Monday, May 30, 2005

It's been awhile since I've written, and I feel the need to explain, like I'm caught and in trouble by you all somehow...

These are not really excuses, just explanations really.

There was the whole finishing the thesis bit, then the buzzing myself up late at night in a frenzy of new ideas for my lecture. I was SO tired on Thursday, but I still forced myself to exercise. Then there was the finishing of the huge garbage story, and the "oh my god I should garden" fit on Friday and Saturday. Weeds are the compulsive person's mortal enemy. There are always more of them, and just when you get one area under control, a forgotten area needs your attention. Then we socialized on Saturday, Sunday and today. We went to my friend, and neighbor, Emily's party and I got a little drunk and I may have even insulted one or more of her friends, though she assures me they're okay. I was just feeling very outspoken, in a truth-serum style, which isn't good when you don't know the people you're trying to pin down. Then we had our wonderful friends J and S over for a twenty-four hour stay that involved a hike, bowling and lots of intense, passionate ....talking. (What were you thinking? ) Then tonight we just had dinner with my grandparents, my father and my very teenaged sister (she's cool, don't get me's just that I'm always reminded how I'm so far from my teen years mentally).

The point is that at the end of all this I have the feeling that I need to get to know myself all over again; that somewhere in all this activity "I" hid away, took a backseat and let whoever she is that does all that socializing come out to play. And now I have to coax my real self back out with promises of wide, delicious swaths of silence and time to herself. She's not entirely sure she trusts me just yet. What's happening to me that I get so drained by social activity? I used to be so good at it, so flexible. But now I feel like after a certain point in time if I don't get free time, and quick, I'm going to pop. It's an intense feeling. And I don't even have a demanding husband in that respect. He lets me have my time. So I'm coming to terms with the fact that I might actually be changing. Or emerging.

Dinner with the family wasn't bad. I sort of let go of my conviction that it had to be bad, and though we didn't have deep conversations in the restaurant, I found that my gps were not nearly as negative, and my dad was in good spirits and it was generally quite nice, except that we had to wait so long for dessert that they gave it to us for free.

In thirteen more days I'm heading to New York and then to Bennington, but as it gets closer it feels all the more a dream to me. Like this whole experience has been made up from the get go. Like I just wrote it into being. I don't have the slightest idea how this final residency will go. Will we be all maudlin and drunk, crying, "I've never had a friend like you" in the pub after hours? Will we be stoic, reassuring each other we'll convene every so many years for catch up in some Vermont Inn? Or will we all be nervous and cranky as we wait to give our lectures and readings? Who can know. It will be big.

Then what? It will all be over. So new things can come in now. You hear me universe?


Saturday, May 28, 2005

That's me, with "farmer's crack" and some gorgeous new cosmos and daisies to eventually hide that horrid urban plumbing and lovely gray duplex paint job. Posted by Hello

There are a number of things wrong with this photo: puffy eyes, stupid expression, but it's proof that there 'aint no hired help with this garden of mine. Posted by Hello

It's little, and it's green, but it's the first tomato of the brood... Posted by Hello

Thursday, May 26, 2005

A new article of mine on the wonderful, warm, witty Ken Brown...

While not exactly a Luddite, Sonoma City Council member Ken Brown got rid of his checkbook in favor of cash 10 years ago, doesn't own a television, bicycles as his primary form of transportation and only began using his office computer after it sat on his desk for five years. Yet, says, Brown, "I always wanted to be an executive; I like to be in control." Fortunately, the town of Sonoma, Brown's personal and public domain, lends itself to just such kinds of seeming contradictions.

"Sonoma is home to eccentrics and people who think outside the box. I mean totally outside the box," he chuckles.

Follow the link to read the rest:

This is actually last year's Tiger Lily (there's buddha again...sorry bub, I couldn't find any Bodhi trees!). I'm posting this in anticipation, as a salute to the blooms that survived the year, and my transplantation to a less-dangerous location, and which is making steady headway toward a new rebirth.  Posted by Hello

This is a fairly famous local photo of my town (walking distance from my house). This photo is courtesy of Tom Jackson, of Night Train Magazine, whose current issue features the town of Petaluma and yours truly wrote it. Posted by Hello

Wednesday, May 25, 2005

In changing the format of my blog, some links will be temporarily gone. Never fear, they will return! Thanks for your patience. Change is good!


Tuesday, May 24, 2005

There are two kinds of abundance, I'm learning. The first is the coveted kind that makes pop-culture icons out of self-help gurus: abundant money, abundant love and time and energy, and abundant connection to one's spiritual sense. That's good abundance; that is having all that you want because you've discovered that it really is okay to have, so long as one's energy is in agreement.

THEN there is another kind of abundance that keeps showing up in my life as overwhelm, and I'm very curious about why. This kind of abundance looks sort of like the first kind I mentioned but it comes with a hanging tag known as "too much." Too much work, leading to a mental traffic jam. Too many good ideas, leading to not being able to pick up one. Too many worthy projects needing my attention; too many people I want to get together with but do not have the time for; too many deadlines looming. This is where the dark sister to Too Much comes into play: Not Enough. For all that there is too much of, there is not enough time, energy, sanity, stamina or creativity to engage/finish/begin them all.

So now I'm trying to figure out what I'm really asking of the universe. It seems to me that what I am asking is "Give me a lot. Undifferentiated, relatively related to the field I'm in, but the main criteria is that you bring me lots of it!" No wonder I hit instant overwhelm. I wonder what it would look like if I asked the universe to send me ONLY that which I know i can comfortably complete with ease and pride, enough to keep the financial coffers full and even slightly spilling over, but never so much that I will go flying into the stinking pile of overwhelm. That's a whole different story.

Fortunately, tucked into this morass of TOO MUCH there are projects that really interest me. Some good things are happening too. I took a leap and asked the agent I'm most interested in working with, who has been considering my novel for some time, if she would deign to meet with me when I come to New York in June. She said YES. So unless she is a sadist who likes to refuse a client in person, I feel that this bodes well for, at the very least, an informative conversation. Becca and I have completed the outline of our non-fiction book for attracting the artistic life and we are very excited. We'll be beginning something called the "Prosperity plan" shortly, which will very likely contribute to the prosperity workshop for writers we are dreaming up next.

So if I can change my expected outcome, and then my energetic vibration from asking to be overwhelmed, to expecting to get exactly what I can comfortably, proudly handle and find that I have enough of everything I need, I think I'll be in good shape. I'll report how this shift goes, or not.

I guess I'm proving all those people who still think of me as a Hippie Girl right after all. So be it.


Monday, May 23, 2005

And big, brilliant zucchini squash blossom...if only the snails don't get it before it has time to become a squash! Posted by Hello

This yellow darling is a member of the Verbena family, and behind her is a gorgeous purple member of the daisy family. Posted by Hello

I fell in love with this color, and it made the perfect selection for the otherwise dead, dry patch of ground my neighbor has been refusing to do anything with (I live in a duplex). So I took some action. Posted by Hello

You can sort of see Buddha, hidden behind this beautiful new flower I planted between my zinnias yesterday. Buddha loves his garden. Posted by Hello

Saturday, May 21, 2005

My desk, before a recent clean-up and office re-arrangement. Every writer needs to have a messy-desk photo. Posted by Hello

I love this place by the pond at Bennington, where there are usually goslings.  Posted by Hello

Thursday, May 19, 2005

A picture is worth as many words as it takes to describe it

I'm beginning each day with a picture. Not necessarily a recent picture, but some visual of my world, no matter how small. I think visual aids are nice, don't you? Today's is Shollenberger park, a place I discovered by writing about it here in town. A man-made place that attracts multitudes of birds because they are smart. On their way from one land mass to another, they look for watering holes to rest, water up at and get some grub. They don't particularly care if mother nature carved it out for them with patience and time, or if a bunch of dudes in hard-hats tossed tons of silt from the river into a big dry hole and let the rains turn it into a wetlands. They're easy that way. Which is cool, because I like to walk with the geese and the blackbirds. I like to pause to let a duck family pass ahead of me on the path.

Say Yes with me...

So I've been thinking about words in terms of how they affect us, positively or negatively. Have you ever noticed your reaction to certain words? Sometimes a word makes you cringe (like words with hard consonants or words that conjure a bad image--corpuscle, casket, perineum) or inspires your ire? Sometimes you like to say a word for no good reason, or because it flows off your tongue nicely (I like words with g's in them: lugubrious, gregarious, galactic).

I don't think we've fully investigated how the words we use and hear affect us. Or perhaps I should say that I haven't. I'm starting to. For instance, in meditating last night I found my mind wandering more, and the discomforts of my body more distracting than usual, and I reached out for something that would help comfort, still and calm me. For some reason I pulled in the word yes. Each time I said it in my mind, my body lit up with ripples of pleasure. Not THAT kind of pleasure, more like my cells were all saying yes with me, were embracing something, were saying yes to being alive. Think about the word is already approving of something. It has a willingness to it, it requires almost no energy to say it and it's a word you don't say very often unless you mean to. It's hard to say yes reluctantly; when you do, you regret it. It shouldn't be squandered. So I just continued to say yes until I felt like all of my cells were in approval of themselves, of meditating, of being part of a body that is part of a universe. And then I began to wonder what other words would give me this wonderful feeling. So I tried some out. Try it. Seriously. It's mind-blowing; because the result now is that yes is a mantra I can say to calm myself, to fill myself with energy and instant positive energy. All that in a word.

I think we each could develop our own little lexicon of powerful words to use as ways into positivity, or as creative openers or as reassurances. We see language as a form of communicating with others, but I'm starting to understand how to use it to communicate better with myself, to access parts of myself and transform them.

Don't worry, I haven't adopted a spiritual-sounding moniker yet. I'm still me.


My favorite place to walk by the Petaluma River, Shollenberger Park. Posted by Hello

Tuesday, May 17, 2005

The gorgeous, expansive commons at Bennington, where I will soon again be as I graduate at long last. Posted by Hello

My thesis is done, now it just needs to be printed and sent off to my mentor and second reader. 137 pages, mostly novel but a couple short stories. How do I feel? Numb, really. Ready to be done. The main reason I want to be done with my graduate program is because I feel as though the wild, unrestrained force of my creative has been chained and channelled. I feel as though I've lost access to that pathway down to the lava flow. I recently interviewed for Word by Word an author whose first book poured out of her in six weeks, and the characters are passionate, loud, intense, struggling. It's got lots of drama and intensity in it. In fact, as I read it, I kept thinking to myself, I didn't know this kind of book was getting published! It made me sort of irritated with myself, because all of my writing about the topics of my imagination are restrained.

The relationship between former alcoholic Ana and her grown daughter Penelope in my novel Shaky Grounds is muted. Ana has been sober a long time and she's done all her work; it's her daughter who's still pissed off. And in the new novel I'm writing, Thea can only briefly touch back on the dark facts of her life, in safe, sanitary little flashbacks. Am I walking the edge? Am I avoiding really going deep, or is it appropriate to have this kind of restraint? The fact is, unlike my novel Self-Serve, in which I wrote the first draft in one month...yes one month..."Strange but Familiar" is dragging itself out into being. I mean, I've got more than 200 pages, and albeit I've done a lot of revisions on the first 100 for Bennington, but I wonder where the drive is that usually keeps me pushing something out. All I know is that somewhere in the last year something happened to me, something unconsciously. It may have been after working with one of my most difficult professors, I don't know for sure, except that my writing lost its urgency and spontaneity.

I want it back, damn it. I want it back and I want it back soon, and I am going to find it, rekindle it, no matter what. But first, I needed to admit that it had gone away.


Saturday, May 14, 2005

It's only fair, while I'm posting cute children, that I post my one and only first cousin Tim's child Kai (she's my second cousin). Kai will be two this summer. Posted by Hello

Our most adorable niece, Daphne, about to head off to Vladivostok, who, at two and a half, is the Peace Corps' youngest member. Posted by Hello

He's fat, my baby, but he's all love. Figaro the cat, I mean, not my lean husband in the background. Posted by Hello

My Zinnias in their early stage. Posted by Hello

Friday, May 13, 2005

"What the Bleep" indeed...

I just finished watching the movie, "What the bleep do we know." I really am impressed with how events unfold in my life, because I've heard about this film for some time now, and knew I'd eventually get around to seeing it, but didn't know when. So I find it especially interesting that now, months into this work with the Law of Attraction and matching frequencies and all that stuff that makes most people get the new-age heebie jeebies, I see this movie, which is all about the science of exactly what I've been talking about. Deliberate creation is quantum physics. Thought and emotion have effects on our bodies, which is the least surprising, but also on reality, on the environment directly around us. There is proof of this when you begin to do the work, and to look for the signs. There is proof EVERYWHERE. But we're taught to mistrust our experience, to think everything is random, accidental, just some strange algorithm of chance, like shaking a bag of scrabble letters and pulling one out...BUT, quantum physics, "the science of possibilities" as one fascinating scientist referred to it, tells us that it's no accident at all. We're in a steady interaction with reality. Not only is our brain changing its chemistry (or reinforcing it) based on our beliefs/experiences/feelings, but our chemistry is interacting with the energy/matter of our environment. If you want to get really deep, really beyond comprehension, we ARE our environment. We are all just the same buzzing, bouncing, theoretical events and clumps of ideas as everything/one else, but we've all taken slightly different form.

This is the stuff I've been searching for all my life. I mean it. All the work I've ever done of a spiritual or energetic nature (having, as you now know, no religious guidance) has led me to this. Which is not to say that I ever knew exactly what I was looking for, except when I stumbled upon it.

I recognized something real when the weird hippie adults did "reiki" on me, supposedly being able to heal me through touch. I recognized something when my father became an acupuncturist early in my life and I understood that energy flows through channels in the body, becoming blocked or built-up; I knew that there was true information when in the chakra system of the body, which I learned first through becoming a massage therapist( because I could not only feel my own chakras, but those in other people's bodies, and I could see how my care and attention to those centers of my body affected the way I felt). I recognized the incredible potential when my friend Carole turned me on to "integrated awareness" and I came to understand that the different levels of tissue in the body: muscle, soft tissue, bone, etc, corresponded with different states of consciousness and different experiences in time and much more (for instance, muscular action is equivalent with mental activity. You think, your muscles flex or sometimes constrict, spasm, etc).

Realizing and now accepting that energy is the basis of EVERYTHING thrills me in ways I can't describe, because I was so sure up until this past year that I was one of those people put on this earth who did not have a spiritual path or connection. I was in a kind of spiritual limbo. I wasn't about to pick a religion, and I dabbled in a lot of different things, always seeking that which felt true to me.

I'm not interested in a spiritual path as some kind of distant lofty reality that I can bandy about at parties...for me it's about making the life I'm living more meaningful, actualized, full of potential. It's seeing what I want come to fruition, being engaged and stimulated by life and thus readying myself for the other inevitable part of life, death. That might sound morbid, but honestly, I want to get to my death with as much joy as I lived my life. There are examples in my life of people approaching their death with great trepidation and sadness, seeing the world diminish around them rather than feel expanded by the long lives they have led.

I am so happy to be alive at this time, I can't even begin to describe it.

Call my kooky or out there. I really don't care anymore.


Wednesday, May 11, 2005

It's been so long since I've written a piece of short fiction, I decided to post it here. It's raw, but this is a blog, after all...



“It’s simple,” says Julietta. She of the mediterannean complexion. She of the elegant mother.

Already I am suspicious. Nothing is simple. I know because I pack everything of importance to me into a little brown suitcase every week and I wait on the curb of one of my two houses for a parent to pull up in a car I may or may not have ever seen before, with a person inside I may or may not have ever met before. Pack. Unpack. Repack.

“You go like this,” she says, demonstrating by bending forward and flipping her sleek brown hair forward, revealing her neck. Starlet hair, popular girl hair, lose-your-virginity in the sixth grade hair.

“Anybody can bend over. BFD,” I say.

“It is a big fucking deal. Watch.”

I watch. She bends at the waist easily like that stupid Dancerina doll I still sleep with, though under my pillow so that my parents don’t know. She has a hard, pointy crown and if you press her head, she pivots on slippered tiptoe.

Folded in half, Julietta inhales, deeply, like we are taught in meditation class in P.E. How meditation is supposed to be physical exercise I will never know.

She inhales again. And again. And again.

“Woah Jules, you’re going to black out,” I say, waiting for whatever it is, this surprise of hers.

She whips up straight, nods, says, “I’m trying to,” before holding her breath and then falling, falling backwards in a graceful arc like the dying swan in swan lake back onto her mother’s soft, cream-colored leather Italian couch.

Julietta is out cold.

“Hey. Hey stop that! Hey.” My shouting does not wake her.

I check her pulse, its fluttering little beat of life still there, forceful. Fear turns to relief. Relief changes into something else. She is unconscious. Julietta-most-admired. Julietta who can do anything, with parents who come home to the same house each night, fix each other cocktails, make dinner together. I lift up her tight-fitting shirt to admire the downy hair that rests along her stomach, the stomach taut, rippled with muscles. I peek under the cup of her bra, admire the rosy-tipped nipple on her perfect brown breasts. But what is this? A latticework of strange scars, some raw still along the sides of her ribcage. I push up a sleeve to find more of these angry lines along an arm.

But now she is stirring, eyes flipping open like Dancerina’s when you sit her upright.

“Woaaaaaaaaaaaaah! What a rush!” she says. She does not notice her clothes are askew, or if she does, chalks it up to the fall.

“A rush?”

“Now you try!”

I want to ask her about those scars. I want to understand how a girl like Julietta, whose mother wears Prada suits that reveal her bounteous cleavage, who has gotten everything she has ever asked for, would feel the need to dice the pretty surface of her skin. Would that help the little pang of terror I feel each time I wait on the curb for a parent, wondering if my mother will arrive alone, if my father will be grinding his teeth? Would the sweet slice of a blade carve me back to life?

“You have to do this too,” she says, in that firm tone I have come to expect. The order-me-around voice, the I’m-the-boss-of-you voice. “Or I will tell everybody.”

Always that same threat. Tell everybody what? She would only rat herself out. But the truth is, though nobody knows of our friendship, and she ignores me with calculated grace on campus, it would be my loss if she stopped allowing me to hang out with her.

“Fine. Show me again how?”

She puts her strong hand at the nape of my neck and shoves my head between my knees. I am cut in half, already choked of air.

“Breathe deep, my pretty,” she says. “Ten deep breaths, the biggest you can imagine.”

And though there is hardly any capacity in my lungs, I breathe, I breathe, I breathe.

“Now stand up fast, and then hold your breath until it all goes black. Here against the couch. I won’t let you get hurt.”

With the ease of some unencumbered bird I fly up to standing, hold my breath, my breath. What breath?
* * *

Emerging from a dream, an impossible dream inside a tiny night, the world is clear and shimmers as if with love for me. Oh how beautiful is everything around me!

Juliettta is staring at me like some dark angel, her green eyes wide, anticipating.


“Oh!” I am enamored with the moment. “I have never felt so very good in my life!”

“See!” she says.

“Let’s do it again,” I say. “Together.”

And so we do. Emerging each time like very new butterflies into this fragile world, clasping each other in hugs of great gratitude that we are friends this very first day on earth, for that is how we feel. Brand new. Rejuvenated. Each time we emerge, it is the same time of day, the same great, glowing, radiant dawning of day, a kind of no-time, all present.

“Endorphins,” says Julietta at one point. “These are endorphins. These are what heroin-junkies are after.”

“Why don’t they just do this? It’s free.”

“I don’t know,” she says, suddenly clutching her arm as if to hide the secret I already know is there.

Some people play sports, have kinky sex, drink too much. You can get ‘em in lots of ways.”

“Can you get them by cutting yourself?” I ask her, because we are sisters now, closer than any of the popular girls who stride in a pack through the freshman locker hall. I know her deeper, more personally than any of them. We have killed brain cells together.


“Your arms. Your sides. I saw that you cut them. I looked when you were out first.”

“What?! You bitch! You perverted bitch!”

She cuts straight through the luxurious high of reawakening.

“What? I just…”

But I have no answer for what or why.

“Bridget you are sick.”

“But I…you don’t under…”

I don’t have to wait to know that it is over. I know this feeling, which starts like a ripple of indigestion just under my solar plexus. I feel it each time I wait on that curb, and that which I hope not to happen, happens. When some new guy is in the passenger seat with my mother, always too young, , who will snap my bra-straps and slap her around. When my father arrives and his eyes are black-shot puddles of hell, his jaw a spasm of cocaine aftermath.

“Just once more,” I beg of her. “Please.”

She glares at me. This is why she has tolerated me, for my secret-keeping skills.

“Go,” she says. “Just go.”

“Help me,” I say, because I want to feel her hand on me again, want to remember it.

She grips my neck in her hand and thrusts me forward so hard that I trip, my face hits something hard, then I tumble, and so does the back of my head. No sweet breaths. No soft couch.

* * *
When I awake this time it is to the harsh, halogen lamps of a hospital room, a headache splitting my head in half.

There is nothing sweet about this awakening except for this: My parents, one on each side, are here with me, faces contorted in anxiety, fingers entwined within my own. They are leaning over me, across me, holding me between them like a thread, a piece of hair, a blade of grass.

Tuesday, May 10, 2005

Every day I wait with great certainty for the magnificent piece of news sure to be in the mail. Every day. Without fail. And each time I am wrong, when there is nothing more than that stupid envelope full of coupons I never use, or a mailer for ten percent off that dentist I never go to, or a reminder about the next American Bach Soloist concert, I feel gypped by the universe for failing to bring me the very good news I deserve.

What kind of news?

Requests from literary journals to publish my stories. Love letters from small publishing houses as to why they MUST publish my novels. Contracts from agents.

But you see, I am no fool. Most good news comes either by phone or email. There are a few exceptions, and I certainly would have thrown away a couple of pieces of great news if I trashed every envelope that looks sure to bear a rejection.

But still...what strange spark in me keeps this persistent hope alive? Is it sort of an addiction? Should I force myself not to check the mail, to let E. get it when he comes home, to stave off my hunger for NEWS?

Truth is, I'm awaiting just as much news by email. News on the large CPB grant we applied for that would fund Word by Word in a way it has never been funded. Word from editors regarding queries. Word from friends about THEIR good news.

At any rate, I had a wonderful conversation with an acupuncturist today for an article I'm writing. This man is actually an MD, also, and one of the first doctors back in the 70s to investigate this crazy magic known as acupuncture. (For those who don't know, my father has been an acupuncturist since I was a little girl, also, so it's kind of in the foundation of my childhoo). What he said made me so happy I wanted to cry or hug him or something...he said that acupuncture works because everything, and everyone is energy. Physicists have been telling us this. Einstein told us this years and years ago...but still, this attitude is slow to trickle into mainstream ideology. We still think we are the blunt, solid object of our bodies. We think we are the laser-point focus of our brains. But we fail to understand that energetic, electric connection that makes our body, our brain, our feelings, our intuition and more work together, and that is whatever this energy is, the very basic stuff of being, present at the big bang, possibly before.

The Chinese have not questioned that energy can and should be manipulated, that it can be redirected, balanced, shifted and used to manifest things. I think that George Lucas really stumbled on the true secret of the universe when he came up with "the force" in Star Wars. It is a power that can be harnessed for whatever purpose one has, evil or good...

I feel ever more validated all the time that energy is the bottom line for everything, that it is the answer to all my questions and the key to happiness...staying open, knowing what you want, and not allowing yourself to be cut off from it for too long. That's my recipe.


Friday, May 06, 2005

Which side belongs in control?

I have never been very good at belonging, but wouldn't you know it, I was bestowed by the evil fates with a great big whopping fat desire TO belong. A torturous combination. What this means is that I will push and shove my way to the center of something--I used to do it with jobs; I always had to be the one "in" with the boss, the indispensible one, the one whom everybody turned to for answers, and then once I was there, I secretly resented it, and began to misbehave and slack off and get lazy. Or in other circumstances, I loved the first year of the LiveWire Literary Salon, being up there as Emcee every Tuesday night, the one who made all the decisions of who got to read and when...until I started to feel put upon, tired, wondering when everybody would just leave me alone. That's when the not giving a hoot about belonging part kicks in.

As I wove through the aisles of my favorite local bookstore--Copperfield's (the same tiny independent 'chain,' incidentally, where my honey and I met) I noticed that this belonging dilemma has already been manifesting in the world of publishing. That is to say I long to be a published author. I want my name on a hardback copy with some big imprint on its spine...and yet I loathe the machine at the same time, the machine that is forced to be driven by the bottom line because publishers front all the money and it's all one big gamble for them. But in order to make use of their tiny kitty of advertising funds, they do not put it all behind Jane-New Author, no. They help promote Paris Hilton's new memoir, or Pam Anderson's "novel." I'm off point here. What I'm trying to say is that everything I seem to long to be a part of, sooner or later, I become dissatisfied with, scornful of. I see only its flaws and then I get full of disdain and holier-than-thou snobbery. I turn up my nose and suddenly crave some radical, underground publishing house to burst out of the earth like a mountain forming. I crave a community of writers suddenly rallying together funds and energy to publish and support the success of each other. I see visions of a new literary movement, one that reminds people of the journey, the process, the joy!

Then I remember this is a capitalist society. That to survive, one has to care about the bottom line, and I find myself frequenting the bookstore less and less, and when I do, paying more attention to the new spiral bound journals, and the quality of the paper therin than to the new books. I stop caring who Zyzzyva and Tin House are publishing. I refuse to even wonder what will make the New York Times Bestseller list.

Now, if you want to speak Enneagram with me (easy to Google if you're not, heaven forbid, in the know), this behavior of mine stems from being a type four personality, with a three wing. As a four, I get my identity from being "special," and "different" from the rest of you. I cultivate a small city of uniqueness into which there is no entry. In the haze of fourness I can be as moody, and entitled to my moods as I want. I can push you away without explanation and then, eventually cry out in despair when you have taken the bait for you to come back.

But my little cheerleader "three" wing is part prosletyizing fundamentalist, part ambitious motivational speaker and part greedy, wall-street hustler. She is the part that has me jabbing my elbows into the crowd and charging forward, determined to get to the center of everything. She is the one that wants FAME and FORTUNE, who says, fuck selling out! I can do whatever I want to get myself where I want to be. Can you imagine? These two parts of me live in the same body, brain, heart. They face off over coffee each morning and arm-wrestle, until the little three wing just throws a pill in my four's java and takes over. But at the end of the day, when the ambition, the desire for fame, the need to be validated has fizzled its way out of the soles of my feet, the real me returns and remembers that it's all just a manifestation game.

What I mean by that is that wherever you focus your attentions, those desperate longings or those powerhouse certainties, results will follow in the same vein. When I am determined to get something, I usually get it. When I am despairing, usually, everything unravels like an old sweater.And every day, it is as much a mystery to me as to anyone else which side will take control of steering me toward its destiny.

Wednesday, May 04, 2005

Did Freud have a term for this?

My mother recently proposed to me. She got down on one knee, opened a little jeweled ring box and, in her best effort to prove that she has come a long way from the addict/alcoholic years (11 years sober), asked me, "Will you be my mother forever?"

Yes, you read that right. She meant to say "will you be my daughter", or "I will be your mother", but she goofed, and I think that goof is important, though not at all what she intended.

Then she slid this blue topaz ring surrounded by diamonds onto my finger and I felt very strange.

We've been doing big, hard work in therapy for a year, that in some ways has only just started to crack open in the last few weeks. She's skewered herself open for my scrutiny, dipped deeper into the well of her emotions than perhaps since the age of 18, when her beloved brother died and her parents moved quickly to center stage with their pain. She has listened to me talk about how stark and scary those years were when, going back and forth between mom and dad's house, I was always afraid that if I left one house, the other parent would be gone: Dad, taken away by the police for his illegal sales, Mom, dead of an overdose (which, I learned in therapy, was a very realistic mom was suicidally depressed, it turns out, most of my early years).

Weekly I volleyed back and forth between these two poles, these two fears, gathering up my things in a suitcase I carried, and wanting sometimes to just stop, stay at whichever house felt safest, and never leave.

But the fact is, I don't want to commit to being HER mother forever. I want to have absolute faith in my mother's ability to hold herself up as an adult in the world, so that when her age makes it impossible for her to work, that is a contingency she is well-prepared for.

The proposal felt odd, and I knew she was hoping for a reaction that I couldn't quite muster...some delight and validation, some moment at long last in which I threw myself into her arms and allowed her to mother me. But what is clear to me is that while she has many more opportunities to be a mother now, and I, more opportunities to be a daughter, the construction of my self is such that I will never be that little girl throwing myself into her arms. In some ways it is too late. What we can have together is our grief and our shared memories, an understanding that we are adults who want a relationship with one another.

I knew that she was offering it as a request with that ring: please don't go away from me when we keep exploring the past. Please don't go away. Which then puts me in a bind. If it takes her giving me things to keep me around, naturally, this is proof that she doesn't trust that outcome.

There is something so sad about this whole thing. Because I know how much she loves me, and I know that to her this gesture was symbolically very huge. But in her fashion, she did it off the cuff, haphazardly, so that I felt as if the moment of the ring-giving was no more sacred or special than us being about to sit down to watch television. And, of course, then she wanted praise for it, a praise I couldn't quite pull up from the depths of my being, much as I wanted to.

I DID appreciate the gesture, but I was equally unsettled by it. And it took my honey bringing up how he felt about, his perceptions of what it meant, for me to realize that I glossed right over it in therapy last week, though we did another important session. The ring needs to be addressed. It has a lot of power that is just sitting between us, weighing down my finger.

What a life.


Tuesday, May 03, 2005

So, this was Creating Space: The Law of Attraction for Writers Workshop--

Sprawling meadows, inside which some of the workshop participants felt as though they could hear the grass growing; lucidly green hills and canopied caps of oak trees, which transformed into poetry in the participants' hands; food that made you want to sing and pray at the same time it was so tasty; the rushing noise of frogs and nighttime creatures that became more silent than silence; thirteen strangers to each other, or nearly so, gathering into the hands of two women with an idea, taking our words and in turn producing what appeared to us to be quite magnificent results. These people were amazing, and I am honored to have had them with us.

It was, in other words, a stupendous, smashing success. On a number of occasions I looked around the "farm house" room where we held our exercises and felt that funny, bursting sense of joy when you realize what a beautiful thing you've created. Usually I feel it when I read something I've written that I'm especially proud of.

What I love about the Law of Attraction is that it needs no faith. I don't have to sell you on it. If you feel like trying it on for size, you will be your own proof. I do not have to be a guru or a priest to teach it to you.

However, I will tell you to expect a book called Creating Space: the Law of Attraction for Writers, written by Rebecca Lawton and myself. It is in the works.

I was reminded over the weekend how important the process of writing is to me. I've gotten so far off into worries about being published, and dealing with my mentors, that I have let slide away the joy of writing, the thing that gives me deep, absolute pleasure. In that sense, I have let graduate school, and my desire for a "book sale" cut me off from who I really am, from what is most important to me.

However, I have completed a lecture draft I can work with.
I am very close to feeling ready with my thesis material.
I just taught a successful workshop, meeting all of my goals about it artistically and then some
I feel more energized than I can even remember
My garden is growing busily
My business is thriving

I have nothing to complain about. Nor do I want to begin complaining even if I should.

I'm ready to get back to having fun!

Don't forget to tune into Word by Word TOMORROW night, Weds. May 4th at 7 pm Pacific Time at: and then clicking the "Listen" button. Or, wait for the show to be archived in a couple weeks. Philip Beard, author of Dear Zoe, and Sue Miller author of the latest novel, Lost in the Forest.

I'll have more to say soon.