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