Saturday, March 21, 2015

People In Your Neighborhood

Jill Alexander Essbaum's debut novel 'Hausfrau' is getting great reviews, and I can't wait to read it. I confess to being more than a little interested in reactions for selfish reasons, as the novel I'm finishing now, although very different, also revolves around a highly sexual suburban housewife.

My last Purple Clover column was on how not quitting just a little bit at a time changed my life.

I am taking turmeric. 

A PANK review of Sarah Einstein's Shebook: Remnants of Passion

You had me at 'giant lemurs'

My son is mentally ill, so listen up on CNN. 

Lousiana prosecutor apologizes for being 'arrogant' and falsely condemning an innocent man to death row.

Elizabeth interviewed with National Geographic and exposed herself and her family to tell their story. After being published to a large response, the story is somehow 'gone' off the website AND the Facebook page. It's about vaccinations and vaccine injury. What. The. Fuck.

To Have A Friend Like This: On Holocaust, Friendship, Thriving

Lessons From Grief: even just for this insight: 
 Because I’ve written about her, I can now have empathy for her. It hurts that she’s so callous, but I am no longer broken by her inability to love me like I’ve always wanted her to. That in itself is so big: the acknowledgment that it hurts while not being suffocated by it anymore.

Tuesday, March 17, 2015

Running Butt Playlist

Running and squats gave me the butt I've been after for the last year. This is extremely satisfying. I may not be able to cure cancer or even stop my own kids from experiencing suffering, but I can and will sculpt the ass I want, dammit! I still have some cellulite, because I'm a human woman, which reminds me that every time I see any news media outlet give any woman a hard time because of cellulite, I am filled with a rage that probably should be reserved for like, genetic testing and nuclear war. It infuriates me that our culture tries to make girls and women feel less than beautiful or sexy or even normal for how our bodies NATURALLY ARE. 

In related news, I thought I would give you what is on my running playlist right now, as it makes me very happy. As soon as I shoot out into the night with my earbuds stuffed in, gripping pink mace in one hand and looking up at the night sky, music fills my ears and I am thrilled to be alive. True story. 

Maggie May's Running Playlist

Kiezsa 'Hideaway'
JLo and Iggy 'Big Booty'
The Boss 'Dancing In the Dark'
Robyn 'Dancing on My Own'
Jay Z '99 Problems'
Elle King 'Ain't Gonna Drown'
Zero Dezire 'It's My Birthday'
Santigold 'Girls'
Grimes 'Go'
Beyonce '7-11'
DJ Snake and Lil Jon 'Turn Down For What'
Maroon 5  'Sugar'
Fergie 'Glamorous'
Iggy Azalea 'Work'
Nicki Minaj 'Va Va Voom'
Beyonce 'Flawless'

Saturday, March 7, 2015

People In Your Neighborhood

take a seat and read!

I moved my run from 4 to 5 miles now- mostly. I run 3 days a week and do other barbaric practices with names like squats 2 other days. Sometimes when my autoimmune diseases are kicking my ass, running is so, so hard. So I love this: Science of Running: Thyroid Madness

Lately I've been thinking of my Nana, Lura- my sister's namesake. Read her obituary. My Nana was very kind to me.

Enough Abuse Campaign: bringing together communities to end sexual abuse.

12 Tips For Gentle Weaning

Scientists Officially Link Processed Foods To Autoimmune Disease  ( duh )

Window Shopping

Dear Guy Who Just Made My Burrito ( this is the best )

Japan no longer gives HPV vaccine. The story I linked was the beginning.

For about 2 years I only eat meat that is humanely raised and killed to the best of my knowledge. ( 2 years of no In and Out, sob! ) This Rolling Stone article gives you a good idea of why. I eat Applegate 

Karen Russell: How I Write

This is a pretty amazing story and documented treatment for a little girl diagnosed with sensory processing disorder and verbal apraxia.

Martha Silano's poem is pure awesome: Song of Weights and Measurements

Thursday, March 5, 2015


I've always thought the song that trills like a bird here comes the sun/lalalala was a small human eternity in a pop tune, forever and always human beings have woken to the sun and spring and felt a pulse in their throat, a gentle, non aggressive lust for life, a completely unreasonable sense of well being unrelated to any actual events, but to the great turning planet and sun. When do we laugh like there is no tomorrow, when we are adults? For most of us, rarely. For some of, never. Those of us who experienced suffering and horror at a young age might have crossed the barrier of laughing like their is no tomorrow, straight over into laughing because we know there is no tomorrow. Laughing because we have seen that nothing is promised and nothing lasts, and then if we are very persistent and eager to learn, move even further along into laughing because nothing is promised and nothing lasts and yet human beings at their best are such beautiful, joyful and brave creatures, that we recognize ourselves in both the relentless black and white endurance of winter as well as the ridiculous and life infused dance of sunlight at the eve of Winter. 

The cycles of life are made spastic and chaotic in bipolar, which often seems to me to be a disease that reflects our worst fears about human existence: that our identities are nothing more than brain activity, that our emotions are ultimately unrelated to reality and come from the firing of synapses, that those we love would not recognize us if we could not recognize ourselves, that we struggle and twitch like an electrical wire on the ground- this sound and fury, signifying nothing. 

Ultimately the greatest horrors of life expose us to the greatest questions, those questions which only have answers that exist if we believe that they do. To me, this is possibly the greatest miracle of human life. The miracle of creating meaning. 

The most horror filled moments of my life have all come from the same central geography: Meaningless. The famous Holocaust memoir is entitled Man's Search For Meaning- of course it is. What other ultimate question so clearly arises from the rubble of suffering as what does this mean? And ultimately it means what we create from it. Otherwise it means nothing. If a hundred children are killed, does this have intrinsic meaning? When we are all dead and this planet is gone, how will meaning survive, with not a single trace it ever was? Human beings create the framework of meaning out of the reality of existence. This is terrifying but also incredibly empowering. 

When I think of the people that I consider heroic, ultimate examples of human beings, they embody the determination to create meaning out of suffering. When Christopher Reeves wife was diagnosed with late stage lung cancer I was a very young person, the single mother of one little boy loved beyond measure, and her story filled me with horror. I remember sobbing in my bedroom, vividly imagining what this young mother had been through, the love of her life cut down in the prime of his, paralyzed, suffering until he died, and then almost immediately after, her own diagnosis, knowing she would be leaving her two children orphans. And yet I read interviews with her and was struck again and again by one thing: her determination to give her children a framework of meaning. This was one example of parenting that I tucked into my mind to carry as a guide. 

The Oscar winning movie Life Is Beautiful- another Holocaust story- came to some controversy over its central premise, that is that a parent could or should shelter a child from the brutality existing in front of them. I believe deeply that children must be told the truth. I also believe deeply in the power of shaping our life's narrative and the power of creating our own meaning out of what has happened to us. I do not think this is always possible. It has not always been possible for me, every minute, every day.

The times in my life where I have been hopeless and despairing, watching those who continue to create meaning was one of two things that could truly comfort me in any way. ( The other was nature. ) This is a defining characteristic of all heroes- they continue to create meaning when others see an abyss. A true superpower, I believe, which has almost mystical powers to transform the reality of human situations into another reality. Not immediately, sometimes over great aching cracking sheets of ice that must pop and disperse and melt, but when a person refuses to die spiritually, when they refuse to allow meaning to be stripped, when they continue to lay the framework for some future human life that allows for peace, justice, love- that person changes reality. In quantum physics, there is the concept now that almost nothing is truly 'real' because if a thing is not there when seen from a different framework, then it isn't concretely real. This includes everything you can see and touch at this moment, not really, truly real. I think children are hyper-aware of this. 

This is why essay writing is so empowering specifically for women right now, because it is a way of taking control of our own narrative, the meaning of women's lives, right out of society's hands- where we do not trust it- and into our own. How to reconcile the truth with meaning? One acknowledges the pain of a broken leg. The other links that broken leg to the family story of Uncle John and his famous broken leg, after he had lost the other to war. He had one wooden leg and one broken leg, the story goes, because his brother found him sleeping with his wife, yanked off his wooden leg and beat him with it! 

Anxiety, bipolar, depression, schizophrenia, these diseases are as close to existential despair made a physical reality as we can get. Brain diseases and injuries. The most profound meaningless I ever experienced was in the thrall of a hurricane of postpartum delirium, months after Dakota's birth. I went from feeling the most intense love I had ever experienced to feeling as remote and cold as a star, blinking over the desert. Part of what saved me was the stories I told myself. I told myself stories about what my son would be telling people about his mom as an adult. I told myself stories using emotive words, stories about myself, in a year from now, when I was going to be better, be human again, how I would shake with fear at the close call I came toward total breakdown. Those stories connected me to meaning. And that experience forever changed my concept of personhood. As sick as I was, as lost as I was- hallucinating, hearing things- I could always feel, deep, deep inside of me, the tiny flicker of essential self that was watching this all occur. I was there. You are here. We are all here, some of us trapped in circumstances, some of us broken bodies, some of us broken minds, but all human, all dependent on each other.

When we create meaning, we create connection, when we create connection, we create inner strength. We cannot wait for meaning to come to us, we must carve it in angry chunks out of wood, we must mold it in clay, we must type it in black ink, we must splatter it in paint, we must trace it with dance, we must wake with it at night, we must chant it to the stars, we must chart it on maps, we must pray it toward the holy, we must carry it when bloody and broken, caress it when fat and unwieldy, administer to it when ill and deformed, love it when useless and hopeless. We must create meaning, and then give it to our children.

Sunday, March 1, 2015

A Poem For Ever Elizabeth

here i am taking a moment
to write a poem for you.
you are sleeping-
it is midnight.
your hair is sweaty, 
stuck to your forehead
your hand in a relaxed fist.

you are only four.
four years old!
that is almost, nothing!
to a star, or a universe.
to me, your mother,
four years irrevocable, all.

nothing would do without you.
we are together day and night
sometimes, i want to spank you.
you are naughty in the following way:
you don't listen,
you are very loud very often
you move even when you aren't moving-

how do you do that!?
a vibration surrounds your still frame
as you watch cartoons.
this vibration says:
i am not moving,
but i could be.

you also attached a bag clip
to Maybelle's black and white tail
and she screamed and hissed
and bit me when i tried to help.
your eyes were enormous.

oh and you leave the water running,
and sneak snacks.
today i opened the pantry and saw:
four almonds and two cashews
in a tidy row,
the nut jar open with the top left off,
one half eaten marshmallow
and a few Cheerios
all left on the shelf.

you make me laugh so hard
i almost pee myself.
when i was crying, you petted my head
so sweetly, and opened your tiny mouth
' Mommy don't cry, you don't suck, Mommy,
you don't suck at all.'

your arm has the most precious elbow crook
i've ever seen.
and your armpits, or Muffin Pits, as i call them
are white and fat and adorable.
i like to pry open your arm and kiss your
Muffin Pits, to hear you laugh.

your butt is ridiculously cute. 
even your sister says, who has a butt that perfectly round?
your daddy calls it ' toughbutt ' because you are tough.
i smack your botto all day, because i love it.

then to consider your hands. 
still tiny and shrimpy, harking back to the days
i fondly hoped you might be a midget.
i know it's politically incorrect,
but i just wanted you to stay so small,
your proportions so short, 
compared to your siblings.

you were a fat, short baby
and i almost ate you up
because i could hardly stand
how cute you were.
your earwax was the best!
it smelled so good. sniff, sniff.

then your nose, oh i love your nose!
it is the perfect nose for kissing, smoosh.
and in profile, looks like a doll.
your cheeks are so fat!
oh my goodness i love your cheeks!
squeeze, kiss,
and the freckles dusted across them-
well, i always wanted a child with freckles.

your eyebrows are very expressive.
you make hilarious faces, like
Not so fast haha gotcha!

your legs, your short fat little legs!
i eat them like corn on the cob,
i love them so.
sometimes when you are playing,
i reach over and just give your calf
a little squeeze.

your shoulders are so tiny
that the cuteness and vulnerability
make me want to punch something.

then there is the best,
your big old head, and crazy wonderful
halo of hair,
which is long and curly half way down
and makes your big head
look even bigger
on your little body
which is just too adorable for words,
and your sister and i are pretty much
obsessed with it.
'look at her head!' we squeal every day
like annoying fans.

your smile is so cute
i could faint just thinking of it.
when you smile big, which you do all the time,
like a million times a day,
i want to give you every single good thing
that every existed and ever will exist.
but instead i just hurl myself at you
like a maniac, and hug you and yell
which is practically a family motto.

you're used to it. i'm your mom.
your voice is like a cartoon character. 
if a cartoon character was totally awesome.
which you are.

you tell jokes and play pranks.
last week, i bought new socks.
you asked if you could put them away
and i said 'sure'
the next day, i put on my sock.
this is odd.
there is a giant screw in my sock.
and in this sock, and this one, and this one!
you put a screw from Daddy's toolbox
in every one of my socks.
now that is genius.

we sleep together every night, 
sometimes you throw a leg over me, 
sometimes you wake up scared
for no apparent reason other than thousands
of years of humans being afraid at night,
and you say
and i say ' Mommy's right here '
and it is the most perfect and natural thing
that ever happened
and you go right back to sleep, totally secure.

when you wake in the morning you are radiant,
like Wilbur the pig.
you leap out of bed and say MOMMY WAKE UP
i grab you and kiss your face off your face
and smell your delicious stinky breath
and think every single morning,
how lucky, how lucky, how lucky i am.

everything you do delights me
even when you are really pissing me off.
i can't explain it,
but that is love.

i love you forever.

Friday, February 27, 2015

People In Your Neighborhood

Take a seat and read!

Reaching out to a troubled teen daughter with poems in a shoe. I love this so much.

Mr. Curry just went here for work. Extraordinary, the pockets of this wonderful crazy fascinating world, all over. These photos are amazing. Slab City

Great reporting on a horribly fascinating subject matter: when your father is a mass murderer

How online comments have changed everything for female essayists.

I was absolutely riveted with this information. It makes me think long and hard about the 10% gluten I let myself eat, even though it always comes with strange and random symptoms afterward- swelling, or an odd weak feeling, fatigue, brain fog. Gluten Ataxia

Emily is a young woman who has cystic fibrosis and is racing to assist researchers to find if not a cure, a treatment to slow it down. This campaign video follows Emily and discusses her disease. She asks that you watch. 

Lizi Gilad wrote this truly outstanding essay, Systems Terse, evocative, deeply felt writing.

The studies of Non Specific Effects of vaccines are almost non existent. We know vaccines mostly work to prevent the diseases intended, but we don't know much about what they are doing to the long term health of our children. Here is one story.  I follow the research of Dr. Peter Aaby, a leading vaccine scientist and the only one producing a body of research on the NSE of vaccines.

An adorable and talented teen dancer does a youthful version of Beyonce's 7-11. I love this song- it's on my running playlist.

Monday, February 23, 2015

Ocotillo Wells

Ocotilla Wells, February 2015

We went to the desert for a half day and one night and left 8am the next morning. Ever puked on the way there and was a such a trooper about it. So were the rest of her family :) Arriving, we brought the pain. As soon as we had unpacked, the wind began to blow, and blow, and blooooow, like that Winnie the Pooh episode I watched with Dakota a million times ( blustery gust! ) We went on a desert hike that was really lovely, and then Mr. Curry got up all in that and figured out how to light the stove, after creating a wind barrier that MacGyver would have been proud of. Our in-laws and SIL and family gave up trying to cook, so we fed our in-laws while the SIL and gang ate in their mini-van. I also started my period within ten minutes of parking the car, which pretty much set the tone. The winds got up to about 50 Miles Per Hour and after trying to console Ever in our black and wailing tent, I gave up around 11pm and took Lola and Ever to sleep in the car. I wish I could re-create for you the enormous everythingness of the sound of that wind in our tent. It was like trying to sit in a tiny raft in the middle of a hurricane. We had to shout to hear each other. Half the tent collapsed ( with Mr. Curry inside ) and a huge hole was ripped in the fabric ( of the tent, not space and time…or was it… ) and basically none of us got much sleep. We stopped at a Starbucks in Ramona on the way home and it was really good, really good, to be somewhere else doing something else with my family. We needed it, even if it was a ridiculous humperdink. 

Over the weekend Purple Clover published my latest short piece on how not quitting, just a little bit, changed my life: Good Girl, You Finished This!

Wednesday, February 18, 2015

Things I Did Instead of Send This Christmas Card

…instead of deep cleaning and reorganizing our closet, instead of organize the mess of a garage, instead of deep clean my car, instead of walk my dogs every day, instead of organize a capital P perfect birthday for Lola but a regular, pretty cool one, instead of do my makeup and hair every morning, instead of spending plenty of girl bonding time with my friends, instead of volunteering at the children's homeless preschool downtown I keep eyeballing:

Make home-made organic dinners 5 nights out of 7, then sit with the kids to eat and do our family tradition of Best and Worst of the day.

Shower. Every day.

Work out 5 days a week.

Work. My job.

Write. My novel, here, and my freelance assignments.

Spend time with my kids talking and riding bikes and going to the park.

Get at least 7 hours of sleep.

Do mother stuff like sign papers, attend meetings, find lessons, give advice, snuggle.

That's it. My life is not grand at the moment, it's not full of adventure or surprise. But it is a dedicated work of art. It is an exercise of love. It is a discipline for a ship of fools. It is a good time. It is a river of sorrow. It is a work in progress. 

I have finally gotten to the point in my life- late thirties, it was- where I can prioritize effectively, meaning that I don't walk around in a state of guilt and half-panic all the time, thinking of everything I am not doing. That feeling is now reserved for pockets of time, or a bad day, or `Mondays. 

There is so much I don't do. And someone else may think I could do more, do it better, and sometimes, that someone is myself. Most days, I think it's amazing how far I've come, when I look back on myself in my twenties, so agonizingly unsure and full of not only self doubt, but self hatred. I leaned on love, in every facet and meaning, in every action that it can embody- including the self love of therapy, nutrition, nature and exercise- and tried to reflect back toward myself the kind of love I was instantly and irrevocably able to offer my children. And it wasn't some pie in the sky. It was what saved me. And here I am, a published author, finishing my novel, raising my children, working my ass off, dancing naked in my room whenever possible, still full of faults and doubts, but more me than I've ever been. Making my dreams come true.

Lola has had two friends whose mothers have left home this year, one for almost a full year, and the other for a week. Both moms left their kids safe with their fathers, but we all know that children don't care about our struggles- not really- or our excuses anymore than we care about theirs when they haven't come home on time for the hundredth time. They just want us here, and OK. When I became pregnant at 18, I wasn't OK. And I wasn't OK for a long time after that either. But I fucking killed myself trying. I killed the old me. I made a new me, one worthy of raising these children. There are things I did or choices I've made that my children- especially the oldest two, who had Mr. Curry and I as parents who essentially grew up alongside them- will not understand, not for a long time or ever. But it amazes me and is incredibly beautiful to see that what I fought for, I made happen. 

When I burn dinner because I'm working on an essay- this week, Monday night, the chicken- or when I compare my house to someone else's or when I don't have enough money to do some extra thing for the kids, I doubt myself- I can feel insecure, inadequate.

So it's good to remember the things that have worked. The love that stayed true. The courage it took to have even a tiny sliver of faith that I could make a life worth my child. 

One of Lola's friends cut herself a few weeks ago and called Lola, saying she felt like killing herself. I took the phone and talked to her quietly for a few minutes before I made her put her mother on the phone. And in those few minutes, I said to her, I was where you are. I understand. Things can get better. They can get so much better that the idea that could have given it all up is horrifying. Don't ever give up on yourself or life. There is so much waiting outside of this pain.

I hope she believed me.

Tuesday, February 17, 2015

Meet Gib

and nobody loves you baby / the way i do 

hmmm, mmmm, mmmmm the music comes from out of the shower, muffled behind the wok-wok shhhh of the shower-water, Lola in there, washing the blue out of her hair.

if only it were that easy.

my novel inches toward completion and i love it hard now, love it deeply, not because it is perfect, but because it is my creation, one i have devoted years to, hunched over a keyboard and exacting from each sentence the maximum perfection of mood and propulsion that i intend for it to convey. 

meet Gib, Parish's ( main character ) uncle:

   The knocking woke me this time. I sat up, sealed shut: to the right of me, the left- opened eyes to the ceiling before I realized I was awake in my house, in bed; someone was knocking loudly on the front door.  Adrenaline squirted from the exhausted gland in my gut- I imagined it looked like withered eggplant: lopsided and purple. The door knocking/ panic/The phone ringing/panic/Life/panic. Pulling on black sweats and pulling up my hair: ‘ Just a MINUTE! ‘
   Just a damn minute. The grey crepe light came through the window. Miserable sky outside. The bushes fell sideways and haphazardly all along the backyard fence, a large glistening crow hawked his way through the trees, turning his head to look at me. I shook my head, feeling hungover. The door pounded.  ‘ I’M COMING!!! ’
   I pulled my face taut with both hands, held my eyes sideways. Wiped the sleep from my eyes and a cot of white from the side of my mouth. Moved my tongue around. Bit the side of my cheek; opened the door.
   Immediately the whipping sound of helicopter filled the room.
   His big face was tan, his sunglasses small and cracked. Long black hair was pulled into a ponytail which then looped in hairbands the way down it’s slick dark line, past damp armpits. A black and white tattoo of a beautifully pouty woman’s face with large, heart shaped sunglasses climbed from the neckline of a short sleeved tee up to his grizzled jawline. A massive tarnished watch lay in the thatch of his wrist hair like a treasure stolen and placed into a bird nest.  He smelled of sweet Pintanto cigars and breath mint. The sky slumped behind him.  His mouth opened in surprise!: ‘ Parish-  Hello! ‘  The helicopter’s whoomping and whirling began to fade. Gib.