Thursday, July 31, 2008

First Time Out With The New Legs

Hi readers! Took a bad tumble and can't even blame factors like milk, cream, or alcoholl -- to steal from John Lee Hooker). I'll be back tomorrow with another post. I'll explain the title of this post Friday. Happy Thursday to all!

Wednesday, July 30, 2008

A Face To Die For

I've always been partial to the story of Medusa, a beautiful woman who became punished for her beauty and subsequently turned men into stone, snakes for hair, a face to die for.  Even with her head lopped off, she had power to harm, to turn that which she touched into coral.  It's a tale of jealousy and sadness, not unlike another M story, that of Medea -- giver of the poison dress and tiara to her romantic rival which killed whomever wore or touched them. Of course, she also murdered her children to hurt her husband which doesn't elicit much sympathy, the first Andrea Yates or Susan Smith, a long line of women who did the unspeakable because of illness or love.

Jealousy is a hard emotion to own (as certain douchebags say in the parlance of the day).  Nobody wants to run around saying, I'm a jealous person who feels deeply pissed off that other people have it better.  But I love to hear stories about the occasional crazy-making moment, the sharing of which always makes you feel a bit better.  Many of my female friends date men who have a female "best friend."  Inevitably, this person has a name like a bell, a face like an angel, and they are as close as brother and sister with no sexual tension whatsoever.  Umm, okay.  But we have some laughs over it and toast to their long platonic friendship.  A lot of Halloweens I've chose to dress as Medusa.  I'd rather wear the snakes than the poison dress and tiara and have it rot me as I twirl around pretending all is well.

Michelle's Spell of the Day
"I choose a block of marble and chop off whatever I don't need." August Rodin

Cocktail Hour
Drinking hangover prevention suggestion: Vitamin Water by the gallon (especially Focus and Revive)

Benedictions and Maledictions
Happy Wednesday!

Tuesday, July 29, 2008

Pop Goes The Weasel

While I lived on the east side of Detroit, I found myself dreading each summer not because of the heat (as a native Texan, I love the mild midwest summer), but because of the ice-cream truck. At least fifteen times a day, "Pop Goes The Weasel" would drift through the window while I tried to write in a small corner of the living room, a beautiful old-fashioned alcove that I deemed my office. There's something inherently creepy about the ice-cream man, something that smacks of a pedophile paradise. It doesn't help that the last one I saw was wearing a shirt that read "I Would Do Me." While I'm sure he was no John Wayne Gacy, it did give me pause.

Having done a lot of teaching in my life, I enjoy summer for the time off, but I don't really like many summer activities. Especially loathe the pressure to "get out of the house." Why anyone needs to leave a house is beyond me. Having spent my twenties bathed in baby oil and Coppertone SPF Four, I have no desire to do further sun damage. And getting ice-cream in public doesn't do much for me either. I'm more of an eat myself sick privately type. In a world full of flavors, I don't have much interest in anything that isn't reminiscent of something else like creme brulee (the best Ben and Jerry's flavor to my way of thinking). The ice-cream truck in Detroit got shot at from time to time -- but it always returned with its song and the driver, like me, probably looking forward to the end of summer.

Michelle's Spell of the Day
"One should never write down or up to people, but out of yourself." Christopher Isherwood

Cocktail Hour
Drinking memoir suggestion: Books: A Memoir Larry McMurtry

Benedictions and Maledictions
Hey Suzanne, thanks so much for the sweet comment! Loved your book which I bought right after attending a wedding. Within minutes of said wedding actually, and it cheered me up tremendously. Read Split -- whether you're in a groovy relationship, breaking up, breaking down, or just in the mood for something dark and funny.

Monday, July 28, 2008

Unnoticed By The Angel

One of my friends once said that when things got bad, she fantasized about living in one of those storage units, the ones for all that stuff that you think you need and will probably never use.  "It would be so simple, Michelle," she said.  "I could get away from everything."  

Everyone at that lunch was cracking up in their own peculiar way in the middle of Don Pablos over an unappealing group of sauces known as an appetizer medley.  I sat amidst cigarette smoke and the watery sodas -- the waiter had long since gotten that doomed vibe from our table and had stopped asking us if "everything was all right" since it just wasn't.  After many minutes, we finally got our check from someone else.  "Who was taking care of you?" asked the new waitress.  And even though we none of us ate much, all of us ended up paying.

Michelle's Spell of the Day
Latest fortune cookie -- Your charm had not gone unnoticed by the angel.  (No idea what this means, but it sounds good.)

Cocktail Hour
The Last Rose Of Summer
1 shot of vodka mixed with rose water and lemonade, served over ice.

Benedictions and Maledictions
Happy Monday!

Sunday, July 27, 2008

Saints Of The Lower Depths

Saints Of The Lower Depths

When asked if he had one hour to live,
Miles Davis said that he'd strangle
a white man very, very slowly. I sit
alone in a hotel room in Dallas,
Independence Day, 2008, explosions
of color outside, all those fireworks.
But I can't hear anything except Miles
playing My Funny Valentine. He said
he never got the song for years until
one day he understood what it meant.
I could tell the night my name, but who
would care. The darkness already knows me.

Michelle's Spell of the Day
"I'm always thinking about creating. My future starts when I wake up every morning... Every day I find something creative to do with my life." Miles Davis

Cocktail Hour
Drinking television suggestion: Mad Men (A&E tonight!)

Benedictions and Maledictions
Happy Sunday!

Saturday, July 26, 2008

Friday, July 25, 2008

A Total Disaster

Fun Friday question in lieu of hard won thought out blog post -- If you could time travel to anywhere in any particular time, where would you go? The answer for me is easy -- 1970s New York City. As a child, I read a book about becoming a professional dancer (as if someone who runs into walls had any hope) and I loved the section on NYC, saying it was scary and a total disaster and if, of course, if you could make it there, you could make it anywhere. That New York doesn't exist anymore so that's where I would go.

Michelle's Spell of the Day
"New York, the city of right angles and tough, damaged people." Pete Hamill

Cocktail Hour
Onion reading suggestion: Why Is No One Is Celebrating My Alcoholism Like They Do John Cheever's?

Benedictions and Maledictions
Happy Friday!

Wednesday, July 23, 2008

Capture Radiance

Hi readers! This is what I imagine might be the first section of the memoir. Thanks for all your reading, comments, and great suggestions.

I used to get paid to take pictures of accidents for a newspaper and later I realized I was an accident and started taking pictures of myself. The accident photographs, the first batch, that I got paid for, well, they weren't very good. I said I could use a camera in the interview which turned out to be a lie. I could lie with the confidence of one who really needed a job. I had to learn to operate an ancient Mac computer with all those computer-friendly icons. About being user-friendly, that was something I knew. When people touched me, I stayed quiet. To speak of a thing was to make it true.

The camera I used weighed heavy around my neck, its weight pushing my neck down, a feeling I was used to a tad bit more than I wanted to be. I liked pushing the camera's button, liked being in the middle of what passed for action in our own small town. Once I took pictures of firecrackers standing in Possum Kingdom Lake. My friend Angela Dawn drove us there and as we waded into the water, a small snake swam by. Tiny by most standards, but still there. And I knew from my mother, the smaller ones were more dangerous as their venom had not dispersed throughout their body. I snapped many pictures that night -- almost all of them turned out completely black. I realized how hard it is to capture radiance. One turned out okay; it looked like a magical dandelion in the sky and it ran on the front page of the Mineral Wells Index. That's when I knew a comforting and horrible truth -- it only takes one thing to make a big difference.

Michelle's Spell of the Day
"The past is what you remember, imagine yourself to remember, convince yourself to remember, or pretend to remember." Harold Pinter

Cocktail Hour
Drinking movie suggestion: The Dark Knight

Benedictions and Maledictions
Happy Thursday!

Much Like Now

First published in bordersenses:

Everything Seems Dead

Everyone had lost something – a finger or toe,
friends, fluency, currency. Most still flew, though,
all that war training having some small part
in the other life. As a child, I feared being buried
alive above all else and made my father promise
to stab a stake of holly through my heart when
my time came to be lowered into the ground.
Instead of planning my funeral, my dad told
me I could ride in a helicopter with one of his
friends, who said, Everything seems so fucking
dead after Vietnam. Don’t curse in front of the little
another guy said. She’s heard it before, he
replied. I nodded. Those were the days when I
saw a lot, understood little, much like now, I suppose.

Michelle's Spell of the Day
"There's only three things that's for sure: taxes, death and trouble." Marvin Gaye

Cocktail Hour
Classic Champale Cooler: Fill tall glass with Champale and ice, add a twist of lemon.

Benedictions and Maledictions
Happy Wednesday!

Tuesday, July 22, 2008

The City Of Angels

"You drink too much, write too little, and the only exercise you get is in bed," says one of Hank Moody's many love interests (or the sea of pointless pussy he's drowning in according to his ex) on Californication.  Some religious groups don't like this show -- no surprise there; it's a dark/light LA writer fantasy, complete with cool cars, hot women, and a really great agent played with wonderful aplomb by Evan Handler.  I never (don't hate me here) watched The X-Files because I really didn't give a shit what was out there, but David Duchoveny is pretty cool as Hank.  He's got writer's block, huge amounts of money from selling his novel as a screenplay (like I said, writer's fantasy), and beautiful women falling into his lap all the time.  And he gets into fights and hits people.  I would love to do that stuff.  The fighting part that is.  And the screenplay part.  The writer's block, well, that's a bit too close to reality.

The City of Angels is a scary place to me -- women disfigure themselves there at an alarming rate in the name of beauty, the strange loveliness of the building seems to point to something rotting and dead beneath the most exacting of surfaces.  The show utilizes this dynamic well.  We all have a bit of Hank Moody in us -- he's the guy who says what he wants without thought to social nicety, the walking id as his ex says.  But he also has to function in the world, sell his soul a little.  We all do, I suppose.  But at the end of the day, he claims that a morning of awkwardness is better than a night of loneliness and it's this glimmer of courage and hope, a bit of grace, that makes the watcher believe that he will write again and that whatever it is, we would want to read it.

Michelle's Spell of the Day
"Never think you're not good enough.  People will take you very much at your own reckoning." Anthony Trollope

Cocktail Hour
Drinking novel suggestion: Requiem, Mass. John Dufresne

Benedictions and Maledictions
Happy Tuesday!

Monday, July 21, 2008

Someone Less Messed Up

When I taught Vacation Bible School and wasn't tanked up on Valium and doing the very very slow-moving puppet shows, I memorized tons of Bible verses and still find myself speaking in them to this day without realizing it.  I had a lot of gold stars by my name for this gift of memory; I loved gold stars because I thought they meant something, that I could collect enough and cash them in for a new self like collecting enough tickets at Chuck E. Cheese for a stuffed animal except that I'd trade myself for someone less messed up and along and I'd be one of the girls I envied, the ones that made everything look effortless.  If I'd actually been understanding that which my mouth could recite, I would have known this was futile and that God loved me as I was and as I would be.   And that times were hard and necessary and how this works to our good even when we cannot see it.

That's my favorite verse, the one on my refrigerator right under the Trailer Park Tramp postcard, the one about how we experience something of the death of Jesus all the time, but that we are never alone, knocked down, but not out.  I go a lot with Carver about not knowing why we do what we do and love his poem, Distress Sale, about a garage sale and about how he can't help anyone because he's trying to recover from drinking so much and he doesn't have any money.   But he wrote about it and in the image, there's love and sadness and tragedy.  And that does help.  Because we feel alone so often, but what we don't see is that someone is watching our pain and feeling it and helping us endure it even when we don't know it.

Michelle's Spell of the Day
"Wherever three or four Catholics are found, there ye shall also find a fifth." Garret Keizer

Cocktail Hour
Drinking music suggestion: Gotan Project La Revancha Del Tango

Benedictions and Maledictions
Thanks so much for all the encouragement on the book -- and Laura, from your lips to God's ear! Happy Monday!

Sunday, July 20, 2008

Secrets The Balloons Didn't Tell

Here's another excerpt from Second Day Reported about one of the worst weddings I ever attended which is saying something. Thanks for reading!

The bride who bore my name (her groom the name of my ex-husband -- fun times already given that it was the first wedding I attended after my divorce) and she looked like a drag queen, make-up courtesy of Mary Kay and trowel. I sat with my best friend's boyfriend (she was a bridesmaid) who had recently moved from Detroit to be with her after years of long distance, and his adjustment was not going well -- he harbored a longing for the camaraderie of the north and for its bar culture -- a longing he soothed in part by nightly consumption of many glasses of Crown Royal and Coke chased by White Castles that he bought in the frozen food section of Piggly Wiggly. He'd gained a lot of weight since the move and homesickness hung on him like a jacket he couldn't bring himself to take off.

Before the wedding, I helped Angela decorate the marital bed with flowers and silly string. The bride barged in, glass of champagne in hand.

"I'm going to have sex in a limo tonight, even if it means going around the block a few times. I've never been in a limo," she said.

I knew secrets about the wedding, secrets that the programs and balloons and match books didn't tell. The bride had had three abortions -- the last two involved the groom. The latest one they endured together, and the grisly aftermath involved bleeding that would not stop and a trip to the emergency room. John Candy died that week, another sad funny guy with a swollen, exhausted heart and the groom cried off and on for a week.

"It's just so sad," he'd say, during montages of Candy's career highlights. "He was so young and brought joy to so many." He seemed particularly choked up during Uncle Buck, but usually managed to pull it together by Canadian Bacon. My namesake took the event in stride and her attitude was that of the ultimate pragmatist. "I've been pregnant three times. When I want it to happen, it should be easy."

Michelle's Spell of the Day
"Map out your future - but do it in pencil. The road ahead is as long as you make it. Make it worth the trip." Jon Bon Jovi

Cocktail Hour
Drinking music suggestion: Back In Black AC/DC

Benedictions and Maledictions
Happy Sunday! Thanks for all the recent e-mail and comments. I should be caught up on everything in a couple of days. And Laura, I think there's a cool soap skull in your future!

Thursday, July 17, 2008

The Real Story

Hi readers! This is a picture of Mark Durfee (the walking man), dear friend, student from many moons ago, and great poet of Detroit. In this picture, he's enjoying a coney dog because it's National Hot Dog Month in Detroit. I'm guessing Mark might order this anyway, but still. It is really National Hot Dog Month, whatever that means. National Coney Island is what Detroiters have in the way of local cuisine. Thanks for lunch, Mark! When I was taking this picture, some dude asked if I worked for Real Detroit. I said, I'm real and this is Detroit so there you have it. Mark said, She's my publicist and that's the real story. Hope you're having a great Friday!

Michelle's Spell of the Day
"Dreams are often most profound when they seem the most crazy." Sigmund Freud

Cocktail Hour
Drinking movie suggestion: Feast Of Love

Benedictions and Maledictions
Happy Friday!

Things I Forgot I Had

Hi readers! I've been doing some massive feng-shui type purging from my house -- this is the t-shirt from the story, now in the trash. You'll be seeing lots of props that no longer exist in the physical world in the next few weeks. It's very liberating -- and I found a lot of cool things I forgot I had. And clothes for days, including my old gymnastics competition leotard. Very useful now that I'm really at an age where I'm ready to do backflips and whatnot. For now, I must rest, but I'll be back at you tomorrow with something new.

Michelle's Spell of the Day
"A particularly beautiful woman is a source of terror. As a rule, a beautiful woman is a terrible disappointment." Carl Jung

Cocktail Hour
Drinking movie suggestion: Stop Loss

Benedictions and Maledictions
Happy Thursday!

Wednesday, July 16, 2008

A Penchant For Remote Older Men

Here's another excerpt from Second Day Reported. Thanks for reading!

One of my first boyfriends turned out to be gay. A fellow gymnast, much of our relationship consisted of driving to and from the gym, me waiting in the car while he made a quick stop at confession. I so envied his Catholicism, that unburdening in a private chamber. We gave each other notes laced with the worst corndog sports cliches about trying your best, never giving up, and the nature of being a champion.

Neither of us ever quite reached these lofty ideals. Having just ended my secretive romantic relationship with my freshman English teacher (he wasn’t married, but at thirty he was literally twice my age) because he had quit his job and left town, my stomach bloomed ulcers. That was always my reaction to men leaving starting with my dad when I was five. He left for a three month long business trip and snuck into the night as to not upset me. I imagined him dead and couldn’t ask my mother. When love resurrected a few months later, my mouth bled sores and my stomach burned all the time. Glad as I felt to have my beloved daddy back, I also now knew he could leave. Anyone could. It seemed something you could learn over and over again.

My boyfriend didn’t have it any easier and in most ways worse. He never let me seen the inside of his family’s HUD house because they were so poor and his mother didn’t speak much English. He was gay in Mineral Wells, Texas in the 80s, a decade that deemed George Michaels straight despite all those videos of him dancing around in tiny white shorts with his old school chum. But my boyfriend was touch, stoic, and he had a heartbreaking smile, the kind where your whole soul shines through, the beauty, the pain. Years later we’d figure out that we had a lot more in common that we knew -- a history of sexual abuse, a penchant for remote older men. We had seldom talked to each other during those car rides late into the night, both trapped in our own thoughts, our failures on and off the mat. Despite all our attempts to prop ourselves us, we knew we were, at some basic level, already defeated.

Michelle's Spell of the Day
"These are really terribly rough times, and we really should try to be as nice to each other as possible." Lou Reed

Cocktail Hour
Drinking suggestion: Champagne with pear nectar!

Benedictions and Maledictions
Happy Wednesday!

Tuesday, July 15, 2008

Say Nice Things About Detroit

Hey readers, hope all is well! I'm working on a big blog project (and video from the spiritual home of Iggy Pop, Hamtramck) so I'm going to come back tomorrow with you tomorrow with new stuff. I hope you've bought Laura's book already! It's fantastic. The post title comes from an old campaign to make our beautiful city palatable to people. But you know what, fuck that! Detroit doesn't need nice things said about it -- it is a nice thing. Be well, my lovelies.

Michelle's Spell of the Day

"Look, you're here to see me, and I can't go on until my dealer is here, and he's waiting to be paid, so give me some money so I can fix up, and then you'll get your show." Iggy Pop

Cocktail Hour
Drinking music suggestion: The Idiot Iggy Pop

Benedictions and Maledictions
Happy Tuesday!

Monday, July 14, 2008

The Devil Spreads His Own Ugly Light

I'm reading Isabella Moon in the above picture, dressed in my usual reading outfit. Seriously, this is a great book -- spellbinding, scary, and fun. I'd give a plot outline, but why the hell would I do that when you guys should go buy it? I love the characters, their complications and sadnesses, their secret and public lives, the intersections. Let's face it -- what's life without some scary intersections? I was reading it as I was getting my hair done, and one of the patrons of the salon said, That book looks really good. And she is right. Laura is a rare combination for a practioner of the literary arts -- a deeply kind person and a great writer. And really good looking. Like I said, rare as hell. Check out her blog in my links -- and the website for her novel is amazing.

Michelle's Spell of the Day
"You can sing the blues in church if you use the words right." Son House

Cocktail Hour
Drinking television suggestion: Generation Kill (Not for the weak of heart, just so you know.)

Benedictions and Maledictions
Happy Monday!

Sunday, July 13, 2008

The Next Velvet Underground

Here's another piece of the memoir! It's not quite as sweet as the wedding pictures, but hey, it can't all be wine and roses. Hope you're having a great weekend.

I met the man who raped me through one of my high school girlfriends. She dated him for a few months, hot with jealousy over his Nordic blonde sister named after victory. I have never heard the name, before or since. My friend said, I know there’s something totally weird in that house. “Like what?” I asked, a flat-chested bubble-butt Nancy Drew. My mother always told me, You’d be so pretty if . . . My friend had no ifs. She knew all the beauty tricks even as she didn't need them but her family was even poorer than mine, and she’d wear the same pretty wool sweater dress all year long even on the hottest of days. “Like he’s fucking his sister,” she said. The only person I knew who did that was Leland, the grandson of my babysitter! “I knew a dude who got his sister pregnant,” I said to my friend’s scant interest. She did not give a rat’s ass about that piece of Faulkner gone wrong.

“Nobody with their money gets pregnant out of wedlock,” she said. But she was wrong. The sister got pregnant while I was dating the rapist, another teenage desperation story, all that goth Nico-like promise gone. She wouldn’t be doing any of the things I could imagine with the next Velvet Underground. I looked up the meaning of her unusual name years later to find it mean victory, all right, but the kind that is empty because you used up all your resources to get it.

Michelle's Spell of the Day
"Style is knowing who you are, what you want to say, and not giving a damn."
Gore Vidal

Cocktail Hour
Drinking television suggestion: Weeds

Benedictions and Maledictions
Happy Sunday!

Saturday, July 12, 2008

Please Be My Love

Hi readers! Here's a series of wedding shots from the last couple of weeks. For years, nobody I knew got married and now everyone is. What's a girl to do? Take pictures and more pictures! I could go all cynical and shit, quote some George Jones lyrics, but I will spare you. Happy Saturday to all!

Friday, July 11, 2008

Friday Night In The City

I'm working on a big wedding photo project for tomorrow so I'm going to leave you with wishes for a happy Friday night!

Michelle's Spell of the Day
"I've done the most awful rubbish in order to have somewhere to go in the morning."
Richard Burton

Cocktail Hour
Drinking music suggestion: The Essential Sly and The Family Stone

Benedictions and Maledictions
Happy Friday!

Thursday, July 10, 2008

The Places You Don't Walk Away From

Thanks so much for reading sections of my memoir-in-progress, Second Day Reported. I've enjoyed having the feedback and would like to answer Mark's (aka -- the walking man) question about what the title means. Second day reported is an old police term for rapes that are not reported on the day that the event happened. In an old crime book I read, I saw a police officer as being quoted that most second day reported rapes were not real, that the woman had "changed her mind" about the sex and so on. It pissed me off enough to think that I should use it.

But beyond the persistent ignorance of certain beliefs, I like the title because all of writing fits under the title of second day reported -- even the most scrupulous writer of nonfiction finds herself in the dilemma of lack of memory, detail, and questions of tone. I'm not one to take the whole nonfiction thing lightly -- I don't like it when someone makes shit up and tries to pass it off as memoir; that's what fiction is for. But I understand the limitations of memory and the way it mimics fiction in its presentation. After all, we pick and choose our moments to create a world that mirrors what we believe. My memoir is turning out to be a lot more scatter shot than even I thought -- the structure is still (please God!) emerging. But I suppose knowing that you don't know something; there's a start.

Michelle's Spell of the Day
"You have to pick the places you don't walk away from." Joan Didion

Cocktail Hour
Drinking music suggestion: I Put A Spell On You Nina Simone

Benedictions and Maledictions
Happy Thursday!

Jill And Michelle

One more shot of me and beautiful Jill! Happy Honeymoon and all that!

Wednesday, July 09, 2008

The Thing You Hate

First published in Karamu

The Thing You Hate

For my last appointment of the day, I met
with a man who owned a computer store in Grosse
Pointe. Halfway through the interview, he rolled up
his sleeves and showed me his scars. “I tried
to kill myself three times last year, but I don’t
know if you’ll want to put that in the article,” he said.
I didn’t. Writing part-time for a pull-out advertisement
section of the EastSide Weekly as my second job, I never
got to handle the tough issues, just ended up dead
tired at the end of the day, wanting to go home.

Earlier, I’d gotten lost looking for a car wash
in downtown Detroit where the owner ranted
about capitalists for five minutes before letting me take
pictures of the building. “You become the thing
you hate,” he said while I finished off my roll, wondering
if any of the shots would turn out. I didn’t want
to come back, already late from my lunch break
at my full-time job. Now the room was getting dark,
but the computer shop owner didn’t reach for the lights;
instead, he sat at his desk, sleeves rolled up, thoughtful.

He explained that he was trying to begin again, that he’d burned
some bridges in the past, but that was all behind him. “Sometimes
it’s good to get a new start,” I said, even though I don’t believe
that. I never find it difficult to lie, given the right circumstances.
“I love this job,” he said and smiled, rolling down his sleeves.
“I dream about programming at night.” I dreamed about deadlines
I wasn’t meeting, things I’d forgotten, the continual exhaustion of someone
always ill-prepared and worried about being found out. “Can I see
the article before it’s in the paper?” he asked. “Sure,” I said, knowing
I wouldn’t have a chance to drop it by, trying to leave before it got too late.

Michelle's Spell of the Week
"Style is not neutral; it gives moral directions." Martin Amis

Cocktail Hour
Drinking memoir suggestion: Open Jenny Block

Benedictions and Maledictions
Happy Wednesday!

Tuesday, July 08, 2008

Pain From An Old Wound

I love female vocalists, especially the hard-core androgynous look/sound of a Chrissy Hynde, the pain and passion of Janis Joplin, and poignancy of Joni Mitchell. The country singers of yore are particularly great in this aspect as well -- give me a Dolly Parton or Loretta Lynn, and I'm happy. But I've come to the Karen Carpenter section of my memoir (doesn't everyone have one of these?) and am watching lots of clips of her and her brother on youtube posted by people like kickassmonkeymoney (which leads me to a tangent about why the hardest core punks love The Carpenters that I'll save for another post), and I'm thinking about how much power was contained in such a strange duo, a duo that would have been perfect in a Flannery O'Connor story. Karen, as some know, would have preferred to stay behind the band on the drums, but was pushed out in front because of her formidable vocal talents.

God knows, I've never been conservative in my clothes or appearance, but I love watching Karen on stage -- the simple modesty of her Delta Dawnish get-ups, one complete with a broach at the collar, the long borderline Texas cult dresses, it's all a huge relief from the over-polished cut to the navel outfits that singers wear now. Of course, Karen wasn't immune to the bullshit -- she starved beneath those dowdy frocks in order to fulfill some bullshit way that women should look. "I don't think I'm all that special," she said once in an interview. "It's all in the arranging." I used to hear her music at wedding all the time. But the one I went to this weekend opted for a more party vibe and the last song I remember hearing was Michael Jackson's "Thriller." When an increasingly bizarre popstar's last big album is considered sentimental nostalgia (which means in the original, pain from an old wound), I understand that I am getting older and that while I might be singing Goodbye To Love, others will be dancing to a song about zombies written by an alleged pedophile and thinking of that as the good old days.

Michelle's Spell of the Day
"Writing has laws of perspective, of light and shade just as painting does, or music. If you are born knowing them, fine. If not, learn them. Then rearrange the rules to suit yourself." Truman Capote

Cocktail Hour
Drinking memoir suggestion: Split Suzanne Finnamore

Benedictions and Maledictions
Happy Tuesday!

Monday, July 07, 2008

Band Of Gold

Hi readers! Here's a shot from this weekend with my dearest beautiful Jill, the beyond lovely bride, and my long-time forever friend, Shawn. I'll be back tomorrow! Happy Monday to all!

Sunday, July 06, 2008

Welcome To Detroit

When I was a car show model, all I remember about that horrible couple of weeks was snippets of Etta James' "At Last" playing through Cobo Hall. I'd been talked into this gig by a social worker friend, a taller, much more attractive girl who had a lot more stamina than I did and didn't succumb to the nosebleeds that plagued me (so model-like, but without the cocaine!) as I stood for hours in the overheated building while it snowed and snowed and snowed outside, twenty-eight inches to be sure. We'd take the time off from the hell that was our social work job, make more money in a couple of weeks than we did in months in the snakepit of a dementia clinic/community outreach center and no one would be any worse for the wear. Wrong! By day two, I could barely walk, by day three, I'd forgotten almost everything I knew in the English language except, Welcome to Detroit!

Being a model sounds like a glamour job, and I'm sure it is for those who work at Vogue. The best I ever did was a K-Mart ad circular which is just not the same thing. It's mostly people telling you what's wrong with you and how you'll do okay if you hide this and arrange that and look natural while you're doing it, like you're having a happy pleasant daydream and always sat around in teeny-tiny swimsuits looking like you're having a great time. I won't even discuss the Detroit Boat Show. But in ways, it was a dream job for me; I'd become quite good at looking like things didn't hurt or that being uncomfortable was just so great. When I got back to social work, I felt relief like never before; I was with my people who were hurting, and I didn't have to pretend because I really did care and in a few rare instances, could make things a little better.

Michelle's Spell of the Day
"Most of the songs I sing have that blues feeling in it. They have that sorry feeling. And I don't know what I'm sorry about. I don't." Etta James

Cocktail Hour
Drinking holiday weekend suggestion: Take a long long nap to recover from any and all horrors inflicted on the fourth!

Benedictions and Maledictions
Happy Sunday!

Saturday, July 05, 2008

Saturday Night, Sunday Morning

Hi Readers! I've been attending a wedding all day. I'll be back with a full report tomorrow! Congratulations, Jill and Erik!

Happy Saturday!

Friday, July 04, 2008

Independence Day

Hi Readers!

Coming at you from the Big D, Happy Fourth of July!

Michelle's Spell of the Day
"The only way for a woman, as for a man, to find herself, to know herself as a person, is by creative work of her own. There is no other way." Betty Friedan.

Cocktail Hour
Rockets' Red Glare --
Cherry vodka
Ice and tonic water
Blue CuraƧao

Benedictions and Maledictions
Sit back and enjoy the fireworks!

Thursday, July 03, 2008

We Go To Eleven

Hi everyone! Thanks for all the great comments on Second Day Reported as I write it. I'm grateful for all feedback and find it incredibly helpful. I've belonged to writer's workshop groups off and on through the years, but haven't participated in one in a long time due to time constraints so this works in much the same way. I try to see what's working and what's not while not getting paralyzed by any of it. One negative about being in a writer's group is having too many opinions too early, but I find that dynamic not to be a problem on the blog. Somehow the form lends itself to a certain casual give and take that doesn't get bogged down in details that I liken to rock polishing -- taking one sentence or scene and working it over and over when you're not even sure that you need the scene in the final draft. I'm still waiting for a structure to emerge in Second Day Reported and many of the comments have been helpful in guiding me to that goal. I started writing about the subjects that inform the book (rape, violence, family past) on this blog so it makes sense that it's being formed in this forum. Thanks again for all your careful reading!

Michelle's Spell of the Day
"I saw eggs and chicken on a Chinese menu and it was called Mother and Child reunion and I thought, I've got to use that." Paul Simon

Cocktail Hour
Drinking fashion suggestion: Go to Betsey Johnson this weekend if you like dresses --big, big sale!

Benedictions and Maledictions
Congratulations to Sheila and Joey on their engagement!

Wednesday, July 02, 2008

Second Day Reported Again!

Here's another excerpt from Second Day Reported. Thanks for reading!

My friend Melissa and I had a strange, insular friendship. We’d met in the fifth grade, both volunteering to help the teacher at lunch rather than facing the horrors of recess, that time of social burden. Our first discussion was about the nightmare of Hitler and what he had done. He took people’s skin and used it to make lampshades! People thought they were going to take a shower and got gassed! They had to dig their own graves! We knew no Jewish people, people who seemed as exotic as the big city. We couldn’t remember if an anti-semite meant that you liked Jewish people or hated them.

And so each recess we spent cutting out laminated hand-outs and discussing the tragedies of the world, all those distant killing fields. We only had limited first-hand experience with the muted racial tensions of Mineral Wells, the fear and contempt some people had for the black part of town and their social work center, named after Paul Lawrence Dunbar, know as the Dunbar. Although we heard people say nigger, nobody we knew had decorated his house with body parts. Of course, we couldn’t know about Ed Gein yet and his plan to create a suit for himself out of women’s skin, not so far from us after all. A small thing comparatively, but it does give one pause.

Michelle's Spell of the Day
"We've survived by believing our life is going to get better." Paul Simon

Cocktail Hour
Drinking television suggestion: Californication (Going to write a post on this one --really good stuff!)

Benedictions and Maledictions
Happy Wednesday! I love Cheri's question and want to write a whole post to answer. The short answer is absolutely. I still have the Virgin Mary post to do as well as my review of Isabella Moon which I am loving. I'll be in Texas this weekend for a wedding, but I should get caught up with everything by next week.

Tuesday, July 01, 2008

Nobody's There

Making Love While Conscious

Open your door and nobody’s there. That’s
as good a place to start as any. Startle at sounds.
This part works especially well if you live
with someone. Forget he’s there. Be reminded.
Sometimes he sneaks up behind you and laughs.
You laugh too. Tell yourself that none of this
matters. Keep telling yourself this for as long
as it takes. As for the nights, act like you’re dying
for it to keep what’s left of the peace, make him
happy. And who knows anyway? Maybe you are.

Michelle's Spell of the Day
"My life was screwed up before I was born." Steve McQueen

Cocktail Hour
Drinking music suggestion: The Essential Waylon Jennings Waylon Jennings

Benedictions and Maledictions
Happy Tuesday!