Tuesday, July 31, 2007

Paradise Lost

I'm back.

Things I learned from this trip:

1) I have been away from the beach way too long. I have lost the connection. It was like looking into the face of a long ago friend and seeing a stranger. The grace of a pelican in flight was shocking. When did I forget this?

2) I have forgotten how to do nothing. When the boys went down for a nap and we had two hours to kill, I didn't know what to do with myself. I watched the ocean, trying to feel the familiar pull, trying to sink into the calmness, the tranquility I used to feel. After five minutes of this I left the balcony and rummaged around the condo. Surely there was something that needed cleaned, folded, tucked or scrubbed? I found a stash of books by the TV. Something to read! Perfect. I took a few outside and flipped through them. Shallow beach reads. None of them held my interest. I was beginning to panic. Instead of relaxed, I was anxious...even bored.

3) As busy as nature looks, there is a rhythm, a pattern of work and rest, of energy exerted and then released. The pelicans: flap flap flap...glide. flap flap flap...glide. The ocean: waves of energy created and dispersed. I have lost my rhythm. I am all flap flap flap...create create create.

Eventually, in the last few hours, I began to experience moments of familiarity, of lightness. Moments of recognition, of remembering. Moments I was connecting with myself and in turn, connecting with the world around me. I was encouraged that more time could have healed the distance.

Maybe next time.

Now, I will be working on trying to find my own natural rhythm.

I will try to remember how to glide.

Thursday, July 26, 2007

Off to the Beach

I refuse to call this a vacation. Mainly because we have packed enough to call it a move and we are about to try our first four hour car ride with two eighteen month olds to a new place that has no gates, no drawer locks, no baby-proofed potties, plants or people and water without boundaries, bottoms or fences.

But, I'm okay. This will be my view for the next four days.

It will be...an adventure.

So, you all have a great weekend and no, this doesn't let you off the hook for participating in the top ten list! I expect to see some exposure...ahem, some...dis-closure when I get back!

Wednesday, July 25, 2007

Tagged, My Top Ten

Okay, only for you, Joyce.

My lovely friend, Joyce, has tagged me with this meme. You describe 10 "weird or different experiences in your blog," and then must tag 10 of your friends to do the same. Here are mine:
1) I have a serious dump truck fetish. I blame my grandfather for buying me a shiny metal one when I was two. My dad recently built me a wooden one by hand (see picture). I also paid a lot of money for a B&W photo of a dump truck by a NY photographer. Strangely enough, there is also one that's been parked on a hill behind my house for a few months now which the sun rises behind every morning, and I take as a small gift from the universe.

2) I have experienced that invisible web that connects us all. When I was seventeen I had a terrible dream that my mother's cousin, who lived in a different state (we'll call him John) had kidnapped me and assaulted me in an abandoned coal mine. It was so vivid that I wouldn't even go back to my room. The funny part about this was, I had never even met "John." I just knew instinctively it was him. A few weeks later, my grandmother sent us news that John had been arrested for this crime. It even took place in an abandoned coal mine.

3) I have experienced the full fury of nature. Its name was Hurricane Andrew. I was living in Ft. Lauderdale, and when the winds were gusting at 175 miles per hour, I thought I would also die there. Some beauty did come out if it as the aviary at the Miami Zoo was destroyed and we had gorgeous tropical birds landing in our yard for weeks afterward.

4) Growing up in Florida, I have stepped on both a pygmy rattlesnake and a sand shark.

5) Three years ago, I took a belly dancing class and was hooked. It is now my favorite form of exercise.

6) Six years ago I became a vegetarian because of a disturbing dream I had in which I bit a lamb. Yes, bit. Hard. Drew blood. I know, it's a weird thing to change your lifestyle because of a dream but it was irrevocably etched into my psyche. I can still hear the poor thing scream.

7) A bit of irony. I have lived and driven in four different states but have received my only speeding ticket in the state that I was born in (Pa.) while driving through cross country.

8) From my senior year Algebra class window, I watched the space shuttle Challenger launch and then explode. It was a shocking event. Not only for the live's lost but for the loss of innocence and the lesson in life's unfairness and mortality, even when things are planned so carefully. You are never in control, never safe.

9) When I was twenty five I got to visit Denmark. It was seriously one of the highlights of my life. The people were incredibly warm, real and fascinating. I loved it so much I wanted a reminder of my trip that was more than a souvenir I would plop on a shelf. So, before getting on the plane to come back home I found a small tattoo parlor in Copenhagen and had my belly button pierced, (the commitment of a tattoo is too much for me) not thinking about the many hours sitting upright on a plane I would have to endure with a throbbing belly. My souvenir is now a tiny scar.

10) In an eleventh grade creative writing class, we had to write a true story about something that affected our lives greatly and the teacher sent them in to a contest for a magazine that would be distributed to all the Florida high schools. I wrote a story about one of my parent's friends, an older gentleman that used to bring me butterscotch candy, and how his passing affected me. Although it was supposed to be a true story, I made this one up and so was shocked when my story was picked. Even more so when an office worker brought me a box a few weeks later filled with letters from high school students saying how touched they were by my story and how it helped them understand a loss of their own. That's when I experienced the power of fiction writing and fell in love.

On that note, I swear I didn't make any of these up. :-)

I know it's summer and you all are busy, so I'm not going to force you to participate. BUT, it's fun...so if you read this just DO IT. GET NAKED.

Sunday, July 22, 2007

Of Mice and Men

So, say it's the future and you're adopted. You go in search of your genetic parents, only to find out that they are...mice! Yes, I'm talking about the squeaky, furry little lab tenants. What would be your reaction? Horror? Disbelief? Would you start looking for the hidden camera?

Is it far fetched? Perhaps. Is it possible? Entirely.

It's possible because of a little thing scientists like to call a chimera. A chimera is created by mixing cells from two different species. In a simplified version of the scenario above, you could inject human stem cells into some mice embryos and let the resulting mice be born. You are bound to get some mice born eventually that have human reproductive cells. Just mate a mouse with human sperm and a mouse with human eggs and you have a 100% human baby. Of course, the embryo would have to be implanted in a human womb, but that is a routine procedure now. Which brings me to a fascinating debate going on in England.

The British Parliament is considering allowing scientists to create chimeric embryos as long as they are destroyed after two weeks. They say it will be against the law to implant these embryos. The problem is The Catholic bishops have come out and said if these chimeric embryos are created, they have a right to life. They don't think they should be made at all, but if scientists do go ahead with it, then they should be allowed to live. Specifically, this is what the Bishop's say:

"It should not be a crime to transfer them, or other human embryos, to the body of the woman providing the ovum, in cases where a human ovum has been used to create them. ... Such a woman is the genetic mother, or partial mother, of the embryo; should she have a change of heart and wish to carry her child to term, she should not be prevented from doing so.”

Can you imagine?!!

Because this is the topic of my current book, I have asked a lot of people their thoughts on a non-human animal/human hybrid creation. I can tell you that the reaction is almost always something akin to "ick" or "are you crazy?" or "god help us if that ever happens" or "step away from the tequila." Actually, by the reactions I can honestly say I think these creatures are better off not ever being born. They would be outcasts, slaves, burned on stakes in horrible rituals, tortured, ridiculed and at the very least have no rights.

Here in the U.S. we tried to pass the Human Chimera Prohibition Act back in 2005. It never became a law. What we have instead is a National Academy of Science ethics board that scientists are urged to run experiments by before they attempt anything like this. There is also only regulations put on government funded labs. Private labs can do whatever they want.

So, now I'm asking you. If scientists are allowed to create human-non-human embryos...do you think they have a right to be born? What if the creation had more than sixty percent human DNA and only forty percent mouse? Would that make a difference?

Monday, July 16, 2007

Poetry Sharing

Okay. So, I have company this week (well not just any company) but my mother. Which, on one hand will be great, as she is an awesome grandma who already has the boys in the palm of her hand. But, this means I won't have time to write this week, soooo I figured this would be a good time to share something I've already written.

As I've said before, although I love poetry, it's not my strong point. Maybe it's because I only write poetry when I need to release some sort of emotion--usually pain, frustration, etc. All the dark stuff. It usually does the trick for me, as I feel better after writing it. As far as sharing it, it doesn't usually make sense to anyone else.

I found this one which I think is pretty cut and dry:

A Blink of a Breakdown

I want to tumble, spat from bare air
as fear sulks, left behind by Newton’s law.
I want to ride a dirty train in some foreign country,
drowning in novel accents
where I can stand naked in ignorance,
watching strangers blow out heavy tar-smoke
like burnt souls filling the cab, laughing
at something, as if life were actually amusing.
I want to stare
at a building so breathtaking
that I actually forget
to breath.
I want to fill my lungs with ocean salt.
I want to be reborn so many countries later,
I ring the front desk to ask
what day it is.
I want to taste the speed of light.
I want to stick my tongue
In the lemon meringue sun,
Lick the gathering foam
From death’s noble steed-
Gallop faster, won’t you?
I want to scream.
I want to plop on the fire branded sands
And wink back at the seas of possibility.
I want to give someone a thing of
value and turn away before
they smile politely,
having no fucking clue
what lay dead in their hand.
I want to hear glass shatter.
I want to be transported to magical lands
by strange mushroom drinks
concocted by uncivilized hands.
I want to stare, unblinking star by star
And know down time’s line
a spent story of light will exist
In memory of me.
I want to flee down a haunted hall.
I want to not be haunted.
I want to shatter every mountain
and feed their ground bones to the sea.
Heaven is flat, open, infinite.
I want to breath.
I want to live in the darkness
because the light shows the ugliness of humanity.
I want the darkness to not live in me.

So, those of you out there that write poetry, what moves you to start a poem? Is it emotional or more physical, like an event? I would love to read some of yours so feel free to post them!

Have a great week.

Monday, July 09, 2007

Top Ten List

Top Ten Reasons Why Writing as a Profession Rocks

1) You can be successful without having to deal with the pesky fame part of it. Worried about being too brilliant and getting mobbed at the Jiffy Lube? No worries...unless you are J.K. Rowling, of course.

2) The average professional baseball player's career only lasts 6.5 years. As a writer, you don't have to be concerned about physical injury derailing your career. You can work your knotty little arthritic fingers to the bone well into your nineties. (Bar the deformities such as your ass becoming the size and shape of your computer chair)

3) Afraid that you won't hear enough stories about your nutter friends and relatives? No need to worry. As soon as you tell them you're writing a book, you will have stories coming out of your ears.

4) What other job is there that you can work in your underwear and fuzzy bunny slippers?

5) Hearing voices and arguing amongst yourselves are considered valuable tools of the trade.

6) The fan mail is nice, yes...but more importantly are the helpful souls out there that selflessly scour your books for inaccuracies or other things that may accidentally conjure up the devil, and expend a great deal of effort coming up with career matches that would better suit you such as a vacuum cleaner sales representative...or perhaps, just the vacuum cleaner.

7) Writers don't have to worry about becoming complacent and taking things for granted such as new cars, diamond studded socks or a private island getaway. (Again, unless you're J.K. Rowling)

8) Rejection. It's addicting. Better than crack. Don't believe me...here, try it--

Dear Reader,

Although I appreciate you taking the time to read this blog, I'm afraid your blue moon rising just doesn't coincide with my sparkly fairy tattoo. Good luck placing your foot elsewhere.

Having flash backs yet?

9) You get to make your own schedule, which forces you to be highly organized, disciplined and free from any and all procrastination tendencies. In other words...perfect.

10) After creating a three hundred plus page story-- filled with places and people that don't really exist, powered by events that never really happened--coming up with a story about the gallon of missing mint chocolate chip ice cream that was just bought two days ago is a piece of cake!

Monday Short

Life Lesson #38

I dip the wand into the thick, soapy liquid. When I pull it out, it runs down my arm. This is meant to simply be entertainment. The first time, I get the wand too close to my mouth as I blow, spitting to the delight of my toddler, who practices this spitting thing after me. Squeals ensue as bubbles explode from the wand, released by the wind instead of me. Some form of disappointment expands within me at this fact. I watch as he toddles after them, arms raised, fingers splayed. He falls, gets back up, toddles more, giggles more. This time, I shield the wind and blow the bubbles myself. When he chases these, it is a sweeter flavor of joy.

Now, he has squatted down. He has spotted a bubble sticking in the grass, quivering in the wind. I watch silently as--with a deliberation that could make the whole world disappear and a smile that is the whole world--he pokes his prize at last, touching it with a tiny pointer finger. Fragile meets fragile. The disappointment is instant, appearing exactly at the same time the bubble pops. With eyes watering from the sun, the wind and the sheer unfairness of a goal reached, he looks up at me with questions I don’t know how to answer, uncertainties I don’t know how to protect him from. So, I simply watch him with my own eyes watering from the wind and the bitter sweetness of life.

I smile and I say, “Precisely, my son.”

Thursday, July 05, 2007

Rockin' the Blog

This is mine, you can look but don't touch!

Actually, I joke but I am honored that my new rockin' twin mommy-slash-writer friend Shawn awarded me the Rockin' Girl Blogger award! Also, it gets passed on to five other rockin' girl bloggers, so technically others can & will touch it. But, for now, it's mine to hug & squeeze & admire. (I bet someone out there will find my blog now by googling "others can & will touch it")

This would be a good time to say--when I started this blog, I did it to get used to other people reading my writing, to sort of come out of my shell. What I didn't expect is the connection I feel with those of you who I've met on this blogging road. I would have never thought it was possible to care about people, and laugh and cringe and feel compassion for people that I have never met in person. But, I have done all of those things. I guess technology's good for something after all.
So, without further babbling, and in no particular order, here's who I'm awarding the Rockin' Girl Blogger award to:
Tertia Albertyn Tertia is a mom and writer living in Africa. I have always been drawn to the exotic, the new, the unknown. Which is why I began to read her blog. I love meeting people from far away places. The reasons I keep reading are (1) her sense of humor and honesty are at a level that I can only gaze up at, never reach. And (2) she blogs about her struggle with infertility which ended finally with the birth of her twins. My path was eerily similar to hers and even when there is a happy ending, there are scars from the journey that need to heal. Laughing and nodding while reading her blog has become my therapy.

B.E. Sanderson Beth is one of the kindred spirits I have met through this blogging journey. She's a fellow speculative fiction writer who I read because she's beside me in the trenches and I don't feel so alone in my journey when I visit her. She definitely rocks!

Bee Lavender Bee's blog is where I go when I want to live vicariously through someone. Besides having a great name, she is an amazingly unique person, who has been through so many illnesses, cancer, surgeries, near death moments in her life but still, instead of being bitter or afraid, she is actually living life to the fullest. She is savoring life in Cambridge, which is fitting for her, she is as charming as I have always imagined England to be.

Rebecca Taylor Rebecca is a lady who works in the molecular biology field and started her blog "Mary Meets Dolly" to try to clear up some of the misconceptions the general public has about issues such as genetic engineering and reproductive technology. Although I don't share the Catholic viewpoint she is writing from, I admire her immensely for the fact that she saw a need for public education about things such as cloning and stem cell research and she is doing something about it. Her posts are always well-researched and I have learned a great deal from her.

Alexandra Sokoloff What can I say about Alex? She's a gorgeous thriller writer with spunk who's posts keep me in the loop of what's going on in the world of writerdom. 'Nough said.

And last, but certainly not least, I would like to nominate someone for the counterpart to this award. THE AWESOME GUY BLOGGER.I cannot leave out Christian, the person who has graciously become the supporting beam to my blogging life. He is also a writer, but his blog is like stepping into wonderland--you never know what is there waiting for you. It could be bits of writing, reviews, rants. Whatever it is, it's always honest and he doesn't hold back. I wish I could be as free!

So, Christian, thanks for both the entertainment and support! You rock. Of course, I can't get your bling to post here so check your email!

Can you feel the love, people???? I know I sure can!

Thanks again, Shawn!

Monday, July 02, 2007


I have always subscribed to the belief that we should live in the moment. One of my favorite books is "The Power of Now". The problem is, it's way too easy to let life get in the way of how to best live your life. I manage to live in the moment about thirty seconds a week. Sometimes I catch myself, and I think "okay, I'll do better next week when I'm not so stressed, busy, cranky, overwhelmed, emotionally drained, bla bla bla."

Of course, there has to be some balance here. After all, looking back down the road is good for a few things. It's a useful way to avoid the same mistakes, to appreciate how far you've come and to realize how quickly the present becomes the past. Unfortunately, most of us use it as evidence against ourselves to keep living in a world of self-imposed guilt and penance.

Looking forward also has its usefulness. Humans have evolved to possess an imagination, a tool in our survival belt. The proper way to use this tool is to avoid and prepare for possible disasters in our future. This is how we survive, how our species exists, but unfortunately it is not how we find happiness.

Which brings me to the point of this post. Zen. Zen to me means living in awareness of the moment. Being both the participant and observer in one’s own life. Being both the artist and the one standing in front of the canvas, smiling in appreciation.

Over at Shawn's place, she has an interview up with Karen Maezen Miller, author of "Momma Zen: Walking the Crooked Path of Motherhood". Karen is a Zen Buddhist priest, a wife, mother and writer. She is also giving away five copies of her book! How Zen is that??? So, in order to enter, you have to post at Shawn's place and finish the statement, "For me, Zen is....."

So, here goes:

For me, Zen is…

The moments I can block out fear. Fear of the future, fear of the past, fear of failure. Zen is the moment one of my children meet my eyes and I feel a rush of love. Zen is the moment of a new discovery, a moment I recognize a connection with a new friend, a moment I feel myself breathing and am grateful. Recently, I have consciously logged a few moments while I was experiencing them and so these I would call Zen. A moment standing on the porch while black clouds rolled in and heavy winds made me catch my breath. A moment when my twins were crying after a biting match and I let myself cry with them, completely overwhelmed. For that moment I let go of all fantasies and preconceptions that I could control anything. It was a surprising moment of peace, a seed that had burst forth from the heat. A moment of physical pleasure with the first mouthful of a newly discovered wine, a freshly scrubbed kitchen floor, and a moment of relief when my kids actually ate the new recipe I tried, instead of throwing for distance.

I suppose for me, Zen is just being able to exist in the moment and let it be what it is. A moment without reigns. A moment embraced and then released to make room for the next moment. Whatever it brings, heartache or joy, saturating myself in it because it is life. Life is not one perfect moment after another…or is it?

What is your Zen?