Friday, June 29, 2012


Dear Readers,

I am taking a leave from my blog to reassess my writing priorities and direction. Immense thanks to all who have read, encouraged and supported; all that you have offered has been so appreciated!  I will keep you posted! 

Friday, June 22, 2012


Written at Zee's Writing Studio 6/6/12, based on this New Yorker cover from December 19, 1942.

Growing up, our family had a tradition of trudging out in knee-high snow to cut down our own Christmas tree.  There was an abundance of pine trees scattering the woods that surrounded our farm in Mecklenburg, so much so that we would have endless debates about which was the perfect tree.  Coming across an old family photo of my sisters and I in front of one of those trees, circa early 70’s, made me realize how unfathomably skewed our perception of perfect was! This tree was a monstrosity; it looked like an overgrown long-armed Texas cactus gone seriously awry.  One long branch jutted out, mid-tree, and then grew straight up, forming a right angle.  Then there was a huge gap before another branch twisted toward the back.  Picture us heaving a thick rope of silver garland over it and you get the picture.  The absurdity of it all, coupled with the realization that what I saw as a child was so far from reality, made me laugh till I peed myself.  I made enlarged copies for my three sisters and felt such a sense of glee and accomplishment when, they too, peed themselves laughing.  It’s become a tradition at Christmas for me to prop this photo proudly in between the branches of my most-definitely-finally-perfect Christmas tree.  I wonder what my daughter will see when she looks back at photos of these trees...
It was the experience and ritual, more than the actual tree, however, that was so rich for me.  We did so little as a family that this outing took on unreal proportions in my mind and heart.
My sisters and I would stuff ourselves in our bulky one-piece Snowmobile suits, turning us into mini Michelin men.  Trying to move through thigh-high snow was a little tricky when you couldn’t bend your knees, but we reveled in it, nevertheless.  Then there was the dilemma of what to do, when deep into woods you realized you had to pee.  Oh, the chore of waddling back to the house and peeling off this cocoon that was now stuck to your skin and clothes because you were sweating and freezing at the same time and then having to pull and tug it all back on! So daunting! So, inevitably, I would just stand there and pee. Hey, at least it was warm!
My Dad had little patience for our pickiness, (I wonder if that’s how we wound up with the cactus) so once a decision was made he swiftly whipped out his rusty hand-saw, cut down the tree and dragged it back to the house by its trunk.  I loved how the tree swept the snow behind it, making a path to follow.  I resisted the urge to leap on the back as if it were a chaise and as if I were Cleopatra.  My Dad didn’t go for those sorts of antics, so I kept those ideas to myself.  I wonder how different I would be if he did--if he played along or even encouraged such a thing?  I used to spend a lot more time longing for the past to be different but not so much anymore.  I am more aware of how doing so robs me of what’s actually happening right now.  Or, as someone said, how you can’t start the next chapter of your life if you keep re-reading the last one.  Can I accept that which I can’t change? Yes, I can.  Would it have been better if it had been different?  I honestly don’t know.  The part of me that felt hurt, ignored, unappreciated and unloved tells me yes.  Do I like who I am today? Yes; so there you go.  I know that the more I can accept what is without needing to assign meaning to it one way or another, the happier and more peaceful I am.  And honestly, everything is a matter of perspective--the stories we make up about people, places and things and the meanings we attach to them.  It’s all in how you see it.  Kind of like those Christmas trees of my youth....

Friday, June 15, 2012


Written at Zee's Writing Studio on June 12, 2012.  Our assignment was to choose from a variety of postcards of paintings and were then given a list of words/sentences from the June issue of Harper's Magazine. We could marry the words and images in any way we felt inspired. I chose three images and challenged myself to use all of the words/sentences.  Enjoy!

From Harper's Magazine, June 2012:

wish you were here   2 Americans   the last 10 years
my old man   the attractions are obvious   silence/shapes
"what is this? corn?"   her little brothers best friend
19th birthday   yawning too much   this is alarming
in a tunnel of concentration   wild things   she silently repeats okay, okay, okay  the dry grass of August   she is not speaking   a white blankness  book of my mother   syllable, porcelains, beach, cup, snail, lamp, and pie

Oh, my darling, I wish you were here.  Here we are, 2 Americans stuck in this hovel in Paris, so far from you.  What was I thinking when I agreed to this adventure with Marge?  Yes, the attractions are obvious.  I mean, just look at this photograph of the two of us in the chair--me, belly swollen with our beloved spawn; her long and lithe.  Me, raven-haired and pursed-lips; her all flaxen and peachy.  Day and night.  Night and day.  We fit together so well and, yet, I must say this is alarming in ways too many to mention.
Our photograph was taken by the petulant child downstairs who is often lost in a tunnel of concentration over God knows what.  She knocked on our door asking for a cup of coffee for her sisters 19th birthday, all the while yawning too much.  I don’t quite know what to make of this family we’re staying with.  They seem to me to be a tribe of wild things; mysterious and spooky.  The mother sits in a chair, watching her cat play, while she silently repeats okay, okay, okay.  When she is not speaking, her face takes on a white blankness until suddenly, she looks up and shouts, “What is this? Corn?”  It’s a madhouse, I tell you, and it can’t be good for the baby.  I wish to come home immediately! I never thought I would yearn for the dry grass of August back home.  I console myself with the fact that I will leave this dreadful place in one week’s time and with the fact that this is the 1st time we have been apart in the last 10 years.  That, however, hardly seems like much of a consolation. It feels more like a punishment for going off in the first place.  As much as being away from you pains me, it gives me a greater appreciation of you, my darling.
At least I have been able to work on the book of my mother, often by the dim oil lamp when the house is quiet.  I usually write for an hour until the baby starts kicking, then I take a break and have just a sliver of fresh blackberry pie that I’ve made sure to have on hand. Oh, how delicious it is in its tart sweetness! Oh, how hard it is to not eat the whole thing, purple syrup dripping down my chin and staining my dressing gown!  I do love the silence at night and the shapes that the shadows make while they dance across the floor against the flickering light.  I eat my pie on the finest of porcelains, which also reminds me of you and your love of finery.  Do you remember how appalled you were at the beach when, instead of porcelain place settings, we found cracked and chipped dishes of various patterns? The shock and disdain on your face! And the snail that inhabited your slipper that evening? Oh, what a travesty! I must admit, darling, to laughing about it right now. Please don’t be displeased with me, my love.
I can hear that wretched child from downstairs right now.  She is singing “This Old Man” but has changed the words to “My Old Man.” Do you know that earlier, after taking our photograph, she blurted out that she had to look after her little brother’s best friend and leapt away so fast that she spilled the coffee all over the entryway? What a strange lot! There’s more here than meets the eye, I assure you, and if I had the energy I would get to the bottom of it. As it stands, I haven’t the energy or interest to engage in such foolishness. I am absolutely and completely exhausted and must retire now, my darling, to dreams of coming home to the safety of your arms. But before I dress for bed and bid you farewell I must utter one last syllable: Help!

Your loving wife,

Friday, June 8, 2012


Written 5/15/12 at Zee’s Writing Studio. Inspired by this postcard titled “Kissing Contest” from 1937 and a certain someone...

Let’s have our own Kissing Contest! What would the rules be? How long could we kiss in one long stretch? Or how many kisses we could fit into a designated time? Or how many places we could brush our lips across each others’ skin? Would it count if we mistakenly kissed the same spot twice? Three times? Or how about a contest to see in how many locations we could kiss? We could start right here, right now and then move through the day and the night and start all over again in the morning. We could follow the “Wash, rinse, repeat” instructions.  We could kiss across a crowded room with our eyes.  We could kiss with our voices while singing a Lucinda Williams song.  We could kiss in the morning, through your window, as I spy you eating oatmeal at the table. We could kiss right after you call me Ms. Culver.  We could kiss in Greenstar and set off the alarm.  We could kiss at Cascadilla Falls while eating our lunch as the water rushes past us.  We could kiss in Mr. Bell’s class during School of Rock. We could kiss at Friday Morning Program. We could kiss on my porch, at twilight, while a soft rain falls.  We could kiss on the couch, for hours.  We could kiss on a bench at Stewart Park, looking out on the lake, fulfilling the Tarot Card.  We could kiss in your back yard while the girls giggle and play.  We could kiss on the street corner, unable to move our feet. We could kiss in your kitchen, coats still on, bags still in hand.  We could kiss while cooking dinner, the most delicious meal ever eaten.  We could kiss while you do the dishes, bent over my sink.  We could kiss while you trace the veins in my hand.  We could kiss and keep our eyes open. We could kiss in between breaths as you hum in my ear. We could kiss should we ever come up for air. We could kiss after a grueling day of kissing. We could kiss as you step from the shower. We could kiss before we even speak.  We could kiss when no one is looking. We could kiss and make everyone jealous. We could kiss up one side and down the other. We could kiss in one fell swoop. We could kiss when we meet at the volleyball net. We could kiss on the 1st day of each month. We could kiss the day after tomorrow. We could kiss our way around the world. We could kiss and make it into tea. We could kiss and forget everything.  We could kiss and find ourselves home.  We could kiss like there’s no tomorrow.  We could kiss as if our lives depended upon it.  We could kiss when stuck in traffic. We could kiss under Taughannock Falls.  We could kiss in our own private Idaho. We could kiss until the cows come home. We could kiss whenever an hour passes. We could kiss when we should be working.  We could kiss on a crowded street in New York.  We could kiss in front of the girls.  We could kiss and never look back.  We could kiss whenever we put on our shoes.  We could kiss if the sun comes up.  We could kiss every time a bird chirps. We could kiss on a rainy day.  We could kiss over dark chocolate with Pop Rocks.  We could kiss each others fingertips.  We could kiss while rushing out the door.  We could kiss and wake up.   We could kiss on a Tuesday.  We could kiss long and slow.  We could kiss forever.  Yes!  Let’s kiss forever....

Friday, June 1, 2012


I felt a sense of panic watching the current of water rush under the bed. Was my daughter in danger; was this the emergency that they had talked about? But how much of an emergency could it be if I was already in the hospital? Stunned by the sheer volume of water I just sat on the edge of the bed, completely still. “My goodness!” exclaimed Crunchy Curls, still cheery even when splashed with amniotic fluid. “Let’s get you up and get these sheets changed!”  I scooted my behind off the bed, the sheet sticking to me like tape. Again, I had to turn and weave as not to tangle the mess of tubes and wires that wound around my body.
Climbing back into a clean bed, I was about to ask to speak to the Dr. on call when my midwife, Maureen, burst through the door. “Oh, thank God you’re here!” I said, sitting up.
“Wouldn’t have missed it for the world,” she winked at me. “So, I heard that I just missed Niagara Falls,”  she laughed.
“Oh my God!” I said, “you wouldn’t have believed it! It just kept coming and coming. Then it stopped for a minute and then started gushing again. Now I’m worried about the baby. What if she’s shriveling up as we speak, totally dehydrated?”
Maureen washed her hands and snapped a pair of latex gloves to loosen them up. “Let’s have a look and see what’s going on,” she said, pulling the gloves on.  “And no, the baby is not shriveling up as we speak. Let’s have a reality check, please. So, lay back and let’s see how dilated you are.”
I hated this; having what felt like a whole hand shoved up my vagina was more pressure on my insides than I felt I could stand. I began to panic. If I couldn’t deal with a whole hand then how was I going to deal with an entire baby morphing her way into reality via my vagina? I was getting scared and my belly started to cramp under the urging of Maureen’s probing fingers.
“Okay, honey,” she exclaimed, extracting her hand and pulling off the gloves, “you’re moving right along at 7 cm. You’re doing just great.”
I actually wasn’t feeling just great and I felt my determination to remain positive starting to fray at the edges.  “I want to get up and move around,” I snapped. “And where the hell is John?”
“Oh, is here here?” she asked, feigning surprise. It was no secret that she wasn’t particularly fond of him, although she had never said it aloud. However, before all was said and done she would have gladly strangled him if I had only given the word. Talk about a missed opportunity!
“He didn’t say that he was going anywhere,” I said. “In fact, I don’t remember seeing him since my water broke.” Apparently, Crunchy Curls had also left in the melee. Maybe they slipped out together, I thought.
“Whatever,” I said. “I need to move around a little.” Just as I started to get up I was stopped dead in my tracks by the most intense cramping/contraction in my gut that I had ever felt. I don’t even really know how to describe it. Steak knife to belly? No. Someone reaching up inside you and grabbing stuff, willy-nilly and yanking as hard as they could? No. Having a Satanic Monster use all their might to squeeze your uterus in a vise-grip? Nope; not even! I yelled out my first in a series of “Holy shits” and rolled around the bed. Maureen came over and took my hand and told me to squeeze and breathe. I vaguely remember her having me drape myself over the head of the bed while she massaged my lower back; her feeding me ice chips; her rubbing my forehead. I remember uttering nothing but the occasional “Holy shit.” The minutes turned into hours of paralyzing contractions and  a total disconnection from time and place.  Had it been a long time? What time was it and how did that relate to anything? How long had I been in the hospital? It was about 3 a.m.; I had been there since 7 a.m. of the previous day.
Finally, Maureen told me that I had to get up and try to pee. “You haven’t peed in a long time and I want you to try.”
Once on the toilet, I felt frozen in place. I couldn’t move and certainly couldn’t pee. Suddenly, I felt the most intense pressure around my anus that I had ever even begun to feel (not counting the time that I was talked into trying anal sex with a ridiculously well-endowed partner....) and cried out, “Oh my God! It feels like there’s a Redwood coming out of my ass!! Help me!”
Maureen burst out laughing and informed me that while it wasn’t likely a Redwood, it was most certainly my daughters head. I put my hand between my legs and felt hair. I screamed, certain that I had entered "Rosemary’s Baby" territory.
Penguin walking, I made it back to the bed just in time for Round 1 of “It’s Time to Get Those Feet into Stirrups Bingo.”  I knew I should have done those damn thigh exercises, I thought, legs spread eagle, thigh muscles taut as guitar strings.
“Here she comes!” exclaimed Maureen. “Reach down and feel her little head.” Given my girth and the position I found myself in, that invitation was a little too Twister for me and I flopped back against the bed, gritting my teeth. Never had I felt such an unconscious urge to push. It was as if my life depended on it.
“Go ahead and push,” urged Maureen. “Give it all you’ve got!”  I held my breath and pushed, my face growing red as a beet and pressure building to a bursting point inside my head. Guttural screams escaped my lips and I was sure that not only was I starring in a remake of "Rosemary’s Baby," but maybe a double feature including "The Exorcist" as well...
“Here come her shoulders!” said Maureen, holding a mirror so that I could see. This was the first glimpse of my daughter and I was once again stopped dead in my tracks, only this time not from pain but from a love so instant and intense that I burst into tears. Gripped by an all-consuming urge to push again, I hunkered into it and my daughter came flying out of my body like a football thrown by the star quarterback. Startled, Maureen fumbled with her slippery body and just barely caught her, purple and wailing. In total disbelief, I held out my arms and held my wriggling daughter for the first time. She was sticky and wet, bloody and misshapen, and the most beautiful thing I had ever seen. She still is.

Thursday, May 24, 2012


Written at Zee's Writing Studio 5/22/12. Inspired by this painting, "Dreamlight",  by Maxfield Parrish and a Laura Nyro lyric, "I love you so, I always will."

I love you so, I always will.  This is my song as I swing back and forth, back and forth, listening to the wind whisper your name, its soft breath tickling my face.  Will just saying it bring you to me?  Somehow I believe it will, if I time my words to the rhythm of the swing it will act as a spell:  “I love you so,” swing forward, “I always will,” swing back.  I picked this dress for you; I know you will love running your fingers across the billowy fabric, letting it slide from your hands.  I know you will love how the breeze causes the skirt to flutter around my hips; it will remind you of our dance under the moon last night.  I call you to me, once again.  I call you to me, here to this place of stillness and reverie.  What will I say when your face peeks above our rock? Will I squeal with delight or just rush to your arms in silence?  Saying anything but your name seems absurd, inadequate.  Will you pick me up and spin me around, nose to nose, eye to eye?  Will you smile and have on your dancing eyes or will your gaze be heavy and reverential?  Will you wear the trousers from last night, leaves and dirt brushed from the seat?  Will you notice my belt, the amulet you gave me dangling from the end?  Will you notice my wet eyes, overcome with relief at the mere sight of you?  I packed us a lunch--I stowed it behind the far rock out of sight.  I was rushed and nervous doing it.  If Mama caught me; well, I don’t want to say.  I tucked away the ends of the bread from last nights supper and took just a shaving from Mr. Webster’s cheese. Plus one apple, 4 grapes and 2 olives.  That’s enough.  If you’re hungry I’ll let you have it all.  Perhaps I’ll be brave and kiss the apple juice from your chin.  “I love you so,” swing forward, “I always will,” swing back.  The air rushes up my skirt as I swing forward and delights my sticky skin.  A twig cracks behind me and I twist around. Is it you?  My heart throbs as I scan the brush for your silhouette, but I catch not a glimpse.  Do you really think I’m pretty, or just plain like Rebecca Black? Tell me again how my face reminds you of the cool, clear water on the other side of the mountain--how you rushed forward and drank with the thirst of a dying man.  Tell me how my hair feels like the silk of the corn you shucked for supper.  How you want to make a shirt of it so it will always be right against your heart, the silky strands tickling and warming at the same time.  Look right into my eyes, unflinching and sure.  Gold flecks shimmering in the sun, dancing and moving to the song only we can hear.  I stole two of Ames’ marbles because they reminded me of your eyes.  Glittering gold and woven with the loveliest of greens.  I picked them up and put them right in my pocket and ran upstairs where I rolled them around in my palm.  I’m not going to tell you where I put them because if they ask then you won’t know.  I have never done such a thing to poor Ames and I pray that he is never the wiser.  What else am I capable of doing in the name of you?  I don’t want to think about it; I won't.  I would follow you out of these woods, barefoot and with utter certainty.  I would never look back; there would be no trail of breadcrumbs to follow.

Friday, May 18, 2012


And today, a poem...

How could she not love
your kind and glorious
shooting out sparklers into the dark,
“Here I am!  Come out and play!”

How could she be immune to
your rose petal lips
cutting velvet streaks
here and there and
here and

Is she from another planet?
The obvious Mars, or maybe
even Jupiter?
Does she do everything in reverse?
Speak a different language?
Gag at the taste of
Holiday Spice?

Is she mute to the tone of
your voice,
like honey-blossom tendrils
wrapping everything it touches
in succulent sweetness and
whispered caresses?

Does she just happen to
be looking
the other way
when you
suddenly pulse
and glow,
lighting everything in
your wake?

Is she numb?
Or simply unaware
of every sacred moment
that you hold so freely in every
4-hr. conversation?

And in the same breath
that I wonder and
ponder, so
perplexed and bewildered,
I offer up a prayer of gratitude and
Oh, thank you, thank you!!
That she didn’t and couldn’t...

Please carry her
to he who calls her singular name
across the Winds of Love.
Let her be healed by his touch;
scooped up and
rocked  to
their own
secret lullaby.
Beloved forever.