Category Archives: writing

My heart is a potato

A belligerent refusal to stand down, even when others’ well-being was at stake. She couldn’t be wrong. Everyone else was wrong —wrong! — including the experts.

Sound like my sister?

Yes, yes it does, but I’m describing Typhoid Mary aka Mary Mallon. People died because Mary Mallon couldn’t be wrong. Such a tale of misdeeds, makes me think belligerent homicide should be a thing.

I’ll be goddamned, I thought reading about her for the first time years back. We must be related.

I might be thinking about family — about our particular pathologies, the Irish quirks of mind — because of this potato. I’m not kidding.

My heart is a potato

It’s a little silly, maybe even hilarious — my heart is a potato — but it also strikes me as some of the truest words I’ve ever written.

Potato leek soup and Irish soda bread on a plate that was my mother’s

As I fling myself about in search of a new writing topic, it’s clear that this time I’d like to draw from my own history.

I know so little. I said to my cousin Ginny recently that everything I know about the Mallons could fit into two paragraphs. I’ve heard a bit more about my mother’s side, but because of one particularly unreliable aunt (talk about personality disorders!), I don’t know how much is even true.

Not that it matters for writing fiction.

My mother, on the right, was the middle of three girls.

The Gilded Age with Hangers

Can I eat this? Will I survive eating this?

Rihanna in her pregnant glory, aglitter. Hillary Rodham Clinton in a toned-down red satin gown with famous women embroidered along the hem. Say their names: Ruth Bader Ginsburg, Sojourner Truth, Harriett Tubman, Eleanor Roosevelt. Blake Lively makes a satiny ascent, waterfalls of silk trailing behind her.

And the men! My favorite was the one who looked like a pirate — tall black boots, a string holding up his pants. I can’t think of his name. The young man with lavender hair and ruffled collar was yummy too — setting off discussions about male manicures.

At the very moment Glenn Close exploded onto the red carpet in day-glo pink, someone in the hallowed halls of justice leaked a draft opinion overturning Roe v. Wade.

Can I eat dissonance? Will I survive this? Will our daughters?

Repeat after me: a Christo-fascist state. Learn to say it. We now have a court that isn’t even political, it’s fucking religious.

Instead of calling right-wing stunts “performative nonsense,” how about calling them acts of terrorism? Wiping out two districts of Black voters in Florida, letting billions of dollars of food rot at the border just to make his opponent look bad, creating criminal penalties for doctors performing abortions.

I want to go back to an era when watching guests at the Met Gala is an exercise in petty judgment. Who looks fabulous, who looks ridiculous, where do we find the best cleavage and the ritziest jewels?

There wasn’t time for anyone to design a gown out of wire hangers. There wasn’t time for women to attach bloody ribbons to their lace.

If justice exists in the sky, can we coach her to come lower, to re-establish domains in Appalachia, in Houston, Miami, and the Ozarks? The fact that they surrounded the pillared halls of justice with fencing this morning tells you something.

But maybe we should skip the pink hats this time and work the phones instead. Waltham, the next town over, is sponsoring a protest tonight and I feel tired just thinking about it. I’ve been to two there already — one in support of releasing the Mueller Report and I can’t remember the other.

She can’t remember all the protests she went to under trump’s reign.

Can our hunger for justice outweigh every roadblock? Can it blow like Hurricane Andrew, taking out entire neighborhoods of anti-women strategies and policies, moods and feelings? I hope maintaining majorities in the House and Senate isn’t too much to ask for.

I turned twenty in Dublin. At the time, contraception was illegal there, abortion was outlawed, of course, and homophobia institutionalized. How Catholic, I thought. How medieval. Never in a million years did I think the day would come when Ireland was more progressive than America.

And what about the now-fully-ensconced Justices’ lies before Congress — and yes, that’s Justices’ with an “s apostrophe” because three of them lied to get their seats. Oh yes, Roe is established precedent. Oh yes, we follow precedent.

Riz Ahmed — that’s the actor’s name. One booted foot on the step above, crotch to the camera — pure, natural swagger. Unlike that other pirate, bloated and lacking his eyeliner. I can’t even absorb the story about the latter, but it infiltrates everywhere. The formerly gorgeous Johnny Depp looking like a bad batch of muffins in a suit. That dumb pony tail.

We all get old, but did we have to witness a time when our daughters have fewer rights than we did? I was in high school in 1973, on the verge of so much bed-hopping — maniacal about birth control as I was careless about everything else. I was spared the need for a procedure, but almost everyone I knew in college — or let’s say 2/3’s of everyone I knew — had a pregnancy terminated. Safely. Not without trauma, mind, but none of what was difficult arose from infection or fear of dying.

The Gilded Age was the Met Gala’s theme this year. The idea of robber barons is particularly hard to take at this moment in history. Five white American men possess more wealth than the bottom 60%. Or is it 80%? I don’t know — ask Robert Reich. Whatever it is, it’s obscene.

But we want our celebrities. Sparkling stilettos and borrowed diamonds on bodies lovely and distant, unattainable and yet, due to the nature of film, also somehow ours. Belonging to us.

Is God punishing us? If so, for what crime? What sin?

*. *. *.

PS I cannot figure out how to turn off comments for a single post so let’s just act as though I have? The topic has already taken enough out of me for now.

Whose story is it?

A placekeeping-post quoting NYTimes opinion piece which you may or may not be able to read in full here.

Pamela Paul starts by outlining the view that one should only write/create about one’s own experience and then continues below.

Back when the controversial Emmett Till painting was in the news, I started collecting quotes like these. Maybe later I’ll link to them. Don’t hold your breath.

It’s cold here. I planted creeping phlox and more pansies this weekend.

Yesterday was not a good day for a bunch of reasons. I’m glad to find myself fully rested this Monday morning, ready to get busy, reconsider things, forgive.

And speaking of points-of-view, it looks like Musk and twitter may reach a deal today. It’s widely believed that the libertarian billionaire will immediately replatform trump.

Back at it

The amount of psychic energy required to finish my manuscript and begin the querying process was substantial but also invisible. It really tanked my cloth and collage work. I kept thinking something was wrong, but nothing’s wrong.

Spring brings with it a rising energy. This year I plan to ride that wave with attention to finishing. Finish. Finish. Finish.

Oh, and I plan on starting things too. I’m seesawing between two possible topics for a new novel. Many pages already written. I’m pretty sure it’s gonna be contemporary. Enough with parlors and drays, small pox and reticules. You won’t hear a specific thing about it til it’s done this time (she said).

I’ve become a ridiculous puzzle hound. Jigsaw puzzles. Wordle AND quordle. Daily NYTimes crossword puzzle and Spelling Bee. Every day!

Enough. I’ll be spending a lot more time outdoors.

I’ll be binding quilts.

I’ll be reading.

Kimono House #1
Kimono House #2
Adding houses to old butterfly quilt; small simple collage printed on fabric to the left

Five Things March ‘22

I am in the process of renewing my daily writing practice. Without it I’m a little lost to be honest. My in-class writing suffers, my to-do list wilts, and I lose track of things. I am not overstating this.

So today I reset my intention. I will use up a small annoying notebook. Guess what? I have a preference! Kill me! I like college-ruled, five-subject, 8 1/2 x 11 inch pages.

I shall also reinstitute occasional practice of the Five Things entry. I learned this from my friend and fellow writer, Sarah. In case you forget, the Five Things are: 1) the weather; 2) some thing you commit to doing this day; 3) one thing you did well yesterday; 4) one thing you could’ve done better; 5) one thing that brings you joy.

The practice is simple and quick and yet manages to construct a meaningful record. It can trigger more writing.

So here goes.

1) Today is cold and clear. Not as cold as Monday, but still quite cold.

2) Today I commit to finishing that fucking orange notebook so that tomorrow I can start fresh in my preferred size.

3) One thing I did well yesterday was manage the time for my Tuesday writing group.

4) One thing I could’ve done better yesterday was to eat one ice cream sandwich instead of two.

5) Something that gives me joy is the thought of spending time with paper and scissors. I used the prompt judgment this morning.

I snipped a finger and bled on a bunch of the scraps. I left the traces and kept on working because I’m lazy that way and because it felt appropriate. Don’t we all bleed under the harsh judgment of others and ourselves?

The blood worked but the images aren’t there yet.

I’ll admit to identifying the most with the squirrel looking on from the sidelines.