Tuesday, February 27, 2007

I saw Little Children the other night with amazing Kate Winslet playing a depressed housewife. It's one of the most intelligent, literary, best-directed films I've seen in years. I know they had to give the Oscar to Martin Scorcese this year, and that's fine, but it should have won at least best screenplay. Honestly, I thought it was better directed than The Departed, which was enjoyable, but hardly a masterpiece. Now I'm totally itching to see King of Scotland and Volver and Pan's Labyrinth.

I went overnight from being pretty happily underemployed to having a full schedule; this week, I'll be starting two--no, three Writing Salon classes: Memoir, Personal Essay, and next Wednesday, Poetry. I'll be in the second grade at the elementary school tomorrow. There are now two rehearsals a week for See How We Almost Fly most weeks. I fly to Michigan for the workshop production of my play Saying Kaddish with my Sister at the end of April. NEA application deadlines loom, I'm writing an article for my friend Tim Perkis' movie Noisy People, and I need to get my deposit in for the Africa trip by tomorrow.

Thank God my room is clean and organized, thanks to super-hero Julie, and getting a new housemate for the in-law proved surprisingly painless.

Oh, and I forgot to say I'm organizing a Wing It! Passover Seder at my home.

I went walking in the brisk chilly weather today and got caught in the rain--I loved it! Got soaked to the skin--I swear it was HAILING!--came home and took a hot shower, ate a baked potato, and started editing student work. The garden looks ecstatic, the grass has grown a foot overnight, and suddenly everything is blossoming.

Saturday, February 24, 2007

She wouldn't go to the YouthSpeaks try-outs! I couldn't believe it!! I tried cajoling, explaining, pressuring--none of it worked. She was adamantly sure that she wouldn't like it, she "didn't like poetry," etc. I think she was scared.

I caved, like a wuss, and we ended up making cookies and she MySpaced on my computer. She loved that. But afterwards I checked with her mother and it's not okay for her to be My Spacing. Also, checked in with our match specialist, who said the same thing. So her MySpace days are over. And I'm relieved. I needed more back-up, and I got it. I still have an agenda of dragging her to a poetry slam sometime because they can be so amazing--especially when the young people do it--but maybe do some things in Oakland that feel like more incremental, baby steps, first.

Practice for See How We Almost Fly yesterday was amazing. I can actually see thaqt the piece will come together and be great. At first I was a bit worried, because two of the performers, a Mexican woman and a French woman, have very strong accents when they speak English. They didn't understand all the words in the poems, and I couldn't see how they would be able to convey them from the stage. (They are both beautiful dancers and strong stage presences.)

Elizabeth is choosing to work with those limitations by translating the poems into French and Spanish--and Sumati is translating one of them into Tamil, her birth language--so there will be a polylingual experience on stage! This fits so well with the themes of the poems she has chosen--international portraits of women doing everyday tasks, supermarket cashier, airport janitor, woman shopping. All together, it will create a global piece. I have a good feeling about this, despite the chronic anxiety about finances.

I also got a copy of Ping Pong Magazine in the mail the other day--beautiful black cover with classy red lettering. I've got three poems in there, and Sparrow has a little series, and there are great photographs and reproductions of paintings, and it's way more gorgeous than I expected it would be. Meanwhile, a friend from Australia writes about the terrible drought they are experiencing, water restrictions, etc. Strange how we're so engaged with making art and loving it, and the world...

Thursday, February 22, 2007

Deep, dripping, gray pouring fat rain. A day to stay undercover. I'm going to a cafe soon, to get some work down and just to get out of my room.

Yesterday, we had a practice for the See How We Almost Fly show. It was great fun, dancing, singing, moving to the poems, squeezing the lines for all they could contain, isolating words and finding movements to go with them. I danced hard, all out, and enjoyed the great conmpany. This is my favorite part, the very raw beginning of the process. Closer to production rehearsals usually become less about creating and more about perfecting, there are tech rehearsals and the spectre of failure. Luckily I won't be so involved in that part. And Elizabeth is directing with such grace that it may not come to that.

I've ordered the DVD of For Colored Girls who Have Considered Suicide When the Rainbow Is Enuf for Elizabeth (really for myself--I want to see it.) Years and years ago, I saw the original production with my mother, and it has stayed with me ever since as a model of what can be done when poetry and dance marry. Seeing that show was a spiritual experience.

Later that evening, I went ice-skating with a new friend at the old rink Iceland, which is going to be torn down. This was an act of extreme courage on my part as I get easily discombobulated doing things that require balance. I could feel every muscle in my feet, ankles and lower legs tightening, gripping, almost twitching with the desire to clutch earth. But there was nothing to hold onto. I clung to my friend's hand and touched the railing around the edges. Tried to sink my knees, bring weight into my feet.

Push off, wobble wobble, glide, push off again. All would go well for a few seconds and then my body would freeze up and my feet start slipping and turning wildly in unpredictable directions. Meanwhile, tiny kids were racing and dancing and swooping and flying all around us.

I blame this whole experience on my nephew Theo; he brought my poem, At the Ice Rink into his second grade classroom last week. The thing is, I haven't been skating since I wrote the poem, ten years ago, when I went with Ruth and Hilary, who are both much more accomplished skaters than I am. He --or the poem--must have evoked that activity again into my life.

I made it around the rink successfully a half a dozen times or more, and even eventually into the gleaming scary middle of the rink where the ice is smoother and there's absolutely nothing to hold onto. Victory! It was fun, and after we took our skates off, we had "ice legs" like a sailor's sea legs, wobble, wobble, sway.

My Little Sister called me yesterday--she's bored out of her skull because she got suspended from school and has nothing to do. She wants to come over and MySpace again, but Julie had a better idea--she thinks she can get us in to watch the Youth Speaks Poetry Slam try-outs. I'm hoping I can take her to that!

Wednesday, February 21, 2007

I'll be reading my poetry April 25, 7:30 p.m. at Black Oak Books in Berkeley, if anyone wants to come (please do!!) The other reader is Robin Becker.

And my play, Saying Kaddish With My Sister, will have a workshop production at the Jewish Ensemble Theatre in Bloomfield, Michigan on April 30 and May 1.

Then May 9, See How We Almost Fly, the dance/theatre production based on my poems, will open at St. Gregory's Church in San Francisco. And The Sun is conditionally interested in an essay I wrote (out of a blog post here) if I revise it substantially (which I'd want to do anyway.)

In the interests of balance, I can also report that the NY Times Modern Love rejected my "Listening" essay, (with a nice note, though,) and The Chron is full-up with My Word submissions, and advises me to place a 900 word column that I thought I had sold to them-elsewhere. (MORE Magazine might take it but it's a long shot.)

Today, I need to get student papers read and commented on, and do an article about Tim Perkis, my friend who made a documentary movie. On tap for the weeks ahead: do an NEA grant application, revise the essay, and look at revising the second play. Writing Salon classes start for me next week, and all of a sudden I'm busy again.

Melissa Fay Greene, a writer whom I admire, has seven children and writes award-winning books by doing 500 words a day. Only 500 words! Of course in her case, they are great pages. I have no such discipline, and usually work hard in spurts and then idle in stretches. During the idling times I feel awful and play endless Sudoku or engage in other time-wasting compulsive activities. It would be better to just go hiking and be out in Nature, especially now, when nature in the Bay Area is so dazzling with Spring.

I foolishly allowed myself to get drawn into an email discussion about racism yesterday that ended up costing me the day and some of my peace of mind. This is the subject for a longer blog, and I'm sure I'm totally politically incorrect for saying this, but I resent the have-you-stopped-beating-your-wife-yet tactic of "unlearning white racism." I can't stand it when the only two choices are to admit you're a racist, or else to be an even worse racist. Or the implication that unless you're actively doing "anti-racism work" with other white people, i.e. proselytizing them, then you are participating in racism.

Why does this kind of talk make me so mad? The friendship I have with G is probably the healthiest, most flexible, sustainable intimate connection I've had with a man in I don't know how long. Yes, he's black and I'm white, and we both know it. It was part of the initial attraction. I love the warm color of his skin, his height, his big hands, his shaven head. Also, his laid-back voice, his laugh, his love of jazz music, and New York City, and his interest in all of the arts.

I imagine there are things about my red curly hair and pale skin and Jewish smart-ass humor that turned him on as well, when we met. But that initial physical attraction is the least of what sustains our good connection, which has weathered the waning of sexual interest, and our dating other people. Simply: we're best friends. And he would never demand a certain kind of political activity from me in order for me to prove my trustworthiness to be his companion. (Nor would I demand that he do anti-rape work, or work against domestic violence in order to prove his support for me as a woman. I did hit him up for the breast cancer swim I did, but that's different.)

He demands--that's not even the right word--he wants me to respect him and appreciate him and accept him for who he is, and I do, and he does me. And that's profound. So many "love" relationships lack respect.

Even writing about what that kind of respect and acceptance means to me brings tears to my eyes. There is something inherently disrespectful in this brand of "anti-racism work" because it assumes guilt and ignorance on the part of the white person without knowing them. In general I'm happy to admit that I'm guilty and ignorant--because I am, we all are--but not when some workshop leader, or "activist"has a 28-point program for how I should do so. At that point, you've lost me.

G hates it when people assume things about him just because he's black, and rightly so. Not only does he hate it when someone follows him around a store assuming he'll steal something, but he also hates it when someone assumes he should have a certain political belief because of his race. He's a devil's advocate who resists being the poster boy for anyone's idea of what a black man should espouse. For myself, I don't want to be an anti-racism activist--I just want to live my life, which includes loving a lot of people of color and standing up for what's fair whenever that opportunity arises. But I'll be damned if I'm going to carry a flag.

Anyway, I shouldn't have let this get to me, but it did. Probably because it came from someone at New College, and my ego thinks it involves my reputation as a teacher. To make it worse, G hadn't brought his cell phone to work with him so we couldn't talk. I tried to recover my equanimity with a good swim, and found I had really lost strength and couldn't even do a quarter of a mile! Yikes!! I'll have to work up again completely from scratch. Shit!!

Then I tried taking myself to the movies as a mood booster. There were all kinds of films I want to see: Volver, Little Children, Notes on a Scandal, Babel, The Last King of Scotland, Pan's Labyrinth. For some reason, Children of Men was the only one starting just then, so I ducked in to see it. It was pretty bad. An interesting idea, but the characters are more symbols than real people, and I just wasn't convinced. Plus, the premise--no new babies born for 18 years, the collapse of civilization-- was depressing as all hell.

Today: bright sunshine, hot coffee, and a bunch of stuff to do.

Monday, February 19, 2007

My dad called this morning to say it was 3 degrees and blowing snow in Massachusetts this morning. I told him it was bright and sunny here and I was going for a hike in my t-shirt and jeans.

"Wuss," he said.

"Jealous," I said.

The iceplant is beginning to bloom, a few magenta and yellow flowers scattered around the green hillsides. The cherry trees are coming into pink blossom. G and I went out to the Headlands and hiked on the cliffs overlooking the ocean. He took pictures of the rippling dazzled sea, white-slate-blue in the white sun. We drank coffee and listened to jazz on my car radio and talked about the Sopranos and I got an idea for a new book I'd like to write.

Last night I saw my Little Sister again. She'd gotten into a fight at school and was suspended for the next five days. Not much of a punishment, since she doesn't like school anyway. She says two Mexican girls jumped her. She has a scratch on her pretty cheek.

She wanted to come to my house and use my computer, so we did that. I knit while she MySpaced. then went out for pizza--we're on a quest to sample all the pizza places in the East Bay and find out which one is best. So far it's Extreme pizza on Shattuck, hands-down. Last night we went to 4-Star, which was okay, a bit undercooked. I got nervous because it's right next to the Serenaders Bar, which gets a little rowdy at times, and a parking lot where a lot of drug deals go down, which was ominously dark and quiet.

More than that, I worried about what kind of a role model am I being for her, and how can I encourage her to get engaged with school, find a passion, read? I can see that she's the kind of girl who could just slip unnoticed between the cracks in an overworked teacher's attention. She doesn't like school, she doesn't participate, and that makes the experience all the more dead and boring. I remember being bored and disaffected and hating school myself, at her age, but my family was so academic, and my reading skills so strong, (and my white middle-class privilege so entrenched) that I was just carried along. She doesn't have those advantages.

I didn't press the conversation, but I want to return to it with something constructive to say. And call her this week, when she'll be out of school and bored. There is nothing like a teenager to make me feel completely inadequate and dumb. Yes, it's good that I'm "hanging out" with her as a Big Sister, but it will take more than that to give her a good send-off into adulthood.

Thursday, February 15, 2007

My 6-year-old nephew called me yesterday, wanting to speak gibberish. I don't even remember doing this with him when I visited in September, but I must have, and clearly it made a big impression. "Ooga lubiski na wee doo da fee-wop," I said.

"Gee na noo noo dama dama ching!" he responded excitedly.

"Ba-lay na rama gee da nama da nama bling sameeoh," I shot back, and we went on like this for five or ten minutes.

Why is it more intimate to make nonsense with someone than to "talk seriously?" When we're speaking in English on the phone I ask predicatable auntly questions like, "How's school?" and he answers with predictably first grade monosyllables, "Fine." But when we speak gibberish we both giggle, as if we were in on some secret together, one which neither of us even knows.

Valentine's Day morning I went with Masankho and Melinda to perform at a transitional school--sort of a step between a regular elementary school and juvenile hall for kids with issues. We were the only three who showed up out of a 25-person company, but we did a credible 45 minutes, including a gibberish segment in which I announced that Masankho and Melinda were the world's oldest living couple and they had been married for 100 years. They lived on an obscure island somewhere in the Pacific and only spoke Glabiglaboo language so I translated for them.

The kids asked a million questions, and it became clear after a little while that the younger ones actually believed us! ("Why he don't leave her?" one kid demanded.) I'm intrigued by this fascination with other tongues on the part of children--I guess it's part of wanting a secret code to life, which I searched for when I was young (and am still searching for, truth to tell.)

I came back to the ongoing reflection on love that is at the heart of my life--being surrounded by so much love of family and friends and not being anyone's wife (or even proper girlfriend.) It's an interesting contradiction. No shortage of truly heart-opening, generous gestures and expressions of love from the old, young, men, women and children in my life, blood family and not--no shortage of intimacy, physical and emotional--and yet no life partner.

Whom did I ache for physically, want to hold in my arms? The kids. Eli's solid little body landing on my lap like a cannonball, the creamy round arms of my nieces, the warm weight of David's baby on my hip.

I got to enjoy the warm weight of adult bodies pressed against mine when I performed with Wing It! at Cynthia's PSR class. One lady made a comment about how we didn't seem to need much personal space for our dance, which I later figured out meant that she had been a bit taken aback when we crawled on the floor and each other.

In truth, it's not so much erotic for us in the company to entangle our legs, arms, bodies with each other as it is just comfortable, like the intimacy one has with an old lover. The snuggling is an end unto itself and not foreplay. Or, when we use each others' bodies as climbing structures, it's more like the innocence of kids stepping all over one's lap--they're not thinking "This is such a turn-on," if they put their hands or feet on your breasts or crotch, they are just enjoying moving, wriggling, playing, hanging upside down, or finding a new way to slide over your shoulder and down your back.

Later last night G and I watched another episode of The Sopranos--we're almost through season 3--and drank a little champagne and appreciated each other. It was an episode where Tony's red-hot extra-curricular lover, played by Annabella Sciorra (she's brilliant) goes crazy on him. She is indubitably gorgeous, and their affair started out with fireworks, but ends in ashes. G said that he loved a woman like that once, a fiery stripper who was also sexy and crazy. He now prefers hanging out in friendly companionship and warmth with middle-aged me.

I'm wondering, "Is it possible to have both? Can you have great sex and great friendship?" I have always been good with the friendship part. Aging has not put a crimp in my dating life because men have always enjoyed talking with me. But what about the hot stuff? Monday I improvised a poem at Wing It! practice that was pretty smoking. I can feel the dormant embers stirring, after a long healing vacation. I'm ready to get back in the game.

Monday night Elizabeth and I went to see Dreamgirls, and like everyone else on the planet I was knocked out by Jennifer Hudson's performance. Awesome power, fire, vulnerability--and in one so young! Watching her give everything she has, espeically in the scene where she's begging her lover not to leave her, left me open-mouthed. To be able to inhabit that total desperation and still sing like that is a gift from God.

I'm also savoring a bittersweet book of cartoons, Cancer Made Me a Shallower Person, by Miriam Engelberg, which Robbie Strand sent me. Her willingness to be exactly who she is is liberating. It allows me to be the sudoku-playing, People-magazine reading poet and writer that I am. Anyone who is willing to embrace the real, unglamorous shadow side of our lives is a hero to me--and as it happens, Engelberg's particular shadow looks a lot like mine. How funny.

Monday, February 12, 2007

I'm writing this on my NEW laptop, sleek and efficient as a racehorse, outfitted with all these sexy new accoutrements, generously given to me and set up by my friend Robbie Strand. My friend Julia's sermon is chug-chugging out of the printer, I've got a cup of coffee at my elbow, sun is coming in through the window, and the world is looking pretty amazing. I'm in awe at what I've been given, the small and large acts of kindness people in my life do for me. It's humbling.

Last night I took my Little Sister out to get our nails done--her suggestion. She got a pedicure, I got a manicure, and had them put in these French tips which were supposed to look sexy but actually look ridiculous on my scrubby fingers. If I needed confirmation that the suburban Mafia housewife look doesn't really work for me, I've got it.

We went out for soggy pizza afterward. I think it's time to invite her over my house. Her old Big Sister, the woman who died, had had her over her house a bunch of times, and I think she felt it as a loss when I couldn't do that right away. I asked her some questions about her old Big Sister and she told me she missed her, and then that she didn't want to talk about it.

Last Friday was beautiful teaching third grade. Now that I've cut back on my teaching schedule, the actual time I am in the classroom with the kids feels precious. When I was doing it five days and hundreds of kids a week, it began to feel like a poetry factory--zip in, administer lesson, produce poems, zip out. Plus, I kept getting Death Flu all the time.

Now it's really a love-fest. I love third grade because they are such serious little intellectuals at that point, truly excited by ideas and discoveries. I was floored by some of the images that arose in their writing--one girl described a jaguar as having "a streak of permanent sunlight" on his fur; another said the eyes of her animal were "as black as fresh wet Chinese ink."

A little boy from Mongolia had dreamed about a big snake--that image became the driving force for our class-collaboration poem. This is a child who can't yet write English; he dictates his own poems and someone else scribes them. This time he shared not one but two poems: I read them out loud to the class while he stood beside me, his narrow little chest swelling with excitement.

The boy who told me he got called a fag last week smelled like cigarettes when I bent over his desk. It's on his clothes--someone smokes in the car when they drive him to school. He asked me, "Have you ever been shot?"

"No," I said. "Have you?"

He pointed to his head. "With a pellet gun."

"Man, I bet that hurt!"

"Yeah, it really hurt."

The little girl sitting in the next seat said, "You can't be shot in the head and still be alive." She was writing a poem about horses.

The boy said, "With a pellet gun you can." He has a blue shadow under his eye, that could be lack of sleep or a faded bruise. He asked, "Does a poem have to be true, or could it be fiction?"


The thing that is strikes me about the Anna Nicole Smith tragedy is the contents of her refrigerator. Nothing but Slimfast and Trimspa and methadone and some condiments. I think, what if she had had potatoes and onions and eggs and greens, and fruit and, you know, real food, instead of chemicals to eat?

There were years when I lived on Diet Coke and popcorn and "energy bars," God help me. Now I try to eat actual meals. I don't always succeed, but life is 100% better when I do. If I had a child I would feed him or her dinner foods for breakfast. Set them up each morning with a bowl of soup and a baked potato or some grilled cheese or something. How can you have a real life if you eat fake food?

Thursday, February 08, 2007

Rehearsals for See How We Almost Fly, the dance/theatre piece, begin next week! Elizabeth has assembled a cast of players. Now the real fun begins!

Tuesday, February 06, 2007

Still blogging from my neighborhood Internet Cafe, after having consumed a cup of chai and a big fat croissant to pay for my time in front of the screen. Soon, oh soon, I'll have a good laptop again, and good in-house internet service again, and I will be productive again.

Meanwhile, I finally got around to seeing Borat, which was FANTASTIC!!! Everyone go out and see it for yourselves. See it twice. I feel like sending money to Sascha Baron Cohen, or whatever his name is, to pay for his bodyguards, which he will certainly need after making such brilliant satire.

Ellen and I were laughing so hard we were screaming and choking with tears running down our faces. My father had been really offended by this movie, which is why it took me four months to get around to seeing it, and now I want to tell everyone to go.

Part of the appeal, I freely admit, is that the filmmaker agrees with my prejudices. The scene in the church where people were laying their hands on him and praying and going off was very cathartic for me. I think laughing at "those people" helped me discharge the terror I felt at being in a church where people were speaking in tongues like that in December.

(Some members of Wing It! are performing in a church this Friday. It won't be such a hard-core church, but I decided not to go anyway. I just need a break from Christianity for the foreseeable future. I feel highly allergic, like I'm going to break out in hives if anyone starts talking about Jesus as their Lord and Savior anywhere in my vicinity. (I have a date scheduled to talk with Phil about it later this week. I don't want to be a prisoner of my own reactivity forever. I hate missing a show, but I can't trust myself not to roll my eyes and make a face.))

I bounded out of bed Sunday so excited to teach the Memoir and Testimony class. I'd had them read Alison Bechdel's "Fun Home" and Jimmy Santiago Baca's A Place to Stand, both strong books. I got to class, and half the class loved Baca's book, a poignant brutal prison memoir about redemption through poetry. The other half had a lukewarm response and critiqued aspects of Baca's style.

I was a bit disappointed that some people didn't like it, but the students who had loved the book were devastated. The book had touched them--bruised them, is a better word-- on such a personal level that they couldn't bear to hear it critiqued negatively. They took the criticism of Baca personally, as if it were a critique of their own selves. It felt soul-killing to them to try and analyze the book's impact in terms of technique.

I tried to moderate a discussion about this with limited success. I think it's a worthy topic for discussion; we go into the field of literature because books move us and shake us and make us cry and sweat and change our lives. Then we're in school dissecting these books and trying to show our superior braininess by analyzing technique. On the other hand, if we can't find a community of like-minded intellectual people t0 delve to a deeper level with in grad school, then where can we?

People were crying...finally, some students asked to take a break, we took a long break, and when they came back I had them write and then share. My plans for the day had been to talk about the self-s relationship with the self, about the narrative "I," and we did talk about that a little, but not at the level I had wanted. I had a feeling that I should have structured the discussion more tightly, but the emotions people brought to the class took me by surprise. I need to think carefully about plans for next class.

After class I met with my former student Olga, who always seems to open up a warm place inside my chest with her delightful energy. We talked about longing and having, the difference between the search, and then the "problem" of maintenance, staying alive within what you have. She gave me a great gift by mentioning that she thinks yearning and gratitude are two halves of the same coin. It takes courage to open one's heart and truly stay with either emotion.

Ever since the David Deida workshop I have been trying to let myself feel my own yearning when it comes up, rather than pushing it away. And Olga's comment was another key that allowed me to go deeper. Despite the ungrounded feeling of being laptopless and not working enough and some financial anxieties and house logistics stress, I feel my heart more present, raw, and alive than usual.

It feels good: energized. Yesterday I danced like the wind at Wing It! practice. I am less afraid of wearing myself out. I also feel a little vulnerable and shaky. Thank you, Olga!

Another date with my little sister--pizza, again, and a bookstore, and a big discussion of Valentine's Day, and what she hopes her boyfriend will give her (chocolate) and what she plans to give him. She figured out how to take pictures with my cell phone. I can't even retrieve messages off the thing yet. She tells me that for our next date she wants us to get our nails done, which sounds good to me. I'm thinking a French-tip manicure a la Carmela Soprano...

Okay, now I need to go and figure out how to make more money so I can pay for all of this.

Friday, February 02, 2007

So I went to this free evening of Sex, Love and Spirit, to see a David Deida video in West Oakland last night. It was more checking out of Scott Longwell, and his work, which is based on Deida's. Deida's idea (as far as I could tell from the video) is that those of us with "feminine essence" desire to reach God through the medium of relationship. We yearn for a relationship strong enough and sacred enough to hold all our changing Shakti moods and open us up to our own divine all-that-is love consciousness, aka God.

This made sense to me. I know that one reason I was so upset when a lover betrayed me a few years ago was that I felt as if I were on sacred ground in our intimate moments. As if I'd glimpsed something of what heaven could feel like and then had that shattered.

Masculine essence, on the other hand, (according to Deida), can contact God solo, but loves being the penetrating consciousness, h0lding steady in the storm, feeling the swirling light of feminine arousal and awakening all around it.

The penetration part of that seems romanticized to me, like D.H. Lawrence's description of sex in Lady Chatterly's Lover, which is very lush, but doesn't fit my experience. I had kind of hoped we were past the days when men prescribed for women the form in which our orgasms were supposed to come.

However, it is the experience of a lot of women that being penetrated is ecstatic for them, and I wonder if it's a stumbling block in my own psyche, something born of stubbornness, resistance, trauma, or is it just that my nature is mixed? I'm too old to care what other people think about that anymore; I'm just trying to discover the truth of it for myself.

Also: part of what I do involves bringing people to consciousness; many of those people happen to be men. I penetrate them with my words and voice. I'm a medial woman in many of my friendships with men, I help them access their consciousness. I look to men to do things like help me with my computer and moving heavy furniture. I don't usually go to them for spiritual guidance. For better or for worse, I consider that women are better able to understand the nuances and complications of Spirit as I experience them.

But I'm trying to stay open to these ideas, because God knows there's been plenty of confusion and pain in my intimate relationships. I have something to learn here, some clarity to gain.

Like many artists and writers--like many people--I don't fit neatly into my gender box. Yesterday I enjoyed a killer game of tennis with G. in which I whacked the shit out of the ball, letting go of many of the stresses of the past few weeks. As usual, he was a better player, but I was far more competitive and obnoxious. I'm also somewhat career-driven, and could care less about home furnishings. I could live in a trailer with my laptop and be fine with that. There is definitely a cavewoman alive and well within me.

On the other hand, I love beautiful clothes , and jewelry, I like to look good, to wear makeup, to flirt, to dance, to attend to babies and children, to cook for people and make them feel good, (as long as "feeling good" doesn't involve cleaning products.)

It's true that I'm attracted to fairly masculine men who have a kind of steady heartbeat gentleness. In fact I often seek kindness, gentleness and nurturance from men, wisdom from women. Is this bass-ackwards, a reflection of my culture--a lot of Jewish men appear more spoft-spoken and unaggressive than many Jewish women--or is it just the way things are? And what does any of this have to do with the price of eggs? I can't believe I'm writing about this shit in 2007!!!

To be continued...

Meanwhile, in the third grade, 8-year-old Chris, whose sharp little features reveal that his mother was doing drugs while pregnant with him, pipes up, "Why do they say 'Sticks and stones may break my bones but words will never hurt me? Words hurt a lot!'" It turns out someone called him a fag on the playground. One of the other kids asked innocently if "fag" was a bad name for a black person.

"No, honey," I said (Chris is white, but he's best friends with the only black kid in the class.) How to begin to begin to explain?

Thursday, February 01, 2007

Lovely little birthday party for David last night, using food from Diamond Organics in the box that Jasch sent. No chicken, so I friend salmon cakes, chopped garlic and added it to the string beans, made cornbread, with gorgeous baby Sascha on my hip. Perfect. The kitchen was full of love and the good smells of cooking. David's co-parent (and my friend) Aliza was there, drinking tea, a Cuban friend of David's, drinking wine, the baby, the cat, and music. The kitchen warm and messy and bursting with life. At dinner, the grown-ups told bits and pieces of stories. The rest can be intuited from our own lives. Why love is so difficult. Why there is always an obstacle. How the darkness around us makes the beauty of this moment, and the sparkling baby shine more brightly.