Monday, January 28, 2013


A café, two women, one child.

“Yesterday at dinner, Megan-Marie looked so sad, and I asked, 'What’s the matter sweetie?' And she said, ‘Mummy, why can’t all mankind learn to live together in peace and harmony?’ It broke my heart – Megan-Marie has an ancient soul.”

“And she’s only five?”

“Only five, going on 500.”

“What a remarkable child, I can scarcely believe it.”

“Oh, it’s true, it’s true. Watch this: Megan-Marie do you hope that someday all mankind will learn to appreciate everything life has to offer and live together in peace and harmony?


“See? Oh, Child really is Father to the Man. My beautiful Megan-Marie with your beautiful thoughts, you put us all to shame. Now let’s take our finger out of our nose, shall we? That would make Mummy extra-special happy.”

Thursday, January 24, 2013

Go figure

So today, and that would be two days after the day before yesterday, we walked higher up the hill, expecting to find a spectacular sunset.

But the sky had no color, no color at all. Which left one of us disappointed and

the other one, amazed.

Tuesday, January 22, 2013

Monday, January 21, 2013

On the fringe

It's not often an event catches all of us -- left, right, and center -- dumbfounded, off-guard. And ill-prepared to massage the implications into a philosophical, moral, and sociological context.

The only thing that doesn't surprise me is how this has ultimately turned into a battle of left versus right.

Yes, of course, I'm talking about Michelle Obama's bangs.

As a left-leaning pragmatist with libertarian tendencies, I believe this development, though startling, perhaps even shocking, is still a matter of personal choice, best decided by one's own conscience and forehead.

The knee-jerk and outraged response from those on the right results from a mixture of insecurity and fear; i.e., most of them are bald.

On the upside, since for two days straight the Obama bangs have trended #1 -10 on the newsgroups, and been covered, extensively, by Fox, NYT, WSJ, and USA Today, it proves, hearteningly, we as Americans share a common bond: priorities.

Monday, January 14, 2013

Survival of the Lit-ist

Usually, hurricane-grade winds take their Thanksgiving vacation in the San Gabriel Valley. This year, when they failed to show, I thought we might be in for a bit of luck. But no, they were just spending extra time at the gym, beefing up their quads and abs.

And now in January, these guys have pulled into town, sometimes with advance reservations but usually just showing up like bad relations, plowing the Winnebago through the hedge, pounding on the front door in the middle of the night, a bottle of Rebel Yell in one hand and a bag of dirty laundry in the other.

What's the good thing about lying wide awake at 2 a.m.? What's the good thing about listening to the wind test your home's questionable insulation? What's the good thing about wondering whether that's dog gas or gas-gas you smell? What's the good thing about wondering which gas might prove more lethal?

The good thing is, you reach for the classics. The work you've always vowed to read before you die.

You know the ones I'm talking about -- Finnegan's Wake, Remembrance of Things Past, and anything set in a Russian prison camp.

As these could be your last moments on earth, might as well keep an old promise.

Last night, given the specific occasion, I chose Wuthering Heights.

I've only tackled Wuthering Heights from a cinematic perspective. i.e., I've seen the movie, sort of. Two or three different versions, sort of. And in every case, I've found Wuthering Heights similar to those dramatic love affairs we've all had (two is plenty, five indicates some therapy might be in order), where the intensity at the outset wears thin by the middle, and grows so tiresome you find a way to cheat and adjust the finish line.

On the night in question, and that would be the night of last, I left the bed, took my icy toes to the bookcase and pulled out a copy of Wuthering Heights.

Let me say this -- never ever doubt the classics. Half way into the second paragraph, I was sleeping like a baby.

Which just goes to prove, genius takes many forms, but most of all, it brings us what we need when we need it.

I don't know when circumstances will drive me to that third paragraph, but I take comfort in the fact it's there, waiting.

Thursday, January 10, 2013

Scene to warm a cold and windswept night

This is Sonia's mother before she was Sonia's mother. I asked to borrow the portrait because I think it goes very well with this piece below (sorry for the angry Beethoven face, but you'll hear Glenn Gould).

I liked Sonia the day we virtually met. We have so much in common. She loves dogs and I love dogs. Her dog died the year my dog died. She works in communications, I work in communications. She speaks English, I speak English. She speaks Portuguese, I speak English. She lives in a tropical paradise, I speak English. Her house cozies up to a Brazilian seashore, I speak English. Well, this could just go on and on forever, couldn't it.

Her mother was an accomplished pianist. Sonia remembers her mother playing many pieces of course, but most of all, Scriabin. Scriabin! I must say, it makes me swoon to think one could have a mother who would gather the family in the drawing room in a house in Brasil and play for them Scriabin.

Thank you for letting me borrow your mom and your blog, Sonia. Obrigada.

Monday, January 7, 2013

When the bloom is off the rose

Given nothing grows in my yard during the winter months, and, ok, admittedly, to save a little money, I asked Max, my gardener, if we could switch to an every-other-week schedule until spring.

He nodded and smiled and said something to his assistant in Spanish which I'm sure translated to, "This cheap fucking bitch only wants us twice a month."

"Of course I'll tidy the place up on the off weeks," I said, and got into my car and pulled away.

Two blocks down Lake Street, I realized I'd left something behind and drove back home. Max's truck was gone.

Like most relationships, this one started with such promise. A courtship period in the fall filled with halcyon hours of mutual admiration. "Oh, I love the way you trim my hedge." "And I love to trim your hedge." Under Max's care, the grass was tamed and flowers bloomed, all was right with the world.

I guess things started going south in early winter. Just little things at first, you know, but significant, had I been paying attention. He seemed less interested, disenchanted, almost, with my hedge. Worse, after blowing leaves from the patio furniture, he forgot to put the seats down.

We should have talked. Why didn't we talk? Too busy narrating our own personal dramas, I guess. So when I said it was better if we didn't see one another so frequently -- took a little me-vacation -- it probably caught him off guard. Then again, he could have been more understanding.

Instead, now we're at a crossroads -- that all too familiar stage -- angry, confused, and wondering what the hell we ever saw in each other.

Thursday, January 3, 2013

Documentary: Bad Writing

This doc really doesn't need an introduction, but it's going to get one anyway.

When I was 17 and a member of a writing program at a university, it was a revelation to learn I was not the best living writer I'd ever met. Of the fifteen in the program, I suffered the most by comparison.

So the worst sentence I've ever written, and there have been so many bad ones you'd think it would be hard to choose but cream rises to the top, happened while in this writing program.

At ages 17-24, we only wrote about love and sex, of course. Entirely confessional, life experiences. All we wanted to do was spill our guts on the page, then go out for some more life experiences an hour or two later.

Ok, on to my sentence: Blah, blah, blah ... "She felt he had sucked her soul from her throat and ... swallowed it."

"Well," the instructor said, "where to start?"

I think she had a 15-point summary of errors -- by way of metaphor, science, logic, just to name a few.

Rob jumped out of his chair. (There were no Bobs in the 70's, only Robs.) "I think what Karin wrote is perfect. Perfect!"

Rob was probably the best writer in the group, and he provided an impassioned argument in my sentence's defense.

Rob had a crush on me, and had been angling for a date the entire semester.

Moral of the story: Defend a girl when she's attacked by all sides and at her most vulnerable, she will agree to date you. Other moral of the story: Odds are, she won't let you suck her soul.

Here's the link to the doc: Only free in the month of January.