Friday, February 29, 2008

The Suckage of the Unrightness and the Blah Blah Blah Light

I wish I could report that I was regarding every molecule of the fifteen year old, when he emerges from his basement lair, with greater compassion and that I am being fully appreciated as the understanding, hip hop listening, good cooking mom that I am. We are, however, taking tiny little tentative baby steps. I was telling Leslie that even if I hadn’t been fat and living in what would these days be categorized as a dysfunctional household, being fifteen would have sucked. My fifteen year old, for all of the suckage that is endemic to the age, is aware of and can enumerate my maternal shortcomings with an acuity that takes my breath away. Recently he gave a cunning little speech about my inadequacy as a mother that was utterly withering, until he transitioned somewhat awkwardly into a plea for me to rescind a grounding ordinance which would have prohibited him from attending a party.

This tiny lapse in finesse caused me to snap and realize that I am a better mother than Livia Soprano or Joan Crawford and, at the risk of blasphemy, my own mother. I will add that my mother was a working single mom from the time I was seven years old. She was also a woman who firmly believed that a woman needed a man. I am sure there are lots of other excuses too, although the core of her unrightness is still illusive to me. Now she has faded, (not that she was any more forthcoming pre-dementia) and I will never know.

Leslie asked me, how my mother was after her boyfriend died when I was fifteen and I couldn’t remember. I recall that she was angry and hurt about not being asked to sit in the family room with his daughter at the service and that she was not remembered in his will. And, this was the year Joni Mitchell released For the Roses and Jackson Browne released his first album and overachiever Neil Young released Harvest and Journey through the Past. The songs of 1972 saturate my soul and memory. My mother’s grief is mist.

My dad took me in 1972 to see the Godfather at the Egyptian Theatre and we were both blown away. I had a projector at home and would take big stacks of 16mm features in fiber shipping cases and ditch school for days on end, lie on the hi/lo carpet and run film after film. I met kids who loved music and movies as passionately as I did. I befriended my teachers and interesting acquaintances of my parents and spent a lot of time hanging with adults. The fifteen year old who lives among us is also beguiled by music and movies and adult conversation. The comfort he takes here, comforts me. I love that he seeks the same escapes that I sought but I hope so much that he never feels compelled to escape with the same desperation I did at the same age.

I am hazy about my interactions with my mom during this sad year and uncertain about the degree to which my sister was in residence. She would blow into Fulton Avenue every year or so, in some sort of trouble, on the outs with a boyfriend and broke. Sometimes she was great fun and we had great trips to Las Vegas and we’d take diet pills and stay up all night. But my sister suffered the unrightness, probably the most unright of all of us, and never felt loved enough by anyone. Sometimes when I was arguing with my mom, my sister, to curry mother favor, would haul off on me.

Once, during one of my sister’s tenancies on Fulton Avenue, there was an argument. I remember only that I was expecting friends. There was yelling. The bell rang and I opened the door to two girl friends and at this moment, my sister slapped me to the granite entry hall floor. I remember my friends’ faces when my sister slammed the door.

I do not know what demons haunt my fifteen year old or which, if any, of the gifts I lay at his feet will make his life better. I try to talk to him. He blows me off but maybe some of it will register someday. I told him that often I am frightened and that I went into this mother thing, based on my own childhood, ill prepared. I encourage him to find sustenance in film and music and hope too that he will find more succor in his home and family than I did at age fifteen.

My parents’ marriage crumbled after twenty two years. My father left Fulton Avenue when I was seven and my memories of my parents together consist of being awakened to their screaming fights and being taken to a fancy restaurant to be told about their decision to divorce. It is only very recently and out of full blown dementia that I am able to spend time with my mother without her expressing bitterness directed at my father. Even after she’d forgotten the hideous leather jacket that Richard and I sold at the garage sale, she’d still drill me on the arrival of the alimony check.

Himself and I have had our miserable times and our children have heard us scream and undoubtedly will again. I have no crystal ball but I told the fifteen year old that for all of our fuckedupness as parents, the one gift I am pretty confident that we will bestow on him is a model for how to be married. We did it not so great for years and even now there are times when we do it quite badly. But, for all of the fifteen year old’s frightening acumen about our weaknesses, I don’t think he’ll ever be able to say that his parents didn’t love each other tenderly and fiercely. We have been courageous and sacrificing and often had the shit scared out of us nurturing this marriage we both happened upon.

Neither of us had a clue from our own parents about how to navigate this weird institution but we have, Himself and I, persevered and I am proud of what we have and it seems inevitable that our children will be better prepared by their parents for loving partnership than we were by ours. Perhaps I’m not the best wife in the world but I am better than I was and strive for further improvement. My weaknesses as a mother have been related to me quite extensively and perhaps accurately. Maybe it is wrong to feel self righteous nevertheless about creating a better home for my children than the one I was raised in but still, I’ll be cutting myself a bit of slack when I do inevitably miss the mark.

My mother and sister were driven by demons that remain a mystery to me. Maybe their burdens would have been eased if they’d partaken of psychotherapy or psychopharmacology or prayer or physical exercise. Maybe it would have been easier if they had been born at a time when a woman’s value wasn’t determined by the quality of man she could attract. I have enough issues with my parents for Leslie my therapist to buy Beverly Hills real estate but I am also aware that both contributed, if only financially, towards my escaping Fulton Avenue at age seventeen to begin college and enter perhaps the first milieu where I was able explore options for healing, like therapy and spirituality. On Fulton Avenue, there were always movies and music but the legacy in blood of the family that lived there courses through me and through my fifteen year old. I don’t know if the unrightness inside that I’ve suffered with for fifty one years is the same unrightness that plagued my sister and mother. The fifteen year old’s instinct to temper the unrightness by drinking in the magic of movies and music is dead on. For the other instincts that come from the unrightness, the family legacy, I will strive to remain loving and vigilant no matter how much he pisses me off.

Likewise, I remain loving and vigilant with Himself, the finest mind and sweetest soul I’ve encountered on this planet, my bershert, whose excuse for not operating his cellular phone is so friggin’ lame I could puke. Because we are nurturing our life sentence of marriage and trying to be excellent models of partnership for our children, it would be wrong to say that my husband, in refusing to use his cell phone and be accessible to me in the case of an emergency (ahem…vibrate mode) is a withholding asshole. Very wrong.

Rightness this week was attending a school potluck and hearing Leo’s teachers go on about how smart and funny he is. Spuds baked a perfect two layer chocolate cake and we went up to the stadium and to pick up our tickets. It is so cool how well he is known and loved there at Chavez Ravine, his second home. Opening Day is March 31 and we have high hopes for Joe Torre.

My heart is with Julia, and Bernie, her dad, who I will always remember as being a scrappy, robust, dynamo of a man. Be brave Julia. I love you.

I hope to make a real Shabbat tonight, celebrate rightness, and be surrounded by blessed light. Blah Blah Blah Baby! I am. I know. Share it. Take it. Shabbat Shalom.

Friday, February 22, 2008

ACK! On Telling the Truth but Suffering it Badly

I start writing this while I sit with my notebook in my car, with Rover, in the parking lot at the Pasadena intersection of El Molino and Cordova, where I spend a lot of time. A few driveways up El Molino, is Regency Park, where my mother lives and which we refer to euphemistically as "the hotel." I am parked in the lot at my friend and dentist Nick’s practice while Leo is visiting his orthodontist, in the same building, for the fifth time in two weeks, due to broken wires. I have outworn my welcome at Dr. Nick’s, having parked myself there, availing myself of magazines, restroom and laptop juice for several hours the day before while, Leo underwent a further metal installation. Nick’s office is more peaceful than the orthodontist’s, who while mellow himself, has staff that is prone to fits of pique. But, I dare not take advantage of dental hospitality, so I write in the car. The orthodontist almost crosses the line out of laid back and blames the fifteen year old for breaking the wires. According the fifteen year old, he is blameless in all things. I have nothing to do with broken wires except the dread of paying the bill for the credit card they were charged to and I am weary of driving to Pasadena.

Writings about my husband’s disinclination to note my physical beauty have been misinterpreted in some quarters to mean that I do not feel desired by him. My husband loves me for the truth of me and because I cherish the truth of him. I feel that he desires me more these days, not because I am unburdened of fat, but because I am unburdened of secrets. My casting away of shame and lies has been met with mercy and sweet forgiveness and from this comes true beauty and true desire.
Sometimes there’s a perceived slight or some sort of weird Pavlovian trigger and I slobber back to the fat girl, "I didn’t want to go to the prom anyway…" and I’ll wish had a husband who boasted of my prettiness. My mother was pretty. And thanks to that new front tooth crown I sprang for (and why the fuck do I feel guilty for using the electricity at Dr. Nick’s?) she is pretty. My father went on about the prettiness of his three wives almost as much as he did about how when he saw Elvis the Pelvis on Ed Sullivan he knew that the music he cherished was dead.

I was taught to want to be pretty but jeeze, look at what I have. My husband needs no trophy and I shouldn’t need to be one just because I have shed a lot of weight after growing up in a household where physical beauty was thought the key to the kingdom. I would do it again but the pain of losing the fat gives the pain of wearing the fat a run for its money. Fat people are generally treated derisively and survey says that most people would choose having a mentally retarded child over having a fat child. I like not being fat better than being fat but my husband loves me now, and he loved me then. Fat and then through surgeries and blood soaked sheets and drug withdrawal I was loved. What could make me feel more beautiful than that?

My husband writes here that he does indeed indulge my fat girl fantasy and notes my beauty but out of my earshot (although he still won’t use the friggin’ cellphone). I pray for this to matter less. The prettiness thing. Not the cellphone. I will never not be irritated about the cellphone until it is TURNED ON) I pray to live in truth and experience the completeness of being loved heart and soul. And for my children not to lose further cellphones and for my beloved to turn his on.

I grew up with a family that took to lying when the truth was potentially unpretty. I don’t want to brag, but I think I could get signed documentation from Leslie, that I have worked hard in therapy, towards stepping towards the light of truth. I suspect a certain teenager who can sometimes be found in the basement, occasionally does not himself bask in the light of truth.

For all my self righteousness and living in light blah blah blah, I realize that perhaps I have not necessarily fostered a climate where the truth can be spoken with ease. ACK which a friend in the north uses to mean "I really may have fucked up here but I’m gonna try to do better." Double ACK fried with bacon. My life is so much richer for the mercy and understanding that have been meted out to me but parenting a teenager sometimes raises my hackles to the point that anger flows more readily than compassion.

Shabbat approaches and we are but two sunsets from the Oscars. My fifteen year old and I are united in hatred of Juno. I am trying to remember being fifteen and it is hard but I am afraid that if I don’t, my legacy of unprettiness and lies bodes to make a hardness in me that may in turn harden my own fifteen year old.. But if I have to replace another cell phone or drive again to Pasadena for wire repair I will go out of my friggin’ mind.

Shabbat Shalom and good Oscar Juju (except Juno) May the healing light of truth lead us all to soft forgiving places.

Wednesday, February 20, 2008

The Oscars and Other Elixirs

Until I go blind, whenever I look at a digital clock and the time is 10:26 I will be reminded of Harry who has indoctrinated his world with the date of his birth, naturally omitting the year. We have adapted to and adopted from our friends’ little weirdnesses. I will never pass a buffet without thinking of the Kaz. Richard has indelibly inculcated our family culture with a reverence for the Oscars. Since breeding, I have been deemed unfit to engage in the monastic rite that is watching the telecast in Richard’s company. Blackballed, we are fortunate to have found an Oscar soul mate in Broderick Miller. Brod and I feng shui the proper Oscar cynicism and optimism and respect. Plus we are both jealous as shit that we aren’t up there accepting a statue. I would like to say that my beloved Gwenie is equally captivated with the ceremony but truth is, Gwen’s function on this, the holy of holies is to keep the good grape flowing from the Miller cellar and to wash dishes. But, joining together annually for this ritual is NOT A PARTY.

Broderick is supporting There Will Be Blood. Leo is rooting for No Country for Old Men. I am voting AGAINST Juno, (which has been seen by Brod’s daughters a number of times) a pithy little lesson for girls about how to fuck without rubbers, look all cute and big bellied in stretchy ironic t-shirts, discuss cool music with a handsome older man, have totally supportive understanding parents, happily give up a baby and go back to the cute boyfriend in the end.
I have alluded discreetly here to certain emotional exchanges at Casamurphy due the fact that Leo and I do not see eye to eye on a few subjects, the chief of which is Leo. As the night of nights looms, I look forward to a rapprochement and a time of family unity. Leo gets it about the Oscars. I was complaining to Leslie yesterday about all the things that Leo doesn’t get and sighed, that I am sure glad not to be 15.

This segued, of course, into inquiries about my life at age fifteen, a discussion which has left me with much to ponder. From the time my mother and dad divorced my mom dated a man named Sumner, but who, for some reason she always called Jose. Oddly I always found my mother’s proclivity to ascribe nicknames as rather icky, but I have taken to (affected?) this habit myself. I wonder if it makes Leo a little sick.

Every Saturday afternoon Adele would have her hair done in a big blonde bouffant by Mister Al La PrĂ©. Every Saturday night Sumner would arrive and stand behind the dark wood burled bar in the den on Fulton Avenue and mix two gin martinis. He would spring for a babysitter for me and take Mom to The Dresden Room or Frascati or Mr. H at the Beverly Hilton. On Sunday morning there would be a doggie bag for me in the fridge and strict instructions not to wake my mother. When I was fifteen, he died of pancreatic cancer, and towards the end of his life he slept at our house one night, the only time I remember that he spent the night. I do not remember her taking weekends out of town with him but maybe she did. I think she loved him. When she got angry at me she accused me of being the only reason that Sumner didn’t marry her. They were together about eight years. So many of my memories of my mom are not flattering but I wonder if she sacrificed sleeping the night in the arms of the man she loved in order to do the right thing as a mother. I began attending Camp JCA in Barton Flats when I was about twelve and perhaps my mom indulged in sleepovers with her boyfriend then.

I loved my time at Camp JCA and fresh pine air still causes a warm rush of joy. The year my mother’s boyfriend died was also the year I applied to be in the teenage service program, TASC, a group of 30 elite 15 year olds who were selected via written essay, previous camp history and an oral interview to receive name embroidered jackets and complete some sort of public works project on the site of the camp. I agonized over every facet of the application process.

That year Camp JCA moved from its old location in Barton Flats to its current location in Malibu. It was determined that the new facility was more in need of teenage service and a larger group was selected, more than 50 kids I think. All of my friends and even kids who had attended the camp only once and were quite indifferent, were chosen. Every single kid who applied was selected, except me. I was number one on the waiting list. To this day I do not know exactly why. At the time I ascribed it to being fat (although I was probably only about 20 lbs. overweight then) and, unable to come up with another possible reason, I still do.

Midway into a desolate summer, Jaime Sutton telephoned me and condescended to tell me that she had an opportunity to go to Europe and was forsaking TASC and I, number one on the waiting list, would be able to attend. We built an amphitheater. It’s still there but I am unable to make out my name on the bleached out plaque. My jacket was ordered too late for my name to be embroidered on it and it was too small. I don’t remember much else about being a TASCer except that there was an evaluation session with the counselor at the end of camp and she said (I think her name was Becky) that I’d not really achieved true TASC spirit, having spent too much time reading on my cot.

Leo attended Camp JCA in Malibu for the first time last summer. He was miserable the first week and sent home letters that writhed in agony. His later letters and the photos of him I was able to see on the camp website were much more cheerful. When we picked him up from camp he said he intended to apply for TASC, although now, a lifetime later in February, he is wavering. I’ve told him how much I loved JCA but never really much about what I was escaping from when I was there. I never told him about my own TASC experience but I will. I want him to apply (but won’t pressure) and have a great experience, for both of us. We are flawed and base and imperfect at Casamurphy but I am determined to make this home be a better home to be fifteen in than the home on Fulton Avenue was. Leslie says that to achieve this, I need to return to being fifteen on Fulton Avenue and with this, I am tapping on the door there. For Leo and for me too.

Monday, February 18, 2008

My Fairy Tale Life

My kitchen and I debuted on Friday in the first of the cooking videos we are producing. The kitchen was photogenic and my three man/one woman crew was amazing and wonderfully diplomatic about my complete cluelessness. It took nearly five hours to shoot what will probably be whittled down to about three minutes. This is something I’ve always wanted to do but saying the same line over and over and trying to keep it sounding fresh and natural and cooking the same dish again and again, under hot lights, revealed to me that the only advantage of appearing in the videos myself is that I do know how to cook and that I work cheap.

I was in the middle of a post shoot kitchen scrubdown and worrying about my falling arches and making a casserole for a Hebrew school potluck shabbat when a nasty bit of teen drama arose that I was too exhausted to diffuse. Spuds went for a run to escape the cacophonous clashing of teen and mom hormones that had engulfed Casamurphy and lost his phone and I had to drop everything and drive around in the twilight with him, pawing through the chaparral in search of the lost phone, an icky ending to a hard week. It was also a hard week on cell phones. Leo’s was flushed by one of his classmates down a school toilet.

We gave up on the lost phone and ordered a new one. The Casamurphy Sprint contract now extends about fifty years. Niall and I attended the potluck Shabbat which I’d hoped would ease me into a true Shabbat mode but there were men talking about business with a lot of testosterone and in what felt like a very unshabbatlike way. I would like to feel a spiritual connectedness with our fellow synagogue members, but, I realize that my real spiritual community at this time springs out of bonds forged a dozen years ago at the Silverlake Jewish Community center.

These bonds are nurtured now by Broderick Miller and his goyishe punim, through the Children’s Theatre. Broderick came through for me yet again this weekend and complied when I begged him to commit a small act of subterfuge relating to the teenage drama referred to in paragraph one. I have caused Brod no end of inconvenience although perhaps I’ve signed now, in blood, to a Faustian bargain which will manacle me to schlepping sodas and hawking cookies for yet another theatrical season.

Saturday we visited Himself’s dad in Leisure World. There is a printed index card taped to the front door. "Bell Don’t Work. Knock" He is ninety one years old but looks older, ashen and frail and nearly blind and quite deaf. He stubbornly clings to living independently in his cluttered apartment where portraits of my kids hang side by side with two autographed photos of George and Laura Bush. We took him to lunch at Coco’s which was surprisingly expensive even though himself and I, like the threadbare old couple we are becoming, shared a garden burger. While the kids were stuffing down dessert, Grandpa Charles stood by the railing outside of the restaurant expectorating long cylinders of sputum into the petunias. We were able to transport him back to his Lazy Boy and Spuds untangled his oxygen tubes and we were dismissed from the premises. The kids rang the doorbell as we left. It was louder than a Who concert.

We return from these visits feeling shattered and helpless and even though Casamurphy is without much cleaning support these days and there are huge matted clots of lint and dog fur as far as the eye can see, Himself and I retreated for a rare afternoon nap and we stripped down to our underpants with the stretched out elastic droopy waistbands and clung together, two decaying vessels, under an ancient faded quilt, heart to heart, asleep, breathing together. It is a mitzvah to nap on the day of rest and our brief siesta seemed our only time to steal a bit of shabbat peace.

Unfortunately, I woke to full baskets of dirty laundry. Most people in the world do laundry. I am ashamed to admit that the last month has been the only time in my adult life that I have been subjected to this task. I have been the quick student about laundry detergent and cleaning the lint filter and fabric softener and stain remover and I have learned to fold nicely. The boys are responsible for presenting their dirty clothes to the laundry area and then carrying down baskets of freshly laundered togs to put away. I have suspected they are remiss in putting clean clothes away and yesterday, I found garments I had stain removed and washed and softened and dried and folded mixed in with a pile of dirty clothes. I became Captain Queeg and reneged on a promised dinner out and put on my frumpiest night gown and took to my bed announcing a labor strike.

Sunday beckoned with the glamor of a trip to Costco for Depends and Tide followed by a visit with Grandma. I took the boys with me. They are her nephews now and apparently I am a sister sort of figure. She steals napkins from restaurants and told me I have bags under my eyes. Himself too fell into funk because he was asked to represent us at the parent orientation for the theatre group so I could attend to housework and soupmaking for his dinner. I reacted with a big snit about his grudgingness and lack of graciousness but then realized that it isn’t about Himself not wanting to do for me or do for the kids, it’s that being in a large group of people that makes him sour.

My husband is an introvert. He walks ahead of me unless I grab his arm. My physical beauty, despite what I have endured to improve it, is irrelevant to him and he doggedly addresses the inner beauty that only he sees, ignoring the inconsequential physical. As blessed as I am to be felt as beautiful, it is hard sometimes not to be seen as beautiful too. Yet with him, it is a matter of integrity. While it is hurtful and infuriating to me in my weak and needy moments, when I am strong and being the person who is worthy of his love, it makes me love him more.

My father in law is waiting to die and with every fuck and fight and field trip my beloved and I dance closer to leaving our own vessels. I don’t know how many more sandwiches we will share or how many more explosions of rage and hormones and fear we will endure. I do know that when the heart beats its last in this mutilated vessel, the breathing together and our two stupid bodies and these two lost empty souls that God drew together will have generated a love that is too awesome to be measured by mere time. There is much here to irritate and sadden and terrify me. I am less afraid knowing my dance towards death will culminate in eternal love. I know that Himself and myself will never not be.

Thursday, February 14, 2008

Sweet love

Loon Harper Berry passed away peacefully under a namesake canoe beneath the pine trees in Mt. Hermon where my dear friend, Harry (Bob, to you) has found grace with soulmate Chris. Harry learned earlier than I did not to live your life as fodder for fiction. Middlebrow fiction, at least. I am sorry for the loss of Loon, a dog of stature and sweetness. A dog of grace. I am thankful too for the comfort Harry and Chris have carved there in Mt. Hermon, a place I often yearn to be.

Chris and Harry cared for the real Harry, the father, at the end of his life and tenderly ministered to the vessel of the most tender of souls. Some people exude an innocent goodness, that when I am in the depths I am ashamed to say I am still vulnerable to, keeps me hovering in the agnostic zone. God is Dead. Maybe.

Kaz's mom, Alice, found her soulmate in Jack, one of those exalted souls that inspires me and nurtures my faith in faith. Alice was laid to rest on Saturday. Kaz's John tucked Jack into his bed the night of the service and Jack signed, "I'm so tired." These were the last words he spoke. He passed away the day after his wife's service. Now, knowing that Alice is safe and not suffering, Jack can rest.

Anna, the birthmother of Himself and her husband Jerry visited from San Francisco and met my boys and joined us for Shabbat dinner in my new kitchen, which no one will love like I love and that is a good thing (back in therapy...). We were all very nervous but it was the happiest of occasions.

When Himself brought Jerry and Anna to my office I was reminded of how much my dad would have loved meeting them. He adored entertaining visitors from his big leather chair, surrounded by an impressive collection of movie star photos, all "To Al," Jimmy Cagney's in Yiddish. I can only imagine the wildly inappropriate comments, questions and filthy jokes that would have sprung forth if he had lived to meet the birthmother. My father was the man who asked writer Alex Haley (Roots) who was doing some research at our library, whether he was still writing “that Black stuff.” And still, I never missed him as much as when I heard the footsteps of guests in the hall.

Kaz noted that not too many husbands provide two mother in-laws. While I have no hard feelings about the first one, the second one, I hold in awe. To step from the shock and shame and rage she expressed and truly felt but half a year ago, to break bread at our table and share a bite of chocolate with her grandson was an extraordinary leap and act of courage that planted fertile seeds of sweet new love.

And then there's sweet old love. We are nearly twenty years together now Himself and myself. He has impregnated me twice resulting in the infiltration of Casamurphy with a teen and a preteen. We have buried parents and pets. We have remodeled. We have wept together at his birthmother's rage and then again, when she reached out finally in love. The yoga teacher arrived to find us in a screaming fight. The stereo in my car is too loud. I listen to Tupac. I don't put my shoes away. I ate the last piece of the See's soft centers that had the little sprinkles on it and didn't exactly lie about it but obfuscated, not to mention my chronic consumption of rice cakes in bed. I believe in love. My heart is full. Read this and feel. Happy Valentine’s Day.

Wednesday, February 6, 2008

Jewish Girls and Jesus

Ash Wednesday, the beginning of Lent, when Christian believers give up pleasures that are vices and pleasures that are pleasures, praying that the time between now and Easter, the Resurrection, will shed some light on the distinction between evil vices and innocent pleasures.

I was born 51 years ago today, a miracle baby as my mother, who conceived with only one ovary, before she faded from me would tell me again and again. In 1957 Eisenhower was president and yesterday I voted for who I hope will be the first woman president and I think about miracles and Jewish girls, one from the valley and one from the other side of the hill, although her father’s practice is in Sherman Oaks.

Monica Lewinsky may well have catapulted the first female president into the White House. Hillary recovered from the humiliation of failure of her healthcare referendum and investigation for shady real estate dealings and touched the hearts of millions because my sister Monica stuck a cigar up her twat. Monica is what every man hopes for. But she was so jazzed at having done the prez, she felt compelled to blab. Who wouldn’t? Monica is every woman.

And, Hillary is every woman. We put up with humiliation and then we get on with it, shaking mad with rage and fuck it, we do it with dignity and poise. Hillary is what every man hopes for, a woman who understands what a laughable but not totally charmless organ the dick is. Hillary gets it.

My kitchen is almost completely finished and it is my own creation and to me it is beautiful but challenges in a number of arenas I cannot detail here, protecting the guilty, led me to sob there this morning. Monica went on to make handbags. I own one. I am down and disappointed and frightened and humiliated. But I have made a kitchen that is beautiful and my heart beats faster when I hear my husband’s step on the stairs. My children are gifted and there are nieces and friends to love and be loved by. Here’s to Jesus and Hillary and Monica, innocent pleasures and resurrection.

tiny little text etched into her neck it said "jesus lived and died for all your sins." she's got blue black ink and it's scratched into her lower back. it said: "damn right i'll rise again."
.Craig Finn—The Hold Steady

Sunday, February 3, 2008

Never Before Seen Photos! Husband doing Manwork.

Years ago I drove a student home with a large dresser she'd been working on in the adult school woodshop. She sighed, "I wish I had a husband to help me refinish it." I said, "I have a husband but he wouldn't do that." She nodded and said, "Yes, but your husband is an intellectual, ma'am."

Friday, February 1, 2008

Jubilee Waning

This will be the last weekend of my Jubilee year and soon I will fade into the obscurity of a “one” year. The painters are two days behind schedule but I believe they will soon be gone and the kitchen will be as it will be. The cooking that I’ve been able to do this last month has filled me with joy, tearing up at the scrambling of an egg. One of our first guests will be Himself’s birthmother and her husband next weekend, a miracle I never dreamed of at the beginning of my Jubilee year.

Fifty left me fatherless and my mother has drifted farther away. So many friends have lost parents, that huge helpless, liberating, horrifying, devastating kick in the ass into adulthood that is inevitable for most of us. This morning Kaz called to say that Alice, a mean and loving mother, like my mean and loving mother, has passed away. God rest her in peace and I send my love and warmth to all in Fresno, but, for crissakes Kristine, do something about your hair!

Himself’s adoptive mom died about eight years ago, having (because it’s really only about me) grown to hate me less, which left me pretty unconflicted about my relationship with her except for nearly colliding with her open casket being wheeled into the church. I don’t really have much to say about my husband’s relationship with her as he hasn’t had that much to say about it himself. I feel sad sometimes that while my parents always valued and appreciated me, they never really saw in me that which I most value about myself. I sense my husband feels that way about his adoptive parents but he doesn’t spend as much time masticating over his own feelings and the feelings of others as I do (particularly the feelings of others…).

In San Francisco, I watched my husband, having known the woman who gave birth to him all of ten hours, sit across a table from her and oblivious to every other soul in the universe, discuss James Joyce. I asked him, given the number of years he’s lived without his adoptive mother and the amazing funhouse mirror experience of meeting his birthmother, what came into his head when he heard the word “mother” and he just shook his head. Perhaps he is conflicted out of loyalty to his adoptive mom and the promise of feeling valued by his birthmother in exactly the same way he values himself.

Shabbat again and I hope I do better on the choice of family video than last week and will say publicly, as my private apology hasn’t had much weight, that I admit Kill Bill, Part One was a rather poor choice. I aspire to better film selections and to a finished kitchen and to cook there a meal worthy of the woman who bore into this world the man whose value and valor nourishes my soul. For Shabbat and every day I send a blast of love to those who remind me not to define myself by the slights I’ve been slighted but by the love that I am brave enough to give and to receive.
B'shalom. Alice and everyone.