Archive | Book Matters

Fool on Tap

Don’t Look Now, it’s elementary school Liser

Like many oddbot children, I spent my formative years absolutely convinced I was meant to be a superstar. I considered myself a quadruple threat–writer, actor, dancer, singer.

Dancing was the first category to go. Mind you, it wasn’t by choice. I spent most of first and second grade leaping, twirling, and boogying through grocery aisles, playgrounds, the living room. After school I took ballet and disco, the latter held in the school cafeteria, tables and benches pushed back so we’d have room to really dig into the classics–you know, the funky chicken, the bus stop, the hustle. The hot lunch special heavy in the air–I still associate Donna Summer with sloppy joes–I wore a sparkly tam o’shanter I was convinced wouldn’t be out of place in Studio 54. (Then as now, my imagination was overactive.) Though micro-movements eluded me, hip-waggling has never been a personal deficiency so I got by.

But when it came to ballet I was the pits. A tall, gangly child clad in dirty pigtails and coveralls, my outsized hands and feet could not be coaxed into first position, let alone fourth and fifth. I kept tripping over myself and the other girls, neat as pins in their perfect leotards and hairbuns. Worse, I kept nervously joking –“position, huh? What’s your position on the gas crisis? How about the Iran hostage situation, badabumpbump.” A daddy’s girl saddled with an unfortunate preciosity, I was like a mini Jerry Lewis rather than a singularly uncoordinated second grader. Continue Reading →

I’m Not Easy, I’m Green

Magic hour in green.

I cannot pretend returning to NYC after my upstate tenure has been easy. Not because of the weather, which, for the most part, has been ridiculously lovely–the sort of halcyon temperatures we New Yorkers associate with mid-September. With September 11, not to put too fine a point on it.

Certainly the existential dread connected to the events of that day is not helping. Like so many long-time New Yorkers, my personal relationship to September 11 only deepens the horror of how it irrevocably changed this city and country forever. Every year, just as the weather gets gloriously crisp and clear, sadness creeps in before I remember why.

But I think this dread is about something more.
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It took a good four days of being in the country for me to lose the bad bruja vibes that had been short-circuiting my car and relationships all summer. (Both Daisy and Grace registered the bad vibes, the former landing in the vet hospital.) Only on the fifth day did Columbia County’s big, big green smooth me out.

Green, not coincidentally, being the color of my grandmother’s heart.

I’ve been thinking about Alice May a lot lately. My mother’s mother, her birthday was last month. She crowns my book–the whole last section is about her, about how the regret she expressed in her last days catapulted me into my true life.

Green was Alice’s absolute favorite color. She said that it was the color of life and love. Only when I began taking my work as an intuitive seriously did I learn that green was considered the color of the fourth chakra–the heart chakra.

As was so often the case, my grandmother’s leonine instincts were spot-on. It was she who, in the 1950s, determined that her sons were not dumb but dyslexic, a disorder that was far less recognized than it is today. It was she who understood that I had to get the hell out of dodge if I were to live the life I was meant to live. The life she’d once wanted for herself.

So I left home upon high school graduation, and with the exception of a few months after my first year of college, never spent another night under my parent’s roof. Never felt like I was anyone’s child again.

But then again, I’ve never felt safe. Never have, possibly never will. Continue Reading →

The Human Condition Is a Home State

All the interesting characters I’ve ever worked with–including myself–have had at their center a feeling of otherness, of homesickness. And it’s wonderful to watch someone finally open that forbidden door that has kept him or her away. What gets exposed is not people’s baseness but their humanity. It turns out that the truth, or reality, is our home.

But you can’t get to any truths by sitting in a field smiling beatifically, avoiding your anger and damage and grief. Your anger and damage and grief are the way to the truth. We don’t have much truth to express unless we have gone into those rooms and closets and woods and abysses that we were told not to enter. When we have gone in and looked around for a long while, just breathing and finally taking it in–then we will be able to speak in our own voice and to stay in the present moment. And that moment is home.--Anne Lamott, Bird by Bird

I am still upstate and spent last Saturday with music pouring out of my car speakers while I wound through great green and gold roads, indigo hills rising in the foreground, wildflowers waving hello. Ostensibly I was tag-saling (tag-sailing!), and in fact scored better than I usually do. Mostly, though, I was seeking a small adventure in the netherland between Columbia County, New York, and the Berkshires–between my chosen state and home state, respectively. I experienced my usual thrill when I saw the “Welcome to Massachusetts” sign, and my usual frustration when confronted with the parsimony of people from my native state. “One dollar, twenty five cents,” announced the older white man with shark eyes and shaking hands as I showed him the wares I wished to purchase at a church rummage sale. “So much?” I said, and flashed the lipsticky grin that opens all kinds of doors on the island of Nueva Berserk. “Now, where are you from,” he said slowly, and I could just tell he was wishing he’d charged me one hundred dollars and twenty five cents. Continue Reading →

"All, everything I understand, I understand only because I love."
― Leo Tolstoy