Wednesday, December 29, 2004

Monday, I had the wind knocked out of me. Literally. My daughter wanted to go ice skating for her 11th birthday. I was a figure skater at a girl, so skating always feels like coming home to me--the taste of the sharp, cold air, the dig of the blade in the ice, the faint trail it leaves behind. This time, however, I fell. Hard. My toepick caught in a divot, and before I knew what was happening, I went down, smack, on my stomach. A guy bent down to see if I was okay, and I couldn't answer him. I couldn't talk at all. It was the strangest sensation. "You don't have to be embarrassed," he said. I wasn't--I just couldn't speak. Eventually, I could feel the air in my throat, bracing and raw; I let him help me up, I dusted myself off and made my way off the ice to catch my breath and collect myself. I'm a bit bruised today, but grateful that I wasn't hurt more. Now that my husband is recovering from his injury/surgery (he started physical therapy today), we don't need more broken people in the house!

I feel as if the wind has been knocked out of me in another way, too. The news coming from South Asia is too devastating to comprehend. I feel like I did belly-down on the ice--speechless, stunned. I look at the photos of parents mourning their lost children, I hear the accounts of being swept out to sea, and my stomach feels slapped, my head filled with a metallic ringing.

The earth is so powerful. We are so small. But our lives have so much meaning, and to see so much life, so many stories, snuffed out on such a major scale is almost too much to bear. We sent a donation to Doctors Without Borders as soon as we heard what was happening. I wish there was more we could do. Here is a compilation of other organizations that are accepting donations towards relief efforts. Tsunami Help is another clearing house of information.

I hope all of you are having a beautiful holiday season, despite all the pain in the world. May the new year be full of healing and peace on a global scale.

Monday, December 13, 2004

I am humbled and excited and genuinely mindblown to announce that I have been chosen as a 2004 Writer Who Makes a Difference by The Writer Magazine (along with Jane Yolen, the late George Plimpton, and three other wonderful recipients. If you pick up the January, 2005 issue, you can see the feature article.) This award feels somewhat premature--I feel as if I am just beginning to do the work I'm supposed to do on this planet--but it inspires me to go further, to push deeper, to use my words for greater and greater good.

Tuesday, December 07, 2004

MJ Rose has posted my Letter to Book Biz Santa on her kickass Publishers Marketplace blog, Buzz, Balls and Hype. (You'll have to scroll down a bit--I'm not one of the "bah humbug" authors. Speaking of "bah humbug", my daughter was a brilliant Little Fan--sister to Ebenezer as a boy--in a production of "A Christmas Carol" this weekend! Her first professional gig!)

You can send your own publishing hopes and dreams to Book Biz Santa via MJ at mjroseauthor at aol dot com.

(Update, 1/3/05: You can no longer access my letter at the link above, but you can find it in the archives if you click on "December 2004"...)

Sunday, December 05, 2004

My online class, Writing the First Novel, begins January 19 and runs through March 23. I had such a wonderful time with this class over the summer and look forward to teaching it again. You can register online through the UCLA Writers Program.

Friday, December 03, 2004

Supposedly, I've enabled the Comments feature. Let's see if it works...

Okay, it works, but you can only post and view comments if you click on the time link that appears below each post. I will try to make it all more accessible. In the meanwhile, feel free to leave a message behind the (iron? velvet? virtual?) curtain!

Update: I've figured out how to make a real-life Comments link. Yay! I'd love to hear from you (all those "0 Comments" lines look so lonely...)

Thursday, December 02, 2004

I have been thinking a lot about what holds things together. The tangible and intangible. The screws and plates in my husband's leg. The way the bone will knit itself back together. The connection I feel when I put my palm on his swollen foot. Such a rich weave.

One thing that doesn't stay together: my clothes. Take it from me--if you're going to give a reading or talk, don't wear clothes that tie together. The first time I gave a Fruitflesh reading--my very first event as an author--I wore a lavender colored wrap blouse. It felt elegant, grown up (which, in my wardrobe, and in my mind, is rare.) At some point in my reading, I felt air on my stomach. I looked down and realized that my blouse had untied and had opened up so that the whole front of my body was exposed (I was wearing a bra, but I still showed a lot more of my own fruitflesh than I had intended.) Later, someone told me I should do that at every reading, but I decided against it.

Recently, at the beautiful Performances for Peace event, I wore pants that are held up by a single blue satin ribbon. A long blue satin ribbon. As I was sitting in the audience, somehow the end of the ribbon got under my friend's foot, and when I stood to give my reading, I could feel the ribbon untie. While I tried to be as present as possible with my work and with the audience as I read, part of me spent the entire time worrying that my pants were going to fall down. I think I was probably standing in a sort of I-have-to-go-to-the-bathroom, legs-together, kind of way throughout the performance.

So, my clothes may not stay together, but I'm amazed by the way everything else in life merges. Even after it's been shattered.

Tuesday, November 30, 2004

Yesterday, my novel came to life. Not on the page. In the world. In a small way. I recently finished a new revision of my novel, Self Storage. In part of it, a girl is taken to Riverside Community Hospital. Yesterday, we were at that same hospital for my husband's surgery. The girl in the novel's name is Nori; my husband's surgical nurse was named Nori. Also, the word YES, in capital letters, plays a large role in the novel. The nurse wrote YES in capital letters on his leg and on his foot so the surgeon would know which leg to operate on. Small coincidences, maybe, but they feel significant to me. Every time I look at my husband's leg now, the word YES stares back at me and makes me feel weird and happy, connected to him, connected to my story. It is always amazing for me to see my writing play itself out in the world.

A few years ago, I was writing a story that featured a green-haired character named Lime Boy. There was a knock on the door, and when I opened it, my character—a green-haired teenage guy I had never seen before in my life—was standing there, looking expectant. I was more than a little freaked out. Had I conjured this person into being? Were my other characters going to show up on my front porch unannounced? When Lime Boy's doppelganger told me he was there to pick up my son's friend, my heart finally started to calm down. I found I was slightly disappointed. It would have been amazing to meet my characters in person, to see them in all their three dimensional glory, to hear their voices outside my own head.

One of my favorite books when I was a little girl was a picture book called JUST ONLY JOHN, by Jack Kent. In the book, a four year old boy named John is tired of being himself. After pretending to be various animals, he decides he wants to change himself for real. He goes to Mrs. Walpurgis' shop (she does witchcraft and hemstitching,) and buys a peppermint flavored penny magic spell. She doesn't tell him what kind of magic spell it is, and for a while, John doesn't believe it works at all. Then his mother starts calling him pet names, "Bunny," "My little lamb," and when she does, he turns into whatever animal she has called him. Eventually, he tires of this constant transformation and repeats to himself over and over, "I'm just only John." He soon comes to appreciate just how much he enjoys being himself. I remember how much this book affected me when I was a kid--not only did it remind me to be myself; it also gave me a glimpse into how powerful words can be, how, even without the help of a peppermint flavored penny magic spell, a word has the potential to profoundly change a person, down to their very molecular structure.

I don't believe writers are godlike; I don't believe I have the power to conjure characters into flesh and blood being, to make my stories truly body their way forth in the world. But I know language has power, and I am continually humbled and awed by it. And I love those little moments of coincidence, of synchronicity, when the Word appears to have become flesh.

Monday, November 29, 2004

My husband broke his leg skateboarding last Wednesday. He had surgery today to repair his fibula (which, according to the orthopedic surgeon, was kind of like Humpty Dumpty. Fortunately, unlike all the kings' horses and all the kings' men, the surgeon was able, with the help of some metal plates and screws, to put it back together again.) Matt is dozing now, sleeping off the Demerol, and keeping his foot above heart level to reduce the swelling. His toes are still yellow from the Betadyne.

Demerol does interesting things to a person's head. Today, Matt hallucinated, among other things: unicycling clowns, hopping carnies, men with pompadours in the ceiling, and a Japanese woman leaving the imprint of her body on a red bean bag chair. I found myself sitting beside him in the recovery room holding his hand and waiting for more wild images to come out of his mouth. My sweet guy. Any thoughts for a speedy recovery would be well appreciated.

Our Thanksgiving was not what we had planned, but we have SO much to be thankful for.

Friday, November 19, 2004

Tremors, the story my friend Sefi Atta and I wrote together, is now online. Our bylines aren't listed on this page, for some reason, but we are credited in the print edition. It was so much fun to collaborate on this story--I wrote sections 1 and 3; she wrote sections 2 and 4. Sefi's new novel, Everything Good Will Come, is a must read, by the way. It's an amazing exploration of life in Nigeria (and is a beautiful example of the difference one voice can make in the world.)

I also have a poem, "Horseradish", in the fun new book, Mischief, Caprice and Other Poetic Strategies. Terry Wolverton, the editor, sent a "recipe"--"Twenty Little Poetry Projects" by Jim Simmerman--for contributors to follow. We were given instructions like "Say something specific but utterly preposterous" and "Contradict something you said earlier in the poem". It is so cool to see what other poets came up with, using the same template. Red Hen Press puts out such gorgeous books (including new ones by my friends Richard Beban and Sholeh Wolpe!)

Thursday, November 18, 2004

This Sunday, November 21st, I am going to host a Fruitflesh Feast at the Farm restaurant in Redlands. Chef Roberto Argentina will create a lavish five course meal--each course will focus on one of the senses (I am going to talk to him about the menu soon--I can't wait to find out more about it!) I will offer writing exercises and meditations with each course. Together we'll open our senses and our creative potential. The cost for the evening--which includes a copy of Fruitflesh--is $85. Proceeds go to the wonderful Shakespeare for Children program. Reservations are necessary--if you'd like to attend, please call the Frugal Frigate Bookstore soon at 909.793.0740.

Wednesday, November 17, 2004

I love this quote that appeared at the bottom of A Word A Day a couple of days ago:

My aim is to agitate and disturb people. I'm not selling bread, I'm selling
yeast. -Miguel de Unamuno, writer and philosopher (1864-1936)

I also love this quote from an interview with Sarah Shun-Lien Bynum (author of Madeleine is Sleeping) over at the Galley Cat blog. It feeds my obsession with the connection between writing and the body:

SSB: For me, at least, [my tendency towards the "the grotesque"] sprang out of a fascination with the body. I think the body, when one dwells upon it long enough, leaves you sort of inevitably down that path. And, I guess, in some way I thought the corporeal and the bodily were necessary to temper attempts at lyricism. It wasn't calculated, but I wanted to play with language, and whatever subjects allowed me to -- Well, also, I'm the daughter of a gastroenterologist. Joseph Pujol [a historical character appearing in Madeleine, known for having turned his body into a "wind instrument"] was somebody I discovered through him ... So I guess that's another reason why bodily functions entered the work.

GC: There's been a good deal of scholarly work, too, on how the grotesque has been used to discuss, and interrogate, the idea of gender, especially female gender. Deformity can allow female bodies to transcend convention, or the grotesque can relay convention as a kind of violence to the body.

SSB: Just by intuition, I'd agree that it's a way to talk about gender. I took a great class with Nancy Armstrong at Brown on "the Gothic" and we talked about Carrie, discussing the idea of the body saying what's unspekable. What's been repressed always ends up being expressed, somehow, through the body. We looked at the scene in Carrie when she starts bleeding -- and there's that impulse in all the girls to say [laughing], "Plug it up, plug it up!" So, the idea of the unruly, speaking body always made a lot of sense to me. Also, using that allows you to say things about gender that, put more directly, might come across as didactic or simplified. ... And [the grotesque] allows you to use more luxerient language without it immediately becoming purple prose.

I have to read this book.
When I was in college, my Orthodox cousins offered to pay for me to go to Israel for my study abroad. I appreciated the offer but declined, announcing (very dramatically) "My heart is in India!" It was true, in a way. I've been fascinated by India for many years. In high school, my friend Laura and I went on a quest to eat at every Indian restaurant in the Chicago area. We didn't come close, but we had a lot of fun trying. I swathed my dorm room (and my closet) with Indian print fabrics. I still have a fondness for those paisley hippie clothes.

Given this India fetish, I guess it's not surprising that I had an amazing time as an extra in the Bollywood film over the weekend. Sunday night, I was invited to take part in a party scene at a mansion (my kids and three of our friends came, too.) We were on set from 5:30pm to 1am. Most of the women were dressed in exquisite saris--lime green saris, hot pink saris, dove gray saris, saris of all colors, dripping with beads and spangles. The party was supposed to be a traditional Dewali celebration. Dewali, we learned, is the festival of lights; the yard sparkled with Christmas lights and small oil lamps that kept blowing out in the wind (the poor production assistants had to keep relighting them, just to have them blow out a few seconds later.)

The best part of the evening--aside from the delicious catered Indian dinner (which the crew called "lunch", even though it was served around midnight)--was the dancing. The Punjabi dancers had amazing energy, and we were invited to dance in the background as we watched them bound around! It felt so good to dance; I wanted to jump into the choreography (I probably could have done it--we watched them dance so many times, I think I learned most of the steps.) I studied East Indian dance when I was in college--a woman taught it in her garage, which she had converted into a studio. All the other students were 10 year old Indian girls. The teacher told them I was 14, I guess so they would feel closer to me. They always looked confused when I got into my car and drove myself away after class!

Anyway, I'm so grateful I stumbled upon the filming. I never in a million years would have imagined that I would end up in a Bollywood musical, especially in Riverside. The cast and crew were all so sweet and accomodating. My daughter told me Sunday was the best day of her life!

I never did make it to India in college (although I did make it to Indonesia.) Maybe some day...

Friday, November 12, 2004

I've had a very filmy 24 hours!

Last night, I received an email inquiring about film rights to The Book of Dead Birds. Nothing may come of this, but I found myself bouncing around the house like a rubber person after I read the message. It would be so cool to see my story come to life on the screen.

This morning, when I drove the kids to school, I noticed that a bunch of film crew trucks were parked at Fairmount Park down the street from our house. I had film on the brain, so I wandered over to the park a couple of hours later to see what was going on. It turned out that a Bollywood movie was being filmed there! Bollywood in our own backyard! I love Bollywood musicals--the lavishness, the melodrama, the wonderful corny-ness, of them. Unfortunately the cast wasn't filming a musical number, but I had the chance to meet the star, Anupam Kher, who played the father in Bend it Like Beckham. He is very kind. I also talked to the producer at length. He gave me some great advice about film options, and even talked about the possibility of acquiring my book (I gave him a copy, of course. I gave one to Anupam, too.) It was great fun--all the crew members were so welcoming. Later, they invited me and my daughter to be on camera as extras; we sat under a tree, reading my book (product placement!) while the principal cast ate a picnic on camera and other extras chased a soccer ball around. The crew asked my daughter to come back to the set tomorrow--they have something specific in mind for her. I'm eager to see how it all unfolds...

Needless to say, I never expected to spend my day this way. I'm very glad I followed my impulse to check things out; I love these sorts of surprises.

Another delightful surprise today--I found out that one of my short stories has been nominated for a Pushcart Prize! The same story is going to be read on air next Monday at an NPR station in NY.

Who knows what other surprises are on the horizon...

Thursday, November 11, 2004

(In honor of Veteran's Day and my dad's retirement, here's the essay I just mentioned)

Forward, HARM!

When I was little, my dad used to ask me "How's your gafangen nummer doing?"

I would giggle and say "fine," sure he had made up another crazy word. I pictured the gafangen nummer as a vestigial organ, like the appendix, something small and green hidden in the body.

I found out years later that gafangen nummer means "prisoner number" in German. My dad liked the silly sound of it, but it had a serious connection to his life--he had guarded German prisoners during World War II. Per the Geneva Convention, he could only ask for their name (namen), rank (rank), and gafanger nummer, which I suppose was interchangeable with serial number. Now he witnesses the abuse suffered by Iraqi POWs, and shudders. "We treated those prisoners with dignity," he tells me. "This is deplorable."

By the time I was born, my dad was 48 years old, and his military career was well behind him. The only vestige that I saw as a girl was when he showed me his old rifle drills, using me as the rifle. He tossed me over his shoulder, spun me around like a baton, shouted out (as I heard it) "AttenTION! Forward, HARM!" I loved it. It didn't seem related to war (except for that last misheard word. He was really saying "ARMS".)

My dad, fortunately, didn't have to inflict harm on anyone during his tenure in the Army. His first assignment, after only six weeks of basic training, was to pick up German officers at the Port of Boston and accompany them on a train to Colorado. He watched their faces shift from anger to confusion to wonder as the train made its way across the country. These officers had been told that Germany had bombed the United States to smithereens. They were expecting to see a country in ruins. My father was proud to show them the beauty of the American landscape.

It wasn't long before he was sent to Texas to guard German prisoners.

"We were raw recruits," he says. "We thought of them as the enemy. But when you see them, you see they're just people, just like us."

The prisoners slept in the same types of barracks as the American soldiers. They received PX privileges; they had the same rations. "They had better cooks than we did, though," he laughs. "When they were on work detail and we broke for lunch, their picnics looked better than ours."

Local farmers took advantage of this work detail opportunity and hired prisoners for $1.50 a day--the prisoner received 80 cents of this in canteen coupons; the rest went toward paying for the POW program. My father spent his days in the fields, riding a horse between corn stalks, supervising the prisoners as they harvested one ear after another.

Many of the Germans chose to stay in Texas after the war was over. "There was no mistreatment," my dad says, "and they grew to appreciate what America had to offer."

The opposite, of course, has been happening in Iraq. When I ask my dad how he feels about the situation in Abu Ghraib, his mood turns dark. "The thing that gets to me," he says, "is that our President says that these soldiers don't represent America, but by allowing these brutish things to happen, they are redefining what America means."

I think about my dad swinging me around his shoulders, my body a rifle, his voice ringing (as I heard it) "Forward, HARM!" This seems to be the order our troops in the Abu Ghraib prison had been given. Harm upon harm upon harm.

"When we do this," my dad says, "we become terrorists ourselves. And then we're nothing. Then America is nothing."

My dad's time in Texas sounds almost idyllic as he speaks about it, almost like summer camp, but he is quick to point out that it was wartime, not something to be idealized. "I don't understand why veterans glorify their war experience," he says. "War is not glory. War is the most stupid thing humans have invented."

"Especially this war," I say.

"Especially this war, my honey," he agrees. When the light hits him just right, I can see a ring of blue around the brown iris of his left eye, a halo left by his glaucoma medicine. It makes his pupil look huge. It makes him look like a sage. "If anything should be idealized, it's the Geneva Convention, but that is clearly not being followed."

We look at each other for a while. Even hearing all of his stories, it's hard for me to believe my peaceful dad had really been in the military, hard to believe the rakish portrait of him in his uniform isn't a glossy from a black and white movie. The air between us is thick—thick with anger towards our administration, thick with love for each other. It's hard to know what to say. Then my dad leans toward me, his face intense.

"So," he says, eyebrows raised. "How's your gafangen nummer doing, anyway?"

My dad's retirement is big news! (Newsflash! He's even considered legendary! Scroll down toward the bottom of the page...)

Chicago's loss is California's gain! Hooray!

The article states that my dad had been a boxer. It doesn't mention that his brief shining moment as a boxer came when he was a kid. His boxing name was "Jaw Breaker Bransky" (this was before he changed his last name to Brandeis.) He was only involved in one backyard match, but it was legendary: he knocked out "Seven Round Lieber" in the eighth round.

The article also doesn't mention how my dad's experience in WWII affects his perspective on the current war in Iraq. I've written an essay about this. Maybe I'll post it here soon.

Monday, November 08, 2004

Maybe dragon fruit would taste better dipped in chocolate. Can you imagine happening upon a chocolate covered road like the one in this link? Would you put your tongue to the asphalt? Would you swipe a finger through the dark sweet goo and lick it off?

I am always delighted to see stories like this one about strange highway spills. Random artful chaos (as long as it doesn't hurt anyone) is one of my favorite things. I wrote a story, "Flotsam", that is coming out soon in Drunken Boat (I'll post the direct link when it's live). In the story, a woman drives around, looking for truck spills to photograph. Her path crosses with a man who maps out ocean flotsam, things that have spilled in the sea.

My mother-in-law works for the City of Chino. One day, a call came in about a truck spill. It turned out the truck had been full of sex toys. "The street was positively quivering with dildos!" Patricia told us. That sentence still cracks me up whenever I think about it.
If you've read my book Fruitflesh, you know I have had a habit of picking up "mystery fruits" at the grocery store. I thought I had exhausted all of the mysteriousness of the produce section, but today, at Trader Joe's, I found dried dragon fruit. Whole, the fruit looks like a pink-tinged artichoke, but dried slices of it look like pucks of congealed bird poop. Not the grayish-whitish kind; the purplish kind, dotted with seeds. This may not sound very appetizing, but the color is amazing--a deep rich magenta, like beets. The seeds are small and black, tear shaped, about the size of sesame seeds.

I wish I could say the fruit is transcendent, hauntingly sweet, but it is as chewy and gamy as shoe leather (not that I've eaten shoe leather. I've only seen Charlie Chaplin eat it. Then again, I heard those shoes were made of fruit leather, so maybe they did taste like dragon fruit.) It is probably the least tasty thing I have eaten in years.

I haven't given up on dragon fruit, though. I'm sure that when it's fresh, it's incredible. For now, it's still a mystery fruit to me.

Friday, November 05, 2004

I had a blogging dream last night. In my dream, I had found a way to activate the Comments feature of the blog (I still can't seem to make it work in real life), and I had a ton of comments, in large red font, from pro-Bush folks upset by my last message. In my dream, I almost considered shutting down the blog, but then I realized that would just give them more power. We need to find a way to create dialogue, to not just shout at each other, to not intimidate each other into silence. It seems like an almost impossible bridge to gap. But we're all human beings, and I hope we can find some common empathetic ground. Right now it all feels more pathetic than empathetic. Bush made lip service to reaching across the aisle, but I know he's just going to build bigger walls.

Rather than build my own walls, I want to be sure to shore up my roots, to know I'm grounded, connected to this planet we all share. This morning, I sent donations to the ACLU, NARAL, and the NRDC to help them continue to protect our most basic and precious rights and resources.

I've probably mentioned this before, but when I was 18, my essay on the liberty of the imagination was one of three "meaning of liberty" student essays included in the Centennial time capsule of the Statue of Liberty. During the celebration, I was named a "Steward of Liberty for the next 100 years" by the Secretary of the Interior. At the time, this seemed like just a token dubbing, but I have been taking the title more seriously since Bush has been in office. I want to do what I can to protect our freedom of expression, our freedom of imagination, our freedom, period. I will be ever vigilant to look for ways to make sure we as artists and as citizens can continue to express ourselves fully and freely. Liberally.

The word "liberal" means, among other things, "ample, full". It means "open-minded". It means "bountiful." (These are all taken from Webster's). How did this word become so dirty in the minds of so many? It is a beautiful word. A generous word. We need to reclaim it as a source of pride, a badge of our own ample hearts.

The word "conservative" feels so stingy, so small, to me, but I know that many people see beauty and take pride in those four syllables. It feels like a language I don't understand. But I hope language is where we can finally come together and learn to speak, openly and rationally and passionately, with one another.

Until I learn how to start the comments feature, please feel free to send me your thoughts--blue or red.

I also dreamed recently that I was commissioned to write a song about how a piece of toast is like a part of the body. I wrote about how toast is like a broad back. I think I'm going to have to write this as a poem in real life. Food is definitely one way for us to find common ground!

Wednesday, November 03, 2004

Well, I am just heart-sick over this election. I am also sinus-sick, and stomach-sick and pretty much all-around sick (I can thank free-floating viruses for that, but I'm sure all the free-floating anxiety over the election helped ease their way in.) I still can't believe it.

I've been meaning to post something about how I am quoted in the latest Poets & Writers Magazine (which, by the way, is one of the most important resources for writers. If you're a writer and you don't subscribe yet, I urge you to do so.) My quote appears in the article "How to Choose a Writing Program." I said "One of the most important things I learned at Antioch is that we should move toward what makes us uncomfortable. That's usually where the real juice is." I was speaking about writing subjects, but I realize this can apply to the election, as well.

This election is making me pretty damned uncomfortable. And I want to juice that for all it's worth. Rather than sink into depression and despair, I want to use these roiling feelings and do something positive with them. It is so important that we continue to make our voices heard. I've been so heartened by the ways in which the progressive movement has mobilized over the last few months. We have to continue; we have to keep moving, keep acting, keep making sure the voice of dissent is loud and clear across our beautiful nation. I have a feeling we'll have a lot to speak out against over these next four years. We have to keep speaking and singing and shouting and writing. Our words have power. Let's use them well.

Thursday, October 28, 2004

I voted today!

I was a little bit afraid I wouldn't be able to. My husband and I applied for absentee ballots a couple of weeks ago (with all the distressing news about electronic voting, we wanted to be able to leave a paper trail). His ballot arrived on Monday, but mine was nowhere to be found. I expected it to show up Tuesday, but no luck. Same thing Wednesday. I was somewhat concerned--we had sent in our requests at the same time, so it seemed like we should receive them at the same time. I started to wonder if I had ended up on some sort of rabble-rouser list and was the target of some nefarious brand of voter suppression. It turned out to be basic human error, though. Our postal person had delivered the ballot to the wrong address. I am very grateful that the person who received it instead delivered it to my front porch today, with Wrong Address written on the envelope in blue pen (thank you, whoever you are!)

Matt and I sat side by side at the dining room table and filled in our ballots with the cute little pencils that came with them. We drove over to the Registrar of Voters to hand-deliver them (to avoid any further human error!)

Now I just wish we could vote about 100 more times each! But that's up to the rest of you. Please, please, please vote next Tuesday (or sooner!) I feel like I have to hold my breath until the results are in, but I'm feeling hopeful. If the Red Sox can win, so can Kerry!

If any of you want to help make sure voters make it to the polls and the election is run fairly, is offering a great list of activist resources. I made some phone calls for over the weekend and plan to make more calls in the next few days.

Stephen Elliot is offering election-day phone calls from authors through his great Operation Ohio project. I just read Stephen's book Looking Forward to I: Or How I Learned to Stop Worrying and Love the Electoral Process. He does a fabulous job combining the personal and the political as he trails the Democratic candidates the year leading up to the DNC. It was great fun to meet Stephen at the MoveOn reading earlier in the month (in his inscription to me in the book, his scrawly writing looks like it says "You are a Jew"--which I indeed am--but my son is pretty sure it says "You are a hero." Stephen is a real hero to me. He is using his position as an author to make true change in the world.)

Friday, October 22, 2004

Starting October 30th, you can bid on a one-of-a-kind copy of my book Fruitflesh, with a hand-decorated cover, over at the Heart of the Grove auction.

I received a bronze heart in the mail about a month ago, with the challenge to create some sort of art around it and send it back as an auction item. I realized that the heart fit beautifully on top of the pomegranate on the Fruitflesh hardcover--the stem end of the fruit flares from it like flames or wings--so I glued it on and added a bit more embellishment with a bronze paint pen. It was great fun to create the piece. And the proceeds go toward supporting the Open Grove, an independent, commercial free forum for health and well-being.

Thursday, October 21, 2004

I have work in three new anthologies:

The Knitter's Gift, edited by my friend Bernadette Murphy. I am not a knitter, but wrote a poem, "When You Knit My Sweater", for the collection. Several friends are also in the collection, including the recent mentioned Peggy Hong!

Peggy, and the also-recently-mentioned Sefi Atta, appear with me in the anthology Roar Softly and Carry a Great Lipstick: 28 Women Writers on Life, Sex, and Survival. Peggy and Sefi's essays are amazing. My essay, "The Sick Girl", is one of the most naked things I have ever written. It is a little scary to look at it now, but it's cathartic to put it out there.

My thigh book proposal is currently making the rounds (I got three very nice rejections last week), so it is cool that If Women Ruled the World: How to Create the World We Want to Live In, Stories, Ideas and Inspiration for Change was just released. The book contains my little essay about how if women ruled the world, all of us would love our thighs. Hopefully it will put some good thigh karma into the world (and into the hearts of the editors considering my proposal!) I will be reading from it, along with Dominique McCafferty (a local author also represented in the book), at the Frugal Frigate Wednesday, November 17 at 7pm. We will open the room up for a discussion about women and power; I'm very much looking forward to it.

Monday, October 18, 2004

A few days ago, I mentioned that my friend Sefi Atta has a novel coming out soon. Today she is guest blogger over at Moorish Girl, a great blog that focuses on international literature. Sefi blogs eloquently about being a Nigerian writer in America, and details her journey to publication. Check it out!
It has been an eventful couple of weeks. Since October 8, I:

--Watched five amazing actors bring my stories to life on stage at the New Short Fiction Series. What a treat this was (and what a treat to share it with my whole family, including a bunch of out of towners.) I didn't realize some of my stories were so funny until I heard them through other mouths!

--Stood on a stage with my sister at the Blue Bongo Bar and railed against Bush to a very supportive MoveOn crowd. It was so amazing to look over and see my sister next to me as we sang and ranted. We danced off the stage chanting "Push, push out the Bush, push, push out the Bush" (which, since my sister is a midwife, takes on a couple of meanings! Maybe she could chant this at the next birth she attends!)

--Celebrated my dad's 85th birthday (!!!!) on a boat in the San Diego harbor (and, later, at a madcap beach party in Carlsbad.) A belated happy birthday, Papa! You continue to amaze me. My dad wanted all four of his kids together for the occasion, so Sue flew in from Maryland, Elizabeth flew in from Toronto, and Jon, his wife Magdalene and I converged from our So CA locales. It was so wonderful to all be together--it doesn't happen often enough. We also visited the spot in Point Loma where both of my parents want their ashes scattered, a beautiful and gut-wrenching experience (capped by a Czeslaw Milosz poem, the last couple of lines altered by my mom).

--Drank a bunch of barium (speaking of gut-wrenching)--two big cups of it last week for an upper GI, and two big cups for my CT scan today. Having a CT scan was a trip--I felt as if I had stepped on to the set of 2001. (Isn't it weird that 2001 used to be the future?!) The trippiest part was the iodine IV. The technician told me it would make me feel hot, but I didn't realize it was going to be such an internal heat, as if I was taking a hot bath inside my skin. It was kind of nice, feeling heat travel through my limbs, my arms up over my head as I lay on my back and slipped through the whirring, laser-spinning donut.

--Spoke to a writing group, the Southewest Manuscripters, that has been meeting since 1949. What a sweet and lively crowd!

One of the gifts of having a book out called The Book of Dead Birds is the fact that people come up to me and share their dead bird stories. Two of the Manuscripters shared theirs--one woman told me about how as a child she always wanted to save sick and hurt birds. Several birds died in her hands; she talked about feeling their life slip away, and what an honor it was to bear witness to that. One bird, a pigeon, survived and she took care of it for five years! A man told me a story of a pro-ball player who was afraid to fly. Because he had to travel to many cities, this was causing great problems for him and his team. He decided to see a therapist to help him out. It turned out that as a child, he had crashed a remote control airplane into a bird, killing it. He had been scared of planes ever since!

When I was on tour last year, a woman came up to me at my reading in Boulder. She had heard me on the radio when I was interviewed in Santa Cruz a few days before--while she was driving along, listening to me talk about The Book of Dead Birds, a bird flew into her windshield and died! How bizarre is that?! I almost feel responsible for that poor bird! And then the woman just happened to be in Boulder when I was there. Such wild coincidences!

Anyway, it's been a busy time lately. And it will continue to be a busy time--this week I am starting my literacy volunteering, having a Family Voices meeting, meeting with a book group in Palm Springs (at the home of one of my online students; I can't wait to meet her!), speaking to a couple of classes at my son's high school, and judging a teen poetry slam at the Corona Public Library (Friday at 6, if there are any young poets out there). I'm also cowriting a story with Anne Ursu, which is very exciting!

Hope everyone is doing well!

Friday, October 15, 2004

My review of The Real Minerva by Mary Sharratt is up in the current issue of Literary Mama.

Several of my friends have books coming out within the next few months:

Sefi Atta (Everything Good Will Come, a novel)

Laraine Herring (Lost Fathers, an exploration of adolescent father loss)

Peggy Hong (Three Truths and a Lie, a poetry collection)

Masha Hamilton (The Distance Betweeen Us, a novel)

Please be on the look out for all of these incredible books! I am so proud of my talented friends.

Tuesday, October 05, 2004

Happy 14th birthday to my amazing son, Arin!

I am still in shock that I have such a big kid. Only two years away from driving (!) Tonight, we're going to Speedzone so he and his friends can race around in go-karts (no license required!)

Monday, October 04, 2004

Performances for Peace has been rescheduled for Saturday, November 6 at the beautiful Botanic Gardens at UCR. The gates will be open for picnicking and shopping at 2pm; the performances will begin at 3pm. It will be a lovely afternoon of poetry, theater, music, and dance. Peace is a creative process!
I had a wonderful time at the Southern Calfornia Writers Conference and the West Hollywood Book Fair this weekend; thanks to everyone who came to my workshops and my panel--I met so many fabulous people.

Just a reminder--The New Short Fiction Series is staging six of my short stories this Friday at the Beverly Hills Library at 8pm. And this Saturday is the big Literary Extravaganza to benefit at the Blue Bongo Bar in LA (901 E. 1st St.), 9pm. Both events have a $10 admission.

Thanks to the inimitable Rachel Kann, I am currently the featured poet over at Get Underground. Scroll down and you'll find an interview and three of my poems. Rachel has one of the best voices I have ever heard in my life--rich and growly and amazing. If you ever have a chance to see/hear her do her spoken word magic, jump on it. The picture of me was taken by the fabulous A Karno.

Sunday, September 26, 2004

My daughter and I got sucked into part of a Brady Bunch marathon today on TV Land. I watched the episode where Mike gets roped into reciting a Longfellow poem at the Family Night Frolics (a family talent show at Greg and Marsha's high school.) He decides that the poem is too boring on its own, so he and the boys try to find a way to jazz it up a little. Mike and Greg don tuxedos, and Mike begins to dramatically read the poem from a podium, while Greg provides mellow guitar accompaniment. It is all veddy civilized until Bobby and Peter, as planned, begin to drop things onto the stage from the rafters (a box of feathers when the word "feather" is spoken; water from a watering can, then a bucket, at the mention of rain; a rubber chicken on a string when Mike speaks of a mighty eagle.) Hilarity, of course, ensues.

It got me thinking--how does one jazz up a reading? I am all for words and voices unadorned, but I love when people bring a little something extra to the stage (Chris Abani and his saxophone, Ayelet Waldman and her ask-me-a-question-I'll-throw-you-a-cool-prize-goodies.) One day I swear I will find a way to reintegrate dance and my writing. In the meanwhile, my sister, who is going to be in town from Toronto, is going to help me read my piece at the MoveOn event on Oct. 9 (we haven't performed together since our last basement dance production over 20 years ago!) I am very excited. I'm hoping that the piece will be more memorable than a typical reading, even if we aren't bombarded by rubber chickens in the process.

(A few days after I wrote this post, this fun little piece about readings by Amanda Stern appeared in the New York Times. Click "next" up in the right hand corner to see the entire thing.)

Wednesday, September 22, 2004

Two neat things today: I found out that The Book of Dead Birds is being featured in the wonderful Isabella Catalog (which is an offshoot of the fabulous Chinaberry Catalogue. Chinaberry focuses on children's books and toys, and was a lifeline for me when my kids were little; Isabella is geared toward women and has a great holistic bent.)

Also, my copy of No Plot? No Problem!: A Low-Stress, High-Velocity Guide to Writing a Novel in 30 Days by Chris Baty arrived in the mail. It includes my essay about my first experience with National Novel Writing Month. Now I'm all excited for this year's NaNoWriMo (my third! Self-Storage, the novel I just finished, started out as a NaNo novel last year. It barely resembles what I wrote that month, but I doubt it could have started any other way!)

Sunday, September 19, 2004

I finished a new (and what I hope will be the last, or at least close to last) draft of my novel Self Storage on Friday. What a huge relief!

The novel is already getting a (very) tiny bit of buzz. I discovered today through Google Alert that the Self Storage industry has already found out about it! (Scroll down to the bottom of the column.) I wonder how the columnist heard about the novel. I know I've mentioned it in a couple of interviews; it's interesting to know that caught his eye. The power of Google!

Thursday, September 16, 2004

I belong to a great writermamas listserve. A member of the group, Lynn Siprelle, created a communal blog for us at MamasInk. I just posted an entry about shaving my son's leg (click on "read more" to see the whole thing.)
The brilliant Mary Sharratt recently interviewed me; the results are now posted on her blog. Mary is the author of two amazing novels: Summit Avenue, and the recently released The Real Minerva (look for my review, coming soon to a website near you!)

Tuesday, September 14, 2004

It seems lots of people besides my main character-in-progress have a personal, posthumous relationship with Walt Whitman. First Allen Ginsburg. Now this NY Times writer. I'm glad my character doesn't have to vomit to spend time with Walt! Who knew he could cure migraines?!

Sunday, September 12, 2004

I have some very cool events coming up this Fall. Hope to see you at some of them!

Here's the rundown (for now! Keep posted--I have a few other irons in the fire...)

Friday and Saturday, October 1-2, I will be teaching two workshops at the Southern California Writers Conference in Pasadena (Embodying Our Characters and Writing from the Senses).

Sunday, October 3, I will be on a panel, Women Authors on Igniting the Writer Within at the West Hollywood Book Fair (the other panelists will be Nina Revoyr, Barbara Seranella, and Alisa Valdes-Rodriguez, with the wonderful Barbara DeMarco-Barrett as moderator.) The panel is scheduled from 3-4pm.

Friday, October 8, six of my short stories are going to be staged by the New Short Fiction Series at the Beverly Hills Library. I am so excited about this. When I wrote these stories, I never in a million years imagined I would get to see them performed (and by Emmy winning actors, no less!) Tickets are a $10 donation. The box office opens at 7:30; the show begins at 8.

I am also very excited about my event the next day, Saturday, October 9 at 9pm. I will be reading at a MoveOn benefit held at the Blue Bongo bar (Little Pedros), 901 East First Street, Los Angeles, 90012. There is a $10 cover (every penny will go to to MoveOn.) I will be reading with a group of incredible authors--Josh Bearman, Craig Clevenger, Darcy Cosper, Wendy Dale, Meghan Daum, and Stephen Elliott. I deeply deeply admire what MoveOn is doing, and am so happy to lend my voice to their cause.

Sunday, November 14, I will be teaching a Fruitflesh workshop at the new Dutton's Beverly Hills Bookstore at 2pm. I adore the Dutton's Brentwood store and am eager to see their new space.

Wednesday, November 17th at 7pm, I will be hosting a reading and discussion at my favorite bookstore in the world, The Frugal Frigate in Redlands, to celebrate the release of the anthology If Women Ruled the World. Local writer Dominique McCafferty, who also appears in the anthology, will appear, as well. I'm sure a wonderful and important discussion about women and power will be sparked.

Sunday, November 21 will be an especially amazing evening. I am going to be hosting a special Fruitflesh feast in collaboration with the Frugal Frigate, and the Farm Restaurant (a gem of a place in Redlands dedicated to using local naturally grown produce and artisan products—cheeses, olives, bread, etc. Sublime!) The chef, Roberto Argentina, is going to prepare a luscious five course dinner, with each course focusing on a different one of the senses. I will offer Fruitflesh exercises and meditations with each course. The cost of the dinner (to be announced) will include a copy of Fruitflesh and will benefit the wonderful Shakespeare for Children program (my daughter was in this year's production of A Midsummer Night's Dream; it was utterly magical. I know this night will be, as well.) Seating is limited and by reservation only. To reserve a spot, or for more information, please call the Frugal Frigate at 909.793.0740.

Hope to see you along the way!

Thursday, September 09, 2004

I had my first mammogram today. I had no idea a breast could flatten out like pie dough. Very interesting. I wanted to see what my breasts looked like inside--I love being able to see inside my own body without having to cut a hole in my skin--but I had to turn my head in such weird directions, I was only able to catch a brief glimpse of the monitor. The image looked like a jellyfish, or a galaxy. The Milky Way, of course.

And now for something completely different...

I happened to walk into the room where my husband was watching an episode of Monty Python. Some characters were talking about different words and whether they were "woody" or "tinny". Sausage, caribou, bound, erogenous zones were some of the woody words; litterbin, newspaper, recidivist, were all tinny. Whenever a tinny word (or even the word tin) was spoken, the daughter would freak out; the mother even had to remind her husband not to say "tin" around her because it upset her so much. I loved it. Words can really have a heft, a substantive physical feel in the mouth, in the mind. They can make us cringe or sigh, laugh or shiver.

I used to freak out when people said certain words around me when I was little. Especially kidney and bladder. Those words would send me into conniptions. I wonder if I am so drawn to body stuff, to writing from the body, because body words carry such a charge for me.

To bring this post around full circle, those Monty Python blokes consider tit a tinny word!

Wednesday, September 08, 2004

I am working on a new multi-voice piece that I will be sharing at the Performances for Peace event sponsored by the wonderful Women Creating Peace Collective at the UCR Botanic Gardens. I may share it at my forthcoming MoveOn event, as well.

Edit: This event has been postponed for various reasons, so I've erased the date and time info. I will let you know when it has been rescheduled.

Thursday, September 02, 2004

An important note from my fabulous sister in law, Magdalene. If you know anyone who would benefit from this amazing and much needed program, please pass the info along (and if you can help out in any other way, please let Magdalene know)...

Dear Friends -

I am in the process of recruiting students for The Bridge Program: Community, Humanities, Education for our 2004-2005 academic year. It's a fantastic 9 month accredited program in the Humanities offered to low-income adults, at absolutely no cost. In addition to the academic program we provide books, study materials, a free meal, child care and transportation. We have an unusually short recruiting period this year, so I am reaching far and wide to ask for your help in putting the word out about this incredible learning opportunity. Classes begin September 28 and run through June 21 and are located in Santa Monica at New Roads School and Burke Health Center. Application and registration deadline is 9/14. Late applications by appointment until 9/20.

In the past, some of our best students have been:

"former drug addicts, gang members, undocumented workers who had given everything for their children’s future and reserved little for themselves, homeless men and women, the working poor, staff members at community agencies, middle-aged women who had always put others before themselves, community activists, and others marginalized in various ways came together to claim—most for the very first time—their education." (from the founding director's statement)

We are recruiting from many organizations, including Boys and Girls Club of Venice, St. Vincent's Cardinal Manning Center, LampVillage, ScanPH, Ocean Park Community Center, Turning Point, Sojourn, and Daybreak, in addition to Chrysalis, and Venice Family Clinic. Please let me know if you can think of any other organizations, churches, or community centers I might try and contact.

In addition, if you know of or work at an organization or local community center or cafe where you might put up flyers, a stack of information sheets, or know of someone who is interested and would like to give them more information, attached below are our most recent info sheets, flyers, and program description.

Thanks in advance for any and all help. I need to fill 30 seats!


Magdalene Brandeis
Executive Director,
The Bridge Program
310 456-8256 tel
310 463-2789 cel
310 317-9639 fax

Tuesday, August 31, 2004

I just clicked (via a link from Maud Newton) on an article by Chris Dalton about all the ways in which he, as a fiction writer, earns a little extra income (most of which keeps him from his real writing.)

I had resisted doing outside work for many years. I was so worried that teaching, or doing other writing-related jobs, would detract from my own work. I wanted to keep my writing pure. Reality has since set in. Income from books, when it comes, is wonderful, but it's sporadic, unpredictable (same with income from articles and stories). Any dreams of huge royalties have been tamped down, at least for now. At some point, it dawned on me that I should find ways to help ease our financial stress on a more regular basis. So I've started teaching, and I've found that I really love it. It doesn't detract from my work--it inspires it (although the time juggling thing can be a challenge on occasion.) And I just signed a contract to do some freelance editorial review work. I'm a little bit concerned about biting off more than I can chew (but I also know that in biting this off, I'll make it possible for us to go out for a bite more often!) It should be fun. We'll see how it goes...

Monday, August 30, 2004

I got the weirdest phone call tonight. A private investigator from Oklahoma (his name was Ken or Kent; I wish I had written down his last name) just called to see if I had given up a child for adoption in 1985. He said that a guy was trying to find his birth mother; supposedly the mother's name is Gayle Brandeis and she lives in California. So now my mind is doing all kinds of strange flip flops. What would happen if I had given birth in 1985 and had somehow erased the memory of it? Of course the fact that I was still a virgin that year makes it pretty unlikely, but what if I only think I was a virgin that year, what if my brain has been injected with fake memories of my earlier life? What if I had some sort of wild past but it's all been washed out of my head? I know this isn't possible, but those "what if?"s are spinning around in my skull like crazy. It's those "what if?"s that give birth to stories and novels, I think. What if I wrote a novel about a woman who gets a call from a private investigator who asks if she gave a child up for adoption and she later finds out this is true even though she has no memory of it? Food for thought...
A fun synchronicty: I am starting a unit on revision in my UCLA class today and am embarking on my own revision at the same time.

My friend Laraine gave me some amazing feedback about my new novel (especially the ending, which is very problematic in its current form.) I've been mulling over her suggestions, waiting for the right ending to reveal itself to me. Then my husband, who hasn't even read the novel, made a comment that crystallized everything.

Matt has been reading The Timeless Way of Building by Christopher Alexander (my birthday present to him), which is all about finding patterns and "the quality that can't be named" (it's ostensibly a book about architecture, but has been adopted by software designers as a revolutionary text, as well. It's a very cool looking book, originally published in 1979.) With just a little bit of information from me about the story, Matt was able to find some hidden patterns in my novel and suggest an ending that would bring these patterns to light in a satisfying way. It all makes perfect sense now--I'm very excited to put his ideas into action. I am so not a pattern person, and am very grateful for his inspired left brain approach. I am also so grateful for Laraine's beautiful feedback--she has always been such an important and right-on reader of my work.

Back to my UCLA class--I am sad that we are in the final two weeks. I have such a wonderful, talented, interesting group of students. I'll miss them! If anyone out there is interested in taking Writing the First Novel online, I'll be teaching it again in January.

Sunday, August 22, 2004

There is a lovely article in the paper today about my Family Voices workshop at the Mission Inn. Thanks to everyone who attended yesterday (and thanks to those who came to Casa Blanca the week before.) I was touched and inspired by all of your writing.

Saturday, August 21, 2004

I coined a new word, yestoday, for The Future Dictionary of America published by McSweeney's. If you order it through their website, every single penny will go to progressive organizations. It even comes with a nifty cd (which includes, among others, the incomparable David Byrne!)

Friday, August 20, 2004

I mentioned awhile ago that I still gravitate to articles/poems/bizzare facts about birds long after writing my bird-centric novel. I also continue to be drawn to fruit-centric writing long after writing Fruitflesh. And I just found a bounty of it in Aimee Nezhukumatathil's first book of poetry, Miracle Fruit. You can read some luscious examples here. Beautiful, mouth-watering writing.

Thursday, August 19, 2004

The body of the man who tried to break into our house was found yesterday. Our part of the story is not included in this article. As scary as our experience was, I'm feeling such a flood of sadness for this poor lost soul.

Wednesday, August 18, 2004

Thanks to the divine MJ Rose for posting my (mostly) tongue-in-cheek essay about novel publicity at her new Publisher's Marketplace blog: Buzz, Balls and Hype. MJ rocks--she is such an amazing advocate for writers (plus she is an amazing writer,herself. Check out The Halo Effect--it will keep you up all night!)

And happy 40th birthday to my beloved, funny, sexy, wonderful husband, Matt!

I am still reeling from yesterday's drama, but can already tell that today is going to be a good day.

Tuesday, August 17, 2004

This afternoon, a shirtless, shoeless guy tried to break into my house. He hovered in the driveway for awhile. My friend Wendy and I watched him; his jeans were held together by a twist of plastic bag. That's what I remember the most. He looked out of it, confused. Then he walked up onto my porch. He stayed there for awhile, just standing there. I couldn't see him. Wendy looked through the small window next to the front door.

"Should I do anything?" I asked her. Neither of us knew what to do. Our daughters played nearby, oblivious.

Then he started testing the front door. It rattled, the doorknob jangling. I was relieved to see that the door was locked. It soon began to thump inside its frame; he seemed to be tossing his whole body repeatedly against the door. Adrenaline ran cold through my whole body. The girls, no longer oblivious, raced out of the room; my daughter--her head clear--ran to make sure the back door was locked. The man muttered something. Wendy yelled "This isn't your house! Get out of here!" She pushed her own body against the door to try to stop him from breaking through. I called the police.

The man left, wavering down the street toward the park, before the officers arrived. A few hours later, a neighbor came by. It turns out that the guy went down to the park, stole a hammer from a fisherman and banged himself in the head until he was bloody. Then he banged his head on a rock for awhile before he jumped into Lake Evans (a slimy man made body of water) and swam toward the palm tree covered island at the center of it. When the police showed up and started yelling at him, he jumped from the island, swam toward some floating docks, and disappeared into the water. He never came back up. A team of divers is still looking for him. I am getting chills just thinking about it.

I'm so grateful our door was locked. I can't even imagine what would have happened if he had gotten inside. At least I don't want to imagine. This whole experience reminds me how life can change at any moment, how random forces can come and disrupt everything in the blink of an eye. It makes me appreciate each beautiful normal moment of life all the more. And it makes my heart ache for this guy, and people like him, who are so disturbed, so wracked with pain, so out of their heads, that they are driven to such self-destruction. What a day. I am very happy to be in one piece, to have my family intact, to be able to sit here and tell you this story.
A reminder...

I will be teaching a free writing workshop this coming Saturday, from 2-3:30pm at the amazing Mission Inn in downtown Riverside. It should be a lot of fun (plus, if you haven't been to the Mission Inn, you have to come see it. It's an architectural marvel.) Writing materials and snacks will be provided and you'll even get a copy of the wonderful Family Voices book.

I had a great phone chat with a group at Antigone Books in Tucson this Sunday. I have heard such wonderful things about this bookstore--it was good to connect with them over the wires. And I was tickled to discover that I recently made their bestsellers list (my first!) A funny aside: the paper places the list in July, 4004. The Time Traveler's Wife is also on that list, so maybe some chrono-displacement was involved...

I've said it before, but I'll say it again--independent booksellers rule! Please support them, treasure them, keep them alive.

Monday, August 16, 2004

I just got the loveliest email from Sandra Tsing Loh! Not only is she a fabulous writer, performer, and radio commentator--she also happens to be the namesake of Ava Sing Lo, my main character in The Book of Dead Birds.

In 1996, when I first started writing the novel, all of my characters, don't ask me why, had punny names, like Justin Case (happily he ended up on the cutting room floor.) One day, I saw a mention of Sandra Tsing Loh's name in the newspaper out of the corner of my eye. I don't think I even read the article; I had never heard of her before at that point; her name just jumped out at me, and Ava Sing Lo's name was born.

It didn't take long for me to discover who Sandra Tsing Loh was, and I quickly became a fan of her hilarious and honest work. I also felt a growing, gnawing sense of guilt over the fact that I had stolen and revised her name. When the book first came out last year, I meant to send her a copy, but I felt too embarrassed about it. Then, when the paperback came out this year, I was still feeling a bit nervous, but I worked up the nerve to send it to her with a note explaining my name choice. I needn't have worried. She was, in her own words, "stunned and thrilled" and very generous in her response. Yay! This makes me more happy than I can express!
Even though I am no longer writing about birds (at least for now), I still find myself hording avian articles and information, creating my own mini book of live/dead birds. Here are a couple of intriguing pieces I've come across recently:

Lights-Out Policies in Cities Save Migrating Birds.

Diving Pelicans Plague Arizona Streets.

I continue to be fascinated by the Salton Sea as well. For updates on the area, you can visit the The Salton Sea Authority.

For an artistic view of the Salton Sea, you can visit Kim Stringfellow's wonderful interactive piece, Greetings from the Salton Sea. I had the pleasure of reading from The Book of Dead Birds at one of Kim's gallery openings. Her images and my words worked so well together. I hope we'll be able to do similar events in the future. And I can't wait to see the recent documentary Plagues and Pleasures on the Salton Sea.

Some day, I would love to host a Salton Sea festival exploring the region through an environmental, literary, and artistic lens. It is such a fascinating landscape.

Thursday, August 12, 2004

Just a reminder...

I will be talking about The Book of Dead Birds today with the wonderful Barbara DeMarco-Barrett at 5pm PST. You can tune in online at KUCI.

Wednesday, August 11, 2004

Some very cool news:

I heard back from Mary Becker, the executive producer of Original Child Bomb. She is going to send along a copy of the film for the family. I am deeply grateful for her generosity and can't wait to see the movie. I have been finding out more about Monkle over the last few days, and am eager to keep digging into his rich and amazing life.

I spoke about Monkle before I read some of my poetry at the peace conference on Saturday. What a beautiful night that was--a gorgeous outdoor amphitheater, a loving and committed group of people. The evening was full of surprises, too--I had the chance to help out with a performance art piece (something I haven't done since my experimental theater days in college), and even got to act as a back up singer during the big concert finale! And the editor from the Mississipi Review came up to introduce himself, which was so lovely and unexpected. We had corresponded via email--he is publishing one of my stories in the next issue (an all-political edition that I can't wait to read)--but I never imagined I would have the chance to meet him in person.

Other cool news:

I finished a new draft of my novel Self Storage two days ago. I'm sure I have a bunch of revision ahead of me, but it is a huge relief to be done with this draft. A couple of trusted and beloved friends are reading it now, and I'm both nervous and excited to hear their response. I so want this novel to work, and I'm not quite sure it does yet (although I know it is a huge improvement over my sucky first draft.)

I should end this post with a quote from Walt Whitman, since I've been spending so much time with him lately. I'm going to open Song of Myself and point to some lines at random. Here goes...

This is the breath of laws and songs and behavior,
This is the tasteless water of souls...this is the true sustenance

Walt's words are always true sustenance for me.

Saturday, August 07, 2004

Yesterday marked the 59th anniversary of the bombing of Hiroshima. I am so glad that today I'm going to be at a peace conference; it will be nice to be among others who hope we'll never have other similarly horrible anniversaries to mark.

As I was doing some websearching about the anniversary, I came upon an article about a recent movie, Original Child Bomb. The article ends with this passage:

>>But the most touching detail regarding religion and the bomb, in this reviewer’s opinion, comes early in the film. (I could not find it in Merton’s poem, so its inclusion is a masterstroke). It seems to sum up everything this votive, compelling, cautionary work attempts to convey about the suffering nuclear weapons hold in store for humanity: “U.S. airman Matthew McGunigle photographed the Hiroshima blast. After the war, he entered a monastery and took a vow of silence.” >>

Matthew McGunigle was my husband Matt McGunigle's great uncle (and namesake.) The family called him Monkle Matt. Monkle died before I was born, but I feel as if I know him--we have his collected letters from Gethsemane, which are amazing--funny and wise. We also have a small leather box filled with his various military pins and ribbons, and a collection of poetry that Monkle gave my husband upon his high school graduation.

Monkle asked before his death that the family keep his letters unpublished, which of course I want to honor, but at the same time, I wish his voice, in its silence, could be heard. He had an important message to share--he had witnessed the darkest side of human behavior and countered that with his own light. I am glad to know that his actions have been documented (or at least acknowledged) on film. I contacted the filmmakers to see if we can get a copy of the movie; it would be an amazing thing for the family to watch together, for the family to hold on to. Maybe we can view it while we eat the cheese the family orders from the Gethsemane monastery every year (those monks sure know how to make cheese!)--we could taste the milk of Monk's human kindness as his name flickers before our eyes.

Sunday, August 01, 2004

I have a few events this month (I can't believe it's already August!)...

I don't have anything scheduled for August 2nd, but I'd be remiss if I didn't mention the date. It happens to be my sister Elizabeth's birthday, her daughter (my niece of the shared jellyfish sting fame) Mollie's birthday, and my grandmother Molly's birthday (it would have been her 120th if she were still with us.) Happy birthday, wonderful women!

Saturday, August 7th, I will be reading from my work at the Fellowship of Reconciliation Conference, a peace, justice, and non-violence event held at Occidental College in LA. I will be part of an evening of entertainment that begins at 7:00pm--it sounds like a great line up of musicians, storytellers and multimedia artists.

Thursday, August 12th, at 5:00pm, I will be a guest on Barbara DeMarco-Barrett's wonderful show Writers On Writing at KUCI. I look forward to talking with Barbara again (this time about my novel.) Barbara has a fabulous book about writing coming out this fall--Pen on Fire. Be on the lookout for it!

Saturday, August 14th, I will be teaching a free writing workshop from 2-3:30pm at the Casa Blanca Branch of the Riverside Public Library. This event is co-sponsored by the library and the Mission Inn Foundation's Family Voices Project.

I will be offering a similar free workshop on Saturday, August 21st at the San Diego Room of the Mission Inn (also from 2-3:30pm.) I am so delighted to be part of the Family Voices Project; this year I worked with 150 high schook kids, helping them research and write family stories. It's amazing to see what happens when kids realize that their stories, that their families' stories, are important, that they are part of a larger story of community. If you visit the Mission Inn Museum this summer, you can check out this year's Family Voices exhibit, see the video, and pick up the book. These are all stories worth preserving, stories worth sharing. If you come to the workshops, you can share some of your own!

I don't have much scheduled for September, but I have several fun events coming up in early October. I'll keep you posted...

Friday, July 30, 2004

Guardian Unlimited Books has a great Poetry Mood Matcher that tells you what sort of mood you're in and prescribes a poem appropriate for that mood. Great fun!

The fact that I ended up with a Walt Whitman poem seemed auspicious, since my novel-in-progress is centered around Walt Whitman (and the word auspicious is auspicious in itself! One of my wonderful UCLA students sent a link to show me that the word "auspicious" comes from the Latin for "bird seer"! I wish I had known about this when I was writing The Book of Dead Birds.) I love when signs and omens pop up in my writing process--they keep me going, help me feel I'm on the right path.

A not so auspicious thing today: I received official notification that both of my hardcover books have been remaindered. This of course makes me a bit sad. I'm just grateful that the books continue to live on in paperback. Maybe I can become part of the Rock Bottom Remainders band now--I can shake a mean tambourine!

Thursday, July 29, 2004

Every February, UCR hosts a wonderful Writers Week, with free readings/panel discussions/etc open to the public. They always print up a big poster with all of the authors' names and photos on them. When my son was two, he was fascinated with this poster, which I had put up on our fridge. He would point to the pictures, and I would read the names to him, and eventually he memorized all of them. One day, I brought him with me, in his stroller, to a panel discussion. A dreadlocked man walked into the room, and Arin said "That's Quincy Troupe!" Everyone was quite shocked and delighted that this tiny person knew who the poet was. And then Ronald Sukenick walked into the room, and my son yelled, with great glee, "Sukenick!" (it was his favorite name on the poster.) I've had a soft spot for Ronald Sukenick ever since, and am sorry to hear of his recent passing.
Thank you to everyone who came to the Poetic Justice concert--everyone who performed (you were incredible!), everyone who got doused by the sprinklers, everyone who came to see the show and ended up helping us chop vegetables in the catering tent, every single wonderful person who walked through those park gates--your presence was deeply appreciated. I am very grateful. Pretty much everything that could have gone wrong logistically did, but it ended up being an amazing evening, nontheless. Sometimes beauty can come out of chaos. It did on Saturday. Thanks again to everyone for making it happen.

Tuesday, July 20, 2004

Some more wondeful poets have recently been added to the Poetic Justice line up:
Juan Delgado and Richard Beban.
You can purchase or reserve tickets for the event online now at Inland Abolition. If you want to join us for the dinner, please let us know by Thursday, July 22nd (and let us know whether you'd prefer a vegetarian or chicken entree.) Thanks! 

Monday, July 19, 2004

I got stung by a jellyfish yesterday, and I've been giddy about it ever since. I keep saying it out loud: "I was stung by a jellyfish!" I can barely believe it. I've always loved jellyfish; I'm tickled that one tasted me, brushed up against my legs. It hurt like hell--like being stabbed with hundreds of tiny shards of glass on the inner flesh of my knees (I wonder if the jellyfish mistook my knees, those pale globes, for other jellyfish from a distance. When it came up to say hello, maybe it was shocked by the opacity of my skin, the hardness of my bones; maybe that's why it unleashed its venom.) I am waiting for my superpowers to kick in--maybe I'll become Jellyfish Girl now. My niece was stung, too; I think both of us will be floating around town soon, our tentacles undulating, our spines dissolving, our domed heads gleaming in the sun.

Sunday, July 11, 2004

I mentioned the upcoming Poetic Justice concert in a recent post, but I thought I should give the full scoop. It's coming up soon--please spread the word if you know anyone in Southern CA!

Here is the text of a letter I sent out to friends and family recently (at 4 in the morning, actually--I couldn't seem to sleep last night)...

>I hope you will be able to join me on Saturday, July 24th for Poetic Justice: An Evening of Spoken Word and Music in Opposition to the Death Penalty. We have assembled a beautiful group of artists from the Inland Empire and beyond to speak out/sing out/strum out against execution. Performers include renowned slam poet Rachel Kann, singer/songwriter Mark Nemetz (Bucksworth), traditional Mexican vocalist Ana Gonzales, myself, and many others. Comedian Jonathan Solomon, who has performed on The Late Show with David Letterman, among other venues, will be our MC.

>The concert will be held at White Park in Riverside, on Market St. between 9th and 10th. A delicious optional dinner will be served at 7:00. $35 will bring you dinner, the concert, and free membership in Death Penalty Focus (normally $35 in itself). The concert will begin at 8:00. Tickets for the show, without dinner, are available for a suggested donation of $10. All proceeds will directly benefit the Inland Empire Chapter of Death Penalty Focus. Advance tickets are available at local coffee houses, or you can purchase them through me or Carolyn Boyle ( Tickets will also be available at the door.

>If you have any questions, or if you would like to help out at the event, please let me know. We still have vending space, if anyone is interested in selling art/crafts/etc. Advertising space is still available in the program, as well (it's very reasonable.)

>Thank you for your support! I very much hope to see you there!
Moondance: Celebrating Creative Women, just published my poem, Matt, Hang Gliding (and chose it as one of the "best in theme"--the theme of this issue is "wind", which happens to be a recurring theme in my own work, and has been from the time I wrote my first poem!) It's interesting that Matt's hang gliding has come up twice online in just a little over a week--I referenced it in my post about my Antioch reading, as well. Matt hasn't flown in about 10 years (and I actually wrote the poem around 15 years ago, when I was an undergrad). I'm happy he's more earth bound these days, but it's cool that his flying experience has found a way to seep into my work.

Sunday, July 04, 2004

My interview with Connie Martinson will be streamed this Tuesday, July 6, 9am PST, at Connie Martinson Talks Books. It will also be aired on select cable channels throughout the country that day--check the website for details. I had a great time with Connie, but I don't think I'll be able to watch the interview--I feel funny when I see/hear myself on tape. I mostly hope sweat isn't pouring down my face--those lights were hot!

Friday, July 02, 2004

Mark Sarvas was kind enough to post my account of my Antioch reading at his most excellent literary blog, The Elegant Variation. It was a very intense night for me. I think my heart is still pounding hard!

My short short story, Rapture, is now up at Vestal Review, too.

Thanks to everyone who came to see me read in San Francisco--I had a blast!

Wednesday, June 23, 2004

My short story, The Hurricanes of 2000 Come to Me as Lovers, just went live at Vortical Magazine, if you'd like to take a peek...

Monday, June 21, 2004

This is last, last, last minute notice, but if anyone is in the Riverside area tonight and would like to audition for the concert I am organizing (Poetic Justice: An Evening of Spoken Word and Music in Opposition to the Death Penalty), please join us at St. Andrew's Newman Center, 105 W Big Springs Rd, Riverside at 6:30pm. The concert will take place at White Park in Riverside on Saturday, July 24th, 7:30pm. It should be an amazing evening. We're looking for poets/spoken word artists/singers/musicians whose work addresses issues of social justice. If you have any questions or are interested in participating but can't make it to the audition, please email me at gaylebrandeis at hotmail dot com.

Hope to see some of you either next week in the Bay Area, or next Saturday at my reading at Antioch University in Culver City. I plan to read some new work that night--either from my memoir-in-progress, or my novel-in-progress (whichever I have the guts to share.)

I'm going to be a proud mama now and share some cool news. My 10 year old daughter Hannah's play, The Evilest Monk (a madcap epic), was awarded an Honorable Mention in the National Young Playwrights Competition sponsored by Stephen Sondheims Young Playwrights Inc. Her play was one of 25 Honorable Mentions selected from 300 entries. She's very excited. It's fun to have another writer in the family!

Friday, June 18, 2004

I am in love with the alphabet. My graduate seminar at Antioch was titled "Singing the Alphabet" and was all about the history of those 26 letters. We studied the evolution of different letters, wrote alphabet poems, discussed our favorite letters, and ate alphabet cookies. Great fun.

Over at Maud Newton (one of my favorite literary blogs) today is a link to an exhibit of artists' alphabet books (I am also in love with book art). What makes the link even more delicious is that the title of the exhibit is Abecedarium, which is very close to the title of the first poem (Abecedarian) in my chapbook Dictionary Poems.

It will be fun to read from Dictionary Poems at Book Passage on the 30th; I had such a great time on my book tour, but I'm a little tired of hearing myself talk about my novel (on the other hand, if you have any questions send them my way, and if you have a book group that wants to discuss my novel, I'm happy to join you in person or by phone!)

Thursday, June 17, 2004

Bay Area people--I will be up in your beautiful neck of the woods in a couple of weeks.

Tuesday, June 29, I will be hosting a Fruitflesh event in the Ferry Building at Market and Embarcadero in SF from 11am-noon. It will take place outside the new Book Passage, within the heart of the farmers market. I've wanted to do a farmers market event since Fruitflesh first came out two years ago; it will be amazing to be surrounded by tons of fresh fruit. Thanks to Book Passage and HarperSanFrancisco for putting the event together so quickly!

Wednesday, June 30, 7pm, I will be reading from my chapbook, Dictionary Poems, at the original Corte Madera Book Passage. I will be one of many Pudding House poets reading that evening. It should be a fun night (I am very excited to meet Jennifer Bosveld, the powerhouse behind Pudding House!)

Hope to see some of you there!

Wednesday, June 09, 2004

I'm back from my tour--12 wild, inspiring, exhausting days. It was amazing to reconnect with Chicago, to spend time with my family, to see people from my past (my third grade science teacher! My best friend from elementary school!), to meet wonderful people along the way.

I can't believe how much I packed into my time away--I spoke at my high school (kind of ironic, since I rarely spoke when I was a student there!), taught a workshop at my dad's work, signed autographs next to Kathie Lee Gifford (!), saw Bill Clinton speak (wasn't it nice when we had a president who knew how to put a sentence together?!), laughed my ass off at a breakfast with Jon Stewart, snagged bunches of books, and bumped into just the right people at just the right time. Thanks to all of you whose paths I crossed!

I'm going to be a guest on Writers on Writing with Barbara DeMarco-Barrett tomorrow (June 10) at 5:30pm PST. You can listen online at KUCI. Be sure to tune in at 5, though--my fabulous friend Caroline Leavitt is going to be the first guest on the show. Her most recent books are Girls In Trouble and Coming Back to Me. She writes with so much heart, so much honesty. We just found out we're going to be on the show together (too bad we can't actually see each other--she lives in New Jersey, and we're both calling in.) My life has been full of fun coincidences lately. I'm eager to see what will happen next!

Sunday, May 23, 2004

I heard from my Spanish translator for the first time last week, and I have to share the list of questions he had about my book. It's very cool to see what translates directly and what doesn't. I had no idea the word "glitter" was so present in the book! The email has been making me smile for days. Here it is:

I've been entrusted by Alfaguara with the Spanish translation of
your Book of Dead Birds, and I'm close to ending it. There are some
queries which I hope you can devote a small amount of time to. It's
been a real pleasure to work on your novel, believe me. I wish you a
great success. Here goes the list. I thank you in advance.

page 1: 'midnight bullets'. Did they fly through the 'hood as a
regular (per year) basis? Or something happened on that particular
page 4(top): 'pilly bedspread'.
pg 14(bottom): 'red bean buns'
pg 28(and more): egg-blowing. Can you explain to this dumb translator
the actual procedure?
pg 33(1st p): 'gooseneck lamp'
pg 59: Can you describe an 'airboat' please?
pg 64(top): 'a handful of glitter in the air.'
pg 66(2nd p): 'baggies', meaning condoms?
pg 67: What is a 'salt taffy'?
pg 74: Now here I'm lost: 'Tomato Adjuster'
pg 82(1st p): 'a nubby beige shade.'
pg 95: 'you dive my skin', suggesting penetration?
pg 109(mid): 'What's the damage?'
pg 114(bott): 'booty'
pg 117(2nd p): 'foil flavour packet' / Ramen: just a brand? thin,
short noodles?
pg 126: 'hostess stand' / baby-doll just any doll representing an
infant boy or girl? / what's 'tiki'?
pg 135: 'pacifier', what one gives babies to suck on? I'm afraid I
should've asked some rave's raver!
pg 136: 'glitter' --I hope it just means a long (and wide) shimmering
pg 138: 'bird song.' Songs about birds? Songs emulating bird voices?
pg 142: 'glitter' Really lost, again
pg 154: What's the deal with 'Sam and Ella (or Janet) Eeeeevening'?
pg 211(top): 'princess sleeve' / rosebud underwear (somewhat pink?)
pg 218: Foley person
pg 236(2nd p): these broken... people

Thursday, May 20, 2004

I had a fabulous visit with the Southern California Writers Association last week. Thanks to all who attended--you were wonderful! Have all of you started your blogs yet? :)

The paperback publicity machine is about to really start rolling. Hope to see some of you on my journeys. Here are the details of my upcoming events (click on the links for addresses):

This Friday, 3/21, I'll be participating in a Writing Moms reading at Every Picture Tells a Story in Santa Monica at 7:30pm.

Sunday, 3/23, I'll be at Skylight Books in LA (Los Feliz) at 5:30pm. This is one of my favorite bookstores (and it's on one of my favorite streets in LA.)

Monday, 3/24, I'm going to be a guest on Connie Martinson Talks Books, a tv show which is on a few cable stations around the country and is also broadcast online. It's broadcast at 3pm PST. I had my hair straightened for the first time in my life yesterday (I barely recognize myself!), and am trying to decide if I should go straight haired or let my hair go back to its normal Medusa self for the interview.

Wednesday, 3/26, I'll be reading at The Tattered Cover in Denver at 7:30pm. This will be a bittersweet event. I was supposed to do an event here last year, but my stepfather-in-law Jack died that day, and I flew home to be with my family. I can't believe he's been gone for almost a year. I've dedicated my novel-in-progress to him, and feel a real responsibility to do his memory proud.

Thursday, 3/27, I'll be reading at Women and Children First in Chicago at 7:30pm.

I can't wait to be back in my home town. I want to sit and stare at Lake Michigan for a long, long, time. For those of you who will be attending Book Expo America, I'll be autographing on Friday, 6/4 from 10:30-11 in the traditional autographing area. I am very much looking forward to BEA--tons of free books, tons of people who care about books. What could be better?

Thursday, April 29, 2004

I just found out today that The Book of Dead Birds was chosen as a Notable Book by the Kirayama Prize, an international literary award dedicated to promoting literature of the Pacific Rim. What a cool surprise. It is quite mind-boggling to be on the same list as Jhumpa Lahiri, Mario Vargas Llosa and Kenzaburo Oe.

Wednesday, April 21, 2004

First of all, I want to thank Eula Palmer for her beautiful update of my website. Now you can see my gorgeous paperback covers on my home page!

The paperbacks will be out in a couple of weeks. If you would like to help me spread the word, please send me an email at bmcg at pe dot net, and I'll send you some postcards to distribute (they're in the process of being produced and should be available soon.) Also, sign up for my Notify list (you can find a link to it on my home page), and I'll keep you posted about my upcoming events.

Starting in July, I'll be teaching Novel Writing I: Writing the First Novel online through the UCLA Writers Program. Budding novelists, please join me--it should be a lot of fun!

Here is another lovely review of Fruitflesh, brought to me by Google Alert. Thank you, Story Circle!

I'm sorry I've been lax about posting about Santa Cruz and the Brandeis Women's Luncheon. Both were utterly beautiful, magical experiences. I'm not sure I can do justice to them by trying to wrap words around them. Needless to say, I am still glowing with appreciation.

Monday, April 12, 2004

I am now part of the Readerville Author Gallery! For those of you unfamiliar with Readerville, it is a fabulous forum for readers and writers. Lots of lively, intelligent conversation (beware, though--it's addictive!)

Thursday, March 25, 2004

Another drive by posting...

You can get a sneak preview of what I'm doing with my thigh book--this little essay will be part of a very cool project entitled If Women Ruled the World. They are open to submissions until April 1st, if you'd like to contribute something about how the world would be different if women were at the helm.

Google Alert alerted me to this lovely review of Fruitflesh yesterday. I don't know who wrote it, but I'm very grateful.

And until I have time to write about my experience in Santa Cruz, I'll share some pictures instead (taken by the melodious Melody!) I'm the one in the crazy Celtic black and white pants.

More to come...

Monday, March 15, 2004

Just a brief update before I run out the door...

I will be on KPBS tonight at 6pm, not 6:30, as I mentioned before. Tune in if you can.

When I have time, I will tell you more about my amazing weekend in Santa Cruz (and my wonderful Brandeis Women's event in Palm Springs last week.) Thanks to all of you who were there--my heart is still brimming.

Friday, March 05, 2004

What a magical time I had at the National Association of Women Writers conference in Texas last weekend. I am so grateful to Sheri' McConnell for organizing the event (and the Association!) A day full of so much inspiration. Thanks to all of you who were there. It was great to see Jill Badonsky, who wrote the incredible book, Nine Modern Day Muses and a Bodyguard. We're going to try to teach some workshops together in the future--stay tuned!

I recently found out that The Book of Dead Birds was chosen for the March Book Club of the Air at KPBS, the San Diego NPR station. Very exciting! I'll be in the studio to discuss the book (with a special mystery guest!) It will be aired March 15th at 6:30pm. I think you can listen online if you're not in the San Diego area.

Wednesday, February 18, 2004

My review of Trader Joe's Unsulfured Three Flavor Guava (Sweet/Hot/Salty) is up at McSweeney's today.

Sunday, February 15, 2004

I thought I should put my mailing list sign-up window closer to the top of this page again in case any one is looking for it. I had a fantastic time at the Southern California Writers Conference this morning; thanks to everyone who attended my "Embodying Your Characters" workshop.

It was quite an amazing day--I went directly from there to the Johnston reunion, where I taught a Fruitflesh workshop and caught up with wonderful old friends. Johnston made such a huge difference in my life; if you know any college-bound kids who would thrive in a very self-directed, creative program, check it out (it's the alternative program within the University of Redlands. I created my own degree program there--"Poetry and Movement: Arts of Expression, Meditation and Healing.")

If you'd like to stay caught-up about my events, sign up for my "Live Birds" list, and I'll keep you in the loop...

join my Notify List and get email when I update my site:


Powered by