Saturday, January 31, 2009

End of month worries

So, here are my end of the month worries:

Will I still have my job for another month, six months, a year?
Will I have any money left in my IRA at the end of next month?
Will our country ever stop this economic free fall?

I voted for Obama with the hopes that once he got into office just the optimism of his new administration would ease things up, and it seems in the less than two weeks he’s been in office everything has gotten worse.

Yes, it’s all about the economy now, and it worries me that nobody out there knows how to fix it. Where do we go from here?

Well, at least I can drown myself in drink next month. My January alcohol fast is over after today.

Tuesday, January 27, 2009

The boyfriends

There's Ben on the right with two of his friends whom he's known since grade school. In fact, Andy in the middle and Ben go back to Kindergarten. We had dinner with them and their families -- one of the boys has five children and the other has two -- on Friday night. It was like going back in history. We caught up, we played with the little children, and told old, old stories. In fact, we looked at a video that they made while in middle school. So much violence and bad words for such a gentle bunch of boys.

The night was pure pleasure.

Monday, January 26, 2009

Curiously satisfying

We saw another one of the films nominated for an Academy Award yesterday – “The Curious Case of Benjamin Button.” I really wasn’t all that anxious to see this film until it was nominated for 13 Academy Awards. With those many awards there has to be some good things about it.

And actually, there are a lot of good things. Even though the story line is very weird – living a life backwards – the way it was portrayed was very beautiful. Plus a lot of the acting was superb – Cate Blanchett, Julia Ormond, Tarajii P. Henson, Jared Harris.

However, I didn’t think Brad Pitt deserved an Academy Award nomination for his performance. He was really just being Brad Pitt kind of sleep walking through his lines whether he was portraying Benjamin as an old man or young. What deserves an Academy Award is the person who did the makeup. Not only did some of the characters need aging they needed to look younger than their years. And, that was pulled off brilliantly. I also think Blanchett very much deserved a nomination. She was excellent portraying Benjamin’s main love interest starting from her late teens until she was an old lady on her death bed.

True this movie was a long sit – over two hours and 45 minutes – and I highly recommend it. It was a perfect way to spend a late Sunday afternoon.

Sunday, January 25, 2009

More about goddesses

A shopkeeper new in our area is all involved in goddesses and Buddhas -- a woman after my own heart. Every month she has a goddess night in her store -- a way to drum up business and to celebrate the goddess in all women. So, pushy person that I am, I told her about our book, The Emerging Goddess, and after seeing more information about it on the book's website, she agreed to take some to sell at her store. My book partner is researching self-publishing a few for the store, and who knows, maybe some other venues as well.

Here's another goddess poem:

Aging Goddesses

The crones – our mothers, grandmothers,
sisters, aunts, old friends, and teachers
walk arm in arm in pairs,
each one supporting the other
on the old cobble-stoned streets.
They are squat, stout
with veiny legs and thick ankles,
their bare feet in flat sandals
showing jagged toenails
or clothed in thick hose
and wide oxfords.
Some move slowly barely able to walk,
clutching each other for support.
They are perfectly coifed.
Their hair short and bleached
hide their age
but not too much.
They wear suits
with skirts always below the knees.
Jeans just don’t do.

They talk as they walk
closely together.
Almost in a whisper
they solve the world’s problems,
impart their age-old wisdom,
or decide what they’ll cook for dinner.
They wear their age
as an example.
Softly, simply, elegantly
they are our muse.
They don’t hide
but rejoice in their age.
They thrive in their togetherness.
That’s what counts.
They aren’t alone as they walk
They walk together
as we follow behind.

Wednesday, January 21, 2009

Book report

Well, I finally finished reading “The Story of Edgar Sawtelle,” and was I disappointed!

It’s a story about a boy and a dog – actually a lot of dogs – that has an ending that absolutely doesn’t make sense. Someone mentioned it was a takeoff on “Hamlet” in a review. Okay, that must be why so many folks died in the end – both good and bad – except the poor mother. One has to believe that she couldn’t have survived past the last page anyway, so she might as well have been killed off before the end too.

There was real evil in that book along with supernatural beings and ghosts. The human characters were less developed than the dog characters, and the reason for the murders was never really explained. I guess one brother was out to get the other and anything that came between him and his brother’s wife and business – like the son and the friendly old vet – were targets as well. I just smacked that book on the table when I finished it angry at myself for wasting so much time reading it. It’s not often that I feel that way at the end of a book. I knew I was reading something weird, something I really wasn’t interested in, and I kept at it. What a waste!

So, on to something else. My bookshelf runneth over.

Sunday, January 18, 2009

About friends

One of my favorite writing friends sent me this poem. I don't know who the author is, but it definitely resonates with how I live my life -- friends for all occasions and interests with some fitting the bill for multiple roles, others for only one. It's all good.

Girls in My Circle

When I was little,
I used to believe in the concept of one best friend,
And then I started to become a woman.
And then I found out that if you allow your heart to open up,
God would show you the best in many friends.

One friend is needed when you're going through things with your man.
Another friend is needed when you're going through things with your mom.
Another will sit beside you in the bleachers as you delight in your >children
and their activities.
Another when you want to shop, share, heal, hurt, joke, or just be.
One friend will say, 'Let's cry together,'
Another , 'Let's fight together,'
Another , 'Let's walk away together.'

One friend will meet your spiritual need,
Another your shoe fetish,
Another you’ll love for movies,
Another will be with you in your season of confusion,
Another will be your clarifier,
Another the wind beneath your wings.

But whatever their assignment in your life,
On whatever the occasion,
On whatever the day,
Or wherever you need them to meet you with their gym shoes on and hair
pulled back,
Or to hold you back from making a complete fool of yourself ..
Those are your best friends.

It may all be wrapped up in one woman,
But for many, it's wrapped up in several.
One from 7th grade,
One from high school,
Several from the college years,
A couple from old jobs,
On some days your mother,
On some days your neighbor,
On others, your sisters,
And on some days, your daughters.

Ranting about Manhattan Beach -- is that a no-no?

Okay it’s time to rant about walking in Manhattan Beach. Every time I take a walk from my house to the beach I always feel this way. It’s about time to write it down and be done with it. And depending how this turns out I’ll put the contents in a letter to City Hall and the Beach Reporter.

Now first off, I should have absolutely nothing to complain about. I live in Manhattan Beach – there is nothing to complain about that. And I live within blocks to the beach. I’m out my door and within minutes I can see the Pacific Ocean from the rise – all blue and beautiful with the sun gleaming down on it, and then I walk down that little hill and I’m on the Strand just off the sand and I can see Santa Monica and Malibu to the north and Palos Verdes to the south and sometimes even Catalina is out. This morning there was full sun, it was warm but not too warm for a vigorous walk, and a little bit of haze over the ocean. Almost paradise, but not quite. The haze took just a little bit of the paradise away.

So what’s the problem? Well, the problem is when you walk in Manhattan Beach you really take your life in your hands. Drivers have no respect for walkers whatsoever. Manhattan Beach is not a walker friendly town, and with all the walkers that I saw out on the Strand this morning and all the walkers on the pier and Manhattan Beach Boulevard, one would think we’d get a little more attention paid to us.

People don’t stop for stop signs, they roll through them. They don’t look both ways when they leave their driveways or leave a stop sign – if they do stop at all. Usually they’ll only look in the direction of oncoming cars, not taking into consideration that there may be a pedestrian trying to cross in the crosswalk. And, as long as I’ve lived in California, I’ve heard the law is to stop for pedestrians. Well, I can’t tell you how many people ignore that rule.

And the worst part of all they don’t obey the clean up after your dog rule. Almost everywhere I walk on the Strand there is dog debris to look out for. We have lots of trash bins along the Strand, and lots of plastic bags available just in case a dog owner has forgotten to bring along, so there should be no excuse. This is absolutely inexcusable this attitude that my dog’s poop is better than yours so it’s okay for me leave its poop on the foot paths. Get out of here. These people who ignore this rule are pigs.

Another rule that’s getting ignored more and more is the no bike riding on the Strand walking path rule. In Manhattan Beach we’ve always had a separate bike path. That’s the beauty of Manhattan Beach – we don’t have to share the path like they do in Hermosa Beach. So what is it with these people who think they are so special that they can ride on the walking path in Manhattan Beach? Maybe they come from Hermosa. And if that’s the case they should go back there.

Enough already. Just thinking about all these things takes away from what I love so much about where I live. I’d love for these things to get fixed, but I don’t have high hopes about that happening anytime soon. I’m sure these lawbreakers are not top priorities of our local police – they probably have more important things to do – like give out as many parking tickets as they possibly can so they can earn their bonuses every year. Parking tickets vs cleaning up dog poop – now there’s a simple choice. I certainly wouldn’t take the dog detail if I were a Manhattan Beach police officer. Again, enough already!

Thursday, January 15, 2009

Choices revisited

I heard a radio interview yesterday on KCRW with Steven Soderbergh, whose new film "Che" has just been released. Elvis Mitchell of The Treatment made the comment that he thought the film was about characters making choices too late.

Steven then quoted a line from his film "Solaris" written by a friend of his:

"There are no answers, only choices."

I really resonnated with that.

He went on to say, " the end of the day...all that you do have are your choices and those are the only answers you’re going to get....You’re never going to find the pattern in pi. It’s not going to happen. You’re probably be happier if you accept that..."

Yes, I can relate; hence my sense when I started this blog, of how important the choices I make in the years to come are.

Monday, January 12, 2009

Revolutionary Road -- had the "look"

We saw Revolutionary Road this weekend. Though it was an excellent film -- acting, locale, sets, costumes were all wonderful and perfect for the time -- I found it very disturbing. And, not because it was the story of a very unhappy marriage. Here's why:

The Look

She looked toward him
from the counter
and offered him a glass of orange juice
freshly squeezed.
She was fully dressed in blouse and skirt
and little wedgie shoes,
Her makeup was perfect
Her long blonde hair just so.

She then invited him to sit down
at the table.
“Scrambled or fried eggs?” she asked
He said whatever is easier, scrambled
probably, and unbuttoning
his suit jacket sat down,
looking at her all the while.

She stood at the sink scrambling and
when the eggs were cooked
she sat down
opposite him and they ate.
Not much talking, mostly eating, and looking
closely at each other’s eyes.
He got up to go.
“That’s the best breakfast you ever made
for me,” he said.

And before he left, he asked her
if she was still mad
at him from the night before.
They had yelled at each other
and showed so much hate
that she ran off into the woods
beyond their yard.
“Leave me alone,” she screamed,
“I need to think,” and he went to bed

But this morning there was complete calm.
Her eyes clear, her face luminous,
showing none of last night’s horrific pain.
She had the look that said
she had found her
peace. And, it didn’t include him.

I saw that look once before
on my son’s face, the night before
he took his own life.
So I knew what was coming.
It was eerie to be so certain
where this story
was going.

As she said, “No, I don’t hate you,” she took
his face in her hands
and smiled slightly.
She then walked him
to the door and stood there
until he drove away.
She turned and went inside.
That was the last time
he would see her alive.

Friday, January 9, 2009

Facebook mania

Facebook recently became part of my life. What I like most about it is that friends, both old and new, have literally come out of the woodwork. It's a great way to catch up and keep in touch -- and lots of fun.

Facebook Friends

They come from all over
out of the woodwork, the
alumni annals, work,
and family – both distant
and close.
At first I thought
Facebook was just for kids – a way
to keep in touch by sending
goofy gifts, pokes, super pokes,
tags, photos and invites.
And, now I’m surrounded
with friends of all ages –
some I knew in the dark ages
at high school, some spent time
with me in the South Pacific.
many are my children’s friends
and many are work
colleagues – past and present.
I’ve got poet friends, hometown friends,
relative friends, adopted daughter friends,
and friends’ children as friends.
We eagerly write on each other’s walls
send hearts, flowers, and plants – and
little cute fishes
for any occasion imaginable.
We join causes, become rah-rah fans,
and we report in almost daily
about what we’re up to
right now.
It’s fun,
it’s fun.
and, I never thought I would
get so hooked.

Wednesday, January 7, 2009

Praying -- or whatever you call it

My next door neighbor found out sometime in middle November that she has Stage 3 cancer of the pancreas. She has an inoperable tumor the size of an egg in the center of her pancreas that the doctors say had been growing for the last year and a half.

We had dinner with her and her husband last night, and I felt like I was an inquisitor. But, I wanted to know if there was this kind of cancer in her family. It just seemed to me such a rare thing to happen to someone so seemingly healthy and so young.

What she said was very interesting.

She had none of the risk triggers for pancreatic cancer – no family history of cancer of the pancreas, she doesn't eat fatty food, she is not overweight, she has no diabetes, she's not an Ashkenazy Jew, and she was/is an avid exerciser. But, there was one thing that links her to this malady – she has a history of ovarian cancer in her family that is linked to breast cancer, which is one of the risks for getting cancer of the pancreas. Now that seems a little far fetched and circular to me, but how can I argue with the results? Here is a woman less than 60 years old who has it.

Fortunately her doctor has a very good reputation. Fortunately she hasn’t lost her talkativeness or her sense of humor -- even though she's lost some weight and is beginning to lose her hair. Keeping a sense of humor is a big plus in recovering from any illness. Also she has a good positive attitude -- one of the things that kept my brother going for 20 years after his cancer diagnosis.

I just feel so sad for her. And, the best I can think of doing for her right now is pray for her recovery, at least pray the best I can – I’ve never been known to be good at praying to anyone or anything. And, even though I know all too well that hoping is not a plan, I hope (and pray) that all of the things she’s going through to get well will work. Imagine getting chemotherapy doses dripping directly into your body 24/7 for 7 days in a row over and over again! No one, absolutely no one, deserves to get so sick. She is still young. She has a family and two beautiful granddaughters. She should have a lot of years to go.

You go, girl! Get well and hurry up about it!!!

Monday, January 5, 2009

The Emerging Goddess

Some time ago, I wrote some poems for a friend's book of photography, called The Emerging Goddess. I didn't know much about the history of goddesses at the time he asked me to write the poems, so I did a little reading up. Here's what I found out.

Those Ubiquitous Goddesses

Those mythological girls sure had it covered.
They were everywhere.
Every body of water imaginable –
the sea, the ocean, and all the freshwater streams, rivers, and lakes
even the springs, fountains, and marshes had a goddess.
They were the muses of creativity
inspiring lyrics, music, comedy, tragedy, dance, choral song,
astronomy, poetry, hymns, and epics.
They could have been epics in themselves.

They liked to go around in threes –
the Triple Goddess – maiden, mother, and crone,
the Three Virgins,
the Charities our goddesses of beauty,
the Furies our fearsome crones,
the Fates who controlled the time of birth,
how lives turned out,
and when it was time to die.
It didn’t do to tempt the Fates.
Some of the other threesomes weren’t so nice
or even attractive:
the Gorgons whose ruler was Medusa –
you know the one with the snaky hair,
the wise Gray sisters.
Poor things from Day One
had to share one tooth and one eye,
And those hungry Harpies
went around a half bird and half woman.

But mostly they were protectors
of all creations on earth,
of the moon, the days of weeks, the stars, the light,
the hearth and home,
the harvest and fields.

One goddess protected marriage
another protected prostitutes
another protected childbirth
and another protected young women.
Now figure all that out.
Wherever our goddess of spring walked
flowers bloomed.
But this poor soul
had to live as queen of the underworld half the year
just because she ate one pomegranate seed.
Even her mother,
the goddess of all life on earth,
couldn’t protect her.

Some goddesses were quite independent.
They hunted,
they went to war,
and one so cold and vain
was the goddess of love and beauty.
She lusted after the god of war.
What a combo that must have been.
Still others protected wisdom,
weaving, and the soul.
The soul goddess
married the god of love.
A most fortuitous union.

True, it’s all a myth.
Yet you can’t deny
it’s all about life lessons
and what we’re ready to learn.
So, let’s show those girls
their work was not for naught,
that we’re up to the challenge
to reach our potential,
to claim our destiny,
to protect and rule the world and beyond.

Saturday, January 3, 2009

More movies

We've been catching up on our movie going -- taking advantage of the time off during the holidays and trying to get in some of the movies that will likely be up for some kind of award next month.

Since Christmas Day we've seen:
Yes Man
Gran Torino

Plus a couple on Netflix:
The Diving Bell and the Butterfly
Miss Pettigrew Lives for a Day.

Also, right before Christmas we saw:
Seven Pounds

Well in my humble opinion Frost/Nixon was no where as good as Slumdog Millionaire and Milk, and Yes Man was a real loser. It was a great way to have a light time on New Year's Eve, but it wasn't even particularly funny. Seven Pounds had a pretty good script, but it was depressing as hell.

But, I will put Gran Torino up there with my best picks for this round of viewing. Clint is at his best, playing the part of a tough guy -- and a really old tough guy at that. Even so, he pulls it off perfectly. I went thinking this may well be my last chance to see him on the big screen again, and didn't expect to see anything special. So, I was pleasantly surprised how great this film is. Surely Clint has a few more films in him. And, if he does I'll be back at the theater to watch him again.

Our movie days may be a little more limited in the weeks leading up to the Oscars, but I do have a bunch on my list yet to see as soon as I can:
The Reader
Revolutionary Road
Last Chance Harvey

Oh, well the list goes on and on. And, if we don't make it to the movie theater, there's always Netflix. We'll probably have to catch Australia that way since it's disappeared from the theaters already.

Friday, January 2, 2009

It's that time of the year again!

Every year, after the holiday parties and new year's eve toasts, I quit alcohol cold turkey for the entire month of January. I don't do it to prove that I'm not an alcoholic -- really, I'm normally just a moderate wine drinker -- I do it because I want to clear my body of the alcohol toxins that I know I draw in during all the end of year celebrations. Also, it just feels good. In fact, so good, after that first January that I swore off alcohol, I decided to stop for another month during the year as well.

So, for the last 15 years or so, I'm alcohol free in January and July. It's a great break, and it even helps me lose a pound or two in the process.