Saturday, October 9, 2010

life and death and another damn summer

okay so the post below was written in 2009. Summer of 2010 was not only not better, but it was worse. A dear close friend died suddenly of a heart attack at age 57. My age. And his age. And the wrong age to die. Then my mother had open heart surgery - a triple bypass. She is 83 and she made a great recovery, for which i am very grateful. Then my dog, just like last summer, needed an operation to repair a torn ACL. The vet said last year when he fixed the left one, "the right one will tear in a year or two." And he was correct.

On top of ALL that, my son went off to his freshman year at college. And did he go to one of the many California colleges, where I might see him every other weekend or so? No, he went to Tennessee. Granted the school he chose has the best program for him. But really, 2000 miles away? Hey, isn't that a Pretenders song?

Wednesday, August 12, 2009

life and death and the whole damn summer

pay attention to chest pains. richard almost decided to ignore them. denial is a powerful thing. but he did go for tests and they did find a problem and he did get a stent. and now he is healthy and happy in that way of people who realize they could have died. me, on the other hand, well, I am exhausted from thinking about all the things that would be horrible if he died. from the mundane to the heavily spiritual.

thanks to songs, however, i can ride along a crest of sad songs, love songs, happy songs and recover my equilibrium.

on another note: the weirdest song ever about a stalkerish obsessive love affair is Connor Oberst singing "The Calendar Hung Itself." with lines like this:

"Does he walk around all day at school with his feet inside your shoes?
Looking down every few steps to pretend he walks with you.
Oh, does he know that place below your neck that is your favorite to be touched
and does he cry through broken sentences like I love you far too much?"

and it's sung at a fevered pitch. creepy! and somehow deliciously wonderful.

Tuesday, June 9, 2009


Yep, I'm a "dedicated follower of fashion." I only read this book because it was reported that Obama was reading it. So I was curious and bought it. Glad I did.

Here's the synopsis (courtesy of

"In Netherland, he has tackled the defining historical event of his own lifetime -- 9/11. The frail individual here is Hans, a Dutch banker who, after the Twin Towers fall, retreats into a state of limbo at the Chelsea Hotel. Abandoned by his wife and son, Hans wanders the city in a state of emotional paralysis until an afternoon on Staten Island, when he stumbles upon a diverse cricket league made of doormen and taxi drivers. Striking up a friendship with umpire Chuck Ramkissoon, a charismatic Trinidadian, Hans discovers a different New York, one that forces him to define his own moral boundaries."

My take? it's very slow and elegiac, very beautiful. Not a lot happens on the page, but a lot happens outside the first person narrative. 9/11 is barely mentioned at all, but it is the huge undercurrent that moves along beneath all the events. The end is told at the beginning, yet I still found it compelling and hard to put down. The writing is beautiful - sometimes too much so (I just wanted to know what happens some of the time!). It won a Pen/Faulkner award and I'm glad it did. A very haunting and lovely and ultimately sad book (with a modicum of redemption - but not much).

So, Obama had good taste with this book. I take my recommendations wherever I find them!

Next up: the fantasy novel by an Aussie writer, that takes place in Russia (?): A Veil of Gold.

Saturday, May 30, 2009

people of the book

just finished People of the Book by Geraldine Brooks and while it annoyed me many times, it is also quite beautiful AND had me on wikipedia. why? to read about the sarajevo haggadah, the history of sarajevo, the history of sephardic jews, and to get some visuals on aboriginal art. so actually, i have to love a book that takes me in all those directions and makes me want to know more!

cool line: "They will build me a temple and I will dwell in them - in them, not in it." it feels like the beginning - or the end - of a poem.

Monday, May 25, 2009

a map of the universe

in a book i just completed, The Selected Works of T.S. Spivet (a novel by Reif Larsen), the main character - a 12 year old boy - suggests that we are born with a map of the universe in our brain. we just have figure out how to access it within all the folds and crevasses and hidden valleys of the brain itself. this is both scientific and fantastical. both at the same time. beautiful.

almost summer

almost summer which means that i will return to writing daily on my blog and i will begin working on the novel that has been dancing around in my head for months. i am teaching a science fiction and fantasy writing class at the beginning of summer and i think it is as much or more for me to get motivated, than for the students.

Thursday, April 9, 2009

horseback riding, badly

It seemed so simple. Get on a horse and ride for an hour up a hill to get to where the zipline starts. Yow! I had some vague idea that you have to hold on to a horse with your thighs. I tried, lord I tried. But my thighs were weak and my horse was bouncy. Sure, other people had horses that just plodded along, happily following some other plodding horse. Mine was annoyed that he (she?) wasn't at the front and he kept trying to push past the others to GET to the front. When we came to a more open area, he veered off the path and took off running. Well, probably just a canter or something but it felt like a full gallop to me. I bounced all over the place, desperately trying to squeeze his sides with my thighs, and hold on to the horn on the saddle, while pulling back on the reins with my other hand. He did not like me trying to stop him. I could tell he was very annoyed to have me on his back. I wish someone had a video camera because I KNOW I bounced all over the place like a rag doll and looked absolutely ridiculous! Brianna was the same - at first the two of us laughed so hard we couldn't hold on, but then it just went on forever, so the humor was over. Others went past us, in perfect horsemanship form: Jenna, Claudia, Ian, Katie, Alex. Damn them!

After the zipline, we were to ride the horses back down the hill. I opted for a ride in the trailer pulled by a tractor. While I wasn't falling off a horse any longer, I was bounced JUST as much as this trailer hopped and skipped over a very rocky dirt path that wasn't actually appropriate for a trailer. No relief until it was all over and we got back on the bus. The best part was that the bus took us into La Fortuna and we had hamburgers! Then there was a terrific rainfall, the only rain of our 8-day stay, and after that we went on to the hot springs.

Sunday, April 5, 2009

rollin' on the river

white water river rafting has the longest name of a sport that goes by really fast. i love it! it's like a roller-coaster in the water. the best part is when the boat turns sideways in the rapids and a huge wave comes splashing over me. nothing like getting wet and bouncing up and down at the same time!

at one point, we got stuck on rocks (the river is low - not enough rain) and Manuel (the guide) had to get out and stand on a rock to try to pull the boat off. mind you, this was in the middle of a rapids, so water was whooshing past him. Daniel wasn't paying attention for some reason and all of a sudden he just leaned backward and fell off the boat. but it was funny, because there was only about a foot of water where he fell. he landed on a rock and he could just stand up and get back in again. if the water had been deeper, where it was supposed to be, he would have rushed away down stream.

our boat had Katie, who loved to splash people in the other boats; Santiago, who rowed to his own rhythm and no one else's; Alfred, who couldn't sit still and vocalized about his love for rafting every chance he got - except when he and Santiago started discussing what food they wish they could be eating at that moment ("shrimp, god, i want some shrimp!"); and Brianna, who was trepidatious (is that a word? I don't know if it is, but i like it anyway) about the whole thing but LOVED it as soon as we hit the first rapids.

and me, who whooped and hollered and had a huge smile plastered on my face the entire two hours!

Saturday, April 4, 2009

Costa Rica!

The first three days we stayed with families in a small town (very small) about 2 hours from San Jose. The houses, for the most part, are not entirely enclosed. The walls go up and stop. The tin roof hovers over the walls about 12 inches or so. This allows for air to move through the house (that and the always open doors!). At first I had trepidation about it (the bugs!) but i got used to it and appreciated the moving air. I even got so i didn't mind the geckos that ran in and out, although i worried that the one in my bedroom would explore my bed at night.

So much to tell, but let's start with the animals and birds: howler monkeys jumping in the trees overhead as we soaked in the hot springs of the Arenal volcano; brilliantly colored birds in the trees next to our eating platform at the rainforest campground; a giant toad leaping away from me as i stepped out of my tent at the same campground; toucans and toucanettes! and a plethora of bugs that students kept finding and bringing around to show everyone. Also, in town, the dogs that are all allowed to run free - vastly different personalities from our babied and indulged house pets!

(in the picture above, that is me on the far left, in the black and white dress.)

Sunday, March 22, 2009

la pura vida

going to costa rica, baby! soft silky air, sunshine, friendly people and the jungle! i'll be back just after april fool's day with a report about ziplining, volcanos, white water river rafting and everything.