The orchards are full of mist, dew and longing.

Does place matter?  We always ask that when we think about writing and stories.  And it does matter.  Nebraska has a certain feeling to it.  It feels like a warm humming feeling like fertilizer and humming birds and corn and foxes in the corn.  Where we stay here there are big orchards and thick sunlight crawling through the orchards in the morning and threading out of it in the evening.  I woke early this morning and the mist hung over the orchard.

It’s amazing what is worth bragging about in this culture is what you can manage to deprive yourself of. I can manage without sleep! Wow you are something. I am so disciplined that I barely ate all summer and dropped 20 lbs.  Gold medal for you sister.  Of course if you’re bragging that you gave up sex, that’s just considered sad.  But if you manage to keep your expenses low, that’s a plus in the Midwest.  Not so much where I live.  No one brags that they only spend $100 on their beauty regimen because everyone else would know they were lying.  Back to place.  In Los Angeles, standard upkeep of your face, hair, nails, body, all that is considered par for the course.  We care how we are seen in a city that is all about surface.  Know your place and write from that core.  I know where I am now.  The mist has risen from the orchard.  I am going for a mile swim in the pool and then maybe for a walk as well.  I’m in Nebraska with some of my best friends.

Published in: on July 12, 2015 at 4:31 am  Leave a Comment  

You have a cape? Give me superman.

One of the ideas you try to convey to writers is to think about the weight that each piece of the story has beyond itself.  You have a melon being crushed. Think head.  You have a head. Think John the Baptist. You have a character eating an apple. Think Garden. You have a character flying to save the girl. Think Pegasus.  You have someone constructing wings so they can show off.  Think Icarus.  You have a girl who cannot walk in her tiny shoes.  Think Cinderella’s sisters. Think Chinese women for thousands of years.  You have a girl ready to cut out her tongue to have a prince. Think mermaid.  You have someone willing to die for another. Think Jesus.  You have a black man silenced. Think the history of slavery. You have a story without a beginning. Think the creation of the universe. You have a story without ending.  Think your life. Your story. The big thing you’re in the middle of living.

Published in: on July 11, 2015 at 1:49 pm  Comments (1)  

Off to the Bowl with Mike and Karen

We are going to the Bowl tonight with our friends Mike and Karen to celebrate.  Both Karen and Mark had emergency open heart surgery in March and both are recovering nicely.  Karen was at the hospital for many weeks, but she is finally home and I am bringing Veuve Clicquot to help us with the celebrating.

We are going to hear Romeo and Juliet, so it will be romantic and soulful and it will remind us of the beginning when we fell in love because our bodies were telling our minds what to do, and that is a wonderful state to be in, at least some of the time. Our minds do most of the directing in our world.  It’s a good thing to think about, who does the deciding? Mind, soul or body?  When you are young, it’s usually body, then the mind takes over, some of us never get to the soul.  What soul?  Your soul is the part of you that vibrates.  And on that lofty note, off to the Bowl tonight and then to Nebraska. falls 2011 002

Published in: on July 9, 2015 at 11:21 am  Leave a Comment  

Off to the Nebraska MFA

Getting ready to go to Nebraska to swim in the pool, hang with my friends and have an amazing time with the students.

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Published in: on July 8, 2015 at 9:45 pm  Leave a Comment  

Come to the Annenberg Beach House tomorrow at 6:30 pm, Brynn Saito will be there

And the Lord Said Surprise Me So I Moved To LA

My favorite Brynn Saito poem

Trembling on the Brink of a Mesquite Trip

And the Lord said Surprise me, so I moved to LA.
After packing my posters and scrubbing the bathroom and bidding goodbye
to the permanent circus, I drove through The South
with its womb-like weather, and I drove through the center
with its cross-hatched streams, and the century unspooled
like a wide, white road with lines for new writing
and the century unspooled like a spider’s insides
and the country was a cipher, so I voted my conscience.
And the country was a carton of twelve rotten eggs.
And the country was a savior—come deliver us from evil!—
and my car burned a scar across the back of an angel
and yes, I was afraid. No I’ve never gone hungry, but I’ve woken alone
with a ghost in my throat and I’ve been like the child
who’s sure she perceives some creature in the dark—
some night-breathing thing—and I know there is something I can almost see …
But the future’s a bright coin spinning in sunlight
so fast that it’s sparking a flame in the grass, and who knows
where they’ll find me—on which sunken highway?—so I’m writing this poem
to remember my name. And I’m writing this poem
to let something go, in the mode of surrender, since God
needs a ritual, like kissing needs another, or a knife needs the softness
of a melon in summer, and leaving New York is like leaving
the circus, and entering America is like entering a fortress,
flooded by soda and we float to the bars in our giggling terror
and driving from one shore across to another?
That’s one sign for freedom, one small stab at change,
so when the Lord said Surprise me, I moved to LA.

Published in: on July 6, 2015 at 4:14 pm  Leave a Comment  

Home sweet home!

We are glad to be coming home to Los Angeles.  Mark misses sushi so much so we are going out for sushi right away with the whole family to discuss Jared’s trip and ours and Tobi starting at Red Hen and Steve having a fantastic summer and the dog having to go to the vet and the air conditioning breaking down on July 4th which expense will cause us to have to sell the dog who went to the vet so thank god she’s been all fixed up so we should be able to charge enough that we can pay for the air conditioning bill. Kidding.

Saw one interesting movie on the plane.  Coco about Chanel.  Such good acting that even for someone like me who doesn’t understand fashion or care about it, the movie was fun to watch and it made me think about my friend Darlene every minute because she’s actually romantic and fashionable and I am sure she loved the movie.

No one would give any money for JJ.  She’s cute enough but not that bright.  However, when our dog Luna was in her last stages, we went from feeding dry food to wet food and finally we were cooking a whole chicken every few days and giving her everything down to the marrow.  At that point, Luna was having trouble walking and she limped quite a bit dragging one leg.  JJ watched all this, the limping and the chicken and she began to limp as well and to cry as she dragged her leg along. When she couldn’t see us, she’d be out, playing with Ginger, but when we came into sight, she’s begin to make small whimpering sounds, the occasional howl or dog sob would escape her lips and she would barely be able to navigate from water bowl to bed so great was her pain.  We were shocked at this sort of slimy behavior from our noble canine friend; nonetheless, we rewarded her efforts with bits of chicken and cheese.  Perhaps she is a bright dog, who knows?

This will be a great week: Sushi, a party at Doris Sosin’s house on Monday.

We look forward to the Tuesday night event at the Annenberg Beach House which will be amazing.

Published in: on July 5, 2015 at 7:26 am  Leave a Comment  

Pride Week Celebration, Madrid, I will survive

Madrid Spain, we are here for Pride Weekend which is a jolly good thing because we missed Pride in the U.S. especially in West Hollywood and San Francisco where I hear it was really rocking.  Here, we attended a gay rally which had more beautiful gay boys than I’ve seen for ages just loving up on each other.  So many gay people singing, dancing and celebrating.

We’re at a hotel called Only You which makes this ruthless tequila drinks.

We’re at the Pride celebration and these drag queens are singing and everyone I dancing.  I’m on a tall bench and I’m dancing and then the drag queen comes out to sing I will survive in Spanish, she has huge knockers but when she turns around and peels off her wedding dress piece by piece, she has ass from here to some other country and in her tight beaded white outfit, you can see all of it, and she’s in heels.  I tell you, the men went wild and that’s when I noticed Mark was being interviewed on Spanish television. I raced over to see if he was okay since his Spanish is limited, but he was having no problem, sheets to the wind, telling several Spanish reporters, how proud he is of his amazing lesbian daughter and her partner and then they were asking where Tobi is and why she is not in Madrid to celebrate Pride week with the LGBT community.  I didn’t really catch what his response was, but later he told me that in indicated that we all wished Tobi were there to celebrate.  She and Molly would have taken it all to a new level.

We went out afterward for paella.  We fly to NY tomorrow, Sunday Los Angeles.  Home sweet home.

Published in: on July 3, 2015 at 12:50 pm  Leave a Comment  

We climbed the Giralda today.

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It’s 341 feet tall and the Moslems built it with all these ramps so that you could ride a horse up.  Not sure why you would want to ride a horse up to the top of a minaret, but then again, why not?  Spain is full of Moorish influence.  The Cathedral of Seville is a vast echo of story.  The grave of Christopher Columbus; huge quantities of gold taken from the Americas, silver too, the statue of four men carrying Columbus’ casket, the cathedral built in the 1400s on top of the mosque which had been there since 1198.  The Cathedral uses the bell tower of the Giralda as its highest point.  The mosque in Cordoba actually has a cathedral built into the forest of pillars, one of the strangest sacred places I’ve ever visited.

During Santa Semana Week, the holy festival week, over a million people visit Seville and they wear the hooded robes which most Americans would find extremely frightening because they look exactly like the regalia that Klansmen wear and refer to as their “glory suit.”  During Holy Week Parades, you see penitents wearing those same costumes as American Klansmen.

We are going to dinner tonight and for a walk along the river and tomorrow walk through the gardens by the castle and then take the train to Madrid.  We’re looking forward to being home.  We are both working on new books, and we’re excited to feel those new stories emerging.

From the top of the Giralda, all of Seville was spread out, pigeons fluttered along the eves, the heat rose from between buildings; some had courtyards and trees.  The sun pooled between the trees; and somewhere on the other side of the world, California is waiting.

Published in: on July 2, 2015 at 9:56 am  Leave a Comment  

Be an amazing story


We sat at the bus station in Nerja with our toast and coffee.  During the hour bus ride to Malaga, we couldn’t read.  We talked, we drifted between the Greek economy and how you develop voice in a story.

In Malaga, the train station had all these shops.  I found a dress while Mark drank coffee.  We had sandwiches, mine was salmon. I drifted around the train station.

I finished the Alice Munroe book Something I’ve Been Meaning to Tell You on the train ride to Seville through orchards and fields and drank my whiskey.  The last time we were in Seville we stayed by the Cathedral; this time we are nearer to the river.  We always walk along the rivers it seems, the Thames, the Seine and now the Guadalaquivir.  We’ll walk and find some tapas and sangria.

All the reading is making my head full of story.  I can’t really think in a linear way, everything that happens I imagine as a story with a woman running, a man yelling orders a child playing on the side ignoring both of them.  Spain moves slowly in its thick  light.  It’s a rich golden light, not as smoggy and threaded with desire as Los Angeles light.  LA is full of dreamers.  Spain is full of drifters, and I’m not sure that drifters and dreamers don’t have more in common than they imagine.  That’s all of us at our best, drifting creates dreams.  We can all think a bit and then become our own best selves, our own most thrilling selves, but maybe that’s just a story too.

Published in: on July 1, 2015 at 10:31 am  Leave a Comment  

The water is full of Medusas!

nerja_beachDon’t go out in the water, an Irish woman called out to me in her Irish accent.  That’s what they call jellyfish.  I nodded and dived in for my long swim which I do every day.

The water was indeed full of Medusas and by the time I got out, the lifeguard rushed over to me (would he have rushed so quickly if I hadn’t been swimming topless? I wonder) and said I needed to be treated immediately.   My legs had huge stings on them and my ankle was swollen and had thick weals across it.  I’d be stung several times and I was actually a bit dizzy in the sun with all the stings.  I had some trouble getting to shore as one leg was barely operational.

I found my top and wandered over to the lifeguard station where he began treating my ankles and thighs.  I must say the Spanish lifeguard was good at his job.

By the way, it’s a myth that urine is helpful.  Lemon juice or vinegar sure.  Mark got me some Absolut which helped a lot.  What you do with Absolut which helps in these situations is you drink it.  A couple shots does wonders.

In Spain, we go to the fish market almost every day and buy our langostinos, pulpo and calamari.

We go to the bakery every day for fresh bread. The carrots in Spain are better than our carrots.

We have gazpacho and manchego, fruit and vegetables every day. When we go out, we drink sangria. Spanish wine is good and cheap.

Tomorrow we go to Seville for a couple days and the trip is winding down then. We fly to NY on Sat and then home.  I am going to be glad to be in our own bed for a few nights before I go to the Nebraska residency.

Published in: on June 30, 2015 at 8:32 am  Leave a Comment  

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