Monday, December 5, 2011

December Views 4

They said it was my best pot yet...

Thursday, December 1, 2011

December Views 1

Not technically from today, but I forgot December Views was starting so it will have to do...

Wednesday, November 30, 2011

November 30, or The Hell?! I Have a Teenager Now

I have a teenager now. Hard to believe he turned thirteen today. He begged me to let him stay home from school in order to celebrate this milestone properly and, of course, I acquiesced. We spent the morning lazing in our pajamas and then headed to NYC, our favorite spot EVER. I had the privilege of taking him on his first trip to the Guggenheim. I was excited to show him this New York landmark. I knew he would love the architectural design of the building (after all he has the Lego model!) and the unique feeling of the space itself. And I was right.

It didn't hurt that the exhibit was so fabulous--Maurizio Cattelan, an Italian artist who is renowned for his provocative art and for being a prankster. His art focuses on contradictions in society and is both humorous and incredibly profound. This exhibit itself is like nothing I have ever seen before--123 pieces hung from the ceiling on ropes, mocking the fact that many artists commit career suicide by agreeing to a retrospective of their art, possibly even asking the same question of himself. It was thought provoking and beautiful and a little bit insane. Evan loved it, and I loved that he took his time and really inspected it. We didn't rush. We walked slowly around and around the rotunda viewing the works from every angle and talking about each piece, imagining Cattelan's intent and wondering what the hell he was thinking in some cases. It was great to be able to point things out to each other or suddenly see a certain piece from a totally different angle, whether above it or below it or directly across from it at various points during our stroll.

We checked out the Pop Objects and Icons exhibit and spent a little time looking at the Kandiskys, then imagined what it would be like to live in some of the apartments overlooking the museum and watched the pigeons fly at the windows. We sifted through items in the gift shop, picked up some postcards to send ourselves to commemorate our day and then we headed out. We had lunch at Serafina, a little Italian place that I love. Their pizza is amazing and, of course we had gnocchi. I bought him BuckyCubes in the museum store so we had fun playing with them while we waited for our food. After a leisurely lunch we headed back to Port Authority and took the bus home.

I am always amazed by this kid. He is bright and articulate and thoughtful and funny and creative and kind. He thanked me a million times for letting him skip school and for bringing him to the city. I always enjoy his company and I love getting the chance to spend time with him one-on-one. He is growing up so fast. As we walked through the subway station we passed a young man in his early 20s. I stared at him as he passed and then looked over at Evan and realized how quickly he is speeding toward that next milestone. When he saw me looking over at him he raised his eyebrows in question and I said, "I just can't believe that in 1o years you will be 23 years old." He shook his head and grimaced. He has always understood how fleeting nature of life, even as a really young boy he seemed to recognize how precious and special it is. He put his arm around me, and we shook off that thought and wandered out into the sunlight together.

Happy Birthday, Evan. I am so proud to be your mother, today and every day.

Sunday, September 25, 2011

One Week Out

I cried my way through last Monday. HUGE hiccuping sobs that seemed to come out of nowhere even though I knew their origin exactly.

I wanted to go back. I wanted to be where I was seen and heard and felt in a way that every moment felt like home. The hours with the boys at school felt so lonely it was excruciating. The week seemed to crawl by with no amazing staff to make my meals, no teachers to guide me to create works of art, no friends by the fire at the end of the day to ask me what I'd done or how I felt. Simply back to the grind, making lunches; helping with homework; driving to soccer practice, music lessons, the orthodontist; permission slips; Parent Night; laundry; grocery shopping; the usual day to day.

But then Friday night I attended a fundraiser for Girl Power 2 Cure in Washington, D.C. and I met some amazing families who are struggling with the loss of their beautiful daughters to Rett Syndrome: little girls who were born perfectly normal, but over time lost their voices, lost the use of their legs and their hands, began having trouble eating, having seizures. They are trapped inside their own bodies with NO WAY OUT. All tests and studies indicate that they are perfectly normal, and in fact in many cases, above average in intelligence. So it seems that they are completely aware of their plight. Worst disease ever. Robbed of life before they really started.

Disappearing slowly before their parents eyes. Horrible.


Instantly I regained perspective. It's easy to feel lonely or angry or scared or sad when we have experienced something as wonderful and sacred as Squam. But we got to experience it. That's the beauty. There are a lot of little girls out there, like Sarah, who would give anything to be able to walk the rocky paths, swim in the lake, talk and paint with their friends by their side. And so we'll go back again, even knowing we might flounder for a while when we return home, because those moments are so precious, so tender, so joy-filled that it would be worse not to get the chance to experience them at all.

Thank you to my friends who donated their beautiful artwork and some amazing items for the auction. Thank you to my friends and family who couldn't be there but who made monetary donations for the cause. And a special thank you to my family and friends who made the trip with me to be there on Friday night and who make my life a very special place to live.

I am blessed. And I know it.

Tuesday, September 20, 2011

Champagne In a Tin Cup

Several Squam Art Workshops ago Elizabeth and her crew put a book in our totebag. A book that chronicles the history of Rockywold-Deephaven Camps where SAW takes place. I admit, I never read it. I put it on the shelf and it sat there with lots of other books and remained unopened. But this year, someone (I’m assuming it was Elizabeth during her opening night remarks, but my memory is shot at this point so I can’t be sure) spoke of it and of the two women, Alice Mabel Bacon and Mary Alice Ford, who began the story that would lead to this camp and eventually to the experiences we all had there this week.

So I came home Sunday and read the book cover to cover. And I was blown away.

I was stilled by their story. The dedication they had to this spot, yes. But also their dedication to serving others, which they believed was essential to living our best life. I was impressed with their vision, their tireless work against prejudice, their belief in tradition and creativity. Their celebration of nature and their understanding that Squam Lake and the Rockywold-Deephaven Camp was a place where families and friends would come year after year to relax, reflect, reconnect, and rejoice. A place where nature would provide spiritual grounding. A place that would be near and dear to so many hearts for decades to come.

One line in the book jumped out at me, a way the camps have often been described, champagne in a tin cup. A place so simple yet filled with the finest bubbles--beautiful scenery, cool mountain air, a clear lake, loon song, coyote howl, warm fires, good healthy food, sturdy docks, a generous and attentive staff, solid cabin walls, stepping stone paths built by many hands a century ago. Spaces to create, to laugh, to cry, to commune, to sit in silence, to meditate, to find yourself broken open. Spaces to put yourself back together again. A place of belonging and inspiration. Frank Perkins, the camp manager during the 1980s, greeted the guests with the words “welcome to your spirit’s home”. Oh, yes, Frank, you could not have been more right.

I finished reading the book and then dug through a box to find a copy of an email I had written to Elizabeth after returning home that first year. I had explained to her that coming to SAW was not simply about the art classes, but also a stretching and pushing myself in a direction I had never gone before. Deep down I knew I would discover something about myself if I could only be brave enough to journey alone to that beautiful spot. So many people have been transformed there during the last four years. I have read beautiful blog posts and emails and letters retelling stories of shifts and changes in many lives, some small and some tsunamis of epic proportions. My own life has gone through a metamorphosis. Sometimes so painful, difficult, and emotional I would think I couldn’t take another step. But I would keep the memories of each of my SAW experiences in the forefront of my mind, remembering the way I had felt seen, heard, and accepted; felt the connectedness with nature and my fellow humans that Alice Mabel Bacon and Mary Alice Ford were intent on creating when they birthed the idea for the camp at the turn of the century--intrinsically knowing this was how I wanted to feel all the time, in every aspect of my life.

And this year in Brae Cove I felt it once again, surrounded by women who get me I was reminded of something I know in my heart: life is simple--take risks, love deeply, create beauty, serve others, respect nature, be brave. I believe there are two women, gone from this earth for many years now, who would be so proud to know Squam Art Workshops has taken up residence in their beloved camp. A place where we let out our hearts. And let go.

I think from now on I'll be drinking my champagne from a tin cup.

Monday, August 15, 2011


So this is the image I will have forever in my mind when I think of Providence... I feel like it represents my journey there to visit Elizabeth. See those cracks on the sidewalk? That is the last few months of my life. Cracked. Broken. Spilling open.

And the walls on either side? Yep, got a few hundred of those built up around me, too. They're coming down. Brick by brick, stone by stone. I've begun to tear them apart and made a space to let the light in.

The light. See it there, in the background, surrounding that tree? That light.

It's the hardest work I've ever done. The most intense. Gut wrenching. Soul searching. Dark side of the moon. Blood letting. Shape shifting. Life changing. Facing down my demons. Scary scary stuff. . . .

And then Providence.

I knew I was going to end up there. We had been tossing around dates. I was supposed to head up a few weeks ago and the timing wasn't right. I thought I'd go next weekend. It wasn't clear. I didn't really have a set plan. I read Michelle's post last week during my daily blog meanderings. And a day or two later I had a complete breakdown. The kind where you end up a puddle in a strip mall parking lot talking to a couple of geese who are trapped in the little patch of grass in front of Barnes & Noble. And I knew immediately where I needed to be.
I needed to be with a woman like me. Like the one Michelle described so well. A woman who had discovered her own inner wisdom, her intuition. giving way to a clear understanding that she really does have all the support she needs – family, friends, spiritual beliefs. That she can trust.

And so I headed north to Providence and found her there; the woman who had already walked through the flames and knew just what I needed. She knew how to provide a sanctuary. A respite. Without being asked. A place where I could read and sleep and dream and talk and talk and talk and talk and walk and talk some more. Where we could eat if we wanted to--and whatever we wanted to! Nap if we wanted to. Snuggle beautiful dogs. Feel the breeze. Write. Stretch our legs. Sit in silence. Maybe take a shower. Or talk some more. Intuitive and comforting and safe.

The perfect balance of fire and water. Providence. "A safe haven for those seeking the light."

Sunday, July 3, 2011

Open Heart

I have a technique for discovering the real person.

It goes like this,

using a sharp instrument

make a 4-inch cut in the chest wall,

divide the muscles,

crack open the rib cage,

remove the heart.

Study it.

Memorize the valves and arteries

the aorta

ductus arteriosus

pulmonary vein

vena cava


oxygen-rich blood.

Maybe then you will understand

what makes it tick.

Who it loves.

Why it suddenly stops

as easily as it started.

I think I will have elective

open heart surgery

to discover the real me.

Friday, May 20, 2011

Help Support the Good People of Alabama

This Saturday, May 21, 2011:

My friend Jamie and her friend Jamie are launching an art auction for Alabamians affected by the Aril 27th storms.

All proceeds will be donated to the Alabama Red Cross Disaster Relief for Countless Crises. There is also the option for auction winners to have their donation to the Alabama Red Cross to be placed in memory of a specific person killed on April 27th, 2011.

Spread the word.
Please conitnue to keep Alabama in your prayers as many begin to heal and rebuild.

Friday, April 1, 2011

The siren, she drags me to her deepest depths

and crowns me like a king

with starfish and conch shells

and the blackened teeth of ancient sharks.

Her seaweed is sharp and bitter,

though she wraps me in it

like a cherished cloak,

and anchors me tightly to her dark and murky sea.

Wednesday, March 2, 2011

31 Winter Poems: Poem 21


Knock. Knock. she says, holding her breath for a split second

before continuing the task of changing his diaper. Muttering, vampire,

into the waiting silence. Vampire State Building.

She laughs out loud at the absurdity of life.

One morning she could be folding laundry, watching Matt Lauer

climb the sides of Kilauea, mesmerized by fiery lava blasting a frothing sea.

Never imagining catastrophe and ash would soon rain down on her own city,

an armageddon attack turning a beloved space briefly into a war zone.

A different kind of eruption, leaving her husband cracked and spitting,

the molten shell of a man she never wanted.

Saturday, February 26, 2011

31 Winter Poems: Poem 20


so much depends

a frayed rope

obscured in gray

hung under the

Tuesday, February 22, 2011

Happy 10th Birthday

Dear Charlie,

I like to remind you each birthday how we worried the night you were born because it was snowing hard, and we didn’t know how we were going to get Grandma so she could watch Evan because Grandpa was stuck in a snowbank. (in his Bruno Magli shoes!) And when we were finally able to get going, we slipped and slid all the way to the hospital. And then you were ready to meet us, and I was pushing so so hard but you were sunny-side up, you wanted to come into the world face first, looking at it all, instead of looking down at the floor. But gosh darn it hurt, with your hard forehead banging my pelvis.

I cursed a lot. Sorry about that.

But I finally did it and you were out and in my arms. And despite the traumatic birth, you were so perfect looking. Such a beautiful little face. No conehead at all. Daddy and I like to say you’ve always had a hard head. You don’t give in easily, which I secretly love. You fight for what you believe in. I love that you laugh really hard and you also cry really hard. You embrace every moment of life like it was your last. That is an admirable quality, even when it drives me insane. I have learned so much from you. And that personality will get you through many tough times--it is enormous. You live your life out loud, and I know it sounds cliche, but you draw people to you like moths to a flame.

I am honored and humbled to be the person in your life you call Mom. I treasure the rest of your days and can’t wait to meet the man you become.

Happy 10th birthday, Charlie Boo.

I love you.


Mrs. Pontrella sang it to you the other day when I brought cupcakes to school, but you know the truth, you are my sunshine.

Wednesday, February 16, 2011

31 Winter Poems: Poem 19

All I Have to Do Is Dream

Sometimes I imagine I am still sitting

in my lemon yellow room on Alberta Avenue

dressing paper dolls in their fancy clothing--

two-dimensional Betsy McCall visits Pollyanna

under the bright lights of an imaginary Victorian circus tent

or I am slowly sifting through a shiny tin of glass buttons

letting them drop jewel-like through my fingers

as my grandmother pushes her foot down hard

on the sewing machine pedal

speeding through her stitches like a race car driver

laughing at me and my cousins,

the girls all prancing with abandon

dancing in our underwear and Nan’s fancy hats and pearly beads

to Sheb Wooley’s “Flying Purple People Eater”

and The Everley Bros. “All I Have to Do Is Dream”, side B.

Lifting the lid on that little black box

carefully, as if it were a treasure chest,

to flip the record, change the 45, push the needle back again.

Giggling while we switch positions, fall

into the beanbag cushions of each other’s laps

sure of our bodies, our nimble limbs

skin on skin, hands, feet, bellies, intertwined

unafraid of warm human touch, soft caresses,

proud of our budding breasts

and bloodless thighs.

We have not yet met the snake charmer

working at the corner store, the one with oil-stained hands,

and the sickening smell of Wild Turkey and Merit 100s on his breath.

Monday, February 14, 2011

So this weekend I ran with gazelles...

Gazelle is derived from the Arabic ghaz─âl. Appreciated for its grace, it is a symbol most commonly associated in Arabic literature with female beauty. One of the traditional themes of Arabic love poetry involves comparing the gazelle with the beloved, and linguists theorize that ghazal, the word for love poetry in Arabic, is related to the word for gazelle.

I spent this weekend in New York with a herd of gazelles. Like seriously, hard core gazelles. These women are compassionate and thoughtful and kind and deep. They ask questions and really listen to the answers. They are grateful for their friendships. They are grateful for the blessings that have been bestowed upon them in their lives. They are equally grateful for the times they have faced difficulties and for the lessons they learned from those dark moments.

They are not afraid of growth and they embrace change, both in themselves and in the people around them.

They are not afraid to set intentions.

They are not afraid to ask for what they want.

They are not afraid to say thank you.

They embrace love and light.

It is an amazing feeling to be surrounded by strong, self-empowered women who own their beauty and confidence. I know that they haven't always and don't always feel this way. They are human and all of us struggle (daily) with our demons, our doubts, our insecurities. But this is why the herd is so important. This is why we need to carve out time with people who allow us the space to nurture the best life has to offer. To walk the streets and follow our hearts. To stop and look and listen and take pictures and read poetry and eat good food and laugh and talk and nap and and soak it all in. This is high quality self care and many women (and men) do not ever take the time to do it. But I believe that it's just as important as air and water and shelter.

This herd, well, this is a herd I am proud to be a part of. This herd is a gift I have been given. And I am so grateful for these particular winter days when I ran through the city streets with beautiful gazelles.

Monday, January 31, 2011

31 Winter Poems: Poem 18

Dear Eve,

I need to tell you a secret.

It is of the utmost importance--

I can sense that you will understand completely.

There is something leeching out of me.

I cannot tell my family,

and I don’t think they have noticed yet.

They will only make fun of me more

than they already do. They call me Dory,

like the little blue fish in Finding Nemo.

The way something shiny distracts me from my tasks

and I veer off course without looking back

forgetting all about the wet laundry laying on the hardwood floor,

or the half-eaten meal

cold on the counter hours later,

or the car running, door open

and me tearing break-neck down the block

chasing the doe who stumbled

into our suburban neighborhood unannounced.

I am simply making sure the police don’t succeed

in using their tasers to stun her.

I know what that feels like, and it isn’t pleasant.

Believe me.

But anyway, I have deviated too far from the subject at hand

(surely more proof of the pudding).

Let me get back to this substance

that seems to be oozing out of me.

I first noticed it seeping from my scar,

which is the very reason I know you will understand me.

I believe our scars have fallen in love.

It is not clear how they met, but I have been told

they are planning an exorbitant wedding

and are contemplating naming their firstborn Moe,

which I think is an imbecilic idea.

But we have plenty of time to convince them of that.

My scar is S shaped and about six inches long.

It is a bluish-gray color, swollen and dimpled.

I try to avoid looking at it

because it reminds me of a caterpillar crawling

along my belly. I am sure at any moment

it will pop its furry head

out of my collar to tickle my chin.

I swear I’ll bite its head off when it does.

Anyway, again I digress. This green and viscous secretion,

which at first was just a trickle

around the edges of my scar,

is now beginning to gush

soaking my clothes so that I have to change them

several times a day,

not just my shirt but my underpants and sometimes even my socks

when it has begun to pool

in my favorite black boots,

the ones I got at Kmart with a coupon.

I am hoping that due, in part, to the impending nuptials

and the possibility we will be grandparents soon,

you might consider having a word with

that tiny white X on your chest, the one

right above your heart,

to see if you can find out what is causing this mysterious flow.

I am trying to contain it as long as I can

so my family won’t recognize my discomfort or even notice

the witch is back.

She is not riding her broom this time, but her cauldron

is full of hot sauce and something that looks suspiciously

like a cat with only two legs and one ear.

I am convinced you understand my fears and will do your best

to help me in my finest hour of need.

Or at the very least, maybe you can write a play

about our scars

and their fairytale beginning.

Wednesday, January 26, 2011

31 Winter Poems: Poem 17

May the Morning Ice Melt In Time to Explore Their Present

Snow and ice abound

surrounding our homes and our hearts.

An icy landscape we can’t seem to escape.

This wintry mix

infects me

dejects me.

If you want to know the truth,

it brings me to my knees.

But the girls,

the brave ones,

they shine brighter.

I feel a melting inside

when I breathe their air

see their joy

feel their love.

I pray they feel it, too.

Winter retreating

leaving us to rejoice

in the sun.

Friday, January 21, 2011

31 Winter Poems: Poem 16

Who were you in my dream?

Were you the owl flying so low over our car at dusk

or the red-tailed hawk in the tree on the lane

eager to show us how easy it is to fly?

Were you the snow-covered brook

murmuring past the house that Ira built

waiting for us to notice how ebb and flow

still smooth the stones even through the thickest ice?

Or were you that gentle curl of birch bark

lying near the path,

reminding us again how life comes full circle?

I keep asking but you don’t answer,

who were you in my dream?

Sunday, January 16, 2011

31 WInter Poems: Poem 15

My mother has always used religion to explain our lives,

lists of things we couldn’t do

commandments and punishments

sprinkled here and there with peculiar exaltations.

I’ve never felt like I quite measured up to their expectations--hers or God’s.

I seem to remember sitting

on the tiny wooden chairs

in my Sunday school classroom,

the accordian doors closed

protecting the pulpit from our too-loud voices.

While we made tombstones out of Playdoh

to roll away on Easter morning,

I examined the paintings of Jesus

staring down from the walls around me--

wondering how it was possible

that I could have been made in the image of God.

Feeling not so much like a photocopy

but instead like a fax of a fax,

so that even the outline is an approximation.

Friday, January 14, 2011

31 Winter Poems: Poem 14

and me.
Brave Girls, all of us.
Showing up to prove we belong.

At least that's why I'm going to be there.

Thursday, January 13, 2011

31 Winter Poems: Poem 13

Screw It

i'm thinking right now
might be a perfectly good time
to say screw it
for telling myself
that I am doing it wrong.

i'm thinking it's time
to make up my own rules
and my own shades of brave.

Wednesday, January 12, 2011

31 Winter Poems: Poem 12

photo credit: pixomar


sometimes I can feel the ferocious woman pulsing inside me

waking wild eyed from sleep

to face a brand-new day

ready to explore winding roads that line the earth,

wearing corduroys and cowboy boots,

saving conversation for strangers on diner stools

dancing fearlessly in a crowd of revelers,

strobe lights glittering above me while I move in slow motion,

never tiring of the buzz and the beat

diving into the ocean,

swimming deeper past fish and coral and sunken ships,

remembering every sacred breath I have taken.

Tuesday, January 11, 2011

31 Winter Poems: Poem 11 and 1/2

Like a marble window, the mountain devours my secret. No memory of my reflection.

31 Winter Poems: Poem 11

Inspired by the lovely Stef and what comes out of magnetic poetry:

The sun sets upon the ocean like a perfect slice of red velvet cake. Delicious.

Monday, January 10, 2011

31 Winter Poems: Poem 10

For Katie and Jesus

Here is evidence they existed:

the tilt of his head

her black-and-white dress

a red necktie

40 pairs of high-heeled shoes

love notes from a piano bar

a glass of champagne

a room doused with gasoline

ardor engulfed in flame.

Lives extinguished

and only love remains.