Saturday, January 31, 2009

How I Screwed The Pooch And Became Humbled

Okay. So the preview night on Thursday went well. Probably too well. The Altrusa's were wined up (that is not a typo- there was a lot of wine involved) and happy. I was barely nervous. The rest of the cast was mellow too. We were all ready and raring to go and go we did.
Things went fairly smoothly, no one did anything crazy and I felt comfortable and natural on the stage. When it was over, I jumped up and down and said, "We did it!" and we had. We got lots of praise and I went and washed the prop dishes to try and relieve some of the swelling of my head.

That was Thursday night.

Last night, Friday night, was a different story. Almost my whole family was there. Sitting there at a table watching me. The mama. The wife. And I just could not forget that fact.

My first character, the lady most like me, came on and I did fine with her. Just fine.

And then I left the stage and that's where things started going downhill for me. I have to change, in the space of about a page and a half of dialogue, from a woman about my age to an older Jewish lady with a completely different costume AND a wig and hat. And purse. I could not get the wig to sit right and stay on. I didn't have time to get my funky big bracelet on. I hit the stage a few beats late and the very, very worst thing happened: I couldn't do my accent.

I completely lost my accent. The accent which in the initial audition for the play I already had nailed. The easiest, the funniest in the context of character, the one I have always felt most comfortable doing. It was gone.

And so there I was, all over the geographical United States, trying this one out and that one, having an out-of-body panic attack while the people behind me on stage were probably peeing their pants while sitting in stunned silence and I was dropping lines and all I could think of was, "Where am I? Who am I? What am I doing? Am I having a flashback? Am I going insane, right here, right now, in front of my family and half of Monticello? " And I could feel the directors' stupefied wonder at how their very dependable Mary had completely lost her shit.

Somehow, I stumbled back to where I was supposed to be. My old-lady character told me in a fierce threatening whisper to, "Back off, stupid bitch and let me talk!"

And I did.

It ended up okay, but I was humiliated, embarrassed and felt as if I'd let down the whole cast and my directors.

My second character went fine, but still- things were off. And the tone of the whole evening was set. It was like a slipping bike chain. One minute you're peddling along fine and then bang! click-click-click, no power, no traction, no forward motion.

I was late in entrances. I dropped lines. I forgot to take a vital prop onstage. I almost went onstage barefoot.

Oh my honeys, it was not fun. It was not good. It was not what you'd call a stellar night.
After it was all over, instead of wanting to go out and mingle with the crowd, I simply wanted someone to bring me a bottle of rotgut vodka and let me sit in the dark corner and drink until I passed out.

Well. Not really. But you know what I mean.

But no, I had to go out and try to laugh it all off, which I did because hey- it's all Fake Believe, right?

Kathleen, who is the stage manager and the person who is backstage helping me get out of one costume and into another, kept reassuring me and telling me that it was fine, all was well, the audience would never know, everyone was screwing up, etc., etc., etc.
She's so sweet. As were the directors. And my family. And the rest of the cast.
But I knew and we all knew, quite frankly, that I had let everyone down.

Oh. The night had its high points. I got a lot of laughs. One man told me that he had had NO IDEA that there hadn't been five different women playing those parts. His wife said she'd not realized it either. Of course, their combined ages was something like three hundred and twelve, so there you go.

And tonight's another night.

I swear. If I fuck up tonight like I did last night, I am going to calmly ask the audience if they would mind if we started over. Because really- I can do MUCH better.
In fact, I did much better on the first read-through back in December.

And I could blame the wigs and I could blame the fact that my family was there and I couldn't forget that fact and let go and become my characters. And I could blame my inexperience. Whatever. But really, I'm going to simply say that well, it wasn't a great night and tonight will be better.

And if it's not, there's always rotgut vodka.

Thank-you all for coming. Ask for your refund at the door as you leave.

Friday, January 30, 2009

One And One Half Hours Before Curtain Time

I'm a little nervous.

Free Advice

Remember in Thelma and Louise when they robbed a convenience store and Thelma told Louise something like, "I think I might have a knack for this shit."?
That's sort of how I feel about this acting thing. It's funny.
What's not funny is that everything I'm fairly decent at is not anything you can make money at unless you're really, really, REALLY good. Like writing and cooking and gardening. And all of those things are wonderful and they make my life richer than dark chocolate truffles but once, just ONCE in my life, I'd like to earn some money.
I find myself wishing with all of my heart that I'd never gone to nursing school. Now don't get me wrong- I don't think those four years were wasted. I learned a lot of stuff in nursing school. Mainly (and this is sad) that I didn't want to be a nurse and that's the crux of the problem. My husband looks at what nurses make and he's all like, "Girl. What is stopping you?"
And I'm all like, "Uh, the smell of alcohol makes me want to puke, unless it comes in the form of a martini with a blue cheese olive in it?"
And then he's all like, "But you can do a lot of different things as a nurse," and I'm all like, "Yeah. There are so many fun, frolicking jobs in the nursing profession."
Maybe there are and I need to get off my ass and get one. Or at least one I can stand.
But I have to say that anyone who might be on the receiving end of my nursing skills at this point better have a will made up and notarized because I have no nursing skills. Listen- even putting a bandaid on a boo-boo is not my forte. I'm pretty good at kissing boo-boo's to make them better but I don't think that's standard medical practice.
And besides that, my youngest child, Ms. HoneyLuna, told me once several years ago that even when she was a wee thing she knew that my boo-boo kisses didn't have any healing powers at all but she, being a compassionate and understanding human being, knew I was doing my best and so she'd just allowed me to kiss her boo-boos, even if it didn't help her. She knew it helped me. She's always been so wise.
So what am I saying here? I'm saying if you're young and you're wondering which career path to take in this economy (or any other, to be honest), do your best to consider whether that career is something you can fathom doing for a long, long time. If you dislike being around the sick and the injured, perhaps nursing is not your field, even if it's a safe bet as to a good salary with benefits. Same is true for being a lawyer or a doctor or an actuary. Try to find something that makes your heart leap, just a little bit at least, or at the VERY least, you're slightly interested in.
I'm quite aware that going to work is not a joy for most people. Nor was it meant to be. I suppose. Who knows what work is meant to be besides the earning of your bread? But I don't think that the thought of getting up every day and doing it should make you have to run to the bathroom with various intestinal emergencies.
And maybe, just maybe, you should consider what your talents are and where your joy lies and see if somehow, through education and great effort, you can make those talents work for you while you work to make a living.
As an example, I will offer up this image:

If you look like that and have even the slightest knack for acting, get your ass to Hollywood and go for it.
That's Ms. Moon's advice for the week.
And listen- I'm giving this shit away for FREE!
It's your lucky day.

Thursday, January 29, 2009

Sort Of Like Mayberry, Only Real

So I had this great idea for something I was going to write about and I was thinking about it while I was running from one room to the next and by the time I got to the kitchen where I was going to write the idea down so I wouldn't forget, it had completely slipped my mind and it's now residing somewhere in that great trash basket in my brain. I probably needed to flip the squash croquettes on the stove or something and there it went, in between squash croquette numbers three and four.

It's a wonder I remember to get dressed these days. If you can call what I wear clothing.
Anyway, perhaps some day I will remember what it was and then I'll write about it and I assure you, it will be mad genius.

Until then, let's discuss this and that.

First off- the hair thing. Okay, that lady rocks. She listens. She asks questions. Let me just say that by the time she'd finished trimming my hair she said, "You don't want me to blow it dry, do you?"
Now how smart is she?
And then I signed up to come in the next day and get a few highlights to help blend things in and by God, she did those beautifully and probably no one would even notice but it just looks BETTER.
Honestly, she made me very happy.
Happier than any of those dressed-like-a-ho people at the expensive places in Tallahassee. And all of this took place in a built-on-to-a-house little room of beauty in Monticello which looks amazingly like the one Dolly Parton had in Steel Magnolias, only not quite as fancy.

I love Monticello and if they got a Publix there I would probably never, ever go to Tallahassee except to see my children. Except for a Publix, they have it all, including a library, both a Family Dollar Store and a General Dollar Store, a Beauty Supplies And Wireless Store, some nice antique stores, several restaurants including the one in the building where we get our venison sausage made and buy our barbeque sauce and gallberry honey, a small farmer's market, a hardware store, a StarDucks coffee shop (really- StarDucks), a florist, several well-known ghosts, many churches, a dog track, law offices, the county courthouse, a Subway, a CVS, a ginormous Mexican import store, some stunning old homes, several nurseries and of course, the Monticello Opera House.

Which is where I'll be tonight, doing a "preview performance" for the Altrusa Club. I have been approached about joining the Altrusa Club but that would mean breaking several personal vows, one of which is never to join anything with the word "club" in it and also, never being part of something in which the members refer to each other as "sister."
They do a lot of good works and I'm sure they have a great time and I know several women who are part of the organization whom I just adore, but I don't think that would be me. For one thing, they drink wine and I can't drink wine. I'd have to bring my own beer.
See what I'm saying?

But I will gladly put on those wigs and perform for them. I'm interested to see how this little production goes with a different audience than the one we've had which has been made up of the directors, the stage manager and the sound guy. They all seem to love it and laugh every time at certain parts of the play and I just hope a wider audience will appreciate our humor as well.
I'm not nervous yet, although I'm sure I will be by the time the lights go up. I am one fourth of this whole thing and I feel like my characters are the comic relief and Lord knows we all need some of that. Our last few rehearsals have gone almost too well. We all know our lines well enough that our characters have taken over and even if someone glitches (okay, that would mainly be me), someone else jumps in and covers and things roll along.

So tonight we do the preview thing and then tomorrow we open and some of my family will be there, and the idea of that does make me nervous. Mainly because when I'm up there on the stage, I forget that I am Ms. Moon, mother of four, wife of one, and just become these other people but if my family is sitting right there in front of me, it's hard to forget. Plus, will they be embarrassed for me? Will they be embarrassed to be related to me? Will it make them squirm when I put the moves on another woman? Will my husband feel weird when I snuggle up to another fella?
Who cares? As Jack, one of our directors said one day at rehearsal, "It's all fake believe."
Ah. Don't you just love that?

Okay. That's enough of that as well as being plenty of this.

Your own personal thespian signing off now.

I have to go get ready for my close-up.

And take out the compost.

Wednesday, January 28, 2009

To Sonogram Or Not To Sonogram- That's My Question

When my first child was born in 1976, one or two children per every ten thousand born was diagnosed with autism.

Today, one in one hundred and sixty-six children born are diagnosed with autism. That's right. One in one hundred and sixty-six children born are diagnosed with autism.

Now let's be clear- diagnosis is far more accurate than it used to be. There is a huge spectrum of autistic "disorders". And it may be that the rate of diagnosis is not as alarming as it seems, given that the weird kid in your third grade class may have been in one of those autistic spectrums which today would be diagnosed but then was merely labeled odd.

BUT, there is no doubt that it's on the rise and there have been no definite answers as to why the disorder is becoming more and more prevalent.

I've been wondering if there could be a possible link between the now-common use of sonograms in pregnancy and this terrifying trend. I'm not alone in this. Google autism and sonograms and you get something like 65,000 possible hits. There has actually been one small study done on mice by the Yale school of medicine in 2006 which showed that yes, there seemed to be some correlation between the prenatal exposure to ultra-sound waves and autistic-like changes in the mice brains. But it wasn't definitive.


We need more studies aimed in this direction I think.
I mean- consider the fact that we are regularly bombarding developing brains and neurological systems with sound waves which cause not only loud sounds within the uterus but also heat. Pregnant women are advised NOT to get overheated in hot tubs and saunas because they know that this can have adverse effects on their developing fetuses. So I'm asking why sonograms are so routinely used in the prenatal care of women? There is no real proof that the use of these routine sonograms contributes to any actual better outcome for the baby at all. I am not talking here about using them judiciously for a diagnostic tool when problems are suspected. I am talking about using them as just a regular part of every pregnant woman's care. We have all gotten to the place where we take for granted that a pregnant woman knows the sex of her child long before birth. And with these new 3-D sonograms, you can tell which side of the family the child takes after while it's still in the womb. "Oh look, Frank, she has your nose! We better start saving for plastic surgery now."

Frankly, I think these sonograms are creepy and weird and almost an invasion of privacy and when done purely to satisfy the parents' curiosity, to give them a prenatal portrait of their child before it is born, is flat damn wrong. Because we don't know what all these sound waves are doing to these babies as they rock and move and swim within their mother's womb.
We know that babies will move away from the sonographer's transducer if possible. This alone seems to indicate that the heat and what one article I read called "jarring vibrations" could be causing discomfort in the child.

I don't know. They do so many things now to pregnant women both prenatally and in labor which no scientific studies have proven to actually produce healthier babies. Here in the US where childbirth is handled in a highly technological way, our infant mortality rate is higher than 36 other countries. This is out of 195, total. Certainly not the worst, by any means, but certainly not the best, either.

I am not suggesting that we go back to the days of old when women squatted in a field and delivered their young (would that it were so simple!) but I am suggesting that we don't have all the answers and I'm also saying- we aren't even asking the right questions.

In the meantime, I am hoping that Lily, who is at the moment interested in a midwife-assisted birth center birth, will avoid getting sonograms if possible.

It is only human and natural that we want to know the sex of our unborn child. It is only human and natural to wonder what that child looks like, to see if he or she has all those fingers and toes and it is so very reassuring to hear and see that little heart beating, those fingers fluttering.
But until we know for sure what the technology which allows us to see all of these things is doing to the child, I don't think we should be using it without a very good reason.

I have no doubt that my grandbaby will be beautiful. I don't need a creepy prenatal picture of him or her to know that. And although it would be convenient to know whether we're buying clothes for a girl or a boy, it is much better to my mind not to mess around with that beautiful child's brain or nervous system.

I am not a doctor, I do not play one on television, but I am someone who wonders. And this is what I'm wondering today. Autism, ADD, ADHD, and a whole lot of other things are showing up in numbers that have never shown up before. And they are showing up as the technology of ultrasound is being used as it never has before. Plain and simple common sense say we should consider these technologies in response to these growing neurological problems.

All I'm saying is, humans simply did not evolve being exposed to sound waves in the uterus and perhaps for a good reason. Could we please explore this possibility?

Tuesday, January 27, 2009

Wearin' Her Wig Hat And Shades To Match

Let's talk hair.
I'm going to get my hair trimmed today which is significant in that I can't even remember the last time I got my hair trimmed and no, it's not down past my butt although there were times back in the old-hippie days (as opposed to now, the new-hippie days) when it was.
Now it's a few inches past my shoulders and it's...just lying there. No sass, no style.
No shit.
I've never been a hair-do person. Well, I gave it a whirl in Jr. High and high school when the deal was to achieve this cute flip which I attempted through various curling means but none of them worked. The popular girls could do it. No problem. Me? My flip had flattened by the time I got to school. And I didn't have any real Villager shirtdresses either, but that's another topic.
So when the whole long, straight, parted-in-the-middle hair of the hippie became the do to do, I grabbed on because that's what my hair wanted to be anyway. Long, straight, and parted in the middle.
That picture up there is from my high school yearbook and I'm the cutie on the top row on the right. If you look really closely, you can see that there is a tiny rain forest of new hair springing forth from the top of my head and that's because I'd almost died of mono the year before and lost at least half of my hair and when that picture was taken, it was in the process of growing back. Some of it. It never all grew back, which is sad because I had hair that was thick and amazing but it's still thick enough to have survived the menopausal fall-out and leave me enough not to be too distressed over.
Anyway, blah, blah, blah. We all have hair or least a lot of us do, and I think it's probably quite possible that a woman's hair will tell you a great deal about her. Women who are open to hair experimentation when it comes to cut and color are more likely to be women who are open to change.
Obviously, I am not open to change.
When Lily told me that she was going to make me a grandmother, I had this feeling that I should grow my hair out as long as I can and wear it in braids because that's what I did as a young mother and my infants and babies were positively enchanted with those braids and stroked them when they nursed which was sweet. But I'm not going to be nursing Lily's baby (I promise, Lily, I won't!) but still, there's something about the idea of a granny with long braids which enchants me.
Well, I have nine months to get over that idea.
But today I'm going to go get a trim, which is overdue and which I need. And I'll tell the lady the same thing I always tell the people who I go to to cut my hair: Leave it long enough for me to pull back.
Because that's mainly what I do with my hair. I pull it back. Untidily for day-to-day-wear and neatly for going-out-wear.
And I have this play which is opening this week and I wear my own hair for three characters and a wig for two others and last night I actually did get the wigs on my head and well, it was interesting. One is a short, curly granny wig and the other is a brown, sassy, page-boyish wig. They gave me the desired effect which was to change the way I look and to tell you the truth, the way I felt. Which is good. In a play.
And for one of my characters I came up with this outrageous sort of Fundamentalist Mormon lady in the front hairdo and it's ridiculous and I love it and it was perfect and I didn't even have a thing to do with it- my character just came out and said, "Here, give me the damn hairpins."
So I did.
And I realize now it's fun to play around with the hair on our head and it can certainly make us look different if we change it.
But that's the thing- I am who I am, old hippie-hair and all. If I got a short, sassy do I don't think it would be me. And besides that, I'd have to blow dry it or something. Style it. Eck. Not me.
I'm fifty-four years old and I wear the clothes I wear and I wear my hair the way I do and that, my friends, is that. I have fooled around with curls and with color and bangs (bad idea, bad, bad idea) and I've always come back to the way it is. It's growing in gray now and I wish it would just go ahead and do it. There's something so beautiful about a woman with gray hair or white hair. To me, it says that the woman is comfortable with who she is and where she is in life.
Although, one never knows. I might wake up one day and decide to get my hair cut short and dyed red.
I may be an old hippie but I'm still a woman and damn it, sometimes I see women with short hair and it just looks so GOOD. But would it be me? Besides, Mr. Moon would cry and might leave me. That would be bad.
So today I'll tell that lady today to just give it a trim, make sure I can still pull it back, and I'll laugh when she wants to blow dry it.
And then I'll go down to the local wigs-and-mobile-phone-service shop and buy one of those caps you put over your head before you put on a wig and some hair pins so I can feel secure in my dynel hair for the play. Because I need to change myself into five different women on Thursday but let me assure you, Ms. Moon will still be the woman underneath.
With her boring hair. Her graying old hippie hair.
Which suits me best.
For today, at least. Who knows about tomorrow?

Monday, January 26, 2009

Haiku For My Neighbor

Today I stole a
White camellia from your yard.
I don't think you mind.

Saturday, January 24, 2009

From Eternity To Here

Nine months seems such a long time to wait for a baby
But in fact, is barely enough time to prepare
And when you think about it,
Nine months is an absurdly short time
For an entire human being to be created
From two cells.
From two cells and then four
And the next thing you know
An entire person
With tooth buds in jaws
And fingers and toes
Not to mention brains and hearts
And eyes that melt hearts
And see into eternity
Because that is where they have come from.
Nine months to make quilts and decide on disposable or cloth
Nine months to read the books, to take the classes
To get the things ready that a baby needs
So much less than you'd think,
But still, choices to be made,
Lives to be rearranged.
And here's a secret from someone who knows:
If you had nine YEARS it wouldn't be enough time
To prepare yourself for a baby.
There is no real preparation.
There is only a scrambling to catch up
To the miracle of the fact
Of the person being grown
In the womb of the woman
Who luckily, will become
A mother who knows many, many things
She never thought she'd know
The second the child is born
And laid into her arms
Those eyes melting hearts
And speaking of eternity
Which is a lot longer than nine months
But is part of the time frame,
Whether we know it or not.

Friday, January 23, 2009

Just Trying To Get A Little Perspective Here

Life seems to be speeding so quickly these days that I can't possibly keep up with it. Just one week ago was the anniversary of Lynn's death and I couldn't quit crying and I couldn't get off the couch. And now, I can barely remember. Not to say I'm completely recovered from the day but simply that it seems to far back in time.

It's been a week.

Speaking of weeks, our play opens in less than a week and oh my darlings, we are not ready. Look- I have something like five or six costume changes in this play. I almost have all my costumes but have no clue yet as to hair. Frankly I would like to wear the same damn thing for every character and just ACT my way around the costume thing- Look- I'm old lady now. Can't you tell from the way I walk, talk, and move? Look- I'm a lesbian now. You can tell by what I'm saying.


But no. There will be wigs involved. WIGS!!!! On my own personal head. I never thought I'd see this day.

And the dressing room will be a curtained off area right behind the stage which is right in front of the giant glass windows of the front of the Opera House. I keep asking if they're going to charge extra for seats on the sidewalk.

Besides that, I have a character who has to eat. And talk. And walk. We haven't yet tried this with real food. I make pretend-eating gestures like you do when your child brings you a tasty tea-plate of Play Dough pie. "Mmmm. Very good."

And so forth.

And I have learned in the past few weeks that the best way to get to what the Buddhists call mindlessness is to be in a play. I know these lines. I know them backwards and forwards and yet, inevitably, I'll be up there just doing great and all of a sudden my mind is like a sheer granite cliff that rises into the air and there are no lines written on it. I doubt I could tell you my name at these moments.

Talk about your awkward pauses.

All I can say is thank God they serve alcohol at the Opera House because our motto is The more you drink, the better we are. Amen.

I made soap this week for the first time. I made soup this week for the billionth time. I've made venison jerky. I am making venison jerky as we speak.

I saw our new president inaugurated and oh yes, of course I found out that I'm about to be a grandmother.

I still can't begin to fit my head around that one and will probably be in shock until the child is ready for high school at which point I may begin to grasp the concept.

I've had days where I wanted to crawl into a hole and days where I felt okay. I've spent way too much time in Goodwills looking for costumage and not nearly enough time exercising.

I've let the dogs in and out three thousand, five hundred and forty-seven times. Really. I counted.

I've had hope, I've had joy, I've had despair, I've had panic.

I've grieved and I've celebrated and I've sweat and I've shivered.

I've searched for words and I've had no words.

I have committed sins of both omission and commission and I feel equally guilty about both.

I almost threw a shoe at the TV when Bush was taken away from Washington in a helicopter and wondered why he wasn't taken away in chains. I would have thrown a shoe but it wasn't my TV and it was one of those flatscreen things that probably weighs about four ounces and cost a lot.

I've wondered why we're here on earth and I've listened to a man from Venezuela who worked at the Goodwill, singing a song in Spanish that made my heart soften like a lump of wax over a flame and which seemed to me to be some sort of clue.

I've cheered and I've wailed. I've giggled and I've moaned. I've sighed and I've laughed. I've loved and been loved. I've lit candles for gratefulness and I've lit candles for strength.

In short, a regular week of life here on earth, which frankly, I don't understand at all.
So what the hell? as one of my characters says. I'm trying to keep focused on the light and let the darkness pass as it will. There is certainly plenty of light to focus on.

I hope there is plenty of light in your life too and that your week was fine and fancy, silly and serious, and that we all carry a strong, even if tiny, flame of flickering hope within our hearts.

Because bless them. Our hearts. While they're still beating, we might as well bless them.

Thursday, January 22, 2009

Sittin' On A Porch Brand Homemade Soap

On Monday I went over to Kathleen's house and we made soap.
Now I had never made soap before. I mean...why?
They sell that shit everywhere.
I have, in the last few years, learned that there is a huge difference in say, a bar of Dove soap and a bar of French milled olive-oil, lavender soap and I have spoiled myself by buying and using the good stuff and have been gifted with even better stuff. And I have used and loved Dr. Bronner's soap since the early 1970's when all he made was Peppermint because it felt so good to wash my face and body with all that lovely tingliness although really, it did not work as well for shampoo or toothpaste and believe me, I tried. But just reading the label made me feel fairly holy.

All One, indeed!
So when Kathleen brought up soap-making I was not as excited as I could have been. But she was positively about-to-burst excited by the prospect and had bought essential oils and herbs and lye and fats and was ready, ready, ready and she'd been making and selling soap for many years and since I adore Kathleen and since it would mean I'd get to spend the day with her and learn something new, I agreed to join her and help out.
Kathleen is something of a scientist as well as something of a witch and I trust her implicitly and she measured out the lye and the water and carefully combined them and she let me measure out the fats. Coconut oil, shealoe oil, shortening, olive oil, sunflower oil, palm oil, I-don't-even-remember-oils and Vitamin E which acts to help preserve the soap's freshness. And those went into a big pan on the stove and were slowly heated until everything was melted and then she put the mixer to them and added the lye-water and the process of sopanification began. Really. That's a word.
And after about forty minutes of mixing the mixture got creamy and dreamy and rich looking. I wanted to eat it. When she started adding the lemon verbena and mint and lavender and jasmine and rose, I really wanted to eat it. She ground up oatmeal to go in the lavender mixture to make a face soap and she added ground mint to the peppermint/spearmint mixture to make a wake-you-up! soap and she poured the lemon verbena with lemon peel mixture over cut pieces of loofa that she had grown and cleaned and bleached herself to make scrubbing soap.
And then she set the trays of various mixtures in her guest room and covered them up with her grandmother's quilt and that was that.
Until yesterday when she brought the trays over to my house to cut and that's when I learned why making soap is such a good thing.
You can't imagine how my house smells.
And you can't imagine the way this soap with all its fats and oils lathers and bubbles and is creamy and soft and sweet on the skin.
If I had to compare the experience to something, I would say it's not unlike having your first slice of homemade, just-out-of-the-oven bread after a lifetime of eating nothing but what comes in a package at the grocery store. With real butter and honey on it.
After we cut the soap and washed our hands (a lot) we had a martini and started making plans for soaps and balms for our new pregnant lady. And her baby. I got a visual image of Lily washing her newborn in the purest, uncolored, unadulterated soap with maybe just a hint of lavender in it, and how it would feel to both the baby and the mama, that creamy soap smoothing over that creamy skin in the warm water, the white against the pink, the sweet against the sweeter.
And how Lily will rinse the bubbles off her baby and wrap him or her up in a fluffy towel and kiss her (sorry, I can't help but think it's a girl and I'm usually wrong about these things) belly and dress her and then nurse her, wondering and marveling at the tender, sweet-smelling skin of her fresh-washed baby.
Oh. Soap. Homemade soap.
Thank-you, Kathleen, for teaching me this new thing. For opening my eyes to this beautiful art.
I think my life is changed forever and I will be a better and cleaner person for it.
I said it before, I'll say it again- taking orders here for pure and perfect Sittin' On A Porch Brand Homemade Soap.

Wednesday, January 21, 2009


There we were, all my kids and a few dear extras, sitting in Lily's living room. I'd had to make myself come into town- the anxiety has been knocking my knees, pulling me down to the floor with the weight of its damn return and I had at first plead too much to do to come into town to watch the inauguration. But then I talked to a friend and she said, "Go. All that other stuff can wait. This is important."
So I went and there we were, in the funky old apartment almost across the street from where I'd lived when I got pregnant with my first child and I told the kids, and I was already crying, how although I knew this was a huge event to them, that I could remember, in my lifetime, when I could not have sat next to this man about to be our president at the movie theater. And then we watched that man walk down that hallway and then stand up in front of everyone in the entire world and accept the responsibilities that made his shoulders bow, the second his hand was off the Bible. We stood up for it and the cats looked at us like we were crazy. We sang the National Anthem with silly passion, still standing, and we whooped and cheered and made crazy sounds and then Lily had something to tell me and I shot up into another planetary system entirely and I cried on her bosom because she's eight inches taller than I am, this child that I gave birth to yesterday in my bedroom on a September afternoon, all ten pounds, two ounces of her, the midwife working miracles to get her shoulders out, to get her breathing and alive, her daddy and I calling out to her and touching her and telling her we loved her.
This child, grown up and married now, is going to have a baby of her own and all I can think of is the day she was born, her daddy and I so happy, amazed at this babychild we'd created with our love, the very blessed miracle of her life and now, now, she and Jason are creating another life and here we all are, sisters, brother, her father and I and mostly she and her husband, hurtling off into a new part of the journey, the whirlwind overtaking us and pulling us forward, the genes that stretch back to all the foremothers and forefathers continued.
And I think about this baby and how much he or she is already loved and welcomed and speculated over and talked about and wished for and how next Thanksgiving there will be a baby.
A baby.
Our baby having a baby.
Luckiest baby ever. Lily will be his or her mother. Jason will be his or her father. Hank will be his or her uncle. May and Jessie will be his or her aunts.
And Mr. Moon and I will be...whatever the baby names us because the first grandchild names the grandparents and it's fitting that this next step in life is so big that you get to have new names.
Mother. Father. Uncle. Aunt. Grandmama. Grandpapa.
I feel so sobered.
I do not have the weight of the world on my shoulders like Obama but I have the weight of the family, or at least that's what it seems like. But it's a shared weight. There's not only family but there are friends that are as happy for them and who want to be a part of this baby's life as much as family.
Oh Lily.
I love you.
I will be the mother of a mother. The best mother in the world, because Lily is the fiercest woman I know and motherhood is all about being fierce with love and with passion and with joy.
And this child, this baby of my baby will never know a time when a black man couldn't be president, when all things were possible, and he or she will be born into love.
Bless that baby. Bless our president. Bless us all, and let's pray for hope and for safe passages and for light instead of darkness and for the infinite promise of life.

Not Yet

I have words but I can't put them out here yet. About President Obama (President Obama) and about something else.
Later today.
I'll talk about it later today.
My heart is bursting, my head is whirling.

Monday, January 19, 2009

Believe It

Did you see Pete Seegar about to take off straight to heaven, his banjo in his hand, singing This Land Is Your Land?
Did you see that?
Do you see that beautiful couple? Do you see that intelligent man?
Do you see that smart, gorgeous woman?
Within hours. Hours.
George W. Bush and his reign of terror will be ended. We can all show our faces in the world again. We can all feel pride in our country from the redwood forests to the gulf stream waters.
Purple mountains majesty above our fruited plain.

Yeah, yeah, I'm going overboard here.
I can't help it.
I can't freaking believe it.
Fourteen hours.
Let's all have sweet dreams tonight. Every one of us. From California to the New York Island.
Let's all wake up with a smile on our faces and watch history being made and then let's roll up our sleeves.
There's work to do and finally, a leader who will inspire us to do it.

I can't believe it.

Sunday, January 18, 2009

This Too Is Love

That is what I look like after crawling around under my house and tacking up electrical wire to one hundred and fifty-year old beams.
I must be the craziest crazy person in the world because really? Crawling under the house and tacking up electrical wire doesn't frighten me as much as, oh say, going to Walmart would.
Or driving to Jacksonville.
Those things give me the heebee-jeebies just to think about but somehow I can slither on my belly like a reptile wearing an industrial-strength face mask over centuries old dust-fine dirt with shards of glass and metal in it underneath spiders and who-knows-what-all without worrying too much.

I'm not saying it's pleasant, but there are plenty of things I'd rather NOT do.

Like driving to Jacksonville. Or decorating for Christmas.

And I felt like I had to. Mr. Moon's been doing it for the past few days, trying to figure out and fix an electrical problem and since he's twice as big as I am, the space is half as large for him under there. And he really has a problem with small spaces so it's been one big getting-past-fear-fest for him. I didn't get too freaked out until I crawled into a space where only my head would fit in order to try and get a visual on a line. I was wedged between an old brick pillar and some ductwork and oh yes, there was some sort of animal burrow in there too.

But it was okay, although I couldn't see what I needed to. It's dark down there. And the dusty dirt rises up and gets in your nostrils and mouth, even with a mask on. When Mr. Moon blows his nose it's not pretty and there's blood involved.

It was almost exactly five years ago that I crawled under this house for the first time. Mr. Moon insisted I go under there with him to see all the old termite damage, the rot, the...oh, I don't know, proof that we shouldn't buy the house.
We slipped under the floor and into the dank darkness and he shown a light on all the beams we could get to and poked them with his knife to show me what was there. We slithered and we crawled on our bellies and we were under there for quite a while, poking wood and taking note of all the ductwork that had been destroyed by some critter.

When we got out and dusted ourselves off in the drizzly January weather he said, "What did you see under there?"

And I, being the optimist in the family for the very first time said, "I saw an awful lot of really good wood."

And I had. Acres of it. Beams of the size that they don't make anymore made from hunks of pine trees with the original axe markings still on it because they were hewn by hand. There was no sawmill in Lloyd when they built this house and there was no Lowe's in Tallahassee.

And that was when he gave in. He let out a big sigh and said, "Okay."

And he bought the house. And today I crawled back under there again today, five years later, as a sign of solidarity and to help him.

Because that's love, baby.

He loved me enough to buy this house and I love him enough to crawl under it with him.
After twenty-five years of being together and raising a family and having good times and bad times and wonderful, glorious, amazing times and crying together for joy and for sorrow, I find that just looking at him, covered in dirt and snotting out dust and blood, I love him more than ever.

Oh honey. If you had to promise to all the things you'd end up doing for love, standing up there in front of the person marrying you, you'd never get through it all. "In sickness and in health, for richer and for poorer...."

Those words don't even begin to scratch the surface of what all love will take you though together. You'll go into some deep places together, places you'd never expect to find yourself, both physically and emotionally. It's like becoming a parent- no one can tell you, no one can prepare you. Which is probably a good thing.

Do you, Ms. Moon, promise to love and honor and cherish and accompany your husband under your dream house and hammer tacks into beams to hold electrical wire?"

"Uh. Hmmm. Let me think about that."

And do you, Mr. Moon, promise to love your wife so much that you'll buy her a house that you'll have to crawl under despite panic attacks and a bloody nose to keep the electricity on?"

"Not sure about that. I'll get back with you."

Yeah. That's how it would go.

But you do it. You do things you'd never imagine doing because you love that person so much that you can't let them go into dark places alone. You love that person so much that you'll buy her a house that you know is going to take more work than you want to put into it because it'll make her feel cherished and loved.

And you feel lucky to be able to do those things. Because you're doing them with the person you love.

Hell. Anyone can sit on a beach in Mexico and drink rum and be grateful and in love.
It takes a couple well-seasoned and aged to crawl under a house together and be grateful. And more in love than ever.

It's a crazy path, this love thing, this marriage thing.
And I may be the craziest crazy person on earth, but I know what I have and I have the awareness to appreciate it and the sanity to celebrate it.

And that's what I'm thinking about on this Sunday evening as the rain drizzles down outside and the electricity is working in the house where I live with my love.

Saturday, January 17, 2009

Why I Have Four Dogs

I often mention my dogs in passing and when I do, it's to vent my frustration about something they do or will do or have done or are doing.
To hear me talk about them, you'd think they were the banes of my life.
Well. They are.
I used to be a cat person. I had cats as a single woman and then as a young mother-person and I suppose I've had dogs for almost that long too but still, I don't really think of myself as a dog person. Dogs are too much trouble. They require constant supervision and they have needs that are expensive. They constantly want to be let in and let out. I seem to spend at least a quarter of my day responding to my dogs' demands. They have trained me well.
I am a dogwife as much as I am a housewife or a wife-wife.
So why do I have four dogs? How did this happen and why do I allow it to continue?
There are four dogs in this house and there are four stories associated with how we got those dogs and why we can never get rid of them.

I'll start with Pearl. She's what I call my "real" dog in that she's bigger than a breadbox and she looks fierce and she has a short, lovely brindle coat. She's a boxer and we actually went out and bought that dog as a present for the family one Christmas. She was a cute, tiny little bundle of joyful licks and kisses when we got her and we've had her for thirteen years now. Which means she's getting old. And I do love Pearl. She grew up with my children. Lily was ten when we got her, Jessie was only seven.
But from the get-go that dog was a mess. It took about six years to housebreak her. I was broken long before she was. And when she got the chance to run, she ran like the wind. Once she ran down to the local little league field and joined in a game, running the bases joyfully until someone managed to get hold of her and we could retrieve her. She was the bad dog of puppy class; the dog all the other dogs were afraid of. She was big and dumb and sweet and she finally turned into a fine animal and we do love her but she's getting so old. No matter how full her food bowl is, she kicks it until I put a few more kibbles in it. And if I just get tired of the whole routine and put all the food up, she looks at me with a face of such sorrow at the ignorance I have displayed by misinterpreting her signals that I have to harden my heart against her. She's deaf now, and I don't think she can see very well and she spends half her day wanting in and out of the house and a quarter of her day pawing her food bowl and a quarter of her day standing under some philodendron leaves so that they just barely touch her back.
She's old, she's odd, and she drives me insane and I really don't know what I'll do when she dies.

Now this is Buster. Buster was in a litter of pups that was born from Queenie, Best Dog Who Ever Lived. Queenie was a yorkie-poo and came to live with us sort of by accident but we soon realized that having her in our home was one of the biggest blessings we'd ever received. Hoping to further the genes of such an animal, we mated her with a toy poodle man-stud and she had four babies. Buster was the third pup born and he was HUGE. We actually sold Buster off into slavery when he was about six weeks old but soon after we let him go, Queenie got murdered by a car and we were so emotionally wrecked that we decided to see if we could get her son back. The people who had bought him were not loath to let him go (we should have suspected something then) but did demand the full price back for him as well as all the money they'd spent on food, toys, a crate and whatever else they could think of to charge us. We cowboyed up and paid their ridiculous asking price and got the boy back.
To this day I do not know why. He barks all the time, he, too, demands to be let in and out fifteen times an hour and he serves no purpose in life except for that one time when he killed a nest of baby mice.
And he's a real good snuggler.
He's grown to be twice as big as both of his parents put together and I still don't understand that. Some sort of genetic quirk, I suppose.

This is Dolly, Buster's sibling. She was the runt of the litter and the one we originally kept. Dolly is the least trouble of all the dogs. She lives mostly to have her belly scratched. Of course she wants to be let in and out all the time too but she doesn't make me crazy about it. She's more polite than persistent. And she's our singing dog, possessing as she does, a fine soprano voice that she raises in song whenever someone she loves comes home.
I'm not sure how smart she is, which is saying something when compared to the rest of our dumb beasts. Let me just say this: My friend Lis told me this morning that when it was time, in her black lab's opinion, for her to get up, the dog brought her her slippers. Now my dogs? If they brought me my slippers because they wanted me to get up, I would call the Vatican because it would be an unprecedented miracle. Oh, my dogs think. It's just that they think things like, "I believe I'll shit in front of the fireplace now." Or, "I don't think I'll poop outside because I might get my tushy wet." Or "I think I'll try and kill Zeke because suddenly, I hate him."

And this is Zeke. We got Zeke from Mr. Moon's sister. She had paid the big bucks for him because he's a real-true Yorkie. Soon after buying him, though, she discovered that she was deathly allergic to him. She was the recipient of a kidney transplant and her health, always tenuous, had to be protected and so she tearfully had to get rid of him.
Which is where we came in.
We took the dog and now we'll have him forever because Dee Ann died a few years ago and Zeke is a living, breathing reminder of her and the love she had for all creatures.
Zeke is a fine animal. I can barely call him a dog. In fact, sometimes I look at him and think, "This is descended from the wolf?" and no, I can't wrap my head around that one. He's small and he thinks he's bad and he's a mess. His one, real, true goal in life is to get his entire head and body into a human's mouth. He tries to hump Dolly and she, being about six times bigger than he is, completely ignores him. He constantly tries to get the other dogs to play with him and sometimes they do and then sometimes, as I said, they spontaneously decide to kill him instead and someday, if we're not around to reach into the middle of the gnashing teeth and raking claws, they will.
I'm sure this is some sort of pack behavior- trying to rid the pack of the weak and unfit or something- but it's scary when it happens and he spends a few hours under the kitchen island until everyone has calmed down and then he comes out and starts biting at their ears again, hoping for some more play time.
I'm telling you, these dogs are NOT smart.
In fact, since I started writing this, I have gotten up at least seven or eight times to open the back door for them to let them in or let them out. And right now, excuse me, it's time to do that again. Buster is barking that bark which means, "Let me out because there is a monster outside and I must attend to his demise."
Mr. Moon and I frequently look at each other and say, "WHY do we have all these dogs?"
And we know why we have them so the more accurate question would be WHY do we KEEP all these dogs? and for that, we have no reason.
I personally enjoy having Zeke sleep at my feet. And if he were my only dog, I would probably groom him daily, dress him in tiny outfits and carry him around in my purse. Luckily for him, that's not the case. Luckily for me, too.
I feel certain that all the small dogs are going to be with us for at least another ten years. Pearl, who is getting quite old for a big dog, is not yet at the stage where we need to start asking the hard questions but will be soon. I can tell. Besides being deaf and half blind, she is starting to stumble. But she still gets frisky with the other dogs, she still runs and plays. She is in no pain that we can tell, and she eats like a horse. So for now, she's fine.
And I know that when these damned animals die, it's going to knock me for a loop, even the ones who are not Pearl. Because as much as they torment me and create chaos, poop, pee and utter frustration in my life, they are a part of my life.
And when I need them, when I really need them to snuggle with because whatever is going on in my life requires the warmth and comfort that only another living being can offer, they are here for me.
I am not fooling myself in believing that they love me. I have often thought that if Mr. Moon and I disappeared and another family took our place, they might be confused for about fifteen minutes but as soon as that food bowl got filled up, they'd be perfectly content with the new laps to sit on, the new humans to torture.
And really, they all love HoneyLuna best. Well, except for Zeke who has a complete and utter passion for Miss Maybelle.
And the appear to adore Mr. Moon.
Now me? Sometimes they can barely bring themselves to get up and bark when I get home.
They may not be smart but they know I feel a bit ambivalent about them.
To say the least.
But those are my dogs. The weird-ass creatures who share my life here in Lloyd.
Pearl, Buster, Dolly and Zeke.
Descendants of wolves, cousins of coyotes, replicas of stuffed animals.
My furry children.
The ones who will never fucking leave.

Friday, January 16, 2009

And I Didn't (Addendum)

I cried all through yoga. My teacher kept giving me kleenex and telling me it was okay. I knew it was but I knew I couldn't go to town.
I called Lynn's mother, the one person I really wanted to be there for and told her I was too sad to celebrate Lynn's life because all I can think about is her death. Well, I didn't say exactly that to her, but I told her I was too sad.
And I'm not going to do a damn thing today. I'm going to do something I never do. Lie on the couch and watch TV. Maybe embroider. Let the dogs pile all over me and keep me warm on this cold day. I'm going to light Lynn a candle and then I'm going to let it all fall where it may.
I have a husband, a son and a neighbor who have offered to come be with me. But I'm fine here, with just the dogs and the sun coming in the windows, even through the cold.
I'm tired and I need to rest.
And the rest of the world will roll on just fine without me as I think about how it's rolling along without Lynn.
As it will. As it always will.

I Don't Want To

Sometimes you can see the deer in the road ahead and you can swerve and miss it.
Sometimes you have no room to swerve or sometimes the deer takes that unlucky hop and crashes into you anyway.
I thought, I thought, I thought that I would be able to miss this particular deer in the misty road up ahead. I thought I'd missed the one that represented Christmas, the white-tailed deer disguised as one of Santa's reindeer, the antlers on its head, the big red nose stuck on, flashing red-red-red.
Seems to me I must have hit that faux Rudolph, didn't even see it, came home with a bloody carcass on my car hood, didn't see it for weeks. Meanwhile, something about all those deer fluids have screwed around with my engine, making me totally unfit to miss the second deer, the one I was sure I could avoid.
Christmas wacked me out. And I knew the anniversary of Lynn's death was coming up. I knew it. I had my brights on, I had both hands on the steering wheel.
But here I am with not one but two major hits to my name, wandering down the road, unable to see out the windshield, unable to get out of second gear.
Or maybe first.
Or maybe the driveway.
We're supposed to meet for lunch today, Lynn's family and me and a few of mine. At a restaurant that I took her to back when it first became apparent that whatever she had, it was a hell of a bad thing to have. I was already having to cut up her food, serve her plate from the buffett. She didn't care a thing about the food, was trying to communicate how she was feeling but the words weren't there. The brain was already smoking from the tangled, broken wires.
I do not want to go. I don't want to go to lunch. I don't want to see anyone. I don't want to go and remember that day. I didn't even want to be there that day when she was still alive. I didn't want to cut up my friend's food. I didn't want to watch her face twisted with fear. I didn't want to hear her scrambled words.
Listen- life is so far from fair that I can't even begin to tell you.
I can't even try.
I know I'm supposed to be thinking of her life and how joyful she was but instead, all I'm thinking of is that day and how scared she was.
Don't even bother to tell me she wouldn't want me feeling this way. She would want me to remember her dancing, not dying.
Because she's not hear to tell me and all I know is that she'll never dance again. Not on this planet, Bubba. Not under this sky. Not with me.
Goddam. I hit that deer square on under a bright orange moon on a country road. And there's no one around and I can't find a phone and the moon doesn't care. She just shines on, spreading her light on the bloody scene below.
Now I see. And I don't want to.

Thursday, January 15, 2009

Another Winter's Day

Name the ten American presidents who were elected despite losing the popular vote.

And that was just the first question. You'd think that a trivia competition being held in a bar would not be so damn...demanding. As to actual real knowledge.

Anyway, it was fun, although I hardly think we kicked ass and took names. It may have been a little premature on my part to make THAT proclamation.

And we didn't lose. We did not come in last. The Drinkin' 'Bout It team did not come in last.

Lily and Jason spent the night with us last night so that Jason and Mr. Moon could get up in the cold, cold darkness of pre-dawn to go hunt deer. Jason is getting into this hunting thing. I asked Mr. Moon the other day if he wasn't worried that he was turning Jason into a cold-blooded killer but Mr. Moon assured me that no, he wasn't worried about that.

So when they got in this morning (without a deer, sorry to say), Mr. Moon hemmed and hawed around, talking about such things as smoked sausage and grits until I sighed and said, "Okay, honey, go get some sausage out of the freezer," and he did and I made up some biscuits and cheese grits and cooked the sausage and fried some eggs and he and Jason were happy boys. Now they're going to go cut up and package the last two deer they brought in.

It's winter here in North Florida. Deer season is almost over but we'll have some meat in the freezer. We're talking about starting the tomato seedlings and I sure do hope we have a decent garden this spring. Meanwhile, the camellias, as you can see, are blooming everywhere although this arctic cold we're about to experience may turn them all into brown mush. I'm enjoying them while they're here.

And that's what I'm trying to do. Enjoy what we have in the season in which we have it. Be content with what we have. Realize it's all a miracle. The warm house, the garden plot, the animals who give up their lives to feed us, the giant camellia blossoms whose faces are things of beauty and glory, the friends and family we can play games with, the tiny birds that come to the feeder, the satisfaction of making the men a big breakfast. Loving arms, sweet words, hot food, cold mornings, soft sweaters, smiling faces.

Tomorrow is the first anniversary of Lynn's death. I can't believe it's been a year since she took off. It seems like I've barely drawn two breaths since she died.

But it's true.

A whole year she hasn't been here to share in the glory of the world she loved.

But I'm here. I'm trying to love it for her. I can't really do that, but in her honor, I can honor what she loved.
Which is all of it.

We may struggle with the answers to the hard questions, y'all; the ones about presidents and generals and rock bands whose names start with the letter B, but we can submit to the sweetness of trying. We can submit to the joy of the game.

Which makes us all winners. Every damn one of us.

Wednesday, January 14, 2009

Housekeeping (Bloggity, Blog, Blog)

Like a silver shimmering fish, I can feel myself rising out of the deep dark river, breaking the surface of the water which is shot with moonlight. It's so weird. How do these things happen? What makes me dive back into the darkness, what causes me to rise again?

Hell if I know. And I think I'm a fairly well self-examined person. Probably WAY too over self-examined, if the truth be known.

But whatever, I'll take it and since I've done nothing but whine and moan here for weeks, I've decided to talk a little about the positive things going on so bear with me or just skip it. There's nothing earth-shaking here today.

The Play: I find myself going through the lines for the play at the weirdest times and get frustrated when I get stuck. During yoga this morning, I tried desperately while in Savasana to concentrate on the breath and nothing else, but damn, those lines kept inserting themselves into my consciousness. I can't wait until I can say them quite literally in my sleep, freeing me onstage to slip into my characters the way I want to. I am already finding myself creating little bits of business onstage which come from somewhere else. Not from me, consciously. And this feels good. I don't know how I'll be in the performances, but I do love cracking the directors up during rehearsal. The weirdest thing about this play for me is my interaction with the guy who plays opposite me. In one of our character scenes, we do a bit of cuddling and handholding and it's odd enough that he's younger than two of my children but add that in to the fact that this is the most physical contact I've had with another man besides Mr. Moon in twenty-five years and well, it's just strange. It's also scary how well we play an old Jewish couple. I mean, we must have been an old Jewish couple in another lifetime.

Doing New Things: Tonight Mr. Moon and I are going to completely break out of our rut and go to Tallahassee to play trivia with Downtown Guy and his merry band of misfits. Read about that here. I'm so excited! Mr. Moon actually knows sports and I know...well, I certainly know Jack Shit. It'll be great just to hang with DTG and Billy and whoever else shows up.
And my friend Kathleen is coming over this afternoon and we're going to discuss soap-making. She's been making soap for twenty years and she's going to teach me how this weekend. SOAP! I'm going to make soap! Could there be a more godly endeavor? She's ordered all sorts of essential oils and healing oils and age-preventative oils and we're also going to make lip balms and I don't know what all.

Place your orders here.

The New Stove: I LOVE my new stove. My bread is better baked in an oven that works, my soup is better, simmered on a burner that simmers. Last night I went crazy and made a butternut squash soup and chickpea-and-sweet-potato samosas. My house smelled of curry and garlic and ginger and Mr. Moon said of the samosas (which of course were baked, not fried), "I like those biscuits!"

The only real cloud on my personal horizon right now is that it's going to get cold, cold, cold here. And, yes, I say that as a person to whom anything below forty degrees is frigid. But seriously, it's supposed to get down into the teens which calls for some major plant protection. And which also means I have to keep the back door shut so the heat will stay in which means I have to go let a dog in or out about every fifteen seconds. Bah!

And one more thing- my free hit counter is NOT working. Dammit. Instead of numbers it just says Hit Counter, Hit Counter, Hit Counter. Any suggestions there?

So that's that. I'm going to go take a walk on this brisk, blue day and then get back to work on my memoir/cookbook which I have not felt like doing in over a week. I have black beans simmering on the back of the stove and I'm feeling fine.

Not manic-fine, like I want to go out and buy thirteen pairs of shoes.
Just fine-fine, like I've been given the gift of a beautiful, calm day and I can appreciate it with an open heart.

And so I am.

I hope you are, too. Because feeling fine is a glorious thing, especially when it's been awhile and it would feel mighty good to know that others are feeling the moonlight shimmer on their backs, too.

Tuesday, January 13, 2009

Give It A Rest

So my daughter Lily was over the other night and we had dinner ready and were waiting on the men to come in from hunting to eat and I settled on the couch with some embroidery and was flipping through the forty thousand channels to see if there was anything on and yep, there was Larry King (how old IS that man?) with a hot show.

He had Oprah's personal trainer, personal doctor and personal spiritual expert in the house.
Yes. That's what it said. Her spiritual expert.

That's a picture of the guy, whose name is Michael Beckwith although he looked even creepier on Larry King. In fact, Lily kept saying, "He looks like someone on Star Trek. He's scaring me, Mommy."

But the point is, these three men, led by Larry, were discussing the world-shaking news that Oprah has gained weight again!

No. Tell us it isn't so.

But yes, yes she has. She's ballooned up to 200 pounds again and she's ashamed and her entire life has no meaning because she's fat!

Look. I'm not making this up. Although Oprah herself was not there on the show, there were many interviews with her and magazine covers and so on and so forth where she discussed, once again, her struggles with weight.

Now listen- I am not making fun of Oprah's or anyone else's struggles with weight. Been there, done that, worked with hundreds of others struggling with their weight. I have compassion.

And I understand that Oprah's weight is a topic which fascinates and captivates the entire world. And I understand that it sells advertising time on television and magazines and is probably responsible for about one-quarter of the total income of the vast Oprah Empire and has made more than a few chefs, personal trainers and Spiritual Experts rich and famous but this is getting out of hand.

What tore it for me was when these four men were discussing Oprah's appearance with Tina Turner and Cher in Las Vegas and how completely humiliated and embarrassed and ashamed she was because she was FAT and they were not.

In fact, one of the men, okay, Beckwith, had this to say about how humiliated she was: "She was twice the size of the other individuals."


If my Spiritual Expert said THAT about me on Larry King Live and I was Oprah, he would be one kicked-to-the-curb spiritual expert motherfucker.

Because here's the deal: Oprah may weigh two-hundred pounds but I guarantee you that neither Cher nor Tina weighs one hundred pounds. Tina Turner has always been a full-bodied, strong woman and the perennially anorexic Cher has recently done some ballooning herself.

So what's my point here?

My point is that this is insane.

Yes, it makes us all feel better to know that even Oprah, with the vast resources she has, seems to be as incapable as the rest of us when it comes to controlling her weight.

And yes, it's so much easier to wrap our heads around issues like this than it is to understand oh, the Gaza Strip and the crashing economy.

But to have an entire hour's show with four grown men discussing the issue and to have one of them say that Oprah was twice the size of Cher or Tina makes me want to hurl.
I am certain Oprah had given this panel her blessing to discuss her like a piece of meat on Larry King, but that makes me sad because it says so much about how she feels about herself which is uncomfortably close to how so many women feel about themselves, which is rather unbelievable here in 2009.

I'm sure that in about four months Oprah will be back to her fighting weight and then Greene, Oz, and Beckwith can come back on and discuss how she did it and how once again she has conquered her demons with the proper diet, exercise, stress control and spiritual growth.
And Larry can lead the discussion with all the gravitas he would offer the president or the secretary of state and we call all feel good, knowing that Oprah is thin again, happy, and ready to lead us all into a state of spiritual and physical wellness.

After that, maybe they can deal with Cher.

Which would help them sell even more books. And she can go on Oprah and discuss her thyroid, aging, weight gain and sense of worthlessness due to being fat.

Perhaps Beckwith will point out that her ass looks huge when she wears red-sequined dresses. And she will cry and say, "I know, I know! Forgive me for having a fat red-sequined ass!"

But what I'd really like to see is a show where this powerful trifecta of women would line these men up in a row and kick them in the crotch with all the strength in their powerful and stout legs and then stride off into the sunset together, wearing whatever they felt strong and beautiful in, shouting over their shoulders, "Fuck you!"

And then they'd all go get Mexican food and margaritas and then take over some dance floor, showing all the skinny gals how real women dance.

That's a show I'd feel good about watching.

How about you?

Monday, January 12, 2009

I'm A Loser, Baby

I don't know. I just don't know.
I'm having a hard time of it recently. Just...nothing new, nothing big, just a hard time.
Nothing's lighting my fire and even at play practice I'm feeling low. My jokes come out lame, my inexperience shows when I say a line and then ask the directors, "Was that right?"
Mr. Moon's depressed too. The car biz, real estate, the mysterious electrical problems in the house.

Having a loser wife.

And I should be the good partner I want to be and go find a job which seems to me to be more than impossible. Just having to make a phone call for a reservation or an appointment is enough to freak me out for an entire day. Even going to Publix, my safe, safe place is stressful. I have to force myself to go walk, which I do, but it's hard.

In short, I'm heavily invested in feeling like the world's biggest loser.

Loser, loser, loser.

What am I good for? What is my purpose on this planet? Why can't I pull up my petticoats and be a normal human being who functions?

I joke about how Caroline Kennedy is being called a role model for returning-to-work mothers but I'm just as in awe, or perhaps more so, of women who go out and get a job at a library or a school or a Circle K convenience store when the situation calls for it and I feel just as inadequate and unfit to do something like that as I would to be a United States senator.

It's no joke, feeling like this.
It tugs at my heart to feel like I'm not being there for my man when he has always been so solidly there for me.
Everything just seem so overwhelming from trying to figure out the rest of my life to filing my fingernails. I remember once a friend of mine said it was a major life crisis for him when he ran out of toothpaste.

I laughed then.
I ain't laughing now.
Because it's not funny when it's happening to you.

And the worst part, the very worst part, is the guilt that accompanies all of this. The little guilt-worm lodged in the ear which continuously shouts, "What RIGHT do you have to be depressed? You're faking this bullshit so you don't have to be a contributing member of society."

And you know what? Part of me is completely convinced this is true.

And the other part of me feels like every day I've been set to plowing forty rocky acres with a dull plow and no mule and so what's the point of even getting up?

But I know that depression has its cycle and even with meds and even with doing all the other things that can alleviate it and make it not so miserable, it has to run its cycle.
Which it will do. Eventually.
I don't actually believe this but I know it to be true. There's a difference.

So. Until things lighten up a little I'm afraid I'm going to be the worst sort of self-involved blogger who offers only the most self-involved and ridiculous blogging. I honestly am not writing all this to get nice comments from the beautiful people who visit here. I'm writing it because it's what's going through my mind, day and night and night and day and it's honestly all I have to offer at the moment.

I SHOULD just shut-up but let's face it- I'm not that ready to give up.

And who knows? The way these things work, I could be filled with the joy and spirit of life by tomorrow and have something pithy and poetic to say about, oh, I don't know. Anything. Anything at all. Besides my own pitiful, non-poetic self.

I'll work on it.

I promise.

Saturday, January 10, 2009

The Land Of The Mind, Unchained By Sleep

I did not get up until almost ten this morning which means that my maternal grandfather is in heaven, weeping over my sloth and probably Jesus, too.

But enough about reality.

I want to talk about my dream which I'm sure was punishment for sleeping too late because it was one of those dreams where you wake up with wet eyelashes and realize you've been crying for hours and this is not what they refer to when they refer to a wet dream but some of us, that's what we get. Tears not passion.

Oh well. There was plenty of passion. Just not the sexy type although in this dream, everyone was pregnant. I was pregnant, a woman I've known forever was pregnant. My mother was pregnant. And a huge flood came and we had to flee (to the island, of course, where all would be safe in a flood, right?) and I was living there with many family members and I became a bitch and told the woman I've known forever something that I don't remember but it contained curse words and she was hurt.

And we were all traveling in Mexico for awhile and that was horrible because my beautiful Cozumel had changed and was no longer beautiful but filled with ugly things and then I was back in the tiny trailer I was living in with all the family members and suddenly, I found out that my house, my house that I love and which I had believed to be swept away, was fine.


I came back and yes, it was whole and sturdy. I laid on the wooden floor and wept with the betrayal of all those who had lied to me and then Mr. Moon's parents showed up and I was so glad to see them but then I knew they were going to have to die again and I wept some more over that knowledge.

And Lynn was there and she was wearing purple.
Or possibly blue.

What IS it with these dreams lately? Too many mother images and too much traveling and too much weeping and now floods, too?
And lying and betrayal and sorrow and more weeping. And people whom I love but who are dead?

Last night we went to Havana to hear Lon and Lis play and they did almost an entire set of Lis's songs and perhaps they were the key to the land of this dream. Not that her songs are nightmarish in any way, but they are dreamlike and they float through my ears and into my heart, her voice rising like an angel's and now that I think about it, when I went to sleep last night, I had the image of an angel at my breast, and I could feel the soft strength of its wings, folded as the angel rested there in my embrace.

And now it is daytime, really and truly, and Mr. Moon is shoveling dirt out of the back of his truck and I should get out and pick up branches and sticks which a real wind blew down and get my feet into the dirt of this place and ground myself, literally.
Because the dream is still here and I am not quite sure if I am there, in that land where all the mothers were full of babies or here, where the babies are raised and my house, my beautiful house, needs my attention and really, there is no reason to weep.

Not for me, anyway.

None at all.

Friday, January 9, 2009

If We Couldn't Laugh, We'd Have To Kill. And That Would Be Wrong.

Because I'm feeling a bit low today and because if I really started talking about how Florida is no doubt going to not pass the bills allowing "the gays" to adopt in Florida that have been introduced because we are a sick, sick society who can't get our heads out of our clean Christian asses, I would start weeping and screaming and perhaps end up rending my clothing and feather pillows, I am going to totally rip off a vid from Sara at Suburban Lesbian Housewife.


Get the latest news satire and funny videos at

Thursday, January 8, 2009

Dang. Why Didn't I Think Of That?

Caroline Kennedy Seen As Role Model For Return-To-Work Mothers

Wow. Because being a United States Senator has got to beat the career I was thinking of getting down at the truck stop.
Where do you apply? Is there an online site, because I really think I could rock a power suit.

And Then... Getting Back Into The Bitch's Britches

So where were we? Coming to the end of my days at Weight Watchers. Besides being burnt out and having to deal with the corporation, my agent was telling me she could sell my book. WOULD sell my book. We had just moved to Lloyd. I was barreling down the highway towards menopause. Time for change, right?

It was surprisingly easy to quit except for that Thomasville meeting. I had women who had been coming to my meeting for five years. They never really lost weight- it was just a place to come and be social for a couple of hours every Thursday. But they weren't gaining weight either and they were learning how to eat well and get some exercise and so I never felt like I was failing them. And I loved the little old ladies I worked with although that was getting frustrating too. I couldn't leave the meeting until all the tallies were totaled and resolved and the money counted and accounted for and it was getting harder and harder and harder for them to do that. Sometimes I just did it myself after everyone else had gone because there was grumbling from the head office that these ladies had perhaps already given their best years to Weight Watchers and needed to move on and I was determined that would NOT happen under my watch.
But finally, I did announce I was leaving and I left. To live in my dream house in Lloyd and write and get published and garden and finish up my years of having children at home and gently settle into the next phase of my life.

The money certainly hadn't been a big consideration. I doubt I paid two weeks' worth of groceries on what I made a month at Weight Watchers. Weight Watchers knows it has its employees in its grip because here's the secret of why most people work at Weight Watchers:
To keep their own weight off.
To be employed by the company you have to have gotten to your goal weight on the program and remained there for a certain amount of time. And you have to stay there in order to be employed. In their defense, as I said, their ranges for goal weight are not unreasonable at all. You can be at the top of your goal weight and certainly not be skinny. But I had a problem with some of the regional managers who in my (now professional) opinion were way off the charts on the heavy side. I didn't understand how they managed to stay employed.
But that is neither here nor there. The point is, Weight Watcher employees are incredibly loyal because they know that if you work the program it works. And they're afraid if they quit, they'll gain weight. It's sort of like semi-paid volunteer work. Oh, it's all legal and you make minimum wage and if you have huge meetings and if you work a lot, you can make good money. I just wasn't dedicated enough to go those extra miles. I liked what I did- a few meetings a week- and that was enough for me. But the bucks weren't there by any means.

However, I, too, was pretty concerned that I would lose my own motivation and gain weight. I thought I could do it myself and perhaps if I hadn't injured my knee and was thus unable to walk for several months, I wouldn't have. But the fact of the matter is, that I did start to gain again. Slowly, but surely.

Until finally I decided to "do something" and what I did was order the new Weight Watchers program online which was something called The Core Program and that was the beginning of a whole new way of eating for me. It completely eliminated weighing and measuring of food and you could eat as much as you wanted of certain foods as long as you didn't eat ANY of others and some were restricted. The foods you could eat all you wanted of- beans, whole grains, most vegetables, etc., were foods I loved. Why not?

And I lost some weight.

Not as much as I wanted but I was going through menopause and I was happy with where I was, so no problem.

And then I went and got my cholesterol checked. It was high. My mother's is high, my brother's is high. So was mine.

And me, being stubborn as a mule, decided I could deal with the cholesterol issues on my own without medication.

Which I have done.

And kept my weight mostly under control for quite a while now. Because here's something that's not a big secret- the foods that are high in cholesterol are usually high in calories. And the foods that help you fight cholesterol are the very ones the Core progam stressed- mostly high-fiber, plant-based foods. And I got serious. I practically eliminated cheese from my diet. My dairy comes from fat free yogurt or cottage cheese. I never liked milk anyway, so giving that up was no problem. I switched to soy milk on my cereal. My low-sugar, high-fiber cereal. I mostly made my own bread with lots of oat bran and flax in it. I practically eliminated white sugar and flour from my diet. Not entirely, but almost. I ate whole grains. Brown rice, quinoa, whole wheat flour, whole wheat pasta. I did not entirely cut out red meat but cut down on it tremendously. My diet became much more on the vegetarian side. I learned to become content with a small bit of very dark chocolate every day. When I was hungry, I asked myself what I needed, not what I wanted. How much protein had I had that day? How much fruit? Vegetables? Any dairy yet? I got rid of almost all the foods that I knew weren't good for me. If they're not in the house, the opportunity to eat them disappears. Especially in Lloyd where you can't even get pizza delivered.

I realized that although your body will always tell you it's hungry for Doritoes, it doesn't have the same reaction to a bowl of beans and rice. Once you're full, you're done.

I exercised even more regularly.
My weight and cholesterol came down.
And that's what I continue to do to this day.

Now let's face it- I am not perfect. Over the holidays this year I lost my mind. I ate cookies and candy. I ate stuff I never eat. And once again, my weight crept up. I don't even want to think about my cholesterol.

And so, I'm getting myself back into the swing of it all. I'm remembering why I eat the way I eat and I'm not beating myself up about it and I'm not even getting on a scale. I don't have to. I know how my britches fit.

And here's the thing- Mr. Moon has gone along for the ride and he has, for the last several years, gotten up without complaint at six a.m. to go to a gym and work out and he has seen changes resulting from the way we eat and from his work-outs that are amazing.

Plus, I'm a very creative cook. I can make simple and good-for-you foods that taste great. My meals satisfy us on a lot of different levels. I am lucky in that my husband provides us with great low-fat, healthy protein sources- venison and fish. We garden. I want to get better at that and more serious.

And I am not obsessed any more about food or what I eat or don't eat and not about what I weigh. I rarely go more than three hours without eating something. A few nuts. A few slices of tofu that I've pressed and frozen and marinated and baked and keep in the refrigerator. Some fruit. I do not go hungry. Ever.

We still eat biscuits. Very occasionally. We still eat pork chops. At least once a month. But overall, I remember what Michael Pollan says: Eat food. Not too much. Mostly plants.
I know that a bar you get at the health food store probably isn't as good for you and has a lot more calories in it than a few prunes and some raw almonds. I know that cereal in a box isn't as good for you as whole-grain oatmeal. I know that a glass of juice has far more calories and no fiber in it while a piece of the fruit used to make the juice is more filling and has fiber. I know that the smoothies I make for Mr. Moon and myself out of fruit and low-fat yogurt and flax seed meal are better and healthier than the five dollar ones you buy at juice bars.

And I know that when I eat that way, I feel better, I am eating closer to the earth and closer to the way our bodies evolved to eat.

It's been a long path, getting to this place. Almost fifty years.
A process.

One that's worked for me but that may not work for anyone else.
We all have to find our own way.

It's funny. I find myself dreaming about Weight Watchers more than you'd think. I always find myself at a meeting and I am having to substitute for the leader and I have no idea what that week's topic is (and they were SO lame, usually) or who any of the people are, but I find I love being back in front of a group again. In a way, that was such a great job for me. I got to be a combination preacher and stand-up comedian. I had a reason to dress up a little. I was out in the world. I got to help people and I got to talk about one of my favorite subjects in the world- food- a lot.

But I believe in real life, I've said everything I ever need to say about weight loss to a meeting-room full of people.

But I am very grateful for my years associated with that program. It helped me find my own path. A path which I don't feel is an artificial one or one of denial. AT ALL. Which I love. It introduced me to the knowledge that the best way to eat is a sensible way. To eat a wide variety of foods and to enjoy them. To eat the way the rest of the world mostly eats- beans, grains, vegetables, fruits, a little meat.

And now it's time for me to go eat my lunch. The other day I picked some greens from the garden and sauteed them in a little olive oil with red pepper and tomatoes and onion and garlic and then I cooked some quinoa and edamame beans with them. I threw in a little of my tofu and some sundried tomatoes and there was plenty left over for another meal. It'll taste better today than it did then and it was mighty tasty when I made it.

And in a few weeks, my britches will be fitting just fine. I'm not anxious. But right now- I'm hungry.

Time to eat.