Learning to swim or fly

Humpty Dumpty sat on a wall

Humpty Dumpty had a great fall

All the king’s horses and all the king’s men

Could not put Humpty Dumpty back together again.


Maybe things fall apart.  Relationships. Stories.

Narratives. Secrets. Maybe if the chain is broken

there was never a chain in the first place

just one you imagined.


The two of you sat on a wall.

One of you imagined a thread between you.

One of you was pushed off the wall into the water.

And learned to swim. The other never noticed.

Published in: on August 7, 2017 at 9:00 pm  Leave a Comment  

Does working hard pay off? Not so much.

Of course, it depends what kind of payoff you were hoping for. If you thought that hard work would mean “people” would admire you, probably not. If you run into trouble, will the people you have been working hard for run to protect you? Not so much.


Why then do some of choose to work hard day after day? It isn’t the money. It isn’t the recognition. It isn’t the respect.  It isn’t the possibility of better work in the future with higher pay because honestly, if you’re a woman, none of that is going to happen.


I don’t know the answer.  Maybe we work because it’s our nature to work. If that’s the case, I want to make sure I’m enjoying this hard work because the journey is all there is.

Published in: on August 6, 2017 at 2:29 pm  Leave a Comment  

Sunlight and flowers

Everywhere you go in Hawaii, there are chickens.  Roosters crowing, hens with baby chicks.  I saw one this morning with eleven babies following her through the trees.  There are avocado trees, mango trees and papayas. It seems like you could live in a house in the woods and fish and eat fruit. The light pours down through the trees onto the pigs who roam through the brush.  Behind the house, there’s a young pig who seems to be all alone, rooting about. Sunshine, fruit, flowers, fish, pigs, water. What’s not to love?

Published in: on August 5, 2017 at 12:17 pm  Leave a Comment  

Headed for the stars

The ocean is warm here. We’re going swimming again today. Last night we saw Saturn through one of the telescopes of the Mauna Kea Observatory.  We could see its rings glowing in the night sky.  We saw the moon too, its craters that shine back so much poetry to earth, so many love songs, la luna of our dreams, there it was up close in the eyepiece of the telescope. The volcano was boiling.  As the sun set , the pink appeared in its cauldron center and as it grew darker, you could see the red furnace of it, the lava down  in the pit seething and letting off an eerie red against the sky, it looked like hell in all my dreams. But it wasn’t hell. We were standing on the edge of the caldera. The sky was growing blacker by the minute.  We still had the long drive to the Observatory. We were headed for the stars.

Published in: on August 3, 2017 at 9:37 am  Leave a Comment  

Write into the swim of lonely

Loneliness is the gateway to new thinking.  Rethinking one’s life is a good thing, but it’s hard to do if you are in the middle of it all the time. Unless you have time to clear your head, it’s hard to think big thoughts.

My friend Percival Everett  can write in spite of everything. Kids home from school? He writes. On the road? He writes. Fishing trip? He writes.  I write and think best when I don’t have distractions.

When I teach in Nebraska, I always tell myself that I’ll sneak in a little writing. I don’t. When I’m in New York, I promise myself to finish the next chapter. I work and drink lattes.

The best times are the lonely times.  That’s why I like to wake before everyone, I hear my brain doing cartwheels, it’s so exciting to be moving and flying.

Published in: on July 30, 2017 at 10:08 am  Leave a Comment  

Celebrating our anniversary

The light in Hawaii glows blue and green. Mark and I got married seventeen years ago. All four of our children were in the small wedding party. Our wedding color was purple. We danced to Beauty and the Beast and Billy Idol. We gave away Neruda poems and ate Mexican food. We stayed the night in the Westin Bonaventure and in my wedding dress I went up in the glass elevator to the top with Mark in his tux, and then we went to Spain and celebrated love and life.  When we got lost along the way, we found each other’s hands and found our way forward in the dark. But today, light pours over the island and we will celebrate.

Published in: on July 29, 2017 at 10:59 am  Leave a Comment  

And I try to forgive myself.

It’s very hot in Southern California. It’s hard to sleep or think. We had salad and popsicles for dinner. I thought of how you lose friends but then you make new ones. The friends you lost, you sometimes tell yourself were never your friends at all, but that’s your brain trying to reconcile past and present. Just because something is true now does not mean it is always true. You can change the world. Your world. And I try to forgive myself.

Published in: on July 25, 2017 at 9:17 pm  Leave a Comment  

Manhattan Beach

Manhattan Beach by Jennifer Egan is an astonishment, the story pulls you in and drags you under. The girl who smells delicious and cannot speak. The dancer who isn’t allowed to dance and the girl who can only dive when weighted down. We sink into the depths of this novel, its layers of story and subterfuge, we rise to the surface gasping for air.

Published in: on July 23, 2017 at 8:19 pm  Leave a Comment  


Brace for impact. Heads down, stay down.

Why I am watching the movie Sully a day before I fly?

Published in: on July 21, 2017 at 2:29 pm  Leave a Comment  

Jim Harrison

Jim Harrison’s The Ancient Minstrel is three novellas.  The first is a memoir of a man you might want to have a beer with, but you wouldn’t want to be married to or count on.  This is the story of a terrible husband, a writer who drinks too much. He ignores his wife but wants to get down with the teenager in the pig pen.


In the second novella “Eggs,” the main protagonist, Catherine, is a woman who isn’t like any woman you ever met.  Everything about her as a woman bothers me.  If this character had been a man, this novella would have worked much better.  She’s described as shapely, slender, caring about her appearance. Catherine has sex randomly with men she meets without wanting any kind of attachment.  She eats roast beef, venison, hamburgers and steak.  She doesn’t eat salads or tuna fish.  She likes random sex, but she doesn’t want a husband and this is in the 1950s.  I don’t know any shapely Oxford educated farmers who love chickens, random sex and hamburgers.  Okay, this novella didn’t work for me.  But maybe I’ve been in LA too long.


The last novella redeemed the whole book.  “The Case of the Howling Buddhas” was a perfect story, a despicable protagonist who you just want to keep watching.  Having a sweet likable character who you follow everywhere is one thing, having a pathetic loser of a character who you can’t keep watching is another. Oddly, this is the same character, or a version of the same character from the first novella, but here is more despicable and more finely drawn.  The ending is crisp and American.  You can see why Jim Harrison is so widely read abroad; there’s something in these stories with all the worst primal viscous parts of an American male’s character and the darkness at the bottom, the threshing of the corn of what’s left of American manhood. We’ve got fishing and hunting.


Published in: on July 2, 2017 at 9:21 am  Leave a Comment