Friday, November 16, 2012

Beautiful imperfect lives

My friend P. and I have decided to change our lives.

We were sitting on a bench at the downtown market drinking generous pours of Sonoma County wine during the “6 for $10” tasting event. Sip by sip, we were feeling a little less terrified and overwhelmed by all the crap life has thrown our way lately. But we were still indignant about it. In other words, it pissed us off. We both agreed that we strongly preferred things to go smoothly for once. Especially we would really, really appreciate it if someone could put a stop to all the death crap. Like, if we could go a year or longer without losing anyone (including four-legged creatures) to that sonofabitch with the black hoodie, that would be freakin’ awesome, we said to each other, toasting with Tempranillo (me) and Sauvignon Blanc (P.). Over the course of the last year and a half, our families have had to face murders, suicides, heart attacks, old age, and dead kittens. It really sucked.

That was the big crap.

Then there was the little crap: unemployment, sucky employment, precarious employment, employment that will make your hair turn greyer with every passing minute, employment that will jolt you awake with panic attacks in the middle of the night.

Also, teenagers.

Good god, teenagers! Obnoxious, arrogant, self-centered, complaining, entitled bitches and jerks living under our roofs, making us wish we could disappear to another planet in a far away galaxy. And yet at the same time we were suffering constant agonizing fear over their safety and well-being, because for inexplicable (probably purely biological) reasons we loved these morons more than life itself. Teenagers were the bane of our existence, yet we could not live without them.

So we had another pour of local wine and lamented our fate. In between laments, we satisfied our darker urges by pointing out other wine-tasting revelers’ fashion mistakes, such as the guy wearing plaid shorts and crocks with socks, or the lady with the gigantic breasts squished flat by a tube top.

Right before we moved on to tasting the dessert wines, we made the decision that we needed to change our lives.

This was our plan:

  1. Nobody dies.
  2. We win the lottery.
  3. Following from 2., we no longer need to put up with stressful and low paying jobs that don’t show us any appreciation.
  4. Following from 3., we will then have ample time to engage in all those creative, meaningful and world-changing activities that we have been putting off for so long, such as:
    1. Cleaning the garage
    2. Eliminating world hunger
    3. Writing the Great American Novel
    4. Losing 20 pounds

  1. Following from 4., our children (especially the teenagers) will see the light and turn into fully self-actualized, mature and caring individuals who follow their dreams and take out the trash without being asked.

Elated, we rinsed out our glasses after the final taste of the night and stepped out of the secluded little universe of the functioning alcoholics into the good-natured chaos of the downtown market. We skipped the Henna Tattoos and carefully avoided the snake exhibit before we parted ways, my friend P. to the bookstore to pick up her wandering teenager, me to the farm stands to pick up a flat of organic strawberries (which would not fit on my bike so my friend graciously drove them home for me in her Prius. We were so environmentally correct it was sickening!).

Meandering home on my aqua-and-silver Schwinn, through the darkening, tree-lined streets of my neighborhood, I was filled with a sweet and tender sense of peace and gratitude. Maybe it was the dessert wine.

Who knew if my friend P. and I were really going to change our lives. Maybe we were. Maybe we weren’t. Maybe we had absolutely no idea. And maybe we were just going to continue on, for another day, if we were lucky, with our beautiful, imperfect lives.

And then maybe one more. If we were lucky.

Wednesday, April 11, 2012


Here is a poem I wrote on Easter weekend. I am not a Christian but somehow the Easter holiday speaks to me and moves me very deeply. On Easter Sunday, my daughter and I rode our bikes out to Spring Lake Park Children's Memorial Grove to find that Katie's memorial stone had finally arrived. We sat with Katie's stone for a long time, my daughter decorating it with tiny yellow flowers, both of us studying the surrounding stones that honored other children who had died. There were children of all ages. A stone remembering all the children that had died in Hurricane Katrina. A stone for the little boy who recently was killed by a hit and run driver. Stones for babies; there was one for our dear friends' stillborn son. Stones for toddlers. Stones for teenagers. My daughter spotted a stone that said "beloved father and husband" and wondered: "I thought this was for children?" I told her this: "Everybody is somebody's child!" 

So Easter is about resurrection, rebirth, renewal. The Pagan bunnies and eggs celebrating boisterous spring procreation, nature kicking into gear again after the dead of winter; and the Christian promise of Rising Up from the depth of despair and loss.

Here is my poem:

From dust and darkness
a mouthful of rubble
breathing splinters of light

Through the thorns
a thicket of birds
gathering upon your eyelids

Rising again
birds cascading
into a sky
the color of paper
and quicksilver

Mouth open
breathing liquid clouds
in small, heavy drops
like the blood of angels

Later on Easter Sunday we listened to Patty Smith's "Easter" ( a must!) and then had an Easter egg hunt in our backyard with our beloved extended family. Our kids ate chocolate bunnies and played basketball until little Gracie fell down one too many times and it was time to go home. The air was mild and fragrant even after dark. Our children ran and laughed and cried and fell asleep. Spring had arrived.

Wednesday, January 18, 2012


I walked up to the water's edge
I wrote your name in the sand with a driftwood stick
And drew a heart around it
And watched
As the next wave washed over you
And smoothed the scars
My hand had left in the soft sand.

It was as if you'd never been there.

But then I could see
The faint outline of a heart
underneath the earth's silky skin.

They say the ocean of time
Heals all wounds

Yet they will always be there
Underneath the surface.

As the surf washes over you
Again and again
I can feel a tender new layer of skin
Growing around the ragged edges
Of my broken heart.