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.