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.

Endless Reasons

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May 12, 2014

It’s the day after Mother’s day. The truth is, I don’t like Mother’s day much. I have always seen it as a high pressure day, frought with opportunitites to disappoint. When I see a line of dads at the gas station buying flowers, I think, “Poor bastards. Better get it right, buddy….”

But that’s just me.  I have issues.

So yesterday, at bedtime – when all things get remembered – Lucy and Edie realized they hadn’t given me anything for Mother’s Day. Which was just fine for me, but they felt differently about it. Like something was missed. Edie dug into her school bag and pulled out a card she made in art class, where she expressed gratitude for her father and I working so hard so that she could go to private school next year. She is grateful, and doesn’t feel entitled.

This fills me with joy.

And Lucy, who felt left out of the giving, diappeared into a corner making something. When she came out, she produced a jar, covered in colorful paper, and filled with slips of paper. The papers were from a magazine and had prompts written on them.

This is what the papers said, with commentary:

 

WHAT I LOVE MOST ABOUT YOU IS:

You are great at cooking. You have a good sense of humor. And much more.

She thinks I’m funny. She’s, like, the only one in the family.

 

I ADMIRE THE WAY YOU:

Love to have people over, and love to make friends.

I do like to have a full house. We seem to always have people for dinner. Glad she likes this, too. 

 

YOU MAKE ME LAUGH WHEN YOU:

Make fun of baby books…and do it until we cry.

I read picture books to them, and change the words so the characters seem cynical and negative and messed up. This makes Lucy laugh so hard, she cries. My re-telling of “Strawberry Shortcake” is her favorite. 

 

THE BEST ADVICE YOU’VE GIVEN ME IS:

To not let girls who are mean, be mean to me.

Ah, she listens. Who knew she was listening? She gets this, she is golden for life. 

 

MY FAVORITE MEMORY OF YOU IS:

When we made the Easter Egg Hunt for Edie. Shhh! Don’t tell her.

She loves being the one who’s behind the curtain. She created an Easter Egg Hunt that led to a gift from the Easter Bunny in a hotel room in Las Vegas. It was Edie’s best hunt ever. 

 

WHEN I’M SAD, YOU CHEER ME UP BY:

Giving me a treat, and being funny.

Apparently, the naked cartwheel I did to get her to stop being mad made an impression. 

 

I’M HAPPY YOU’RE MY MOM BECAUSE:

When I ask you for something, you try to make it happen, and you push me to do the things I love.

I do. I push. I push some more. Good to know she wants more of that. 

 

YOU INSPIRE ME TO:

Write books. You write awesome stories.

Wow. Just wow. Holy wow. 

 

What struck me is how THEY understand ME. I always thought it was my job to understand who they are and support and nurture that, and that somehow I would always be a mystery to them. And years from now, they would find things out about me by reading my letters, or old blog posts, or talking to family and friends. I pictured them standing around at my memorial service, hearing a story they never heard before, piecing me together like I was a strange, unsolveable puzzle.

It caught me by surprise that they get us, and what we are trying to do. Right now. Not, like, when they are 40.

And I’m not even sure whether it’s good or bad. It just is.

We show ourselves to each other.

I probably wouldn’t have learned any of this if they had just gotten me flowers from the gas station. Lucky, lucky me.

Best Friends

photo (83)May 8, 2014

Things I got to do today:

1. Hang out with these crazy people.

2. Roam the aisles of Barnes & Noble looking for books that interest us.

3. Eat a gigantic bag of Twizzlers, together.

4. Overhear girls in the backseat talking about secret diaries, and what it means to be popular, and then when one of them gets mad about something obtuse and unspoken, listen to them all sing songs to the mad girl at the top of their lungs, until they are all cracking up and singing together.

5. See a black French Bulldog puppy in the street, enjoying her Starbucks “pup cup”, and find out her name is Victoria, and swoop in on her, with all kinds of “She’s so cute!” and girl love and kisses, until she gives up on her whipped cream and just basks in the full-on attention of it all.

6. Figure out that one of them lost her glasses back at Barnes & Noble the very minute you get home.

7. Make Hong Kong noodles and sticky chicken wings for dinner, and realize they care more about being together than they care about eating, and this is just fine.

8. Know that you want to have this day, over, and over, and over again, as many times as they’ll let you tag along. Because they are just that cool to be around.

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