Friday, January 30, 2009

Love One Another

Hi everyone! Hope you're having a great Friday. I'm going to take the afternoon to finish up all the FINAL edits. Here's an old poem of mine which first appeared in St. Ann's Review. Happy Friday!

Love One Another Constantly

Upon entering my grandparents’ trailer, my
grandfather would take me to the master
bedroom and say, This is granddaddy’s
pistol. It can kill you. Don’t touch it. He’d
slide it back under the pillow, satisfied
that he’d made his point. No one had to say
anything twice around there. In the midst
of their everyday staples -- karo syrup, Jack
Daniels, empty cans of Old Milwaukee --
stood a small statue of St. Francis, a relic
from my grandmother’s ancient childhood --
Love One Another Constantly -- burned
into the base. Since I couldn’t touch the gun,
I’d run my finger over the words in the dark
like a blind person, thinking what if this sense
was all I had left to me in the world, not realizing
that it was, that it would be, the words carved
into wood still as clear as my grandfather’s
warning, long after the grave had taken him.

Thursday, January 29, 2009

I Can't Forgive Myself

Special thanks to lovely Lana of The Dreaming Tree (check out her wonderful blog ) for making me think more deeply about this subject with her thoughtful comment about dissociative amnesia (for those interested in the subject, there's a good wikipedia article on it) on my post about "The Wrestler."

Ted Haggard spent most of his life preaching that there are no secrets, that what is done in the darkness will see the light. Books are full ghosts that won't stay quiet, secrets that won't stay buried. In the case of Ted Haggard, his secret was that he has homosexual tendencies (he does not define himself as gay or straight at this point in his life) and acted upon them from time to time. He claims he was sexually abused as a child and this forced him into a double life, one where he preached to one of the largest evangelical congregations in United States and one where he frequented male prostitutes, played "little games" (fill in the blanks here, people) with his assistant at the church (the young man received a substantial pay-off to "comfort" him), and did meth. After he lost everything, he claims to have come to know the true love and forgiveness of Jesus. Now he must make amends to those whom he has hurt.

Forgiveness is perhaps the most difficult concept for any of us. When we have been traumatized, our tendency is to bury it deep inside ourselves because who can bear the pain of betrayal, the dark side of love and trust? I often think of my mother and her childhood where she endured her parents' abuse until they abandoned her in the middle of the night, one step ahead of the creditors as usual, and she'd become a piece of furniture too cumbersome to move one more time. And how much pain that caused her not in her early youth, but later, when she could no longer forget and pretend it didn't matter. Ted Haggard's wife is sticking with him despite all the lies (claiming there are fireworks in the bedroom with Ted on Oprah -- this defense made me sadder than anything else on the entire show for some reason). And of course, he has asked forgiveness from the homosexual community whom he maligned for years. Every once in a while, you'll hear someone say he or she can't forgive themselves. Which I admire since it indicates a frank understanding of the damage done. But what are we to do with those who never admit complicity to the pain they have caused? Unlike a lot of times when we ask a question, I don't have the start of an answer.

Michelle's Spell of the Day
"How much is your sin going to cost me?" Ted Haggard

Cocktail Hour
Drinking documentary suggestion: The Trials Of Ted Haggard (tonight on HBO!)

Benedictions and Maledictions
Happy Thursday!

Wednesday, January 28, 2009

Is He The Greatest Living Painter?

Hi everyone! I'm posting a youtube of Jackson Pollock painting in honor of his birthday. I'll be back tomorrow with a post about Ted Haggard (yes, someone called and told me to watch Oprah). His documentary, The Trials of Ted Haggard, airs on HBO tomorrow night.

Michelle's Spell of the Day
"Abstract painting is abstract. It confronts you. There was a reviewer a while back who wrote that my pictures didn't have any beginning or any end. He didn't mean it as a compliment, but it was." Jackson Pollock

Cocktail Hour
Drinking children's book suggestion: Action Jackson

Benedictions and Maledictions
Happy Wednesday!

Tuesday, January 27, 2009

Rabbit At Rest

When hearing about John Updike's death today, I cast back to a long summer I spent reading his entire Rabbit series, novels that get better with each sequel. I was miserably depressed that summer, not knowing if I was going to leave Texas for Detroit. My then-boyfriend was, umm, not that interested in talking about the subject. At all. Many years younger than he was, I found myself shut down. So I took my solace in the trials of Rabbit Angstrom and drove myself crazy with the age-old Clash question, Should I stay or should I go? Well, dear readers, I went. And never regretted it. I love John Updike's writing and was desperately sad when I finished Rabbit At Rest. I was in motion, but I hated leaving behind that world. Updike understood men and women, the complex pain of marriage and divorce. I remember teaching a story of his in Texas and my students (all very young) were sure that they would never put up with the shit the wife did in the story. Not for one minute. When I taught that story to a more mixed-age group years later, people nodded with understanding. Which is the only fitting response to a world in which nothing is easy.

Michelle's Spell of the Day
"Dreams come true; without that possibility, nature would not incite us to have them." John Updike

Cocktail Hour
Drinking suggestion: a martini lifted for Mr. Updike

Benedictions and Maledictions
Happy Tuesday!

Monday, January 26, 2009

Revolutionary Road

It's hard to feel sorry for people as good-looking as Kate Winslet and Leonardo DiCaprio, but their roles in Revolutionary Road make you do so. I'm one of the three people in the world who never saw Titanic (I suspect the other two probably read this blog) so I never saw them in that disaster movie. But let's face it -- I don't like that kind of disaster. I'm drawn to the painful emotional disasters, the quiet miseries, the life you live and don't know how you got there. I've always loved the Richard Yates novel, but director Sam Mendes (of American Beauty and Jarhead fame) brings the sun-drenched, 1950s suburbs to us in an even more menacing way. Our main characters, April and Frank Wheeler, have it all -- beauty, youth, healthy children, a decent paycheck. Yet April feels trapped, stymied by her choices, and her solution is one we've all thought about at one time or another -- the geographic (an AA term for moving somewhere to solve your problems). Her geographic is Paris, a place Frank has been, but that she hasn't makes them happy for a bit. Until Frank's fear and her unwanted third pregnancy puts a damper on the dream.

A lot of this movie is very funny in large part because the viewer can see so much more than the characters, about their fights and tumults, affairs, dashed dreams. My favorite character is the mentally disturbed son of their realtor (a fantastic Kathy Bates); he brings a clarity to their lives which is wondrous to them initially until his gift of sight goes too far for their comfort. I suppose we all wish to be seen and understood. Until we don't. Until we are too lost, too disillusioned, too worn down. Then we wish to vanish, to become invisible. The house on Revolutionary Road becomes a ghost, a place where something terrible happens. That's hard to sell to anyone, but Kathy Bates shows shades of determination that made her such a force in movies like Misery and Dolores Claiborne. As she talks of the new couple in the house, she makes herself hate the Wheelers, because like them, she bought into their deception of specialness and cannot stand to be wrong.

Michelle's Spell of the Day
“They say that we are better educated than our parents' generation. What they mean is that we go to school longer. It is not the same thing.” Richard Yates

Cocktail Hour
Drinking television suggestion: The United States of Tara (I just started watching this and don't know what I think yet. Any opinions?)

Benedictions and Maledictions
Happy Monday!

Sunday, January 25, 2009


Hi everyone! This ad definitely influenced me as a child more than I care to say. Thanks for all your comments about "The Wrestler" and my own short-lived wrestling career. I've been in heavy editing mode on Second Day Reported (given the way I write, editing is exhausting -- I wish I was one of those perfect sentence types, but alas, I'm as far away from that as possible) so I've missed a couple of days. But I'm going to post today and catch up with all the blogs I love. Happy Sunday!

Thursday, January 22, 2009

Pre-Victory Dances

When my sister Beth and I were very young, we'd tuck our nightgowns into our underwear and wrestle each other. These were quite the productions; my dad would put on music and we'd stand in opposite corners, doing pre-victory dances. I'd call myself Phoebe Buns and Beth would call herself Bebe Buns. Even though Beth was younger, she was bigger than I was and my mother would panic midway through our bouts, yelling, "Don't hurt her Beth. She's going to snap." But the young and dumb are protected a lot of the time; I am no exception. I remember those times as lovely in the Vaseline-smeared frame that is the past -- my parents alive, the world as wondrous as it ever would be, framed by a sunken living room with avocado green shag carpet.

These days I find myself and a lot of people I know a little beaten down. Make no mistake; we keep going, we retain our humor, we try to love each other. But as I referenced in my last post, the past exacts a cost. In my review of The Wrestler, a commenter took offense at my characterization of certain jobs. All I can say to that is, Brother, I have had all those jobs, the ones where some people are kind and some people treat you as if you have just finished learning the alphabet with the blown-up Letter People we used to have in kindergarten. Once I worked as a receptionist for minimum wage after I received my doctorate. I enjoyed the work and was good at it, but I still remember the day that a man who I assumed was my friend said, You sure would have made something of yourself if you'd just gone to college. I said nothing, just nodded. The days were filled with endless forms, with Tupperware lunches, with sticky school day minutes in the dementia clinic downstairs where aides tried to keep their patients calm until five when the families came to collect them. This place remains a part of me, as does the slaughterhouse I worked at, as does every place I have taught. Maybe I would have been good at professional wrestling -- if I choose to pursue it, at least I already have a stage name.

Michelle's Spell of the Day
"As the arteries grow hard, the heart grows soft." H. L. Mencken

Cocktail Hour
Drinking movie suggestion: Gran Torino (See the scenes of Detroit and weep for the beauty.)

Benedictions and Maledictions
Happy Thursday!

Tuesday, January 20, 2009

A Part-Time Job In A Grocery Store

Much has been said about Mickey Rourke's comeback in The Wrestler, and I don't disagree. Sometimes you meet your material -- hell, I've been waiting for Hollywood to stop putting out bullshit happy endings that any dullard can feel good about or on the other side, movies so strange and slow that you feel obligated to tell everyone how great they are because you endured two or more hours of hell. Not so with The Wrestler. The world of professional wrestling is portrayed with excruciating detail, a world I remember very well from my childhood when my great grandmother used to wake me up in the middle of the night to watch fights warning me not to tell my mother. I loved sitting on the couch with her, the bad guys, the good guys, the really tight tights, the crazy stage make-up. What wasn't to love?

The Wrestler is about pretense, about how your fake name and fake life(whether it be for wrestling or stripping -- a part played by the always excellent Marissa Tomei) becomes a deep part of you. In Rourke's case, he loathes his real name (Robin) and finds it on his name-tag at his part-time job in a grocery store much to his horror; in Tomei's case, she desperately tries to escape her stripper name and cling to her identity as Pam, a mother of a young son. Both are slaves to the trappings of their professions; both have sold parts of their soul to endure in a harsh world. I enjoy fantasy as much as the next person -- truth be told, reading Playboy (don't ask), opiates, and doing the rosary got me through my first two nights out of the hospital where I couldn't sleep or stave off the pain. But underneath every fantasy, there's the marks where the costumes once were. In this movie, they have been in place so long that there are scars of all sorts, the marking of better days. Things don't get easier, just harder to deny.

Michelle's Spell of the Day
"I always knew I'd accomplish something very special - like robbing a bank perhaps." Mickey Rourke

Cocktail Hour
Drinking story suggestion: Check out Jim's latest short story win, a 2nd place finish for a short story called "If You'd Only Pay Attention." You can access the following link for a visual representation of the story: Congratulations, Jim!

Benedictions and Maledictions
Happy Wednesday!

Monday, January 19, 2009

My Name Is

I like the margins because I feel like they are my true home. My own house has guns, knives, pictures of the broken, symbols of sadness and decay, the beauty and pain of self-destruction. Nobody is ever going to put me on the front page of anything resembling normal and even so I find myself mystified by the parents who named their children Adolf Hitler Campbell, JoyceLynn Aryan Nation Campbell, and Honszlynn Hinler Jeannie Campbell. Okay, you're a Nazi, I get it. It's your right to be. It's your right to say the most awful, hateful, racist words you like. You can decorate your house with swastika and wear red shoelaces on your boots to tell your other little friends who you are. As for the swastika, it used to be a Hopi symbol of love. But really? Aldolf Hitler? Come the hell on. The kids have been removed from the home for domestic abuse issues between the husband and wife (so far as I can tell from the news outlets), not incredibly shocking given the genius couple who claims that the names mean nothing, that they are not racist (of course, they don't believe in "blending the races" -- given the pictures I've seen of them, it looks like they didn't go too far afield in dating -- it's convenient when you can marry a half-sibling or first cousin -- why leave the house for a date?), and that it's a new day where words are just words.

I often heard as a child that I had two ears and one mouth because God wanted me to listen more than I spoke. Not bad advice, given that half the time I open my mouth, I sound like a jackass. It's my right as an adult to do so. Brave American men and women have fought many a war so I could. Many people have spoken up to defend free speech at considerable cost to themselves. Maybe naming your firstborn Adolf Hitler isn't child abuse. I can't imagine that he'll get his ass kicked by all the loving children on the playground -- after all, Lord Of The Flies was just a novel, right? I've never been wild about my name; it's Hebrew and means "Who is like God?" Of course, my parents named me after the Beatles song. Now I'm pretty grateful; tomorrow we have our first African-American president and his wife shares my name. And given what other people name their children, I see how lucky I am.

Michelle's Spell of the Day
"A man can't ride your back unless it's bent." Martin Luther King, Jr.

Cocktail Hour
Drinking novel suggestion: Long For This World Michael Byers

Benedictions and Maledictions
Happy MLK Day!

Sunday, January 18, 2009

The Stooges

Here's my Ron Asheton memorial shot, 1948-2009. Screw the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame for overlooking The Stooges once again. Here's all my Detroit love for Ron -- rest in peace!

Saturday, January 17, 2009

The Wrestler

Hi everyone! I've been recovering from the finish of my book and will be back to doing posts tomorrow! Thanks for all the love and support. I watched The Wrestler last night and cried my eyes out. Review to come!

Michelle's Spell of the Day
"I dream a lot. I do more painting when I'm not painting. It's in the subconscious." Andrew Wyeth

Cocktail Hour
Drinking novel suggestion: Calling Mr. Lonely Hearts Laura Benedict (review to follow this week -- read it!)

Benedictions and Maledictions
Happy Saturday!

Wednesday, January 14, 2009


Dear readers,

I'm finished with my rough draft! Like Charles pointed out, endings are hard and tend to have a way of providing a great deal of resistance. I am no different. I've been wrestling with the arrangement of a lot of writing for a long time, but particularly since I have been recovering from my surgery. While I wouldn't recommend rupturing your appendix, spending quality time in ICU, and getting to know all the trauma nurses on a first name basis, I will say that getting sick put my life into a much sharper focus. Suddenly all the minutiae that had been part and parcel of my days fell away. I couldn't distract myself because, well, I couldn't really move that much. And writing seemed extremely important, at least a lot more important than making sure the bookcase was dust-free and the books were arranged alphabetically. I once heard a writer say that before she had a child, she couldn't write if there were dishes in the sink and after she had her son, she could write if there was a dead body in the sink. While losing a toxic evil organ is different than birthing a lovely baby, I think the end psychic result was the same for me. God gave me another chance, something not everyone gets. And I thank each of you, my dear readers and friends, who encouraged me to explore some of the darkest material of my life. I actually starting to cry when I wrote the last chapter -- that's how I knew it was the last one. I'm looking forward to catching up on e-mail, reading my favorite blogs, and resting a bit before starting in on the work of revision. Thanks so much for all your love and support!

Michelle's Spell of the Day
"My thought has always been completion. Maybe you have to rebound better, shoot better, hit free throws, handle the ball, defend better. You have to do all those things in the course of a game." Isiah Thomas

Cocktail Hour
Drinking suggestion: Moet for everyone!

Benedictions and Maledictions
Happy Wednesday!


Hey guys, today I finish my rough draft of Second Day Reported! I'll be reporting later to tell you how it went, but I want to thank everyone who has been so supportive. xoxo, Michelle

Monday, January 12, 2009


When I got sick this December, I found myself listening to music in my hospital bed, varying between the Jackson Five and Iggy Pop. Egyptians prescribed music for physical affliction and damned if I wasn't going to try everything and anything to get off the various drips and tubes and shots. There's a saying that if you have five tubes in you in ICU, you're going to die. Let's say I was close. But once out of the ICU unit or Pizza Hut as my morphine-addled mind thought (the big question: did I order thin and crispy or pan crust?), I found the music to be soothing and found myself drawn to Motown, that happy joyous sound created in Detroit fifty years ago. I especially loved the Jackson Five and in a weird fit of synchronicity found myself watching the epic made for television movie all through Christmas. Despite the depressing nature of most of the scenes and my painkillers that made me a little weepier than usual, I found myself compelled, particularly by the scene where Michael befriends a rat in his room as a child, only to have it killed by his wicked father Joseph.

My rather humorless doctor asked how I was feeling during this ordeal. I told him more cogent than the day before and he laughed and said that he'd never heard a patient use that word. I took off my earphones and explained that I was relying on Iggy Pop to make me well. He looked at me and said, You're white blood cell count is still through the roof. But the next day it was fine. I don't know why it changed, he said. Could be anything. Looks like you're going to live. I credit the song "I Want To Be Your Dog." Also the Jackson Five's ABC. What can I say? Those ancient Egyptians were onto something. And while I didn't have a little rat friend like Michael, I hallucinated plenty of bizarre creatures thanks to my morphine drip. While I knew better than to talk to them, it's always nice to have company.

Michelle's Spell of the Day
"Don't judge yourself by others' standards ... have your own. And don't get caught up into the trap of changing yourself to fit the world. The world has to change to fit you. And if you stick to your principles, values and morals long enough, it will." Berry Gordy Jr

Cocktail Hour
Stop In The Name Of Love

One part vodka
One part Godiva dark chocolate
One part Godiva cappuccino chocolate
Served chilled and garnished with cinnamon.

Benedictions and Maledictions
Happy Monday! Happy 50th birthday, Motown!

Sunday, January 11, 2009

I'd Like To Buy The World A Coke

Gloria Steinem once said that she didn't like to write, that she liked to have written. I understand this all too well as writing is mostly staring into space, trying to figure out what the organic fucking structure of something is until you want to tear every last hair out and then some. Worse, the better you're writing, the worse you feel. When I'm not writing, I'm a terrific writer, and I know everything about the process and would love to tell the world, like the commercial about buying the world a Coke so they could sing in perfect harmony. If you ask me, I don't think there has been one better than that for Coke since, especially when they tried to pawn that ass nasty New Coke onto an unsuspecting public with Bill Cosby telling us how great it is. But when I am writing, I know almost nothing about what I'm doing except that I'm not doing anything else well. The laundry builds up, phone calls go unanswered, and my hair hasn't been touched by a styling product in many days.

Many writers have written about this particular brand of frustration -- waiting, struggling, writing stuff that has to be tossed. It's not physical work so there's bad posture involved, there's poor dietary habits, and a strange tendency to mumble to yourself. But without this pain, there is no good writing. I once knew someone who compared the whole ordeal to a group of monks who used to wear hair shirts and flog themselves with tiny sticks. Which at the time I thought was pretty stupid. Now it seems apt. I'm almost done with Second Day Reported, and I've always contended that the last ten percent of any writing project is the hardest. When I get done, I'm going to buy myself a Coke (a real one, not diet -- I tried the artificial and could never stomach it) and maybe do some laundry provided I can remember how.

Michelle's Spell of the Day
"I've been very lucky, considering what I look like and what I do." James Gandolfini

Cocktail Hour
Drinking writing ritual -- all caffeine, all the time. You can drink when you finish writing!

Benedictions and Maledictions
Happy Sunday!

Saturday, January 10, 2009

D Is For Detroit

Hi everyone! Thanks so much for the great comments about my new scar. In this picture, it's being covered by a bandage as it heals. The scar was really bad after surgery and has improved a lot. It's strange to think that I didn't have it a month ago and now it will be around forever. I've been arranging the last section of Second Day Reported (D Is For Detroit) and am worn out from the labors. I'm going to write a new light happy post tomorrow about something not concerning illness or violence. Or I will try. Right now, I'm going to leave you with a list of things I want to see at the movies very soon!

"The Wrestler" -- Going by the trailer, this movie looks like it was made for me. Mickey Rourke as a broken down professional wrestler, Marissa Tomei as a stripper he likes, and Evan Rachel Wood as his estranged daughter. Bleak but loving -- my favorite combination.

"Revolutionary Road" -- loved the novel. Here's hoping the movie is great as well. Nina Simone song ("Wild Is The Wind") in the trailer is fantastic.

"Gran Torino" -- Clint Eastwood and Detroit. What more do you want?

Happy Saturday!

Friday, January 09, 2009

The Story Of My Scar

Hi everyone! Sorry about missing yesterday -- I finally got the staples out of my wound and worked on my book all day which wore me out. Here's the scar which is still healing. I can't show you the whole thing without becoming, well, another kind of blog entirely, but you get the idea. On my last night in the hospital, I had a night nurse with a thick Romanian accent who said, You will of course have plastic surgery. Nobody wants memory of such sadness. While I adored him (best nurse of my entire stay), I'm not sure I agree. At any rate, I like it for now, a symbol of survival. I'll be back with a regular blog post this afternoon and more scar shots -- hope you're having a wonderful Friday!

Wednesday, January 07, 2009

Fly the Friendly Skies

I spent many Saturdays of my childhood in the tiny local airport in my hometown, waiting for my dad to finish giving flight lessons. I'd have at least four library books to kill the time and sat on uncomfortable orange chairs in the terminal for hours talking to an imaginary class of girls who hung on my every word. This was not the best training for real teaching, I have to say. I look just like my dad did in many ways so everyone knew who I was even if they didn't. Daddy loved people and talked to everyone, not my policy by a long shot. I spent almost all my time in the world of books, looking up from time to time to watch a plane take off or land.

My dad died while doing a short test flight from this very airport, a place I didn't see very much after I left home. But I can recall every detail about it from those long afternoons. My joy was never so great as when he was done and bought me a candy bar from the vending machine. I can only imagine how exhausted he was after working long hours all week and having to work all day Saturday as well. But he never complained and never showed any weakness. He loved to fly and teaching people after they got out of ground school. But he knew I wasn't cut out for such training -- I could barely find my way back to the truck in an almost empty parking lot. I'm one of those people destined to stay on the ground which is okay. But whenever I see a plane, I think about all the hours it took someone to learn how to fly it to be able to transport people to different worlds the way my books did in those long-ago days.

Michelle's Spell of the Day
“Facts sometimes have a strange and bizarre power that makes their inherent truth seem unbelievable.” Werner Herzog

Cocktail Hour
Drinking skincare suggestion: Bliss Oxygen Mask (works fast and like a voodoo charm!)

Benedictions and Maledictions
Happy Wednesday! Still getting around to answering e-mail and working on getting stronger. Hope everyone is having a great week!


Hi readers! Tuesday I took a little break to work on my book, but I'm back later today, my dad's birthday -- one day before Elvis! Hope you're having a great week after the holiday chaos. The beautiful flowers in the picture came from my dearest lovely Jill. Thanks so much Jill! Baby Grouchie and I love them!

Monday, January 05, 2009

That's A Beautiful Necklace

During Christmas break my rapist took me to a Unitarian church with his father and stepmother. My family didn’t go to church except for a brief flirtation with the Baptist whose main message seemed to be that hell wasn’t a metaphor, but a lake of fire and that it was crucial to win souls for Jesus and that steeples were phallic symbols so one Sunday we were instructed to cut the one off of the church in some bizarre Shirley Jackson-like ritual where everyone took the ax and pretended to kill the phallus. As strange and traumatic as it was for the women, I hate to speculate about the effects on the young boys.

The Unitarian preacher told us that God is love and love is God and we didn’t need to think about Hell because nobody was going there as it didn’t exist. He handed us stickers for our shirts -- rainbows splashed with God Is Love in puff paint. I couldn’t bring myself to wear it, remembering the last time I wore a rainbow on a necklace chain. That’s a beautiful necklace, a boy in my sixth grade math class said. When I smiled, he said, Did you steal it off a dead nigger?

In Sunday school the rainbow was a symbol of God’s covenant, but in real life it seemed to be a little more complicated. Some people in my hometown didn’t condone rainbow anything because the symbol was associated with gay rights. My dad had already told me that some boys liked other boys and there was nothing wrong with it as many of my childhood friends already showed signs of being homosexual. But I had seen what had happened to boys who were a touch too effeminate at the wrong place, wrong time. I’d seen a boy get beaten while being called a faggot over and over. But mostly people in my hometown ignored what they didn’t want to see with pat explanations like, Oh, he’s all right. He had a date to prom, conveniently rendering thirty years of living with another man insignificant in detecting sexual preference.

When we left the church, my rapist asked me what I thought. I’d always been drawn to Catholicism because of the crucifixes, the incense, the priests. I’d convert in my early thirties, drawn in by ritual and suffering, the saints. As a child, I often heard people say that the Catholics worshipped Mary and practiced voodoo. That was enough for me to be sold. “There aren’t a lot of rules,” I said, trying to sound diplomatic.

“That’s what I like about it,” he said. “Anything goes.”

Michelle's Spell of the Day
"I think it is all a matter of love: the more you love a memory, the stronger and stranger it is." Vladimir Nabokov

Cocktail Hour
Drinking dvd suggestion: Vicki Christina Barcelona

Benedictions and Maledictions
Happy Monday!

Sunday, January 04, 2009

This Completion Thing

My favorite line to ever usher forth from William Hurt's lips in a movie is from The Big Chill. Playing a brilliant, drug-addicted loser, he interviews himself in a camcorder, a sort of Spalding Grey homage and he says, "I'm not hung up on this completion thing." Unfortunately, I am and have been spending much of my convalescence editing chapter upon chapter of my memoir. I don't mind revision, but the tedium of sentence after sentence where mistakes have come home to die does wear the mind a bit. The constant strain of looking in the mirror of one's text and thinking, how could I have fucked that up?

And as much as one is desperate to hurry the process, it resists any attempts at speed. Organic is not a word I ever want to hear except when it comes to writing, and I suppose that one must endure the organic nature of the task. I think of snakes shedding their skins or butterflies emerging from a cocoon. It's awfully dark in there and maybe they think they're dying before they become something beautiful and wholly different.

Michelle's Spell of the Day
"I sing to the realists; people who accept it like it is." Aretha Franklin

Cocktail Hour
Drinking movie suggestion: Slumdog Millionaire

Benedictions and Maledictions
Happy Sunday! I have some e-mail that I need to answer -- tomorrow is the day! Thanks for all happy wishes!

Friday, January 02, 2009

No Bottles To Break

No Bottles To Break -- Just Hearts

That summer, we drifted from hope
to despair, bad movies, long fights
about nothing. Zombies, reanimated
from the past, nothing left but shells,
the bodies. Nobody saw it coming. I
thought a lot about the ruins of lives
I'd seen, my grandparents' trailer,
detritus of a marriage gone off the rails.
I prided myself on having the sense
to hide my own bottles, the bruises
didn't show so much. The siren
songs of numbness, of tomorrow.
I hope to forget this.

Michelle's Spell of the Day
"Everybody has a gun in their car in Detroit." Jim Harrison

Cocktail Hour
Drinking novel suggestion: Calling Mr. Lonely Hearts by Laura Benedict is here. I heard her read a portion of it -- fantastic stuff! Prepare to be scared out of your wits! Her first novel, Isabella Moon, has also gone into paperback. Please get out and buy one or both of these books -- hey, you know you got some gift cards for Christmas; this is the time to use them!

Benedictions and Maledictions
Happy Friday! Thanks so much for all well wishes for my recovery. You guys are the very best!

Thursday, January 01, 2009

Happy New Year's!

Hi readers! Here's my first picture of the new year -- I'm a little worse for the wear, but have been enjoying being out of the hospital and gaining weight (the hospital food weirdly didn't appeal as much as you'd think). I hope everyone is having a great first day of 2009! I'll be back with regular posts tomorrow now that I'm doing better. The staples come out of my wound soon so the scar shots will be soon -- it's a doozy, but I think it will look very cool. Happy New Year's everyone!