Friday, February 29, 2008

how i quit writing...

as serendipity would have it, six years ago yesterday, i decided i'd had enough of writing. i had eight published novels to my name at the time, by anyone's measure a worthy accomplishment. it was time, however, to acknowledge that i had not sold a book in three years, that i was having trouble putting together a proposal my agents were even willing to read, and that i had no idea what i was doing or what i was doing wrong.

i also had four children - two of them in college - a mountain of debt, and a despicable ex. my career in corporate communications was shaky, to say the least, but at least it paid the bills.

and writing didn't feel good. it was painful to drag myself to the computer every day, it was painful to read what i'd written. i didn't like my stories, i didn't like my characters. i didn't enjoy the art or the process.

i have never responded well to negative reinforcement. i generally avoid any kind of pain or discomfort - my idea of roughing it is motel six. i buy clothing not based necessarily on how it looks, but how it feels, and whether or not i can tolerate it against my skin. and so, i remember, on very bitter day at the end of february, 2002i decided i was no longer a writer.

if it was meant to be, i figured, let it come back. and i quit. just like that.

and furthermore, the war must end. blessed be.

Thursday, February 28, 2008

cutting the cord

i don't make friends lightly. i make friends easily enough - i am, generally, agreeable, easy-going and witty enough im amusing to keep around. but those who earn a place on the roster of those i trust, those i love, those i cherish, are few and rare and far between.

i remember once i said to my mother that i wished i was more like my sister, who even at five or six, managed to run with a gang of little girls up and down the neighborhood. well, my mother said, in a rare moment of connection, you dont have as many friends - but the intensity is deeper. you'll always be friends with your friends. sheila wont.

my mother's assessment came true. as i've gotten older, ive amassed quite a collection of friends - when you keep them forever, eventually, you rack up a bunch.

so it is with a sad and heavy heart, i contemplate the deliberate severance of such a bond. the Friend in question is not a very long time friend - but she is - or was - someone i considered a close friend. she was close in the sense i shared not just my gifts, but my hopes, my dreams, my fears with her. i let her see a little of the dark side of my soul and when it seemed she didn't flinch, i let her see a little more.

but now i realize i was deceived, not so much by the Friend, but by what i wished the Friend could be. i wanted her to value me as much as i valued her. i wanted her to understand my wounding in the way i tried to understand hers. and because i wanted these things, i made a mistake. i perceived what i wanted to see, and not what really was.

i have been resisting this crossroads, this severing, this winnowing. and yet, i see how necessary it is. there is a silence so deafening, it begs for a Voice to fill it.

im afraid i feel the words building in my brain.

and furthermore, the war must end. blessed be.

confessions of a non-journaler

there have been times and places and company in my life where confessing to not keeping a journal seems tantamount to confessing a secret interest in cyberporn. people glance away, look down, murmur. read any self-help book - many of them, anyway - on topics as diverse as creativity to codependency, dream interpretation to tarot - and journalling is recommended, advocated, even demanded - as in julia cameron's otherwise inspiring series that begins with the artist's way.

in fits and starts when i was young, i attempted to keep a diary. dear diary, i'd begin, and then hit a wall. i loved to write - poetry and short stories. the blank pages of my diaries seemed to demand something else though, something i didn't have to give.

then i went to high school and was forced to keep a journal. coming up with a short essay night after night wasn't so tortorous after i decided to start writing stories in it. but it left a bad taste in my mouth.

i don't write on demand - not well, not easily. i write because it is the way i live and breathe and have my being. writing, even then, wasn't something i DID. writing, though i didn't realize was so much a part of who i am, i didn't - and don't - need to be forced, cajoled, or tricked into doing it.

but there's another reason why i don't like to keep a journal. no one will remember you for your secret thoughts, says one sage, and no one can convict you for them, either. the blood of my irish and italian ancestors runs thick and silent in my veins.

when you have two words to say, say one, my mother likes to say. when you have one word, say nothing.

maybe its my scorpio rising, my neptune in that scorpio that likes to keep things murky. maybe its the fact i grew up in new jersey, where - as i like to remind Beloved who grew up on the dangerous streets of Bed-Stuy - all the bodies are buried. maybe its my own natural wariness and instinct for staying alive. after all, i grew up during watergate, when it seemed self-evident that what no one has on paper and tape is far more successfully denied.

and furthermore, the war must end. blessed be.

Wednesday, February 27, 2008

in the interests of better blogging (or how i find my characters)

i enjoy blogging. i never expected to enjoy it - it smacks too much of journal-writing, and i've never kept a journal except for a few tortured months in freshman english in high school. but i enjoy blogging - i think the fact that it is at once a public venue and a private platform creates a kind of tension not unlike that which leads some people to enjoy sex in semi-public places.

so in the interests of improving my blog, i signed up for a series of (free!) emails entitled 10 Days to a Better Blog. today, at the suggestion of the instructor, i checked out her "monday motivation" post.

what i found there touched me so profoundly that i knew right away i'd been given a glimpse into a mindset so different from mine, it was like seeing a bunch of crayons in colors i never had. it was like opening a door, or the flash of a match. IMMEDIATELY i saw shapes and forms, whispered sentences, fragments of words. IMMEDIATELY this unwitting woman was slurped up in the stew, where she will churn and brew and burn until i call her forth as Someone the original person will most likely never recognize.

i look for the flashpoint, for the reaction, for the place of discomfort, of fear. but instead of turning away or pushing back, i have learned - slowly, painfully - to open to it, to allow it in.

just yesterday i had good news. my agents' representatives in spain have found an offer for the spanish language rights of one of my older titles, A Once & Future Love. it's the best of my romances, i think, and completely unexpected.

the light is growing stronger every day, the snow yesterday fell in fat wet flakes that are already melted on the driveway. there are three possible novels and one short story in some form or another simmering. the characters all seem to have settled into a kind of queue, as long as i continue to forge ahead.

and furthermore, the war must end. blessed be.

Tuesday, February 26, 2008

working the Plan

a flock of diarrhetic pigeons would've gone over with more enthusiasm than the presentation of our Plan to elissa. with all the petulance of the 8 year old that she is emotionally, elissa greeted our proposal with sneers and snide impatience.

i could have a new car, she declared. i could have a job, i could take classes... i just don't want to.

why not? i asked, genuininely bewildered.

are we making you uncomfortable? asked Beloved.

i could see that we were. but growth IS uncomfortable, growth IS painful. growth DOES take you beyond the boundaries of where you are comfortable. that, after all, is the point.

but despite the apparent dismissal, something may have clicked. we woke up this morning to a note from elissa (who came in at the quite reasonable hour of nine pm after disappearing all day) that she has a job interview this morning at 830. we have no idea what kind of job, or where, or anything else, but she did ask to be awakened by 730 if she's not up already.

a few weeks ago, i purchased an extra bottle of rescue remedy that i didn't really need and left it, unopened, in the packaging, on my desk. try this, i said to elissa, after Beloved left. it might help, and it can't hurt.

maybe it helped.

and furthermore, the war must end. blessed be.

Monday, February 25, 2008

planning the Work

this morning, before anyone else was up, Beloved and i sat and hammered out a plan to help elissa launch. with reasonable goals, measurable objectives, clear boundaries, and rewards in the form of shopping trips and independent living, it seems quite possible that within a month, elissa could be on a far healthier road than the one she appears to be heading down now.

but of course, it's all up to elissa.

my hope is that having, literally, hit the wall, she's ready to take some less hurtful steps.

my belief is that what worked with my kids will work with someone else's - even one as hostile as elissa.

my prayer is that she will understand that all her father, her mother, and i really want for her is to be all the elissa she can possibly be.

and furthermore, the war must end. blessed be.

Sunday, February 24, 2008

sissa's a pissa

Beloved and i were awakened at midnight by the sounds of barking dogs and a whimpering elissa, who showed up, out of the blue, limping and teary, with an outlandish tale of slipping on the ice and breakng her foot.

the radar that has functioned without fail since katie drew her first breath blipped a few times... from the comfort of my covers, i smelled a rat. Beloved of course, saw the opportunity to play Daddy, a much more comforting role than the one i would've played had it been one of my own brood who so rudely interrupted my sleep. the first unwritten rule of the house is - Dont Wake Mommy Up. if one must wake Mommy up, there'd be better be blood involved. i have to say im proud that my kids therefore tend to shy away from activities in which blood is bound to be involved. no one wants to wake up Mommy. the wrath of god, as katie likes to say, IS preferable.

it is not that i am without kindness or empathy, or even that i lack the ability to spring immediately into action, if that indeed is what's demanded. it's that from their earliest years i felt the need to impress on my children that i, unlike many parents they may meet, have needs. the first need is for a decent amount of sleep. once we were beyond the stage where they needed to eat every few hours, i began to make it clear that the reason they needed to go to bed when they did and to stay in those beds was not primarily for their benefit - it was for MINE. whether or not they got the sleep they needed wasn't my main concern - it was whether or not i was going to get the sleep *I* needed.

consequently, even in their teen years, i can count exactly once when i was awakened by one of my three older children in some kind of trouble. elissa, on the other hand, does it routinely enough to annoy the shit out of me. and while Beloved might share my feelings, in general, he lacks the ability to take any definitive action that might stop her midnight visits - like installing a deadbolt.

so when she came limping and whimpering in at midnight, amid a raucous chorus of hounds, i was less than sympathetic. did you ask her what the fuck she was doing here at this hour, i hissed at Beloved, when he finally returned to bed.

no, he said, in that tone of hurt bewilderment. she's hurt. she's upset. she needs her daddy.

the lateness of the hour, coupled with my new awareness from a few days ago (see food for a fight) sent me fuming back to sleep. we were again awakened at five am by a plaintive little voice calling "Dad?"

there's no doubt that elissa is in serious pain. i did, when i got up, feel sorry for her. i looked at her foot, which was puffy and red. i started the car, i put down icemelt while Beloved made appropriate daddy-noises. but when i asked her how it happened, how she'd come to slip and injure herself in such a funny place for a fall, she confessed she'd kicked a wall. score one for the mamma-radar, i thought.

as they drove off for the hospital, i reached for Louise Hay's You Can Heal Your Life. i read the entries for foot problems, ankles, bone problems and fractures. i wonder what goddess appears in the guise of querolous, troubled, young women. i think i am about to find out.

and furthermore, the war must end. blessed be.

Saturday, February 23, 2008

oops i almost forgot!! now I've been tagged by a new blogging friend:

Here's how it works:
1) Find a book closest to me with at least 123 pages.
2) Turn to page 123 and go down five sentences.
3) Type the next three lines into my blog.
4) Tag five other bloggers.

The book closest to me is...Kindling the Celtic Spirit by Mara Freeman....i turn to page 123 to see what i shall find...and its a section entitled The Sacred Grove...(how interesting...i think.)here's the three sentences, five sentences in...

In the Celtic landscape, hazel (trees) grew in "thin" places where wisdom might be found (and where, in celtic mythology, typically the entrances to the Otherworld are found - ak). The Gaelic word for hazel is calltuin (kawl-tin) and a number of places called Calton or Carlton are associated with entrances to the Otherworld, a famous one being Calton Hill in Edinburgh, which was still used for magical gatherings in the 17th century...Tara, the royal seat of kingship in Ireland, was built close by a hazel grove...

i tag:
rose (;
stacie (;
judy (;
cyn (
and kathy (!

sprucing up for spring

today i begin the task of packing up all the books and other items in my writing room, taking down the pictures and the curtains, the mirrors and the bull horns. a week from monday, a painter is coming, to paint my writing space, and the entry foyer beneath it, a soft robins-egg blue. the woodwork will be cream, the wall where the fireplace is will be smoke blue. i can't wait.

it's taken me five years to choose a color scheme for this room - when you like every color its hard to settle on just a few. but the colors came to me, in the form of fabric at walmart of all places, for the unconscionable price of $2.00 a yard. walmart, in fact, is one of the last places it's possible to buy fabric.

im going to refinish my desk and all the bookcases, as well - in shades of cream and blue to match the walls. i have smoke-blue curtains to match the valances i will make.

but one step at a time.

this week i pack and sort, decide what to keep and what to discard. it seems i've had a lot of practice at this, lately.

and furthermore, the war must end. blessed be.

Friday, February 22, 2008

soft as snow

the snow was falling already when i walked the puppies, little fairy flakes that shimmered like crystals on the puppies' fur. the sheer loveliness of the landscape as i stare outside my window entrances me, leads me teasingly into that place where characters sing and live and breathe.

the ones i sense waiting there are not the ones i was expecting. i was expecting amazonian rainforests, inca shaman, cat-eyes glinting green. instead i see the glint of bronze and steel, of fire and stone, and yes - i hear Beloved groan - horses.

it's my own fault. last week, at the behest of the Voice, i purchased a cd. the rational reason i told myself was that i wanted to replace a favorite cassette tape. when it came, i resisted opening it for several days. it's almost as if i knew where the music was going to lead me. now it's playing as the snow falls and a fresh pile of old manuscript sits in front of me. i sense a Presence behind the paper.

dive in, says the Fool i drew this morning. follow us, say the drums. watch me, whispers the snow.

and furthermore, the war must end. blessed be.

Thursday, February 21, 2008

food for a fight

Beloved and i had an argument this morning, one of those fierce flashes of temper that can spark over the breakfast table. Beloved was relating his latest effort to set his daughter on the Right Path. i suppose i was less than enthusiastic.

you're so negative about elissa, he whined. she's only 21.

by the time i was 21, i had a house, a husband, a baby and a job - every single one of them, in retrospect, a horrible mistake in judgement. (i also had a BA from johns hopkins - which wasn't at all a mistake.)

i realized, somewhere between the shouting and the sneering, what the fight was really about. most of the time i agree with and even admire Beloved and all he does. but not when it comes to parenting. when it comes to parenting, not only are our approaches wildly divergent, our emotional landscape is so different that one of us might've well have come from the moon.

i know what Beloved wants. he wants loving, supportive, kind annie - the one who sits and smiles and pats his back at usually every turn. but how does one support actions one doesn't agree with in the first place, even when one sees they are undertaken with the best of intentions? when actions consistently yield unsatisfying results, shouldn't a new course of action be considered, especially when one has an alternative course with proven stirling results laid out like a track before one?

you want to make it hard for me, whined Beloved.

the work of being a parent is very hard. it's the hardest work i've ever done. but of all the work i've ever done, it's the one that has yielded the most consistently satisfying, and, (dare i say) stirling results.

to be fair, to adopt my position with elissa would pit Beloved against her mother, who i blame for 95% of elissa's problems. but i know how it feels to fight an implacable foe. my ex tried to use the legal system against me. i never let who i had to oppose get in the way of doing what i felt really needed to be done.

Beloved likes to bemoan the fact that if only everyone listened to him, the world would be a better place. this morning, i know exactly how he feels.

and furthermore, the war must end. blessed be.

Wednesday, February 20, 2008

full moon in virgo

the sky was bright blue at six am, last night's gibbous moon long set. today, the sun enters pisces, and the full moon's in virgo.

someone asked me yesterday if i think the moon influences our behavior, collectively and as individuals. my answer is an unequivocable yes. i believe that its influence can be seen not just in tide tables, but in the very soup inside our cells. each of us isnt really much more on some level than a membrane around encased droplets of the primordial sea from which all life spawned. i believe one can attune oneself and one's energies to these influences, and can use them, preferably to the benefit of one's Self and others.

i believe this is the Work of the Witch.

the virgo full moon as the sun enters pisces is an "afflicted" moon - the energies of scientific, analytical virgo don't mix easily with soulful, transcendental pisces. but in their most evolved expression, virgo and pisces together represent the principles of healing through action, of conscious awareness for the holiness of all reality, down to the smallest particle. for virgo, caring comes when one works with others to find workable solutions to everyday problems. pisces provides the vision and the intuition, virgo provides the service, and the craft.

the lunar eclipse tonight intensifies this already intricate dance.

i know more than one person who's struggling to find solid footing under this challenging moon.

and furthermore, the war must end. blessed be.

Monday, February 18, 2008

spring showers

this morning, i stepped out of my chilly tile entry way and into spring. a thick white mist rose above the flooded lakes of snow, drifted like the ghosts of lovelorn maidens underneath the trees. a warm rain fell, in spring's gentle patter with none of winter's sting. the air felt like a sauna and smelled like mud. for the first time in a long time, i was warmer outside than in.

i know better than to trust this phantom season. rain on top of melting ice is dangerous, and the temperature can drop on a dime.

but still we stood this morning, buddy and i, transfixed by the warmth, the scent, the sound and textures of spring.

and furthermore, the war must end. blessed be.

Sunday, February 17, 2008

one for you, meggie moo

my 20 year old daughter meg just bought herself her first car. armed with the ten-year-old neon i bought her a couple years ago, her sister's shrewd negotiating skills and six grand she saved herself, meg drove off the lot in a brand new 2008 subaru, her monthly payment the lowest the dealer ever secured.

Beloved, hearing of it all, offered on the spot to pay her first payment.

she also has a 3.75 average at uconn - where she's a sophmore - and holds down a part-time job as asst swim coach for the jewish community center. in her spare time, she paints, reads and shops. she eschews drinking, smoking, illicit substances and casual sex. how'd she get this way?

she suffered. life wasn't easy for meg. her father scapegoated her at every opportunity, she got held back in second grade. she watched me struggle, fail and try some more. somewhere along the way she learned that determination pays off, that gratification deferred is worth the wait. somehow she believes - most of the time, anyway - that it's more important to be meg than to conform to anyone else's ideal. somehow she understands its better to be alone in a room than lonely in a crowd.

i don't know the precise magic brew that produced the miracle named meg, but i do know that at times it was very very bitter.

i am very very proud of meg. more than that, i know she's proud of herself.

well done, meggie moo.

and furthermore, the war must end. blessed be.

Friday, February 15, 2008

what i know about love

hard on the heels of valentine's day, my puppy sam is sick. she's not really a puppy any more of course, and we don't really know how old she is. sam found her way to me by way of magic and abuse, when she was found, abandoned and alone, running around a friend's backyard during one particularly polar january. we brought her home on valentine's day, 2004.

i had to take her to the vet this morning for the second time in two days with vomiting and bloody diarrhea, caused by unknown origin. there is a very real possibility that sam may not come home. mommy loves you, sam, i whispered when i said goodbye. and i thanked her, for coming into my life at a time when i was ready to understand the projection of a Shadow when i saw one.

there was something in the loving of sam that enabled a healing in myself. there is something in loving sam that taught me a great deal about the nature of love, itself.

i believe that love is another word for the energy that creates and sustains all that is. i dont think we choose to love, we are created out of and by that love to sustain itself. love is more than our nature, it is what we are.

i think we sometimes fail to differentiate between human expression of that energy, and the energy itself. the human expression of that energy - whether it is romantic, filial, or friendship - always appears to us to be flawed, if only because it always ends in loss.

even the most perfect of relationships head to a bad end, because someone has to die first. the human experience of love is always shadowed by the human experience, itself. it is also shadowed by other aspects of the human experience - the aspects that create the wounds that damage us all.

but love - as the apostle paul suggested in one of his few actual moments of clarity and grace - never ends, any more than energy ends. love doesn't end, it only transforms.

sam has won a place for a homeless puppy forever in my heart.

and furthermore, the war must end. blessed be.

Thursday, February 14, 2008

happy valentine's day, Beloved

this morning, on a whim, caught between an unexpected two-hour delay and the needs of sick puppies, i happened to consult the i-ching. what is the wisest course of action, i asked, if i wish to nurture and enhance my relationship with Beloved?

this is the answer i spoke to me so eloquently, i thought i would share it here:

Your Present Hexagram

Two - Great receptivity attracts exceptional results, especially in relationships. The natural responsiveness of pure Yin energy brings about success through support and perseverance, rather than through bold action. Thus, the wise person demonstrates strength like a powerful but gentle mare. This hexagram, consisting of all yin lines, represents a power of the feminine principle no longer honored in our modern world, but such receptivity is most auspicious.

The receptive force is sensual as well as powerful, and it can be missed by too much talk and planning. When spring comes, does the grass "plan" to grow? This is a time to concentrate on realities rather than potentials -- with how to respond to a relationship rather than how to direct it. The mature mare lets herself be guided by a higher power, and is skilled at graceful acceptance. In a strong spiritual way, her quiet contribution is most effective, and brings success.

Do not be too assertive at this time, for if you try to direct things, you are liable to become confused or alienated. Take your time. Draw strength from carefulness and you will be doubly fortunate. Focus more on feeling than on action. Be broad and deep in your attitudes so that you can accept everything that comes your way with grace and equanimity. Be receptive and spacious like the ocean; let the river of changing developments flow to you. Allow a partner to take the lead for now. Strive for a pure natural responsiveness that is based on inner strength rather than outer show.

Your Changing Lines

The Changing Lines are the part of an I-Ching reading that give the most powerful advice about a situation or issue, because they represent the factors that are causing things to change right now.

You have two Changing Lines. Either one or the other or some combination of both of them will be relevant.

The first changing line is line 2
Let movement and stillness meet. When action springs naturally from inner calm, and proceeds to harmonize with external creative forces, all is well. Good results are achieved without artifice, complex intentions or great effort.

The second changing line is line 3
Leave the pursuit of fame and praise to others. Focus on accepting yourself. Freedom from vanity can be a powerful force, and very attractive. Do not display your virtue for all to see, but nurture it within yourself. Attempt to be of service and your life will improve by itself. Allow fruit to ripen slowly. Quiet effort is called for now.

Your Future Hexagram

The forces of growth in springtime demonstrate this hexagram's energy, as new plant life pushes upward through the earth's crust, and the sap is rising. The emphasis is on upward motion, from obscurity to influence, with growth fostered by adaptability and the absence of opposition. Constant, flexible growth is the key attribute of a plant pushing upwards. This reading suggests a period of new richness in your relationships.

The wise person, in harmony with fate, is sensitive but determined. Make a sincere effort to apply resolute efforts. Break through inertia, and good fortune will follow. By remaining flexible and tolerant, you will be able to retain the kind of conscious innocence that fuels growth and advancement. Will power and self-control are necessary to manage developments, but the life force is behind everything.

and furthermore, the war must end. blessed be.

Wednesday, February 13, 2008

intuitive eating

about a year ago, i began to get a lot of Messages around what would be Good for me to eat. my Angels and Guides were at great pains to assure me there was Nothing i couldn't eat if i so choose. however, if i wanted to improve my health, enhance my energy, lose a few pounds AND clear my psychic channels - they suggested i could make a few changes i would find immensely beneficial.

i won't bore you all here with the excrutiating details of how They gently coaxed me down the path. as a dear friend of mine remarked, "i'd listen to Them - They're nice to you, annie - other people aren't so fortunate."

all through the fall, i struggled to adapt my thinking to what i Felt my Angels were suggesting that i eat. and then weeks ago, i happened to hear of a book called Intuitive Eating. a lot of what i heard about it made a lot of sense, especially within the context of how and what the Angels were encouraging me to eat.

i bought the book and - hah - devoured it - within a few days. the book's principles are simple. the authors not only confirmed the Deep Wisdom i'd been Hearing, but gave me permission to Listen. it was validation of the best kind. for the first time in years and years, i am at peace with what i eat.

sometimes in retrospect i wonder what took me so long, but i've only to turn on the tv, open a magazine or surf the internet to answer that question. it's one thing to Hear the still, small Voice. it's quite another to heed it.

and furthermore, the war must end. blessed be.

Tuesday, February 12, 2008

back to earth

great thoughts spring from the heart, said my fortune cookie last night.

this morning, i pulled the king of cups, the two of discs, and the six and four of swords - cards that seem in sync with the approaching virgo full moon. the last three cards suggest self-care, balance, and the establishment of firm foundation, while the king of cups reminds me that the basis of all great endeavors is love.

as the days lengthen, and the moon swells, it's time to consider not resting in the soil, but rooting in it. it is time to consider how best to feed my dreams, my soul and my body this year.

and furthermore, the war must end. blessed be.

Monday, February 11, 2008

fickle february

the weather was the most erratic i've ever seen yesterday - from sunny and almost warm, to bitter and blowsy. snow squalls sprang up at intermittent intervals, almost as if the weather were having some sort of psychotic fit. the air was bright, the sky went from gray and clouded to bright and piercing blue in what seemed like a matter of minutes.

friday felt like spring - today the wind chill's in the minor digits. i gave myself a bit of a break today - a massage in the morning, lunch at my favorite tea room, a nap cuddled with the puppies.

the moon is heading into virgo - that time of year when we work to put solid foundations under our dreams and visions. today i nourished my physical, emotional and spiritual foundation. tomorrow i plan to tend to the seeds of dreams and visions far more ephemeral and far-reaching.

and furthermore, the war must end. blessed be.

Sunday, February 10, 2008

first star to the right...

...and straight on til morning. like peter pan, i believe, i believe, i believe.

there are no stars tonight. all day the weather was fitful and erratic, and tonight an arctic wind howls in the trees, bitter as the breath of kali-ma, harsh as the bite of hecate's claws. the die is cast, but whatever comes of this day's work comes not in my time, but in theirs.

i believe, i believe, i believe.

ready for my close-up

for a few years when i was in high school, i flirted with the idea of becoming an actress. acting was something that seemed to come to me as naturally as breathing. once i learned to loosen up and get over the jitters, stepping into a role seemed as easy to me as stepping into another suit of clothes. standing on the edge of a stage, staring out over the banks of lights into the dark sea of dim faces, i knew myself to be in another kind of reality altogether - here, but not here, present but not really.

at the boarding school in england, even the drama coach was impressed. have you ever considered applying for RADA, she asked one day. that road not taken might someday be the subject of another blog.

today i am reminded how all things spiral. who would've foreseen that the lessons of my high school drama and voice teachers would've suddenly become so important? down the years, the echos whisper... eye contact, find your center, drop your shoulders, lift your chin. fill your lungs, feel your breath.

this morning, as i light my candles and sage the house, i offer a prayer of thanks to harry, to mrs hartley, to all my voice and drama teachers across so many years and miles.

and furthermore, the war must end. blessed be.

Saturday, February 9, 2008


the snow is falling in thick soft flakes, the scene outside my window could be a new england post card. Beloved went to the store, and didn't get the right ingredients. i knew i should've sent meg.

i had a lovely afternoon. the puppies and i cuddled and hummed and meditated and sang. the puppies even had a bath. everything...and everyone.... is ready.

and the snow keeps falling.

happy birthday, johnny joe

according to family lore, while my mother was in the hospital having my brother, my grandmother told me a story about a telephone repairman named jake. im not sure what amazing adventure the lineman could've had, but the name seared itself into my not-quite-two-year-old brain and when they brought my brother home, i suggested we call him jake.

to pacify the little demon brewing in my soul, they agreed. so jake my brother was, until my aunt katherine showed up for a visit and declared, "you can't possibly call this dear little baby jake - call him johnny joe." and johnny joe he was, until he got old enough to resist.

people who think they should have children spaced close together should think again. i remember being two. i remember the rage of sibling rivalry. i'd have killed him if i could.

just yesterday i was reading about a pediatrician who has a new technique for handling the toddler terribles. his approach is founded on the premise that children that age aren't civilized. you can't reason with them yet, because they have no ability to reason. the hard-wiring in the brain isn't there. i believe him. i remember being two.

my brother grew up in spite of any effort of mine to the contrary. today he is a successful man by any standard, the wonderful father of two adorable and adored girls. he lives safely on the other side of the country. i like to think he's a better man because of me.

so happy birthday, johnny joe.... from the sister who let you live.

and furthermore, the war must end. blessed be.

Friday, February 8, 2008

blind terror

i've reached the point of absolute fear.

there. i've said it, admitted it, bowed my head. i'm not just scared, i'm terrified. this is the real thing - a shaking-in-your-shoes, quaking-in-your-boots, wake-you-screaming-for-your-mother kind of scared.

have no doubt, gentle reader. if i've appeared at all calm in the last few weeks as you've read this blog, it's only because i'm practiced at telling lies for fun and profit.

this is the genunine thing. it grips my neck, invades my gut, and tries to take my breath away. it is not a place i like to spend a lot of time. but here i am suspended, paralysed not just by fear, but by circumstance and the slow tick of days.

i remarked to my friend rose last night that it was good my house was a mess after holidays, illness and finishing Seventh Son. the much needed cleaning has given me an opportunity to do something other than capitulate to the gut-wrenching waves of terror that periodically sweep from head to toe, and back.

that is good, said my wise friend rose.

i'm terrified, i mentioned to my friend jane the other day. that's good, she said.

it is? i repeated, startled - for a few minutes at least - out of my fear. i could feel my inner optimist peek out of the cover she takes when my inner banshee starts to keen.

terror is a form of an extremely heightened state of awareness, said my wise friend jane. it puts you into just the very place where it becomes possible to do the most impossible things.

and furthermore, the war must end. blessed be.

Thursday, February 7, 2008

spring cleaning

the rhythms of my childhood linger in my semi-annual rituals of domestic overhauling. twice a year, sometime in late february or early march, and then again in september/october when the children go back to school, i engage in a grand round of sorting, storing, and sprucing. up and down to the attic, into the deepest corners of the closets, and off to the stores, i go, lists in hand, intent focused, will engaged. this is the time of year i refinish furniture, paint, sew, and scrub.

Beloved watches, lifts, and carries. why do you do this, he asked me the first few times he came home to find rooms radically or subtly transformed.

part of it is the dictate of my childhood, a pattern laid down so long ago, i have but to close my eyes over a box of mothballs and i am tiny, tiny, watching rolls of rugs hauled up and down attic steps.

but part of it is the sheer pleasure of creation, the satisfaction one can sense in sunshine after rain, a winter's first fresh snow, or the bare pristine soil of a garden in spring.

and furthermore, the war must end. blessed be.

Wednesday, February 6, 2008

new moon in aquarius

a black woman, a white woman and a black man are running for president, and one of them is going to win the nomination of one of the two major parties.

the winds of change are blowing.

the new moon in aquarius reminds us that global change begins in the Self, and invites us to consider the most radical transformation of ourselves that we dare. if the new moon in capricorn reminded us to get grounded, and the full moon in leo reminded us to get healed, the energies of this new moon call us to be everything we are capable of being, to be all that on some level of reality we are barely capable of perceiving, we already are.

this is a time to question and to examine the ties that bind and shackle, the lies we tell ourselves to keep us comfortable, and the beliefs that hold us back. aquarius is the visionary of the zodiac, an energy that looks beyond accepted truth, honors originality, and flatly refuses to honor the dictates of others.

it is energy i dance with all too frequently for some. change is hard enough. radical transformation is scary, powerful, awesome, and sometimes, awful.

the winds of change are blowing.

and furthermore, the war must end. blessed be.

Tuesday, February 5, 2008

fat tuesday

the book i just finished on intuitive eating pretty much confirms for me the wisdom i've felt all along - eat what you want until you're full. i am fortunate that i don't have a particularly sweet tooth - that salty foods like pretzels are more to my liking - and that writing seems to burn up an inordinate amount of calories.

perhaps its appropriate i woke up thinking about food. i have apples to use up, bananas to possibly make into bread. i have sweet-potatoes from dinner last night in just the right amount for sweet potato muffins. i have chicken breasts in the refrigerator that must be either cooked or frozen.

i have a brunch to plan for sunday.

and furthermore, the war must end. blessed be.

Monday, February 4, 2008

happy birthday, roey-rina

it boggles my mind that a bare nine and a half months after the titanic sank in the north atlantic, my grandmother was born. i had not made that connection until i discovered my great-grandmother's naturalization papers, dated april 12, 1912.

wasnt that when the titanic went down? asked my stepfather one day when i was telling him the story of the discovery.

my great-grandmother was a young woman, then. her age is given as 23. her boys are listed as frank (4) and joe (1). and soon, so very soon, there would be lucy, nicknamed rose.

if she'd been born even a generation later, i think she might've been happier. if she'd been born now, she'd go to uconn on a full basketball scholarship. my grandmother was uncommonly strong woman, athletic and vigorous well into her seventies. even now, her ailments - much to her chagrin - remain relatively minor, and even while her head sometimes wanders, her body retains the legacy of a life spent breathing clear ocean air, walking everywhere and an abstemious appetite that confined itself mostly to yogurt, cottage cheese, bananas and ice cream.

in her own way, i don't think she felt that she fit in any more than i frequently do. in her photos, she is usually glaring suspiciously at the camera, as if daring the person to take her picture. even when she is not directly the focus, she is most likely casting a sullen eye over the subject. no one understood the uses of evil eye more than my grandmother.

that i have always known myself to be her favorite is a fierce and terrifying thing. when fay wray is swept up in kong's arms, i know exactly how she feels. no tiny human could bear the weight of such crushing, all consuming love.

as we filed into the limosine after my aunt babe's funeral mass, where my cousin julie had spoken eloquently and with love about her grandmother, my aunt, and grandmother's sister, babe, my grandmother said, to no one in particular, "gee, i wonder whose going to say all those nice things about me when i die."

"don't worry, roey," i said on cue, as my aunt katherine gave me a Look. "i'm sure i will be there to stand up and say all sorts of good things. after all, i'm a writer, you know."

i forebore to remind both old ladies that i am primarily a writer of fiction.

and furthermore, the war must end. blessed be.

Sunday, February 3, 2008

neither god nor the devil (reprise)

on the eve of my grandmother's 95th birthday, i repost one of my favorite blogs from last august:
my mother is convinced that the reason my grandmother hasn't crossed yet is because neither god nor the devil are willing to put up with her for all eternity. according to my mother, the argument going on sounds something like this:


"like hell..." sniffs satan. he inspects his fingernails, buffs them against his black silk lapel. from the garden of paradise, he plucks a single pale pink rose, which withers instantly the moment he puts it in his buttoniere.


"so what - she prays to YOU." satan raises one brow, refolds his pocket handkerchief with a flourish. a day in HEAVEN is a breath of fresh air. he raises his scaly armpits, flaps his pock-marked wings. these arguments with the DIVINE PRESENCE always leave him feeling so.... fresh.


"but what have ever you done to disavow her of the notion that you do? EVER?"

for one eternal MOMENT, the breath of ALL HEAVEN suspends, while YAHWAH debates whether or not to obliterate this Great Pretender's ass for all eternity with one well -placed cosmic bolt. an angelic chorus swells, a mighty plea for mercy for The Fallen Brother, and reluctantly, the wrath of the LORD OF HOSTS subsides. "WE DO NOT PUNISH THE TRANSGRESSORS."

"but YOU use them," whispers satan as he slithers back to hell.....

fires of imbolc; blessings of bride

the sky had a milky cast to it this morning when i walked the puppies, though the stars were still quite bright. for a few seconds i was confused and wondered how stars could be so bright through a veil of clouds. then i realized the sky was clear, and beginning to brighten. it was just after 530, the earliest glimmer of dawn i've seen in a long time.

today we celebrated my grandmother's 95th birthday. she exhibited all her usual vinegar. initially she refused to come downstairs at all. she threatened to faint, to fall, and to wet her pants. only baby jake merited a real smile.

the rest of us had a good time.

a couple weeks ago i was actually a bit concerned for her health. she'd come down wiht the miserable virus that had me laid low for so long, and i really did wonder ever so briefly if it could be possible that god and the devil had settled their argumment and one of them was about to take her off my hands.

then i walked in last monday to find her sitting in the lobby, waiting to have her hair done. when i complimented her on how well she looked, she replied, well, i certainly didn't expect to see you today!

i like to keep you guessing, old girl, i said, as i kissed her on the forehead.

i remind myself that both bride and pele - fire goddesses both - appear to those who would seek their favors as a querolous old woman.

and furthermore, the war must end. blessed be.

Saturday, February 2, 2008

vaulting into action

the thick cover of clouds suggests the groundhog did NOT see his shadow, and thus forecasts an early spring. the feast of imbolc dawns, the sky pearly as new milk. i slept remarkably well last night, and woke up refreshed and energized. i feel the new sun filter through the clouds.

a totally unexpected kind of spring has opened up before me. i reach into my aries soul, and leap.

and furthermore, the war must end. blessed be.

Friday, February 1, 2008

a baby bite of the Big Apple

a predicted blast of icy weather has cancelled schools across the state. what astonishes me is how balmy yesterday was - a sunny 40 in new york city, at any rate.

but new york city is a magical place. anyone who doubts that cant have spent much time there. countrified hermit that i am, even i always have fun, despite the fact the city intimidates my very soul. the buildings are so high, the streets are so teeming, the landscape creates a tension between up and immediate vincinity. the architecture draws my eyes up, to the serene sky, but all around myself, i feel buffeted by churning tides both seen and unseen. one looks up at one's peril.

but, oh, those churning tides. there is an energy to the place unlike anywhere else. new york owes its existence to the fact it sits at the juncture of one of the largest natural harbors in north america. before there were fleets of taxis or buses or bicycles or even ships.... there were tides.

and furthermore, the war must end. blessed be.