28 September 2009

Calling all Angels (2009)

We're down to six outs right now. The score is 11-0, Angels, and the "magic number" is such that if the Halos beat the Rangers tonight, they clinch the AL West. Of course, we won't jinx the Angels and mention what happened in that horrifying Oakland game the other night.

So for the moment, take it out by out.

Now, we're down to three.

I've watched the Angels do well. I've watched the Angels just stink. But I've never watched a season like this.

Tragedy. Gut-wrenching tragedy.

But ultimately, victory.

Complete shutout to Ervin Santana.

And damn if Erick Aybar isn't out there hosing down the fans again.

Go listen to some music: "Calling All Angels" from the album My Private Nation by Train. And oh crap, yes, it looks like the ALDS is against Boston, dammit, dammit, dammit.

26 September 2009

My life is in a Rut (A song for the average Californian)

The son is deeply regretting earning my considerable wrath earlier in the week, which won him the dread punishment of NO COMPUTER TIME for the weekend. NO COMPUTER TIME means that he is not allowed to play any electronic games: no PSP, no Xbox, no whatever he plays on the PC. Although he refuses to admit it, it probably worked out for the best since it's the first weekend he's had massive amounts of homework in every class, and so, it's been nose-to-the-grindstone anyway.

That doesn't mean he doesn't feel the need to inject some levity into the proceedings. So I got this little email today (and you'll have to make up your own tune. It wasn't sung to me.):

Did you know your son could be a famous musician?? Did you consider the possible financial gains from an up-and-coming music-maker?
Here's all he's got!

(to be sung like song lyrics)

It's snowing in Reykjavik . . .
It's raining in Bornholm . . .
It's cloudy over London

There's thunderstorms in Taos . . .
There's hail in the Alabama state . . .
And durn is it foggy in Seattle . . .
But here it's stinkin' sunny
(And bland) . . .

There's bands playing in Canberra . . .
There's propaganda in China . . .
There's good times in Amsterdam . . .
And Danke shurn in Germany . . .

And then there's me . . .
Sitting in my room . . .
When I should be doing homework . . .
Writing this dumb song to you.

This is unedited by the way. He's just about to find out that he misspelled Danke Schön.

(He's watching as I type, and laughing.)

Lyrics to "My life is in a Rut (A song for the average Californian)" are the sole property of The Son, and are copyright as such by him. Don't mess with this mother! Danke Schön.

25 September 2009

Ghost train

Wednesday morning, I ventured out to buy things at the grocery I'd forgotten the day before, and to hit the farmer's market.

Our little local farmer's market is just that: little, local. There are several stalls with vegetables, a kettle corn concession, the guy from the fish market in Fullerton, people selling tamales and freshly roasted peanuts, orchids, herb starts, a woman playing guitar, a couple of folks hawking bread, a man with some organic coffee (I can't figure him out. This is a certified market and I know he didn't grow the coffee around here.)

It's hot and the lot where the market is held is dusty. Business seems slow this morning except for the man who sells heirloom tomatoes--he's mobbed. I take a slow turn past all the stalls, and the people who are selling, noting my green tote is empty, greet me with samples of their wares: "Nectarine. Very sweet. You try." "Best cantaloupe."

I've never gotten in the habit of accepting samples anywhere, and people think I'm crazy for this. "But you can eat an entire meal at Whole Foods," one friend protested. "Or Bristol Farms."

Maybe it's just my own brain calculating the likely microbial load of what's on offer...

In any case, I smile and nod and promise to come back after I've had a look at everything.

The difficulty with the farmer's market, I've found, is that every thing looks so fresh and smells so good that it's difficult not buy some of all of it. This morning, the beets are particularly beautiful, deep ruby, the Platonic beet-shaped form. I think happily of roasted root vegetables alongside a whole chicken, then ruefully realize it's supposed to hit 100F. At 100F, roasted anything is decidedly less enticing.

A couple of weeks back, the man from whom I buy green onions and parsley (tabbouleh salad, I think. Cool, refreshing...) had huge bunches of fragrant fresh dill. I love the smell of dill. It is the smell of pickles, not so different from the beautiful, crunchy half sours that the deli down the street sold us when we were kids, along with rock candy, halvah and proper pastrami sandwiches. Today, someone else is selling pickling cucumbers, the last of the season, and for one moment, I think I might put together a quick bottle of refrigerator pickles, but there is no dill to be had.

I consult with the fish man. He has arctic char, and I'm mightily tempted, but I don't know how to prepare it, and I don't like to buy fresh fish and keep it around. Instead, I get a half pound of large shrimp; I am making steaks for dinner, and the son will be thrilled to have some shrimp alongside. I double back and pick up three ears of fresh sweetcorn, surreptitiously testing kernels with my thumbnail as I dig through the stack looking for the freshest ears. Another stand, and I've got a ripe avocado. My tote is filling up.

Finally, the crowd around the tomatoes has thinned a bit. I spot a large green zebra, and test it, weighing it in my palm. It is closer to unripe, which is what I want, so I take it and present my prize for weighing. I am the only one in my family who eats fresh tomatoes, so I buy them sparingly. I ask the man to pick out a tomato that I can use on my sandwich at lunch. He is always good about this, which I appreciate, and asks what sort I would like, knowing that I'm not averse to a purple tomato or a yellow one.

"Surprise me," I tell him, and he considers for a moment, and does surprise me with a large meaty red one. It is excellent on rye with smoked turkey.

Next morning, after delivering first one child and then the second to school, I take cornmeal and self-rising flour from the pantry and mix them together with milk, salt and pepper in a cereal bowl. I wash and slice the green zebra, heat oil in my largest, heaviest frying pan, and dip the slices of tomato into the batter I've made and carefully lay them in the hot oil where they sizzle gently. It's been so long since I've made fried green tomatoes, something that my mother used to make as a very rare breakfast treat along with scrapple. She would eat fried eggs, too, but I dislike fried eggs, and instead have one poaching, while a piece of wheat bread to hold it toasts.

I am amused by using a truly green tomato in a recipe that calls simply for an unripe tomato.

My breakfasts are generally sparing: a bowl of homemade muesli or a couple of flax waffles with almond butter are the norm. The breakfast I am preparing--for myself alone--is more suited to a lumberjack. Of course, this week, I've been behaving rather more like a lumberjack than I normally do (yes, a good deal of the dead tree is still standing. Tomorrow, though, chainsaw and final dismemberment. Of the tree, that is.)

Finally, it is all ready: golden, steaming slices of fried tomato, poached egg enthroned on buttered wheat toast, and a second cup of hot coffee.

As I guessed, the green zebra lent itself perfectly to the recipe, the sweetness of the tomato a lovely foil to the crunchy, slightly peppery cornmeal crust that encases it. This is heaven. Without regret, I eat all seven slices slowly, savoring the contrast in taste and texture, and once breakfast is done and cleaned up, head out to saw, rake, hoe and chase off curious spiders.

Go listen to some good music: "Ghost Train (Main Title)" by Thomas Newman from the album Fried Green Tomatoes-Soundtrack from the Motion Picture. One of my favorite movies ever, I just watched it recently with the daughter. Though the fashions look dated, some things just get better with age, and for weeks afterward, the daughter would yell "Towanda!" at random moments.

21 September 2009

Running through the garden

I like a good sense of danger. You know, like the one you get from power tools.

(Yes, I am a fan of Mad Men. It's about the only show I watch on TV. Actually, it is the only show I watch on TV. Hmm. Anyway, last night. The John Deere tractor mower. HOLY MACKEREL!!! I don't have a tractor mower, just a regular one, but there are days when I feel like the thing is going to chase me around the yard...)

So, danger. Power tools. Dead tree.

I do a lot of the gardening myself, but I have a tree guy who comes and prunes the trees, in part because I have an Italian stone pine that's about 40 ft. tall, and a veritable wall of ficus that's about 30 ft. tall. And I'm just not up to swinging through the trees with a chain saw. Not in this life, anyway.

So, the tree guy is a Certified Arborist (whatever that means), and he comes and looks at the trees and says, "Hmm" frequently, and writes on his notepad, looks some more, writes some more and when he leaves I'm usually hundreds poorer. But he's got a professional crew to swing through the trees with chainsaws, and more importantly, he's insured. And they clean up after themselves.

So, it's generally good.

I have to get them out here in the winter because the pine tree requires special handling or it will get beetles and fall on my house, and even though I'm insured, that would stink. So last winter the tree guy was here, and I told him I wanted him take the birch tree out of the front since it was half dead.

When we bought the house, one of the attractions was the Italian stone pine, and the other attraction was all the fruit trees. Don't buy a house in the winter if it's deciduous trees you want. It turned out they were all dead for the most part, and I ended up paying massive amounts of money to have them all removed. Joy. The two river birch in the front had oak root fungus, not that you can tell in the winter, and since then, one has been removed and I wanted him to take it's companion.

The Certified Arborist looked at me aghast. "I can't," he said. "Your landscape will be unbalanced."

I looked around the front, which is nothing short of a disaster area, and said, "Oh? Too bad. Please take the tree out."

"But it's not dead," he replied.

"It's mostly dead," I insisted. "Soon it will be totally dead."

He grumped and grumbled and murmured, and wrote on his notepad.

So finally, Tree Trimming Day arrived, and the crew swung through the trees, and cleaned up, and said, "Check, please."

And I said, "You didn't take the birch out."

And the foreman said, "It's not on the estimate."

Lo and behold, it wasn't.

So, I was mightily annoyed, and here we are today, with a birch tree, quite thoroughly dead, in the front of the house.

About two weeks ago, I announced that I planned to call the tree guy to get him to take the tree out, even though I really want to find another tree guy since I'm mad at tree guy #1 for leaving me with a damn dead tree.

Then I looked at the spouse, and said, "Do we have a chain saw?"

And the spouse said, "A little one."

And I replied, "I think I'm going to cut down the tree."

At which point the spouse said, "Er..."

And neighbor B. who happened to be standing nearby started giving advice.

And I'm all, "Dude. It's dead and it's already leaning toward the street and I can't dig the stump out because it's next to the gas line."

The spouse was beginning to look a bit pale, and neighbor B. noting this suggested, "Talk to my gardener. I bet for $50 he'll chop it down and haul it away."

But I had a plan.

Yesterday, I said casually to the spouse, "So where is this chainsaw."

And the spouse said, "No."

"Ahem," I replied.

"It's a bad idea for you to use a chainsaw when you're home alone," he insisted.

And you see this is the problem with the people in my life. They take my medical conditions seriously. "Don't climb ladders." "No chainsaw." Honestly, if I thought about it for one second, I'd probably never do anything ever again, which is ridiculous, and besides, my cardiologist said, "Don't become a cardiac invalid."


And that was about 20 years ago.

So today, I hunted down the chainsaw, eyeballed the tree, and got ready to go.

It wouldn't start.

I don't know how long it's been since it's been used, but it wanted some sort of lube or oil, and I couldn't find any of that. I dug through the shed some more and came up my little hedge trimmer, which would be useless, of course. Dug around some more, and remembered that some work person made off with my saw at some point, and then finally, located my pruning saw.

Mutter mutter mutter.

Fine. If I had to cut down a tree with a pruning saw so be it.

After removing three substantial tree limbs, I was pretty tired. More to the point, my sawing arm was tired.

So I decided I'd best call the tree guy. Or maybe his brother who is also a tree guy.

Then I got out my big ladder and went after the lavendar starflower, which needed severe pruning.

Two hours later, covered in God knows what (which included at least a few newly homeless spiders), I stood back to admire my handiwork.

Don't climb ladders, indeed.

Go listen to some good music: "Running Through the Garden" from the album Say You Will by Fleetwood Mac.

20 September 2009

Always the summers are slipping away

There are times that no matter how much I like a song (or in some cases, am indifferent to its charms), hearing it lives changes the whole way I listen to it. Last night, "Trains," which I've always been partial to, was that sort of experience. It was like the first time I heard "Natural Science" live, or "Life and How to Live It"--transcendent.

This was another of those almost-didn't-go nights. Lately, I've been living on adrenaline and frustration, and trying to get into downtown ever is not easy, especially when the 405 North is closed by a massive car accident. But true to form, the more I don't want to be somewhere, the more fun I have.

The show was scheduled to start at 8 with the opening act, and I got to will call to pick up my ticket at 7:50. The whole L.A. Live area has changed dramatically since I saw Rush at the theater there a little more than a year ago, and it's all still under construction, and neither I nor the cab driver knew where we going.

(And it turns out, the Emmys were being held in the theater tonight, which explains a lot of what was going on in the vicinity last night.)

So that part was excitement I could have lived without.

Actually finding Club Nokia took some doing, too, since it is located on the third floor of a complex of restaurants. I'll hand it to the staff of the place, though: they were uniformly polite and well-informed and gave good directions to get everyone where they were going. The only hang-up for me (besides having trouble finding will call) was the nice people's insistence on looking for me on the guest list while I was equally insistent that no, I bought a ticket and that was what I needed. It must have been the head-to-toe black.

Club Nokia was a bit of a surprise. It's definitely got a club atmosphere, but I couldn't quite parse what felt like '80s decor--it opened less than a year ago. I was in the GA area (standing room only), and it was slightly claustrophobic because of the way the balcony above extended nearly to the stage. Of course, being me, I was checking out the construction and the support structures and the nearest exit. Pleasantly, though the show was sold out, the crowd was not completely overwhelming. The stage itself was on the smallish side, and I'd parked myself off to stage left, so the back of the stage was well hidden. Still, the tiered construction of the GA area helped with the sight lines, and I had a spot right at the rail above the first tier, so it was an unobstructed view of the front of the stage. And the venue is a good bit smaller than I'd expected, so the vibe was similar to the places where I used to hang out in my younger days--the Palladium, the Palace, even Club Lingerie (which really was small)--but with much better acoustics.

I'm going to refrain from saying much about the opening act other than not my taste in music and leave it there.

Porcupine Tree, on the other hand, was pretty amazing. I bought the new album right away, and have had it on repeat, so it was a pleasant surprise that they played the first disc in its entirety. Again, a case where live blows the studio recording out of the water. "Drawing the Line," "The Incident," and "Time Flies" in particular gave me goose bumps, though it was all wonderful. (I'm not sure that I should admit "Your Unpleasant Family" just makes me laugh, especially when Steven Wilson sings, "How vile they are..." because it brings an unbidden image of certain people I avoid like the plague. Who have a history of smashing cars.)

The second set was all older material with the exception of "Bonnie the Cat," and all stuff I was thrilled to hear. "Trains" was simply electric.

It was good to haul myself out of the kitchen and back out into the world. It's been far too long.

Go listen to some good music: "Trains" from the album In Absentia by Porcupine Tree.

19 September 2009

Sonic superslide

It was totally innocent.

(Trust me, everything I start starts innocently. Where it goes... *shrugs*)

We were watching the live photoblogging from Coldplay's final show of the Viva tour this morning. The folks doing the blog posted a photo of the catering lunch menu, and questions about Sloppy Joes started coming in, and those were getting posted on the photo blog, too.

I shot the bloggers a quick email just saying how much we'd enjoyed the blogs, and oh, by the way, Sloppy Joes are hamburger cooked in tomato sauce, which is then served on buns. Of course, I couldn't resist an editorial comment. Actually, I didn't think about it...it was just my opinion.

(Sloppy Joes are disgusting.)

So, off I went to clean out dryer vents and other less-than-interesting Saturday morning chores, and wandered back a bit later to look at the next round of photos. And lo. There was my Sloppy Joe comment on the site, editorial comment included.

The daughter was dancing around with glee. "Mommy's famous!" she sang. "I'm going to tell everyone!"

And she wondered aloud if perhaps this might gain her access to Chris Martin...

Only if he needs a recipe for Sloppy Joes, I imagine.

Someone who prefers not to make waves should really keep her fingers quiet.

Oh well. Off to Porcupine Tree.

Go listen to some music: "Sonic Superslide" from the album God Bless the Go-Go's by The Go-Go's.

17 September 2009

Buy me some peanuts and cracker jack

August 2009
Tucson, Arizona

The stadium wasn't so fancy when we were kids. In those days, the Toros were still a farm team, and everyone was particularly thrilled when they were part of the Oakland A's system in the 1970s. It was always nice to go sit out on the bleachers on a hot summer night with a little bag of peanuts and watch them play, hoping for the moment when someone hit it out of the tiny park. Everyone would wait breathlessly for the crash of breaking glass or the solid thunk! of ball hitting metal as a homerun made contact with someone's car. And only then would everyone cheer.

Bliss! we thought as kids. What a souvenir.

We were meandering sort of aimlessly en route to Kartchner Caverns in August, and I directed the spouse into Randolph Park, and to the stadium parking lot. The kids were utterly appalled when I found an open gate and walked right in--"Like you own the place, Mom!"--but I wanted to take a look at the field. It seemed so much larger when I was a kid, and the old wooden bleachers covered with peeling paint were long gone.

"A quarter," I mused to my family. "I think it cost a quarter for the bleachers."

The son and daughter glanced around, but Hi Corbett held no charms for them. They've been going to major league games since they were babies, and although I've taken them to spring training games in small parks, what they were seeing seemed very small potatoes.

"It's hot," someone complained.

No matter, I thought to myself, as I took one last look while the others filed out. This was where I learned the heart and soul of the game.

Go sing a good song: "Take Me Out to the Ball Game" lyrics by Jack Norworth, music by Albert Von Tilzer.

15 September 2009

Talk to me

I was perusing the sausages in the meat case at Trader Joe's this morning when a hesitant voice at my elbow said, "Excuse me?"

I turned to a petite woman who waved a package of ground beef at me. "This?" she said, and then pointed at the label where it gave the fat content. "How different from this?" she asked slowly, searching for each word, while pointing at a package with lower fat content.

Clearly English was a struggle for her. I pointed at the package with higher fat content and spoke slowly, "More fat. Good for hamburgers." And I mimed making a patty for good measure.

"Oh! Hamburgers!" she seemed pleased.

We slowly and in few words discussed the merits of higher and lower fat ground beef, whether she should buy the patties premade since that was an option, too. (This is the U.S. Too many choices as my Russian friends liked to say.) I've been in her shoes: in a foreign grocery where I was not particularly adept at the local language, and it's unnerving when a native starts rattling off words faster than one can keep pace. So I spoke slowly--not my strong point--and at the end of a few minutes, she seemed satisfied with the information she'd gotten, though I have no idea if what I told her was actually of any use.

People talk to me. And I'm not talking about people known to me or even the checkers at Trader Joe's who I think must be trained to strike up conversations with the people at their registers. I'm talking about perfect strangers. They stop me on the street while I'm on my morning run, in airports while I'm reading a book, at concerts, in the mall. I give directions, solace, recipes and reading recommendations. In different languages. And it's something that never fails to amaze me.

A couple of years ago, I had one of those random moments of epiphany: I tend to watch my fellow humans with amusement and affection and interest, rather in the way that Milton watches the birds outside the front windows. I watch them like they are TV. I long ago stopped trying to interact with the world at large, and I'm not sure why or how that happened, when I became so isolated and insular.

But it didn't stop the world from trying to interact with me.

(she smiles a sunny smile)

I've spent some time learning to speak the language. And now, world, I may be ready to talk to you.

Go listen to some music: "Talk to Me" from the album Rock a Little by Stevie Nicks. Actually, I'm listening to PT's The Incident and I can't stop listening to "Drawing the Line" and "The Incident." Oh, I do love new music. Yup, that's a hint.

14 September 2009


The first little indication of an ideal autumn is in the air. The weather has cooled down and the last couple of mornings have been dewy and cool, slightly overcast. A foretaste. A pleasure.

It won't last. It never does. Soon the winds will start to howl and the real Southern California autumn will set in: hot, dry and hellish.

I just bought the new Porcupine Tree album, but am too tired to listen to it now. I'm looking forward to Saturday's show in Los Angeles. I've missed PT the last 3 times they've passed through here--enough is enough already.

We've gotten far enough into the school year--meaning that this is the first actual full, 5-day, all-day week we've had--that the complaints about school lunch have begun. Since when does the daughter hate rye bread? Since today apparently. I think that as big a pain as it will be, I'll inform her that she can make her own lunch. *sigh*

A real blog post tomorrow. In between buying extra school supplies, fulfilling the book list I just got and grocery shopping.

And figuring out why the air conditioning is making that noise.

Halloween is coming, too. Did I mention I'm a room mother?


Go listen to some good music: "S.O.S." from the album ABBA by ABBA. Okay, seriously. Why is my life so ridiculous?

11 September 2009

New York

Young Witnesses Remember 9/11

Eight years.

Like these children, the daughter was 4 years old.

I didn't change the channel fast enough that morning, eight years ago. The kids wanted to watch Sagwa, the Chinese Siamese Cat before they had breakfast and got dressed for school, but they couldn't get the TV tuned to PBS. I stared uncomprehendingly at the burning tower on the morning news as I bent to grab the remote, and as the three of us watched, the second plane went into the other tower, live on TV, behind the Peter Jennings' oblivious head.

The son doesn't say much about that morning. He was seven, nearing eight, and we answered his questions, and discussed the attacks to the extent that he wanted. In the months and years that followed, it was the daughter who would suddenly begin talking about what happened in a very matter of fact way. I was so startled one afternoon as the third anniversary of the attacks neared, as she sat drawing with her crayons while I made dinner and she said, apropos of nothing, "I pray for those people. The ones who died."

"What do you remember about September 11?" I asked carefully. I'd never been sure of what stuck with her, and hoped that it was little. Here on the West Coast, we had a 3,000-mile buffer, though no one seemed to be untouched by the events of that day.

"You cried," she replied, coloring purposefully. "That really scared me. I'd never seen you cry. And when I asked you what you wanted for Christmas that year, you said you wanted it to be September 10."

She looked up at me. "All those people died," she said, and her voice shook a little. "It was so sad."

Then she returned to her drawing.

"I pray for them," she said, softly.

Go listen to some good music: "New York" from the album All That You Can't Leave Behind by U2.

10 September 2009

Excellent birds

The finches have remained frequent visitors, and despite its general rattiness, I haven't been able to bring myself to dispense with the basil quite yet.

There have been as many as half dozen birds in the plant at any one time. This afternoon, there were three.

Excellent birds make excellent cat TV, and eventually, Milton could not restrain himself any further and he threw himself at the window, sending the finches into flight.

Milton spends a lot of time in this window, if you hadn't guessed, though for the last several days, he's prowled the dining room window and the son's window as well. He is looking for Max, our sweet feline buddy, who died on Saturday. Max had been ailing since early summer, and we knew he didn't have much time left. Of late, he'd come to visit in the evening, and Friday night, Max and I sat together on the front steps and watched the sun set while I scratched his head and crooned to him, Milton providing an uproarious counterpoint of commentary from the son's bedroom window.

Where Milton once ran from window to window, yodeling to let me know that Max was in the garden, now he sits silent, looking alertly for the sleek grey form that once came to sprawl on our walk, until the birds and butterflies divert him for a time.

I find them a good diversion, too.

Go listen to some good music: "This Is the Picture (Excellent Birds)" from the album So by Peter Gabriel.

09 September 2009

And I fell in love with everyone I saw...

(To the confused: yes, I accidentally published tomorrow's post last night, and even though I removed it with lightning speed, Google still picked it up and indexed it. Sorry. You can look at the pretty birdies tomorrow. This is why I don't get fancy too often, but tomorrow is busy, and the creative dam broke and I'm all write! write! write! Don't expect it to last (she says cheerfully). I mean, isn't Mercury retrograde again or something? What does that mean other than everything blowing up in my face?!)

We have a secret, you and I. We are neither of us sure what the other thinks, but something lives there, in the space between. Something happened, at some time, though no one can pinpoint the moment. There were eye witnesses. Tales were told, conjectures were made but the story lives between us. And we wait and wonder what the other saw, what the other thinks.

If anything.

And then it all sort of fell apart. I had an idea and I knew what I wanted to say and I had my device and framework, and it just wouldn't work. I was following the cards, and for the first three, it was ripping and then...nothing. The words came with difficulty and awkwardly and didn't say what I meant to say.

I dreamed. I dreamed about a house, grey, stone or concrete, an older style. I walked through the garden and you were there, arm held out to me, and as I approached, your hand settled in the small of my back, guiding me along, without constraint. The air was soft and filled with flowers, and the moment seemed quite real, no feel of dreaming. There was a sense to it of the dreams I used to call the road dreams, where I was driving down the same road, but it was in varying degrees of decay or in good repair. The road was infinite, and I never dreamed of starting the drive or ending it. They went on for years. Oddly, this night, I felt like I'd reached my destination with your calm and wordless welcome.

I am prone to wild bouts of joy. Everyone may be; I don't know since I'm only me and can't speak for the rest of the world. I will suddenly be taken with the desire to laugh, for no reason other than just random happiness. It's hit me in the strangest places: at work, in airports, as I start a morning walk, up on a mountain, in the middle of a crowd of people. The world suddenly seems limitless and I have a clarity of vision that is quite perfect, the feeling of being transported. If I were a believer, I'd suspect it to be mystical, a bout of religious ecstasy, but I'm not, so I accept it as a gift of joy. It happened that night, as the wind blew my hair around my face, and I was filled with a warmth I didn't recognize and when I pushed my hair out of my eyes and looked around, there you were, filling my vision. By then you were already precious to me, but the emotion in that moment was so enormous, so transcendent, that I fell in love with everyone around me.

Turn the card toward what might be. They look content, don't they, in their sunshiny colors? There is nothing sweet here, nothing sappy. It's communion, real accord, commitment and communication. They know their cups are full. When I ask myself what it is I want, this is what comes to mind. When I tell my friends that I cherish them, it is the long conversations and moments of contentment that I am thinking of. The sense is not exclusive of love. It is instead inclusive of what makes love possible.

On Mad Men, Kitty, a minor character, is lovely, but bereft and only just beginning to realize that something is very, very wrong with her husband Sal, poor sad man. "I don't need much," she said to him, "but I need tending." Her words resonated, but her courage was what surprised me. I don't need much, I ask for little, but I am clueless about how to voice what I want. I have been responsible for so much, so many, so long that my desires sound awkward, more like demands, and I handle them more like bargaining chips instead. It hasn't quite occurred to me that the only bargain you are looking to strike is that I return your regard.

But here, now, it's the fall of the light, late summer or early autumn, as the sun slides behind the trees, that I think of you. This, the light, reminds me of you, of the way you laughed, which made me laugh, too, and I fell just a little in love, just enough that it showed in my face. Just enough that I still seek the laughter as it looked on your face, the lift of your eye that matched the curve in the corner of your mouth.

Go listen to some good music: "Spitting Games" from the album Final Straw by Snow Patrol. This started out life as a very different bit of writing (and I've been interrupted how many times?) but ultimately, I think I like where it ended up. I'll know when I read it again in a few months. But really, the problem was how exactly do you describe a sensation wracking your body and mind, something that doesn't exactly allow for words?

08 September 2009

Baby, you can drive my car

A few weeks ago, I began teaching the son how to drive. Each lesson has begun with a safety check, mirror check, seatbelt check and the like before I even let him turn on the ignition (he is, after all, driving my car). I make him proceed with everything very slowly since this is his first behind-the-wheel experience. Initially, I was worried about how seriously he would take the whole thing, given that he told me he felt pretty confident about driving since he could drive a Warthog in Halo just fine.


After his first lesson, however, when he realized that he was in charge of maneuvering a couple of tons worth of metal safely, it was evident that his outlook on driving had undergone a little change. Even more so this morning.

The son: "Just in case you don't think I take driving seriously..."

Me: "Yes?"

The son: "The dream I had last night...all I could hear was a deep voice saying, 'Take your foot off the break SLOOOOOOOOOOOOWWWWWWWLLLLLLLYYYYYYYYYY...'"

Me: "Ah, the voice of God."

The son: "No, the voice of Samuel L. Jackson."

Go listen to some good music: "Drive My Car" from the album Rubber Soul by The Beatles.

04 September 2009


Sometimes I freeze. Sometimes, the more I don't write, the more I can't write. Every thought, no matter how fleeting or well-formed, seems trite and unworthy. Information doesn't seem worth sharing, and there are times when things have happened that I simply won't talk about.

The last year was oppressive, deadly, but was it necessary or just what happened? I don't want to examine it too closely, and am content to sweep the ashes into the bin and call it forgettable. Somehow a new month, marking the end of that year, made it safe to go forward.

I breathe, and then I freeze. Words flee and I'm left with the melting snow of my thoughts. But melting implies a thaw.

Doesn't it?

Go listen to some good music: "Freeze" from the album Vapor Trails by Rush. September didn't begin auspiciously. So after a day of burning with holy and righteous rage, I am trying to start again. And listening to "Secret Touch" off the same album, as I am right now, somehow makes me feel very much better. A healing hand, indeed.