Saturday, September 01, 2012

Happy Flying Always

Hello all -- the day after the blue moon, I once again return to this forum to say hello and respond to a very sad accident today -- Richard Bach, author of Jonathan Livingston Seagull and many other books, has been in a plane crash and is in serious condition.  I remember being assigned JLS in British Literature (?!) class in high school and loving it, just like a lot of people do.  But I didn't think about it again until my dad met Richard Bach at an airport terminal in small town.  Sure they would cross paths again, my dad did something he rarely did -- bought a hardback edition of JLS (he wasn't a big reader) and the next time they saw each other, Mr. Bach signed it for him with a doodle of flowers, planes, and trees.  The inscription reads, Happy Flying Always, Don!  It is one of my most prized possessions.  I don't cling to many material possessions, but this book would be one that would truly be a great loss to me if something happened to it.  My dad, like Richard Bach, loved to fly and would have been lost without the wondrous freedom it gave him.  I am sending many prayers for this kind man's quick recovery.

Sorry to be so out of pocket online in recent months.  I've been working on revising a novel which is turning out to be a wonderful experience in terms of learning and improving my levels of patience. Ha! on the patience part, but alas, I have been taking time to do something right, a rarity for me.  In doing this in a very different way than I have approached most things in my life, I've embarked on a great source of (wait for it) self-discovery (damn, do I hate that word).  As The Art of War instructs, there are times when one rushes into battle and times when one retreats from the world to gather forces.  When consumed by the business of presenting the face to meet the faces, one can lose track of the silence we often need to go forward again.  As always, thanks for reading and happy Labor Day weekend to all!

Saturday, July 28, 2012

Happy Birthday Mark!

To my dearest friend Mark, may this birthday be as wonderful as you are!  To my readers, check out Mark's fabulous poetry, rants, and all around musings.  He's the best.  Happy Saturday to all!

Friday, July 27, 2012

Let The Games Begin!

Happy Olympic Friday!

I've dusted off my old Piroutte leotard from my ill-fated gymastics career to celebrate the start of the summer Olympics.  Although I never made it any further than state, I enjoy watching those girls twirl.  In case you need help getting into the spirit of things, here's some theme cocktails (courtesty of my dear friend Angela) to help put you in the mood. 


Gold medal cocktail

Makes 1 serving


  • 1 shot Goldschlager cinnamon schnapps
  • 1/2 glass chilled apple cider
  • 1 shot caramel liqueur


  1. Pour Goldschlager schnapps in a cocktail glass.
  2. Fill the glass almost to the top with apple cider and top off with a shot of caramel liqueur.

Silver medal cocktail

Makes 1 serving


  • Edible silver powder (available at bakery/cake decorating outlets)
  • 2 ounces Malibu Coconut Rum
  • 2 ounces seltzer water
  • Splash of fresh lime juice
  • Lime wedge


  1. Sprinkle silver powder on the bottom of a martini glass to coat the bottom.
  2. Shake together the remaining ingredients in a cocktail shaker with ice.
  3. Strain into silver-coated martini glass.
  4. The silver powder should float to the top.
  5. Sprinkle with extra powder to deepen color and garnish with lime wedge.

Bronze medal cocktail

Makes 1 serving


  • Edible bronze powder (available at bakery/cake decorating outlets)
  • 1-1/2 ounces Kahlua
  • 2 ounces Monte Cristo
  • 1/2 ounces Grand Marnier
  • Coffee beans


  1. Sprinkle bronze powder on the bottom of a martini glass to coat the bottom.
  2. Shake together the remaining ingredients in a cocktail shaker with ice. Strain into bronze-coated martini glass. The bronze powder should float to the top. Sprinkle with extra powder to deepen color and garnish with coffee beans.

Friday, July 13, 2012

Obey The Night

Hello Everyone -- happy Friday the 13th!

"The night is upon us. And it is wise to obey the night." Homer

News update -- I have a new chapbook coming out titled "In Case of an Actual Emergency." I'll give you details as soon as I have them. As for the latest news, well, I have been working on figuring out how to write a novel which has consumed all my time. I've written stories, poems, essays, and even a novella, but a novel is a different beast. It takes all my feeble concentration to bring it together which has required a virtual detox from all distraction. There's something to be said for getting quiet and the renewing of one's mind. Not to sound too motivational speakerish -- I have a friend who refers to that type of work as "sunshine enemas" which cracks me up despite the fact that I enjoy that type of thing from time to time. Anyway, stay out of trouble on this eerie day!

Tuesday, July 10, 2012

Happy Birthday, Beautiful Jodi!

I'd like to wish my wonderful friend Jodi the happiest of birthdays today! Check her out at the J Spot -- she's an amazing writer (rare) and a beautiful person inside and out(also rare!). I'll be back tomorrow after a long break from this blog. I've been taking some time to work on longer projects, but will be back with an update. Happy Tuesday to all!

Thursday, June 21, 2012

Zen In The Art Of Writing

A couple of weeks ago during the solar eclipse, I ordered Ray Bradbury's Zen in the Art of the Writing. I hadn't read it in a long time and thought it might have something I needed. Strangely, I found out the next morning that he had died. On Thursday, I received the book which has the best writing advice of any writing book I know. It's all about loving the work, full of pratical advice about working with your material, the things you love, the things you hate. Your passions. I think writers, myself included, tend to fall into thinking that writing is difficult. It is, but that's not all it is. It's exciting, thrilling, joyous, and hopeful. Go out and get this book! I've been in hiding for a few months, working on a new project. But I'm in the revision stretch which is kind of evil, but kind of thrilling. I'll be back soon, but until then, happy summer, the longest day of the year. The days get shorter from here. Thank goodness!

Monday, June 04, 2012

One Foot In The Grave, The Other On A Banana Peel

The day has come for another post -- yes, I have completed a draft of my novel and am finally allowed out of the writer's protection program. First, a mention of Richard Dawson's death -- I always loved him on Hogan's Heroes and Family Feud. I've found when mentioning him, people of a certain generation say, He was on Hogan's Heroes? They only remember him as the lady loving host of the Feud, one of my favorite game shows as a child. He always had such a happy spirit one couldn't help but enjoy him. He will definitely be missed. Second, Mad Men is all kinds of crazy dark depressing this season. We've had our sex for money moment with my favorite character Joan, we've had fights, we've had HoJos, and now a suicide. By hanging. On the coat hook at the office. Oh Lane, why? Why couldn't you see that when you couldn't kill yourself in the Jaguar (it wouldn't start), that was a sign that you needed to stay? But alas, he couldn't see out of his pain and shame (forging a check, losing his job) that he ended it a dramatic way. Existentially, I have no problem with suicide in that I feel you can never gauge how much pain someone feels to get to that point. But the pragmatist in me feels like life is a short movie -- even if it's kind of shitty, why walk out before the credits roll? At any rate, poor Lane! And poor us as the season is almost over -- only one more episode. I will be posting more regularly now that I'm done with a very rough draft of The First Rule of Curses. Happy Monday to all!

Thursday, May 03, 2012

Full Moon Fever

Hi to all! It's a super full moon fever weekend, my birthday, Joan on Mad Men's birthday, and an awesome day all around! I'm most grateful for all the friends, family, and love in my life. And that I'm alive. Here's the birthday drink for this year -- cheers! Full Moon Fever 1 part champagne 1 part lemonade garnish with sugar and lemon zest

Tuesday, May 01, 2012

Workers Unite!

It's been since Easter since I have posted on this blog for which I am as sad and glad as these little salt shakers. Now that I'm in the home stretch, I will resume semi-regular blogging and such exciting activities like laundry. It's two more days until I celebrate my and Christina Hendricks' birthdays (Joan on Mad Men) and here's the updates. I've made good progress on my new novel, The First Rule of Curses. What is, you ask, the first rule of curses? I read a book as a child on this subject. It said that the first rule of any curse is that you must believe you are under one. Other signs include accidents, mental sickness, affliction, barreness, and loss of livestock. While I've had my share of these ailments, the first rule is the one that intrigues me. Why do we choose to believe we are cursed? My grandmother, in between smoking and reading romance novels, told me a story about a man who had been cursed by a voodoo priestess on the island (New Caledonia) where she lived much of her life. His skin began to consume itself. Gnarly as we used to say in the eighties. My own lineage certainly had its share of curse-like affliction -- my great grandmother was orphaned after her father, a prison guard, hanged himself and her mother was stabbed to death by a released prisoner who had fallen in love with her. My great grandmother had four children, three of whom who died long before she did. My grandmother, her surviving child, found herself in an abusive marriage with a violent alcholic. She herself was always an alcoholic. My mother spent much of her adult life battling various forms of cancer. My dad died in a plane crash. If nothing else, we have fallen under the traditional Chinese curse-- May you live in interesting times.

But I try to confine my interesting times to the page. For the past few months, I've been writing a book about internal curses, the ones we put on ourselves. I hate to brag, but I know a little about the subject. I've also been blessed with interesting times, with adventures, with a pervasive sense of hope. Despite our best efforts, good has a weird way of sneaking into our lives even in the saddest of circumstances. On this May Day, I send the happiest of wishes for all my nearest and dearest who are struggling. I also implore you all to start watching Nurse Jackie and Mad Men, my two favorite pleasures of the moment. Nurse Jackie in season four finds herself in early sobriety, a woman who carries both suffering and joy into her world, played by the flawless Edie Falco. Mad Men, in its current season, introduces us to the challenges of a changing world. One of the earlier episodes referenced the Richard Speck case, the source of the title for my poetry collection, Make Yourself Small. Glad to be on the cutting edge of that curve! My favorite character of all time, Tony Soprano, once said he was participating joyfully in the sufferings of this world. My wish is that we all do the same. Happy May Day -- summer is coming.

Tuesday, April 03, 2012

Diving Into The Wreck

Hi everyone! I've been absent from regular blogging to focus on writing a novel. It's been a lot of fun, but it also reminds me of my Biology II class where we disected cats. The dead cats lived in boxes, and each day my partner (a girl who was pregnant -- I don't know how she managed each morning without vomiting on said cat) and I would pull the cat out of the box and disect a new part. Each day, the cat got a little harder to pull out of the box, a little more rotted, a little more decimated. By week three, it took all my fortitude to look at it. A long project feels a big like opening up a dead cat every morning. But if you miss a day, it just gets harder and harder to look. So I force myself to work on it every day without fail. Other things have fallen to the side. But not the cat. Like a screenwriting book I once read said, You must save the cat!

We've lost two wonderful writers in the last week, Adrienne Rich and Harry Crews. I can't imagine two more different people, but I read them both religiously and loved Rich's poetry and Harry Crews' macabre sense of humor. Check out Feast of Snakes -- it's awesome! Hope everyone is hanging in there. The new age types tell me we are in a difficult cycle. I wouldn't doubt it. Stay safe and more soon!

Thursday, March 22, 2012

Hi readers! I'm still writing blogs, albeit somewhat sporadically. I've got a big project that is eating up a lot of my time (trying my hand at a new novel -- wish me luck). I enjoy all the short forms, but I've been working hard on plot and want to do something new that challenges me.

In much more important news, please send lots of healing thoughts to Lana and Charles Gramlich, both bloggers, artists, and writers I respect and adore. Lana was recently diagnosed with throat cancer. She's a wonderful visual artist (both painting and photography) and you can check out her work on the link to The Dreaming Tree. Sending lots of love to both her and Charles.

Saturday, March 17, 2012

Happy St. Patrick's Day

Hey guys, Happy St. Patrick's Day! Hope everyone is having a great day. Baby Grouchie plans on having a green beer, but just one since his time in Promises. My drink for today comes from my dear friend Angela . . . enjoy!

Black Velvet
1/2 Champagne
1/2 Guinness

Tuesday, March 06, 2012

Cave Full Of Ghosts

Well, dear readers, it's March! We made it through the collective terror of February. And now what awaits -- St. Patrick's Day and the beginning of spring. A few things about which to be excited --

The return of Mad Men. Don Draper comes back to the screen. Last we saw, he was engaged to his young secretary, the strains of Sonny and Cher playing as Don looked positively befuddled and disturbed by his alarming quick engagement and said secretary peacefully asleep. Joan is with child (albeit not her husband's -- let's hope he can't count when he returns from his tour of duty), and Betty unhappy with her new husband who has realized that despite her incredible beauty, she's an evil harpy who can't be pleased. Bring on the drinks!

The new Billy Bob Thorton memoir, Cave Full Of Ghosts. Co-written by the always brilliant Kinky Friendman (my favorite of his songs being the one about Charles Whitman -- There was a rumor about a tumor/ nestled in the base of his brain). The foreword is written by Billy Bob's ex-wife Angelina and the book promises to explore Billy Bob's poor southern gothic childhood and weird phobias. What more could a reader want?

Cheryl Stray's new memoir, Wild. Love her essays in Best American Essays over the years. Honest and searing and completely disturbing in the best way, the book tracks Stray's long hiking journey across the Pacific Trail. Can't wait to see how she takes the reader through her paces.

Tuesday, February 28, 2012

The Streets Of Philadelphia

Ten years ago, my dear friend, Hank D. Ballenger, pen name Dr. E. Amer died in a hospital room in Philadelphia. Unlike those old Medical Alert commercials, he'd fallen and he did get up, just not for very long. Felled by black ice and a banana or orange peel (his poor sight made it impossible to identify the evil object), he carried for a few days with a leg broken in several places. This happened despite his reassurances to me that a fall would never hurt him. He wrote this in a letter a couple of years before the fall. Could he have known on some level? It seemed to me from a very young age he always knew everything.

At least he knew a lot of stuff before I did. He was always ahead of the curve, telling everyone about the latest writer, music, or newest gadget. He could quote reams of poetry. He held diverse social groups together. He played guitar and practiced Akido. He even fenced. While I spent hours listening to Simon and Garfunkel's "Richard Corey" in a vain attempt to pull depth from the lyrics, Hank translated the Ovid. Effortlessly cool in the way that people who don't give a shit about being cool or how others see them, he had a wicked sense of humor. Did he have flaws? The dead often don't. Hank did. He had many of what he referred to as "blind spots." When a blind man tells you about his blind spots, it's both funny and true. At this point, Hank himself would instruct the readers to do self-service humor and make up their own jokes. He loved the wrong women or the right women at the wrong time. He had a temper, a righteous anger, and could hold a grudge longer than the IRA. He ate too many meals that were listed under the scary words, Value Menu.

But these flaws were ever so minor. Ten years after his death, he still remains my Virgil, leading me through this crazy, beautiful, difficult world. Especially during dark times, I look to Hank for a sign of how to proceed. Hank would laugh at this tendency and say, You're counting on a blind man to lead you through darkness? But yes, I am. Who better to know what to expect?

Michelle's Spell of the Day
"I seldom recognize an opportunity until it has ceased to be one." Mark Twain

Cocktail Hour
Documentary suggestion: Dig

Benedictions and Maledictions
Happy Tuesday!

Sunday, February 12, 2012

I Will Always Love You

Another sad day in the always tough month of February with the death of Whitney Houston. I never thought too much about her music one way or the other, but I remember having debates over the song "I Will Always Love You." Dolly Parton sang the original, but Whitney's version became incredibly popular in the nineties. I always stuck by my feeling that Dolly's version was the best, but my friend Hank disagreed, much to my surprise. "I prefer Whitney's. It doesn't make you feel like taking out the razorblades." In this assessment, I had to agree. Whitney managed to take this terribly sad ballad to lost love and make it seem hopeful, rather than tragic. Dolly's verison evoked the trauma of always loving someone whereas Whitney's interpretation gave room for hope. Maybe it wasn't so awful to have that spot in your heart for someone. Dolly made it the listener feel as if she didn't have a choice -- that's the purity of Dolly. But Whitney makes the listener feel as if it's okay to always love someone, that it might be a good thing.

Now Whitney has passed, much earlier than anyone might have guessed, even with her array of personal demons. She started as a beautiful cheerleader type of singer, a singer who could just get so emotional, baby and lead us into happy worlds of pop joy. But as time passed, we saw Whitney struggle with the vices that grip so many -- drugs, alcohol, difficult love. We saw her transform into what the kids call a hot mess. And still, she was beautiful with the voice that nobody could quite replicate. Alas, rest in peace, dear Whitney, the neon-colored outfits that marked your best years, your prime, the one where you will always love and be loved.

Wednesday, February 01, 2012

Don Cornelius -- The Hippest Train In Town

Rest in peace to the wonderful Don Cornelius -- creator of my favorite show of my entire childhood! This is a sad, sad day.  I'll be writing more about the wonderful Mr. Cornelius later today!

Tuesday, January 24, 2012

The End Is Near

Heidi Klum and Seal have decided to divorce. What can this possibly mean, what with their annual renewal of vows and constant talk of a super hot sex life? It can mean that showing the flag means the ship is in danger of sinking. Like the Titanic or that new Italian cruise ship. Like a punctured water wing. I know. I've showed the flag. Once. My early brief marriage was failing, failing, failing. It was once upon a time, many years ago. We didn't have four children, multiple houses, or extravagant Halloween parties. Okay, we did have Halloween parties in July in our two room apartment with decorations that I couldn't really afford from Michael's. I mean, I overspent to the tune of about twenty two dollars. This was in the 90s when twenty two dollars really meant something. But I digress. We, my ex-husband and I, were on the brink of splitsville. So I put a picture of us posed at a party on my desk at work. We looked good, perfect in fact. We smiled, all dressed in our party clothes. Dear gentle reader, I was wearing pearls. God help us all.

So the picture in a cheap frame from Pier One sat in view of all. My soon to be major ex-boyfriend (then only the wacky guy who had an office across from mine) put a post-it note on the picture that read "Quit flaunting your happy little love affair. It depresses the rest of us." This made me laugh so I kept the post-it note on the picture. It covered up our faces and made me feel oddly sane. My friend Hank grunted when he saw the picture and said, "The end is near." Hank, that motherfucker, could see some shit like an ancient Greek oracle. He was legally blind which makes the above sentence all the more strange and true. By the summer, his prediction had come to pass, and the picture went into the drawer along with the post-it note, a modern art statement. Hank always said when someone was really adamant about something, "Who are you trying to convince?" which is something I always consider. Unlike many internet commenters who act as if the Heidi/Seal break-up is shocking, I don't think so. Most people barely survive one wedding, much less annual vow renewals. And if you have to keep saying it, well, I channel my favorite Mineral Wells oracle -- who are you trying to convince?

Wednesday, January 11, 2012

Installation Continues In The Next Room

The new year has begun in earnest. The Mayan calendar suggests this could be it, so I'd better get to work in doing whatever I need to do to as the great Tim Gunn says, to make it work. I just read my dear friend Laura's blog on her new year's resolutions (check it out -- and got inspired in terms of thinking about change. Now I've always contended that change is difficult, Paul on the road to Damascus type stuff. The fact that the Bible itself posits change as a miracle gives me pause. Even so, I can say that time itself has changed me. Best changes over the last decade -- less worry, less guilt, better health habits, less concern over what people think about me. The last one is a great liberation. As Ray Drecker said on the great (now cancelled -- WAAH) Hung, "When you're young, you spend all your time worrying about what other people think about you. That's the great thing about getting older. You don't care what other people think about you. Fuck that. It's what you think of yourself that matters."

I used to be so afraid of looking stupid it was hard to actually learn anything. Do you know what I mean? I fooled myself into thinking I knew more than I did, that shallow knowledge was good enough, that if I admitted how little I understood about how certain things worked, I'd look foolish. Waste. Of. Time. Epic waste of time. Death to good writing. Now I start at the beginning. Beginnings are good. And you can begin anywhere. So this year I give myself permission to look stupid. I do it anyway so I might as well enjoy it. And I think I might actually get somewhere.

Benedictions and Maledictions
Happy Wednesday!

Thursday, January 05, 2012

The New Year

My mother took down the Christmas tree every year on December 26th, early in the morning and spent the rest of the day eradicating any sign of the holidays. I've kind of inherited this way of being, but this year, I've been reluctant to let the holidays go. I formed a half-baked theory about this phenomenon which goes something like this -- when I've had a rough year, I get rid of the holiday stuff as soon as possible, start with the calendars and planning and make the Carver line (This time, next year, things will be better) my mantra. When I've had a pretty good year, I'm not as eager to be done with it. So by those signifiers, 2011 was a pretty good year.

I've always kind of hated New Year's Eve, but I didn't this year, another good sign. At the strike of midnight, I took to heart the feng-shui tip of saying something you want to usher in the new year, you know, the generic blessings of good health, money, love, and for us writers, publications! I felt strangely hopeful for someone who published two books about death, rape, incest, and other less cheerful subjects last year. I remembered my first New Year's Eve in Detroit, when I heard the guns going off all around me at the strike of midnight. I didn't know that happened, so it was quite a shock as I spent the night alphabetizing my books in the midst of periodic gunfire. I knew something was happening, but I didn't know what, just like now, but I'm a lot more comfortable with that emotion.

Cocktail Hour
Movie suggestion: The Descendants

Benedictions and Maledictions
Happy Thursday!