Monday, April 25, 2011

bunnies and swallows

Just back from an impromptu camping trip that bequeathed four wholesome days and three nights without showering, being indoors, touching a keyboard, or looking at a screen. I feel refreshed, grateful, clean, and flummoxed. What do I do with myself? Take another walk? Photograph the exquisite wild roses growing by the back porch? Prepare to start teaching Hamlet tomorrow? Respond to e-mails? Blog?

Too many choices and commitments and distractions flood my life.
I love being away from all of it.
I love traveling more than anything (except writing)
(And M) 7 mos ago I wed him :)

There is a magic for me in experiencing life blow by blow, not knowing who or what or where or when. I'll never forget the terrible excitement of landing in Bangkok the first time, at midnight, without a plan of any kind.

I love the surprises of travel.
Even this long unexpected Easter weekend yielded a few...

... a super cheap and quiet campground for ten bucks a night,
that just happens to be on a military fort in the valley of the oaks,
a surreal place of army jeeps, camouflage, target practice, rivers, wildflowers, lone roads, and lots of merry cottontails, including one little rascal that raced our car.

... a remote mission where we went to Easter mass with a bunch of soldiers and cute squirmy babies, and where the first ever Christian marriage in California took place.

... our own Eden, just a short mile hike from the campsite: we bathed in a cool flowing river while swallows performed in the afternoon sunlight.

... a big ole hike at pinnacles, through caves and up steep deserted trails, watching our food supply dwindle right down to a humble evening meal of tortillas, veggies, cheese, instant soup, red vines, whiskey cokes, and of course, roasted marshmallows.

What I loved most was the fire.
Each night I'd just stand (stretch, dance, gyrate)
close by the fire,
watching it go from twiggy to fierce to smoky
to nothing but a bunch of sparkly orange nuggets
whose captured heat I took with me
into the cozy tent.

Monday, April 18, 2011


I'm obsessed with fiction these days--writing it (or trying to), reading it, studying it, wishing I could use it to re-write my own reality. If I could, I'd edit out my allergy attack on Saturday, which left my eyes swollen and goopy, and the really gross enchilada I ate on Friday out of desperate hunger and thriftiness.

I'd alter a couple of things, too: less people at the packed roller derby match on Saturday so me and the Nonesuch kids could all sit together, and more money back on our tax return. Oh, and how about 9 comments on my last blog entry. (Okay, I'd settle for just 1...)

Still, the weekend also yielded a few story-perfect moments that need no revising: moon-light bright enough to burn, a tender new dahlia shoot, a new bike trail that led to a new journal-writing rock, a sweet bug-exploding hike with Zoe.

And today, on a misty gray Monday afternoon, there's the supreme satisfaction of clicking on and seeing not one, but two pieces written by yours truly: one about how to throw a DIY wedding, another an interview with T.C. Boyle. Check them out!

Thursday, April 7, 2011


On Tuesday evening I saw the play "Ruined" at the Berkeley Rep. It's about the civil war that continues to rage in the Congo, thanks to the tragic irony that one of the poorest countries in the world also happens to be one rich in natural resources: gold, diamonds, tin, copper, petroleum, and coltan (short for columbite-tantalite, which is used as a high-charge conductor for cell phones, laptops, and other electronic equipment). So as the world continues to crave Play Stations and digital cameras, miners dig through muddy pits at gunpoint (militias with AK-47s) and receive hardly any compensation even though the Congo exports a million dollars worth of coltan a day. But if you think this is the saddest part of the story, you're mistaken.

As "Ruined" beautifully reveals, the true casualties of the war are the women. In fact, the Democratic Republic of the Congo has been named the Rape Capital of the World because of the rampant abuse suffered by women who, as usual, are armed with babies instead of guns. Though the Pulitzer Prize-winning play, written by Lynn Nottage, is brutally honest in its devastation, it also manages to be funny, irreverent, and dare I say it, uplifting. Much like Dave Eggers' "What is the What," the story is so emotionally gripping that I couldn't stand for it to end.

Which brings me to my question, readers: what stories (plays, novels, shorts, etc) have broken your heart lately? How about when you were in high school? I'm looking for the right book (preferably female-authored!) for my eleventh graders to read this spring, after a year of Tony Kushner, Tennessee Williams, Aristophanes, and Jonathan Swift. Help!