Friday, January 18, 2013

Saint Sullivan's Daughter: Dads and Daughters

Saint Sullivan's Daughter: Dads and Daughters: "Who a daughter gets as the most important man [father] in her life is pretty much the luck of the draw, for better or worse. That luck...

Friday, January 4, 2013

Saint Sullivan's Daughter: The Backstory: the Truth Behind the Consequences ...

Saint Sullivan's Daughter: The Backstory: the Truth Behind the Consequences

: The Backstory: the Truth Behind the Consequences My goal in  Saint Sullivan's Daughter  was to introduce characters that feel real. A m...

Friday, December 28, 2012

Saint Sullivan's Daughter: The Magic of Childhood

Saint Sullivan's Daughter: The Magic of Childhood: World over, children envision life through the kaleideoscope of innocence and imagination.  Trying to create meaning of the adult world...

Saturday, December 8, 2012

Hi Friends,
I am happy to announce that I've published a novel.  This is the cover. The novel is available in paperback from my Heartspace Etsy Store.  Or if you want a hardbound or ebook, you can buy it from Abbott Press Bookstore online.  Abbott Press is the publisher, but the book is available from corporate giant bookstores, if you're so inclined.
Here is a brief synopsis of the story.
Thank you for reading!
Happy Christmas and 2013!

The jazz cats call him Saint Sullivan, but he’s far from pious. Barry Sullivan drinks too much, can’t keep a job, and fights with his fiery Mexican wife. Ceci, their young daughter, witnesses their fury from the shadows. The child finds comfort with plaster saints and the spirits of her ancestors—until a tragic accident threatens her body and soul.

Great-aunt Pilar fears the Evil Eye and decides to intervene, taking Ceci and her family to a traditional Mexican healer, a curandera. Even in the ultra modern Los Angeles of 1960, ancient ways survive in the barrio. The curandera prescribes an unconventional pharmacopeia of folk remedies, compassion humor, and stories, charming the ailing child. 

Musician Barry Sullivan is caught between two worlds—the jazz scene, where he speaks the lingo, and the barrio, where he is a clueless foreigner, stumbling into a dangerous feud. He teeters on the brink of peril, while the curandera asks of him a sacrifice few men of the era know how to make, even for the sake of love.

Friday, January 7, 2011

Mending Myself

I love to mend, to repair and fix things.  I tinker with a needle and thread, glue, duct tape and wire, always with a smile on my face. I smile because it feels like I am a conduit for a redemption.  If I am not successful, there is still satisfaction in knowing I tried before I released the item to the trash, or better still recycled any lovely parts to repair the next thing.

Harder to mend myself. I suffer from two kinds of rheumatoid arthritis: ankylosing spondylitis and psoriatic  arthritis.  Much of the time I'm feeling a bit broken. I can't move the way I'd like and I have pain that wears me out.

I struggle to find the ways to mend myself.  Too much rest is not good, but over exercising the inflamed areas merely exacerbates the inflammation.  The recommendations for diet and alternative treatments are myriad and often conflicting. One by one, I test the recommendations that make the most sense, that seem possible.  

While mending, I struggle also to remain cheerful and polite to the suggestions that come.  Struggle to remain cheerful within reason, to remain authentic without whining or asking too much of those who offer help.  Struggle to know when to ask for help with the mending. 

I look for new doctors when old ones prove unsatisfactory.  It's a tough to discern which is my dissatisfaction due to the reality of a disease, and what is the doctor not listening. Knowing the difference is a delicate balance. Always I am testing myself, as I try to mend.  My initial perceptions are sometimes clouded by false hope, misinformation, lack of patience, and other human follies. 

Often my perceptions are sometimes spot on.  I love to mend and I want to heal to the extent I can, to use the wisdom and parts of this disease to build something of my life.  There have been limitations, perhaps too many to share.  Some are temporary losses of range of motion, others life-changing, grief-inducing: permanent body changes.

Part of the way to mend myself is to go inward and listen to the teacher there.  It requires silence, self-acceptance and at the same time a modicum of self-discipline.  Just when I want to cosset myself, I need to stretch the fabric of my being taut, to pull the needle through and begin the sewing that will mend me.

Though I may be acting reserved and inward, it is not that I'm sad. I'm happy because I'm working on mending.  It requires all the strength I have.

Wednesday, October 27, 2010

Unsentimental Poem for Mothers

Advice to Myself
A Poem by Louise Erdrich

Leave the dishes.
Let the celery rot in the bottom drawer of the refrigerator
and earthen scum harden on the kitchen floor.
Leave the black crumbs at the bottom of the toaster.
Throw the cracked bowl out and don't patch the cup.
Don't patch anything. Don't mend. Buy safety pins.
Don't even sew in a button.
Let the wind have its way, then the earth

that invades as dust and then the dead
foaming up in gray rolls under the couch.
Talk to them. Tell them they are welcome.
Don't keep all the pieces of the puzzle
or the doll's tiny shoes, don't worry
who uses whose toothbrush or if anything
matches, at all.
Except one word to another. Or a thought.
Pursue the authentic.
Go after it with all your heart.
Your heart, that place
you don't even think of cleaning out.
That closet stuffed with savage mementoes.
Don't sort the paperclips from screws from saved baby teeth
or worry if we're all eating cereal for dinner
again. Don't answer the telephone, ever,
or weep over anything that breaks.
Pink molds will grow within those sealed cartons
in the refrigerator. Accept new forms of life
and talk to the dead
who drift in through the screened windows, who collect
patiently on tops of food jars and books.
Recycle the mail, don't read it, don't read anything
except what destroys the insulation between yourself and your experience.

Blogger's note:
This lovely poem is not just for those of us who are mothers of human beings, but those of us who mother art, who run businesses, teach school, run for office, write novels, wait tables, nurse the sick, doctor the unfirm, and tend to the myriad responsibilities that accompany our womanhood. 
May you all be blessed with uninsulated, authentic experience.

Monday, August 23, 2010

English Class Blues

The following is a recollection  from my years as an ELL Instructor, the names changed and personalities composited to protect student identities.

A boy who had come to the U.S.A. from Russia once asked me. "What is 'have the blues?'"  

"The blues is to be sad. It is a sad feeling, called 'the blues'"

If there is a sad feeling called the blues, he wanted to know, was there a happy feeling called "the reds"? 

"No, there is not - not in usual speech." I fished for a consolation to his obvious disappointment. "You can say someone is 'in the pink.'" 

"Pink?  This is to be very happy?"

"In the pink can mean either healthy - or happy."

"Then someone is 'in the red' he is very happy - or very, very healthy! I am red!"  He poked the delicate  shoulder of our Ukrainian beauty.  "You are blues, Oleysa!" 

She ignored him, eyes focused on her workbook, the tip of her blonde braid twirled around her drawing pencil.  Typically she said little in class, but her written work was sterling.

Rarely finishing written assignments, Ivan usually worked the room. He felt entitled to admiration, strutting his superiority while tormenting the girls relentlessly.  Olesya rarely rose to the bait.

A sibling's disability, a sick grandmother, left behind in Ukraine - by age eleven, the slight girl had lived lifetimes, her gentle stoicism as compelling as Ivan's mercurial charm. She lived with her aunt and several cousins in a small apartment, twin baby cousins waking her in the night with their crying.

Ivan's American stepfather met the boy's divorcee mother on a worldwide business trip. His instant family moved to a spacious home and American luxury.  Ivan had the advantage but Olesya was his star competitor.

"Red is rich." Ivan pointed to his cheek. "I am right?"

"No," I sighed. "To be in the red, means you owe money."

"I already know red. I know! Okay."

Olesya rolled her eyes. "He don't know nothing."

Ivan snatched her pencil, scribbling red slashes across his notebook, until the lead snapped.

Her eyes welled.

I remembered; the colored pencils were a gift from the left-behind grandmother.

Ivan waited, shoulders cringed around his ears. Beside his notebook lay a battery operated pencil sharpener, just one of the parade of new gadgets Ivan brought to class.

My eyebrows raised with meaningful disapproval, I rapped his desk with my knuckles.

Ivan shoved the pencil sharpener toward Olesya.

For a moment she just stared at the contraption. Then, with slow, delighted precision she sharpened the eight pencils, each tip to a pinpoint, laying them out in a fanned row across her desk. With a pleased grunt, she unscrewed the sharpener, and emptied the shavings onto Ivan's red-slashed notebook.

Ivan stared at the pile of colorful shavings, closed the notebook and slipped it into his backpack.  Crossing his arms over his chest, he announced. "Blue is also opposite of red. Rich. Like my dad. He is blue. My dad is in blue."

"Better to say - your dad is in the black - to be in the black is to be making money. To get rich.  We will be in the black if we sell everything in the store." As I spoke, Olesya laid her pencils in rainbow order in the pencil box.

 Ivan's lips puckered, emitting a rude sputter. "English! It is made up by drunks in the street."

A rare, radiant smile lit Olesya's face. "Ivan got blues. I am so pink!"