Wednesday, November 25, 2009

Lisa's Bookstack

After 3 years and as many attempts to read it, I finally plowed through the first 100 pages of Salman Rushdie's Midnight's Children and on to the end. Those beginning pages kept stumping me for years -- telling the story of the story before the story. I get impatient. But I was told it would be more than worth it, and it was. Reading it almost 30 years after its publication, I was struck by how much history on which I have only a tenuous grasp. The heart of the story is that one man, since his birth, and all the events for two generations preceding his birth, is the personal mirror of all the events of modern India, and all the events and details of those whose lives have touched his, have conspired to shape his own. They are in the story insofar as they are needed to reach whatever events and circumstances that meet that need, and then they are discarded.

It's a great book. A gleeful and deadly serious romp through history by a narrator who redefines "unreliable narrator." The storyteller, Saleem Sinai, is constantly pointing out the inaccuracies of his tale, and how his mind is rearranging things, or at least fine-tuning them to suit his needs, but as a way to make a greater sense of them. As the tale goes on, there is an ever-more-desperate and ever more transparent need to swirl the events of history around him, until, finally, he reaches a scene where he's too tired or too far in his tale to fold one more "event" into his own.

Next book: evolutionary biologist Richard Dawkins' The Ancestor's Tale: A Pilgrimage to the Dawn of Evolution. He begins with a short romp through other evolutionists' human-centric "conceit of hindsight" view that all evolution has been leading to its final, finished product: us, and how we tend to assign value to all events and species and ancestors that lived for this purpose - to be a signpost to modern humans. Dawkins begins with us humans as a "starting point" for his journey backwards in time, but points out he could just as easily begin with elephants or bumblebees. We're all going to converge in a short time anyway on our trip backward through time.

The book before these was Marilynne Robinson's Home, which was a microcosm of one family, with special emphasis on the wayward black sheep of the family, Jack Boughton, with his story not so much told, as divined from around the edges of the family history, which itself is told only around the edges of heartache, regret and love, wrapped in a blanket of religion and an almost desperate search for God and meaning.

Different lenses, same need for meaning, misguided or not. Meaning is the construct we humans search for endlessly. Living in the moment is another construct we seek, but separated from meaning, I don't know what that would look like. We wouldn't have a concept of living in the moment without meaning. It's certainly what most animals do - live in the moment - because they have no other choice.

To "wrap in" one more piece, last night Jon and I watched the movie Groundhog Day with the kids. We hadn't seen it in years and though it would be fun to share with them. The ultimate movie about living in the moment AND doing it with meaning. Bill Murray is consigned to living the same day over and over until he gets it right. Letting go of everything and embracing everything is his task. After thousands of attempts, he finally nails it, not because of the details but because he finally really cares. It's when he resigns himself not to trying to get out of the endlessly repeating day but to really living in the day that something changes.

It does make me think of the endless cycle of history, how things repeat, how a million years is just a day in the larger timescale of the universe. It's a little TOO big for me to ponder further right now, so I'll leave that for Saleem, Jack, Richard and Bill Murray. I have to eat breakfast and get to a dentist appointment and pack for Thanksgiving weekend in L.A.

But it's been fun visiting. Nice to see you again, and Happy Thanksgiving!

Monday, October 26, 2009

Leaves, Rain, Curtains and Prayers

We just got back from Syracuse yesterday -- on a pre-dawn flight. The kids and I went to bed at 1am and got up again at 4:30am -- or 1:30 am west coast time -- though Jon doesn't agree with me that that means we only had a half hour of sleep.

It rained much of the few days we were there for my nephew David's Bar Mitzvah, but I got to see the leaves changing! No jumping in them or raking up big crunchy piles, but lots of beautiful color. Beautiful gold, some orange, a little red creeping out. The reds weren't in full force yet -- we managed to arrive before the peak, which was fine. I was happy. I didn't even mind the rain and clouds. It's the feel of home. It wasn't sunny all the time when I lived there, after all. And I saw the trees changing their colors from the car window as we went back and forth to the temple.

I also appreciated our temple, Temple Concord, which is one of the oldest congregations in America, founded in 1839 and in this location for almost 100 years. Most other temples I've been in are new and modern, and never feel quite the same to me. Temple Concord is old and stately, with cream-colored pillars against light blue walls, and super high adorned ceilings. It also has, I remembered, many nooks and crannies, and rooms down all kinds of hallways, and layers of heavy curtains on the stage in the social hall, where I remembered hanging out in its dark folds with other teenagers during youth group meeting breaks.

The women's room off the big social hall I remembered was another favorite, with a lounge area and couch, and about 20 degrees hotter than the larger room. It was still a sauna. Toward the end of the party I went in there and found two 14-year-olds stretched out on the floor like they really were taking a sauna.

David did a great job at his Bar Mitzvah, and I felt the deep emotion of a centuries-old tradition. There is something about those traditions that is so deep and sometimes so unexpected for one who doesn't even belong to temple these days. When Aaron was 8 days old we held a bris, the Jewish circumcision ceremony, for him. It hit me way more powerfully than I'd expected. I felt in that quick, practiced moment of cutting, and the rabbi's prayers, and the friends and family gathered, the generations that had preceded us, the great history and belief that had guided us to that moment. It was visceral. My very body responded with blood and milk.

Every thing and its seasons.

Monday, October 12, 2009

African Fortune Cookie

Let your love be like the misty rain, coming softly, but flooding the river.
The loveliest fortune I ever opened.

A gift Saturday night at the end of a benefit concert by the lovely (at 8 1/2 months pregnant, no less!) Omega Bugembe Okello and Village Enterprise Fund for Anti-Poverty Week to help fund start-up enterprises in Africa.

Tonight fall breezes touched down and the gentle rain began.

Friday, October 9, 2009

I'm Talking About the Weather

You know how when you've been out of touch with someone it's kind of hard and embarrassing to get back in touch...and then you stay out of touch longer, and then it's even MORE embarrassing? That's how I feel right now. I've meant to blog. In the summer I managed to blog every day about filing, but then skipped right over whole blocks of incidents and more important subjects in the fall.

So I'll do what people have done for years to get to know you again: talk about the weather.

Our northern California edition of the New York Times shows our weather on the top right of the front page. At the beginning of this week it read:

"Abundant sunshine and very pleasant...tomorrow, more of the same."

This made me laugh. Such a cliche, and so desirable, and in some way, so boring, all at the same time! As if it was a lack of weather that left it the same. Perhaps I am just permanently shaped by growing up in cold, cloudy Syracuse, New York. The weather report there NEVER said that -- not once.

This morning is still cloudy here in Northern California, and strangely, I feel a little happier. I find it so hard to stay inside and do work when it's so obnoxiously nice outside! California, I like you, but sometimes I don't really love you.

Then again, it's always this time of year that I miss the east coast -- October, fall, the changing leaves. Maple trees are planted along some of the streets of our neighborhood, but they are petite, and the color change polite. The east coast may get bitter winters and rainy springs, but fall -- at least outside of the cities -- is a blast of brilliant color and crunch whose least concern is politeness. And you don't get the state of fall without the the rest of the package. And then there are apples, and cider.

In any pros and cons list there are trade-offs. Pretty much anything can be a pro or a con.

Friday, September 11, 2009


I'm feeling overcome by emotion all over again. Things have gone on, but I remember this day the same. I remember being at home with my 1-year old early in the morning and getting a call from my husband on his way to work telling me something terrible had happened and to turn on the TV. I remember finding out a week or two later that an old friend I didn't think even lived in NY anymore had moved back, and didn't make it out of the towers.

Thinking about it all makes me incredulous that we're even considering a move back to the NY area. Except, of course, that it could happen anywhere people live.

For years, the imagery worked its way into anything I was writing. The sense of falling and crumbling, of destruction and loss, the revealing of a chaos we couldn't shield from that reached all the way to California. But the image of the two towers falling exists as a simple image. Whatever its ramifications, whatever happens in the future, however we interpet the events, that symbol endures.

And with one look at the calendar or the New York Times, it's powerful enough to draw the whole emotional body back again.

Sunday, August 23, 2009

Secret Spaces

Every time I start to clean up one little area of the house, I am dismayed to see the areas radiating out from that one that also need attention. I'm still admiring the kids' cleaned-up art bins -- my paradigm of perfection.

Today the kids cleaned their desks. Unfortunately, they did not bother much with the stuff that came off the desk and landed on the floor and all around. At least Aaron's room doesn't have any paper to speak of in it yet. Toys are easy to put away. Paper is not.

We went to the Farmer's Market today and sampled grapes. It's amazing how the little grapes burst with flavor in your mouth. The rest of the day was pretty boring, I'm sorry to report. I was hoping to go to the beach with the family, but it was kind of windy and cooler over the hill, plus Jon had to do work most of the day (Yep, on the weekend, too) and the kids were no help at all. It's so weird to me how they don't want to do things. But then if we go and do them anyway, they usually have a blast.

Yesterday was swimming, following by a couple of hours on scooters and bikes with a visiting friend at the playground up the street. Sophie and Aaron have discovered a "secret" area to hang out in there, and I watch them circle around once in a while. I love secret areas. Watching them is almost like having my own. I don't mean I spy on them, I mean knowing that they have one. Kids are supervised so much more now than when I was a kid and roamed my neighborhood undisturbed. I can appreciate the wonder and excitement of found spaces. It's especially cool because we've been going to that park since the kids were babies but they just discovered these new parts.

Wednesday, August 5, 2009

The Other Side of the Office

It's amazing how many areas of one room can hold their own backlog of mess and clutter, layers of pesonal history and mismanagement. I so envy organized people. In the same way that some people envy creative people, I envy the magic and simplicity that is organization. Not that they are exclusive. I must keep reminding myself of that. It is a sick and twisted belief that they are separate characteristics. At least I have to keep telling myself that.

Today was spent cleaning up the other side of my office, a.k.a. the kids' art and homework area. After all, school is starting up again in a few weeks. 21 days to be precise (which I guess I was the first time....) First off, it is so great to throw things away! I listened to NPR for 3 1/2 hours straight while I cleaned. I organized and reorganized and scrubbed until the art bins are gleaming and beautiful in their beautiful organization. Sophie is making labels for the bins of markers, colored pencils, etc..

After effectively blocking out "the other" areas, they have somehow made it into my field of vision. The stack of 4 file boxes in the corner. Yes, I said file boxes. I can't believe there are more. They're not all files. There are some 25 or 50 old notebooks, and what the heck do I do with them? And I don't know what else as I am afraid to open the lids. There is also a whole closet on the other side of the office, with miscellaneous bags, hats, books, envelopes, and stuff spilling out of it (a blond wig, a bag of socks, a 20 year old thesaurus, greeting cards, and much, much more).

Is this really just one room?

Bring Back the Erie Canal!

I am posting a link to today's Syracuse Post-Standard where I go to bat for reviving the history and coolness of the Erie Canal and Canal Days! Click here to read my article on the Opinion Page!

And if you're from Syracuse or anywhere in New York State and you agree, please put your comment with the Post-Standard and let's make things happen!

Also, I blogged a while back about cookbooks and my friend Ann Hodgman's book "Beat This!" Apparently I'm not the only one who thinks she's cool. Check out this link to find out more.


Wednesday, July 29, 2009

Jack London Writers Conference: Call of the Wild Mind

In honor of the upcoming Jack London Writers Conference Oct 10-11 in Foster City, CA

I would rather be ashes than dust!
I would rather that my spark
should burn out in a brilliant blaze
than it should be stifled by dryrot.
I would rather be a superb meteor,
every atom of me in magnificent
glow, than a sleepy and permanent planet.
The proper function of man is to
live, not to exist.
I shall not waste my days in trying
to prolong them.
I shall use my time.

-Jack London

Monday, July 27, 2009

Bring Back the Music

Lest you think I have completed my filing project, I have not quite.

Since I last blogged, my poster of Pele, the Hawaaiin goddess of the volcano, won't stay on the wall, and my inspiration has fallen. Also, I forgot to turn on music. Those things combined made filing a very dreary task the last few days. I am getting close to being "done" though. I've gone through every file except for one that is vaguely labeled "Story Parts" and has various envelopes, stapled together notes and partial scenes. I think I need to take a walk before tackling that one. Everything else is either thrown out or back in the cabinet, but I need to make a trip to the office supply store and get my file label maker working so I can get my new system in place. Pretty simple stuff, but it's the last step, and it will mean I have a place to put things the right way. Maybe I CAN do it. I got a website up, and I didn't know how that would happen for a long time.

It is good to rid myself of a lot of old paper. I kind of wish I could throw it ALL out, but I can't quite. Besides, there are those gems.

So can I actually get to my "real" writing this week? I'm a little obsessed with filing now. I get a little overly focused....My "Organizing" file did yield detailed notes from a professional organizer on how to put my files together. Some other organizer advice a long time ago suggested I do away with the hanging files altogether and just use manila folders. So half of one drawer is like that and all those files do is slide down and become mush. So, back you go, green hanging files.

Thursday, July 23, 2009

Gems and Duds

The truly horrible thing about writing workshops, is you end up with 12 or more copies of the same story, with markings and notes here and there. Most people probably go throught the notes, use what they want, and discard the copies.

Not me. I carry the whole set from place to place. All that paper is heavy. I just dumped a bunch of copies, keeping just the page of notes at the end. Even so, the story I just looked at is not one I might want to go back seems the first file I went through had the best "gems" so far.

The Lisa Files

I am going through the files from the back of the cabinet. The ones that have been shoved back their for years. There are stories and essays from 1999 when I first started taking classes at San Francisco State.

I was delighted to see that there was a whole bunch of stuff I'd forgotten about, and some of it I really like! Now why are they sitting in the back of a file cabinet for the last decade instead of being sent out to be published? I mean, really! It is high time!

Wednesday, July 22, 2009

More Filing Revelations

Apparently FILING blogging is as prevalent as SANDWICH blogging was earlier this year. Am I a bit OBSESSIVE?

I just HAVE to say, though, that the BEST, BEST file I came across in my file cabinet, which had gone unopened and un-added to in too long, was "FLATTERY AND PRAISE." There is some really great feedback in there for me as an editor.

Yay, me!!!

Party On, Moms and Dads!

Still filing.

The most fun thing so far about today is that "Parenting" is now followed in the filing cabinet by "Parties." Now wouldn't that be something?

Tuesday, July 21, 2009

Aaron's Wish List

Aaron had this wish list on the wall before his 6th birthday and I came across it again today while cleaning my desk (one of the "pearls").

1. I don't want Nicholas to always be so fast. I want to be as fast as Daniel.
2. I don't want Daddy to yell at me. I want Daddy to talk more quietly to me.
3. I want to get stronger than all my friends and smarter. I'm going to do lots of reading, writing and drawing.
4. I want a Black Spiderman costume and a Red one.
5. I always want to get braver and cooler and have big claws like a bear.
6. I want to be scarier.
7. I want to be as strong as Daniel and Nicholas.
8. No waiting for the bathroom.
9. No kissing Aaron.

The Most Boring Post in the World

I am cleaning my desk. I cleaned my desk all day yesterday, and I'm going to clean it all day today. This will include filing the stack of things that need filing. It is partly the same stack of "to file" items left in a pile from my last semi-annual cleaning.

I wonder why I created files with labels like "Activities: Jon" (Was I planning to hire a P.I.?), "Books" (could mean a lot of things), "Disputes" (Am I looking for trouble?) "Gifts to Give" (Would I ever think of looking in the file when it is time to give a gift?) "Lists to Post" (Please! If I was going to post them they'd be posted! But where would they be posted...?) "Someday Maybe" (Yes, that's a real file in there), "Writing: Published" (Published writing deserves more than a file folder!), and my favorite, "Organizing." Yes, I really have a file called "Organizing." It's secret, apparently.

Here is my theory: if I actually file all that stuff on top of the desk, and clean up the files themselves so there's more room and they make more sense, then the new stuff that hits the desk heretofore will have no pile to grab onto and therefore no pile will form. It will just magically be put in the proper place, hopefully the recycling bin. Kind of like an oyster forming a pearl -- if there's no grain of sand, no pearl can form. Not that my messy desk is a precious stone, but there are good things in there, if I can find them in time. Twice a year when I do this I have hope I can get it right this time. I kind of know it won't happen by magic, if at all. But I have to have hope. I need to clear the decks for real work!!!

I am carting out the 6th bag of papers to the recyling bin now...wish me luck!

Monday, July 20, 2009

Aaron's Deep Thoughts

"If a pig was acting like a pig, what would he be called -- a cow?"

"Sophie disat bley en you batido
("Sophie doesn't believe in you but I do." Aaron's note to the Tooth Fairy, or was it Cupid or the Leprachaun?)

Cleaning my desk and came across these notes from my philospher boy.

Wednesday, July 15, 2009

A Moment

My thought and desire for the day is to rid myself of the constant nagging at the back of brain reminding me what I "should" be doing, and just do what I'm doing. Including relaxing now and then in the living room with a cold glass of hebal iced tea and some catalogs, with a breeze coming in the front door-- which I just did.

Love, Lisa

Tuesday, July 14, 2009


I keep hearing people say they got on Facebook and old classmates contacted them but they didn't really care because they weren't people they liked then so why should they care now?

I have to differ. I've enjoyed hearing from people -- old friends and acquiantances and classmates. Some I would say hello to in the halls or sit next to in a class. Some were best friends in elementary school, even if we went our own ways in high school. My point is, there are a lot of connections points, even if it's just a quick post-card like correspondence. Living across the country from where I grew up, it's kind of nice getting those blasts from the past and hearing what people are doing now and thinking about, and what they still think about from the past. Some I don't really have anything to say to, but it's still fun to peek at a profile and see some pics.

We have all different segments of our lives. Sometimes friends are embraced and then forgotten, but they were still important in those times. My point is, we're not an end product.

Save our Schools!

We just got back from a trip to the east coast, where one activity included driving all over Westchester with a real estate agent looking at different towns and properties and being appalled at how high the taxes are. However, that tax money does go into the schools and therefore they have good schools. Then we came back to California where Prop 13 still rules, taxes are low and our state and education system is going bust.

All I can say is WAKE UP, CALIFORNIA! Good education is not a frill!!!!!!!!!!

Sunday, June 7, 2009


I just finished reading The Red Tent, which I'm sure you all have heard of. It was so good! My mom and I exchanged books -- she mailed me The Red Tent and I sent her Water For Elephants. She finished before I did, mostly because my reading glasses went missing for several weeks.

I really appreciated not only the story and the telling of The Red Tent, but how the author brought it to closure. I've read a lot of good books in the last several years that fell a little short for me at the end. Endings don't have to be heavy, but they do need to be faithful to the weight and composition and circle of the story. This one was pretty much perfectly done in this respect, and carried a lot of resonance for me, the reader.

I enjoyed reading The Hakawati, but the ending left me a little sour. Water for Elephants had well-deserved ending, and that was fine, though it didn't reach deep into me. The Story of Edgar Sawtelle was terrific, but I was very bummed about the ending and felt a little betrayed. It did fit, I guess, but I would have liked to see it end a little happier or something. The thing that really bugged me with that one, though, was the Reading Group/Book Club questions at the back of the book. I HATE that! It makes it feel like a textbook. Yuck!

I have Marilynne Robinson's Home waiting for on my night table, and she always balances story elements well, so I look forward to that one, though it is a story that is so slow-moving that I put it down a month or two ago and haven't felt I needed to get back to it immediately. Her writing is so good, and so quiet, that it can wait, and I know it will still be there for me when I get back. It keeps on living. Quite an excellent quality in a book, even if it isn't fast-paced and a page-turner in the same sense as The Red Tent. I also have Geri Spieler's Taking Aim at the President waiting for me to come back. It's nice having books in waiting. Like modern-day ladies in waiting?

Tuesday, May 26, 2009


Wow, it happened again -- I ran to my computer to blog, poised my finger over the keys, and my new thought jumped out of my brain and is gone!

Therefore I will report on my darling 6 1/2 year old, Aaron, who once every couple of weeks at bedtime poses the question: Can you guess who my girlfriends are? Loverboy keeps a running list. Last night's included: a girl in his class (I will keep her name private), a friend's 2nd grade sister, a third grade girl who he knows through his own sister, the "unknown girlfriend" who he says he met at the park once last year and tried to track down through the neighborhood (he had me inquire at one house where he thought he'd seen her go, but no children lived there), Ginny Weasley (from Harry Potter), and my current favorite, "dream girlfriend" who he met last month in, of course, his dream! Apparently she was very nice.

He prefers them smart, pretty, confident, a little bossy, and usually with an older brother at home so she's not fazed by Aaron's antics. I believe this is what having an older sister does to boy. Being fictional, imaginary, or quasi-imaginary does not get in the way. He's an open-opportunity boyfriend.

Friday, May 22, 2009

Lisa's Deep Thoughts

Hi. I've been told I'm not blogging enough. I AM SORRY! Sometimes it feels as if all my time gets sucked into a black hole. It certainly hasn't been used cleaning my desk. I had my list of 34 things to do to day -- lots of mini projects. Today was the only day all week where I had several hours to get things done. I thought I'd make the list and do a few things, then get to the "real" work. Guess what? You probably guessed. I only got to about 20 minutes worth of "real" work before school pick-up.

It was a beautiful day. Somehow I thought get a bunch of the aforementioned things out of the way and head off for a swim at the JCC or to the beach, and still have time to get to Aaron's teacher conference. Hmmm. I stood outside for about a minute. I brought in the mail, I think. OH, no, wait, that's the mail truck pulling up now -- hold on--

Okay, now I brought in the mail.

I read part of the New York Times while drinking Numi chai tea, looked at a graphic of California falling into the sea and dragging the rest of the country with it. I didn't know that we (California) have the lowest credit rating in the nation. Yikes!

I've been having a lot of deep thoughts lately. But when I go to the computer they flee and I'm left staring at a blank screen.

I've been taking a 6-week posture class with Esther Gokhale. Her book Eight Steps to a Pain-Free Back is pretty darned compelling. I've looked at the photographs on her walls for years and it's giving me a completely different perspective on posture in our culture and other cultures. So much to relearn! She teaches posture secrets from traditional societies, including our own pre-1920's, and babies. Yes, babies. Apparently we are born doing the right thing but lose it along the way because everybody's slouching here. This is no sitting-up straight manual, though. You have to see it. The pictures say it all I'm still a newbie and getting used to it -- lots of years of incorrect posture plus back and knee and now shoulder problems -- to overcome. But I feel the difference already. The coolest part is what I've never heard talked about before -- it all starts in how you orient your pelvis. Apparently the tuck your pelvis to avoid back sway is all wrong! The evidence isn't so much convincing as it is obvious once you look at diagrams of the spine and discs. When you tuck your pelvis you're not resting on the base of the spine. It's been a century of bad posture and back problems. In traditional societies, even older people are free of back pain and disc problems, where here about 90% of us end up with some kind of back pain. Crazy, crazy, crazy.

So, I'll try for some deep thoughts next time.

Happy Memorial Day.

Monday, May 4, 2009

Homework vs Play

I thought this New York Times Magazine article from yesterday was interesting on homework and academic work starting younger and younger...and the balance of play and stress-free social time for kids. Should elementary school kids have more time to play and have free-choice time and less homework?

Friday, May 1, 2009

Kids' Cookbooks

I decided to try Jessica Seinfeld's cookbook, Deceptively Delicious. The idea being that you puree up various vegetables and sneak them into recipes the kids are sure to adore. So far we've sampled:

-tofu nuggets rolled in broccoli and breadcrumbs (thumbs down all around).
-sloppy joes with red pepper and sweet potato purees (I thought it was pretty good but my kids detected pieces of onion which apparently I should have pureed, too, or left out entirely, and wouldn't eat it. Sophie also refused to eat her sloppy joe on a hotdog bun, even though Jessica said kids would think it was "fun." Really, I should have known better.
-green eggs (spinach puree) and ham. Kind of souffle-like. Aaron ate a little. Sophie - none.
-pink pancakes (with beet puree, ricotta cheese and grated apple). Aaron and I liked these for dinner last night. Sophie ate none. (Are you detecting a pattern here?)
-A few more left to try: A fruit punch, a fruit and yogurt combo that gets frozen like popsicles, and an artichoke and chickpea dip for veggies. *Update: Sophie refused the dip and the yogurt pops, too. After I pureed away the afternoon. So predictable.

So, not a huge success overall. Though sometimes I wonder if Sophie will eat anything.

I MUST put in my two cents about something, however (*updated with links): I have SO MUCH MORE FUN reading Ann Hodgman's cookbooks. One Bite Won't Kill You is obviously for kids and is fun to read whether you try out any of the recipes or not. Ann is happy if you put bacon or chocolate in every recipe. She includes a recipe for deep-fried onion rings and serves them for a main course (with the caveat "No way am I doing all that work for a side dish.") She does use spinach in some recipes. Her (adult) cookbook Beat This includes cool recipes like "Best-Named Recipe - Gall Bladder Cake." Okay, I contributed that one. It's a plug for my grandmother's recipe. She made it when my grandfather, who was a doctor, didn't need the buttermilk for a gall bladder x-ray for a patient. (Apparently drinking buttermilk makes the x-ray show up much clearer - but sometimes the patient didn't need the x-ray after all, or there was some leftover.) It's a nice plain chocolate cake, really. "Suitable for breakfast," Ann says. Check out Beat That also.

See, Ann Hodgman is much more fun than Jessica Seinfield, whose book is, you have to admit, kind of prissy, with lectures about table manners and how her kids just love those green eggs.

That is all I have to say today, because I am off to revise my book manuscript once again. Happy May Day to all!

Friday, April 10, 2009

Pools of Worlds

Pools of worlds
between worlds.
Stories, ideas, places I visit.

Choosing or being pulled to a pool and I don't know what I will find
but things bubble up and I am pulled.

And when I refuse,
then this world is just a world between places.
Rather than the rich place I know inside myself it is.

(From the sock drawer)

Saturday, March 21, 2009

Post BSG

Battlestar Galactica had its series finale last night. I am basking in the fullness and glow of a well-earned completion. Ron Moore said no one had guessed the ending, though once seen, the ending would seem inevitable. I didn't blog about it on the BSG blogs, but three weeks before the ending, I DREAMED THE ENDING. The details weren't all the same (for example, Dwight Shrute from The Office was there with newfound heroic qualities-- I was quite sure that wouldn't be in the script, but the trajectory and events and outcomes were dead-on.

I have a history of dreaming into greater forces and happenings. This is the first time I've connected in this way to a television show, but then, Battlestar Galactica isn't just a television show. It has transcended television in the way that fine literature transcends the mere title of "book." A rare thing.

I've had various favorite shows throughout the years -- usually just watching one special one at a time. Jon still laughs that one of my favorites was the Beauty and the Beast series. But I loved it. Most of them deteriorate as they go, or have less resonance. Some stay good, but none has had such a profound impact on me as Battlestar. I feel a personal debt of gratitude to Ron Moore and the amazing actors who have brought this series to life. Having channeled into it through my dreams, I feel bound to it in a way that is beautifully clear and fully mysterious at the same time.

A year ago I visited a shaman and psychic healer in Beverley Hills. I was told I was part of a visionary group who incarnated together -- including John Malkovich and Salman Rushdie. Ron Moore, I think you are part of that group. Perhaps someday we will work together on a project. For years, I've seen myself moving to film or TV at some point (though not quite yet.) First, I need to solidify my writing and "vision" through books, I think. Though if Ron calls me after what I hope is a nice rest, I am willing to reconsider.

Thursday, March 19, 2009

Melts Her Pen Goes International!

Exciting news: As of this week, Lisa Melts Her Pen has an international readership! A long-lost Spanish friend found me through my blog -- how, I don't quite know, as many of my friends here haven't even found it (possibly because I neglected to mention where to find it).

So, a big shout-out to Carmen Gutierrez in Madrid! I am so happy to be back in touch after more than 20 years! I lived in Salamanca, Spain for a year and a half during and after college. Carmen and I were "intercambios," language-exchange buddies. We took turns stumbling over our words in English and Spanish until we finally didn't much notice which language we were using. It's a beautiful thing when another language ceases to be the thing you notice and the meaning of what you're hearing and saying moves to the forefront. And then when you stop noticing even that because you're too busy becoming fast friends and going out on the town (and the farm), well, that's just the best.

If you want to read about a cool event I participated in at Carmen's parents' dairy farm in the beautiful north of Spain, look up "Special Delivery" in the awesome book Travelers Tales: Spain. It's in the original edition, but not the later one which was edited down into a smaller book. I have another story, "Toro, Torero" that is still in the second edition, which you can also check out. You can click on a link on my website: under "Writings" to preview a big chunk of "Toro Torero" if you're not already running to the bookstore. Or, just click here.

So, Carmen, THAT'S actually your surprise, and a long-overdue copy of the book will be on the way to you soon!

Love, Lisa

Tuesday, March 3, 2009

Pot 'O Gold

I could have blogged last week. But it would have been from a strange space-cadet kind of place with a weird reverb from Vicadin and muscle relaxants and lots of Advil. Normally I don't take even one Advil. But when I need them, I'm pretty desperate. The whole right side of my back was in muscle spasms all week after "ski week" in Tahoe. I wasn't actually skiing, just trailing the kids around the mountain dragging a heavy tote bag on my shoulder. It had my whole book manuscript, which I decided to revise again and somehow thought I would have hours a day to work on while everyone else skiied, and a heavy journal, again that I would theoretically be writing in, plus all the miscellany and water bottles and extra jackets, etc.

So this week, instead of blogging, or doing much of anything else, I spent the week moaning, napping, and eating. A lot of eating. "Oh, yeah," my doctor told me when I went in for my yearly physical today and almost passed out when I saw the number on the scale, "Vicadin does have a munchies effect." That would explain the loaf of bread, two sticks of butter, and "secret" chocolate stash that mysteriously disappeared in the middle of the week.

This week it's just raining a lot. Except for having to drive in it, I don't mind it so much. It reminds me of home. We also saw two rainbows today. And that's pretty lucky.

Tuesday, February 10, 2009

Parent Appreciation

I always thought I would have a daughter, and I did have her first. Then I had a son. Though I've had him for more than six years now, I am constantly surprised who he is. He's a joyful ball of energy. More energy than I know what to do with sometimes. Sometimes I get impatient with his loud exuberance. Sometimes we get mad at each other for not understanding the other or listening well enough.

But then he's in the kitchen in front of me with his playdate asking for hot cocoa. And they don't just ask -- they are literally bouncing up and down like they're on springs and saying, "Please! Please! Please!" as they bounce. (This is pre-sugar, mind you).

And then it's bedtime, and Aaron wants me to snuggle with him, and tell him a story in the dark, and half the time he'll give me a big hug and say, "You're my best mom!" Last week he said to me, "Thank you for everything you do, Mom."

I was shocked. I couldn't even believe I was hearing that. Sophie, who is more like me and I understand more, has never said a thing like that, even if she has thought it (which I like to imagine!). I have to remember Aaron's words in the moments I don't feel appreciated. Because I am.

Monday, February 2, 2009

Uni-Tasking and Cats

Everyone is always talking about multi-tasking, as if it is a goal for us all to survive in today's frenetic world. But I'm tired of multi-tasking. I keep finding myself in the garage or my room, or most often, in front of the computer, not remembering what the heck I went there to do! I want to uni-task, to focus on ONE thing and do it well, and finish it!

I would also enjoy not living by a list. Wouldn't it be nice to have stuff done and then live the day? I looked out the window a while ago and saw one of the neighborhood cats wandering around. I'd like to be that cat, living in the moment, living through the senses, being outside.

Therefore I will eat breakfast, then go for a stroll, then dive into my projects one at a time. I have two and a half hours before Kindergarten pick-up.


Sunday, January 18, 2009

Drugstore Dreams

Sometimes I enjoy trips to the drugstore -- today I stopped off to pick up a prescription -- by myself without the kids pleading for things from the shelves. I was wearing designer jeans and a new cute top my sister gave me for my birthday, and a cool new necklace my mother-in-law gave me for my birthday, and a cute cap I gave myself for my birthday, and there's music from the 60's playing -- X and Y -- and I start singing along because no one else is in the aisle. It sounds totally dorky but I felt the music flowing through me and I didn't care, and I didn't feel at all dorky. And I wandered through the aisles and picked out a a fresh colorful box of Crayola crayons, some new pens, because I'm always out, some mechanical pencils, because they always disappear, too, some letter and number stickers for the kids' art projects, some general house supplies I think of as I stroll the aisles. And all the stuff I get to look at and consider.

I'm a sucker for the miracle item of the moment -- the "Ped Egg" that will keep your feet smooth and callous free -- without making a mess! The lip balm that will keep our lips smooth and soft. The toe separator that keeps your feet healthy (but doesn't actually fit your feet unless you have really big feet). The promise of so many things. I love the promise, and I can fork out $9.99 for a promise, a dream, even when I know it will dissolve into the everyday and probably unsatisfactory, but a dream is a dream. A small dream offers a moment of possibility, which in its own way, is priceless.

Friday, January 16, 2009

50th Post

This is my 50th post! Kind of an anniversary.

What is it about lists? I just opened a fresh new notebook and declared it for writing only - not for lists and miscellany. I drew a bold box around that declaration. Then I proceeded to make a few lists: goals for the year, summer plans, lessons for the kids...does life exist in the lists? Or are the lists everything preventing life?

Oh, that's a dumb question. Lists disappoint me. They are everything that hasn't been done yet. There is no point listing what's already been done, is there? Unless it's as reference for a current list.

Lists feel like hypnosis to me. Even if I never do all the things on the list, they've been acknowledged as existing ideas. I'm ready to start something new. Okay, I don't really expect the pages to stay pristine. But please let them hold something that matters.

Friday, January 9, 2009

Goodbye, Flower

We went back to Bunker Hill Preschool this week to pay our respects to Flower Sweetie Hill, the class guinea pig, who visited our house a few times, and inspired Aaron to eat lettuce. Aaron was very sad when he learned she had died over the holiday break, and got up out of bed that night to make her a card.

It was our first visit back since he began Kindergarten. Aaron was excited to impart knowledge to the Pre-k'ers, though most of them were busy playing. We went up to the playground to see the new and improved sandbox which is now HUGE and wraps around the gazebo. He hopped onto his favorite double trike fire engine he spent all of last year speeding around the track with, accompanied by one or another of his high-energy friends. He did one lap, then said, "Hey, Mom, this is too small!" We went back in to impart more knowledge and he read the signs on the walls. His hand-made cards were already tacked to the bulletin board over where Flower's cage used to sit. "Mom, all the kids are so little! said Aaron. " I stood in the center of the block room and looked out the windows onto the trees and missed the place.

Happy Birthday, Michelle Obama and Me!

I found out yesterday while reading the New York Times that Michelle Obama and I share a birthday -- same day, same year: January 17th, 1964. The NYT article was about fashion, and M.O.'s influence on it. I was thinking, it's a good thing they're not writing that about me -- there would be little to say! "She wears nice fleece pullovers and cordoroys and sneakers. Except the days she wears that old, worn-out fleece and yoga pants. She takes her influence from L.L. Bean and occasionally steps it up a notch to Nordstrom's or Title Nine or even a boutique every couple of years or so..."

Jon said if I was on my way to being first lady, I would have people who would shop and put my wardrobe together for me. Then he apologized that I married the wrong person. I said it was okay. Then we went to see "Slumdog Millionaire" and after that I finished reading the very long, very amazing book "The Story of Edgar Sawtelle," both raw, sad and beautiful. When I went to sleep, I dreamed the protaganists were the same person.