BEGINNINGS

On Friday we decided to transition our six year old son to homeschool. I couldn’t be more delighted for us all, but especially for him. Relieved, enlivened, he is so much more himself inside of this choice that was as much his own as it was ours. To be honest I’ve always wanted to homeschool, but I’ve never had reason enough to do it. The charter school Jules went to before the pandemic was a thriving hub of community and connection. It was 15 minutes from our house, free of charge, and we enjoyed having six hours every day to ourselves so that we could run our businesses. But that was before something almost invisible and yet deeply disruptive would come and change everything as we knew it.

Since becoming a mother, my life has been about knitting myself back together and finding some semblance of identity, purpose, meaningful work. Then it was about doing that work, and doing quite a lot of it, at quite a breakneck pace. My husband Isaac was often tired and “overwrought.” We squeezed in dates and had dinners with friends, birthday parties and events and conferences and trips to take. We set alarms and got up early and dressed and fed and drove our boy to school. It was all so much. We were exhausted, but life felt full and “normal.” Then in March of 2020 a pandemic took it all away, and in fact we were quite grateful for that relief. Eight months in, and the silver linings are still revealing themselves.

In the summer we bought a house in the woods about two hours north of where we live. We already live in the mountains of Ojai, but the pine forests and the winding blacktop towards them stole our heart and we fell in love with the snow and the scents and the unplugging, all those 6,400 feet above sea level. Our son in particular has fallen deeply for this particular house and all it entails. Before we went to see it in person, Julius had made a dream house out of cardboard (thanks to Jessica Kraus’ prompt @houseinhabit)), and while mine was a white adobe mansion on the Amalfi coast, his was a dark green A-Frame with a red door, a waterfall in the front yard, tall pine trees and “quiet.”

When we saw the A-frame on the mountain we knew it was something very special. We put in an offer and entered into what would become a very long, seventy five day escrow, with papers signed and re-signed, names misspelled and respelled, and a lot of nail biting and waiting around. We hoped it would be ours. In the end, with a wing and a prayer the bank agreed to loan us the money and we received the key the day before my thirty-fifth birthday. We drove up late and slept in the four poster bed before 16 foot windows and two skylights, speechless at the stars peeking through the quiet dense darkness above. It was the best birthday present anyone could ask for.

It’s been two months and two weeks since the key came into our ownership, and every Thursday we go to see her. We have a new routine – a four day work week, a three day weekend. I pack our clothes and whatever fresh food we have in a cooler on Thursday evening and we bundle Jules up in pajamas after dinner. He sleeps in the backseat while we drive on the freeway at night, listening to podcasts, catching up on the details of week, connecting to each other. It’s usually our first proper quiet time of the week, a time when we are excited and together and taking it easy.

We spend the day on Friday running errands, trips to the hardware store, to pick up paint, and flooring, and god knows what else. On the weekend, we work. I make rich stews for dinner and pancakes for breakfast and we eat every meal together at the long wooden table by the long clear windows and nothing else matters. We couldn’t care less about emails, or text messages (there’s no service anyway), or instagram or Pinterest. What matters is when we are having tea next and whether the guest bedroom has been painted. What matters is when we can curl up in front of the fire and watch the new episode of the Great British Baking Show on Friday. What matters is being together, and resting, and working on this beautiful, impossible, life-affirming project.

Our dream is that this house will be a gathering place, a place of respite, and reconnecting. In a time when all that we value and cherish has been up for review, the things that matter so easily remain behind. When life gave us a pandemic, we pivoted and knelt – thank you for the reminder that my family is what is most important, thank you for the reminder that our health is the utmost sacrament, thank you for the reminder that the things we were doing less of were in fact the things we wanted to do more of. Reading, being together, walks in nature, building a home, creating meaning, making, writing, living. We bought our first record player, and have filled the house with discovering from an antique store an hour from the house. Appliances arrive (“I’ve never bought an oven before”) and we have workers building walls and making spaces for each of our extended family members. It all feels very grown up. For once, I suppose, we are pouring our energy into this place, this home, this healing space, so that we all may remember more of who we are, who we want to be with, and how we want our lives to unfurl.

Julius’ homeschooling adventure feels like another special layer to this year. The four day work week, the three day weekend, the house, the connection. No matter how this year ends, I’m just so grateful we have turned water into wine, and that it tastes so much sweeter than I ever imagined.

STOWING

I’ve started to wonder where the fountain pen went. The one that Patti used to sign my copy of Just Kids. The one she handed back to me, saying nice pen, admiring the weight of it in her fingers as she sat at a table in New York near our apartment sometime in 2011. It broke a few years ago and I stowed it away in a yellow envelope in a box under a staircase somewhere, thinking I would someday send it away to be fixed. It seems this might be a good metaphor for the way I have stowed many precious things aside, writing included, tucking them away for later days, even when the weight of it feels so good in my hands and the memories still captivate.  

It was an outrageously expensive fountain pen given to me by an opera singer friend one afternoon in Manhattan after performing the lead role in Hamlet. “You’re a writer. You need a good pen!” It is black and green, with a gold nib and a swan on the cap. You dip the nib into a pot of ink and twist the built in cartridge which vacuums the black within. We chose scented (licorice) ink at the pen store to go with it, and then walked through Central Park in the sun. At the time I dreamed of sweeping stages at the Metropolitan Opera House, of finding a job seating people before the shows began at The Lincoln Center. I absorbed the energy of the drama, the magic, the stories – on every street corner and cherry tree branch in the city. I kept photographs of the opera houses by my desk and fantasized about the children’s books I would write becoming theater performances, the way Maurice Sendak’s The Night Kitchen had, too.

Ten years later, I am exactly where I imagined I might be. A homemaker, a mother, a business woman, a whirlwind of activity wearing me down each day. It’s surreal to feel into this. I am thirty five now and responsible for the wellbeing and satiation of a six year old boy, and many countertops. Somehow I still feel like a child myself. “My family is special because we are builders” my son wrote for his homework the other day. We are builders. We create. We dream. We build. We pay mortgages. And in spite of that, or maybe because of that, we are all still children inside. 

I tuck our boy into his bunk bed with the duvet that smells like juice and laundry, having soothed many owies and hurts from sun up to sun down. He woke up in tears this morning, crawling into my bed after a bad dream in which I had died. Splinters and stubbed toes and broken glass and falling and scraping, so many Bandaids – the relentless push of motherhood is exhausting and stressful, though of course immensely meaningful. 

When I lived in New York I worked as a nanny for two years, though I never wrote about it, thinking it was not worthy of documentation. I was exhausted from giving everything to the two girls in my stead, carrying a four year old around the East Village, or riding scooters with her and her seven year old sister to the bus stop. My afternoons were spent fixing dinners, playing at the edge of the bathtub with mermaid dolls, dressing and brushing teeth and reading books and answering questions and finally turning lights out. 

Though I would count down the final minutes after sundown when I could cash in and leave for my boyfriend, my favorite part of our days was when they would ask me before bed to tell them “a story from my imagination.” I cannot recall any of these stories exactly but each and every time, the marvelous cacophony that emerged from the recesses of my subconscious filled my cup as well as theirs. In the darkness, with only my mind and a ridiculous nonsensical, whimsical story emerging, I was free and in connection. This dichotomy – sovereignty plus mystery – gave me life. 

I suppose that’s what I miss about sitting down at the end of the day and putting pen to paper, or hands to keyboard, even though when I lived in New York it was never a chore. I was summoned to the laptop, to the page, to the keys. I felt an infusion, an urgency, a sense of spilling over, and I would know to sit down and let it come. I think a lot of people perhaps confuse this feeling with anxiety or an overcrowded mind. Or motherhood. But I tend to like painting with words, and reading about other peoples lives, not to mention writing about my own, so I suppose that’s why I find myself drawn here. Curious. Called. 

At this time of night the unusual silence of my house is very soothing. I can hear the cicadas outside in the distance. I have fed myself and three other dependents (the child, the dog and the sourdough), stacked the dishwasher, checked to see if we’re out of Rinse-Aid, washed some knives and wiped down thousand dollar countertops. I made a Spanish omelette for dinner earlier, having peered into the refrigerator at 7:20pm and coming up short, remembering one other late night dinner I can’t ever forget. It’s uncanny how often I crave this particular potato and egg dish that in fact, the opera singers wife, a ballet dancer, had made for me once at her house in Ealing Broadway after a long day dancing.

I remember how she chopped the potatoes and whisked the eggs, her beautiful Spanish accent, the chorizo, and the way we ate it at their time worn wooden table in the olive tiled kitchen of their house. I was barely twenty at the time and she was in her prime, breathlessly enthusiastic just like her husband, always smiling, radiating, overflowing. 

In homage to her, I found potatoes and eggs, a brown onion. Salty sheeps milk feta, a tomato from the garden. I remember her using her skillet and thinking how fancy it felt, when really a skillet is older than time itself. My son was falling about the kitchen chairs reading a book while I chopped the potatoes and played some Spanish guitar music. Instantly, we were transported. Simplicity. History. Skill and tradition. The potato omelette cooks in the skillet until you slide a plate over the top and flip the whole thing over, before sliding it back in to brown evenly. I had forgotten this part but can see why I remembered this dish, and the impressive way a ballerina had made it for me. 

We enjoyed this late night dinner for two, and the recipe that emerged from my memory – the evocative music, the cicadas and the sense that I can be whoever I choose from now on. What freedom. What tension. What life. My son sleeps quietly and while I sit in the candlelight with this endless white page, I am the opera fan, the New York muse, the ballerina’s friend, mother, wife, and the woman with the beautiful, heavy pen.

‘I am my own muse. I am the subject I know best. The subject I want to know better.’

– Frida Kahlo 

14 MONTHS

*Trigger warning*

My nephew was fourteen months old when he died in January. He was born with global brain damage, and though brief, his life touched us all in ways we could never have imagined. It feels strange now that he’s not here, a dream almost. These are the words I read at his memorial on February 7th 2020:

I consider it a great honor to have been the first responder after Ashley and Jack’s experience two weeks ago. With the two brothers (our husbands) at sea in an ancient and archetypal kind of togetherness, unable to return, forced to ponder the expanse of the horizon while the unthinkable was happening back at home, it was very powerful to be show up at Ashley’s side at 1pm on the 25th of January 2020. 

We were two mothers alongside five year old Julius and four year old Willow, navigating the landscape of this ephemeral, mysterious, but so very real portal at the end of a life, together. 

We were a mother bathing a baby, who had recently taken his last breath in the comfort of the arms and home he knew and loved. We were a mother comforting a daughter and a mother comforting a son. We were a mother driving to the supermarket to pick up as many flowers as we could manage, and arranging them just so around Jack’s so very still and peaceful body. 

We were mother’s making snacks, answering questions, making phone calls and doing the dishes. We were mothers and we are mothers. Standing brave and square at the edge of a doorway as we said goodbye to our kin.  

The honor that it is to have been able to stand in service to you, my dear sister Ashley, both after your birth, bringing an endless supply of turmeric porridge to the NICU, and during this similar portal, has been one of the great privileges of my life. To stand in the vulnerability of this very real moment together and provide strength, calm and a sense of clarity, made that afternoon, it seemed, somehow a very heartfelt and peaceful one as we did the most difficult thing a mother could ever do. 

I have witnessed other women say hello and then goodbye to their babies, and what I have learned from their grief if this. It is holy. It is a holy kind of opening in the fabric of existence – a reminder that what we take so much for granted can change in an instant.  That these beings who were with us for but a flicker in time are in fact more ancient than we know. They had brief lives, but they are bigger than those lives now. 

They come to teach us, to clear us, to excavate the solid matter in our hearts, minds and spirits and to make us pliable and strong, heart fueled and heart felt, after heart broken.

In the weeks since, I am absolutely astonished at the miracle that life is. I raise my hand and cannot believe that I can do that, and even that I have a hand. That I have a voice, that my brain can think thoughts and express a soul with language Jack’s life showed me how much of a gift existence really is, and also, the gift that death is, too. That we must take nothing – NOTHING – for granted, and use our God given grace with unyielding precision in service of the highest good. 

Here is a poem I wrote in the days after Jack’s birth.

On the other side of life ⁣

is a door so finite ⁣

the angels cannot ⁣

walk through it. ⁣

You are sewn into ⁣

the earth by the ⁣

thread of your breath, ⁣

and when it unravels ⁣

– death. ⁣

As long as you are living,⁣

choose this life. ⁣

Every second is a gift, ⁣

precious and irretrievable⁣

as ash that scatters on water. ⁣

So tell me this – you angels ⁣

still living. What will you miss ⁣

at the end of this rift? ⁣

And what from the silt⁣

will you sift? ⁣

THE SILENCE

I am speechless, silent, in awe. When I stop for a moment, my overwhelm becomes a clear message to return to the silence. The gravity of this moment in history presses in on me, and I am focused on the silver lining, deeply aware of the blanketing dark, and the transformation that is happening. I have often wondered what it would take for us to unite as a global family – this is it. I have often wondered what it was like for our ancestors – this is it. I have often wondered what we were capable of – this is it.

Left with the searing flame of awareness, all that there is to do is be still, and simple, and observe. To practice what every mystic has for centuries upon centuries. We are all in this together, forced gently to stare into our own inner abyss, and find what we’ve been looking for all along. There is no need to make sense of anything. We cannot run anymore. We are left only with ourselves, and our flaming, inner life. Have you noticed how rich it is? Have you noticed that your fully expressed joy, radiance and presence is what’s missing from your life?

There is love in the silence.

I’ll meet you there.

AUSTRALIA

I grew up on the pristine and raw west coast of Australia. I left when I was twenty three, over 12 years ago, for New York. Today, the rich and diverse habitat of so many creatures, spirits and people is burning in a way I never imagined. 23 million acres are counting – including a fire the size of Manhattan. When I was young, climate change was a vague possibility we would have to face maybe someday one day. Today, for my five year old, it is a very real reality we must navigate with courage and conviction.

Friends write to me from Australia sharing the truth that wildlife sanctuaries and National Parks are being completely razed to the ground (Kangaroo Island), while ecologists worry that the loss of insects and other key players in natural ecosystems will be eliminated, along with the important roles (like pollination) that they play. Other news I am hearing is that the nation does not have enough resources to fight these ever increasing fires – and that they need help from the world. Navy ships are picking up hundreds of people who have fled to beaches in search of shelter. I have seen footage of kangaroos fleeing smokey landscapes by the hundreds, wallabies licking their burnt paws and koalas guzzling water offered by cyclists, and it breaks my heart. These gentle, innocent creatures need our help. We did this. We can help make it better.

If like me you feel helpless and stirred, wanting to help and not knowing how, the best places to donate are:

Salvation Army salvationarmy.org.au has deployed its emergency service teams to evacuation centres in NSW and Queensland to provide food and water, along with emotional and practical support to emergency services personnel and people who have been displaced by the fires. They are hoping to raise $3m for their emergency appeal.

Riverina Police: Donations for animals (fodder etc) can be offered by contacting a central number at 1800 814 647

This is the donation link for the port Macquarie koala hospital: https://www.gofundme.com/f/help-thirsty-koalas-devastated-by-recent-fires

Thank you for the care in your heart – for any ounce of love and support you can offer to those in pain, in fear, or displaced during this time. It really does make a difference. We must find what is good and true and beautiful within us, to help heal the scarred and hurting places in ourselves and the planet. Thank you. I love you.

THE WHALE SONG INSIDE

As I begin the act of reclaiming my voice, the voice I have heard like whale song under the water all these years, I am stopping. Stopping the incessantly ego driven checking of statistics – do they like me? Are they interested? Is there someone who is receiving my words and do I look okay? The thing I love about a blog – and by now it feels quite old fashioned to be writing a blog – is that I feel safe from being judged by what I (or my house, or my child, or my outfits) look like. You can judge me all you like for my words, and if you don’t like reading them, move along. It won’t hurt my feelings. Because my blog, like my beloved Big Long Open Gash of 2008-14, isn’t measured or compared by likes, by followers, or by any thing other than your eyes. People find it, find something for themselves, or not, and then carry on with their wild and beautiful lives. And the jewel for me? I don’t do this for any one particular person out there. I am doing this for me. I am learning, like all great spiritual teachings tell us, that what we seek is not out there, but in here.

So. I begin again. This writing business. This wringing my heart out and letting the drips fall from my fingertips onto the keyboard. I have so much to tell you. I have so little time before my eyelids start closing and my head begins aching. I am a mother now. I get tired early, much earlier than I used to.

I suppose I feel the person I am writing this to, is the same person I was writing my first blog to (the words of which were immortalized in my second book Heart of Bold), and so I feel like I am writing a letter to a person who I haven’t spoken to for a very, very long time. But then again, I realize a lot of you are visiting my words for the first time and we are meeting here like strangers, but I am telling you everything all at once.

It’s been ten years since I began that first blog, and coincidentally since I moved to America. America. It had this beautiful lustre to me. A kind of glowing beacon from my homeland of Australia. The wild west, the Malboro man, the glittering skies of New York, the purple mountain majesties. I have been here ten years in fact, eleven in January, and as any inhabitant of a country they once dreamed about and now live within, I feel I am a little more worn and weathered for having lived here so long. My fantasies and mind movies have been been experienced, the trails trodden, the ideas in 3D grasped and pulled towards me. Living inside of it, I don’t see it like I used to. And my god I longed for America like nothing else. I know why though, I met my beloved here. Our hearts called us together. My life was to begin here. Who knows where it will end?

But back to being a mother. I really didn’t know how much it would challenge me. They don’t tell you that part in the movies. The part of me it has challenged the most is the writer part. The creative part. The freewheeling part. I was listening to Elizabeth Gilbert speak today on Oprah’s Super Soul and learned that Joseph Campbell, when asked to give examples of a female hero’s journey, said they do not exist. When his students pressed him why, he said it’s because the Hero’s Journey is ‘the process by which a broken person becomes whole, and a woman doesn’t need to take that journey because she’s not broken. She has no emotional issues, and is perfectly whole as is – it has to be that way because she is the divine life giver of the planet, she has one job and one job only, and that is to have babies.’ (paraphrased)

Of course this information is very stirring. Elizabeth went on to say that it’s no wonder women of our generation feel crazy and full of fear. We don’t have 30,000 years of myth behind us (!!!) 30,000 years of stories of heroes doing their most magical and brave deeds, sailing around the world and conquering dragons. We don’t have Odysseus, and Moses, and Gilgamesh or David and Goliath, or any of those role models. We have …. a few women of the last century who have stepped outside of the normalized roles and gone on to live what their heart tells them. No wonder we feel uncertain about stepping out onto this new path. We are the first generation who has felt free enough to do so.

For me, I am struggling with finding role models of women who had multiple children, and had successful creative careers that they had autonomy over. I know of women who had successful creative careers but were managed by men, I know of women who had one child or no children and had successful creative careers of their own design. But where are the women I need? I have spent the last five years fighting for my autonomy back, fighting for a moment to breathe, and think, and see clearly, and tune in, as well as building a business that I, and my family if needs be, can stand on. I have also dealt with what feels like more than my fair share of shame. I notice I went silent when I had a miscarriage in 2013. I went silent recently while struggling with fertility issues. I have struggled to come to terms with the fact that I may not have any more children, and yet a part of me wants to do whatever it takes to have more children, and yet is afraid of what it will do to my newfound autonomy. Because for some reason I have chosen to be a creative person – a poet, an author, as well as a business woman – an entrepreneur, and a mother. My goodness, no wonder I am tired, and it feels like I’m falling apart at the seams.

No matter how much I do about the house, attempting to hold it all together, picking up yet another paper aeroplane or washing yet another dish, there is something that calls me back to writing. Something that tells me I need to be here, putting words on paper and into the world somehow. Why I don’t know, but it is a call I can’t refuse anymore because the pain of living with the incessant call is worse that just sitting down and writing. I don’t know what’s going to come out, but I’ll sure as hell try to let it.

The whale song inside calls me to this. It is my hero’s journey. It is my struggle, my sacred pilgrimage, the gifts from which I am impelled, compelled, to give back to the world. I have no choice, it seems. Or rather, I have a choice, and yet the choice to resist is making me unwell, depressed, weepy, flat, uninspired. Resisting the call, I wither and die. Answering it, and hearing that ancient whale song inside, I am reborn. Made anew. Breathing deeply again. No matter how heavy my eyelids are right now, I know I have made the right choice. The choice to live with what is, to not resist, and to show up on the page. No matter what.

THE REVOLUTIONARY ACT OF LIKING MYSELF

It isn’t too often that I feel this way. Especially these last few years. Content. Without need to prove. Whole, grateful, living inside of my own self, not comparing myself to anybody else. To be honest, there is nobody right now that I would rather be, than me. And that is a beautiful thing. It’s taken me half my life to get to this state of mind, this previously foreign yet exotic land as yet unmapped in the terrain of my being. I remember it starting around age 15. The comparison, the self loathing furrowing inward, deeper and deeper. Carving into my heart. I’m not enough. Not enough. Not enough.

Perhaps it’s what age does to a woman, beautifying inwardly those ragged wounds as the wind howls around us, softening the sails of the boat and making them seaworthy. What I mean is, my heart is a weary sailor, and yet after so many years of sailing, I stand weatherworn and proud on the bow. Conqueror of my own pain. Not conqueror of the seas – that would be a foolish soul who believed that is anything but impossible, but victorious at least for a moment – alive – after a dark and terrifying storm.

I could tell you all of the ways I was hurting last year. I could tell you all of the ways I am healed. And yet all I want to say is that life has a way of smoothing the edges, curling back the sharp edges of the paper and softening it all. My hard edges have been worn away. My ego – it remains, but my god it’s not the ego of before. I was 23 when I began writing my blog, exactly 11 years ago, and there is a massive difference between a woman of that age and a woman of mine. The main distinction being that I am a woman.

I was a young woman then, a girl, lusty and wild, erratic and emotional. My goodness I was a force of nature. A tempest, a swarm of bees, an orchid by the lagoon and that dark, dark sea. I have been all of it. Marriage, pregnancy, miscarriage, birth, motherhood, moving yet again, and so many more mountains, they have shaped me. Altered me. I have raged against the mirage of my romantic memories. Longing to be back there …. romanticizing those days in New York, those words that would spill out across the page without me. Romanticizing the kind of life I led, the kind of woman I was.

What a funny thing memory is, and our perceptions of ourselves among them. I could tell you a dozen stories of the misery I was in! The longing! The heart break! The suffering! The eternally meagre bank account! Meeting Isaac lifted me up out of the emotional squalor I was dancing in. A 25 year old dancing in a canoe on her own – that was me when he met me. I didn’t know where I was going only that all I had was this one small canoe of myself, my energy, my few books, clothes, passport, tarot cards. I didn’t have much really. But my heart was a wild animal of delight and I couldn’t wait to embrace the future I knew was unraveling before me.

Little did I know that death would touch me, too. A beating heart would join my own in the darkness of my womb – and then disappear seven weeks later. I remember seeing that tiny beating heart, a seven week old embryo, and instantly becoming parents in that hospital in Mount Gambier, Australia. It was another sixteen months before our son would join us and another chapter began. More upheaval. More soul reckoning.

I hardly recognized myself as a mother. Weren’t there any breaks during this job? What had happened to my energy? My joie de vivre, my lust for life, my lustre? There were too many things to do. Mainly, I was haunted by the mountain of reclamation that stood before me. I didn’t want to have to climb it. I knew it would take a long time, and I kind of wished I could just step back through a doorway with my son and be myself again.

But I wasn’t that woman any longer. Just like the little sister who never returned to our lives after becoming the supermodel that she is, my old self was dead. I longed for that old self like someone who had just passed. I grieved her. I held my fists against the sky cursing God or the angels for taking her away from me. I lamented her absence. I tried to woo her back, like a seance or a creepy science experiment. I wanted to resurrect her but I could. not. do. it. She was gone. She is dead.

Her words live on and her spirit lives on inside me. My maiden self. My pre-motherhood lifetime. I know that one day this me will die away too. Renew, rebirth, revise herself. Perhaps with the birth of a second child? Perhaps simply with time? I think I mourned the loss of that particular maiden me because I found her so quixotic, so entrancing, so fun to be inside of. She was, is, a vixen of the night and a fiery sword, a poisonous flower and a medicinal balm. She knows how to drain the poison from her fingers and to transform it into light, into medicine, into sight. Henry Miller taught her that. The first shaman of the alphabet to enter my psyche. I miss him too.

But like all books and authors, it’s easy to visit them any time we need. A book is magic like that – it’s an invisible train to a destination beyond time and space. A portal into the gentle hands of another. For what is writing but holding out our hands in a cup and inviting others to drink from it? We don’t write to write only, we write to be read. We write as an offering to the angels, as an offering to humanity, a plea to connect, deeper, deeper, deeper. To have our thoughts met and understood and received. To be known. We write to be known.

For years as a mother I have resisted calling myself a writer. I have added disclaimers and denied and apologized. But the truth is, I am and always will be, a writer. In an age of Instagram and Amazon, I am still and always will be an old fashioned romantic who prefers pen and paper to a touch screen. I want the scent of copal and the simplicity of watercolors. I want slow and simple. My my my, how delightful it is to be simple. And so this brings me back to my original statement before I went on this walkabout journey past the cactuses of my brain. I am truly content. Amazingly, I don’t know when I have been able to honestly speak this kind of grace and happiness. What more could I ask for?

More of the same thing. I feel so deeply fed, supported, loved and in touch with who I really am, the God essence… It’s a beautiful thing. Heaven knows I was not here last year. Thankfully the stormy seas have calmed and I am a weatherworn sailor who has seen more than she bargained for. The storms are something I could never have forced upon myself, nor did I originally ask for anything like those waves. But I could never take them back. Life is sweeter after so many years of salt water.

A SPOONFUL OF SEA



I miss making things with my hands
A pen between my fingers and thumb
Scissors heavy and paper shreds falling
Making an image from many
A story with a small marks on a page I can turn
I miss the urgency of a creative thought
The birthing feeling when the words want to spill
and then the rushing flow of me
running after them with a bucket
It is sometimes a sea, sometimes a spoonful
but it doesn't matter either way –
I am making.
I am leaving a trace.
I am marking a page I can touch
and molding a life I can taste
art I can see on my walls and
words I can hold in my hands
– treasures.
I miss making things solely for myself
because I like them, love them even
these forms that emerge from some rough hewn clay
I miss looking at my life
through my own eyes and with my mind
shutting out the saturated noise
and reclaiming this – spontaneity, presence,
listening for what wants to speak through me.
A spoonful of sea, but still, the sea.


– June 29, 2019

MOTHER, I REMEMBER

Mother, I remember
The texture of the skin on your face.
The scent of your perfume before you left the house.
The bedding with the frills and the tiny green flowers.
The way you (still) sit down to dinner with a smile.
Days under the lemon tree,
The smell of the citrus leaves.
Your presence, and your absence.
The way your face changed after you put makeup on.
Your sigh whenever you returned home,
and said ‘cup of tea time’
half a dozen times a day.
I remember
Your love of bread.
Your different haircuts.
Your endless support and organization.
Going to the mall after dinner on Thursdays
with me, the edge of thirteen,
and buying the expensive jeans that I loved.
Picking me up from drama class after dark,
and coming home to eat leftovers while we watched
new episodes of the Naked Chef and home renovations.
I remember
the steaming pork buns from Chinatown,
and the jam donuts you would bring us in white paper bags
in the car after school, before the trips to IKEA,
the grocery store, the bank,
reaching for the paper at the ATM,
wandering the aisles choosing any flavored milk.
running down the corridors at the hospital you worked in
hurtling towards the cafeteria with its endless free cookies.
I remember
asking you for a razor to shave my legs with,
and a sports bra when all the girls at school wore them.
I remember the way you handed me a box of tampons for the first time,
and the incredible birthday celebrations you would throw us.
The way you set the breakfast table the night before,
and covered the table with gifts.
I remember the only time I saw you cry, really cry,
when your uncle passed away.
I remember the smell of the gin and tonic
you would drink with our dad after work,
and the little crystal glass of sherry
in the blue bottle that you
poured for yourself while making dinner.
I remember watching you chop garlic.
I remember watching you chop onion.
I remember watching you stir pots and
wash dishes and fold laundry and carry
groceries and I remember the way you
insisted on being independent, and capable
and making the most of what we had, and
turning everything into gold. I remember
the giant buddha head in the back of the
car one day after you picked us up from school
I remember
crawling into your bed when I was
a child, and the scent of
your breath in the night.

SEA TRAIN

At five o’clock last night I was making dinner when I turned to Julius and said, do you want to have a picnic on the beach and watch the sunset? A pause. “Yeah!” So we packed a tiffin box with chili and went to the ocean.

It’s a place called Seaside Wilderness Park, fifteen minutes from our house. We walked under the freeway towards the shore, crossing the railroad to reach the sea. We found a patch of grass and I drank red wine and watched the waves rolling in on the water softened rocks.

Then the train came. Slowly it sounded it’s refrain, warning people of its presence. A great rolling machine just a stones throw from the beach flowers and the weather worn driftwood and the little boy with his dog playing in the sand.

We stood up as it passed, like a great beast, or a carnival, and we waved. Something in me needed to wave. The child in me and the child beside me, we waved our arms high in the air and searched the windows for a response as it passed.

And then, the silhouette of a body and it’s arm held high just like ours, waving back at us from inside the train.

I cheered hooray and then began to choke up. I still have tears in my eyes writing about this moment. Someone, I do not know who, saw us on that wild beach and waved back. The powerful thing about this moment is that I don’t know what they were wearing, or how old they were, who they vote for or where they grew up. I couldn’t even tell if they were male or female.

But in that moment, we were just two humans, saying hello. One in the wild, one inside a machine, and we were connected. I will never forget the power of that magic. I hope my story reminds us all of this irreducible truth.

We are one.