Spirit Airlines, arriving in Minneapolis

Reasons not to fly Spirit Airlines
It’s not a comfortable nice ride like Jet Blue, Delta or Virgin Airlines. They suck you in with their “low prices,” but at the airport we’ve already paid another $118 in hidden fees for seats, carry on luggage and checked luggage. Yes, they charge you for carry on luggage. I am not going to fly this airline again.

It’s funny how after four hours of sleep you feel like a walking zombie. I ran into Yishun Lai who is an amazing writer. Wisely, Yishun chatted with me and then left me alone. I’m sure she was wondering why I don’t seize my chance and try out for the Walking Dead. She looked kind of bouncy. I am not even bubbling let alone bouncing.

I got my head shots yesterday and now my whole skull aches. They actually shove a needle into your skull and you can feel this weird granular sound like your skull matter and brain matter is in a blender, all brain and bone a mixing, it’s super creepy, like the sound in the cadaver room when the doctors are learning. I’ve never been there, but I imagine it. Especially it would be weird if a cadaver sat up and turned out to be an alien. It happens on Star Trek all the time. The nerve block shots help in the long run but in the short run it’s very WTF mate.

It’s very weird to be doing this without Mark.

We got up at 4 am because Stephen had an earlier flight; he went through Vegas.

Off to Minneapolis AWP where the wild things are.

Great dinner tonight at Bar La Grassa with Joe and Peggy. A great start to AWP.

Published in: on April 7, 2015 at 7:00 pm  Leave a Comment  

Weird Days remind me of all the weird chickens I’ve had

silkie chicken

Up early.

Teaching days, I get up at 5 am and I take off to get my coffee and hit the freeway after I pick up a tall blonde at Starbucks.

Last night I’d made myself a container of fresh vegetables and set aside a couple peaches but then I remembered that I had a lunch meeting so I left the fruit and veggies for Mark.

I couldn’t decide what to wear for the lunch meeting because my brain doesn’t function early. Finally I was dressed, out the door.

Teaching is a bit exhausting on a lecture day.

Then my lunch meeting in Culver City which did not actually involve lunch.

I had to go to the doctor. After the doctor, I realized how queasy you can get. The day got cold then.

Shiatsu. I’m doing everything to get ready for controlling the migraines while I travel.

That’s when I realized Stephen didn’t have clothes for this trip. We met at Salvation Army. You’d think there would be a lot of 30 inch waist nice looking slacks for a 6’3” man, but not so. We found one pair, a couple shirts. I tried to help with the shoes, but finally we had to call for reinforcements. I went home to make dinner for Mark and Spencer helped Stephen wrap it all up.

Weird day. Tomorrow we fly to Minneapolis. As always when the stress is high at the press and at home, I will do what I do best on trips when I have a hotel room to myself. I sleep. Between the excitement of AWP, I hope to get some sleep. Sleep helps me feel my life coming back to normal.

Published in: on April 6, 2015 at 9:23 pm  Leave a Comment  

Happy Easter

msc photos, nebraska 032

We had a great Easter party last night at our house. Percival Everett and his wife Danzy Senna came over with their kids Miles and Henry and Doug Kearney and his wife Nicole and the twins Elijah and Khalilah. The kids really liked hunting for eggs and then there was candy. Lots of it. Then they were running around the back yard, and then they wanted to see the dogs, and we let the dogs out. The dogs seemed pretty happy about the running in the dark; they were feeling pre-Easter joy. The dogs were running; the kids were full of candy. At some point, I saw a chicken being tossed in the air. The chicken suffered no harm, she was laying an egg this morning when I checked on her. She seemed quite well, but there was she last night taking an unscheduled flight into the air.

There was candy, and there were finally two chickens flying, and the kids had glow sticks and in the yard beside the fountain , you could see the yellow, orange, blue and pink glow sticks flickering in the yard as the water fell through the air and the chickens fell to ground.

The kids liked the kittens too. There was some problem with the tails; tails being very attractive to pull, but it all turned out okay. A very cool laid back party with wine and Greek appetizers. Percival, Doug and Danzy are amazing writers, but all of them and Nicole are also the most relaxing people I’ve been at a party with in a long time, even while their kids raced madly in the darkening air. Khalilah fed the chickens bread, and bread is always a good thing if you’re a Polish hen.

Off to AWP on Tuesday.

Published in: on April 5, 2015 at 8:41 pm  Leave a Comment  

Care taking is a dicey business

Mark and Chris Tarry read last night at Skylight Books and it was a great reading. We went to the Dresden afterward for a drink with Ron and Bianca, Chris, Nicelle, Kim Dower and her husband Thom. I am very grateful for all the Red Hen writers who have been supportive of Mark and I during this time.

One of our writers had a hiking accident in the Santa Monica Mountains and broke his leg in thirteen places. He is in a huge cast which doesn’t allow him to move much at all. His wife is taking care of him, but in these situations, both parties end up with multiple problems.

First questions are the questions of the body:
Can I go to the bathroom by myself?
Can I bathe by myself?
What am I allowed to eat? This is more relevant for Mark than our writer with the injured leg.
If I’m not able to move around much, should I make a point of eating less so I don’t end up as a house?

Questions of the mind:
What am I going to do at home to keep myself entangled in ideas?
Should I read, research, write, think, or try to do all of these at the same time?
As an injured person, who am I? I am being taken care of now, not taking care of other people.

Questions of the caretaker?
Who are you now that you are taking care of someone?
Should you feel guilty if you leave the person and go get your nails done, get a drink with a friend?
Should you do everything you can to make the person you are caring for happy even if it in interferes with your happiness?
These are some of the many questions that you end up with.

You do your best as a caretaker. You have to take care of yourself as well as the other person. It isn’t easy being a caretaker even for someone as nice as my husband.

Caretaking is a dicey business. My husband will be better in approximately four weeks. I’m glad about that. We’ll be ready to tango.

Published in: on April 4, 2015 at 9:27 pm  Leave a Comment  

Mark is reading tonight at Skylight with Chris Tarry!

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This is Mark with Ginger when we first got her.

Reading is at 7:30 pm

You do not want to miss this!

I just landed from Austin and I can’t wait to go.

Published in: on April 3, 2015 at 3:57 pm  Leave a Comment  

50 Shades vs Big Love, The Heart is an Organ of Fire

“I like to watch,” Chance the Gardener says in Being There. That sums up how America feels about sex. We like to watch. Nearly two thirds of American males watch porn monthly. We don’t have enough sex, but we sure like to think about it. The French have sex. The Germans make their way through sex. The English do their best. The people of China, India and Bangladesh are clearly spending more than enough time procreating. Americans like to watch. Enter Fifty Shades of Grey.

Fifty Shades of Grey is about a silly young female who is a virgin and blushes at the idea of sexual activity. She’s kind of like the sheep in Everything You Want to Know About Sex But Were Afraid to Ask. The sheep originally was innocent, white and woolly, but before you knew it, she was willing to be part of a bondage act in a hotel room with Gene Wilder leaving pasture and shepherd behind, she willingly submitted to indignities, no sheep should have to bear.

Our young virgin in 50 Shades is taken in by a cruel narcissist and is willing to submit to long periods of going over contracts when she could have been having real sex. Viewers of the movie who are part of the BDSM community, folks who frolic in the public dungeons of San Francisco, New York and Austin were sorely disappointed by this film. Americans have a lot of fetishes and at a dungeon like The Citadel, you can see your share of doms and subs, kinks and queers. In this movie, what you get is the 1950s version of sex. Christian Grey is a caricature of Mad Men and our little anointed girl is the one you always hoped to meet in the Fifties, a little faun of a creature who is going to get excited by your perversions, follow your instructions, kneel by your bedside, be impressed by your money, in short a lot of old guys’ wet dream. Christian Grey is an old man in a young man’s suit. He doesn’t see women as people but as animals for his pursuit and pleasure. The girl sees him as a thing as well. A thing to knock her out of the deadly doldrums of her life, and what girl wouldn’t want a man to ignore her, whip her, tell her what to do, as long as he has enough money. American men’s big dream: You have enough money that you can treat women like hookers and they pretend to enjoy it.

50 Shades of Grey is Mommy porn. The moms of America are not getting laid nearly enough if this is their idea of fun. I’m going to tell you something ladies. Watching this movie is not going to make you edgy or cool or romantic. Romance doesn’t happen from watching sex. It doesn’t happen at strip bars or watching or enacting sex shows in dungeons.

Romance isn’t part of 50 Shades of Grey at all. It’s more about lust, ritual, contracts and a shadowy weak version of the real BDSM world. The real BDSM world is complex but crazier, dirtier, wetter and has much more action than the movie. It’s complex in that it’s safe and wild at the same time. Fetishes and ritual can be fun, like climbing mountains or cliff diving. We all have our passions. But romance, is a whole other thing.

Americans want love and happiness. We feel we are entitled to it. But we’ve substituted watching sex for love. We’ve got movies like 50 Shades confused with passion. Passion isn’t something you experience for whips and neckties or well appointed rooms.

I am very sure where love, happiness and passion come from in my world. My husband had emergency open heart surgery on March 19th, 2015. The surgeon held his heart and replaced one valve. He closed the heart back into the body. Kids and husband, writing and stories, life and magic. Neruda wrote, “I want do with you what spring does with cherry trees… The moon lives in the lining of your skin.” I recognize that as the language of love and passion. When my husband is well, I will figure that out, what the spring does with cherry trees, and go for it. I don’t need any books or movies. 50 Shades is about pretend love, play sex. I’m a woman now, not a boy collector, not a toy collector. Edgy for me is the kind of romance you can sink your teeth into, your tongue, your whole heart.

In my favorite romantic movie, The English Patient, Ondaatje writes, “The heart is an organ of fire.” I watched the surgeon’s fingers when he came to talk with us before the surgery. His fingers were long and graceful as a girl’s. I didn’t want to touch his hands. That’s my heart you’re going to be holding, I wanted to say. I love that man, “The heart is an organ of fire.”

Published in: on April 1, 2015 at 5:31 am  Leave a Comment  

Reading tomorrow with Peggy Shumaker and Ellen Meeropol at Bookwoman in Austin, Texas

Home » Red Hen Press Reading: Kate Gale, Peggy Shumaker, and Ellen Meeropol
Red Hen Press Reading: Kate Gale, Peggy Shumaker, and Ellen Meeropol
Red Hen Press takes its reading series into Texas at the BookWoman feminist bookstore.

Red Hen’s co-founder Kate Gale will be joined by Ellen Meeropol, author of On Hurrican Island and Peggy Shumaker, author of Just Breathe Normally and Toucan’s Nest. These highly-accomplished writers come together for an evening of poetry, prose, and connection. Kate’s most recent collection of poems was Echo Light journeys through the groaning city of Los Angeles, picking up and piecing together the disjointed fragments Eros in the city. Ellen Meeropol’s books are thrilling, fast-paced narratives that chip away the sociopolitical veneer convoluting the truth. Peggy Shumaker, the Alaska Writer Laureate, writes with an enchantment of the world in contagious, lyrical verse.

Peggy Shumaker is the Rasmuson Foundation’s Distinguished Artist for 2014. She is also the Artsmith Artist of the Year for 2014. She is the author of seven books of poetry, most recently Toucan Nest, Poems of Costa Rica. Her lyrical memoir is Just Breathe Normally. Professor emerita from University of Alaska Fairbanks, Shumaker teaches in the Rainier Writing Workshop. She is founding editor of Boreal Books, publisher of fine art and literature from Alaska. She edits the Alaska Literary Series at University of Alaska Press. Peggy Shumaker was Alaska State Writer Laureate for 2010-2012.

Ellen Meeropol is the author of two novels, House Arrest (2011) and On Hurricane Island, (Red Hen Press 2015). A former nurse practitioner, a part-time bookseller, and a literary late bloomer.She holds an MFA from the Stonecoast Program, University of Southern Maine. Her short stories and essays have been published in Bridges, Pedestal, Rumpus, Portland Magazine, Shaking Magazine, Women’s Times, Off Our Backs and others. Her dramatic script, “Carry it Forward,” tells the story of the Rosenberg Fund for Children; it was produced most recently June 2013 in Manhattan, starring Eve Ensler, Angela Davis, and Cotter Smith. Ellen lives with her husband in Western Massachusetts. http://www.ellenmeeropol.com/

Kate Gale is Managing Editor of Red Hen Press, Editor of the Los Angeles Review and President of the American Composers Forum, LA. She is the author of seven books of poetry including Echo Light (Red Mountain Press) and The Goldilocks Zone from the University of New Mexico Press in 2014 and six librettos including Rio de Sangre, a libretto for an opera with composer Don Davis which had its world premiere October 2010 at the Florentine Opera in Milwaukee.

Event date:
Wednesday, April 1, 2015 – 7:00pm to 9:00pm
Event address:
5501 North Lamar #A-105
Austin, TX 78751

Published in: on March 31, 2015 at 9:59 pm  Leave a Comment  

AWP in Minneapolis is closing in on us

We are preparing for AWP in Minneapolis, where 15,000 writers will assemble to go to readings, panels,
Red Hen launches our spring titles there, and we have some amazing events. We have a panel that I am moderating with Ron Carlson, T.C. Boyle and Susan Straight. All three of them are dipped in wild of story.

We have a Red Hen party at Nyes Thursday night at 8-10 pm. Ron Carlson is going to read.

I can feel my life crowding back in on me.

There is a reason people go on vacations, and I know why it is. It’s so that you can feel yourself breathing. I’m short of breath with all this.

Today I met with Michael Roth. We are doing an opera.

I met a film packager at the Coral tree Café which is a friendly sort of place in Brentwood and I ran into Red Hen writer Larry Bridges who was very nice to me.

Fragments are lost every day. I need my writing life back.

Published in: on March 30, 2015 at 9:16 pm  Leave a Comment  

I am reading this week in Texas and Mark is reading Friday night at Skylight

Mark and I are both reading this week:

I am reading in Texas at Book Woman, Austin, Texas, 7 pm with Peggy Shumaker and Ellen Meeropol.

Mark is reading at Skylight on April 3rd at 7:30 pm with Chris Tarry.

I’ve started running again.

It’s very warm here in So Cal.

Mark is healing slowly. I had no idea heart surgery was such a slow recovery.

I didn’t know anything about heart surgery before this.

My friend Karen is going in for exactly the same surgery this week. Too crazy that Mark and Karen within two weeks of each other are having the same surgery with the mechanical heart valve.

My friend’s Jen visit was wonderful.

Tonight I saw my friend Elise Capron at the Palomino. Seeing her always makes me happy. She’s a bright star in the galaxy.

Published in: on March 29, 2015 at 8:22 pm  Leave a Comment  

Grand Park was amazing



Grand Park went amazing well today. Lots of kids having a great time playing with poetry.

Having a few days to take care of Mark has been good for me too. I’ve gone walking every morning, done some reading, and writing. I’m starting to feel human again. Mark doesn’t sleep well because tossing and turning in your sleep isn’t possible when you’ve had open heart surgery. But he’s doing well, and now that I am breathing, I feel much better myself. And I’m ready to go to Texas to read with Peggy Shumaker and Ellen Meeropol this week, and I’ll be back Friday night for Mark’s reading at Skylight.

Published in: on March 28, 2015 at 8:51 pm  Leave a Comment  

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