Saturday, June 14, 2008


To cheer myself, as an antidote to the news, I find on my computer every morning a little spirit lifter from Dr. Dictionary, who daily sends me a word; as if I did not already have too many of them. But as there is so little left to believe in, I have decided to worship words. I look to them for Guidance. Today's word is apprise.
Apprise. Look around you. For all the shadows in the world, you are alive. And life is light.
So I am apprising. Because I am trying to ascribe to the philosophy I think I have expressed in my new novel:if you will reach out to help somebody, to interact, you can forget about yourself, and so lose the pain. I have enlisted in GAB, an association called Grandparents and Books, where retirees and even sometimes young vital people, go through a training so they will be fit to read to children in libraries. Really.
There were about twenty in my training group, It started off, in a library in Baldwin Hills, just as elegantly and generously--more so, as it turns out-- than those breakfast meetings at the high end condos of socially ambitious women in Century Woods;. Same menu. Bagels and nutbreads and coffee and grapes and Danish. Sweetly lavish.
The women (no men) were of different shapes, sizes, colors, tongues-- one in my sub-group when we went in to practice reading aloud was a Hispanic, English still a little hard for her, making the woman who trained us say how inspirational that would be to the children, with so many of them being Latinos in this region. We will wear aprons so they know it's safe to talk to us, so many of them being latchkey kids told not to talk to strangers. Big job: to pull them away from the computers so they will love books.
I put my first day's training into practice with Silas, 4, whom I had for the afternoon yesterday, and took to the Santa Monica Library which is pretty paradisical(sp?) Lots of light, spiffy, newly redone, loaded with books and a computer games section which I pulled him past, though he wanted to go there because he said the games go on forever. I told him what also goes on foreveer is the imagination, especially his, so he can think more things while we're reading, and he'll have a whole lifetime of thought to play with. Then I tried to read him The Elephant's Child, the story of how the elephant got his trunk, Kipling, from his Jungle Book which was actually the first children's book-- but the 'O Best Beloved' diction threw him and lost his interest so I seized on the Judith Viorst book about Alexander having a horrible terrible very bad no good day that gives the kids a chance to join in and repeat her magically downtrodden phrase, and also brings up Australia, where Silas has a Grandma and goes to visit as he will in August. It was better than fun. So my own spirits are lifted, and I look forward to being fingerprinted which I will be in the second training session, I assume so they can check I'm not a child molester.
But in spite of all this spiritual enhancement and upliftment, I did read the papers today and see that all the Taliban have escaped from a prison in Afghanistan which seems more than a little sloppy and unfortunate. Then, reading that the Irish were opposed to joining the European Union, I called my good friend the foremer Lord Mayor of Belfast, who disagrees with their refusal to sign the Lisbon treaty. The the Irish believe they've worked too hard to become independent to throw it all away by joining the European Union, and I must admit I rather like that, find it very Irish stubborn and twee. Maybe that will affect the Euro and one day we can go to Europe again. Then I spoke to my daughter the nail technician whose best customer, now on tour, used to be Cindy McCain. Madeleine told me Cindy not only was in Rehab for Oxycodin but actually stole it from a clinic she served on the board of. Oh, I do hope someone is on that for when they attack Michelle Obama.
What a world what a world as the witch said in The Wizard of Oz, though the evil dealt with in those days seems by today's standards, a mere bagatelle, the word from Dr. Dictionary last Tuesday.

Monday, June 02, 2008

Suicide by Sushi

When I went back to my beloved college to write a play after Don died, I got to know one of the professors I had had as an undergraduate. He asked me, non-judgmentally, how it was to wrote 'soft-core' porn.' As his subject had been Romanticism, and the Romanic poets, of which I had once fancied myself one,I did not take offense, but simply listened, as he rambled on softly, and spoke of what we were eating at faculty lunch in Wyndham as 'comfort food.' It was mostly pasta and cheese, the last of which we know is terrible for you. I had been to an acupuncturist shortly after Don's death,when I suffered, understandably, from migraines, and he stuck a needle in between my brows releasing not only what energies he might have been after but also a torrent of sobs. He asked me what was wrong, I said "My husband died," and, Asian that he was, said "Such is life." Then he stuck me again and said 'No more cheese," and that made me really cry because I still had a friend in San Francisco, Enrico, who restaurateured and made great Italian, so I said to the acupuncturist, :"First my husband dies and then you tell me 'No more cheese.'"
Don's legacy to me was Sushi, one of the few things, as he was less than adventurous, a man most comfortable at home, that he had discovered on his own, and ushered me into, stunned as I was that he expected me to sit -- where? At the bar? But I came to love it, and Kaji, the friend he had made who was a Sushi master, one of the few friends who actually came to the hospital, bringing Sushi, everyone was so shocked that a man of Don's youth and size and obvious heartiness should have cancer. Kaji brought a tray the size of a table to the house after the funeral, and Robert, our son, went into his bedroom and ate it all, in an act of cannibalistic grief. I stayed friends with Kaji and followed him wherever he went, until he disappeared from the Marina, and I was on my own. Then, I found Hide Sushi on Sawtelle, where I was redeemed. As I wrote my new novel, if it went well, I rewarded myself with Sushi. If it went badly, I consoled myself with it.
But alas, as the phonies in publishing say, anything that feels too good is bad for you. So it is that tuna, the most comforting of non-cheesy comfort foods, is riddled with mercury, and when I asked Helmut, a shrink of few words, the other day what it could do to you, he said "Kill you."
So for the last few days, which have been hard ones, I went only occasionally and ordered salmon skin handrolls. But they do not make you feel better. Yesterday, more than any other day, as I went to a beautidul shower for a beautiful new young friend, and sat at the grown-ups table, when the event was over I didn't want to stand in line with the ladies on walkers, so was the last to get my car, as everyone else went off to their lives, husbands, boyfriends, charity auctions, I felt like 'The Cheese Stands Alone.'
Today the mood lingered and deepened, exacerbated by not having anything to turn to, including the Daily Word, a pamphlet of spiritual uplift which has on its cover for June a woman lying in a field of clover sending a text message,a fucking text message, so what is there left to believe in? Obama? Oh, okay. I spoke to a friend who works on his campaign last night who said he should have the nomination by Tuesday night and as soon as it is secured he will announce his vice-president, and who it will be, according to him, is Chuck Hegel, which I think would be a very good thing. A Republican. Really reaching across the aisle, to a man who opposes the bad stuff. Still that didn't comfort me enough, as it all still feels up in the air, as does most of life, so I went for Sushi.
I tried to branch out and enjoy, but it just isn't the same. So I broke down and ordered my signature tuna roll. Well, just a tsate. How could that hurt?
But ehre's how my life works: the sushi masters have become genuinely fond of me. So there was in that roll six times the normal amount of blue fin,
It is a slow death. But then, so is the Democratic party. That selfsame source said that whenver America has been in great crisis, the great man has come, then citing Roosevelt, Lincoln, and .. not to mention.. "the Founder."
Really? Is this a man of Washington's stature? The general, not the city. We shall see. I mean, provided mercury doesn't make you blind. .