My father raised me. Even after I had a stepmother, Dad laid down my rules. Even now, after 30 years, it is still his approval that I seek.
He made some big mistakes:†
I wish he had cared about my grades as much as he cared about my weight.
I wish his hero had been someone other than Star Trekís Mr. Spock, the logical, harsh, analytical,
scientist.† I wish he had considered my feelings as valuable.
And this is what he did perfectly:† Ten years ago, when I nearly fell apart, the
certainty of his love anchored me to life.
I learned the facts of life in a car coming home from my grandmotherís
house.† I was eight, we were two hours
into the trip, and Dad said, ďDo you know how babies are made?Ē
I thought God let babies happen after people got
married.† Babies are made?
ďNo,Ē I replied.
ďYou know that men are built different from women?Ē
ďA man puts his penis into a womanís hole.Ē
Horrified, I stayed silent.
ďIt makes a baby.† Itís
also called fuck if you ever hear
Five years passed before I learned that people did it for
From a commercial for a local gun show:† Come
get your guns, knives, and gold and silver jewelry! †
I suppose gold and silver jewelry, like bacon and peanut butter,
go with everything.
A few months ago, I got a scary phone call from a client
late at night.† I knew he was a drunk and
violent, and I kicked myself for having my name and address in the phone book.
After a quick, No one
here by that name!† I made a call,
and I had a loaded weapon by my bed within 20 minutes.
A rifle goes with everything.
Today, I made oatmeal bread with maple syrup and brown sugar
dissolved in the dough.† I shaped each loaf
in a ball and after the second rise, I slashed a satisfying X in the top.† I love how the dough slowly separates from
itself beneath my sharp silver paring knife.
I also made buttermilk bread.† I let the buttermilk stand so it warms to
room temperature.† After I poured it into
the bowl with the sifted flour and melted butter, I †inhaled deeply from the buttermilk
bottle.† Buttermilk smells like my
grandmotherís hands.† And those moments
are why I bake.
Two friends and I were standing in line at the gelato store behind
a girl wearing a t-shirt that read on the back, Follow Me as I Follow Christ.
We all rolled our eyes.†
One friend whispered, No.
As soon as someone advertises herself as a Christian, a
jillion red flags go up.† Iím trying to
keep my assumptions in check because I donít want to be a religious bigot.† But, honestly, if I find out youíre a
Christian, I wonít think anything of it.†
But, if you put Jesus on your t-shirt, Iíll likely assume youíre an ignorant
Today, we put a bid on a house right on the river.† If we get that house, Iíll buy a thick, stiff
fishing pole with heavy line.† Iíll put
on a silver weight and a treble hook, and then Iíll add a big bobber.†
Iíll sit and watch the bobber bob in the river, hopefully
for about 50 years.
Back when things were bad, I felt like a bobber that had
come undone from the line.† I was just
tossed by whatever came my way, good or bad.
I want to hold a bobber steady for a long, long while.
This guy owed some people $3000. He shouldnít have owed the money in the first
place, but bad choices were made. Heís
not a bad guy. Heíd hardly ever been in
trouble at all, and he had wife and young kids.
He got behind in his payments due
to some serious medical stuff.
My colleagueís suggestion for the manís punishment?
Three years in the
I washed dishes last night thinking, How can someone believe it would be a good idea to take away a year of someoneís
life for every thousand dollars he owes? How could someone believe that?
Getting a big wooden salad bowl let me know that my life is
I was 39 when I got my bowl.
Before that, I didnít need a big wooden salad bowl because, mostly,
I ate alone.††
A salad bowl is for company - not buddies over for Little Caesarís
eaten while watching the game - but friends and family who sit down at a table
and look at each other - people who want to linger in my home.† People I feel renewed by.
A big wooden salad bowl says I care about my guests.† It says, welcome.
Iím a cheerful, educated 40 year old woman.† And I love to watch Ultimate Fighting on
Spike.† Two men in a cage: †wrestling, martial arts, and boxing.† Mostly, itís a lot of ass-kicking.† Three rounds, five minutes each, but it
hardly ever lasts that long.†
Thereís no Iím sorry,
no I didnít mean it in ultimate
fighting.† Just id.† Every fighter hits as hard as he can. Bob and
weave too much and heíll end up on his back for a ďground and pound.Ē
I need a few minutes of my week being witness men live
without regret or apology.
What I saw today, driving through Western Oklahoma (where
there's a lot of dirt and sky to see, and everything else is just freckles):
A sign at a gas station that read, Ostrich boots on sale.
The sunset reflected on a pond so still the flowers around
its edge must have been holding their breath.
A hitchhiker wearing a cowboy hat.
Giant white windmills, and if you've never seen wind farm,
then I promise you that no matter how big you've imagined those white
windmills, they are actually way bigger than that.
A semi-truck turned on its side.
At poetry readings, whenever new person gets up to speak,
there is dread all across the room of a long, boring poem.† Tonight, at a poetry reading, a woman got up
and gave a history of Norway for 10 minutes.†
Not in poetry form, just as an introduction.† I kept looking at her hands because she was
holding so many pages that they were stapled.†
Oh, shit.† Then, she proceeds to read a Nineteenth
Century Norwegian Proclamation of War: THAT'S NOT EVEN A POEM.† After 15 minutes of that horror, she asked to
sing a ballad.
The answer was no.
Iím watching the John Adams on HBO (itís great).† Heís the second president, and the first in
the White House, and he prays, ďMay only men who are honest and wise occupy
Thatís a prayer we all share.
I often wonder what I would say if I met George W. Bush at a
party.† ďI hope your conscience never
lets you sleep againĒ is true, but itís too easily dismissed.† Remaining silence isnít possible.† Finding the right combination of righteous indignation
and humility is very difficult.
Iím working on it, just in case I ever get the chance.
My favorite ice cream place has a Flavor of the Day, known
as the FOD.† Iím very attracted to the unknown FOD Ė Iíll
pass by stores with tastier ice cream in order to discover what flavor awaits
me that day.† Also, I feel very in the
know about how to order, because Iím hip enough to the store to abbreviate,
rather than say flavor of the day
Tonight, the FOD was Death by Chocolate.† Chocolate ice cream, chocolate chips, and
whoppers.† I ate a small cup, and instead
of killing me, Death by Chocolate has only made me stronger.
Tonight, I came home from work and opened up the refrigerator.† Iím running low on everything, so I saw the
jar of pickles in the back.
Those baby dills had been there for at least 8 months, and I
hadnít touched them.
But, my God, tonight, I was seized, seized with desire for the baby dills!† I panicked a little when I couldnít get the
When I took a bite, they werenít as good as I thought they
would be, but, still, they were delicious and refreshing.† Itís like I forgot about pickles and today
discovered them again.
I donít want to wait in the bar; I donít want to connect
another table to our table; I donít want to return your loud witty banter; I donít
want to laugh at the waitressís fat joke; I donít want another club soda; I donít
want to try your fried calamari; I donít want to just lighten up; I donít want
to pee in a public restroom; I donít want to see the wine list; I donít want
you to bring me a tray of desserts.
I want to be at home, eating something simple, maybe standing
over the sink.
Iím selling tomatoes tomorrow at an herb festival.† I like the idea of being around a lot of
tomatoes, but I dread the crowds.† Back
in the day, there was commercial consisting of perky people interviewing for a
job, and each one said, ďIím a people person!Ē†
The message was clear:† everyone
is a people person and it isnít enough to be qualified for anything.
Iíve always known in my heart that Iím not a people person.
I need to be alone.† I
need to regroup and recharge, and large groups of strangers suck the holy
living life from me.
The other day I considered writing the word fuck 100 times.† But thatís rather vague.† I would have meant it as an exclamation, not
as a command.
Being lawyer is a world of words.† Being sentenced consists of sentences Ė nothing
but words strung together as close as the chain on a handcuff and as heavy as
I come home and savor silence like it is food.
Friday, after a long day, after dinner with friends who were
louder with every glass of wine, the only word that came to me as I faced my
blinking cursor was, fuck.
Iím full of pride about my recent grocery list:† salt, dried
pinto beans, and yeast (in a jar, not the packages).† Thatís it.
Itís taken me 40 years to grow up enough to have a grocery list
like that.† This was my list for years and years:† Ruffles, buns, meat, A-1,
frozen peas and carrots, Pop Tarts, Little Debbies, Pasta Sauce in a Jar,
Hamburger (Jesus Christ forgive me) Helper, an 18 pack of beer (I thought
buying a full case would be advertising overindulgence), and 3 packs of
Marlboro Lights (no cartons because I was always fixing to quit).
When I was four years old, my mother picked up two cane
poles and two bobbers, and she took me fishing.†
We went to a dock by ourselves, away from the rest of the family, and I
couldnít have felt more special.† There
were five of us kids, and it was hard to get her away.† For bait, she took the insects from nearby spider
webs and attached them to our small hooks.†
I distinctly remember a snake coming up and striking our bobbers. I was frightened;
she put her arm around me and smiled, and I felt safe again.
Somebody in my family got a cornea transplant a couple of
days ago, and no one told me she even had eye problems.† Itís not as if we arenít close; by our familyís
standards, she and I are very close.† We
just arenít emotional about it.† (Weíre like
the groomís family in My Big Fat Greek Wedding Ė aptly described as dry toast)
I get the impression that the excuse for not telling me is
that itís no big deal Ė just a cornea transplant Ė happens everyday.
But Iím not buying that - getting a new eyeball seems pretty
big to me.
I came home from work, changed into a t-shirt with holes in
it, put my hair though the back of a cap, and went into the kitchen.† One cup of oatmeal in boiling water.† Then, I stirred yeast and honey stirred in
hot water until it foamed up.† Add yeast
to oatmeal along with milk, honey, molasses, brown sugar, and a little bit of
Then I sifted in white, wheat, oat, and a tiny bit of rye
Then, I added granola and crushed pecans.† Kneaded.†
Let rise twice.† 20 minutes at
Good things about today:
putting my feet on my desk at work, blooming white irises in the
backyard, a kiss goodbye after lunch, a new idea for a poem, milking a goat
with long udders, helping a friend, making toast, drinking my first cup of
coffee, sticking my elbow out the window of the Jeep, wearing my favorite
underwear, letting my dog sniff my face with her big nose, watching the Daily
Show on tivo, taking off my shoes, singing in the car, whispering the words chicken wings, calling my father, being
asked to play softball, declining to playing softball.
Here it is:† Men's
relationship with their penis sort of fascinates me.
True, as a woman, I don't know what I'm talking about, and
as a lesbian, I don't have a dog in this fight.
But thereís a line in Weeds
where a character slept with a woman whom he hates, and when asked about it, he
shrugged and said, ďThe cock wants what the cock wants.Ē† Thatís how it seems to me Ėmany men are led
around by, as my brother calls it,
Maybe everyone is led around by something Ė hunger,
loneliness, ambition, or a penis.
I sold tomato plants at the farmerís market yesterday. Blue skies and the temperature in the 70s
brought out thousands of people dressed in shorts and toting babies, puppies,
and fat dogs. (One woman had a Beagle so
fat it could barely walk, and I imagined stopping her and screaming, Quit feeding that dog so much, you
thoughtless bitch!, but instead I only looked at her and frowned.)
The people only wanted red tomatoes Ė which omits the
incredible Cherokee Purple and the
fabulous Jaune Flammee. One said, ďGod made tomatoes red and thatís
how Iíll grow Ďem.Ē
Theyíre missing out.
Today I bought a house - maybe the best house in the
world.† I also received a seersucker suit
and a crowbar.† I ate mediocre pasta and excellent
fried green beans.† The restaurant that
had the green beans also had a large oil painting on the wall of a huge pasture
on which grazed one white solitary cow.†
We named the work, ďLonely Cow.Ē
I threw a rock in a muddy river five skips.
I watched a woodpecker peck a tree.† I sat down with somebody at a prison.† I pulled on my dogís ears.
It was a good day.
Last year, my brother threw a giant million dollar wedding
for his daughter.
† Hundred of people came
together from all over the country to attend Ė there were family there who I
hadnít seen in decades as well as old people that might not have much time
But, I didnít attend because my brother refused to invite my
† Weíve been together for twelve years,
and weíre nice and unassuming.† But my
brother said that having a gay couple at the wedding would distract from the
Neither my niece nor my brother ever apologized.
I will never forgive them.
My mother died very suddenly when I was 7 years old, and I
really never got over it.† I have a hard
time acknowledging any of my emotional pain as severe, because nothing compares
to what happened to me when I was young.†
I assume that life is untrustworthy and unjust.
Every memory I have of her, like lying in her arms on the
couch, watching her hands pour hot chocolate from a thermos, seeing her sitting
beside a rose bush pulling weeds, is sacred.†
I give those memories enormous power, even though they donít really mean
anything at all.
Sometimes Jon Stewart is the sanest part of my day.
A woman looked at me in the face and flat out lied to me
today. She doesnít know it yet, but that
was a very costly lie she told.
I like to call my dog Licky McBighead.
I bought stink bait today.
One of the saddest views of life Iíve heard is this: We are like a hand in a bucket of water Ė it seems
like itís making a big impact, but when the hand is removed, the water isnít any
different than it was before. I donít