Tuesday, August 12, 2014

Too Sad

On the heels of this sad, sad news in the saddest of times I can remember, my dad and I shared uncontrollable tears on the phone, unshakable grief that we laughed and choked through as we listed our favorite Robin Williams roles, scenes, wept in genuine, deep sadness for this deeply saddened man.  I cannot blame him for taking his own life; I’ve certainly wanted to end my own, more often than I like to admit. I’m tired of this world, its razor sharp edges, the dull ones, too, cut deeply, scar the heart and mind if you dare stare into the abyss.  And while I have no authority to dicker about the difference between sadness and depression, I believe it is far too easy to say, “He was depressed.”  Quite frankly, I have come to believe that if you’re not depressed, at least sometimes, then maybe there’s something wrong with YOU.

One of my grandma’s brothers took his own life.  It was a long, long time ago, so none of us knew him, and we don't talk about it.  But anymore, many people wear their diagnoses on their sleeves, talk about their pills, their addictions, their guilt and shame, their transgressions, their battles.  And yes, this is brave.  But I’m sick of doctors and drug companies and even the heart-hurt themselves, blaming the chemical imbalances, treating them as causes instead of symptoms.  Sick of it.  Of course he was depressed; we ALL should be, compounding harm as we do, turning away from anything that does not aid our pursuits of happiness.  We can’t even say what happiness is—at least I can’t, not today—and we can’t believe our own memes of what it isn’t.  Money can’t buy it.  It comes from within.  It is love and sharing—such empty clichés; yet, I bet you thought or hoped for a second there that I meant them, didn’t you? 

And a part of me wants to, wants to believe that there are mostly-happy people, but even babies cry and they know NOTHING of the atrocities.  We would be remiss to be anything but sad for all the starving children, all the wars and their refugees, the twenty-three soldiers who take their own lives each day.  Maybe we are even sadder still if we do not support the wars they wage.  And then there is the ravaged earth we tread upon.

Undoubtedly Robin Williams was sad about all of this too, so last night I cried for him.  I’d like to cry some more because he, too, is a casualty of war, there in his ocean-side mansion with his private pool and pretty wife, children, that sparkle in his blue eyes snuffed out at his own hand.  I’m sad because I never met him, and I’m especially sad because now I know for sure I never will.  And yet for most of my life he made me feel like I knew him, the slices of him he shared so freely.  He made me happy and will continue to, but I’m sad because there are no dads like Mrs. Doubtfire, and there are no teachers like John Keating or psychologists like Sean Maguire, or maybe there are, but I haven’t met them either.  Even Oliver Sacks was no Malcolm Sayer.  I’m sad because there are no Genies like that nameless magic friend he voiced to life.  No matter how hard I rub every lamp in every thrift store, I have no drag-queen friends like the Goldmans.  There is no Peter Pan, no alien like Mork from Ork.  Fiction.  Like the “Pretty good!” I cheerfully offered to a man on the sidewalk this morning when he asked how I was doing.  Fiction. 

Late last night, I watched his hour-and-a-half stand-up show, Methods of Self Destruction, drank four glasses of wine, laughed out loud and chain smoked, then went for a swim beneath the waning super moon.  I blame the moon, too big, too bright, too close, a pull so strong towards madness.  I stayed in the pool for another hour and a half, and just like with his movies and his life, the time passed too quickly.  I lapped and lapped in limp reaches and kicks.  I communed with the dead, left a soft wake that shimmered and slapped the trap.  This life is a trap, and I’m sad because he slipped it.  He made it more worth living.  I’m sad because no has ever or will ever improvise like him, donning faces and voices, lightning quick and smart as the sun, dark as the back of the moon.

Thursday, November 14, 2013

J'ai de la chance.

"I went to Paris a couple of times..."

Alyssandra Nighswonger sings a French classic at Gatsby Books to celebrate The Bastille no.2.  She was so very Spoken Word Paris, if you ask me.

Watch the video here: "Oh, Champs Elysées !"

I must admit, I never much paid attention to the lyrics of this song, until now.  I don't think I really even liked it until this... I still don't like that particular avenue any more than before, but the sentiment is sweet and true enough.  Paris is a city of strangers and chance encounters.

And apparently, so is Long Beach!  Thank you, Alyssandra Nighswonger, for coming out to Gatsby Books and sharing your amazing self like this.  Nice to meet you <3 p="">

Friday, April 19, 2013


Hassle-free Home Movies and Video Archival

Amateurs have been filming since always, but never before has video archival been so prevalent and accessible, and never before have our time and attention been in such high demand.
Born and raised on a Panasonic point-n-shoot, my service is for anyone who wants to capture and share the moments and movement of life without having to spend an eternity in front of the computer, and without having to pay the high price of “professional” videography.

Video Scrapbook Sample:
Birthday Afternoon in Balboa Beach, CA

No occasion is too small.
Baby showers, family get-togethers and reunions,
day-in-the-life montage, travel... 
Try a video scrapbook of your family photo shoot!
Or in addition to, throughout the year.

Perfect for birthday parties, parties of all kinds, actually. We love to party! 
If you want to remember it, I can film and edit it.
(No weddings.  Sorry.)

For easy sharing with friends and loved ones, videos can be posted on line
and/or purchased on DVD as the ultimate personalized gift. 

  • $50 session fee, up to two hours
  • In a hurry?  Scrapbooks can be filmed in less than 30 minutes!
  • $20 each additional hour (plus travel expenses if beyond 30 miles from Long Beach, CA.)
Note: The actual number of minutes filmed will vary depending on the event and the intended purpose of the footage.

  • Video Scrapbooks on DVD: $150 up to 4 minutes (you provide the music)
  • Additional DVDs: $10 each
  • Custom soundtracks: $100 and up
  • On-line sharing: free on YouTube, with your permission...
  • Raw video clips on CD: $25
"A Valentine for You" from Paris

Got footage but no time to review and edit? 
We can do that.  Contact us at Vlogosophy at gmail dot com.

*Are you a poet, musician or some other kind of performer?  Let's collaborate!
See previously featured artists here:  Vlogosophy on YouTube

Wednesday, March 13, 2013

What I Did This Week/end... Sorta.

People watching in Amsterdam and Paris... 
Recollected in tranquility with Ellyn Maybe and her band.  
An honor and a pleasure.

Sunday, March 10, 2013

Uncle Roy

My Uncle Roy was a sweet and humble man, handsome and healthy. He worked hard, and he was there for me at certain dark times in my life. Not RIGHT there, but softly there. Strong and handy, he had a knack for tents and tools and four-wheel drives on the beach or in the desert. He liked pecan sandies and Fritos dipped in peanut butter, beers in the garage, vodka in the armchair watching football, and other dangerous stuff like body surfing.  I didn't know him all that well, not like his wife and sons did, not like my dad did. To my dad, my uncle was a little brother. And all the red beans and rice in the world couldn't save him. Fuck you, cancer.


 …and the end of day is aquarium colored 
—Colette “Le Miroir”* 
 for emily 

 We believe we will live forever until 
 we can’t believe it again. 
—Cecilia Woloch 
 “Stars in the Mouth of the Wolf” 

Fortunately, breathing under water
is easier, now that I admit to the drowning.

Even in this blue-green half-light, the cancer
stinks up the room—floats—covered in the white
sheets of nostalgia.  The quiet is blinding.

Someone’s nephew is someplace else now, and we
are here remembering—fast cars from another world,

racing.  The quiet is not as blinding as it is heavy,
heavy as a Hemi at the bottom of a
fish tank.  The old blowfish is alive and well,

just not here, in this restaurant, in this desert
where fish are a tourist attraction.  The brothers

will argue over who gets to pay the bill and be
thankful to be able.  They like the blowfish story.
Don’t talk about the liver, the poisonous ovaries,

the sleeping pills of denial.  Such tales keep me
up at night.  All this sand is just tumbled rocks

slowly releasing their fossils into the currents. 
Motor homes whir out of town, comforting
their passengers with the promise of blue-green

landscapes, but there cannot be enough water,
not anywhere in the world, to console this caravan.

*In this short story, an older, and presumably wiser Colette has
a conversation with her fictional double, Claudine, about youth and aging.

Previously published in Tears in the Fence, No. 55, summer 2012

Sunday, January 8, 2012


I do not remember these things
— they remember me,
not as child or woman but as their last excuse
to stay, not wholly to die.

~ Janet Frame's "The Place"

The shuffling and banging together of poems has quieted, the slipping almost stopped. As I piece together these bits of thoughts that I call poems, they make all kinds of racket ("a systematised element of organized crime," Wikipedia ;) New threads emerge, old ones seem raveled and frayed. Being home has been like this. Settling back into an old life that no longer exists, dusting, baking, finding new homes for things from my most recent past life, missing things and people.

How to talk (briefly) about my own manuscript. Today is my niece's fourth birthday and I feel like I just met her two weeks ago. It's true, they grow up so fast. I didn't go to her party. Blame geography, the dog's dislike of children, this manuscript. But I am thinking of her. I am thinking of finding the stars uncountable with her in her back yard the day after Christmas, the playhouse lamp beckoning, bedtime fast approaching. The old chair in my kitchen that would look great in her room. I am thinking about helping her play Pac Man on her mother's iPhone. I am thinking of my sister and wondering how she does it all... so well.

These poems are certainly for them. Old love stories. Thresholds. I am thinking of Elizabeth Bishop's take on lost things. Dickenson's advice on telling the truth. Adrienne Rich's words on all the little lies we tell. These poems are certainly for them, too. There are airplanes and linens, manicures and landscapes. There is furniture. Even love. This is me, closing a chapter. There is nothing left to do but begin again. And vacuum up the pine needles. And put this manuscript in the mail.

Here's a video to hold you over.

Friday, January 6, 2012


The cat almost snores on the clean sheets, papers and books under his head, and the next load of laundry is almost done. American washing machines are SO much faster… and bigger. And the dryers. If you’re even lucky/rich enough to have one in Paris, (usually a washer/dryer combo) you have to wait two hours for jeans and a couple of towels. I still air dry plenty of things—undergarments. My favorite tops, those new fuzzy sock slippers I got in my Christmas stocking, which I’m sure would combust from the heat or at least lose all the sticky dots on the bottom of the feet. Filou loves these socks but only when I’m wearing them.

He also “loves” the corner of the bedspread when it hangs long enough for him to hump. When it doesn’t, he looks at it, then at me, and whines. He also loves the throw blanket on the sofa.

I have a sheet fetish. Pure cotton. Mix-n-match. Folding fitted sheets so neatly you can’t tell they’re not flat. But I can. The worst part of doing the laundry is the socks, never coming clean enough, forever losing their mates, escaping the pile, all that pairing and tucking and stuffing into the only drawer I can spare for them. No. I prefer sheets, even towels, their plush stacks on the shelves. Something like my grandma’s linen closet, but never quite.

All of my (current) favorite blankets come from France, each with its own little history—where it came from, which beds it has dressed in which apartments, who slept beneath it. All of them increasingly soft and supple from use. I left only one behind, but it was as much his as it was mine. It was the only one that ever felt like “ours.”