I don’t necessarily see things like losing houses, moving, getting divorced, and changing careers as failures. I don’t see periods of loss and tumult as aberrations of what should be. Life is like a river. It moves and changes. We ride it. Sometimes, if we are moving, we get dashed against the stones.
When did we decide that sameness is valuable, in and of itself? When did we decide that making all our crucial decisions out of fear of “what if?” was wise? The worst “what if?” WILL happen to you. You will die. Everything you do between now and then is a gift. When did we start to believe that these lives of ours would last forever, that we would be able to keep our stashes of stuff? Our very breath is borrowed. Our skin belongs to the clay. Do we really think we can keep our Rolls-Royces?
Sometimes–many times–change is an act of great courage, a statement that life is too precious and valuable a gift to be lived in misery. People say marriage is sacred. I don’t think it is, in and of itself. I think love is sacred. A loveless marriage can be a very unholy thing. A decision to leave a loveless marriage can be a gesture of reverence for the gift of life. Likewise, people say staying at one job for years and years indicates commitment. Certainly it does. But a commitment to what? Sometimes, it indicates a commitment to one’s passion. This is a beautiful thing. But if it is just a commitment to stability, to the notion that dollars are more important than precious hours of which our lives are made, I have no admiration for it. I have more admiration for the homeless man sleeping under the bridge, who sees, really sees, the sky. Green paper will never be more valuable than the fabric of our sacred lives.
I say if something is killing you, walk away from it. Leave it in love, but leave it. Revere your life enough to live it with passion, joy, and love. There is no nobility in staying for the sake of staying. There is only nobility in staying for the sake of love.
File this posting under “notes scribbled by a jetlagged insomniac.” My brother is coming over for breakfast this morning. I stayed up all night worrying I wouldn’t wake up to see him. Not like he wouldn’t have come and woken me, but you know, any excuse to stay awake obsessing all night. Also, while insomniacking, I wrote a little about the kids who walked out on Thursday, a little about living true, a little about shit, a little about candy. I think I’ll call this little jewel:
THE DIFFERENCE BETWEEN SHIT AND CANDY
I strive to respect all people, to open my heart and mind as much as possible to myriad ways of being, to live and let live. But the people I admire, the people who fascinate me, the people who make me want to be like them when I grow up, are the ones dancing precariously and courageously on the edges of life, living bizarrely and shamelessly and authentically in their own bodies, being unapologetically the truest version of self they can muster.
I’m not captivated by people who fall neatly into categories, who fit in, who don’t rumple feathers. I’m enthralled by people who fall between the cracks, who are misfits, who challenge the status quo by their very existence.
Cool kids bore me. Fitting in in suburbia will never appeal to me. Give me the kid with green hair slumped in the corner of the cafeteria dodging spit wads. Give me the madman in the tree house living off the grid and composing shit poetry. Give me the crazy lady on the street corner marching for justice. Give me the freaks. They are the ones who are moving evolution forward. They are the ones who make progress possible. They are the ones with courage enough to risk their lives to make their lives count for something.
I don’t understand exchanging truth for comfort. I don’t understand exchanging authenticity for popularity. I don’t understand settling for a life you didn’t want because somebody else said so, not when you’re going to die, not when this is your one and only truly blessed sacred existence, and the clock is ticking, and every moment you spend pretending is a moment you might as well already be dead.
But I guess if you say you have to get real and compromise and settle for shit you never wanted, you’re right. And I guess if you say you make your own reality and you never have to settle and you’re going to fight for what you love or die trying, you’re right. And I know I’m 46, and I was supposed to stop talking like this when I was 26, but I never did, because the fire in my heart that was supposed to go out got bigger instead.
And when I see those freaky kids walking out of their schools because they are young and dumb enough to still believe they can change the world, I cry for joy, and I pray to God that for the rest of their lives, at least five of them keep saying “fuck you” to anyone who tells them they’re wrong about that. And that they keep knowing walking up isn’t the same as walking out, and sometimes, most times, people use pretty words to say ugly things, to tell you to sit down and shut up and eat your goddamn plate of shit, and say thank you, because if they said it like that, no one would do it, but when they tell you the plate of shit is candy, well then, who doesn’t like candy?
Know the difference between shit and candy. That is the secret to life. Even when the whole wide world is screaming that shit is candy, trust your nose, trust your eyes, trust your gut. If it looks like shit, if it smells like shit, if you know in your heart you want something more, then call the shit shit, and make a stand, walk out, walk away, and let the chips fall where they may.
I can tell you from experience that there is no retributive cruelty, no alienation, no social excommunication that is so powerful that it can wash away the quiet peace that comes from knowing you have spoken and lived your truth at any cost. And I can tell you from experience that there is no accolade, no social acceptance, no wealth, no ease, no luxury that can wash away the soul shredding horror of knowing you are living a lie.
A few months ago, I was teaching at a writer’s conference in San Miguel de Allende, Mexico. Three white writer friends and I (also white, visually speaking—my father was half Mexican, but you’d never know by looking at me) went to a posh rooftop restaurant. The place was mostly empty, but the staff refused to seat us for over a half an hour. Finally, my friend went to inquire about the wait, and the waitress told her off. She said, “Get out. We don’t want your kind. There are already too many of you here.” Stunned, we left.
But I wasn’t outraged, or even hurt, really. My father looked Mexican, so something in me felt I’d finally experienced a kind of blind hatred he’d probably experienced more often than he ever told me. I finally knew what it was to be my father’s daughter. And a fraction of what it probably felt like to be a minority in America, where this sort of thing happens to them every day. Also, since I had visited that restaurant multiple times in years past, the most recent being the year before, with absolutely no virulence directed my way, I was intellectually interested in what the incident said about the way in which other countries view America in the wake of the Trump presidency.
After leaving Mexico, I went to France to tour high schools that had been studying my books in their English classes. I had the time of my life in one of the most glorious places on earth. But while the organization that hosted me, and the teachers, and the students, were nothing short of gracious, I did sometimes notice heightened chilliness directed at me in public. (The last time I visited France was 2016.) Multiple people said snide things about America—her role in creating the crisis in the Middle East, Trump, our insane obsession with guns–daring me to disagree, clearly assuming I would be offended by their words. All I said in any of these instances was, “I agree with you.”
Because I do. Right now, I am disgusted with my country on so many levels. And yet, when a woman laughed, “You’re so American,” after, out of habit, I went to hug her instead of kissing her cheeks (the customary greeting in France), I felt no shame. My only answer was, “Yes, I was born and raised in America. Therefore, I am American.” I am embarrassed by my country’s president, by her willingness to let her children be slaughtered in the interest of placating a powerful (and rich) group of lobbyists, by her misogyny and her racism and her homophobia and her history of cruelty and her ignorance.
But I am not ashamed of the other things that make me American. I don’t think I’m dumb just because I’m American. I happen to be very smart. I don’t think my accent is ugly. God help my thighs, I don’t even hate her food. I have a long-standing love/hate relationship with Pringles and M&Ms. I think her music kicks ass, even the poppy stuff. Truth be told, the first thing I did in the airport in Paris, just before my flight home, was buy a bunch of junk food and listen to Bon Jovi (I know, but I love him) on full blast. I missed my home. And I’m sorry. I don’t think all Hollywood films are Neanderthal and ridiculous. Some are brilliant. I refuse to be ashamed of the things about America that are simply part of her rich and varied culture, and I refuse to be ashamed because I was born here.
When I stepped off the plane in America, I was so happy to be back. Whatever flaws my country may have, I love her with a love that becomes more intense every time I leave her shores. There are so, so many beautiful things about this place I was born. I’m not saying she’s the greatest place on earth. She’s not. I don’t need her to be to love her. I’m not saying she’s quantitatively better than anywhere else. It’s not about a pissing contest with other countries. It’s about love. And we all know the heart is a wild and unpredictable force whose decisions to love often defy logic (thank God, or none of us would ever love, or be loved by, anyone or anything). I have driven through every state except Alaska, and my country’s natural beauty is nothing short of mind bending. Her cities are dazzling. Her countryside is breathtaking. Her people are wondrous.
So many of the Americans I know and love are brilliant, kind, deep thinkers with a profound interest in impacting their country, and their world, in a positive way. I am a writer, so in the course of the activities surrounding my career, I regularly meet and become intimately acquainted with many great American artists who are making incredible strides, creatively, intellectually, and politically. My children are American. My parents are American. My brother and his beautiful children are American. The love of my life is American. My dearest friends are American. To say I hate America is to sell so much of what (and who) I love down the river.
For me, some of that beauty was demonstrated today, when elementary, high school, and college students across America walked out of their classes to protest our government’s refusal to commit to gun control. Granted, I am jetlagged and weepy, having just completed a 30-hour trek home from France, but seeing some of the photos of these protests made me cry. This is what is right about America. We can do these things. We do do these things. Not all of us are uneducated yahoos whose only knowledge of politics is a slogan on a (frankly ugly) red hat. Not all of us value our right to an arsenal over the lives of our children. Not all of us view people from other countries as dangerous. Not all of us fear the proverbial other. Not all of us want to keep those who aren’t like us down.
Also, while it’s easy to imagine other countries as utopias free from the struggles we grapple with on a daily basis, other cultures aren’t perfect either. When I was in France, I was exposed to an incident of sexism like nothing I have ever seen in the U.S. (I’m not ready to write about it yet.) I spoke to a lesbian woman who told me that if her work found out she was gay, she feared she would lose her job. Does this make France bad? God, no. It’s one of my favorite places in the world. It just means that there is work to be done everywhere. In other news, I spoke on a panel with a Turkish poet who was living in exile in France, who received death threats every day for speaking out against his government, who feared that he would be imprisoned (or worse) if he were sent home. Does this mean Turkey is evil? No. I’ve been there too. Turkey is beautiful. But like America, she is broken in many ways.
As backward as America is on some issues (gun control, for instance), we are making progress on other key issues. And we aren’t all ready to lay down and let this blundering thug of a president destroy us. Trump can bluster on, but he is only one man. There are millions of us tirelessly working to make America great– not again, because if I look at her history of racism and sexism and brutality on so many fronts, I can’t really in good conscience say she’s ever been anywhere near great.
She’s fucked up. But like everything I’ve ever loved, I love her spite of her glaring flaws. I love her enough that I want her to be something better. And I love her enough to stay here, to speak out, to be a voice and a force for change, so that someday, we can really say she’s great. You’ll probably never catch me wearing a weird red baseball cap emblazoned with clunky white lettering, but you might find me wearing a tastefully tailored T-shirt, maybe boasting an eye-popping design created by my brilliant daughter, who is an astoundingly gifted graphic novelist and burgeoning fashion designer. It would say, “Make America great for the first time ever.”
I have been an awful blogger of late. I have been busy, busy, busy, teaching at the San Miguel Writer’s Conference (and loving all she has to offer), and then coming to La Rochelle, France to visit some of the high schools that have been studying my work in their English classes.
What follows is a bit written for my Facebook, after the final life altering day of engagements in France.
This INCREDIBLE film of my visit to Lycee Valin in La Rochelle, France yesterday left me in tears. It was created by Isabelle Menon, the head teacher there and (I’m quite sure) a dear friend of mine for the rest of my life (along with K’rine, Catherine, and Valerie, who made me feel so very welcome and loved). I have to be honest. I don’t wear much makeup anymore, or do my hair. I thought yesterday morning about putting on a little extra makeup, maybe running a comb through my hair a second time, and then, I thought, “Nah, it’s not like I’m going to be filmed or anything.” Ha! Boy, was I wrong. But it doesn’t matter, because this film captures the magic and the love that were in the room yesterday as I spoke to these beautiful human beings. And that makes it more gorgeous than any lipstick ever could. Thank you, Isa. From my the core of my sparkly little bones.
Another thought. I was scared when I came to France. The students here had been studying my books, and were excited to meet me. I was also slotted to sit in for a translation joust of my work and speak on a panel with two very successful poets, which left me in knots. I wasn’t sure what to share in the speaking engagements. I am intimidated by Europeans because they are way more educated than most Americans, definitely more than I am. They speak multiple languages fluently and know everything about everything (or at least it seems so to me), and I’m always afraid I look like a stupid American to them, with my one fluent language and my smattering of French and Spanish words and my weird caches of esoteric knowledge with huge gaping holes in obvious places.
But on the way here, I remembered something Judyth Hill said to me last month as we were walking together to the airport shuttle that was going to take both of us to teach at the San Miguel Writer’s Conference. She said, “We think have to be so perfect when we speak, we think we have to do something special, when all people really want from us is us. We just need to go there and be what we are.” This is how I usually plan for speaking engagements in the U.S., but I was somewhat worried it wouldn’t work in France. Still, there was no way I was going to pull off learning three languages during a ten hour flight, nor was I going to come up with a snazzy juggling routine, so when Judyth’s words came back to me, I decided to open my heart to these beautiful people who were waiting to meet me, to tell them the truth about myself.
I put together a slide show of my childhood on my New Mexico mountain, my beautiful hippie-preacher parents, my wonderful brother. I told them about my daddy’s death and my travels and my triumphs and my heartbreaks and my years following a rock band. I told them what inspired me and what scared me and who loved me and who hated me. I told them about all the people that mocked me, how hard it was to keep believing in my dreams when, after 20 years of trying, no one thought they could come true.
I couldn’t believe the responses I got. I was overwhelmed with love and grace and beauty everywhere I went. In some of the schools, the hallways were decorated with gorgeous portraits the students had painted of me and translations of my biography into French.
Videos of me performing excerpts from my novels were being broadcast on television. The breathtaking song, “Not Alright By Me” which was graciously gifted to me for my website by the incredible members of Vintage Trouble (thank you for making that happen, my dear friend, brilliant drummer and extraordinary writer, Richard Danielson, and also for the exquisite bottle of wine you had delivered to me at the outset of my journey!) was blaring through the hallways. (There were many new Vintage Trouble fans recruited during this trip!)
When I spoke of my daddy’s death, I always looked out into the audience to see eyes filled with tears. These people were with me. Afterward, the students always hugged me and told me their life stories and hopes and dreams. The teachers opened their hearts and homes to me. I met and was welcomed into the home of Olivier Lebleu, a beautiful, brilliant translator who asked for permission to translate my books into French. (My answer was a great, big American, “Hell, yeah!”) His wonderful boyfriend, Ian, who happens to be a Scottish chef, made me one of the best meals I have ever eaten.
Aymen Hacen and Nazim Richard Dikbas, the two mind-blowing poets who spoke on a panel with me both were WAY smarter than I was, but didn’t seem to care. They were so loving. Both brought me gifts and made me feel utterly welcomed.
And now, I have to leave a place that has etched a great big valley for itself in my dumb American heart. I will never forget my time here with these precious people. People don’t really want to see how smart we are. They don’t want to see how talented we are. They want us to open our hearts. They want us to see THEM. They want us to be real and true, even if what we are is really, truly dumb Americans. I can’t tell you how many times I threw open my arms and said, “Let me give you a big American hug.” And never once did anyone do anything but fall into my arms.
P.S. And lest anyone think I’m all hearts and rainbows, yesterday, one of the people in the audience asked me what I would say to the people who mocked me and tortured me as I was following my dreams. I told them I would love to say I’d be classy, but I’d probably just be petty and play this song for them. I tried and failed to describe it. (I wasn’t about to sing it.) If you’re reading along, audience members, this is the song.
This is me last night. I babysat my brother’s pit bull, Enzo (with whom I’m wildly in love), which meant I had my brother’s whole mountain cabin all to myself. I said I was going to take advantage of the quiet and catch up on sleep, but instead, I stayed up all night reading a client’s gorgeous book, after which I wrote a tipsy poem. (Tipsy being a euphamism for, “Why are there two pit bulls sitting beside me? I know my brother only has one.”) Here it is, the newest addition to the poetry collection I’m working on, called So Speak the Stars. Shocker, it’s a love poem.
I am a weird writer. I do the business end of it. I’m so happy that people are responding to my work, especially my novels. But I don’t really worry too much about my poetry being marketable. I write it mostly as a way to bleed the love from my veins. If I don’t, I’ll explode, and I’ll get glittery guts everywhere. And what would Enzo think if his caretaker exploded? I can tell you right now he would be most put out. (Who would give him jerky snacks?)
NOT I DO, BUT I AM
You set the desert sand on fire.
Choirs sing in your hair.
I took a spaceship through time,
and there you were, pulsing,
the beginning of my everything.
I rode a submarine to the center of my bones,
and there you were, swimming
in my marrow.
When I write you,
I feel the missing words,
the ones humans haven’t invented yet
shimmering in the spaces between sounds.
The best poem I ever penned about you was silent.
It prismed the sky around it
making tiny rainbows in raindrops.
They ask me why.
Why won’t you come here?
Why did you go?
The answer is always you.
The answer is always because
they are not you.
When mountain night is rocked
and rattled by ancient wind,
I sleep in your invisible arms.
I feel you spinning in my platelets.
The answer is always, I love you.
The question is always, Where are you?
(I need to be there.)
The answer is because
I could never be in love with them.
I am made of in-love with you.
My love is atomic.
It’s TNT times ten billion.
It explodes my skin
and seeps into the air around me,
making me radioactive.
They ask me, Why are you on fire?
I say, Because there is a him,
and he makes an inferno of my dreams.
Smoke rises from my hair
a burnt offering.
It’s not that I choose you.
It’s that if there was no you
there would be no me.
It’s not that I marry you.
It’s that I am marriage to you.
It’s that you sing
in my soul
deep in the echoes
of the mini-big-bang
that volcanoed me into being.
Before that eruption
there was you.
The stories got it wrong.
I wasn’t a rib.
I was a bump sleeping on the tip of your tongue
until you spoke and made me live,
saying, If I made a queen
how would she be?
And when you said, She would be like this,
I jumped from your mouth
grew a thousand miles
and cannonballed into the river
that flowed from your ribcage.
There and then you baptized me.
Tonight there is no moon
only flurries of snow
mothing in cold porchlight
whipping windows white.
My body tangles,
limbs twisted to form
the first letter of your name.
your heartbeat thrums
in the sizzling cymbals
of my kneecaps.
My soul’s first-last-and-only husband,
my very quarks sing your praise.
(This is me cuddling with Enzo. Isn’t he gorgeous?)
I am obsessed with Mary Magdalene. A third of my first poetry collection, Siren Song, was dedicated to Mary Magdalene persona poems. She fascinates me partly because I think she was a force more powerful than anyone gave her credit for. Early Christian writings depict her as Jesus’s most accomplished disciple. Leave it to patriarchal religion to turn her into a whore.
She points to patriarchal society’s tendency to reduce powerful women to their sexuality in an attempt to render them inert. (Bad on them. How foolish to underestimate one’s opponent.) She also fascinates me because I think she carries within her sacred belly a blueprint, the possibilities available to all women. Are we not all whores? Are we not all stoned in our time? Are we not all disciples? Are we not all queens? (In fact, I’m teaching starting a course on January 16 at The Creative Writing Center called “Writing to Access the Divine Feminine.” I think we will start with a study of the Magdalene.) So I give you (the 20 of you who read my poems) my latest Magdalene poem. This poem speaks of ascension, of becoming, of what happens to a woman when she lets go of society’s insistence that she takes one of their prescribed roles and, instead of conforming and making herself small, becomes the expression of the sacred blueprint that lives in her blood. For those who don’t read poetry, I promise I’ll write another humor article soon. I know poetry isn’t everyone’s cup of tea!
Confessions of a Conduit: What Magdalene Wrote in the Sand when the Mob was Gone
Drop your rocks, boys.
The Man picked me.
See, I lick Ganesh’s trunk,
kiss Guadalupe’s Virgin on her ever-shining cheek.
At midnight, we three, trinity, waltz
on the silvery waters of distant planets.
Light seeps from the slender moons rising at the tips of my toes.
I dance through meadows unseen by men.
They think my face is pretty?
They should see my soul.
If they only knew the secrets that my platelets keep.
After three days I rose from my grave
carrying magic in my bones.
I ate 777 pomegranates from Olympus’s lushest grove.
This just in: my soul has been un-sinned.
The never-ending spiral of my belly button
is a water slide
winding straight to the ice blue pool
at the center of the Eye of Horus.
Insert chorus here, cue an angel choir.
Fall, sacred fire, fall.
When they said the goddess was a honey bee
I dove straight into the hive.
Ten thousand drones stung me alive
made my marrow simmer.
Secrets shimmer in my eyes.
My DNA knows everything there ever was to know.
The tree of life grows from my sternum.
My chromosomes speak of God in ancient languages
understood only by ghosts and swordfish.
Exult, heavenly hosts!
I have rewound Judas’s kiss,
leveled the gates of hell.
I un-shell mysteries like peanuts, swallow them whole.
My holy dreams stink
like the bellies of oysters giving birth to pearls.
My visions flutter like rainbows in oil puddles.
My soul dangles, un-muddled, at the edges of my earlobes.
I have married the Christ.
I wear his silver ring on my toe.
I have been
shamed in reverse.
I know only one Master.
He calls me baby.
For Him alone I bow.
Who’s a whore now, bitches?
Get thee behind me, Satan,
and take your slithering sycophants with you.
I won’t be raped again.
My sacred cows have been un-slaughtered.
I have emerged from death a daughter of light.
My stilettos reek of interstellar travel.
Behold, I have unraveled and raveled again.
Lo, I glow I glow I glow.
Bow low, oh, unholy city. Arise, she comes, your tres shitty Mistress of Mediocrity, as lovely as a candle made of earwax, a wad of used Kleenex, a letter penned in the elegant language of lug nuts. As dazzling as a dirty sock, she rawks an intellect rivaling that of a brain damaged slug. She bugged your iPhones and hijacked your brains, trained you 2 luv the path of least resistance.
And behold, the spirit animal of the kool kids resembled reanimated road kill, and her creed was greed. She dusted off lust, gave birth to logos. Catch phrases flashed in her eyes.
Just do it.
You deserve a break today.
State Farm is there.
Join the family!(Memberships available for just $79.99, your soul, and a hole in the ozone! Taxes, titles, and licenses not included. VIP section extra.)
Talent does what it can, self-assigned genius does what it must, and Lady Un-Liberty’s only imperatives were banality, conformity, insanity, and money-money-money at any price. They don’t call her the anti-Christ for nothing.
And lo, Hagseed waddled on cheap linoleum, and her bargain basement disciples were astonished. “What manner of woman is this,” they said, “that she can verily walk on the floor?” And thus, they followed her.
Behold, Our Unsacred Empress of Snot Rockets gave birth to an off brand corporate beast, and it gobbled up the world. (Got milk?)
In an effort to stave off the second coming, she dug her own grave. Woe to us! Who will save our sagging antiheroine, preserve her listless legacy?
See! She agonizes over insipid ad copy, rewrites history, orchestrates a winter holiday selfie with her bought and paid for corporate family, wormy lips forming an O. (She’s a high powered executive, you know.)
Don your art smock and paint this now: a sold out and slaughtered sacred cow, a throne grown from the bones of voiceless victims, our unholy un-goddess’s sixteen chins (tastefully shrouded in scarves), zombie armies marching to goosestep hymns, a retinue of green haired ogresses, a backdrop of melting celluloid dreams. Th-th-that’s all folks! All her scheming has come to this clever-less anticlimax.
Whatever, man. After years of this shit, who gives a damn? Get it over with. Shut her up already. Crown her queen of the piss ants.
But wait! Plot twist! What’s this?
Peasants scatter! Hey batter, batter, swing! The sun ascends as The Mother descends, upends Our Vile Lady of Bile’s recycled shit-smear scene.
Retrospectively, we all see that in this case, “queen” was just a synonym for “impostor.” And “I got my name on the kool kid roster,” was just another way to say “I sold my spine for $9.99, a family of swine, and a pic with a D-level celebrity.”
And verily, Our Much Aggrieved Damsel of Damnation descended, shrieking, to the trailer park prepared for her from the foundation of the world, and her much mullet-ed disciples returned, with great weeping and gnashing of teeth, to their Chia Pets. Had their deeds not been recorded in the words of this book, they would have been instantly forgotten.
It’s almost here, a year that 30 years ago, I could have never fathomed living to see. 2018. Weird. I still swear it’s 1999, 2000 tops, but here we are, almost in the third decade of the new millennium. This year was one of my best ever. It was my third year of living on the road, and during it, I finished taking my body and mind back from darkness. I know that sounds dramatic, but I am living on the road for a reason, and it has nothing to do with sightseeing.
About five years ago, I realized I’d lost me almost completely. It was utterly terrifying. I decided to take me back. I say “decided” as if I had a choice. I decided the way a drowning man decides to gulp for air. And letting go of everything that defined my false image of self, the familiarity of home and routine, was part of it. I want to write a memoir about the miracle of these wandering years, but I am having trouble finding my way into the material. It will come when the time is right. Meanwhile, I continue to wander, embracing my introvert self (I pretended to be an extrovert for years, but I’m shy at my core, and while I love to spend brief periods of time with like minded humans, I crave solitude), loving the world around me, opening my arms to miracles, reading books, writing words, being. Just being.
I began 2017 with my precious children and then flew off to teach for two life changing weeks in Sicily.
I read and taught in San Miguel de Allende, Mexico, and lots of places in the U.S., meeting and loving so many beautiful humans along the way. (This is me at a reading/signing at Bookworks in Albuquerque.)
I released my third book and second novel, The Long Ride Home.
I lived in a castle for three magical months on the beautiful Rosemont College campus, while serving as writer-in-residence for their gorgeous MFA program.
I lost 20-something pounds and started loving myself consistently with yoga and running and healthy foods. (Don’t think this means I didn’t eat my fair share of cake, because I did. I am still besotted by culinary delights. Baby steps.) I got a new tatoo on my daddy’s death day with my precious momma sitting beside me.
It wasn’t all roses, of course. (Is it ever?) I did my best to help some of my most beloved ones through excruciating divorces, held my momma when she cried after her cancer diagnoses, spent lots of time gutting myself, scraping the last lies away from the kernel of my sacred heart.
And now, entering 2018, I have a clarity I have never known, a peace I couldn’t have fathomed five years ago. I’m strong. I know what I want. I know who I am. I know what my life is about. I know what I love. I know what I am willing to accept. I know what I am not willing to accept.
Last night, in the home of my dearest friend, I prayed for hours. (I do this almost every night. My time spent in the arms of the divine is the most precious part of my life.) I surrendered everything to The Mother, let go of my remaining ideas of what life “should” be and opened my arms to the wondrous unimaginable possibilities Life has in store for me. I feel such tranquility and hope.
I have no idea what 2018 holds for me (well, I know a little—I’m off to San Miguel in February, and off to France in March), but I know that I will continue to walk the highway of diamonds that is prepared for me as I wander, one magical step at a time. If I tried to name all of the people who have blessed me and made my life a pure wonder this year, I’d be writing for days, but you know who you are. Thank you. I love you. Love, love, love. I’ve seen much of what there is to see in this world, and I can tell you the only thing that matters, the only thing that fills your heart, the only thing that makes life worth living, is love.
So for me, 2018 will be the year of Love. This I know for sure.
They have slaughtered 777 sacred cows and ground them into meat.
They set up tents in parks, pass out Pabst Blue Ribbon, serve up blasphemy burgers with sour sides of pickles and lies.
“Do you want facts fried with that?” they ask, and the grave diggers shriek, “Yes.”
Save us Mother, for they are sin.
Our Lady of Perpetual Profanity has crowned herself queen, shined up her six chins with glitter, whitened her fangs, slapped a coat of forbidden fruit gloss on her lipless, skeletal grin. She slides white tights over cellulite, strives to compete with the moon, rule over the night.
She has hijacked the Christ, forced him to wear her ring, put a pistol to his head, said, “Sing my praises or else.” In a fit of self-aggrandizement, lo, our much un-beloved psycho queen shelves sanity.
Her Trailer Trash Brigade reigns supreme. “Get a rope,” they howl, and lynch the goddess in the street.
Some days I think they have murdered everything that mattered, but then
I remember you, dancing under moonlight, outshining the stars.
What they couldn’t steal was your heart between my hands, pounding out its secrets, and how I listened, memorized them word by word, went back and studied the spaces, the things you couldn’t say.
What they couldn’t steal was that day you stood 5 feet away and said “I love you” with your eyes, and no one knew, no one would ever know our secret, but for those 55 seconds, no one knowing was ok.
What they couldn’t steal was the miracles, the way we morph one another’s mundanity into magic, how you walk each night on the water of my mind, stilling waves.
When days are dark, and sharks circle, I remember the way the asphalt rippled as you stood on it. Like me, it longed for nothing more than to melt into your skin.
Next time around, I will come back as a swirl on your thumb, a bump on your tongue, a white crescent moon rising at the tip of your toenail.
This time around, I am one giant foot, shod with the preparation of the Gospel of Your Throat.