Growing Stuff


I guess I kind of have a final-ish draft of the memoir.

Whenever I get done with a draft, people inevitably ask me – aren’t you so HAPPY? Well, if I got HAPPY about things, I wouldn’t be a writer, would I? Mostly I feel a constant and overwhelming sense of nausea, interrupted by the occasional urge to make bread or knit a set of dishcloths or learn to play the banjo. For instance, I was up until eleven two nights ago making sandwich pickles from the few cucumbers in the garden that survived (most died a horrible death by sun-scorching). The pickles are awesome, if not quite as crisp as I would have liked.

I recently finished The Diving Bell and the Butterfly by Jean Dominique-Bauby. Bauby wrote this wonderful memoir after suffering a massive stroke that left him with locked-in syndrome. He dictated the entire book by blinking his left eye.

Reading it, I felt a burden of responsibility to each sentence. My awareness of the effort it took to write the book placed a demand on me to be present for every page. Even the effort involved in writing a book with two good hands should bring that same kind of awareness to reading, but it doesn’t always. Sometimes it takes something as extreme as a book written with an eyelid to make us aware of the weight of words.

My attempts at gardening, however, have been successful in transforming the way I look at food. My poor squash, felled by powdery mildew. My poor lettuce, devoured by fat green worms. I can’t believe how hard it is. But my tomatoes, my tomatoes are glorious.

Oh, The Glamour


Scott returned yesterday from Korea and Japan. Karl Koch, webmaster extraordinaire, sent me this photo of Scott playing the FujiRock Festival.

This past week has been a superultramega dose of what it means to be a working rock mom. A week before my big deadline, Scott went out of town, T-Bone staged a sleep boycott and I got a three-day-long migraine. At 9:30pm on Friday night, T threw his empty bottle at me in bed. It bonked me on the nose and I lost it. Lost it. I brought him downstairs and let him run around in a victory I-win-I-win-I-get-to-stay-up dance while I sobbed on the couch. I called my guardian-angel neighbor Cynthia, who came over and sat with us until I calmed down. I figure that in cases when I become the bad mom in the after-school special (i.e. when I dump the entire bag of corn chips out on T’s high chair tray), at least I have excellent reinforcements. Thank Goddess for good neighbors and great nanny/aunties and organic dark chocolate with cherries in it.

It wasn’t all bad. We still had our daily dance party. We like to tango to Lady Gaga. Check out that form.

You can also see on my right forearm my new Jill Jordan tattoo in honor of my little Pisces Tariku – two coy fish with their tails intertwined. The tattoo was inspired by the story of Aphrodite and Eros fleeing from the giant Typhoeus. They turned themselves into fish and dove into the Euphrates to escape the monster, but they tied their tails together so they would never be separated. Later, Minerva told their story in the stars by creating the Pisces constellation.


Collaborative Solitude


There is a common perception that writing is a solitary pursuit. While it’s true that writers are generally the sort of weirdos who prefer to spend their work day alone staring at a wall, writing is far more communal than it appears.

My second floor office faces out to the street and my neighbors sometimes look up and wave to me as they walk their kids to the bus stop. To them, it appears as if I spend a whole lot of time alone. What they don’t see are the co-writers who sit here with me and give me a hand when I stumble. They gently nudge me when I’m being inauthentic or indulging in self-pity or splitting my infinitives. My muses are truly the handful of exceptional teachers I was lucky enough to have had, the ones who loved literature and writing and who cared enough to pass it on.

My friend Colin Summers wrote a beautiful recollection for Vanity Fair about his experience as a student of Frank McCourt.

The picture of Tariku borrowing the Mini is completely unrelated. But cute, right?

How Do You Feel About that Deadline?


I guess this blog is about to get more book-y, because I’ve been getting emails about things like the book jacket for the German translation of my memoir Some Girls (very saucy, those Germans). Staring down the barrel of my August 1 deadline is giving me hives. The tentative release date is May 2010.

The memoir is about, among other things, my teenage relationship with Prince Jefri Bolkiah, youngest brother of the Sultan of Brunei. When I knew the Prince, he was a dashing, decadent playboy. These days he’s an international fugitive.

Oh, how the mighty have fallen. Check out this email I discovered while doing some research for the memoir. Do you think I should respond? I mean, book advances aren’t what they used to be and I could use the money…


Best. Scam. Ever.

I believe i can call you friend. I am Prince Jefri Bolkiah of Brunei.I am the youngest of the Sultan’s three brothers. But its like a joke being called a prince. The Bruneian royal family have turned me into an outcast.My Brother the Sultan of Brunei masterminded and initiated much evil against me. He envied me as a person, he envied my life style, he was intimidated by my way of life, and thus plotted with his infidel advisers to get me arrested for nothing. He leveled all forms of corruption allegations against me. He accused me of taking US$40 billion of the royal treasury’s money. He labeled me a criminal and ordered for my arrest. My Brother the Sultan of Brunei did this to me his younger brother.Yes i agree that I spent Money, but I am bewildered by the accusation that i misspent $40 billion. It’s not that easy to hide, I keep asking the lawyers, Where did it go?…

As it stands, i am about to go into hiding and this would mean living in worse conditions than i am now but i believe that it would be better of because i am placing faith in this letter that with your help i would live the sort of life i deserve with my family. I have some funds stashed in foreign countries, but i cannot touch these funds hence they are discovered by my King Brother watching my every move like a Hawk.

I need you to assist me in these financial steps of securing my entitlements. You will benefit immensely from this finanacial exercise.I am an easy going gentleman, so please be rest assured that my business relationship with you
will be very sincere and this friendship will extend to our children.
Yours Sincerely,
Prince Jefri Bolkiah.

Who me? A psycho?


There’s something the matter with Warner Brothers. And there’s something the matter with those omnipresent “There’s Something the Matter with Esther” posters for the movie Orphan. When Scott and I went to see Drag me to Hell, we saw the trailer for Orphan and I felt a sick little drop in my stomach. Another movie where a family adopts a child who turns out to be a monster. Off the top of my head, I can add to the list The Bad Seed, The Ring, The Omen(switched at birth but close enough) and Acacia. Yes, I watch too many horror films. A particular image sticks in my mind from the trailer- the dark-haired, dark-eyed, sociopathic orphan girl standing menacingly behind the sleeping figure of the blue-eyed, angelic biological child.

Why are we adoptees (Tariku and I were both adopted) so easy to literally demonize? And how does this hurtful message wind up on posters all over Los Angeles? If horror movies are the outer manifestation of our deepest anxieties as a culture, then Orphan demonstrates that we, as a culture, continue to fear that which is different. We continue to create an evil “other” who serves to validate our belief in our own inner goodness.

It’s enough to make me want to go to the shed and grab an axe…