Saturday, February 28, 2009



DARK NIGHT OF THE SOUL IS REAL

On the same CD that has my latest obsession, "Whole Bird," is my other latest obsession, "Home," by Meg Hutchinson. On some level I'm sure I was resisting the song - keeping it at bay.

I could have written that song.

Two friends called Friday, each one was describing what can only be called The Dark Night of the Soul.

It's real.

But I probably don't have to tell you.

If you're reading this blog, you've probably had a brush, at least, with the Dark Night of the Soul.

It's real.

But like Meg sings so beautifully, "one day that darkness clears."

And when it does, everything is clearer.

Not just the darkness.

The clearing is real.

Too.



HOME, Meg Hutchinson

I won’t tell you where I’ve been
Only that it’s so good to be home
It’s possible to go so far down
As some of you might already know
Did you go there too?

I won’t tell you what I’ve seen
Only that this world can be so mean
Brave souls shuffling up and down the halls
No one visits no one even calls
Did you wait there too?

But I’ve been getting better these days
And I’ve been sleeping in my own bed again
And I’ve been dreaming in full color
Goodbye sorrow I’ve found another

I won’t tell you what I would’ve done
If not for my dearest ones
Chemistry can sorta leave you in the lurch
I’m just glad they found a cure
Did you find one too?

But if the world should really pale
Dark night of the soul is real
Let me offer I’ve been there
And one day that darkness clears


* Photo from www.imagecache2.allposters.com

The winds of grace blow all the time. All we need to do is set our sails.



Sri Ramakrishna Paramahamsa
Gospel of Ramakrishna



* Photo from www.anniebees.com/Tahiti

Friday, February 27, 2009

JUST A FEATHER WILL DO

I know you're all just dying to know what my latest obsession is, so I'll tell you. It's this: Meg Hutchinson's CD, "Come Up Full."
I can't get enough of it, particularly the song, "Whole Bird." I hear/feel the song as though "you" is God, the divine, Buddha, Mary, fill-in-the-blank of your favorite deity.

WHOLE BIRD - Meg Hutchinson

You live in the world I live in oh to my relief
I spend so much time feeling on the other side
Of some kind of bullet proof glass wishing I could fit
Into the normal every day, the nine to five neighborhood

Today a feather in the post a token of the wing
Of the greater one it came from
And nothing needs to be spoken

I don’t need the whole bird, just a feather will do
Just a feather will do
From you

Dog puking woke me early and I had to laugh
Glad to be up early even cleaning up this mess
Blue silver morning coming through the window blinds
Put your record on and then oh I was flying

I didn’t meet you too late
I didn’t meet you too early
I have known you all along

Like a person with amnesia I’ve been gathering up the clues
What is my work in this life and who do I love
Seems we come in constellations, oh from life to life
There’s a sharing of the heat and of the wisdom over time




* Photo from photobucket.com

Thursday, February 26, 2009

WRITTEN ALL OVER HIS FACE

So, Ash Wednesday has come and gone.

Rojo survived.

He went to school and went to a mass at 11:00 on a Wednesday when everyone knows Mass is at 8:20 on Thursdays. Period.

And he went up for the marking of the ash cross on his forehead, and didn't wipe it off on his long-sleeved, white uniform shirt, 2 seconds later. (If I had a nickel...)

Then he came home and let out a string of Alleluias that had been pent up like firecrackers ready to explode. "Mom, I am going to watch 'Family Guy' and listen to all the bad words, and I am going to say 'Alleluia,' and I am going to say all the bad words they say on 'Family Guy' except 'stupid' and 'idiot' because I do not like those bad words."

As he's talking and wildly gesticulating, my eyes are fixed on that black cross on his forehead.

His astrological natal chart forms a cardinal cross.

He is my savior - that boy has saved me from myself. He personifies St. Francis' message, "Preach the gospel at all times, if necessary use words."

Eckhart Tolle eloquently talks about the symbolism of the Christian cross. He says the horizontal line represents this lifetime, with a clear beginning and ending, birth to death. The vertical line is the unending line, our soul, which is eternal.

Rojo lives perfectly where those two lines intersect: the now. His soul and horizontal life are always in alignment.

Always.

Alleulia.

Wednesday, February 25, 2009



"As a single footstep will not make a path on the earth, so a single thought will not make a pathway in the mind. To make a deep physical path, we walk again and again. To make a deep mental path, we must think over and over the kind of thoughts we wish to dominate our lives."

Henry David Thoreau, 1817-1862

Tuesday, February 24, 2009

I know I've already blogged before about this book, but simply stated, not enough has been made of it. It's one of those books where long after you finish it, each story sticks with you, and makes you want to read it all over again for a second helping. Each piece is beautifully written and woven together.

The anthology is so satisfying, there is a little of this and a little of that, and a whole lot of Oh good, I'm normal.

For me, that's what this book does best - normalize sex. No easy feat, to be sure, and one I wouldn't even try to tackle. But Paula Derrow not only tackles it, she delivers -an anthology so full of heart and honesty that the reader feels better for having read it.

So obsessed with the book, I tracked down Paula and she granted me an interview. Paula Derrow is articles director at Self magazine and teaches writing for MediaBistro.com. She has worked for Glamour, Harper’s Bazaar and Lifetime Television. She has a degree in British history and literature from Harvard and lives in Manhattan. www.behindthedroomdoor.com

Please enjoy her wonderful answers!


INTERVIEW WITH PAULA DERROW, EDITOR OF BEHIND THE BEDROOM DOOR

Q: Did you always know you'd grow up and become a "sexpert," or was that accidental? And now that you ARE a "sexpert," do you have people telling you every little detail of their sex lives?

A: I HAVE ALWAYS BEEN INTERESTED IN SEX—NOT BECAUSE I WAS GETTING A LOT OF IT, BUT PROBABLY BECAUSE I WASN’T. I WAS ALWAYS THE PERSON STEERING THE CONVERSATION TOWARD SEX, AND IN COLLEGE, WHILE EVERYONE AROUND ME WAS BOFFING LIKE BUNNIES, I TRIED TO MAKE UP FOR THE FACT THAT I WASN’T GETTING ANY BY DOING MY THESIS ON D.H. LAWRENCE’S LADY CHATTERLEY’S LOVER. NOW THAT I’VE DONE THIS BOOK, MY INTEREST IS OBVIOUSLY MORE OUT THERE—AND I DO FEEL AS IF I’VE BECOME AN ACCIDENTAL SEXPERT, IN THAT PEOPLE NOW CONSTANTLY CONFESS THEIR SEXUAL FEELINGS TO ME. I’VE HAD A NEIGHBOR TELL ME THAT HE AND HIS WIFE HADN’T HAD SEX FOR A YEAR, A TECHNICIAN TAKING MY BLOOD AT THE DOCTOR’S OFFICE CONFESS THAT SHE’D HAD AN AFFAIR WITH A DOCTOR ON ANOTHER FLOOR, A BEAUTIFUL 45 YEAR OLD WOMAN TELL ME THAT SHE HAS NEVER HAD AN ORGASM WITH A MAN. PEOPLE ARE DYING TO TALK ABOUT THIS STUFF, AND I THINK THE BOOK OPENS THE DOOR TO THESE KINDS OF CONVERSATIONS AND CONFESSIONS.

Q: What is the most awkward thing someone has shared with you?

A: AT A BOOK SIGNING RECENTLY, AN AUDIENCE MEMBER, A MAN IN HIS LATE 60S, STARTED TELLING ME HOW HIS MOTHER WAS SEXUALLY ACTIVE INTO HER 90S, AND WAS ALWAYS COMPLAINING ABOUT BEING “TOO DRY” AND ASKING HER GROWN KIDS FOR HELP. SO OCCASIONALLY I FEEL LIKE “TMI!!!!” BUT MOSTLY, I FIND IT GRATIFYING THAT THIS BOOK SEEMS TO HAVE STRUCK A NERVE.

Q: What are the questions and/or confessionals that surprise you the most?

A: WHAT’S BEEN MOST SURPRISING TO ME IS THE RESPONSE I’M GETTING FROM SLIGHTLY OLDER WOMEN—IN THEIR 60S AND EARLY 70S. I THINK WOMEN THIS AGE ARE, FOR THE MOST PART, STILL VERY SEXUAL, BUT IN OUR SOCIETY, THEY ARE ALSO KIND OF INVISIBLE. WE DON’T THINK OF THEM AS SEXUAL, AND IT CERTAINLY ISN’T EASY TO FIND A PARTNER BUT THEY HAVE NEEDS, THEY ARE PASSIONATE, AND THEY ARE INTERESTED IN THIS SUBJECT. SO INSTEAD OF FEELING A BIT PUT OFF, WHICH IS WHAT I EXPECTED, THEY ASK ME ALL KINDS OF QUESTIONS, TELL ME ALL KINDS OF THINGS (AT ONE EVENT, A WOMAN WHO WAS CLOSE TO 70 STARTED TELLING ME THAT THEY NEEDED TO DESIGN A VIBRATOR FOR OLDER WOMEN’S ANATOMY—THAT THE MODELS AVAILABLE DIDN’T WORK WELL FOR HER). SO, I’D SAY THIS HAS BEEN THE BIGGEST SURPRISE.

Q: What have you learned through this experience?

A: I THINK I’VE LEARNED THAT, AS MUCH AS SOCIETY EMPHASIZES THAT ONLY THE YOUNG ARE SEXY AND HAVE A HOT SEX LIFE, THAT FOR WOMEN, SEX TENDS TO GET BETTER AS WE GET OLDER—IN OUR 30S, 40S, AND 50S. GOOD SEX HAS SO MUCH TO DO WITH A WOMAN’S CONFIDENCE, WHO HER PARTNER IS, AND THE BETTER SHE FEELS ABOUT HERSELF, THE BETTER THE SEX WILL BE. THE FACT THAT SEX IS CONSTANTLY CHANGING AND EVOLVING, OFTEN FOR THE BETTER, WAS MOST SUPRISING TO ME.

Q: Are men opening up to you, too, or just women?

A: MEN ARE OPENING UP TO ME AS MUCH AS WOMEN ARE, THOUGH I THINK THE IDEA OF THIS BOOK SCARES THEM, TOO. WHEN I MENTION THAT I DID A BOOK ABOUT WHAT WOMEN REALLY THINK ABOUT SEX, OFTEN THE RESPONSE IS: “I DON’T WANT TO KNOW!” BECAUSE THEY ARE AFRAID THAT IT’S GOING TO BE ALL ABOUT CRITICIZING MEN. (IT ISN’T.) WHICH TELLS ME THAT MEN HAVE THEIR SEXUAL INSECURITIES, TOO.

Q: How has this process affected your own dating/sex life?

A: WHILE I WAS DOING THE BOOK, I WAS ABLE TO TAKE 2 MONTHS OFF FROM MY MAGAZINE JOB AND SPEND IT IN ITALY (ROME), WORKING AND TRAVELING. I HAD JUST ENDED A FIVE YEAR TEMPESTUOUS RELATIONSHIP AND WAS FAIRLY WRUNG OUT; I’D KIND OF HAD IT WITH MEN. GOING TO ITALY WAS PERFECT, BECAUSE IT IS SUCH A BEAUTIFUL, SENSUAL PLACE—THE LIGHT, THE FOOD, THE WARMTH OF THE PEOPLE, THE COLORS, THE WEATHER. SO I WAS ABLE TO APPRECIATE ALL THAT SENSUALITY WHILE I HEALED—I DIDN’T DATE AT ALL, BUT WAS ABLE TO GET BACK IN TOUCH WITH MY SENSUAL, HAPPIER SELF. WHEN I RETURNED FROM ROME, I STARTED DATING UP A STORM. TELLING GUYS THAT I WAS WORKING ON A SEX BOOK DEFINITELY GOT THEIR ATTENTION. AND THE NICEST PART IS THAT JUST BEFORE THE BOOK CAME OUT, I MET SOMEONE REALLY WONDERFUL. IT’S STILL IN THE BEGINNING PHASES, BUT IT’S GREAT TO BE ENJOYING THE EXCITEMENT OF A NEW RELATIONSHIP AT THE SAME TIME I’M TALKING TO CROWDS OF PEOPLE ABOUT LOVE AND SEX!

Q: Why do we need another sex book? How is this one different?

A: WE LIVE IN A SEX SATURATED CULTURE, SO IT’S EASY TO THINK—OH, YET ANOTHER BOOK ON THIS SUBJECT? BUT IRONICALLY, I THINK THE FACT THAT WE’RE SURROUNDED BY SEX ON THE INTERNET AND ON HBO AND IN THE MOVIE THEATER HAS MADE IT TOUGHER TO TALK ABOUT SEX HONESTLY. I LOVED SEX AND THE CITY AS MUCH AS ANY OTHER NEW YORK CITY SINGLE WOMAN, BUT THAT SHOW MADE IT SEEM LIKE MOST SINGLE WOMEN IN THEIR LATE 30S AND 40S ARE GOING OUT WITH NEW MEN EVERY WEEK, HAVING AS MUCH SEX AS THEY CAN HANDLE. THAT’S NOT WHAT LIFE AND DATING AND SEX IS LIKE FOR MOST PEOPLE I KNOW. NOR IS IT GENERALLY ABOUT THREESOMES AND ORGIES AND SWINGS ON THE CEILING—THE KINDS OF THINGS THEY TEND TO FOCUS ON IN THE TIME OUT NEW YORK SEX ISSUE AND THE NY MAGAZINE SEX ISSUE. I THINK BEING SURROUNDED BY ALL THIS SENSATIONALIZED SEX HAS, IRONICALLY, MADE IT HARDER TO TALK ABOUT SEX HONESTLY—TO TALK ABOUT THE BORING PARTS, THE FRUSTRATING PARTS, THE ORDINARY PARTS, THE DRY SPELLS—THE STUFF YOU DON’T SEE ON TV OR IN THE MOVIES. I THINK OUR HYPER SEXUALIZED SOCIETY HAS MADE MANY OF US FEEL AS IF WE’RE NOT MEASURING UP, WHICH MAKES IT TOUGHER TO TALK ABOUT WHAT WE’RE EXPERIENCING AND FEELING AND WORRYING ABOUT. I HOPE THAT THIS BOOK HELPS GET THE CONVERSATION GOING—AND IN DOING SO, REASSURES WOMEN THAT WHATEVER THEY EXPERIENCE, THEY ARE PERFECTLY NORMAL. THE BOOK CAPTURES THE ENORMOUS VARIETY OF OUR SEXUAL EXPERIENCES—I ALSO THINK WOMEN WILL FIND THAT REASSURING.

Q: The pieces evoke such empathy, no matter how similar or dissimilar the stories are to each of ours. How did you pull that off?

A: I TRIED TO MAKE SURE THAT EACH STORY EXPRESSED THE EMOTIONAL SIDE OF SEX—OUR FEARS AND FEELINGS AND DESIRES. THAT’S WHY THE STORIES END UP BEING SO RELATABLE: BECAUSE EVEN IF YOU HAVE NEVER USED A STRAP ON OR SLEPT WITH A WOMAN OR HAD AN AFFAIR, YOU CAN CONNECT WITH THE EMOTIONS AND MOTIVATIONS THESE WOMEN EXPRESS.

Q: Does your book help shatter any myths, and if so, which ones?

A: DEFINITELY—1) THAT SEX IS FOR THE YOUNG. 2) THAT WOMEN ARE COMPLETELY OKAY WITH OUR CURRENT HOOK UP CULTURE. WHAT I’VE LEARNED IS THAT NO MATTER HOW MUCH WE WANT TO, IT’S VERY DIFFICULT FOR WOMEN TO COMPLETELY SEPARATE SEX AND EMOTION. 3) THAT MEN ARE THE ONES WHO HAVE THE REAL STRUGGLE WITH MONOGAMY; DOING THIS BOOK HELPED ME REALIZE THAT WOMEN STRUGGLE WITH OUR DESIRE FOR SECURITY VERSUS OUR DESIRE FOR PASSION AND NOVELTY JUST AS MUCH AS MEN DO—IT’S NOT EASY FOR US TO COMMIT OR BE MONOGAMOUS EITHER.

A: Whom did you intend to reach/help through this book?

Q: ALL THE “REGULAR” WOMEN OUT THERE WHO FEEL FORGOTTEN AND NOT REPRESENTED IN ALL THE DEPICTIONS OF SEX IN OUR CULTURE.

Q: My friend is giving this book to her daughter for her 21st birthday. I love that idea. I think this book makes a great book club selection, and really great conversations are likely to take place, that might not otherwise. Were you hoping to reach younger women before they become too jaded, and older women to help reassure them?

A: YES—FOR YOUNGER WOMEN, I WANTED THEM TO KNOW THAT THE BEST MAY BE AHEAD OF THEM. BUT TRULY, I WANTED ALL WOMEN TO FEEL REASSURED THAT WHATEVER THEY FEEL AND EXPERIENCE, THEY ARE PERFECTLY NORMAL. AND WE CAN ONLY KNOW THAT BY TALKING ABOUT OUR CONCERNS AND FEELINGS.

A: How did you choose which pieces/authors to include? Did you assign topics based on the authors, or did they submit ideas and you edited the book accordingly? There is such a nice balance, I'm wondering how you achieved that?

Q: I TURNED TO WRITERS I USE AT SELF, FOUND WRITERS THROUGH AGENTS AND OTHER WRITERS I KNOW, AND JUST CALLED UP PEOPLE WHOSE BOOKS AND ARTICLES I LIKED. I KNEW THAT I WANTED A WIDE RANGE OF AGES, THAT I WANTED RACIAL AND SEXUAL DIVERSITY, AND THAT I WANTED STORIES THAT KIND OF OVERCAME CONVENTIONAL EXPECTATIONS ABOUT SEX. IN SOME CASES, I WOULD COME TO A WRITER WITH AN IDEA (IF I KNEW THEY HAD HAD DIFFICULTY GETTING PREGNANT, FOR INSTANCE, I MIGHT ASK FOR A STORY ABOUT HOW SEX WAS AFFECTED BY THAT.) BUT MANY TIMES, I WOULD TELL THE WRITERS ABOUT THE THEME OF THE BOOK, AND WE WOULD JUST START TALKING, AND THE ESSAY WOULD ARISE OUT OF THAT. THAT SAID, I DID HAVE A FEW THEMES I STARTED WITH: SEX WITH A MUCH OLDER/YOUNGER MAN; INFIDELITY; ETC.

Q: I was struck by the honesty of the women, the bravery, the ability to just lay it out there and possibly be judged. How did you get the women to open up like that, and do any of them regret it?

A: SOME OF THE WRITERS ENDED UP DROPPING OUT DUE TO PRESSURE FROM SPOUSES; OTHER COUPLES ENDED UP IN COUNSELING; I DO THINK FOR SOME OF THE WRITERS, PUTTING THESE PERSONAL STORIES ON THE PAGE WAS A DIFFICULT THING—FOR THEM AND FOR THEIR PARTNER. BUT I TRIED TO PUSH THE WRITERS AND ENCOURAGE THEM BY EMPHASIZING THAT THE POINT OF THE BOOK WAS NOT VOYEURISM OR SEX FOR SEX’S SAKE, BUT THE EMOTIONAL SIDE OF SEX. I WANTED THE WRITERS TO WRITE FROM THE HEART—AND I THINK KEEPING THE FOCUS ON THAT HELPED THEM FEEL GOOD ABOUT WHAT THEY WERE DOING.


To order yours today, click here.

To read another interview on Betty Confidential, click here

Monday, February 23, 2009



NIGHT LIFE

This weekend I dreamed of sewing. I had yards and yards of fabric and was just going to town on it. Don't know what I was sewing, but I was having a heyday.

And while I was sewing, I was aware I was dreaming, and I was coming up with profound psychic insight after profound psychic insight.

Of course it's all gone, poof, now. Something about when you sew a little, you're supposed to go backwards, then forwards again. I don't know, is that for button holes? Hems? Finish work? I don't even remember from real life sewing lessons, or the dream sequence, I just know it was really important both in terms of the fabric, and in terms of life's metaphors.

Next dream I was digging to the bottom of my purse and giving my mother all my old and cancelled credit cards.

Go big with that one.

Next dream I was at our family-owned property, WUG, and everything about it was wrong. The water wasn't where it was supposed to be, houses were built right along the property line, and PEOPLE were all over it. Random people, trespassers! I stood like a lone wolf on the property and shouted, "THIS IS PRIVATE PROPERTY, YOU ARE TRESPASSING."

And nobody would listen to me.

Again, go big.

When someone asks me, "How was your weekend?" I can honestly say, "Hectic."

Saturday, February 21, 2009



Did you know that 83% of the population say they dream of writing a book one day?

Certainly 83% of the people I know feel that way.

And maybe that describes you, too, In which case, you're going to need to know about this handy new blog:
Author Biz Sense

Check it out!

Friday, February 20, 2009

THE BEST MEDICINE

As you all well know, one of my New Year's resolutions was to laugh more.

I am a pretty fair laugher, if I do say so myself, but gone were the days when I nearly wet my pants, I was laughing so hard.

Gone were the days when I laughed so hard liquids came out my nose.

Gone were the days when I had to leave ceremonies and events because if I didn't, I'd be very embarrassed (think: Pez episode on "Seinfeld").

And damn, did I miss those days.

Ran into a couple very funny friends at a school fundraiser, of all places (I, at least, do not think funny, when thinking school fundraiser), and we got to laughing. Decided we needed to make a time to get together and laugh, laugh, laugh.

"Wear a pad!" Funny Friend #1 said.

I chuckled each time I just saw the date on my calendar.

Yesterday I got together with Funny Friends 1 & 2, and laugh we did.

Probably the biggest laugh came when we were discussing our middle-aged bodies, and the gravitational pull on certain once-perky parts.

"I just tell my husband, 'Those are my boobs, just kick 'em out of your way,'" Funny Friend #2 said.

I'm shaking with laughter all over again, just remembering how funny it was when she said it.

Because we are all busy and time is scarce, we only had 1 1/2 hours together before we had to go get our kids. Three funny women with 9 kids between us, lots going on, active, crazy lives, and lots to talk about.

So yes, we laughed, and it felt great. Really, really great.

But we also got right to the heart of lots of topics that aren't always funny: marriage, aging, pro-choice vs. pro-life, adoption, birth parents vs. adoptive parents, family loyalties, siblings, special needs children, "advanced maternal age" babies, etc., etc., etc.

And none of that is inherently funny.

Unless it is.

You know the expression, "This will all be funny someday?"

I've decided today is that day.

I've got a pad on, too, just in case.


* Photo from pro.corbis.com

Thursday, February 19, 2009

OUTDOOR SCHOOL

In Oregon we have a very cool thing called Outdoor School. For one week, sixth graders get a week-long field trip with their teacher, adults and high school counselors, and a life-changing experience.

Outdoor School is not new - both STM and I went when we were in 6th grade - and for thousands of kids it's their favorite week of their entire grade school experience.

Sleeping bags, bunk beds, campfire, songs, communal meals, occasional showers, and some big time bonding, are all highlights of Outdoor School, and for those kids that fidget and endure year after year of sitting at a desk, for one week they are free, free, gloriously free.

For some kids this week away is full of firsts - first sleepover, first time away from home, first camping trip, first taste of well-supervised independence.

For some kids therapy is required first to ready the child for all those firsts that hit at the very same time.

For some kids it's taken in stride and parents simply drop their kids off at the bus stop on Sunday and pick them back up on Friday (Woohoo, for example).

And then there's Rojo.

Certainly Outdoor School has been accommodated to meet the needs of thousands of special needs students through the years, but those are other people's children. Not. Mine.

In his 12+ years of life he has never slept anywhere other than our house, or a grandparent's house.

He doesn't shower - he bathes, with a lot of help, in about 3 inches of water and only after he's been 6 rooms away from the sound of the running water.

He doesn't eat "regular" food, at regular times. Right now he pretty much only eats Cinnamon Toast Crunch Cereal at 5:00 AM and 5:00 PM. That might actually work, since who can't be talked into pouring him a bowl of cereal and splashing on some milk? But Outdoor School isn't until April, and by then he could be back on garlic toast, which is labor-intensive and very, very stinky.

He has certain TV shows, which watching is imperative to his state of well-being. "Nanny 911" on Tuesdays at 4:00 - we nearly get a speeding ticket each week making it back from getting Woohoo, in time for that one. And what about "Drake & Josh," "Praise the Lord," and "iCarly?" Huh? What about those? Do they show THOSE at Outdoor School? No. I don't think so.

So clearly, this won't work.

But each day he comes home a little more excited about Outdoor School, with a little bit more information, and a little bit more buy in.

And each day my heart breaks a little bit more.

My greatest fear has always been that he will never live independently.

Now it's that he might.

Wednesday, February 18, 2009


Apparently too long has gone by without a post on Rojo, so this one is for you, Lion King, as well as the rest of you that have come to love the boy as much as I do (and at times, more).



Bought myself a little back-to-school present in August, one of those huge wall calendars with enough room to put every little thing on it. I tear off a couple months' worth out at a time, load it up and put it on the frig., at which time I tell Rojo, "DO NOT WRITE ON THIS!"

And every single month he writes all over it.

Large.

Scrawling.

Messy.

And each month it bugs me to no end because I like things neat and tidy.

Took a look at it the other day and he'd scribbled out something on there, and until I put on my "readers" and squinted, I couldn't tell what was still barely showing, underneath all the pencil scratches.

Ash Wednesday.

I walked into the living room, where he basically does live, and said, "So, I see someone scratched out Ash Wednesday on the calendar - anything you want to tell me?"

Looking sheepishly over the top of his glasses he just said, "Yea."

"You don't like Ash Wednesday, do you?" I persisted.

"No," he simply stated.

"Because of the whole no alleluia thing?" I badgered.

I don't know if it's a universal Catholic thing, but at least at Rojo's church/school the "rule" is, "No alleluias during Lent." Lent, which commences on Ash Wednesday, is a time of solemnity.

And solemnity is all well and good - really, I have big plans, actually, scratch that, I have big intentions for having very few plans, during the Lenten season.

I'm all for shutting down the noise and getting reflective. But not giving praise?

"Yes! Because of that! I like to say alleluia! I like to say it every day! I do not like a rule that says you cannot say allelulia! That is a very bad rule. I hate that rule."

I gotta agree.

Alleluia.

Alleluia.

Alleluia.

Tuesday, February 17, 2009


EVERYTHING I NEEDED TO KNOW, I LEARNED AT TRADER JOE'S?

Last week I was in Trader Joe's, as I am likely to be 2-3 times per week (don't worry, Safeway, I still love you, my list splits down the middle, you see, and, well, it's a long story...) Anyway, it was a couple days before Valentine's Day and the checker said, "So, do you have big plans for Saturday?"

"Well, actually, yes, it's my birthday on Saturday," I answered.

"That's so cool your birthday is on Valentine's Day," she answered, "you walk right over there to the $5.99 bouquets, and pick yourself out one - on us."

I did.

And that bouquet sits brightly on my dining room table and reminds me of the random acts of kindness of which I'm frequently on the receiving end of, but not always in full appreciation of.

Yesterday I pulled into the parking lot, popped the back hatch, walked around, grabbed three Trader Joe's reusable sacks from my stash in the back, and walked in.

Finished shopping, pulled my red cart up to the checker, shook my bags dramatically, for effect, and began bagging things just as fast as the poor guy could scan. If he was too slow I took the opportunity to scan my credit card, click "credit," and tap my toe while waiting for something else to bag.

"I see you're a multi-tasker!" he commented.

"Yes," I answered, "it's both a curse and a blessing."

"I understand," he said, "I'm the same way." This surprised me, as I was struck by his almost meditative quality to scanning - he was just so present.

"Yea," I said, "I end up doing most things twice, since the first time is too fast and too sloppy - someday I'll learn."

"I get it," he said. "Wouldn't it nice to just be released from the obsession?"

I'm not so sure, I thought. Who would I be without my ability to do 10 things at once?

"Maybe," I said.

But his words, "released from" still resonate.

Monday, February 16, 2009

WHY DO I CARE?

It's one thing to be "okay" with gay marriage, it's another thing to encourage it.

I encourage it.

Maybe it's because I just feel, Why not? Where's the harm?

Maybe it's because I have a dear friend that wasn't allowed to marry his true love, so he had some sham of a marriage just to stay in the country - got caught, then deported, and is now separated from his "husband" by thousands of miles and a very large ocean.

Maybe it's because I feel of all the things we need to "crack down on," in this country, tearing people apart that love and are committed to one another, is simply not one of them.

But probably it's because if it was okay to be someone born in 1921 and be gay, and fall in love and then marry someone of your same sex and then have children, my own childhood would have been very different.

And happier.

And so much less confusing.

And so much healthier.

Over and over I hear, "I just feel sorry for the children," when speaking of gay unions.

I'm here to tell you, those aren't the ones you need to feel sorry for.

Sunday, February 15, 2009

Saturday, February 14, 2009

WELL-MATCHED

The Valentine STM gave me:




The Valentine I gave him:

Friday, February 13, 2009



HAPPY VALENTINE'S DAY WEEKEND TO ALL!

Thursday, February 12, 2009

little c

When I told you about my most recent visit to the school in Philly, and how the "disabled" girl pointed to the Sacred Heart icon and said, "Do you know that guy?" Well, I left out one tiny detail, that I only later "unpacked" and realized the import of it. After I assured her that yes, I did know "that guy," she said, "Well, you SHOULD, you're Catholic!"

But I'm not Catholic.

Not with an upper case "C" anyway.

I live in a Catholic community.

My kids go to Catholic schools.

Every best friend I've ever in my life had, have been, or are, Catholic.

But I'm not.

When I was telling a dear Catholic friend about my trip East, and I added the part about, "Well you SHOULD, you're CATHOLIC," she said, "You better find out what the real definition of Catholic is, because that was a message."

And wouldn't you just know it, I was looking up big "C" Catholic and coming up empty, but when I tried little "c" catholic, I got it.

The message.

According to Wiktionary, catholic, spelled with a lower case "c," means all inclusive; pertaining to all mankind.

And I got the whole reason I was visiting that school in the first place.

Inclusion.

For all.

I'm proud to call myself catholic.


* Photo from www.oneamerica.net

"The progress of our soul is like a perfect poem. It has an infinite idea which once realised makes all movements full of meaning and joy."

Rabindranath Tagore

(Fancier way of saying, "No accidents.")

Wednesday, February 11, 2009



TWO CHAIRS, TWO MINDS, ONE MEMORABLE EVENING






TOP 10 THINGS I LEARNED AND LOVED FROM BEING IN THE AUDIENCE AS ANN PATCHETT AND ELIZABETH GILBERT HAD AN HDR* IN FRONT OF THOUSANDS OF FANS


10. They both equate writing fiction with wearing a 300-page horse hair shirt

9. They both had disastrous first marriages and are now happily married to men 16 1/2 years older than them.

8. They are both deliberately, and joyfully, childless

7. They both feel they have an "energy credit" due to this fact, and "spend" their credit taking good care of other people's children/loved ones

6. They took each other book shopping at Powell's, and talked about all the books they love, shared books each other needs to read, then bought each other books.

5. Liz Gilbert said if she loves a book, highly recommends it to a friend and the friend doesn't love the book, she seriously doubts whether or not the book was actually good.

4. When Ann Patchett highly recommends a book, passes it on to a friend and the friend doesn't like it, Ann serisouly doubts whether or not the friend is any good.

3. Their friendship has taken place exclusively through hand-written letters. No phone calls. No e-mail. No visits. This is only the second time they've seen each other, and the first time they've appeared together.

2. Wherever Liz goes, she draws a crowd. She is instantly recognized, and mobbed.

1. Nobody ever knows who Ann is, and even after they do learn who she is, she feels invisible. Yet she is the one with the self-confidence.

* HDR = Heavy, deep and real (aka a heart-to-heart)

** To hear more from Liz Gilbert, go here.

Monday, February 09, 2009


HEARTS THAT ARE SACRED

Sitting on a plane, Screaming Toddler #1 directly across the aisle from me, Screaming Toddler #2, two rows up.

Couldn’t be happier (ear plugs are helpful, too).

Spent the morning at another school that gets it.

Spent the morning being toured around by a boy named D. and two girls, J. and M.

Spent the morning laughing, crying, and feeling my heart burst wide.

Spent the morning surrounded by four adults with a million things to do, who dropped it all to give me ELD on their school, what they do, why they do it, and how they do it.

Answers? Honor the grace inherent in all human beings; because it’s the right thing to do; with lots of love.

D. and J. both have cognitive disabilities, M. is a student of Cardinal Dougherty, and was along for the ride, not to control, but to help guide the tour that D. and J. delightfully led me on.

We walked into one classroom, empty except for a teacher working hard at her desk. Above her desk was a picture of the Sacred Heart icon. J. pointed, looked at me, other hand on her hip, and said, “So? You know that guy?”

“Yes,” I said, “I know that guy.”

“Well, you SHOULD,” she continued. “And look at that heart. So much love.”

My hand going immediately to the bottom of my purse to grab a Kleenex, all I could do was nod.

So much love.

J. led me into the chapel, D. held the door for me. His Down Syndrome voice loud and unmistakable, he explained all the parts of the chapel, and told me how he carries the gifts on Fridays – that’s the day he and his peers go to chapel.

One foot still in, one foot in the hallway outside, J. looked at D. and said in an equally loud voice, “Hey, D., next time, could you take it down a notch? That’s a CHAPEL!”

Walking through the gym where some of their peers were having Adaptive PE, another boy waved at D. D turned to me, held his hand backwards against his mouth in a conspiratorial stance and said, “That’s my best friend.”

I looked at J. and said, “J.? Do you have a best friend?” She looked at D. and said, “I’m looking at him!”

Pretty sure no matter who was standing in front of her, that would have been her answer.

So much love.



* Image from www.marysprayersrosaries.com

Saturday, February 07, 2009

NOTHING BUT THE TRUTH

There's a great new blog you gotta check out: The Truth Teller. Think: Dear Abby meets Eckhart Tolle. Think: straight-shooting meets compassionate. Think: self-deprecating meets higher self.

Got a question you don't know whom to ask? A sticky situation you don't know how to handle? A sensitive issue that's making you feel isolated? Take it to The Truth Teller. You may not get the answer you're hoping for, but I bet you'll get the answer you need.

Friday, February 06, 2009


WHO CARES?

Before I left on my trip, I spent an inordinate amount of time rehearsing a conversation I was just sure was going to take place. Felt it was inevitable. Felt it was critical. Felt it was a landmine.

Talked to trusted friends, got opinions, coaching, tips, had everyone and their dog weigh in on how I was going to navigate through this fated exchange of difficult words.

Spent 13 hours, over the course of two days, talking to a person I’d never in my life met before, but somehow thought I had all figured out, and not once did we even get near “the” topic.

Not once.

I spent over two months of my life practicing for something that never happened.

Didn’t need to happen.

Doesn’t matter.

She didn’t care.

Now maybe I can finally stop caring, too.

Thursday, February 05, 2009


OLD DOG AND NEW TRICKS

I'm in a new city - never been here before, and that's not the only first - I'm staying in a hotel by myself. Just me. No husband, no friend, no group. Almost 46 years old and this is the first time.

I don't even know who I am anymore.

When I walked into the gorgeous room there was an inviting chair and ottoman near the window, but not in front of. I fought myself for HOURS before I said, "Screw it, I'm paying a lot of money to be here, it's okay if I scoot the flippin' chair and ottoman around to face the window. The world will keep turning.

And, by all accounts, that appears to be true.

I'm now facing the window in my newly rearranged room, watching the sunrise, and thinking life doesn't get much better than this.

I'm here on "business" and not enough can be made of how much I like saying that. Yesterday and today are all book-related. Tomorrow I fly off again to visit Terry, per my list of '09 intentions.

And then, because there are no accidents, I learned of another "school that gets it" and it's in Philly, and I was already going to Philly, and well, long story short, I will be on another fact-finding mission on Monday morning, before returning back home to "real life."

But until then, I am enjoying this life.

Really.





* Photo from www. jumperlumps.com

Tuesday, February 03, 2009


I'm leaving on a big trip tomorrow, and have a MILLION trip-related details to take care of, but first I need to:

10. Make playlists for my iPod
9. Fill out Rojo's Outdoor School forms that aren't due for 2 months
8. Wrap Valentine gifts that aren't being given for 11 more days
7. See how many groups I could be a part of, but aren't, on Facebook, and rectify that
6. Pop over to Facebook several times per hour, see who's online, and start a chat session with them
5. Change my mind about the shoes I'm taking on the trip and go shopping for new shoes
4. Decide maybe I'll borrow Woohoo's Uggs - try them on with all the outfits I'm considering taking
3. Check the weather in all the cities I'm going, and start the unpacking/packing process. Again.
2. Talk to everyone I know about all the things I need to do, but not actually do them
1. Blog about all the things I need to do, but not actually do them

Monday, February 02, 2009

BEHIND THE BEDROOM DOOR

Just for the record, Michelle O'Neil started it. You know, talking about "it."

"It," is not the easiest thing for me to talk about, and relax, I'm not going to. But this anthology does. And it does so beautifully.

And honestly.

And painfully.

And humorously.

And some pieces do all three things, and those pieces are my favorite.

Two of my favorite writers, Cheryl Strayed, whom I am also lucky enough to call friend, and Hope Edelman, whom I am lucky enough to have met (and actually have hosted in my house), both have GORGEOUS pieces in this anthology.

My book club is reading the book - I know we'll have our best discussion ever.

And most honest.

And most painful.

And most humorous.

Because that's what happens when women start talking about "it."

Sunday, February 01, 2009

I told you so.