Monday, October 18, 2004

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!

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