Sunday, September 28, 2008

Lit Crawl 2008

I'm happy to announce that I will be reading a piece of mine (an edited and spruced-up version of "Once") at the Lit Crawl portion of Litquake, San Francisco’s literary festival. You can visit the website here:

Our talk is going to be at the Beauty Bar, 2299 Mission Street and is titled, “Mommies With Brains: Literary Mama and Writing Mamas.” Please note that is their title, I did not name it! My title may have been, “Mommies who have lost their brains, but are optimistic of someday finding them through writing…” But they didn’t ask me.

My piece will be 2 minutes, or as my father-in-law pointed out, 120 seconds. I like the latter.

So, if you are hanging out in the Mission (and who doesn’t on a Saturday night?) on October 11th and want to say hello, please do!

Thursday, September 25, 2008


The funny thing about motherhood is that there is no warning when some mommy challenge is on its way.

They just sneak up and surprise you, like one did to me when I picked up my son from preschool. It was 101 degrees outside and my head felt foggy as I noticed my sons’ red cheeks and wet hair from perspiration. I was trying to take a sip of water to cure my headache. It was then, with my two boys playing in a shaded spot we’d named the “magic tree” that my four-year-old used “the word” for the first time.


He had broken a stick and said, “I’m going to shoot something with my gun, bang, bang!” My mind raced. What is the appropriate response to this? Before I could say anything, he turned the stick/gun towards me and said, “Now I’m shooting you!”

There was no malice or anger in his voice, just amusement with this new activity. I told him that we never aim guns, real or not, at people, only at non-living things. He asked if he could shoot the sky.

“No,” I replied, thinking back to the posters they have in L.A. bus stations around New Year’s urging people not to shoot their guns into the air as stray bullets can kill. I explained the physics of bullets and why we didn’t want to aim up.

Although I don’t like guns and think they are too numerous and easily accessible in our country, I loved shooting BB guns when I was young. My granddad would let us shoot them into the pillows in his living room. Maybe not the safest thing, but we had a great time doing it.

As my son got into the car, he said that he was going to shoot the seats. Not knowing what else to say, I told him, “I don’t like hearing about shooting. We can send each other love and energy instead.”

I am, after all, an energy practitioner. But I was aware that my words fell flat.

On the way home, he asked me to tell him stories about the magical train forest. He enjoys interjecting “train crises” – “Mom, look out, there’s a broken bridge!”

“Oh no,” I replied, “What are we going to do?” He sat for a moment and answered, “We’re going to shoot sticky balls from the gun!”

Shoot sticky balls at the bridge? Of course! They would fill in the gaps in the bridge, like glue, so the train could continue. At last, something I could agree to. Happily, I told him that it was a great idea.

Thankfully he hasn’t mentioned guns since. Maybe I should start preparing for questions about where babies come from. I'm hoping those questions will be easier.

Wednesday, September 10, 2008

Man On Wire

When the French tightrope-walking Philippe Petit broke through security in the twin towers of the World Trade Center in 1974, it was to create an act of rebellion, and of beauty. Although extremely self-focused (and what artist- and I put myself in this category- isn't really?) he had a band of friends and acquaintances who helped him to pull off the unimaginable task of stringing a heavy tightrope wire across the two towers and securing it so that he could walk across or "dance" as a police officer later described it in awe.

I thought I would come away from the documentary about this event, "Man on Wire," inspired to create, but Petit's change after his success soured me a bit. What struck me, however, besides his drive to want to tightrope walk a quarter of a mile off the ground with no safety net, was the story of the World Trade Center's birth.
Petit knew he wanted to walk across the towers before they were even built.

It almost feels like a sacrilege to admit this, but before 9/11 I had no fondness for the towers. Yes, I knew they were tall, but aside from that I hadn't give them much thought. But to hear the story from Petit and his friends and to see the early footage of the buildings, I felt that I was part of the historic erecting of the towers. One scene, hauntingly familiar to the ground zero footage, was of the very beginning of the building. I suddenly missed the towers as if they were old friends.

Trying to digest the movie afterwards, part of me wondered, as if critiquing my own personal essay, "What was the point of the story?"
This was the same question everyone asked Petit after his tightrope walk- "Why did you do it? What was the point?"

He thought this was an amusingly American point of view.

There was no point, he just felt he had to do it.

That I could identify with.

Wednesday, September 3, 2008

Latte-Lovin' Mama

As a sensitive person, I didn’t do caffeine.

The few times I drank coffee my rate of speech doubled, and I couldn’t sleep until a few days later.

(Maybe a slight exaggeration, but you get the point here.)

But now that Starbucks is in my local Safeway, I find myself indulging in a tall, one-pump chai latte.

They normally have three pumps.

The other day, sitting at the computer after drinking one, I shared in astonishment with my husband, “I really get inspired when I drink caffeine!”

He gave me his best “no, duh” look.

My husband often suffers the brunt of my health-conscious rants. No high fructose corn syrup, no food coloring, no soybean oil, and the list goes on. I’ve been on the anti-caffeine bandwagon since I met him. As a Swede, he began drinking coffee shortly after being weaned from his pacifier. Upon my ever-so-subtle suggestions, he eventually went off caffeine, surviving the withdrawal headaches for a weekend before they cleared.

But children-induced sleep deprivation changed that.

He’s back on.

And, apparently, so am I.

I’m finding it best not to be too “anti” anything these days. Any judgment or rigidity on my part seems to find me eventually eating my words.

Or in this case, drinking a latte.