@writersdigest and @sfwriters
What an awesome opportunity to meet and mingle with like-minded people! And check this out: this coming year they will be adding an event in LA!
wish me luck!
@writersdigest and @sfwriters
What an awesome opportunity to meet and mingle with like-minded people! And check this out: this coming year they will be adding an event in LA!
wish me luck!
OK, now, I hesitated as to whether or not to record this moment in my lil blogerino, as I know it might come off as peacock-esque, but Hell, this is an important issue and for students of mine who are now reading this (Hello, my little chickens!), I am hoping you find a lesson in here…or at least that you smile picturing your feisty prof in this scene!
Yay!! I may be only 5’7” but right now I am feelin’ 7 feet tall!! This afternoon I was at city hall and the line seemed fricken interminable. I was passing the time making faces at an adorable little girl in pigtails who was darting in and around her father’s legs when suddenly I heard a woman behind me in line unleashing a tirade of insults.
I turned to see an old white woman lighting into a petite latina lady, all curled in on herself, eyes averted. The white woman wagged a furious finger in the latina’s face, berating her. “It’s your fault,” she snapped, “you and all those people like you,” she gestured around the room. “You need to stay in your own country! All of you, walking across the border, taking all of our jobs! Go back where you belong!”
“Stop it,” I said, index finger at attention, “Stop. How dare you speak to her like that. She has every right to be in this country. Leave her alone.”
“Oh!” cried the old bat, delighted to get a rise out of someone, “And who are you to tell me what I can and cannot do?”
“We are a nation of immigrants,” I said, “Lay off her, leave her alone. You got it?” I smiled.
“Oh! and look at her! She smiles at me now?!” she spat.
“Yeah, I do,” I nodded, “And do you know why? Because your yelling doesn’t affect me.” And then, for the second time in a week, I correctly spotted an accent. “Madame,” I met her eyes squarely, “vous aussi, vous êtes immigrante.” I continued in French, “You have also found a home in this country. Now, leave her alone.”
Her eyes grew wide, then clenched tight with indignation, “How dare you!” she scowled.
“Laisse faire,” I said, “Drop it.”
The sweet little Hispanic lady smiled at me, then mouthed a timid, “Thank you.”
“Bienvenido a los Estados Unidos,” I smiled back. I raised an eyebrow at the old French meanie, and she moved to another line.
More amazing news! My favorite living poet is coming to the Los Angeles Festival of Books this year!
Kim Addonizio is at once tough and tender, dangerous and delicious, gentle and generous and good. Above all things, good.
I’ve met her twice before. The first time was at a poetry reading in LA. I was actually feeling sick that night and didn’t think I was up to going—I’m so blessed to have been raised by such a sweet pop that I always pick sweet dudes—when my ex came to take me and I said I wasn’t sure if I felt well enough to go he took me anyway coz he knew I’d regret missing the opportunity. ‘Still dig that dude — thx, K
‘Saw her again, a year later, and she remembered me—she even knew my name! Lovely! I think, or, at least, I have always attributed it to being a “poet thing,” the way we just remember. The way moments just gel. And how we have such a need to record these moments.
There is a saying in Latin: Ars longa, vita brevis— Art is long, life is short.
The desire to be a writer, or any kind of artist, stems precisely from an innate understanding of the precious, ephemeral nature of life—which necessarily leads to a desire to be somehow immortal—to have one’s influence extend beyond one’s years. The primary message of any work that even struggles toward “art” is this:
I was HERE. I EXPERIENCED this. THIS I know. BE HERE, too. KNOW. FEEL.
Here is one of my fave poems from Kim Addonizio:
Give me the strongest cheese, the one that stinks best;
and I want the good wine, the swirl in crystal
surrendering the bruised scent of blackberries,
or cherries, the rich spurt in the back
of the throat, the holding it there before swallowing.
Give me the lover who yanks open the door
of his house and presses me to the wall
in the dim hallway, and keeps me there until I’m drenched
and shaking, whose kisses arrive by the boatload
and begin their delicious diaspora
through the cities and small towns of my body.
To hell with the saints, with martyrs
of my childhood meant to instruct me
in the power of endurance and faith,
to hell with the next world and its pallid angels
swooning and sighing like Victorian girls.
I want this world. I want to walk into
the ocean and feel it trying to drag me along
like I’m nothing but a broken bit of scratched glass,
and I want to resist it. I want to go
staggering and flailing my way
through the bars and back rooms,
through the gleaming hotels and weedy
lots of abandoned sunflowers and the parks
where dogs are let off their leashes
in spite of the signs, where they sniff each
other and roll together in the grass, I want to
lie down somewhere and suffer for love until
it nearly kills me, and then I want to get up again
and put on that little black dress and wait
for you, yes you, to come over here
and get down on your knees and tell me
just how fucking good I look.
YESSSSSSSSSSSSSSS!!!!! and I know I started this entry calling Kim my fave “living poet”—Here is a poem from the poet who makes my soul fall still, and then, just…quake.
Pablo Neruda’s Tonight I Can Write the Saddest Lines.
Lovely, lovely day again!
Late Saturday morning I went to the Farmers Market. Love, love, love farmers markets, and this one is particularly adorable. In addition to the requisite baskets brimming with brightly colored fresh fruits and vegetables, and buckets of fragrant flowers, there are also musicians: a small blind man plays Spanish guitar, a Caribbean man strikes bell-like tones on a steel drum, a Raffiesque Rastafarian holds court for children, and a twangedy-voiced mountain man plucks an even twangier banjo. There is also—this *is* Los Angeles—a taquería. And I had a hankerin’ for a chile relleno!
When I went to the stand, however, they only had chile rellenos *inside* burritos! And even this Irish chick from New York knows that this is, shall we say, un poco loco?
I said I would think about it, then turned and saw a woman eating what I thought was said chile relleno burrito. “Is that the chile relleno burrito?” I asked.
“Oh, yes,” she cooed, “and it is so, so delicious,” she rolled her eyes in delight. Hearing an accent, I asked where she was from. “Pasadena,” she smiled.
“Mais non!” I laughed.
“Vous parlez français?!” she exclaimed.
And, oh! I was just wishing the other night when I was giving my friend Megan her French lesson that I had more opportunities to speak French! I miss it so! So we continued, en français—woo hoo! “Where did you learn French?” she asked. “New York,” I said. “My husband is in New York right now!” she smiled, “I love New York!” “No place like it,” I agreed.
“How do you like Los Angeles,” I asked. “It’s okay,” she took another bite of burrito, “and you?” “I don’t,” I admitted, “I’m moving—to Austin.” “My husband is from Austin!”
“Mais non, c’est pas vrai—quelle coincidence!” I couldn’t believe it. “So your French is beautiful,” she said, “just from learning in school in New York?” “Ah, non,” I said, “I lived in France—in Lyon.” “*I’m* from Lyon!” she cried. We were both aghast, giggling.
“Impossible!” I said, “Okay, I’m gonna push this. I didn’t really live exactly in Lyon, itself. I lived outside—in Dardilly.”
“I GREW UP IN DARDILLY!”
We went to the same high school.
“Wow, this is amazing!” I shook my head, “Oh, and by the way, I’m Amanda.” “Isabelle,” she said, taking my hand. I laughed—suddenly none of this was surprising me anymore! “The girl I lived with in France was named Isabelle.”
“Wow.” So amazing. “Oh, by the way,” she said, “I ordered one chile relleno burrito and he accidentally gave me two. This one must be for you! Here,” she held it out to me.
We smiled, we hugged. And just as she had said at the outset, it was so, so delicious.
P.J. O’Rourke once wrote:
“There are a number of mechanical devices which increase sexual arousal, particularly in women. Chief among these is the Mercedes Benz 380SL convertible.”
Welp, I don’t know about the Mercedes part, but I can definitely attest to the fact that my lil Sebring gets me HAWT!
Here is my baby:
I spent the day cruising all around town in my sweet-ass, sexy car, top down, bathed in sunshine, funky music blaring, and it was * POETRY*!
I love, love, love being a woman. ‘Love the lotions and potions. ‘Love the chivalry and the getting out of speeding tickets. But, when it comes to cars, I am all DUDE. And my gorgeous V-6 rocks!
Silly Manda—on excellent writing kick! woohoo!!! Get one new poem published and the floodgates FALL!
Nah—I think it’s that plus my decision to get the Hell outta Cali at last! Funny I decide to move to Texas right after my sweet Will leaves that state! (sorry, love! kisses!) And right before my sister and her fam decide to move to LA! Still, the heart wants what it wants….
And right now my heart wants to write about the most fabulous lil chica au monde: my niece, Maddy.
This past Christmas, Maddy and I bonded like crazy! It was, I don’t know how else to put it aptly—so fricken beautiful! (And yes, I am a writer and those are the only words I have!) One particular moment of blissful “connect” was one excellent naked morning trying to get her dressed after we had showered together. Maddy would have none of it—she hopped up on my sister’s bed, pointing madly at the stereo thing on the dresser. “Manda! Manda! Body dance! Body dance!” she said, her wet gold curls bouncing with delight. Clueless Aunt Manda went to the stereo and put the radio on. Maddy turned to look at me, eyes full of pity and consternation, like I was the dumbest, saddest turd on the planet. (Gotta love the stark honesty of children!) I called for my sister who explained that “Body Dance” was Maddy-speak for a particular song: “Canned Heat” by Jamiroquai. Aaaaand Scene:
INT. PARENTS’ BEDROOM— A GRAY WINTER’S MORNING
AMANDA, brunette woman, mid-to-late 30’s, unclothed, wet hair, moves to the stereo.
CLOSE UP: HER FINGER PUSHES PLAY BUTTON: ‘CLICK’
WE HEAR: CANNED HEAT BY JAMIROQUAI
MADDY, Amanda’s niece, 2, also in the buff, shining like she has swallowed the Sun, starts to hop madly all over the bed, huge smile on face.
It’s BODY DANCE, Manda!!!!
Amanda starts to dance too, grinning like a fool at the excellence of her niece, arms akimbo like a goalie, ready to catch the babe lest she take flight.
Go, Maddy!! Go, Maddy!! Raise the roof!
FADE TO BLACK
Or more like, EXPLODE INTO PURE LIGHT
So, ever since then, I have fallen into mad love with Jamiroquai. When Maddy calls we have dance parties that stretch from Cali to Boulder.
Their music is just perfect for me (and, I’m sure, for others, as well—it’s ok—I’ll share)! Since sweet Maddy’s introduction of them to me I have acquired all of their albums and they have become the soundtrack of my life during this excellent new phase! And I am in LOVE with the lead singer and songwriter Jay Kay. He is so damn devil-may-care and delicious in his crazy hats, his whole body full of music. Love, love, love nutty dudes.
Enjoy—and find your own BODY DANCE!
It’s fricken FREEING!
“Only connect.” — E.M. Forster
So, here I am on a game show with Rick! hee hee
I feel like I should include some FAQs (I’m such a dork!). Let’s see….
How did you come to be on this game show?
It’s a British show that Comedy Central brought to the US. To get on you have to fill out a 10 page questionnaire about your life so they can build a segment around you. This was designed around my answer to the question: “What is the most embarrassing thing you have in your house?” I said my book.
Did you really write a 700 page book about Rick Springfield?
Yes and No. Between the ages of 12-14 I wrote a mad, passionate 711 page roman à clef/ love story about me and Rick and our sexy adventures! Though of course, in the book I was also a rock star and an orphan, and a black belt in karate (naturally).
Why do you act like such a speechless lunatic when you first see Rick?
Because the moment I saw him I was instantly 13 again. And coz he’s Rick.
Holy moley, you rubbed your body all over him!
That’s not a question. And wouldn’t you? And they cut the part where he felt me up before I did that (you can see him starting!). So he started it.
What’s the deal with the picture of you?
That’s what I looked like when I was writing the book—lil Miss Modette. Deal with it.
Do you still have the guitar?
Duh. And one of my best friends actually played it for her audition to get into the Los Angeles Music Academy—and she got in!
Do you still have the book?
Yes. And the show had it bound and embossed for me!
Here is a pic of me and the friend (Elle) who borrowed my Rick guitar:
And here is the present Rick mailed me after the show:
Oh, wow, but I am filled with light!
I spent today at Stage 7 of the Amgen Tour of California and it was AWESOME! Such fierce intensity! The dynamism and prowess! The heart reels!
All of my “action shots” are blurry and off-center and generally wipe so I won’t post them! (But they make me feel all fluttery when I look at them so I will keep!) So here are some fans—Mark (the dude) and Ned (the Chihuahua). This is actually Ned’s 2nd maillot jaune as Levi signed the 1st one he had at Stage 6 in Solvang.
BUT! for as much of an adrenaline rush the race itself was, the real joy came after.
We zipped over to the Astana trailer and I wove my way through the crowd (being an ex NYer is handy in situations like these!) and I managed to wheedle my way to the 2nd row behind the gate.
Everyone was screaming for Lance to come out—people pushed and shoved like we were at a rock concert. And when Lance finally did emerge, men hooted and hollered and women swooned and cried his name!
All I wanted was for him to sign the book that sustained me through my Daddy’s battle with cancer. All around me, people were screaming and thrusting posters, photos, Livestrong paraphernalia and equipment at him, over me. So typical Amanda—lone fan in the throng with a book!
I couldn’t find it in me to scream for his attention—I haven’t done that since I was 13 and at a Rick Springfield concert! Oh, but I needed this moment—so as he neared I held my book (HIS book!) out to him—and, wonder of wonders, he got the cutest grin when he saw it, and he looked up and his eyes met mine. “This book saved me when my father was fighting his cancer,” I said, “He lived.”
And then, even with all the people there, screaming and clamoring for his attention, and as swiftly as he had been moving around signing so many things, Lance stopped. He held my gaze, took my book from me, signed it, and with the most sincere tenderness in his eyes and face said, “Thank you so much. I’m so glad.”
I clutched my precious book to me and scooted my way out of the throng so that others could have their chance. I got back to my friend and she flipped over what had happened. She texted the people we were with: “Yes, I found Amanda—she was busy having a moment with Lance.” Such a lovely moment it was, too—with such a wonderful, inspiring man.
Here is my treasure:
Wow—I’m published again– yay!!! A poem in an anthology, and a live reading April 4th.
What a lovely good-bye to Los Angeles.
As if LA deserves anything lovely…’first town I ever lived in where an acceptable “pick up line” was, “wow—are those real?” uch.
I would like to pop all my writing profs on the noggin for saying I needed to move to LA so I could be treated seriously as a writer. You know, LA eats my soul. My soul is not for sale. Never has been. Never will be. I’d rather write poetry that no one will read than sell my heart.
I suppose I should include the poem– funny how I am so shy about my poetry over any other form of writing!! I’m all nervous hee hee!
ODE TO THE DANDELION
Little golden cheers
sprouting up from cracks in the cement
(my father’s lament)
holding up your sun-mirror shining heads,
ferocious teeth gleaming.
How every summer
it made my life
to watch you dot the green—
or pox the lawn,
my Dad would say.
Tragic that your fierce gold glow—
force to drive the mower into rage!
more powerful than weed killer!
able to dull steel blades!—
was lost on Dad.
As a child, I remember
pulling you from mounds of dug-up earth
lying limply on the lawn
and then getting yellow fingers
linking you together
to stage backyard coronations.
And how unaware I danced
as your seed spun from my hair
spreading your fresh Hell across the grass.
Oh, my lion-teethed beauties,
you knew me,
you knew me.
A Visit from Angels on Sunday
I left Daddy’s bedside distraught. He is plugged into 18 different machines, either dripping fluids into him or sucking others out. He is strapped into a bed that rotates him upside down to expand his lungs to try and help him breathe more on his own. When he is face up, he is swollen and yellowed from the blood poisoning running rampant through his every cell. There is nowhere on his body where I can put my hand on him to hold him without risk of disturbing a tube. I wish his eyes would open. I wish he could move.
Walking back to the car, I am openly sobbing. I have noticed that most people at the hospital—even in the ICU—seem to be doing their best to hold it in. I am incapable. My sobbing is accompanied by great bodily heaves which cause me to convulse. Luckily, I usually only have one session of these per visit. On my way, suddenly, I notice a hibiscus tree with pale pink blooms the size of dinner plates. My crying stops. I am struck by the beauty all around the hospital grounds. Were I not here under such dire circumstances… It is lush here and lovely, and I had never noticed.
I decide then to stop by the fountain that adorns the front entrance for the first time. Adorns—not the right word—it is a great, glorious thing that looks as if it should grace a palace. The round, blue-tiled base surrounds a three-tiered tower of lotus flowers bursting upwards. Atop it all, a family in gold rejoice, dancing and holding their child aloft in the sun.
I sit at the fountain’s edge and run my fingers through the icy water. Three young children, two girls and a boy, are also playing in the water nearby. No other adult is in sight. Seeing coins in the fountain, I begin to fish in my wallet. The little caramel-skinned girl in a yellow dress looks up and asks me, “Do wishes really come true?”
I am struck through the heart and fight to gather myself—I try to go into teacher mode. “Of course they do,” I smile, “why else would I be tossing in coins?” With that, I let three shiny pennies plop into the fountain’s center. The two girls skip over to me and sit on either side. The one who has not yet spoken puts her hand on my leg and tips her small head against my arm. She has long straight hair and bright eyes, and her dress calls to mind something a mermaid might wear. I scan again for any sign of parents, worried how this might look, but see no one. “Yeah, I think they do, too,” she answers, admonishing the little boy not to steal wishes from the water, as she takes my right hand in hers.
“My religion says wishes come true,” chimes in the mermaid girl. “We call it praying. You can pray for anything and it can come true. What did you wish for?”
There is nothing I can do, I am just rolling with the experience, “That my father will live,” I tell them, and the tears come down like rivers.
With that, they cuddle in closer, gathering me up in all the wonder and wisdom that only children can possess. “It’s going to be all right, you just need to pray,” says the girl stroking my hand. As she smiles, her teeth gleam against the backdrop of her dark skin.
Then, the bright-eyed girl stands up and turns to face me. She looks at me squarely with an air well beyond her years, leans into me and says, “Everything is going to be all right. You have to believe that. And in the meantime, you need to pray. And you need to take care of yourself.” She moves in closer, looks me in the eyes and says, “You need to make better decisions.”
I fall still, down to my bones. Every part of my body knows that this experience I am having is something rare, something terrifying, and something immensely beautiful.
“What do you mean?” I ask, daring to explore this exchange more fully. She stops and thinks. “You need make choices that will make your father—I don’t know this word—‘pride’.” She doesn’t know the word? “Proud,” I say.
She nods—yes, I have gotten it right. Then she sits back down beside me, takes my face in her small hands and says very calmly and very slowly, “And if, for some reason, everything isn’t all right, you can’t hurt yourself. Do you understand me?” As her eyes burn in to mine, I hear myself promise, “Okay.”
Then, just as suddenly as it had all begun, something in the air breaks and they are giggly young girls again. “I’m Amanda,” I say, still in a fog, “May I know your names?” I am half expecting them not to have any. “I’m Leslie,” says the girl in yellow. “And I’m Jeniffer.”
“Here,” I ask, “Will you write your names on this for me?” I pull of my ICU badge and hand them a pen. They sign their names. This really is happening.
“Can I have your phone number?” Jeniffer asks. “Sure,” I say, writing it down for her. “I’m a teacher,” I add, somehow trying to make it okay that I am a stranger giving a child my phone number.
“Okay, well, thank you, ladies,” I say as I rise to go. I am overwhelmed and filled with an awe I have never before felt. I need the safety of the familiar. “Thank you so much for all of your advice. I will pray, I promise.”
“And believe,” Jeniffer adds.
“I’ll try,” I say as I wave and head to the car.
It is dusk now and a perfect light breeze skips along through the crepe myrtle trees, blowing my hair up and about. Then, just as I come upon my car, over the breeze I hear a man’s voice call out, “Mandy!”
I turn toward the sound fast—how could this be? How can any of this be? But all my eyes find is a sweet Mexican family, walking three tiny girls dressed in puffy white communion gowns.
As I drive out of the hospital lot, I stop and wave at them. The little girls smile and wave back at me, beaming, as the two parents look at each other and shrug, no doubt wondering just who in the hell I am.