When things fall apart, breathe

Reading this Tuesday at Union Station


Chicago sales meeting Thursday

Friday-Sunday, Boston for the Grub Street Conference


It’s been a an amazing  birthday weekend.

A reading by the LA River with Terry Wolverton. Alice Quinn was there and Kat Superfisky.

Then we went to Blasé Bonpane and Theresa Bonpane’s house.  Haskell Wexler was there with his wife and Blasé’s son, Stephen and Jared all played guitars and sang.  We had tamales and wine and cake.

Today I had such big plans. We went for a walk and then things kind of got crazy.  We had some serious problems today.  I’m planning to stay calm and I’m working on breathing.

I need to garden, read, write, sleep.

Published in: on April 26, 2015 at 9:37 pm  Comments (1)  

Are you Normal? Are you Crazy?

When did crazy become the new normal?

When was it not weird that we’ve all heard of BDSM and know a bunch of people who are into it? When we can say we know people with collections of sex toys who attend public floggings at dungeons like the Citadel?   Wasn’t that edgy once?

I remember when friends who stayed up all night smoking weed and going to class high seemed crazy.

When did a collection of leather straps and boots seem every day?

I remember when hanging with a group of hookers in Los Angeles when I first moved here seemed risky.  They wanted me to join up, become part of the group, get rich, pay off my student loans.  They said I’m make a great friend to come along for threesomes.  I thought I was cool and risky at their parties in my early twenties.  I wanted to write a book about them.

I’m not talking about being aware that someone’s doing coke in a glitzy bar in New York or San Fran or on the roof of the Standard, I’m talking about neighbors, friends, family members.

America  got racier and juicier in the 21st century.  Crazy is the new normal.  Nothing surprises us any more.  When San Francisco passed ordinances against wearing cock rings in public, people protested that their rights were being violated.  Really? That’s a right? Is that in the Constitution? The right to cock rings.  And if so, which of the founding fathers put that in there? I’d like to think Jefferson, but it sounds more like a Ben Franklin move.

Whatever your perversion is– for feet or songs or socks, eggs or chickens crumpets, paint or paint thinner or pants, someone else does that too.  Someone else has gone skydiving naked.  Someone else has climbed the Eiffel Tower and jumped with a parachute and without one.  Someone else has eaten every food, drunk every combination of liquor, somebody has used that spike, that leather, that plastic toy, that thong, that whistle, that hand cuff, that blow torch.

To be really original, you have to be a creator. Make something. A photograph, a painting, a poem, a place in your yard that’s magical.  You have power, and not just to be crazy.  You’re in the baby star chamber, you can birth stars.

Published in: on April 24, 2015 at 9:58 pm  Comments (1)  

Men Tell me What to Think

Men Tell Me What to Do, Who to Be, What to Think

Much has been written about the fact that women converse, men talk at you.  Most men simply pour words into your ears with some odd assumption that anything they have to say is more interesting than anything you have to say.  This is especially true of men born before 1960.  Those men were raised with the idea that they were superior to women in the first place and a lot of those guys are pretty anxious about the fact that we might have a woman president in 2016.  Guys, what are you afraid of?

My husband jokes around with me sometimes that he’s tired of conversation and by that, he means, he really just wants to veg out, but there’s a whole generation of men who like to tell their wives, “My ears are full, I can’t take it any more,” and by that they mean I get to do the talking around here.  In public situations, it’s hard to get in a word edgewise even for a feisty wench like myself.

Suggestions for women who would like to hear themselves speak:

  1. Spend more time with women.
  2. When you do spend time with men, and I admit, I LOVE men, I even like their naughty ways and the look at women which are so criminal according to feminists, try for younger men.
  3. If you are hanging out with a man born before 1960, do so in small doses. That way, you can enjoy the wisdom that he imparts and then wander off to talk with some women or younger fellows and remember your own brain, ah yes, there it is, ticking away.

We live in a world where men and women are at least nominally equal.  In law, medicine and business, women have made huge strides.  I’d like to think that the Old Guys, as I like to call them, are a dying breed and that the newer nimbler generation of men are better listeners.  That Ronald Reagan generation were allowed free rein by their mothers and their first wives and their second wives have thrown in the towel and are willing to admit that all their close friendships are with women.  That’s the story I hear a lot from women of the generation older than me.  They have close girlfriends they really talk with, those women know them.  They sleep with their husbands.

Birthday week going well.  We went to Kyoto for sushi Monday night with Spencer, Jared, Kelly, Stephen and me and we had German chocolate cake and we got him some cool presents some of which were wrapped in a towel.  We ran out of wrapping paper.  Mark got hundreds of FB well wishers and his sister, brother, mom and Tobi and Molly all called to wish him happy birthday and Tobi and Molly even sang! We sang too.  We are amazing singers and cake eaters too. My birthday is Saturday.  Rocking California with the birthdays.

Published in: on April 22, 2015 at 10:19 am  Comments (2)  

Who are your friends? Mark’s birthday is tomorrow.

If you have a long list of people who are your enemies and a short list of friends, that is not a sign of mental health.  You should have a long list of people you like and very few you don’t like because there are many more good people in the world than bad.

When Mark had emergency heart surgery, I was amazed at how many people sent him well wishes. Some of them I didn’t know even liked us, but whether they liked us or not, they wished us well which is always a good thing.

When I was in college, I changed my major many times , and one of those was a psychology major.  When I was a psych major, our professor had us draw a circle with our name in the middle, and the next circle was our closest friends, then the next circle was the next group.  On the outside, we were to write the names of important people in our lives, but not too close. And then, every month, we had to do it again, and at the end of the semester, the professor turned it back so we could see whether we had stable relationships.

I think back on that because in the business of publishing, when you’re moving ahead on a book, the writer feels like your friend.  But then the book is done.  So there is a lot of jumping in and out of friendships.

Life is long.  You never know what will happen.  There is almost no one you can just write off. Men age out of bad behavior.  Not always. But sometimes.  You think someone will be on your bad side forever, but things can change.  I like the Buddhist idea of right behavior. As much as possible, I like to work on that.  At some point, I will do something big in my life that will cause a ruckus.  And even then, I plan to live my life with as much grace as I can.

You only need a few people who are dear to you.  Keep them close. But there’s room for a lot of people in the world.  It’s a big place; a wild open grassy place. With a lot of room to grow.  And I need to grow and learn a great deal more grace.  Tomorrow is Mark’s birthday.  4/20.  It’s a good birthday. Millions of Americans will be celebrating.

Published in: on April 19, 2015 at 7:42 pm  Leave a Comment  

Fugue state, It’s good to be home

Fugue state is the part of your life where thought is impossible or unlikely. A murky state.  You are drifting.  Some people do it for years.  I was in that fugue from the time Mark was taken off to the hospital with the concussion and then the heart surgery and then AWP, London. It’s all fugue.  Especially long airline flights.  We drift in a big space over the Atlantic and I think big thoughts.

Flying home on Virgin Atlantic.  I have four seats. That’s highly unusual on any flight but especially on Virgin.  Nice though. Ever one to find something to moan about, I’m wishing the folks on the left of the plane would close their shades so I could watch The Imitation Game.  After I watch the movie, I plan to sleep.  I sleep before flights, during flights, after flights, I like to catch up on sleep.  Somehow in my “normal life,” there is not enough time to sleep.

Fugue state is where great creative ideas come from.  As long as you are completely tapped into what is actually going on around you, say you are speaking or driving a car, drinking tea or whiskey, following your kids around the playground or running a radio station. Whatever it is that you do in your active life isn’t stopping you from doing creative work, it’s not getting in the way, life is big, it is the real thing. Writing is entering a raw energetic, fugue space where there is no ceiling. All that being true, I don’t write on planes.  It is too much fugue. I’m writing this, but it isn’t real.  It’s stepping back from un-fettered thought into words marching side by side. There is too much sky up here for me, but I feel the fugue that I will enter when I get back to writing. The man beside me is on his third Bloody Mary. He may be further into his fugue state by now.

Published in: on April 18, 2015 at 6:38 am  Comments (1)  

Home tomorrow! LA River Poetry event on my birthday!

Next weekend on my birthday there is a reading at the LA River.

Can I say this again? It is my birthday and I am working for poetry, so come celebrate with Red Hen Press, Alice Quinn and the Poetry Society of America.

We will bring cupcakes!

Title: Los Angeles River Poetry Reading

Date: April 25, 2015

Location: Lake Balboa, California, US
Description: In addition to a reading by renowned Los Angeles poets, the event features a variety of activities for adults and children (ages 6 and up) including a walking tour of the Sepulveda Basin Wildlife Reserve led by Lewis MacAdams, poet and Co-founder/President of Friends of the Los Angeles River (FoLAR), and urban ecologist/educator/designer Kat Superfisky; art, poetry writing activities, and refreshments for children (ages 6 and up), sponsored by Red Hen Press; and a pop-up picnic: Bring your own picnic basket and enjoy a lovely luncheon in the idyllic setting of the Sepulveda Basin Park.

Poets: Luis Rodriguez, Eloise Klein Healy, William Archila and Terry Wolverton.

I’m happy to go home tomorrow.  London is lovely in spring time, but I’m ready to get home.  I haven’t been home for a while and London Book Fair on top of AWP was too much. As soon as I get home, we are taking off to relax for the weekend in Santa Barbara for our birthdays since I am working on my own birthday and Mark is working on his which is 4/20.  Our kids are celebrating his birthday as well. A lot of people will be celebrating 4/20.

Published in: on April 16, 2015 at 2:40 pm  Comments (2)  

Man with Gas Mask, music of MacGillivray, https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=xo–frNpnVE

Man wearing gas mask outside the restroom.  Okay, I know the English are a bit crazy, but a gas mask? Maybe he knows something the rest of us don’t.

  1. Ground floor of the London Book Fair a guy waiting to use the restroom with a gas mask on. I know what happened here. This guy’s siblings told him they needed a gas mask after he used the bathroom; he took them seriously and he’s been wearing the gas mask in the bathroom ever since.  I want to tell him that it’s okay, he can leave off the gas mask, but I can tell he’s serious.  He keeps fiddling with it to make sure it’s secure. Then someone comes out of the restroom and Mr. Gas Mask steps in.  Imagine him in your bedroom with a gas mask, saying, “Hey, honey, what do you think?” And you’d be lying there on top of the covers, ready to run.
  2. Just as the name of the Fruitvale station used to make one smile in San Francisco before the shooting there, I couldn’t help feeling happy at the Tube station Shepherd’s Bush. I could say many things here, but I’m going to stop . But go ahead, Reader, let your imagination go wild.
  3. Each menu has so many carbs, it’s like a starch invasion.
  4. Even if I get enough sleep, half through a working day I feel crazed. I’m off by eight hours, my brain wants to shut off. I can feel the warp core overheating, and I need juice for the dilithium crystals which are similar to brain matter in that it can wear down and might need to be re-energized.  But that would mean sleep and it’s hard to sleep while you’re working.
  5. There are three old women staying at my hotel with beards. One has a fullish beard. I wonder.  They like it like that in London? There is a casting for Macbeth nearby? Don’t even say that I would make a great Lady Macbeth, people. I will shut you down. Out, out.
  6. It’s actually quite warm here; the apple blossoms are in blossom. I don’t see many English people with allergies. Maybe Americans have more health problems than they do here. They seem to be able to drink copious amounts of beer and eat fries and do just fine.  America is becoming a gluten free nation at least around the edges.
  7. Last night’s event at Book and Kitchen was great. The last reader was a Scottish poet/singer named MacGillivray https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=xo–frNpnVE

So amazing. I could listen to her all day and all night.

Published in: on April 15, 2015 at 4:03 am  Leave a Comment  

Cash only at the Tube station, Book and Kitchen reading tonight


Red Hen Press/Pighog annual London Book Fair reading is April 14th at 7pm I like the picture of the chicken perched by the pig’s ears.


In London, there are certain things I always like to do. I walk around Hyde Park a lot.  I like to think and walk around the park.  I go to Kensington Palace. Sometimes I go to high tea at the Orangerie.

I like to eat Lebanese and/or Indian food, but mostly, I like walking in London when I’m not working. Honestly, there is no time to enjoy yourself at the London Book Fair.  Of course, I can enjoy myself regardless, but Mark always likes to traipse by the British Museum.  He can’t bear being going through the capital city without spending some time with several mummies.  And who doesn’t love a mummy or two?

I like to go to Camden Locke and the Globe Theatre but that’s not happening.  If Mark were here, we’d go out to eat and we might even go to a movie.

London, New York and Paris are worth walking around and just people watching. I saw a young woman i skateboarding in Hyde Park today with a burka.   It seemed a little dangerous, but she had skill.  She could have skateboarded blind folded.

I take the pita bread they give me at the Lebanese market to Hyde Park and I feed the pigeons and swans. London is all spring time, apple blossoms and radiant wishes.

The first day at the book fair was a bit crazy.  You can’t use an American credit card to access the Tube station, you have to use cash which seems weird, but the station master explained to me that credit cards don’t work unless they have a chip issued by British banks.

Once I exited the Tube station, I had no idea how to get to the book fair, but with my mapping skills, I arrived on time.

Mark thought I had no mapping skills. He was wrong.

Published in: on April 14, 2015 at 1:12 am  Comments (1)  

Hello, London

London is a bit chilly but nice.

I’m sitting here at Paddington Station and the internet here is bad.

I cannot check my email but I may be able to post this blog.

The man suggested that I go to the sushi bar which he claims has good service.

I’m thinking about how bad the sushi would be in the middle of London, Paddington Station, but the sign says, “Yo! Fresh Japanese Sushi!” That’s good to know.  The sushi is fresh; it’s truly Japanese, and I like Yo as in Yo Dude.

At my hotel, they say, as they always do in European hotels I’ve stayed in, that they are confused by their own lack of wifi.  They shrug their shoulders and say they don’t understand.  This says something about the kind of hotels I tend to stay in.  I’m sure Europeans have internet and showers that work and toilets that flush properly and maid service, just not where I am.  But who needs all those amenities? Americans are spoiled.  You’re in Europe; just enjoy it! I told myself this morning after jumping out of the non-shower.

Americans can be real whiners.

I’m a bit whipped after AWP, but I’m surviving.  I am going to walk around London today and will be ready for the book fair tomorrow.

I was on the train yesterday with Fiona McCrae which was kind of cool and surreal.  I only see her in these odd situations.

AWP was both wonderful and overwhelming.

London will be a break after all that.

I need some food, and London’s a bit short on low carb solutions to food.

London is more fun with Mark.  All I can think about as I set out each morning is that I hope I can find my way back to my hotel. In the U.S., I am very dependent on the mapping devices on my phone.  Here I have to depend on guessing.  I’m not Spock.

Published in: on April 13, 2015 at 5:08 am  Comments (1)  

AWP is over

A few points:

1. We need Mark at the booth all the time! We did great and sold so many books but things
run smoothly when he is there. It was like white water rafting! But we survived and did really well.

2. My kids and Molly are super fun to party with. I knew that.

3. Nicelle looks good in everything. I also knew that.

4. Our board members Dave Mainelli and Ann Beman deserve awards for all their help.

5. Chad shouldn’t drive around AWP conferences, he has too good of a time, and… he’s a prince.

6. Ron Carlson, Susan Straight and T.C. Boyle are rock stars!

7. Drinking at lunch is not good. Breakfast is right out.

8. You need to sleep sometime.

9. You cannot go to everything.

10. AWP Los Angeles is going to be amazing!

Published in: on April 11, 2015 at 2:37 pm  Leave a Comment  

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