Monthly Archives: June 2009

I Am Cut Out For

 Last month I told you what I’m not cut out for.  Well here’s the rest of the story

fast writing pen

I am cut out for flannel pajamas, flannel sheets and chamomile tea. I am cut out for Saturday mornings, Friday afternoons, long lunches, short phone calls and voicemail. I am cut out for first class upgrades, express checkout and expense accounts. I am cut out for soy chai latte’s, writing at Caribou Coffee, cranberry walnut scones and Kindle. I am cut out for fast writing pens, slow dancing, long walks and microwave popcorn. I am cut out for big furry dogs, LL Bean catalogues, kayaking with my eyes closed and Twitter. I am cut out for comfortable shoes, October baseball, naps, crabcakes, collard greens and Public Broadcasting. I am cut out for outdoor hot tubs and indoor pools. I am cut out for books on tape, automatic transmissions, heated leather seats and OnStar. I am cut out for saltwater fishing. I am cut out for HDTV, high-speed internet access, flat screen monitors and extra RAM. I am cut out for True Blood, NCIS, Expedition Africa and Nurse Jackie. I am cut out for retreats, workshops, vacations, excursions and long weekends. I am cut out for eating by candlelight, writing by hand and playing by ear.


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Filed under Breadcrumbs

A Final Note

Until now these Breadcrumbs have been my own words. Today I need to make an exception.

 The current turmoil in Iran is coming home to  National Writers Union of DC member Dr. Sakhineh (Simin) Redjali.  She lived through the first Iranian Revolution in 1979 and is living through the second one now in Northern Virginia.  She has delayed writing the final chapter of her autobiography until she sees how it will end.  Simin is in constant contact with many people in Iran, and hears regularly from former students from the National University of Iran, where she was the first woman professor of psychology, and from Shemiran College, which she founded and headed. 

 She forwarded this blog note to the NWUDC:

 By a blogger in Tehran

 Tomorrow is a big day, maybe I’ll get killed tomorrow!

I will participate in the demonstrations tomorrow. Maybe they will turn violent. Maybe I will be one of the people who is going to get killed. I’m listening to all my favorite music. I even want to dance to a few songs. I always wanted to have very narrow eyebrows. Yes, maybe I will go to the salon before I go tomorrow!

There are a few great movie scenes that I also have to see. I should drop by the library, too. It’s worth to read the poems of Forough and Shamloo again.

All family pictures have to be reviewed, too. I have to call my friends as well to say goodbye.

All I have are two bookshelves which I told my family who should receive them.

I’m two units away from getting my bachelors degree but who cares about that. My mind is very chaotic.

I wrote these random sentences for the next generation so they know we were not just emotional and under peer pressure. So they know that we did everything we could to create a better future for them. So they know that our ancestors surrendered to Arabs and Mongols but did not surrender to despotism. This note is dedicated to tomorrow’s children…

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Filed under This touched my heart

Moving Day

Home had always been the little bungalow on South Woodlawn Avenue. She stood in her empty bedroom. It looked bigger without her bed and dresser – now loaded in the back of Uncle Bill’s truck. Her bed had a metal headboard with hundreds of tiny holes just the size of the tips of her five year old fingers. She and her daddy had played a game. He would place his hand behind the headboard and cover one of the holes with his finger. She would try to touch his finger on the other side before he could move it. She liked the sensation of touching her daddy’s fingers through the headboard. She loved her daddy.  She walked from room to room. She walked into the closet of the room where her mama and daddy had slept. The closet was empty but she could still smell her daddy’s after shave lotion. She stayed there for a long time in the dark inhaling the  scent of her daddy.

Her mama had said they were all going home now. She was confused. This was home. Home was the green house with the gum ball trees in the front yard where she and her daddy and stretched out on army blanket and eaten bologna sandwiches. Now, she walked around the front yard picking up gumballs. She filled the pockets of her yellow dress. The one with the sash that her mama could never tie just right. She always ended up taking her next door to Mrs. Evans’ house. “Blair, will you tie this girl’s sash for me? I don’t know why it always looks cockeyed when I do it.”

She wondered who was going to tie her sash at the place where they were going…the place that would be their new home.

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Dawn Finally Arrived

dawnSleep extinguished.
Tear-soaked pillows.
The beginning of a headache.
The hands on the clock don’t move.
She wonders if she can live through the pain.
Nothing to numb it.
All anesthetics forbidden by a decision made years earlier when the weight of grief was not yet calculated.
Prayers deficient.
She cannot pray. She will not kneel.
Why should she stoop to lie to a God who leaves her so alone?
Sleep won’t come.
She tries to read. The same sentence.
Again and again and again.
Time has stopped.
It will be 3:34 AM forever.
She is hungry.
No, not hungry. But empty.
A glass slips from her hand.
She picks up the shards.
One pierces her left thumb leaving a gash that will become a scar that will bear witness to that endless night.
She sits on the kitchen floor.
Tears mix with the blood that seeps from her thumb.
She draws circles on the linoleum with her own blood.
She draws the sun to invoke the dawn.
She continues until there is no more blood – no more tears
and only then does she notice that the dawn has finally come.

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Filed under Poetry

Too Early

too earlyShe was born in 1949, eight months early for the second half of the Twentieth Century.  She spent the rest of her life being early so she spent the rest of her life waiting. Waiting for others to catch up – to arrive – to understand.

She walked faster than her husbands. She tried to match her stride to theirs but she could not so she developed the habit of waiting for them at the next corner – at the next bend  – the next bench.

She finished her meals before others finished their salads so she had to sit with an empty plate in front of her and wait and watch other people chew.  She tried many ways to eat slower – chewing her food forty times like her toothless grandmother suggested – chop sticks – eating food she didn’t like.

Nothing worked.

 She always woke up before the house was ready to stir and she had to tip toe about and do quiet things until the rest of the world was ready for her to make noise and bang pots together and play her loud music and let the dogs bark.

She will reach the end of her life before the ones she will leave behind. She will try to stay with them as long as she can. She will do without cigarettes and alcohol and she will check her breasts in the shower and have bone density tests. She will drink green tea and do yoga and get plenty of fresh air but she will die any way – too early.

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Breakfast for Jacoby

Pages 129-130 of Lily’s Tattoo.  Jacoby is a DC detective investigating a series of grisly murders. When I started writing this thriller (a new genre for me) Jacoby was a minor character, but I quickly discovered he wanted to be much more.

Autumn had arrived overnight. Jacoby was awakened early Saturday morning by the sound of rain pounding the skylight over his bed.  A cold wind blew in through the open window at the head of his bringing the rain in with it. His mood was a gloomy as the weather. Jerry Benson’s call had left him unsettled. The image of a knife-wielding adversary roaming around his city disturbed him. He hadn’t slept well. He’d been bothered by bad dreams including one that featured hand to hand-to-hand combat a samurai warrior who looked a lot like Senator Davenport. 

He stumbled to the kitchen and poured himself a cup of coffee. One of his few indulgences was his automatic grind and brew coffee maker.  He’d joked with his friends that it was cheaper than a wife. The truth was he would have happily traded his coffee maker for a companion. He just hadn’t met a woman willing to tolerate the demands and the distractions of his job.

Jacoby ducked outside for his morning paper and retrieved a soggy Washington Post from a puddle of water. The front section was unreadable, but the Metro Section was still legible and that was what he was interested in. He quickly scanned the local news and saw the stabbings had been pushed to the back page and there was no mention of the unidentified Tyson’s victim. He tossed the paper in the trash.

Jacoby hated weekends. During the week the demands of his job helped him forget how alone he was but on weekends he missed having a companion.  He turned on ESPN just for company and then he poured himself a bowl of Cheerios. As he ate he thought about how he would approach his encounter with Davenport that evening. He was still leaning toward the Columbo technique.

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Filed under Novel

For @Lilyofoz

We meet in a place where strangers are nourished by strangers

Where we our own words are fed back to us, merged with lily of oz

Colors gone from our own palette

The mood is chartreuse.

We are the blind man exploring the elephant.

We trend. We drift. We meander

Between rivers and tear drops.

A spiral.  

No longer prisoners of our own geography

We gather around

The campfires of gypsies

And dream each others’ dreams.


Filed under Breadcrumbs, Poetry

Poetry Thursday


One summer I drive across Texas forever.
Wheels spinning.
Lights flashing.
Cows mooing.
I don’t stop. Clouds fall from the sky. Oil wells spill out onto a too brown landscape making it look like a sloppily iced sheet cake.
The kind my mother used to bake.
I drive on.
The highway rises up to meet the cloudless sky. I folllow it.
Better than driving in circles.


The Black Dog

The black dog sleeps in the cradle while the baby howls.
“My dear, did you notice?
The mantle clock stopped at four.”
Breathe now.
Your essence clouds the mirror of my soul,
while this finger traces the cat’s cradle of your brow.


Filed under Breadcrumbs, Poetry


Next month I’ll be going to the Taos Summer Writing Conference to take a memoir workshop with Barbara Robinette Moss.   My memoir is about my time on a commune just north of Taos in Embudo, New Mexico.  This is an excerpt from the memoir.

 While Stephen struggled to get the Triumph running again I tried to keep busy reading, writing letters and housekeeping chores. I washed our clothes in the Rio Grande and laid them out to dry on the rocks. I decorated our cabin with wildflowers that I collected on walks by the river. But our meager diet had taken its toll. I slept a great deal – sometimes in our cabin, sometimes on the sun warmed rocks behind the commune.  Stephen accused me of being lazy.  “Instead of lounging around all the time, why don’t you do something to help me?”

I was baffled. “What can I do to help you? Just tell me and I’ll do it.”

He threw a wrench against the already broken windshield. “For one thing you could figure out what we are going to do for a windshield.”

I wrote to Aunt Gladys telling her that we needed a windshield for a 1959 Triumph TR3. I walked to the Embudo Post Office and mailed the letter. In a few weeks she wrote back that she had found a windshield in a junkyard in Greensboro and that she was shipping it to me by bus. I could pick up the windshield at the Trailways depot in Espanola.   I hitchhiked to Espanola alone. The windshield was there just as she promised. The only problem was going to be getting it back to Embudo. I stood by the highway for hours waiting for a ride. Finally a semi pulled over. The truck driver helped me lift the windshield into the compartment behind his cab and drove me to Embudo.

It was dark when I got there. 


Filed under 1970, Breadcrumbs, Nonfiction

Taking a Leap

zip-line-costa-ricaI looked down from my perch 120 feet up. Looked down through the mesh platform that appeared totally inadequate. Carefully avoided the Bullet Ants that were crawling up the tree. Leaning against the tree would have provided a modicum of security but I had been warned that bites from only five of the dime-sized ants would produce a reaction equivalent to a poisonous snake so I did not lean on the tree. 

The young Tico attached my harness to the cable. I willed myself to ignore the fact that I was entrusting my life to a 16-year-old that I had never met. “Ok! Time to Fly.” I think those were the only English words he knew. 

 “Pura Vida” I yelled as I jumped off the platform. I flew at 40 mph toward the next platform. I knew it was somewhere out there in the jungle. It was just obscured by the trees. All harboring those Bullet Ants. Five minutes into my first zip-line experience I realized I was terrified but there was no way out of it but through it. What a metaphor!

 I continued jumping and screaming for the next hour. When it was over and I was able to plant my feet on terra firma and shimmy out of my harness I realized I had not seen a single monkey. Not a Howler Monkey. Not a Spider Monkey. Not a White Faced Monkey.  Hard to spot monkeys when one is soaring along at 40 miles per hour with eyes closed.

This was the second in a series of what I refer to as my “Fear Factor Vacations”. At almost 55 I decided it was time to begin living dangerously. I have spent enough of my life safely ensconced on a beach chair while other folks surfed, dived and bungeed.  I am happy to report that I can do things today that I could not or would not do at 20.  “Take a Leap” is my mantra.

Not all the leaps are from tree tops. This trip the most challenging leap was into an Iyengar Yoga Class. Most of the other yogis were 20 something. Most were yoga teachers themselves. This was not your mama’s yoga class.

“Ego is the first barrier.” Did I imagine that the instructor looked straight at me when she said that?  As I sat in my version of lotus and tried to fathom how I was going to survive six hours of yoga a day I heard the words that brought fear to my heart.

“Headstands! Those of you that can go up on your own do it now. Those that need help move to the wall. We will be holding this asana for 15 minutes.”  I moved to the wall and tried to make myself invisible.   No luck. She wasn’t buying it.  I moved to the wall like a dead man walking. After several tries – several very awkward tries – I found myself looking at the world from a whole new perspective. As the blood rushed to my head I was exhilarated. 

This was better than white water rafting or ziplining. It was better than scuba diving or riding those mules down the side of the Grand Canyon. I was making my body do something I didn’t know it could do. My properly diminished ego was allowing me to risk looking silly in front of strangers.

 I only had minutes to enjoy this bliss before the instructor called out “Okay – Handstands!”


Filed under Breadcrumbs, Nonfiction