Monday, April 28, 2008

Greener Grass

Go Mama's comment on my last post made me spit tea across the kitchen. So damn funny.

I'm hearing you J. Hearing you. And the loneliness....I know it so well... But at the same time, I can't help but think how luxurious it would be to live in a lovely house, staring at the pond with plenty of silent time to hear my own thoughts and write with no interruptions. Call me crazy, but I could really use that alone time these days.

Wanna swap? Take my oversized determined to be right husband, interruption-a-minute child, and tackle this failing public schl system facing seriously shrinking budgets? For what it lacks in sq footage, my little shack comes with a sm backyd pond and plenty of cocktails...and we'd both be getting the no sex we've been having....

Thanks for the reminder, T. The grass on this side of the pond is pretty damn green. And I am grateful for my life. Most of the time I wouldn't trade it for anything. But then a spider appears or a bagel flames out in the toaster, and I imagine life would be easier if someone else were here, too. And some things would be. Others would not.

It's strange, that itch for something you can't quite name, the feeling something's lost when nothing is missing.

Rereading A Three Dog Life by Abigail Thomas this morning, these words jumped out at me.

Twenty years ago I asked a friend if he felt (as I did) a kind of chronic longing, a longing I wanted to identify. "Of course," he answered. We were having lunch by the pond at 59th Street, watching the ducks. The sun was out, the grass was thick and green, the ducks paddled around in the not very blue pond. I was between lives. "What is it?" I asked. "What is it we are longing for/" He thought a minute and said, "There isn't any it. There is just the longing for it." This sounded exactly right. Years later and a little wiser, I know what the longing was for: here is where I belong.

It's been a lifelong project, my search for the here where I belong.

Sunday, April 27, 2008

Spiders and Blazing Bagels

Moved a vintage flour bin in the basement last night. Staring up at me was the biggest, fattest, foulest spider I have ever seen in person. No kidding, I've seen smaller tarantulas on Jay Leno.

Now, I'm not particularly afraid of spiders. For the most part, I'm bigger and stronger and faster, so they don't terrify me the way snakes do, for example. But standing in a basement corner at midnight, staring down at eight furry legs surrounding a body bigger than a racquetball, I wished for someone bigger and stronger and faster than me with a heat that contributed to global climate changes. Seriously. At this moment, there's a polar bear cub adrift, staring forlornly across open water to the main floe where his mother mourns. All because of me.

But there was no one, so I took care of it myself. I wish I could report that I captured it and released it outside. I can't. I flushed the poor thing so he wouldn't come back. Not in this life, in this place, anyway.

This morning I put a bagel in to toast and then got absorbed in a project. Minutes later, the piercing shriek of the smoke alarm split the room and my head and my poor doggie's psyche. The alarm detected the smoke long before my nose did, so for the first 20 seconds I couldn't figure out what was going on. Smoke streaming from toaster solved the mystery. As I unplugged it, small flames erupted from both slots.

By the time I got the toaster to the deck, the flames had subsided, but the alarm was still shrieking. I climbed a bookcase to reach it, not really sure what to do. Pushing the flashing lights silenced the thing, thank God.

Yeah. So I can dispatch giant spiders and carry flaming toasters outside. I can even climb a bookcase to shut up a smoke alarm.

The thing is, I don't want to. Not alone, anyway. Not for the rest of my life.

What the hell am I going to do about it? That's the question.

Wednesday, April 23, 2008

The Salon

I mention the salon from time to time, but other than Jess (who visited twice!), you guys haven't seen it. Here are some pictures from an open house last night.

We used the shampoo bowls as drink coolers.

Had live music.

Offered free paraffin hand dips.

Gave away door prizes.

Served food at every station.

We worked like crazy the last few days, but today is another day. Payroll day, of course. I'm off.

Tuesday, April 22, 2008

No Lap for My Laptop

An issue flitted through my head a couple of times over recent weeks but didn't stick until I read this post on RiversGrace.

My first response was concern for Prema's sister. My second was concern about the electromagnetic sea we swim in every day. I work many, many hours every day, curled up in my red leather chair in the windows by the pond, with my laptop nestled against my internal organs. No more.

I'm taking the laptop out of my lap and putting it on a table or desk.

If your laptop is in your lap, move it, would you? Thank you.

Monday, April 21, 2008

Paint It Black

Spent 10 hours cleaning and refurbishing at the salon yesterday. 6 hours painting the handles of the chairs (black). Lots of time to reflect on the difference between my path and that of others in my life.

Decided some stories are not mine to tell, so I removed a recent post. Before letting go of that story completely, I want to thank you all for your beautiful comments. You can not know how much they genuinely helped.

Life goes. The river flows. If we're lucky, we flow with it.

Only love.

Sunday, April 20, 2008

Paint It White

First turn toward home, a Bradford Pear blooms brilliant against the night sky. Midway, the full moon pours glory onto the cornfields. Home on the pond, a Bradford Pear waltzes with the moon.

Rilke echos:

Be patient toward all that is unsolved in your heart and try to love the questions themselves, like locked rooms and like books that are now written in a very foreign tongue. Do not now seek the answers, which cannot be given you because you would not be able to live them. And the point is, to live everything. Live the questions now. Perhaps you will then gradually, without noticing it, live along some distant day into the answer.


If your daily life seems poor, do not blame it; blame yourself, tell yourself that you are not poet enough to call forth its riches; for to the creator there is no poverty and no poor indifferent place.

It does not matter how this turtle got on this fence post. The pearls adorning the night were not sent to me, the cycles of the moon not designed for me. Still, I choose to see them as reminders of all that is beautiful and true.

For this day, I will not seek answers. I will accept the riches called forth. And give thanks.

Tuesday, April 15, 2008

On Hold

Sorry I've been away so long. Getting everything ready for the agent to go out with the book has been quite a whirlwind. I mailed everything off, and now it's a waiting game.

There's another waiting game playing out in my world right now, one I'm not free to discuss yet. What I can say is that I'm being offered the opportunity to practice in many ways. Practice staying in the moment. Practice non-attachment. Practice personal peace.

What I want to practice is screaming bloody murder, but that's not helpful. Neither is trying to control events far beyond my control.

Friday, April 11, 2008

To Do:

1. Write book proposal.

2. Get agent.

3. Sell book.

List is looking good so far. Oh....almost forgot. There is the little matter of:

4. Finish book.

Tuesday, April 08, 2008


I am engaged in the search for a new literary agent. Two weeks ago (or so) I queried my "dream agent." Lo and behold, a few days later, she replied and wanted to see the proposal.

The proposal hit cyberspace within minutes. She responded the next day, saying she thought the book had a lot of merit but the concept was slightly too narrow for the market. It was a thoughtful, encouraging letter.

We exchanged several e-mails discussing alternate possibilities before I fired off a new title and a broader concept and asked if she'd look at a new proposal.

Days passed with no reply. Days and days. Almost a week.

Sure that no answer was her answer, I plunged down a log flume of doom and gloom. On Saturday, it came to me that this one woman's answer would not matter so much if there were other possibilities, so I queried the next five agents on my list. And I worked on the book.

Bright and early Monday morning, the dream agent answered. She loves the broader concept. Wants to see the proposal. Thinks it has "a lot of potential." In closing, she mentioned that she'd been away from the office but was now back in the saddle.

Imagine that! It took her a while to reply because there are other things going on in her world. I know it sometimes takes months--months--for agents to respond. Still, she wrote very quickly several times, and then...nothing. Yeah. Cause she has a stable of clients, a home, husband and children.

During the week of silence, I reread my final e-mail to her a dozen times, tearing it apart and picking through its bones. I was sure she hated the broader concept, hated the alternative title, thought I should eat dirt and die.

Turns out none of that was true. It also turns out that opening myself to other possibilities did help my mental state and continuing to work on the book did make sense, both energetically and practically.

They're attributed to everyone from Thomas Jefferson to Sam Goldwyn to Gary Player, but there's truth in these words: The harder I work, the luckier I get.

More soon. Got to get to work right now.

Saturday, April 05, 2008

Banging on the Doors of "No"

Back in Minneapolis I belonged to an incredible church called St. Joan of Arc. More weeks than not, the homily was given by a guest, someone with a story to tell or a point to make. Through the years, we heard from a fitter of prosthetic limbs in SouthEast Asia, an aboriginal shaman, a suburban park ranger, and three women from a ravaged area of the West Bank. A Hawaiian man once danced a prayer through the aisles. That church and its people taught me much about life and love and peace.

One particular homily has been echoing through my head over the last few days. I don't remember who the woman was or what brought her to St Joans, but she spoke about doors of opportunity. She talked about how the doors of yes open easily, while the doors of no remain closed and locked no matter what we do.

She wasn't advocating a lack of persistence. Her point was that we often struggle to open closed doors while ignoring doors open to welcome us. I know she's right. Personally and professionally, I've beat on the closed doors of no til my hands and my heart bled, too stubborn to turn to a yes right beside me.

But then there's Jack Canfield, whose first Chicken Soup book was rejected by 140 publishers before it found a home. His agent gave up, but not Jack. He kept pounding until he found the yes. A few years later, he landed in The Guinness Book of World Records for having the most books (7) on the New York Times bestseller list at the same time.

So how do you tell the difference between wasting your time and working your way through the shit to find the pony?

Maybe, just maybe, the answer is not to worry about which it is. Maybe the trick is to fill my life with fulfilling work and fun and keep trying those doors. Keep knocking, keep sliding letters under the edges, keep hanging flowers on the knobs. Maybe when I least expect it, a door will open and I'll fall into yes.

Friday, April 04, 2008

Another Grey Day

The sun did not shine.
It was too wet to play.
So they sat in the house all that cold, cold, wet day.

Or something like that, anyway. It's been a long time since I read Cat in the Hat to the kids. But the sun does not shine. It's been one grey day after another this spring, which does not bode well for my mental health.

Soon, I say to myself. The sun will shine again soon.

Thursday, April 03, 2008


My best friend and I have had an on-going discussion of hope over the last week or so. He's not sure of its virtue and I can't imagine life without it.

He says hope is, on a fundamental basis, disagreement with what is.

She says hope inspires action toward a desired goal or state of being.

He says action springs from expectation based on previous experience.

She says expectations lead to big, big trouble.

It doesn't matter that much what he says or she says. What matters is having friends to discuss the important stuff with. That is one of life's true blessings.