Life after you grow up

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You start off easy. You are in love with trees. You get excited by leaves falling and the way they pile up in yards. You like the colors of leaves in fall. Or you like palm trees, their fronds wide against the heat. You like flowers. You’re excited by roses. By lilies. You like sunshine. When it rains, you go outside and stand in it. You put on boots and you walk through water. The water splashes your legs. You like the puddles, the water, the splashing. You are very happy.

You grow up. You go to school. In school, you are told to do many things. Most of them make no sense. You start getting tired. Especially you are tired of people telling you what to do for no reason. You get angry, and then you get a break. It’s summertime. You like popsicles. You like lying around at the pool and swimming in the pool and eating sandwiches and you like eating and then lying around stuffed with egg salad sandwiches feeling kind of tired and thick with eggs and not having to do anything.

But then you go back to school and it all starts over again and it makes you very tired.

The older you get the more things there are to be upset about. School, kids that don’t like you. You have to eat carrots. You want nice jeans but don’t get them. You want to skip school, but you can’t. You want to just walk through the woods and fields but you can’t. You have to do stuff. You always have to do stuff.

You get a job and you have to pay for time now to go see woods and fields. You have to sit at a desk. You have to wear a collar. You have to stand in line. You have to do things for other people. You have to put up with other people who are just mean to you. You have to put up with people who are stupid. You cram stuff into long days full of work just to wait for tiny days when you can think and do for yourself. Those tiny days are consumed with driving and stuff that isn’t fun either.

There is a tree life out there somewhere. There is a big sky life. Walk away from Facebook and games and the television. Go outside with a book. Sit under a tree or in a hammock. Just read a book. Just listen to music. But get away from the games and the television. Facebook is never going to awaken your imagination. Give your parents a call. Family, books, trees, leaves, beaches, music. Friends. That’s what we have that matters.

Published in: on July 20, 2014 at 8:23 pm  Leave a Comment  

Let’s change our parents

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Kids wish their parents would be different. It’s easier to fix yourself then to fix your parents. It’s easier to get your kids to change than to get your parents to change. We are meeting as a family in Hawaii in a couple weeks and I’ve gotten to thinking about what kids want from their parents. Of course, it changes over time but let’s try some stages.

Stage 1
Feed me. Feed me more. Feed me what I want to eat. No, not that. I don’t want vegetables. I don’t want greens. I don’t want carrots. Don’t give me peas. Give me ice cream. Give me pizza. Give me otter pops. Give me candy. Candy me, as my daughter used to say. Just candy me.

Stage 2
Don’t make me do my homework. Don’t make me clean my room. Don’t make me do anything. Let me do what I want to do. Let me play. Let me sleep in. Let me ride shotgun. Let me have my friends over. Let me go to the party. Let me have a party. Let me wear this purple dress. Let me wear these purple pants. Let me dye my hair purple. Let me have this purple back pack. Let me eat cake.

Stage 3
Leave me alone. Quit talking to me. Quit asking me questions. Quit asking me what I want to do when I grow up. Quit telling me what to do. You’re not the boss of me. I’m the boss of me. Go away. Knock before you come in my room. Don’t come in my room. I don’t need your advice. Leave me alone.

Stage 4
Leave me alone but give me the car. Leave me alone but leave me the keys. The keys to the car. The keys to the liquor cabinet. The keys to the lake house, family sailboat or trailer camper parked in the back yard. Leave me alone but give me money. Leave me alone but treat me like an adult.

Stage 5

Can I come home for Christmas? I need to do my laundry. I need supplies. Actually, I just miss you guys. Are you making a turkey? Are you making pies? Are you going to make extra pies? Can I bring a couple of friends? Do you guys have any furniture you want to get rid of?

Stage 6

Listen Mom, Dad, when you visit, please don’t touch my stuff. Don’t criticize what I spend my money on. Don’t start in on who I’m dating or the music I listen to and I don’t even need to hear it about my job or lack thereof. I do fine. Just, take it easy. But thanks for visiting. Any chance we can go to dinner?

Stage 7

Mom, Dad, listen, I appreciate the loan I really do, but you can you quit judging me. I’m doing my best.

Stage 8
Mom, Dad, I have my own life to live. I don’t have time for you. I love you, but I don’t have time for you right now. I’m busy. Listen if we are going to communicate it needs to be on my terms. I can talk with you on Facebook, but I don’t believe in email or the phone or Facetime, so you have to respect my terms. Also, you can only visit me when it works for me.

Stage 9
When did dad become such an asshole? He’s so selfish and it’s all about him. And when did Mom become such a weirdo? She’s a narcissist. Listen you guys need to understand that we love you but it isn’t all about you. You should go to therapy. You need to become better people.

Stage 10
Listen you need to take yoga, go to therapy, get acupuncture, watch intelligent movies, read more, travel more, exercise, eat the right foods, listen to good music. Be interesting. Is it me or are you becoming less interesting? Be interesting. We’ll see you at Christmas with the kids. But listen, we know how to raise the kids so please just take your advice and shove it. We know what we’re doing with our lives. We know everything. Would you please be smart cool ideal parents? Is that too much to ask?

Published in: on July 19, 2014 at 7:36 pm  Leave a Comment  

In Nebraska

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1. This is a picture of Greek clothing from the 19th century. The male in the middle is wearing a skirt. My lesbian daughter probably wouldn’t wear this skirt. She wore a skirt when she was three but then she started growing up and wanted overalls.

2. During music lessons, she kept a small python in the overall pockets and sometimes the python sneaked out onto the piano keys.

3. The piano teacher finally got used to it.

4. Later I got my picture taken with that snake around my neck.

5. After that snake and the iguana went to reptile heaven, I wanted another python and another iguana, but we did not get one. That was probably a good thing.

6. Something big might happen this year.

7. I am in Nebraska City.

8. I am way off my sleep schedule and I feel like a crazy person.

9. I don’t think I am a crazy person.

10. I have another manuscript due by end of the month. That’s fine. I’ll do it.

Published in: on July 17, 2014 at 10:24 pm  Leave a Comment  

Happy Anniversary

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Leaving for Nebraska tomorrow. It’s too soon to be leaving my home world. I like my bed, my garden, and having all the fruits and vegetables I can eat. Nebraska has a lot of meat and pork and corn. If I ate meat, I think Nebraska would be a really good place for a meal. The Lied Lodge where we stay is pretty nice, there are hiking trails through the orchards and of course the pool for swimming.

When I get back, it will time for Mark and I to celebrate our anniversary. We have been together for twenty years and have been married for fourteen. We looked better and younger when we first got married and before we had raised teenagers. We looked much more sprightly and energetic.

Here is what I have learned in twenty years of hanging in there.

1. Listening is important. Very important.
2. Kindness is way important. Just be kind! Even when you think they are wrong. If you’re mean, it breaks the love strand at least temporarily and there are only so many times you can break it.
3. If they make you laugh, you put up with a lot more.
4. It really doesn’t matter how you dress. Unless someone’s going to take your picture and then maybe it’s vaguely important.
5. The more stuff you can do together, the better.
6. Long conversations keep the story going.
7. When you travel, unless it’s for business, travel together.
8. Have fun together.
9. Kisses keep the story going.
10. Finding the right person takes magic. The right person is kind, funny, cool, crazy, adventurous and always on your side.

Published in: on July 16, 2014 at 8:00 pm  Comments (1)  


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You can get vertigo from time travel and jet lag is a kind of time travel.
I feel like a space walker.
I feel exactly the opposite of a purring cat.
I feel like a scratching cat inside my head.
Like a space walking zombie.
(The fact that I know what it feels like to be a space walking zombie
will be covered in a separate blog.)
It takes one day to recover from every time zone travelled.
That would be three days.
Jesus got better in three days,
I plan on doing it in two.

These are the symptoms of jet lag that I am having fun with right now.
Being exhausted in the daytime.
Hormone imbalance.
General queasiness.

In another country, in another time and place I am a normal person.

In that time zone or that parallel universe,
the other Kate is zipping around the house like a set of hot wheels.

But in this universe I am Humpty Dumpty.

Published in: on July 15, 2014 at 7:44 pm  Leave a Comment  
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Home to Los Angeles tomorrow

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Bed at the Benaki Museum. I don’t think this is going to fit with our decor at home, but I do like it.

It’s going to be great to be in Los Angeles for two days. I want to see the Dawn of the Planet of the Apes one of those days. It’s such an important movie, kidding! with ridiculous amounts of CGI. But the popcorn will be great and I like the apes so much and the storyline which makes no sense is really a fun fantasy.

Here in Athens, people are ready to watch the final World Cup game. They watch it at these outside bars where they have large television screens and they can drink and watch the game. Greeks in the shops and restaurants in Athens speak some English and they like to practice it. They say most of the tourists are Europeans not Americans. Maybe Americans don’t like all the police everywhere.

The key to coming back from vacation is to keep calm and carry on. I know given many meetings and a lot of work that needs to be done that it would be easy to get riled up immediately and I plan to resist that.

We miss the dogs and I can’t wait to see our garden is going. When it’s hot in Athens, it’s different than at home. First of all, we run the AC all the time at home and we are driving around in a car with AC. Here we walk and take the bus back and forth to the airport so the heat drains you. It’s fine on Patmos where the ocean breezes blow in. But here, the city closes down for three hours in the afternoon for good reason. It is simply hot to think.

It’s windy in Greece on the islands and here but here the wind doesn’t cool you down. However, if you wear dresses and skirts as I do you have to be careful about the wind. My friend Jen who’s all about going commando will have to be warned if she comes to Greece since that situation could be dangerous.

For those of you planning to go to China. There are 250 Starbucks there but the Starbucks in the Forbidden City has been closed as it was damaging that historical site. I really hate the idea of Starbucks and McDonalds being anywhere special that I go. When I am travelling, I would never go to any of those places as I want local drinks and foods. Even at home, I avoid ever going to any kind of chains fast food or otherwise except Starbucks. I have to admit that I drink Starbucks almost every day at home. I am sure there are better coffees but Starbucks is everywhere and I run on coffee like cars run on fuel.

When I get home, I am going to keep myself flowing toward stories. Toward writing and reading and thinking and slowing down. I have big plans that involve doing something big with my life.

Published in: on July 13, 2014 at 6:58 am  Leave a Comment  

Delta Riot Police in Syntagma square cut down on fun vacation feeling

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The Delta riot police are out in great numbers throughout the area around our hotel, Syntagma Square. They don’t want to be photographed, but the streets have many large riot buses which are equipped and with riot gear, and they police the streets near our hotel with machine guns. The feeling in the streets is oppressive. The police move around the square. It really slows down tourism in this country to have these unfriendly looking folks with these unfriendly looking machine guns and here in Syntagma Square it looks like a police state.

We went out last night with our friend Adrianne Kalfapoulou and drank quite a bit of Tspipouru and ate salad. One of the things that’s clear is that in the U.S. you can be friends with people of other parties in normal circumstances. But here in Greece, tensions are high enough that it’s hard to be friends with someone who is on the right if you are on the left because the stakes are high. In the U.S. the parties are so similar, each party competing for how much they can support the military industrial complex. But, here, the parties represent very different sides.

We are going to walk around the Acropolis a few more times before we leave. We did some great writing in Patmos just up the hill from the Cave where John wrote Revelations. We had revelations of our own as we each finished final editing of our books. I am still toying with my book here in Athens, but Mark has already finished his and sent it off to the agent.

We hope that what we’ve written will have the same magical realism that you see in Revelations with fire and danger and explosions and horses.

Here in Athens, excitement about the World Cup is high. Hopefully the Greeks are not protesting this weekend but watching soccer.

Published in: on July 12, 2014 at 6:21 am  Leave a Comment  

In Europe there are two subjects of conversation: The bombing of Palestine. And the coming World Cup match.

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In Israel, there is always a war. But this attack on Gaza has shocked the world. At least 100 Palestinians are dead. Another 700 are wounded. Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Nethanyu said he was pleased with the progress, but this is just a stage in the fighting. They are preparing troops along the border and have brought in 20,000 reserve troops to prepare for a ground assault. Like many people around the world, I wish for peace, but I think it’s more likely that we discover life on other planets than that there will be peace in the Middle East in my lifetime.

To distract people from the news of Israel, there is the World Cup between Germany and Argentina which most people are going to be watching Sunday night. The defeat of Brazil was of course, shocking, but still soccer fans are excited to see this game. Americans are getting more and more excited about soccer too. Once American athletes get up to the level of South American players, we’ll start to get even more involved.

As usual, Athens in Syntagma Square is crowded with police and riot police buses. There are police everywhere in Kevlar and large riot shields and with semi-automatic weapons. Much of the city is covered with graffiti.

The coffee here is good though. Cold or hot, it’s good. We like to walk around Athens especially at night. When you walk around the Acropolis, there are many street performers and a lot of them are Americans. It’s kind of odd but there are these African American street dancers who can do some great stuff and there are a lot of musicians and various performers doing gymnastics. It’s like a European version of Venice Beach. The sorbet is excellent. I had this blood orange sorbet which was great.

For breakfast at our hotel, they give us good coffee, some sort of drink that dreams of being Tang but Tang is too good for it, three different kinds of bread, jam, and yoghurt. Also hard boiled eggs. It’s fine and you eat this on the balcony overlooking lots of people’s laundry up to dry over their houses and towering over all this graffiti, power lines, and clean underwear is the remains of the Acropolis and the cranes and scaffolding that have been there for decades. It’s still very impressive.

Here’s to the completion of the restoration of the Parthenon.
Here’s to the recovery of the Greek economy.
Here’s to an end to the fighting in Gaza.
Here’s to world peace.
And here’s to bagels, sushi and Mexican food when I get back to Los Angeles next week.

Published in: on July 11, 2014 at 8:04 am  Leave a Comment  

I will miss Greece, the little stuff and the big stuff


I will miss the Patmos cheese pie. And the goats. The Greek salads which I know I can make at home. In fact, at home I could also make an alternative salad with cucumbers, tomatoes, Queso Fresca and avocados which really isn’t a Greek salad but a Mexican salad.

I’ll miss the large windmills on the ridge by the house which were used to grind wheat and the other working windmills by Lambi Beach that create energy. And the cats everywhere begging for food even though everyone seems to be feeding them.

I’ll miss swimming two hours a day out into the light and heat. I’ll miss the little store with an odd mixture of boat people, who are in bikinis like me and the tourists in white clothes because they heard Greeks wear white plus in fancy magazines, fancy people at sea are always dressed in white linen like a Ralph Lauren ad. And the Greek women in all black by the time they’re forty. And the Greek girls with their come hither looks and the Greek boys very buff. And the Greek men who are either in the church and totally bearded and dressed in black and picking up women to take back to their hermitages or very old and sitting around at taverns while the women in black wait on them and make cooing sounds or working construction or at restaurants from 9-2 and sometimes also from 10 to midnight which has got to be exhausting.

In Greece lots of men sit around in taverns. They stare out at the sea, they drink coffee and then beer and they argue about the soccer game if there is one or just talk.

There is a dessert that’s baklava with ice cream. We shared one twice. They’re tiny and adorable and yummy. I have bites all over my whole body, a spider bite on my arm that’s now become a huge red circle and my skin is on fire. My whole back is brown. Mark is partly burnt. Like the other times I’ve been to Greece, I am on a high dose of antibiotics which you can buy over the counter at the pharmacy. I think it’s the swimming that does it. My eyes start to look they’re bleeding and then the Augmentin hits and in a few hours I’m not seeing the world through blood colored glasses. I love all of it.

Being here reminds me of this: I am working way too hard, teaching too much and working for the press is quite a combo. Right now there isn’t a light at the end of the tunnel, but maybe I’ll find the cave where light was built and built a tunnel to it. I can’t do this forever. Having a break is a very nice thing. Very nice.

Published in: on July 10, 2014 at 4:59 am  Leave a Comment  
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Lambi Beach

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Lambi Beach was like glass today so I swam all the way out, past the tall windmills on the hill and around the corner of the bay and then around the next and the next. Three dolphins swam very close to me and Mark got pictures of them swimming across the mouth of the bay. I kept swimming until I came to the small red sand beach where the red sandstone pours down into the beach and all the rocks and sand are red. There was no need for a swimsuit because there was no one swimming but me.

We get to Lambi Beach by eight or nine and Greeks don’t get there usually until noon. I stood on the red sand beach in a small cove and there was no one in sight. At Lambi Beach there is a small café which serves wine and fish, salads and fries. We had lunch there once and we had eggplant salad, bread which was still warm and stuffed squash blossoms. The old lady who owns the restaurant picks the squash blossoms in the morning and stuffs them herself with mint rice. They are so delicate and opening and yellow. Her garden is full of squash and sunflowers. There are two little boys, her grandsons I think who like to pretend to be great seamen in and out of the old boats. They are four year old twins. The light is thick glancing off the Lambi stones going down to the water.

We leave tomorrow on the midnight ferry to Athens so tomorrow is my last Lambi swim. One of the best parts is the swimming out hours a day into the sunlight and one of the best parts is riding the motorcycle going up and down the twisted tiny roads of Patmos with no helmet feeling the air and heat rush by. It’s so much more intimate than riding in a car with someone, and one of the best parts is the writing and one of the best parts is going to bed early and reading Lorrie Moore. She had a story about driving around Ireland with her mother and it wasn’t my favorite of her stories because she’s written better and yet it was my favorite because it was about all these places in Ireland where we went even the silly Blarney Castle where we went so Nicelle could kiss the stone and it worked for her because she got the job.

All of this is the best part. And Mark is always happy. He’s not a whiner. He’s always in a good mood on vacation. Sometimes he’s grouchy at home when dealing with work issues especially when his wife, (this part is sad) brings up work issues when he’s trying to relax at home. But on vacation, we’re humming. Los Angeles next week. Being here reminds me how dear our friends are to us and how lucky we are to have them, so to my friends: May you be blessed. May you be warm. May you be loved and may you know that you are loved.

Published in: on July 9, 2014 at 7:29 am  Leave a Comment  

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