Saturday, November 5, 2011


…I was really excited to have a story, "My Mother, Marilyn Monroe" named Best of the Web by Sundress Press and Dorothee Lang.

The story is about the mom character in my novel "House of Rats" who dresses up in costumes. Her daughter thinks the mother is going nuts. Her son, the narrator, thinks the opposite, that--following her husband's suicide--she is finally starting to live.

And then some stuff happens.

…Death has a way of allowing us to live better…

…So, I'm home now.
Got here last night.
Thank you for all who were so kind about my own mother's passing.
The world seems small in a good way. A lot my best friends now are people I've never even met, not physically anyway.
You find out how much people care about you when you get knocked down and dinged up.
And it’s not that they buy you a drink or send you flowers. They’re just there.
“There” can be anywhere.
Nicolette Wong, a talented writer from Hong Kong, is someone I "talk" to frequently via this blog or Facebook or email. Same with Maree in New Zealand and others in Germany, Scotland, etc.
But having cyber friends can be tricky. It often takes a lot of reading between the lines. It takes having to bend sentences so that the words form facial expressions. You have to throw your darts accurately, and you have to use the right ones or what you mean to say can end up meaning the opposite.
I'm not a huge fan of the exclamation mark, but every once in a while a well placed ! adds a little something, like Cayenne pepper in a meatloaf.
Someone once posted, "It's the internet. It's not real."
But it is real.
It has certainly felt that way these last few days. You can tell when someone is being genuine and authentic, even if they're half a globe away, even if they are someone you've never met.

…In college I took a lot of writing classes. My major was Poli Sci and I was going to be a lawyer because that seemed like a good choice, fiscally. But in my heart I wanted to be a writer and ended up double majoring, adding English to the mix.
I took scads of writing classes. In one, I wrote a story about a dysfunctional group of brothers who gather together for their mother's funeral, and afterward, after the wake, they sit down to play a game of Parcheesi, something they did quite often as young boys. During the game playing, secrets spill out, grudges get matched and vented. There's a lot of anguish and tension. Wounds are laid bare in order to be cleansed and then sutured. I think it was one of the better pieces I'd written up until then. I was 19. My professor gave me A for "The Parcheesi Game."
It was strange how similar yesterday was to that story.
--Following the service and burial we all met in the trailer where I grew up. It was very crowded to say the least. The food was not what my mother would have cooked. Most of the crowd kept taking smoke breaks. A few drank canned beer. Initially it was awkward and tense. Men are not very skilled social beings. Throw in blood line and a tarnished history and, well, it be very uncomfortable.
But eventually it was okay.
It was fine to be a little bit vulnerable. To not feel threatened. To saunter up to a brother you hadn't seen in 30 years and say, "So tell me what your life is like now."
It was all right to play Parcheesi again.
Death has a way of allowing us to live better.

…At the funeral one brother leaned over to another brother and, speaking of Mom, said, "God better like to eat."
Then he added, "And he better not have a problem following orders."
A little bit of levity that was quite accurate.

…I feel good. I feel fine. The lake is very still outside my window--a sheet of wax paper. A few geese keep flying across at tree height and on the south end steam or fog has bearded up the boat launch.
It's all quite beautiful.

…Here are a few fun things for a Seattle Saturday:

"A story has no reason whatsoever to exist unless it's about trouble." Les Edgerton

"I am so clever that sometimes I don't understand a single word of what I am saying.” Oscar Wilde

"When we sit or when we run in place with images and sounds rather than flee farther into our rational minds, the imagination quietly reawakens to the possibilities of wonder and awe." Charlotte Beck

"The influence of each human being on others in this life is a kind of immortality." John Quincy Adams

"Let everyone sweep in front of his own door and the whole world will be clean." Johann Wolfgang Von Goethe

"If neurotic is wanting two mutually exclusive things at one and the same time, then I'm neurotic as hell. I'll be flying back and forth between one mutually exclusive thing and another for the rest of my days." Sylvia Plath


  1. certainly sounds like a scene from a story, and those lines about God are screaming for a story. glad to hear that it went okay (it sounds like it) for you guys and you seem to be doing okay!

    i think one can always tell whether someone is being genuine even if they're writing from the other side of the globe - and all you ever get is their words on a may take a while to 'trust' that, but it always happens...i'm sure you don't really try to imagine mine or anyone else's voice or facial expressions, while you hear us speaking to just hear it between the lines, i'd imagine!

    i'm very quiet with certain people who, for all their eloquent or lavish words & compliments & all sorts of efforts, i just don't take to. you know what i mean.

    hope you stay well!

  2. nicolette,
    i think you're right. of course you are.
    you're a good person and i appreciate your friendship. hopefully we will meet before the decade is over.