Oh Hi, President Obama, SO Nice to Meet You

You know, no one asked me if I would like to invite the President to my house. It’s probably because I didn’t contribute $50,000 to his campaign, but really, what’s the difference. I would have if I could have, but I couldn’t. He will be in Dallas today, after a stop in Austin, at a lawyer’s house not too far from mine.

If I were the one hosting, here is what I would do: First, I would invite people who did not/could not contribute $50,000 to his campaign, even though the purpose of the event is to rally people who did and can, again. Okay, so I wouldn’t fill up the room with them, but I’d sprinkle in a few. Like me. I’d sprinkle in me. After all, I have other things to contribute to the party, well both parties, the one with the hors d’oeuvres and the political one. I can, for starters, inject unexpected and thought-provoking conversation into the conversation. I can play the piano. And I don’t eat too much. I am the perfect guest. Oh, I always bring a fabulous hostess gift, if they are accepting them at such a soiree, I don’t know.

To the other party, I can rally support, among 13 year olds, anyway. I can write things that say why the President should be re-elected. I can make brownies, with little “O”s iced on them. 

I do not know when the event is scheduled to begin. It’s all a hush-hush. Clearly, I will not crash. I think the admin is onto that sort of thing now. But I will make a final plea here–and I know you advance team folks are reading (Hi there, advance team folks!)–to just add me to the list. Just another name, no big deal. Just another supportive citizen with a really nice personality, and a pair of heels waiting by the door. And if it will make the difference, okay, I won’t play the piano. I can live with that. I guess.



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The Book People…and Me

A friend of mine told me today that the people–The Book People–torture me so that when I finally do see my pages between two covers, on a shelf, in a store, or in a person’s hands out in the world, maybe on a bench in a park, that I will feel that much more successful. That much more proud because of the effort, in writing, yes, but more, in persisting. The writing is easy. The struggle, though, hanging tough despite it, is the hard part. But it’s good to know it at the time. Struggle is good, I tell my kids, a lot.

I have completed the final revision of my novel, and am very pleased with the outcome. The Book People have expressed interest in seeing it, now, following this last brush-up, and tomorrow, I will be sending it into the ethers. Kiss kiss. Bon chance.

I learned a long time ago from a musician friend that keeping ones equilibrium in the face of judgment is critically important, particularly for a creative person, particularly for a writer. Thank you, Ira. I learned this when I did not keep my equilibrium, becoming way too ecstatic when granted an acceptance, too dejected when not. Now, I am like a canoe on a docile lake. No, a canoe on a piece of carpet, inside a house. I am so full of equilibrium that I could be a brick layer.

Okay, I lie. That equilibrium stuff is sort of not true. I like to say that I’m a canoe, but really, I am making it all up. I will say that I am better than I used to be about rejection/acceptance and their accompanying ranting/delirium. I mutter now, when told No. Bake, when it’s a Yes. It’s not difficult to tell which way it went.

For this, The Sending of the Book, I am as prepared as I could be. Confident. Hopeful. Determined. You are supposed to visualize the goal, I’ve read. I can do that, and have been doing that. I’ve been on Oprah’s set. I’ve seen store windows full of copies. I’ve answered reader questions at signings, determined to wear the pants, not the skirt. I have no baking products in my pantry. None.

So, wish me luck. LUCK! And cross your toes, and chant something in an obscure Pacific Rim language. Hooray for the creative process.


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Caution: Men Working

And then the Lord said, “Let there be no more digging up the pavement in front of my house with excavation equipment including bulldozers, jackhammers, road graders and scoopers that could pick up a naval attack vessel.”

They began yesterday at 6:59 am, one minute ahead of schedule. Twelve of them, in orange vests and drapey hats, like bugs on a hill, each with a tool in hand or under foot. Several drove, whirling like dervishes in miniature tank-ish vehicles, scraping and loading, lifting and passing. Reminding me of something Balanchine would have choreographed, the display of coordination in the street was mesmerizing, if not beautiful, on some level. Not my level. My level was desperate. Noisily desperate. Climb into the dryer desperate.

For the entire day, they produced sounds that I had never heard before, a gutteral, snarly audiotrack of destruction too abrasive for a mammal such as myself, a mammal who was trying to form literate sentences at a desk not twenty yards away. I formed two, maybe three, and then, realizing the futility, decided to clean out the kids’ bathroom cabinets. For hours, I sorted ponytail accessories–elastics from the kind with the balls on the end, fuzzy from sleek–as well as barrettes, clips, bobbies, headbands and ribbons, contact solutions, dental flosses (is it flossi?), lotions–for itchy skin, sensitive skin, vanilla skin, strawberry skin–and the ever-critical battery of sunscreen products. I emerged lathered in cream, headbands on my head, cotton balls in my ears.

By sundown, I had performed similar service on several closets, baskets of magazines, the pantry and the aforementioned head, as my bangs needed trimming. Alas, the racket ceased. In my door, a note. NOTICE, it said. Please remove your car from your driveway before 7 am tomorrow morning and do not return it to your driveway for three days, until after the cement we are pouring is cured. I needed curing. No, they needed curing. What was wrong with the street anyway? 

I set my clock for 6:58 and went outside in my pajamas to find the men waiting. Waiting for me. “There she is,” one said, in a different language that I did not understand, though I know that is what he said. “Finally,” said another. 

Yeah, right. Out of my way, Mr. Bobcat. 

I parked a mile down the street and traipsed back, still in my pajamas, yes, mumbling like tired crazy people do when they are outside in their pajamas. On the way in, I noticed in the window’s reflection that my hair was sticking up like a carrot in one place on my crown and that another section was plastered sideways onto my cheek. It could have been worse, I thought. I checked to see that I was, in fact, wearing my pajamas.

The clattering began as soon as I shut the door behind me. I showered, dressed and left the house, sound waves twitching through me as I trekked to my car. When I returned hours later, the noise had stopped, only to begin again tomorrow, when it will be my neighbor’s turn.


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I Will Try Not to Talk About the Heat

It does not seem possible that just 26 percent of the oil from the oil spill is left in the Gulf of Mexico. Yesterday, there were 60 years of damage to contend with. Today, poof. All gone. Please.

When did things become all or nothing? When did we lose the gray? Everything is gray, really. Do the people telling us these statistics (gained, apparently, from projections, not real data), President Obama included, I’m sorry to say, really think we are that idiotic? Everyone takes science lab. Everyone can feel a spin.

So, when you stay in your house the whole day because it is too hot to go outside, you get a little stir crazy by, oh, 3:47. Then, you go out. You think of somewhere to go. I went to the bookstore, then to buy paper for my daughter’s birthday invitations and then, to the supermarket to buy lettuce and mushrooms. Clearly, I could have survived the evening without lettuce and mushrooms. It wasn’t even cold in the ice cream aisle, where I went on purpose to feel cold. It was hot in the ice cream aisle, where you usually need a parka.

If they only said to us that the cap is working and that there is much more cleaning up to do, the silly news people and I wouldn’t be feeling as if we were told a fib and talking about it. It would have been such the smarter strategy. 

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I Do Not Know What I Have Written Because it is So Hot

Oh hi. I’ve been missing, I know, and I apologize. Been doing other things. Seeing other places. Thinking other thoughts. Well, not really. It has just been hot. So hot. So hot that you can’t do other things, or see other places or think, anything. At all. No thinking. 

It has been crazy hot, in the 1oos, for days. Years, it seems. Yesterday, it was 106. Today, they said on TV that it was 102, only 102. They lie, those people. It was 129. I know, because I went outside two times. It was 129, without a doubt.

I have never adjusted to the heat here in Texas. Imagine opening your oven while a roast is roasting, just to see how it’s doing. Imagine that waft that hits you in the face and makes you worry that your eye lashes are burning off your lids and falling off. Imagine that scare, knowing how bad you will look with no eyelashes. Imagine having nowhere to  put the mascara. That is how hot it is here. It’s no-mascara hot. It is Hell. With the flames and pitchforks. 

I am delirious, even with the air conditioning. Air conditioning is like killing a bear with a fly swatter. Why am I talking about killing bears. It is 129, that’s why. Okay, bye.

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Proud Mama

Fair readers…please visit cleatsforhope.wordpress.com, my daughters’ new website for a project they have developed. I think it’s pretty great.

Thank you!

(And write notes. They love notes.)

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The Whole Cooking Thing

“Spice Up Your Dinner With an Asian Salad,” the entreaty came, sprawled across my computer screen. Go ahead. Spice it all up. As if it’s not already spiced, or partially spiced, or certainly spiced enough, given the other issues of the day. Immediately, upon reading the dictate, I had visions of serving people in kimonos, chopsticks in their hair, rice paddies to their backs. Scents of soy and teryaki infiltrated my olfactories and I, let alone my kitchen table, felt instantly, well, spiced up.

I don’t mind cooking. When I was first learning, I viewed it as a creative process. I worked in the department of a women’s magazine that edited food stories, so I read a lot of recipes, mainly to make sure that “T” meant tablespoon and that we said “1/4 tsp” instead of “1/4 cup.” That is bad, when it comes to salt. And yeast. During this time, I also amassed quite a collection of plates and cups and such, none related, except to me. 

Before I had babies, I was at my zenith. Top of my culinary arc. The corona. I made a lot of tasty and beautiful things. Now, fourteen years after they were babies, I still cook most every night, but have fallen into a bit of a predictable pattern, I must say. I have the books, I have the knack, I have the inventive spark. But by the time dinner comes around, I’ve used them all up on other endeavors.

So, when I was told, so forcefully, to spice up my dinner with an Asian salad, I took a little offense. Who the heck are you, telling me to make an Asian salad. But then, I realized that making an Asian salad is exactly the kind of thing I would do if I had the time. I would make the time, I declared, talking to the screen. I read on.

You, that would be me, will need…dried shrimp, sliced pork, hot chilies, preserved radish. What is “preserved” radish? And how long has it been preserved? And in what, where, how, by whom? Okay, then. Preserved radish, fish sauce, and to round out the list of staples I would have in our pantry, tamarind juice. Oh yes, pass me a little tamarind juice, won’t you? It’s right there, on the shelf next to the oyster butter.


I lost my enthusiasm. I cannot cook an Asian salad, tonight anyway. I will have to fly to Korea to buy the ingredients. This is insane, I thought. Often, I play a sort of game-show game with myself. I am told that I must cook a meal using just five ingredients that exist in my freezer, fridge and pantry. Sometimes, I get to use six. Then, ready, set, go…select them, whirl the possibilities in my head, and begin.

I clicked off the Asian salad web page and went into the kitchen. Mushrooms, carrots, hoisin sauce, chicken, rice. You want Asian? You got it.

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