Monday, November 30, 2009


Another brief excerpt -- thanks for reading!

Mother and Amber have driven to Ft. Worth and Daddy is working on his plane in the garage so we’ve lit candles all over the living room in preparation for Captain Tim’s arrival. This is our all out last ditch effort at the Melissa-Tim set-up. Angela Dawn has seemed plain miserable after the July fourth attack, appears a little cheerier tonight. She suggests we play Mother’s Steppenwolf album to create a romantic ambiance. I doubt that “Don’t Step On The Grass, Sam” is going to make Captain Tim swoon, but I go along with the idea. My six hour Woodstock documentary plays in the background.

“I brought my chess board,” Melissa says. “I figure I can ask him to teach me. Noting sexier than buttering a man up.”

“I suppose not,” I say.

Captain Tim rings the doorbell, and Angela Dawn and I run into the den to hide so Melissa and Tim can have maximum privacy.

“Where is everyone?” Captain Tim asks. “I saw Angela Dawn’s truck outside.”

“I’m not sure. I think Diane and Angela Dawn are in the other room, braiding leather or lighting patchouli. But I have a chess board and neither of them will play with me. Will you play with me?” Melissa asks.

Captain Tim, I know, senses a set up and nearly trips getting out of the house. “The Pusherman” doesn’t quite do the trick as far as fostering romance.

“He’s afraid of intimacy,” Angela Dawn says. “I studied that in freshman psychology.”

“It took a long time for Professor Jeff to warm up to me.” I didn’t add that after said thaw, he fucked me twice and then requested another figure drawing model for his classes. The truth is rarely welcome in situations requiring comfort.

“Girls, why is it so dark in here?” Daddy asks, emerging from the garage. “What happened to all the light?”

Michelle's Spell of the Day
"I feel ghostly unreal until I become somebody else again on the screen." Peter Sellers

Cocktail Hour
Drinking television suggestion: Hoarders is back! And I'll be back with some holiday shots to make the season bright.

Benedictions and Maledictions
Happy Monday!

Monday Pictures

Back later with those holiday cocktails! Hope everyone survived Thanksgiving weekend.

Saturday, November 28, 2009

The Hitcher

Thanks so much for all the thanksgiving wishes! Back to all -- it's been a good holiday so far. Here's a new section of my novel and tomorrow I'll be back with some holiday survival tips and Christmas cocktails!

“Do you want to come over tonight? Daddy and I are watching The Hitcher on HBO. I know he’d be glad to see you.”

I didn’t have the heart to mention that he thought she wasn’t playing with a full deck since she ran around in see-through gowns as if she were in a permanent audition for the part of Ophelia and expressed a child-like wonderment at the fact people had come to buys things at our garage sale we had at the start of summer to make money for college. He’d asked Mother, “Why is she wearing a nightgown?” to which Mother told him that she thought it was a slip dress.

“What’s The Hitcher?”

“It’s this show with lots of sex and violence. This hitchhiker dude narrates a story every week where someone has a flaw that usually results in their being punished in some weird way.” It followed one of my favorite and most feared plots, that of The Monkey’s Paw, the childhood story where a man wishes on a powerful talisman an gets what he asks for but in these horrific ways. The same premise was true of Fantasy Island, a show Amber and I watched as children every Friday night after The Love Boat. Poor Tattoo always watching for the plane!

“I’d have to work late,” Angela Dawn says. “Speaking of, I’d better get back.”

“Be careful in the Chicken Van. There’s a lot of crazy drivers out there,” I say, acting as if she isn’t one of them.

“Don’t I know it,” she says.

Michelle's Spell of the Day
"At first, I didn't realize it was gonna be a character. I just thought I was gonna be doing me." Larry David

Cocktail Hour
Drinking television suggestion: Really enjoying Sex Rehab With Dr. Drew. A guilty pleasure!

Benedictions and Maledictions
Happy Sunday!

Thursday, November 26, 2009

Happy Thanksgiving!

Hi everyone -- Happy Thanksgiving!!!!!! I have so very much to be thankful for -- starting with my life and going from there. And all my family and friends, you know who you are. I love and value each of you -- more later after the Detroit Lions WIN! Ha!

Tuesday, November 24, 2009

Baby Grouchie and Little Moo

Happy Thanksgiving Eve to all! I will be back tonight with some thoughts on the day. Hope your Wednesday is rocking!

Monday, November 23, 2009

The Truth In Advertising

After all the Mad Men fan fare has died down with the season finale, I've finally caught up enough to realize that Don Draper bears an astonishing resemblance to Michael Steadman, the ever earnest advertising exec on thirtysomething. Mea culpa --I watched thirtysomething with a fervor that bordered on religious. True to my ever dull Taurean nature, I'd tape the show on Tuesday nights while watching it and then watch it again before high school on Wednesday morning. Most of the girls I knew who watched it (and they were not many, let me tell you) were into Gary, the hippie professor who didn't believe in grading and called apartments "Orwellian nightmares." But I couldn't really dig Gary who always seemed to be mooching food and whining. I accept that everyone whines from time to time, myself included. But I don't know -- men on television whining work my nerves for some reason, so I could never get behind Gary as a dreamboat.

Ken Olin, though, was dreamy for all the same reasons Don Draper (John Hamm) is. They seem like adult men in a television world populated by teenagers. To be fair, so does Tom Arnold and I've not gone all swoony over him. But there's something about that tall, dark, handsome, brooding, married man trying to think up another jingle that makes everything better. And Don Draper is even cooler than Michael Steadman was. I think it's the era. The eighties were a bit of a wash all around, but the sixties were all good clothes, scotch, and deep pronouncements about the future. By the eighties, we'd seen a bit of what that imagined future was and all it seemed to be was Frankie Says Relax t-shirts and fluorescent socks, as if we wanted to be brighter if not smarter.

Michelle's Spell of the Day
"Undisturbed calmness of mind is attained by cultivating friendliness toward the happy, compassion for the unhappy, delight in the virtuous, and indifference toward the wicked." --The yoga sutras of Patanjali

Cocktail Hour
Any favorite Thanksgiving cocktails?

Benedictions and Maledictions
Thanks for the well wishes! Feeling much better. Happy Monday!

Sunday, November 22, 2009

The Detroit Lions Won?!

Feeling much better after a few days of coughing and fever. Hope everyone out there is well! Thanksgiving looms which is a good holiday, full of food and low expectations. Plus, the Detroit Lions won today (miracle!) and will play on Thanksgiving so we can all sit around and relax. And eat and drink. I once gained five pounds on Sees candy with my dear Bamms at Thanskgiving in lovely San Francisco. That Sees candy is the best! I'll be back with another novel excerpt tomorrow, my dears.

Happy Sunday!

Friday, November 20, 2009

I Was Pink Before Pink Was Cool

Hey guys, happy Friday! I'm done for the count with some creepy virus/cold, but I'll be back tomorrow with more of the novel. Thanks so much for all the great feedback. Here's a much younger me dancing with Trent of Pink Is The New Blog. Check out his blog for a little Friday celebrity gossip fun! He's the bomb!

Wednesday, November 18, 2009

Hatchet For The Honeymoon

Here's a short scene out of the new novel. I promise to get something new tomorrow -- been working on this pretty much all the time, so I can't think about anything else.

Davey looks the main character in Hatchet for the Honeymoon -- a photographer/murderer who kills women the day before they get married as they model wedding dresses for his arty black and white shots. The photographer himself is married to an unattractive nagging woman he doesn’t love. Among his other problems include hiding bodies, developing pictures, what have you, he also has serious Anthony Perkins issues, and the finale consists of the man dressing up in a veil and gown himself and killing the wife while screaming, This is for you Mommy.

“How’s it going Davey?” I ask. “How was the library conference?”

“It sucked. If you can’t get laid at a library conference, there’s very few things you can count on in this grim slog we call life,” he said.

“Did anything exciting happen?” I ask, settling into a chair. The library looks exactly the same as when Daddy took me here every Saturday when I was little. I checked out all the astrology books and tried to analyze all my family and friends with them. When I got tired of that routine, I started checking out the books about ghosts, witches, and sermons by Cotton Mather which gave me nightmares. Mother made me promise to lay off the scary stuff, but I couldn’t keep my word. I loved what made me sick.

“Well,” he says, crossing his legs. “Me and Ivenetta and Josie were in this room with all these people drinking and all of a sudden this movie comes on cable where this man has this sheep as his lover and he has a special diamond collar made for the sheep and everything. I mean, I may have my idiosyncrasies, but nowhere do they involve sheep.”

I smile. Above Davey’s head on the far wall, there’s a laminated sign that says, “Reading Is Fundamental,” a literacy program from the seventies that makes me remember commercials from childhood and feel nostalgic. I refer to this as the Coppertone emotion -- the smell of that is summer and longing in a bottle.

“So I do have one important question,” I say.

“Yes,” he leans over conspiratorially.

“What are those wacky seniors reading for Mystery Week?”

“Oh you, you’re all business. I’ll give you a list.”

“I need a quote or something. I’ve got to make this article come alive, Davey,” I say, punching the air with my fist like Che Guevera.

Davey puts his finger to his lips. “When God closes a door, he opens a window.”

“What’s that from? Robert Schuller? Billy Graham?” I knew Davey dated a man that used to work with Daddy. His name was Michael, but he preferred to be called Carol Burnett and was even listed this way in the phone book. Daddy liked him, but couldn’t quite bring himself to call him Carol Burnett. To him, he’d always be Michael.

“The last personal ad I answered,” he says. “And what’s with you, dear? Anyone special?”

“No. Dating desert. I hope it changes.”

“Enjoy it. When you get involved, it gets sticky.”

“If you’re doing it right,” I say and we both laugh.

Michelle's Spell of the Day
"Doubt is not the opposite of faith; it is one element of faith." Paul Tillich

Cocktail Hour
Drinking memoir suggestion: Impossible Motherhood: Testimony of An Abortion Addict (plan on doing a post on this one in the future -- most disturbing book I have read in years and from me, that's saying something! The writing is quite good.)

Benedictions and Maledictions
Happy Wednesday!

Tuesday, November 17, 2009

Big Writing Day!

Thanks for all the groovy cool comments yesterday! Big writing day today. Question for all -- how much romance do you need in a novel if any? If so, why? If not, why?

Monday, November 16, 2009

The Awful Quiet

Here's the very penultimate chapter of How To Own And Operate A Haunted House. I aim to be finished in the next few days. Hope your week is going well!

Of course, I’ll never know what happened that night Charles and Wanda left to celebrate their wedding anniversary at Shotguns, but I can imagine that Angela Dawn picked up her mother’s knitting needle, carefully extracting it from the half-finished afghan (pink or blue, a detail I’ll never know) and took a match to it. Fire sterilizes, that much we learned in Girl Scouts and Angela Dawn was always a better Girl Scout than me. She must have looked at the needle before inserting it, must have thought, It just might work, that even if it hurts, it’ll be over soon, that worst things had already happened. I know she would have prayed, oh Lord take this cup from me, say the word and I shall be healed. The television left on in the next room, a sitcom playing where all the problems are solved in half an hour.

When she began to bleed, I’m sure she felt relief. Rinsing off the needle and making a new stitch so Wanda couldn’t tell that it had ever been touched. And then getting tired and sleeping, faking the flu the next day as her blood became septic, the slowing down of everything except the heart which beat faster and faster, trying to keep everything going until it gave out, her parents having no idea, Wanda going to check on her at the end of the work day as she did when Angela Dawn was a child, to bring her 7Up and crackers. The awful quiet. And then the scream.

Michelle's Spell of the Day
"Never pray for justice, because you might get some." Margaret Atwood

Cocktail Hour
Did anyone try making the cheesecake?

Benedictions and Maledictions
Happy Monday!

Sunday, November 15, 2009

Sunday Gone Wrong

Hi everyone -- hope you're having a happy Sunday and not a Sunday gone wrong as one of my friends says about that depressing feeling that can come at the end of the weekend. And the holidays are on the horizon, every store with the jingly happy music and stuff. Already random strangers are complaining to me about the stress. Seriously. In a locker room today, a half-dressed woman ranted about how bad she already felt. Do not let all the bullshit get you down. Watch the Charlie Brown Christmas special and relax. Don't buy into all the corporate garbage. Especially that hideously cheery Gap ad that has a lot of athletic types in it, doing a little song and dance about Christmas, Hanukkah, Kwanza, and the Winter Solstice. If anyone does a dance around me in a scarf, he or she risks getting bit. Seriously people.

Cheesecake recipe as promised:

2 cans of Crescent recipe creations dough sheet
2 bars of cream cheese

Grease pan. Put one dough sheet down. Melt four or five pats of butter and cream cheese in microwave. Spread on the dough sheet after mixing in a little vanilla and sugar. Put down second dough sheet and a couple of pats of butter and a ton of cinnamon sugar. Bake at 350 for twenty minutes. Heaven!


This is the promised dessert, soapilla cheesecake, courtesy of my dear Angela. It's like the best cheese danish in the entire universe, cheese danish in heaven. I'll post the recipe later today along with some thoughts as we start the excitement/horror/exhaustion of the holiday season!

Friday, November 13, 2009

Three Days Standard Bereavement

Eight years ago today, I sat in a room in Palo Pinto County Hospital watching my mother die. She didn't go gentle into that goodnight and anyone who says death is peaceful didn't know Mother. Even in a coma, she managed to put up a good fight and when my sister was praying that she live, she sat straight up and said No and then fell back into that unreachable place. I can't imagine the courage it took to say no to her favorite person in the world, to insist that this was it.

After it was over, the leaden feeling came, that strange sense every grieving person gets -- time has stopped and yet life continues. Standard bereavement leave -- three days. All the cliches about time healing, about letting go. God forbid you wallow. This society doesn't do wallowing so instead we drink, drug, cut, starve, gamble, eat, and everything else you can imagine to avoid the pain. And that's fine as well. Not everything can be faced directly, like a suspect with a bare light bulb swinging in his face.

Michelle's Spell of the Day
"Nothing we truly love is lost, no matter what form it assumes." Mary Karr

Cocktail Hour
Cheesecake soon, my darlings!

Benedictions and Maledictions
Happy Friday!

Happy Friday The Thirteenth!

Happy Friday the 13th to all! Here's a shot of my neighborhood (the first place I lived in Detroit -- right off East Warren). I'll be back this afternoon with the cheesecake recipe that should be enshrined.

Thursday, November 12, 2009

The Caller From Detroit

Working hard on How To Own and Operate A Haunted House -- it's coming together, but like any writing, that means a lot of work. Today I leave you with two lists -- things that are annoying me and things I am enjoying. Please feel free to add input!

Carrie Prejean - - can someone yank her sorry ass off television? Please? I'm sick to death of her claiming that she's being targeted because of her beliefs. She's bitchy, self-righteous, and self-serving (and don't think I don't have all those flaws, I do at times. But I'd like to think I'm not a hypocrite which is the worst criticism I can lob at her). I don't care that she wrote a book, goody for her. I respect her right to free speech and her opinions, however ill-informed and comical (ie, I don't think the Bible preaches against breast implants -- I'll counter with my own favorite Bible verse, Jesus wept.) I'd love to see her "solo sex tape" though. My body is a temple, she writes. A temple that does bad, bad things for her then-boyfriend, apparently. On film. Several times. Genius move. Now there's a story I'd read. Love that she tried to storm off during the caller from Detroit on Larry King Live last night. Go Detroit!

People maligning and/or defending Taylor Swift -- she seems perfectly capable of defending herself. The Kayne West jokes made in her honor are as stale as stale can be. As for the sour grapes about her winning awards at nineteen, come on, live with it. She's freakishly tall and can probably kick ass.

Sex Rehab With Dr. Drew -- Dr. Drew is back with a crew worthy of the title! Drama, depression, sexual abuse, and lots of strange dark humor.

Soapilla cheesecake -- made by my dear Angela, this dessert is the end of all desserts. To Lana and Chris -- I agree, viva la cheesecake, indeed! Recipe tomorrow, darlings. It's so so so good.

Benedictions and Maledictions
Happy Thursday!

Wednesday, November 11, 2009

Wounded Warrior Project

It's a particulary tough Veteran's day, I think, in wake of the recent tragedy at Ft. Hood. People who have served or are currently serving our country need our love and support more than ever. My favorite organization for this work is the Wounded Warrior Project. If you can, please visit their website and make a contribution.

Michelle's Spell of the Day
"Affliction makes God appear to be absent for a time, more absent than a dead man, more absent that light in the utter darkness of a cell. A kind of horror submerges the whole soul. During this absence, there is nothing to lose." Simone Weil

Cocktail Hour
Working on some holiday cocktail selections for the upcoming season . . . stay tuned!

Benedictions and Maledictions
Happy Veteran's Day!

Monday, November 09, 2009

Zen Garden

When I was a teenager, my friend Angela Dawn drove the Chicken Express delivery van through town, a large rubber chicken attached to the top. She drove about eighty miles per hour through our small town, and in a short time, everyone knew to move the hell away when the rubber chicken took to the streets. No one had to wait for their tenders, oh no! The irony was that Angela Dawn had a mild eating disorder, one that she honed daily with each piece of additional information we got in our health class about anorexia and bulimia. The warnings became her Bible, and I doubt one tender ever got past her mouth. At Jack in the Box, she'd take the greasiest fries in the container and dab off the grease, allowing herself two or three at a sittng. Try as I might, I couldn't care that much about what I put in my mouth. (As Hank would say, self-service humor, make up your own joke.)

The years weren't kind to my friend -- from the small town gossip and direct accounts, I know her marriage was abusive, her weight always an issue. An exquisitely beautiful girl who had the natural genetic make-up (thin build, huge breasts, long waist) that plastic surgery can never quite replicate, I never understood the downward spiral. But perhaps things are better now -- I like to think of her as she was a child in the trailerpark where we played croquet in her lot, right across from the Vietnam vet who had raked his lot to resemble a Zen Garden. And driving into the night, chicken on the top of the van, like an ambulance siren, warning of what I could have no idea.

Michelle's Spell of the Day
"Sure the world breeds monsters, but kindness grows just as wild..."
— Mary Karr

Cocktail Hour
Does anyone else enjoy the This Is Why You're Fat website as much as I do? A lot of the food looks disturbing, but then again . . twinkies cut like sushi topped with gummy worms looks pretty good!

Benedictions and Maledictions
Happy Monday!

Sunday, November 08, 2009

Happy Sunday!

Hi everyone! Hope you're having a good weekend. I agree with lovely Lana -- Baby Grouchie does look small and alone in the big city window! A beer it is -- after all, he's forty years old now, technically speaking, and he was on the google logo yesterday. I'll be back tomorrow with more excitement . ..

Friday, November 06, 2009

Contemporary Horizon Poetry

Check out this fabulous new poetry site! I'm working on finishing How To Own And Operate A Haunted House -- new deadline is Friday the 13th.

Thursday, November 05, 2009

It's A Country Not A War

I grew up in a small town not unlike Ft. Hood -- in fact, Ft. Hood was just a few hours away. The year I was born, Ft. Wolters was decommissioned, near the end of the Vietnam War, a war I used to refer to simply as Vietnam until a student corrected me: It's a country, he said, not a war. Point taken. And I worked at the Blade and Wing, a bar that catered primarily to Vietnam Vets. Above the bar, there was an army green jacket that had We Were Winning When I Left embroidered over a map of Vietnam. I didn't make very many cosmos, and I wasn't often in the weeds. And if any of you want, I can still make a very good boilermaker.

Back then, we referred to post-traumatic stress disorder as "being nervous from the service." When I fell prey to this awful affliction, I only had a passing understanding of what it was in a clinical sense. All I knew was something had gone terribly wrong in my head and my nervous system. I privately referred to it as the land of the fucked. And I knew that some of the vets I served had it too. As everyone is, I'm horrified by the shooting today at Ft. Hood by an army psychiatrist that specialized in trauma and then became the inflicter of it. I used to drive around Killeen every now and then on weekends as a teenager. I can picture the scene all too clearly, the image that will no doubt play over and over for those wounded, for the survivors of those killed.

Wednesday, November 04, 2009

Everything Happens Here

As a child, I always wanted to live on Sesame Street and as an adult I moved to a ghetto on the east side of Detroit. I don't know why this was my fate -- I always had a picture of Chicago in my dorm room, city of broad shoulders, hog butcher of the world. I never felt much at home in Texas, always suffered a peculiar brand of homesickness for a place I had never been. A woman I just met who bills herself as a "transpersonal psychologist" (the degree, I imagine, sponsored by the letters WTF) might attribute this to past lives or birth trauma. Okay, I keep hearing this term, birth trauma, but I have no real idea what it means. The only birth trauma I have experienced is being forced to watch a video of a baby being delivered. What the hostess was thinking by putting this on the television is beyond me, but the psychic disconnect of someone serving you bean dip while she is also delivering her firstborn on screen is something truly strange.

But back to Sesame Street, if someone will tell us the way. It was benign and lovely and diverse and urban and populated by people I wanted to know. Just like Detroit. Maybe it isn't Sesame Street proper (the nine cop cars outside today would mar that fantasy), but I always feel at home and I did find Oscar the Grouch, Baby Grouchie in a clearance bin, waiting to be picked up and loved, just like we all are.

Michelle's Spell of the Day
"Sally, you've never seen a street like Sesame Street. Everything happens here. You're gonna love it!" Gordon Robinson, the very first line spoken on the very first episode of Sesame Street from November 1969

Cocktail Hour
Favorite Sesame Street character and why? You guys know what I say -- Baby Grouchie!

Benedictions and Maledictions
Happy Wednesday!

Tuesday, November 03, 2009

The Party Or The Pictures

When a girl turns fifteen in Hispanic culture, she has a quincenara, a religious ceremony followed by a huge party where she dresses up and her entry into womanhood is celebrated. With the ritual, the girl's family hires a professional photographer to document what she looks like at this time in her life. The whole party costs a lot of money as do the pictures so more and more frequently, the girl has to choose between having the pictures or having the ceremony. Most girls choose the pictures that make it look as if she'd had the event over the actual event. Which strikes me as truly post-modern and bizarre. Until I consider how many times I've chosen the artificial over the real, the fake over the actual. Like the old Saturday Night Live line, it's more important to look marvelous over feeling that way.

During the rough times in my life, I find myself narrating as if to distance myself and assure myself that I will write about the experience at some point. We know inherently that documenting a thing changes it. This is why reality television doesn't really exist. And this begs the question about photographs -- if you have proof of an experience, does it make it real? I look at old photographs, some staged, some candid and think about the past, try to piece it together even as I'm cutting parts out to fit my version of the story.

Michelle's Spell of the Day
"Silver makes everything into nothing." Andy Warhol

Cocktail Hour
Drinking novel suggestion: Music Without Words Ann Packer

Benedictions and Maledictions
Happy Tuesday!

Monday, November 02, 2009

These Fragments I Have Shored Against My Ruins

For a time, I tried to starve myself, the predictable outcome of being a gymnast, a dancer, and living in our culture. I wasn't that good at it like some people I knew, but I did manage to get my mother to say things like, Look Don, the Americans have liberated the camps when she looked at pictures of me. From her, I get my morbid sense of humor, something I always enjoyed about her, even when some of her other qualities were rougher to handle. I miss her still, her energy for lack of a better word, the way she embraced the dark side even as other parts of her were trying to be perfect, to be loved, to be accepted. One of my saddest memories of her was when she returned from a baby shower and was bemoaning the fact that she didn't have a Laura Ashley dress like all the other women, talking about how out of place she felt. Truth was, she looked beautiful and didn't have to wear a flowered romper dress to prove it. I vowed then and there to always wear what I wanted and not give a damn about anyone else's opinion. Another gift from the dead.

On the day of the dead, I put up shrines and make food. Food no one eats. It's for the dead people. This is a great strategy as the living should not be subjected to such horror. And it's fitting because the dead are my substance as well. As a writing, we can write about the living which I frequently do (as a fairly autobiographical writer -- let's face facts, I'm not bright enough to make stuff up), but it has a way of sometimes calcifying the relationship and pissing people off, something I try not to do. Now the DSVM has included complicated grieving syndrome as a diagnosis. This is why i don't put a lot of stock in psychiatry -- they're always taking away my fun. I like mystery and all grief is complicated and hard and lovely the way a song by Miles Davis is. It makes us ache with the sadness of life, the way the light that we never think will go out fades ever so beautifully.

Michelle's Spell of the Day
"Grief turns out to be a place none of us knows until we reach it." Joan Didion

Cocktail Hour
Anyone out there watching Mad Men? One more episode!

Benedictions and Maledictions
Happy Monday!

Sunday, November 01, 2009

All Souls

Making Day of the Dead shrines and recovering from Halloween tricks and treats! What struck me about the Charlie Brown special this year was Sally. I've always seen the faith/writer/religious significance of it, but I really had to laugh about Sally berating Linus about spending the entire night in the pumpkin patch while she could have been having tricks and treats. Back tomorrow with another post!