Archive | Book Matters

Finish Lines: Double Toil, Trouble, Entendre

Cute Cat’s Curls

Where to start, where to start?

It hasn’t been that long since I blogged, but it’s been a while since I deposited the kind of long, rambling essay that I feel inclined to deposit right now. Consider yourself warned.

The universe is encouraging me to do so. For one thing, I hiked all the way into the West Village to write the thank-yous I so desperately need—and want!—to write, only to discover I’d remembered everything but the beautiful notecards I’d purchased for this purpose. It’s okay, it’s okay. I’m here at Oslo West, with my long-lost friend, barista Cat, who has new curls—or maybe curls she just let off the leash. Either way, they’re fetching.

So far it’s been that kind of year: everything off the leash. Exhibit A: our democracy. Correction: Our former democracy.

Anyway, all of the West Village is fetching, sometimes I forget. Once upon a time I lived here with the Architect, and as much as it’s changed it’s also the same: the oddest mix of brittle and cozy, bohemian and haughty. Continue Reading →

Through the Past But Never Over It

This is my mother in 1967. She was 24, which means she had just changed her name from Mary Susan to Sari Musan (true) and married my father the year before.

As a child I thought of my mother as a redwood oak. Six foot tall in stocking-feet, she loomed over everyone else, even my father, who ogled her like the cat who ate the canary even when she was covered in sweat from doing Jane Fonda. Especially, come to think of it, when she was serving him matzo brei. With her blue-gold eyes and curving mouth and cheekbones, I guess I knew she was beautiful. But mostly I read her frustration–stuck in the suburbs, stuck with two screaming brats, stuck in compromises that whisked her away from a city career as an art designer, barely making ends meet but having so much more fun.

My father would tell me, “You’ll never be as beautiful as your mother” while she’d look away demurely, and even when I was small I’d think, What a fucked-up thing to say. But today I was nosing around the recently refinished basement of my apartment building and stumbled upon a box containing old letters and photos from my teens. There gleamed my twentysomething mother in a repose I’d long forgotten–lowered lids, pursed lips, goddess dress and tresses flowing. Venus in your bloodline: That’s something all right.

I find it no coincidence I excavated this image right before revising my book.

Solar Returned in the Mermaid Woods

Today I turn 49. I was born at 4:25 am, so naturally I woke at that exact time. As the moon still shone bright, I sat in the mermaid woods of the Outer Cape and breathed in the briney possibilities of a new year. What I hope to concretize and what I hope to create.

I thought about what I learned in my 40s, which was how to survive as a lone wolf–strong, strategic, resourceful, fierce, sometimes kind but never, ever nice.

And I thought about what I most want to learn in my 50s–which is how to thrive in beautiful collaborations. For even wolves roam in packs–a lesson that I overlooked until this wondrously challenging last year. It was a year I would not have survived without the clear heart of so many others.  My bank broke and you were there. My back broke and you were there. My heart broke and you were there. And because of this unflagging, gorgeously textured support, I did not just end up surviving. I ended up thriving–completing the goal of the girl whose story I was writing. Which is to say: I wrote a whole book, one I pray goes on to foster others as you have fostered me.

Marge Piercy writes:
Attention is love, what we must give
children, mothers, fathers, pets,
our friends, the news, the woes of others.
What we want to change we curse and then
pick up a tool. Bless whatever you can
with eyes and hands and tongue. If you
can’t bless it, get ready to make it new.

Today I celebrate the new. And I also bless you who helped me accomplish what I alone could never.

Thank you for granting me what my past did not: faith in others, not just in myself.

Love and light to all today. it’s what we need if we’re going to put this world back to rights. That’s my birthday sermon and that’s my birthday wish. Take it if you please.

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