyboard and into your fingertips: Angela, Allegra, Annie (Blissful Bohemian), Bimbimbie, Teri and the Cats of FurryDance, Babs, Middle, Melissa, Aimee

Gifts to myself: Studio Lolo, Baino, Tessa, Renee, Secret Agent Woman, Melissa, Miladysa, Jessie .
I just LOVE the creativity in these blogs: Deborah (Midlife Poet), Renee, Mim, Angela, Valgalart (xoxo), Bella Sinclair, Jessie

Bravery comes in different forms; sometimes just through showing up: Marianne, Soulbrush, Renee, Human Being, Angela, Snowbrush, Secret Agent Woman, Debra Kay, Suki, Maithri, Bella Sinclair, Allegra,, Sonia, Tessa

Nothing more to add but thank you: Studio Lolo (xoxo), Mim, Marianne, Sweet Mango, Wieneke, Sonia, Baino, Melissa, Miladysa, Sidney, Pieterbie, Babs, Middle, Marion, Yoon See, Kay, Hildegarde
I'm having tea or coffee with you anytime! Baino, Studio Lolo, Sonia, Renee, Middle, Kay, Mim, Debra Kay, Human Being, Melissa, Tessa, Bimbimbie, Angela, Sidney, Human Being, Soulbrush, Secret Agent Woman, Caroline, Pattee, Valgalart, Lavender, Chewy, Jessie, Kris, Merlin Princesse, Marianna Soffer, and with apple pie included, Wieneke and Hildegarde.

Take it, every one of you, because it's true!!!
Good Works, in small and large ways, every day: Angela, Baino, Wieneke, SidneyRenee, , Human Being, Maithri yet again, Allegra.

Laughing Wolf, Snowbrush, Soulbrush, Saggitarian, Middle, Marion, Caroline, Dedene, Lydia Renee of course, Mim, Deborah, Lolo---oh darn--I'm going to end up including everyone. Take it and wear it proudly, except for Sonia, who gave it to me.
. And last but hardly least: THE FIRST ANNUAL EMILY AWARD. This award is given to individuals who know how to play, have the courage of their convictions, and aren't afraid to say so! Because this is a new award, I am limiting it to three people for now.
Studio Lolo, Baino, & Tessa

This is me, Emily. Since it's my award, highlighting the time I got arrested, I'm adding:
My best friend Marianne, my partner in crime Sonia, and even kj, since I am still being nice.
Whew! The End.