Friday, April 18, 2014

Futbol: The Beautiful Game



Henry, his friend Noah, Sophie and I walked over to LACMA to see the exhibit Futbol: The Beautiful Game. I don't have much interest in soccer, to tell you the truth, but the exhibit was thrilling. The above photo depicts a Here's how the museum described it:

The exhibition examines football—nicknamed "the beautiful game" by one sports commentator—and its significance in societies around the world. As a subject, football touches on issues of nationalism and identity, globalism and mass spectacle, as well as the common human experience shared by spectators from many cultures.

It's also intensely masculine, and the concept of machismo was explored as well -- no female athletes represented, here -- and I have to admit that a series of black and white photos of some Italian stars "looking vulnerable despite victory" were very easy on the eyes. I'm sorry that I don't have the artists' names -- there was one Andy Warhol print of Pele, but the more than thirty other artists weren't familiar to me.

This was my favorite piece:




And I loved this one, too:



You can read more about it here.

Thursday, April 17, 2014

Black Magical Thinking

Pieta
William Blake


Joan Didion, in her formidable memoir The Year of Magical Thinking describes the way she thought in the year after her husband's sudden death as I was thinking as small children think, as if my thoughts or wishes had the power to reverse the narrative, change the outcome. In my case this disordered thinking had been covert, noticed I think by no one else, hidden even from me, but it had been, in retrospect, both urgent and constant. Didion, of course, was grieving for her husband, and her magical thinking, although not entirely conscious, was that she could actually bring him back. Today was the second day of Sophie having quite a few seizures, certainly far more than the few to none that she'd had in the previous two weeks. I heard her thump onto the floor in her room just a few moments ago, and when I stood up and ran to her bedroom, I knew that she was probably seizing, had probably stood up from her bed and then gone down like a tree, felled. I picked her up off the floor and comforted her, changed her diaper for the fifth time and pulled the covers over her. I felt bitter and not a little angry, wondered if she'd eaten anything off or whether she was having an allergic reaction to something or other. I went over the day -- the last two days -- and wondered if she was having a delayed reaction to the cold she'd been struggling with for a week. I even, for a moment, thought that she might be reacting to me. Don't assure me that this is not so. There have probably been hundreds of times in the last near-twenty years that I've thought it -- wondered if the core, the reason for Sophie's seizures lay in me, in my literal cells. It occurs to me that this is a sort of magical thinking -- a black magical thinking, the subversion of magical thinking. The power to reverse the narrative is beyond my grasp, and if I don't stop grasping, trying to figure out why, why, why, the outcome won't be changed. 

This black magical thinking is childlike, near primitive, actually, and definitely urgent and constant. 

Memory Cast






I lay on my back, under the sycamore trees, the pods prickly, outlined by blue sky. Your drawl in my ear, Sophie in her chair, cast my memory back there, Lord, sometimes I'm overcome, thinkin' bout.


We met at someone's house on Lake Placid later that summer, you from Canada and me from Rhode Island. Lying in someone else's big bed, you noticed that my thighs were slightly bigger. You're generally too scrawny, you said. I like you this way. I held onto the spindles, scratched a mosquito bite, made a cross with my nail to stop the itch.

Wednesday, April 16, 2014

How We Do It, Part XLIII




The sheer number of Sophie's seizures and the fact that I couldn't leave her alone or unrestrained for one single second today might have driven me to drink. Permanently.  Instead, I listened to Oliver play Tequila -- slowly but pretty damn well. There was a moment later, when the three children and I sat down to dinner, when Sophie flung her cup and Oliver caught it, instinctively, even mid-conversation without missing a beat, that I knew I was where I was supposed to be and that where I was supposed to be was a very, very good place.

The Italian Ax-Wielder



So, no sooner had I posted the previous post on how Sophie has had no significant seizure activity despite being sick and there being a full moon, than she began seizing this morning and hasn't stopped since. My southern Italian grandparents, pictured above, were deeply superstitious, and while I can't confirm it right now, I think they definitely believed in the power of the jinx. Their blood runs powerfully through my veins (as, apparently, my facial characteristics with theirs), so I'm going to attribute Sophie's bad day to the jinx I caused by posting so exuberantly this morning.

However, that Italian ax-wielder is yet unable to knock down this obdurate tree. Sophie did have more days than ever before without seizures and, I imagine, will continue to do well.

In the meantime, I'm hunkering down.

Inspiration by photo with a CBD update



So, I'm sitting here at my desk (yeah, I know, I'm sitting) staring at this photo of Sophie and then this photo of a tree that looked exactly like a stooped woman in a long dress:



and since I'm often inspired by photos, place them in front of me before I begin to write, I stare at these two and empty myself of all thought, place these fingers on the keys and

just go.

Sophie, despite having several days of a terrible head cold and the accompaniment of a full moon (which ordinarily causes mucho seizure activity) has had no seizures to speak of in weeks. We raised the CBD dosage, and I do believe we've found the right amount. Other than an occasional weird tonic thing in her sleep or napping that is momentary, we haven't seen a single thing.

Holy moley. Holy crapola. Holy shit. Allelujah. Praise Jesus. Praise Allah. The universe is abundant.

And that tree. Now that I think about it, I might resemble it. A bit stooped and perhaps sagging under the stress of the last couple of decades. Obdurate and long-faced, my roots deep. Still here. Silent, knobby, folded in upon myself. Hunkered down. It'd be hard to get an ax through my trunk to cut me down.


Tuesday, April 15, 2014

DIY Stand Up Desk

Have ya'll heard that it's bad for you to sit down for any length of time even if you exercise regularly? Those who know me know that I sit down a lot -- writing, driving in my luxury vehicle through the streets of the metropolis, etc. -- and those who don't know me probably don't realize that while righteous, my fanny is a prime one for spreading. I really don't want to order one of those hipster stand-up desks, so I thought I'd kill the proverbial two birds and gather up a number of books that lie -- well -- everywhere in this house. Then I built myself a stand-up desk -- a place where my righteous fanny can stand free and taut in front of The Borrowers Aloft and back issues of Poetry, The Teenage Liberation Handbook, a couple of shoe boxes and the Kate Atkinson novel that I haven't gotten round to reading, yet.

What do you think?








The consensus from the Peanut Gallery and The Teenage Gallery was:  that's just dumb, Mom.

Blood Moon




I had hoped for some sort of illumination when I sat outside last night, late, watching the moon's radiance slowly eclipsed. The moon was a perfect golden disc overhead, and then, quite suddenly, it looked as if a bite had been taken from it. Darkness crept slowly over its surface until finally only a sliver remained and then that, too, was extinguished. A moment or so later, the disc was a ball, a perfect sphere, glowing reddish. A blood moon? It seemed more impervious -- more elemental, even, than blood, more obdurate than passionate. I sat in my metal chair, a speck underneath this gold turned black turned red, felt only the moon's inscrutability, the only illumination, my own insignificance.



String of Pearls

The pearls my mother gave me as a bride
rotted inside.
Well, not the pearls, but the string.
One day I was putting
them on, about thirty years on,
and they rattled onto the floor, one by one . . .
I'm still not sure I found them all.

As it happened, I kept a white seashell
on my vanity table. It could serve as a cup
where, after I'd scooped the lost pearls up,
I'd save them, a many-sister 
haven in one oyster.
A female's born with all her eggs,
unfolds her legs,

then does her dance, is lovely, is the past -
is old news as the last
crinkle-foil-wrapped sweet
in the grass of the Easter basket.
True? Who was I? Had I unfairly classed
myself as a has-been? In the cloister
of the ovary, when

released by an extra dose of estrogen,
my chances for love dwindled, one by one.

Mary Jo Salter

Monday, April 14, 2014

Astonish and Admonish



I'm supposed to make up my bed with the clean sheets, but it's nearly 6:00 and I haven't gotten round to it. Don't lie on those! I admonish my son who has flung himself over the billows. I meant that word: billows. Decidedly not pillows. I am lying on the pillows reading a book, and he is bothering me.



I take a photo of myself while waiting for my son to finish up his sax lesson. I want to figure out what, exactly, it is that I feel, and I wonder if I might capture it in the self-portrait. Sophie is in the backseat of the car, a tendril of hair caught in the last of the snot that has been dripping out of her nose. She is getting over a virus before which and during which she had no seizures. I am astonished by this yet admonish myself for self-absorption, for not climbing back there to wipe her face. I am tired.

I read nothing in that photo, use no filter, dare myself to put it up here. (Tell me what to do). Admonish me.

Astonish and admonish. I am reading a wonderful novel called Astonish Me by Maggie Shipstead. I don't often use the word astonish, and I often use the word admonish. In fact, there's little in my life right now that would astonish, and certainly as a mother I too much admonish. Or maybe it should be the other way round: There is much to astonish and not enough to admonish.

Admonish me.
Astonish me.

Monday Morning



Stay tuned.

Sunday, April 13, 2014

Weekend Wrap-up



Despite being vaguely sick with a sore throat, a tingly head and weary heart, the show must go on. I traveled with Henry and Sophie out to Thousand Oaks in the Simi -- or was it Conejo -- Valley so that Henry could try out for a summer lacrosse league. I think it was Ronald Reagan country. After dropping him off at an enormous high school, I drove up and down long stretches of road, looking for a place to eat, and finally had to succumb to a McDonald's that was camouflaged like every other building in Thousand Oaks to look beige and at-one-with-the-environment even though the environment was vast tracts of stucco mansions and neighborhoods with names like Windsor Circle and Heather on the Moor with nary a flower out of place or even an iota of the urban grime that we're generally subject to in the city.  However, there was a truck in the parking lot of Mickey D's with a Confederate flag flying on the back, and while I don't want a repeat of the last time I noted a Confederate Flag flying from the back of a truck, I wondered if the same people who'd been to the beach at Santa Monica last month flying their rebellion were actually sitting inside on this Sunday, eating their Big Macs and being all American as you please. Because, you know, I want to pretend that it was a grand coincidence that I've seen this truck and this flag twice now in less than a month -- that People Who Love the Confederate Flag Yet Live in California are a rare breed and hopefully dying out. Yes, I'm perfectly aware that California is home to far worse types than those who fly Confederate flags on the back of their pick-ups, but humor me. How does the song go? From the mountains, to the prairies, to the oceans, white with foam... God bless America, land that I love? 

To tell you the truth, I'm not sure which is more American -- the flying of the flag in the anesthetized burbs or the growing legion of homeless people camping out around the corner from my home in the middle of the city.

Anyhoo.

I am, as I told you, sick with a sore throat, a tingly head and a weary heart.

What have ya'll been up to?

What we see



If this beautiful corner with the red gate weren't my own home, I'd stop while walking by and take its picture. The bougainvillea has self-seeded there and reaches for the sun. The oak hydrangea is chartreuse and about to bloom. The asparagus fern has recovered from the digging last winter and reaches up beyond the lens of the shot. Some would say it was onanistic (not me). But if it weren't my own home, I wouldn't know this, perhaps wouldn't even see it. The gate would invite me in to somewhere cozy and enclosed, a secret garden of twittering birds and laughing children, an easy chair, a beloved book. Would that I had new eyes to see and be grateful.

Saturday, April 12, 2014

Saturday Poetry When You're Sick


One Dandelion
Atwater Village, April




To Some Buckets
 
Waiting to fill you, buckets,
One morning it was afternoon
Then evening, all the same except
One time when I filled you
And carried you to the apartment
In which a dog was sitting
I forget its name. He drank thirstily
And well I brought you
To other places too with always
A strain, hurting my arms
For you are heavy you
Are heavy with water filled
Whether it was on Leyte
That I carried you 
To fellow soldiers
Or up to the blankets, from the sea,
To some who were too hot. It makes
For giddiness to
Concentrate on you
Concentric buckets - senseless -
You lend your sides to the soul.


Kenneth Koch
via The Borzoi Reader

Friday, April 11, 2014

The Unbearable Lightness of Being***



to Sandra





So, in lieu of elaborating on just why I'm in the glummest of all glum moods (Sophie is sick and I'm at home, the constant sound of construction on my street as people build mega-mansions and apparently dig for oil because the ruckus is outrageous, and the unbloggable), I'm going to cut and paste an email I got today, one of many that I get nearly every day pertaining to -- well -- see for yourself.



Hi!

We have an article about balancing pregnancy and a healthy sex life. Is that something you would consider for your site?

There is also an upcoming adult sex education event that focuses on a 50 Shades of Grey lifestyle.

Thanks!

Sarah

cid:image001.jpg@01CDDEC6.D649E3F0



Reader, would you like it if I hosted this article here at a moon, worn as if it had been a shell? Could this be the universe responding to my intentions? Yours?

Responses welcome.























***One of my dear friends asked me what the source of my glum mood was today or whether it was just the unbearable lightness of being. That question made me laugh, then remember my beloved Daniel Day Lewis as Tomas in the movie version of Kundera's novel and then inspired this goofy post. And I'm a little less glum. So thank you, S.

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