Saturday, November 14, 2015


You know we were there this summer.  To visit family, friends and the city itself.  You may also know, if you've known me for a long, long time that I am so not a Francophile.  But this attack caused a pain in my heart.  Probably one that would not have existed had I not walked Parisian streets and eaten at Parisian cafés.  As I wrote to some American friends who live there for half of each year:  This hurts in a way the Hebdo and supermarket ones did not.  There was a twisted, evil [but] understandable logic -- which in all wild murders holds only for an atomic moment.  But now that I've seen Paris, and now that it is not an abstraction, and that there were dozens of indiscriminate many ... The French republic will be brutal, dark and swift in its reprisals. I fear that the geopolitical axis has shifted towards another major war.

A blow to one of the world's great cities (and not all large cities are great cities -- Los Angeles or Dublin being cases in point) is a mortal blow to our common humanity.  I've lived in one and been to a few others and the time spent in each and every one -- whether it has been years or days -- has been a gift that has changed me.

Sunday, October 18, 2015

And Then I Fell Into Max Roach's Arms ...

... which I did not actually do, at least not on purpose.  I almost did as we were being introduced.  These things happen when you are backstage at BAM and you are wearing a leather motorcycle jacket (why on why did I ever imagine I looked cool in that ridiculous armor?) that is so huge and so heavy that your center of gravity shifts to about 2 feet in front of your nose.  And you trip without someone behind you snatching your harness in time.  One recovers, not without embarrassment, and we do not speak of it again until this moment when one of us in that brief encounter is left and spending this year looking over her shoulder.

It's fall.  The new year.  It has turned cold.  For real.  And again I am not ready.  This is the season I finally come alive.  Whatever it is about my particular body chemistry and the atmosphere, I am suited, if not for the cold, the cool.  And the diffusing light.  And the V's of geese making their way to Target (or some such shopping destination).  I have been in my wonderful job for a year, and there are parts of it that I've finally grown into, parts that still catch me unawares, and many many mysteries, which is a good thing.  I have been given a reprieve in school by finally taking a course I can understand without threatening to plunge sharpened pencils into my own ears from frustration.  And having come to this study very late, I know that I don't have time enough to take more Java courses.  I will have to be satisfied with this, and like all things in the autumn of one's life (didya see how I did that!?!?!?!) the knowledge adds piquancy to my pleasure.  For instance:

public class Dispatch
public static void main (String [] args)
String partingWords = "Au revoir, mon ami, à bientôt.";

The above is about as close as I'm going to get to write poetry for a while.  It will have to do.  I get the code right and you can hear me barking and clapping like a baby seal with her first taste of squid.  And that is how I occupy my non-jobbing hours looking from the inside out as the leaves contemplate their kamikaze dive to earth.

There are things and people that I miss, plenty of them.  I miss writing.  I miss Fred.  I miss the wonder of newness when something happens or you experience someone or some place for the very first time.  And teaching.  But there are pleasures, too, as I vicariously share the ardors and joys of early parenthood, career-making, partnering, and the surplus of beauty and vigor and passion that defines the young.

In a couple weeks I will be in Seattle for a business meeting.  My first impolitic reaction was:  Seattle?  In November?  The fuck?  And then I got over myself.  At least, I thought, I may have a chance to see a dear friend that I met in my freshman year at Antioch.  (I saw my other dear friend from those days this summer.  Whoot whoot!!)  And one half of the couple that I named Daughter No. 1 after.  And maybe a friend who then, if not now, lived a mere 5 hour drive away.  (I'm hoping that a 5 hour drive to her is like a 10 minute bike ride to me.)  But, in terms of visiting with my past, I'll take what I can get and be grateful for it.  (Who was it who first said, "Everywhere I go I meet myself."?)  I haven't been there since 1990 on my way to a writer's colony on Whidbey Island, and I'm sure I won't be back any time soon.

That's how life goes and Time does, too.  I must walk to my office to retrieve my bike, and learn some more about while loops, and clean another room as if to prove that humans, not beasts live in this house.  (I'm thinking maybe I can then seal it off and forbid entry until Thanksgiving.)  Then with what is left of the day, who knows?  Au revoir, mon ami, à bientôt.

Thursday, September 24, 2015

Grandma's in the House!!!

Were I really really rich I would hire a tow truck to follow me everywhere.  And during those times when I've been sitting too long, the driver would insert the meat hook in my belt loop and hoist my ass into a standing position.  I, who have a surfeit of dignity and vanity, would dust myself off and get on with the business of being an ancient college student.  Aah, yes, it's Fall, I'm in school and also on one of my perennial self-improvement missions.

You know how these things start.  You go shopping and find yourself in a dressing room about to be reflected by half a hexagon of mirrors and out of your mouth comes the immortal words:  Is that MY behind?!?!?!?@**@#&#*@!!?!

The only thing to do, to paraphrase Shakespeare, is to get thee to a gym.  So, I have.  When these fits of fitness come over me I'm lucky enough to have a class schedule to have time to work out when most of the student body doesn't want to or can't -- mid-morning.  Not so this semester.  Twice a week around 5 o'clock I share the fitness center with half the football team, and 20 year old girls bench pressing 100 lbs.  My solution is to take my glasses off, put my blinders on and think of England as I limp from machine to machine setting the pins at no more than 30 lbs. of weight to resist.

As least the boys are nice to me, although a complicated mixture of pity and snot-shooting scorn has to be gotten under control before they ask:  You usin' that?  And I look at them as if to say, You think I come in here to pick up guyz?  Can't you see the pain I'm in?  But, instead I simply say,  Yeah.  But, this'll be over real soon.  And the deal is done.

As you can imagine during every step I walk to get to the fitness center I'm running a thousand excuses not to go.  (Can you tell I'm taking a programming class?)  But, I must, because if there's anything I'm sure of it is that life goes on until it doesn't.

Happy Fall, y'all.