Fear & Relief

photo (8)October 28, 2014

We really like Halloween here.

Lucy and I think its way better than Christmas, even though there are no presents. We start gathering supplies in September. We have a party, make a haunted house – it gets scarier every year. We go to Halloween City a hundred times, and every year we amass a stash of Halloween gore that needs to be stored in giant tubs.

I will dish out candy to the hordes of neighborhood zombies and since Friday is “Nevada Day” and we have the day off from school, we will spend ALL DAY dressing up, adjusting our costumes, and draping our foyer with cob webs, and spiders, and skulls eating rats, and changing the lightbulbs into something dark and eerie, and putting out the severed heads, and the plate of delicious body parts. We will get the fog machine out, and cue up the freaky music, so both fog and shrieking noises pour out from the house. We’ll get a friend to wear a face-rotting monster mask and scare the hell out of the children as they pass by.

Bwah ha ha…Oh, I chuckle just thinking of it.

photo (9) I have a friend who says, semi-jokingly, if he doesn’t make a baby cry every Halloween, he hasn’t done his job. I’ve always liked that – not making kids cry exactly – but creating a safe-scary opportunity for my kids and the kids around us.

Kids face all kinds of real life horrors, from the minor to the downright terrifying – food scarcity, bullying, peer pressure, natural disasters, divorce, crazy parents, dead parents, instability, poverty, homophobia, racial bigotry, just feeling misunderstood, powerless, and a world around them filled with grown-ups murmuring about ebola, beheadings, kids getting shot in their schools, drone strikes, war, planes that disappear into thin air. 

Maybe that’s why we watch the Walking Dead, and World War Z, and maybe that’s why Lucy and Edie are sitting on the couch right now in their newly-created Halloween costumes, wishing they could just tear out into the night and MAKE. HALLOWEEN. HAPPEN. NOW.

Because its good to be scared, knowing it’ll all turn out okay.

Halloween is a vacation from the stuff that is truly scary and unfixable.

At least if I make a baby cry on our doorstep this Friday, I can whip off my mask, let her touch the folds of deformed skin, see the fake blood, and work the button on the glowing zombie skull chewing a rat that will sit right next to the bowl of candy. She’ll see it’s plastic, harmless, and that I am smiling, and not so mean at all, and that the world is good and there is candy to be eaten, and right at that moment, hopefully, she’ll laugh and grab the mask out of my hands and try to scare her little brother.

There will be fear and relief.

Fear and then, relief.

The relief will feel so good.

We can all go to the dark place, and come back.

Happy Halloween.

Rabbit Hole

photo (29)October 23, 2014

I started taking anti-anxiety meds in August, just after we moved to Vegas. Right after I fell down the big black rabbit hole.

Not that anything was particularly wrong. I did that thing I always do, where I sail through life without thinking. Of course it would be fine to leave NYC. Sure, I’d miss my friends, but I’d stay in touch. I’d make new friends in Vegas. It’s a big adjustment, sure, but it’s a huge adventure.

Adventures are awesome.

The move was smooth. We lost a few clay flower pots and the air conditioning went in my jeep, but nearly everything else made it here just fine. We had a great time in Tokyo.We watched David’s show 100 times, and roamed the streets looking for fashion accessories and yakitori and sushi.

Plus, we love a hotel bed. We know how to do our thing in a beautiful, big hotel bed pretty much anywhere.

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But then we got to our new house. The house I had seen before we bought it. The house I knew had great bones and tons of potential. The house I knew was deprived of love and caring for many years.

And I saw the paint on the walls, bleak and dirty and morose. And the furniture the tenants left behind, broken, over-used, battered, cheap. The blinds and walls and shelves caked with years of decay. We had cleaners come in before the move, but the poverty that was there – not financial poverty, but spiritual poverty – could not be wiped down or washed away.

It was everywhere.

I labeled everything “poverty.” Poverty blinds. Poverty cupboards. Poverty furniture. So much of everyone else’s sadness left behind. And I soaked it up like a sponge.

And it was hot here. Obviously. August, Las Vegas heat, and water bugs the size of small puppies lived in the trees, forced their way through cracks in our old house, and there was a mouse in my sink, and apparently secadas come out every year here, not just every 17 years, and then shed their shells, so profusely that hard little shells were stuck all over the outside of our house. The kids ran around collecting them and kept them in a tin can in their room, and kept shoving the can in my face, asking me if I was still afraid of them.

Awesome.

I developed this crazy obsession with water bugs. Intrusive thoughts. I expected to see them everywhere. I remember seeing one on the outside of the house next door and going to check on it every five minutes, thinking it would come to our house. When it wasn’t on the house anymore, I checked our house. Had it come inside here?

I woke up in the middle of the night and searched the walls for signs of roaches. I was afraid to walk in the grass, or in the street at night. I asked everyone about their water bugs. Did they have them? Does the exterminator get rid of them? I talked to the clerk at Walgreen’s about roaches. No one was immune.

Everything I thought about was somehow connected to water bugs. Intrusive thoughts, so many intrusive thoughts. I wouldn’t stand under the beautiful, viney tree in our front yard because I was sure a roach would fall on me and get entangled in the web of my hair.

Water bugs as a symbol for my anxiety, my own personal crazy.

I fell down the hole. I woke up grey. The stray thoughts sent me spiraling out of control. Would this hurt me? Would that hurt me? Were there water bugs here? Under the bed? On the walls? On me? There isn’t one on me, is there?

fell far away.

Poverty shelves.

I fell into myself.

Poverty walls.

David saw it immediately. He sent me to the show doctor. I asked for meds. I got them. I recovered. And we painted the morose walls, and threw out the poverty blinds and the poverty furniture. I even took an old wrought iron shelf from the yard and transformed it into a place for Lucy’s copious amounts of tiny little collectible objects.

Re-purpose.

Make everything our own.

Find ourselves here.

It’s becoming beautiful. I see us in it, more and more everyday.

I’m still on the meds. I’m still fighting intrusive thoughts, but not nearly as many. I’m starting to love life here. I’m feeling good. I love my morning walks. We are going to good restaurants, hosting a lot of dinner parties, hanging with new friends. I love the light, the way I can throw open the windows and let the breeze blow in. There are good people here.

I’ve learned to pronounce “Nevada” correctly. Nev-a-da, not Nev-ah-da. This is important, I’m told. When you know people from Nevada, you pronounce the name of their state correctly.

When you are from Nevada, you pronounce the name of your state correctly.

This is a good adventure, after all.

And its Fall, and cooler, so not so many water bugs and all the black widows seem to have disappeared. And Fall is 85 degrees here. That helps, too.

 

Walking the Walk

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October 12, 2014

Every morning I take a walk with Smudge.

I did this in NYC too, because dogs need to walk, but it was different there. The city was waking up. There was noise, combustion, horns, people yelling, tires on asphalt, trucks screaming by, people filling up the sidewalks, moving forward and around each other, pool balls slamming into and around each other. You have to pay attention in NYC, to the people around you, to the walk and the don’t walk signs, to the 10 things that are waking you up, pushing you out into the world.

The morning walk is different here in Vegas. The air isn’t hot yet at 8am. It’s still and cool. The neighborhood is quiet, except for the pull of school children running to the school down the street. There are a few people out, piling into cars, putting their garbage cans on the curb, sweeping the driveway, watering the cacti. The woman with the really incredible garden is already on her knees in the hard ground, planting something new. She waves and I tell her how much I admire her garden.

But mostly it’s me. My feet on pavement. The dog slobbering in bushes, sniffing lamp posts, the two of us moving fast, down street after street, making maze-like turns. Sweeney to 7th to Bracken to the next and the next. It’s just us, and palm trees, and blue cloudless skies and my thoughts, my writing brain moving down into a slower gear, my legs loving that I am moving.

I think about that story I am writing. How I will start that paragraph. My brain clears the way. Characters pop in. I can’t wait to get to the keyboard.

But I also want to walk. One more street. 6th, by the house where Elvis used to live, then Oakey, then back to 10th. The chihuahuas bark at us from behind fences as we walk by. Smudge and I get the whole neighborhood riled up. Sometimes we stop on 9th and visit Bubba, the Australian cattle dog, they run circles in the front lawn, poop, sniff each others butts, and then we are on our way again.

I never had a walk like this in NYC. This big sky, this quiet, the way my brain slips down into a place where it waits for the words to come.

Vegas and I have had our turmoil. I’ll tell you about that some time. It was a rough start. But I am starting to love her.

 

 

PS: For those of you not following along on social media, the little black pug in the photo is Smudge’s new little sister, Roxie. She is a nine week old. She isn’t out walking with us yet, but she will be soon. The more dogs, the merrier!

Tokyo

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October 6th, 2014

It’s been awhile, I know. I’ve been over on Wattpad, talking to teens who are reading the new book. Also, starting to work on Haunted Organic, Book 2.

We are in Vegas now. More on that later. So much to say. So much happened. But for now, some pics from Tokyo. David was producing a show there, but it was one of the most lovely trips we’ve taken. Beautiful people. Beautiful food. So much to explore for the girls. I would go back to visit in a second.

Always good to travel. Always good to come home. Even a new home.

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Sushi-go-round.

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photo (32)Searching for fabrics, and fashion design supplies. 

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photo (35)photo (37)Pork belly.

photo (40)Spicy pork burn-your-face-off ramen. Counter food.

photo (47)Orange.

photo (41)Harajuku, a source of great fashion inspiration.

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Karaoke. photo (46)Blue pole, on the way to some crazy, out-of-the-way sushi. photo (45)The pink sign advertises the show.
photo (38)Back in Vegas. Jet lag.
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On A Train

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July 17, 2014

We are in Tokyo now. David is producing a show here. I wrote this on a train, taking us from the airport at Haneda to Shinagawa, where we are staying.

There is a young couple, standing up, holding onto the rings. She is holding flowers, obviously from him, and he is kissing her. They can’t stop kissing, or just touching each other. He is constantly wrapped around her and she is folded into him, and they make all kinds of eye contact, and there is giggling and sparkly eyes crammed with meaning and urgency, and the touching of each other’s faces.

The incessant touching of each other’s faces. Oy.

They are about to burst. Like boils.

They are also sweet, and a part of me, remembers that feeling of not being able to disconnect, to have to touch, to not be able to separate, all that intensity and anxiety. Like the night I realized I was completely mad for David, and I called him from a bathroom stall downtown, and told him to meet me at a dive bar on 96th Street, and then made out with him furiously, longingly, achingly in a booth, in a dark corner, so unaware and unconcerned with who might be watching.

Like that. Not so long ago.

I look at my kids on the train seat next to me, playing a hand game they learned at camp and David, keeping watching over our suitcases, the two of us together, but no longer clutching each other, and I see the couple looking at us, watching the kids, and I imagine they are thinking, “Wow. I hope it’s never like that for us, not touching, not reaching for each other.”

“Marriage sucks the life out of all that urgency,” they say in my fantasy. I hear them silently hoping that never happens to them.

And then, I realize how happy I am that we no longer have to touch all the time, although often we do. But whether we are or aren’t groping each other, we are always connected, anxiety gone, what-ifs disappeared. I know where I stand, so does he. There is clarity, connection, some things are assured just by living them every day. There is nothing to be nervous about. We know who we are, together and separately. We know it’s forever, and when we make out in a dark booth in a dive bar, we do it not because we want to create something, but because we have already created it.

We are what the lovers hope to be someday. I hope these two make it. Because it’s great here.

Nuclear Blast

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July 17, 2014

I’m on the plane from NYC to Las Vegas, and I have two cats under one seat, and a dog under the other, and two kids on iPads and a husband reading all his magazines on another iPad, and its dark and people around me are ordering booze.

We are leaving NYC. Maybe for good.

It has set in. Finally.

I guess I forgot to write it here. I said it enough in other social media places. But I wanted to tell you about it, and even tell you about the surprise party our NYC friends threw for us (there was also another one in our building, so sweet). But I couldn’t write about it. When I looked around the room, and saw all those people, I was so aware how much we were losing. I couldn’t even talk about it. Here or anywhere.

See, I’ve left various places and people in my life. And every time, I’ve wanted to leave the people and the places behind. I wanted a re-fresh. A do-over. “This time I will do things differently,” I would say, and then I would nuclear blast my life, as if the people and places were reminders of what an idiot I had been. I discarded them. I moved on. I did not look back.

But not this time.

These people, I love. I want to take them with me.

You know, when I was at the surprise party, the folks who planned it told me they were worried that I knew about the surprise. I didn’t. It never occurred to me there would be a party, or tears, or long, deep hugs, or that people would much care that we were leaving.

Instead the whole experience made me see how small and insignificant I think I am in the world. I do, I think, believe that I am a small, invisible thing, and that my imprint on others is minimal.

Now I know better. My friends here in NYC taught me – I can create community wherever I go. I can impact people and I can let them impact me. I can leave and take people with me. I do not have to nuclear blast everything, as if it were a crime scene, because it isn’t. It’s life. Messy, wonderful, fucked-up, ridiculous, beautiful life.

I may never be able to duplicate the community I have in NYC. Hell, I’m not even going to try. These people are special in ways that can’t be reproduced. But we will have a community in Las Vegas. We will make one, one way or another.

Let the adventure begin.

Glitteris

IMG_2862June 26, 2014

Edie and I were talking about body parts.

I was naming them, any I could think of, just saying them into the air, elbows, fingers, hands, knees, hips, butt….

I was being funny. Amusing myself. Maybe her.

“Wait….Did you just say “Glitteris?” she asked.

“Is that what it’s called?”

Her blues were wide and excited.

So, it’s official. The clitoris has been re-named. Because it’s a producer of sparkly, unicorn-rainbow confetti. Because it’s a happiness maker, a mind blower, a razzle-dazzler, a TNT blower, a love motor, a wicked bedazzler.

It requires a better name. Something fancy. Glitteris. 

There it is. Spread the word.

 

Gone

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June 17, 2014

Lucy is gone for three days and two nights on her third grade camping trip.

She couldn’t wait to go. We shopped for supplies two weeks before she left. She packed a week in advance. The morning of the trip, she got us up at the crack-ass of dawn. She had her bunk mates picked out, her pals, her plans. She ached to go.

She left us in the dust.

It’s weird with her gone. I’m happy for her, glum for us. But also busy, and her doing her own thing feels weird, but right. While David and I miss her, we are getting comfortable with her growing up, being her own big self in the world. I see the photos the teachers post on FB of her canoeing, smiling with her friends, hiking, and I have this sense of pride for who she is becoming. She is already good people.

Edie, however, is much disturbed by her sister’s absence.

And I was so busy thinking about my own little loss – how I would handle the weirdness of one of us gone – that I forgot about her big loss.

Instead of rejoicing in being the only kid for a couple days, she has moved around the house, zombie-like, unable to decide what to do or how to amuse herself. When her best friend, Kissa, came over (Kissa’s sister, Nakamae, is camping too) they wandered around the house together, wondering what to do, and showed up in my kitchen like ghosts, unhappily chained to the earth.

“The big girls give us ideas,” Kissa said.

The little sisters either join the games the big sisters create, or defiantly strike off on their own in a little cloud of revolution. But the big girls give the little girls definition.

Without them, there is no tether.

This morning, Edie was getting on the bike to ride to school with David.

“I don’t want to be an only child,” she said.

I hear you, girl.

You won’t be. Sisters are forever.

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Haunted Organic

ebook_1700px_2500px_300DPIJune 3, 2014

This is the current cover of the new book!

I really love it.

I won’t be indie pubbing this one, because its Middle-Grade, and kids 8-12 are generally not scouring Amazon for cool indie finds. But while I go forward with the idea of trad publishing this book – and because I love the interwebs – I’m putting Haunted Organic on Wattpad in installments, starting today, right now.

Go here to find it, and read your face off.

I will post a new chapter every Friday, until we’ve done the whole book. It’s completely free, every week.

I hope you like it. But whether you do or not, I’d love to hear what you think.

Thanks for reading. Really. Thanks.

xo

 

P.S. The awesome cover was created by Alexandre at Design Book Cover. I recommend him highly.

Tempermental

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May 15, 2014

So I made this cake.

Lucy and Edie, and their friends Nakamae and Nabrakissa, made it for their mom, Jessica, who was coming over after work. It was her birthday party. The older girls made the cake. the younger girls made the frosting. Everyone frosted, but I was in charge of removing the cakes from their pans and getting them, in one piece, onto the cake plate.

I was managing this, doing some kind of aerobic dance with the layers, that involved using a knife around the edges, turning the pan upside down, tapping on the back of the pan, hoping, praying, silently cussing. Finally, I called my friend, Winnie, for advice.

“Didn’t you use parchment paper?” Winnie asked.

“Screw parchment paper!”  I chanted back.

And then I grumbled about how I should’ve run out and bought parchment paper, but I was too lazy, and thought I could just butter and flour the pan, and be done with it. I hung up, and cussed some more, silently, and then out loud some more – I may have said “fuck” out loud in front the children.

It happens.

One layer came out perfectly, and the other cake came out ripped into three jagged pieces, which was a golden opportunity for the kids to swarm in, like a cloud of bees, and scoop up the crumbs with their fingers. I smushed the three jagged pieces together onto the cake plate, until they formed the bottom later, and kind of sealed up the pieces with chocolate butter cream, as if the butter cream were wet cement. And then everyone frosted, and the good cake layer went on top, and more frosting, and smoothing, and it looked nearly perfect.

And then David came home, and the kids showed off the cake, and he was admiring the Cake of Glory, and I was telling hiim about why I get no satisfaction from baking, because this cake was “sooooo temperamental”. And then he looked at the cake, and at me, and chuckled in that annoying way that spouses chuckle, knowingly, with a certain air of knowing all your little nooks and crannies, and the knowlegde that they are going to use all the nook and cranny information imminently.

“The cake isn’t temperamental,” he said.  ”YOU are temperamental.”

Humpf. What?

I gave him the side eye. The look spouses give when they know they have been called on something, that they have been seen, that they can get away with nothing and are still loved, but who just want to be combative and stubborn anyway.

And then, he went on to do an impression of me making a cake – AN IMPRESSION – with frantic physical gesturing and cussing and hand-wringing – and it’s clear to me, watching him, that the cake is not the asshole…

I AM THE ASSHOLE.

But – and I’m going to shout it out here – despite me, the cake was amazing anyway.

 

 

PS: if you want to make this one-bowl chocolate cake with butter cream frosting, you can get the recipe from my dear, talented friend, MJ’s site, here.

PPS: And if you want good cooking advice, and advice about how you should’ve gone to the store and gotten parchment paper, you can go to my friend, Winnie’s site here. You might not be able to call her, personally, when your cake sticks, but she has some kick-ass recipes.