Mark’s surgery is tomorrow

Mark’s surgery is currently scheduled for tomorrow. We very much appreciate all the kind well wishes that we have received from people all over the country who we didn’t even know cared about us. It’s been amazing how everyone keeps telling us that we’re going to be all right. I almost believe it. Thank you everyone who has reached out to us.

Good advice that people have given me during this crazy time

1. Put on your own oxygen mask first.
2. When was the last time you ate?
3. Wear your seat belt
4. Just focus on your family.
5. Sleep.

My kids’ advice:
1. We got this.
2. Mark is a Jedi knight and the force is strong with him.
3. We’re ninjas.
4. Ninjas in pajamas are still ninjas.
5. This is part of our amazing story. We’re epic.

Published in: on March 18, 2015 at 8:03 am  Leave a Comment  

Red Hen Press Publisher, Mark E. Cull, will be having open heart surgery this week

kk 047030bd59

and should be home by the weekend recovering comfortably.

This all begin with a walk, dizzy-spell, fall and concussion, which led to the discovery of a genetic heart valve disorder. Talk about getting inside your character’s head, or, be careful of what you write about: Cull’s forthcoming novel, KING OF THE SEA MONKEYS (Guernica Editions, April, 2015), is about a man who experiences memory loss. Fortunately for Cull, his memory loss was temporary, and with expected perfect recovery, he’ll be celebrating his book’s publication at Skylight Books in Los Feliz, along with Red Hen author Chris Tarry (How to Carry Bigfoot Home) in early April.

Red Hen Press also just celebrated 20 years of publishing the finest poetry, fiction and essays. Mark E. Cull and Kate Gale are looking forward to seeing you all at their 21st and are declaring, here’s to another 21 plus years of quality books, friends and good health!

Published in: on March 16, 2015 at 4:51 am  Leave a Comment  

Cornelia Street Cafe reading on Tuesday

Red Hen Press reading at 6 pm at Cornelia Street Café 6 pm Tuesday night

New York is very cold.

Gaylord, Jason Schneiderman and Jim read today at Bowery Club.

It’s very cool there.

Afterward we went to an Irish bar and the guys got Belgian beer, and Jim and I got Malbec. Gaylord was drinking martinis. There were pork sliders for those guys. I had some salmon, probably flown in from the West Coast. It was good.

Last night Gaylord and I went to Toros; it’s a tapas place, very loud but the food was just crazy good. It’s a good place to eat. The ceilings are high so the sound bounced around so you could hardly hear anything. Dining is becoming noisier and noisier. Some restaurants allegedly have dangerous levels of sound. But the food is absolutely divine at Toro. Gaylord and I always have a good time. We told each other stories. When we ran out of stories, we made stuff up.

As I said NY is very cold. More meetings tomorrow and Darlene arrives.
One walks more in NY than in Los Angeles. In LA on an average day, I walk 7500 to 9000 steps a day, if I don’t run, but here, I walk 15,000 to 25,000 steps a day. There are many steps to be taken in NY.

In NY, it is raining and cold, the wind comes in through the open window. I eat sweet grapes in my room and feel the mist coming down through the open air between buildings. I can’t remember when I was so cold and felt the surprise of the air coming toward me. Like life, it comes toward you very quickly. I miss pears. I love to slice pears and eat them with Manchego. When I get home, maybe I’ll have some.

Published in: on March 15, 2015 at 6:22 pm  Leave a Comment  

I am down the rabbit hole so I will tell you what it looks like down here.

There are crazy people down here.
There are amazing generous people who surprise me.
There is chaos.
Neil Diamond is singing and Lou Reed. Not even sure why. I just ordered an album from each of them.
I have never bought their music for.
Down the rabbit hole, there is different music than you usually listen to.
There are clouds and rain.
There is a wild surging storm coming in and we are all sailing.
We are excellent sailors but the winds are choppy.
The waves are huge.
So we’re at sea but down the rabbit hole at the same time.
I believe that pretty soon the sky will take us up and we’ll be sailing the sky.

Published in: on March 14, 2015 at 4:19 pm  Leave a Comment  

Do you want people to lie to you?, We’re in the swarm

I definitely do want people to lie to me. Not all the time but some of the time.

1. Friends tell me that I have amazing style. I really like to hear this, so all of you, keep saying this! But, I know this is untrue because
a. My family does not agree.
b. I have never seen anyone wearing the same outfit as me. If I’m so stylish, wouldn’t others be wearing the same outfit sometimes?
c. I have a mirror.
2. Friends tell me that I’m looking thinner. I live for this so please keep saying it whenever you see me. But I know it is also untrue because.
a. I have a scale.
b. I have mirror.
c. I have a brain.
3. Friends tell me that they love me and that I’m very important to them and I believe all this completely because I have a heart and it is open and I feel this big love coming toward me and I can swim around in it. I feel it like the ocean mist when I walk beside it.
4. My family tells me that they love me and I know that’s true too because I’m in it and it’s all around me.

I need that. My family and I are walking around in a crazy story right now, and we have such a great family. Jared, Tobi, Molly, Stephen and Nicholas all wonderful and Mark he’s being Mark which is always a full time job. And our friends Jacqueline, Kim, Lisa, Peggy, Ron Koertge, all jumping in to help us when we’re in the swarm.

I like to think of the swarm because I remember honey bees when I grew up and I remember swarming which is when the bees need to move around and they get up and swarm. Our family is like that. Things are moving around bit and we’re swarming and that’s when you find out who the queen really is because I think we all get pretty concerned about the queen bee which for humans might be a king bee. But the swarm is accompanied by a lot of buzzing and the bees are doing so much buzzing that they can hardly be sure what they are doing. That’s why it’s good to have a group of friends to come in and calm the swarm.

More on this later. But trust me; we are in excellent hands. We are really and truly loved. And in the wings, I hear it, and know there will be honey. A land of milk and honey.

Published in: on March 12, 2015 at 6:11 pm  Leave a Comment  

Red Hen NY events and why I don’t want to step on it

Step on it, I say to myself. Move it, Kate, step on it.

But sometimes I don’t want to step on it. I want to stop and think but there’s never time. I want more breathing time. We live in a culture in which speed is god. I can get this done in ten minutes. Yeah, you’re a winner. How little sleep can you manage to get by on? How fast do you run? We’re impressed with a life built for jet speed. Some of the best things in life are done slowly.

We start off walking slowly and we end up walking slowly. But in between we make great strides. I’ve been exhausted all day; I’m not sleeping well because I have too much on my mind and I can feel my mind razoring and thickening around a blanket of stuff I need to do/think/remember. To say nothing of worrying about things I can’t solve anyway. Tomorrow, I’m taking some poetry on the plane. While I’m whizzing across the thick waist of the Americas to come down on that narrow island they call Manhattan, I’ll poke with my fingers through Poetry Magazine and find out what the slow movements of poetic language feel like. In the topsy turvy moments of the last couple days, I’ve lost my Poets and Writers magazine which I wanted to read on the plane. I don’t live near any bookstores so buying another one is out of the question until I get to NY. Flying you have internet now, I liked the cloudy cone of silence. I liked being riveted to my seat with nothing but books. I’m flying Jet Blue so I suppose I could get the blue chips, but I plan to bring apples for the flight. Apples and silence.

Red Hen events in NY!
MARCH 13, 2015 a t 7:00pm
NewYork: KGBBar
Featuring Jim Knipfel, Ellen Meeropol, and Chris Tarry.
85 E. 4th St., New York, NY 10003
Free! (one drink minimum)
MARCH 14, 2015 a t 4:00pm
NewYork: Poets House
Featuring William Archila, Jericho Brown, and Dean Kostos.
10 River Terrace, New York, NY 10282 $10 General / $7 Students & Seniors / $5 Members
MARCH 15, 2015 a t 3:30pm
NewYork: Bowery Poetry Club
Featuring Jason Schneiderman, Gaylord Brewer, and Jim Tilley.
308 Bowery, New York, NY 10012
$10 General / $5 Students & Seniors
MARCH 17, 2015 at 6:00pm
NewYork: Corne lia Street Cafe
Featuring Gary Dop, Colette Inez, and Steve Langan.
29 Cornelia St., New York, NY 10014

Published in: on March 11, 2015 at 1:27 pm  Leave a Comment  

What do you like to talk about?

jkl 011

What we talk about is what we think about and what we think about is who we are. Americans like to ask this question as an icebreaker, “What do you do?” By that we mean what do you do to make a living and the answer to that question often defines the rest of the conversation. If you love what you do, sure, but I’m interested in what you think, where you travel, who you are.

If you teach third grade and love it, that’s great. But maybe you’re a math teacher by day and a musician by night. Or a speech pathologist/yoga instructor or a corporate attorney who is focused on winning nationals in road cycling. Or a carpenter who wants to be a master woodworker.

Subjects I don’t like to talk about
Careers. I don’t really care. I do care about whatever you’re doing that you love. But I don’t care about career and mid career and achievements and getting a watch. I’d rather have a pony than a watch any day. Does your company give out ponies? If not, stop it already.

I don’t want to hear people advising me on my career and telling me where I should be with it. I do talk about this subject from time to time. With My Spouse.

That’s it; there is no one else I want to discuss my “career,” with. What if I find that I’m just messing around and I don’t even have one? I really don’t want to hear that I “should” be somewhere that I’m not. What should I do? Jump over a waterfall?

Health issues. I do talk health with my very close friends but other than that, I’m not fond of the ailment tribe. It’s sad, but I just can’t take it when someone at a party starts in on their spleen.

Stuff you bought. Okay, that’s just me being unaware of how impressive it all is, but stop it. Your car, your purse, your stockings. Are you kidding?

What I am game talking about:

1. What books you are reading.
2. What plays you have been to or concerts or art shows.
3. Where you are travelling.
4. What you are working on creatively.
5. Your kids.
6. Whatever you are pondering.
7. Whatever gives you joy.
8. Anything you are doing outdoors.
9. The last time you noticed the moon.
10. The last time you felt transcendence. –Is that the sun coming?

Published in: on March 10, 2015 at 12:13 pm  Leave a Comment  

When you decide your parents are the devil or blessed, your mother was not a virgin

Demonization and deification are much easier with distance

We haven’t seen God for 2000 years. Or the devil for that matter. At least most of us haven’t, and the longer this goes on, the more epic the stories will become. The larger the myth. The more unlikely.

He walked on water.
He raised the dead.
His mom was a thirteen year old virgin impregnated by God. (As a student in my class once told me, “My thirteen year old sister Juanita says God got her pregnant too! But this happened only last week, so our Mama won’t believe her.)

He had Lazarus walking right out of the tomb. And playing golf the next day.

The myth grows as myths do when the person has been gone for a long time.

The same is true for friends and family members. At my step son Jared’s wedding, we saw his mother who did not recognize my husband. They’d known each other for thirty-five years, but somehow she didn’t recognize him at all. Perhaps she remembered her ex husband as having been quite different. Taller? With a long beard? Who knows?

If you don’t see a family member for a long time, what happens is that your imagination keeps working even though the tangled web of the relationship itself hangs in the air like tendrils suspended.

I didn’t see my mother for thirty-three years, and when I saw her again, we were both very anxious. I remembered her as stern and rather disappointed in me. She imagined that I would be angry. We were both wrong. I found my mother to be glad to see me and very open to hearing how my life was going.

But for many people, the longer they don’t see their mother, father, son or daughter, brother or sister, the more likely that person is to become either a demon or divinity. Your father is not a monster, your mother is not an angel, your little brother is not your little brother any more. He is a man now living his own life.

Not a demon. Not an angel. Not a god. Not Lucifer. Your father is a man who loves you. At least that’s possible. You’ll never know unless you untangle the web, walk forward, take hands, and find out that although the imagination is an amazing thing, reality is also worth trying.

Published in: on March 9, 2015 at 7:27 am  Leave a Comment  

What does America care about? We care about our kids

When the homeless population of Lancaster went from 1,412 in 2011 to 6,957 last year, the cities of Lancaster and Palmdale had to do something about the problem. Each city spent $8000 to help the homeless. The city budget for Lancaster is about 28 million, so $8000 isn’t going to break the bank. It’s just interesting what we in America think is worth spending money on. A lot of those homeless people are veterans. Los Angeles has about 54,000 homeless people, so really, America doesn’t care enough about the homeless.

What do Americans care about? Well, a lot of Americans care about our own children. We care a lot. And our kids love us. We talk with our kids almost every day. We know what they’re doing. Our friends’ first question is not what we are doing but, “How are your kids doing?” because they know that even if we won the Nobel Prize in multiple categories and walked on the moon and are married to James Bond or Scarlett Johansson, we just can’t be happy unless things are okay with our kids. We put a lot into parenting. We went through divorces, teenage years, the opening of the closet doors and the rise of a 4/20 generation and we weathered it all. We didn’t let new spouses, jobs, creative ambitions or our own annoying parents who hadn’t really cared the way they should slow us down from being the Uber parents. We threw down for our kids and we plan to continue.

I’m not sure if kids should indefinitely live at home, but I’m pretty clear why they would want to. They love us and we love them. Our houses are clean, our fridges full of healthy foods. Wouldn’t you want to come and live with us? Wouldn’t you?

Published in: on March 8, 2015 at 3:43 pm  Leave a Comment  

Great day among writers

download (1)

I had a great day today speaking at the Pasadena Festival of Women’s books. Mona Simpson was there and she’s definitely a mental heavyweight. We chatted a bit after the event, and god, she’s impressive and she was dressed so elegantly. Lisa See was there, bright and cheery and very much holding her own. I love her books, but my favorites are Dragon Bones and Peony in Love.

No Violet Buluwayo held all of our hearts in her hands, I loved listening to her voice, and then we had Joyce Maynard. She talked about her relationship with J.D. Salinger which lasted for nine months when she was eighteen. Her mother dressed her in the replica of the outfit she’d worn as a first grader all ABC ruffles to attract the old man to the idea of being with a kid. She sat around at Salinger’s house reading TV Guide and dreaming of being famous and he got tired of her and kicked her out. She also couldn’t bear sex at the time. I could make so many comments here but in the interest of keeping this a PG rated blog, let me just say this. If you are the kind of old guy who likes being with eighteen year old girls, wouldn’t part of the point be the unlimited though not very good sex with a chick you could give orders to? If that chickie is going to be lying around with headaches, that’s just going to ruin the whole experience. Personally, I want skills and availability. Joyce Maynard combines vulnerability and astute awareness of her own effect on her surroundings. She’s a very interesting person and writer.

We had dinner tonight at Dragos with Ron Carlson– good food and good conversation. I am always glad to see him, and I’m such a huge fan of his work. We talked about Ray Carver, one of my favorite subjects. I always like turning around in my head what Ray Carver means to American literature. “The water began to boil as the phone began to ring,” Carver writes and so launches a story about a man visiting his ex wife. At some point, he explains that his key is broken off in the front door lock and that he needs to go in the back door. He finds the leftover turkey sitting on the table after Christmas, “as if in a horrible nest.” When she gets ready to leave, he questions, “Are you still taking flute lessons.” And that sums up so much overstatement and under statement.

Ask yourself, “Are you happily married? Are you still taking flute lessons?”

Published in: on March 7, 2015 at 10:26 pm  Leave a Comment  

Get every new post delivered to your Inbox.

Join 5,753 other followers