Star Spangled Babes


Check out this article from today’s New York Times about Operation Bombshell, the burlesque class my friend Lily Burana teaches to fellow army wives with deployed husbands.

The story of how she came to teach such a class is beautifully told in her latest memoir, I Love a Man in Uniform. One of the things that blew me away about the book was how thoroughly I was able to imagine myself in her shoes.

My husband was a Marine and it informed a lot of who he is today. A couple of years ago, Weezer played at the old Naval Air Station in Alameda, where Scott had been stationed once upon a time. It was really moving for him to come full circle like that, to be living out his dreams in the same place that they once seemed unattainable.

I Love a Man in Uniform is a story about a woman’s struggle to integrate the different facets of herself and to find a way to feel whole in the world. In many ways, I believe that 2010 is going to be all about that same struggle for me. I hope I can pull off an outcome as graceful as Lily’s.

Here’s a picture of me from my burlesque days- just to prove that there was a time I didn’t live in t-shirts encrusted with boogers and applesauce.


Give Me Your Red


I’m not very good with years. I’m not one of those people who says, Remember New Years ’86 when we went to Lulu’s party and you got wasted and barfed Chinese food out of your nose? Or, remember in ’04 when I wept for two days because Bush got re-elected? Or, remember in ’90 when I didn’t graduate high school?


I remember things more in terms of food or songs. I remember events by the details, like the odd way someone held their hands or the way my mother’s sweater smelled after cooking latkes or the way that David Bowie looked onstage awash in blue light. I remember details well, but years lose their edges as soon as they pass. Off the top of my head, I couldn’t even tell you what year I met my husband.


I get a strange anxiety when looking at all of those end of the year lists and wrap up of the decade special features. But I know it’s important to mark time, to asses ourselves, to get a chance to start fresh. I was in Iran during the Persian New Year (a few years ago- I couldn’t tell you what year) and my group found ourselves on a beach in Bandar Kong, a town on the Persian Gulf where they construct traditional lenj Gulf boats by hand. As the sun went down, a few of the carpenters built a fire for us and taught us the traditional way of greeting the New Year, which involved taking a running leap over the fire while saying something that roughly translates to, “Take from me my yellow and give me your red.” Take my sickness away and give me health. Renewal, light.


The one commonality between all of the holidays that meet at the Solstice crossroads seems to be the ritual of bringing light into these dark days. And I can get with that. Also, I appreciate any opportunity to get crafty and to break out some vintage table linen.


In ’08, I boycotted the holidays. I think about what Tariku’s room looked like this time last year. There were lists taped to every surface, open suitcases, every baby and adult medication known to mankind, piles of baby clothes in two different sizes, jars of baby food wrapped in baggies, cans of formula, hats, blankets, hiking shoes, “modest” clothes, water purification tablets, a first aid kit, boxes of donations from friends to take with us for the other kids at the care center etc etc etc. Blanketing our dining room table was incredibly important paperwork, which I examined and re-examined obsessively, trying to insure that no detail was out of place. Plus Scott was on tour and I was completely re-organizing the house to get ready for T’s arrival. I was a wreck.

Ten days later, we left for Africa. 2009 was a year when a couple of personal dreams I had for a long time were realized. And on a global scale I felt a glimmer of promise. Though I’ve subsequently been disappointed on that level, nothing can change the moment of sitting in the living room of the guest house in Addis Ababa and holding a sleeping Tariku in my arms while we watched Obama’s inauguration via satellite.

In 2010 I’m looking forward to the publication of my memoir, which is going to force me into a whole different level of honesty. It isn’t that I was particularly secretive before. I don’t think anyone was under the impression that I was a nun. But the level of vulnerability in the book is a different story. The thought of people reading it is scary, but it’s freeing at the same time. What are people going to say about me now that can hurt me? I’ve already said it all. So bring it on 2010.

Other good things: for Christmas I got exactly what I asked for. Scott really does read my blog after all. Hi, honey.


Happy holidays, all. And thanks for reading.

The Real Thing


Yesterday Scott and T and I were driving (no, crawling) home from a 5pm doctor’s appointment in Santa Monica, where we had just learned that I have bronchitis and a double ear infection.

Along with the bronchitis/ear infection thing, I also have in-laws coming to town and novel edits due soon and a baby who thinks that sleep is for losers. When T looms wakefully over me at five in the morning, I could swear he’s holding his fingers in the shape of an L on his forehead. But, I digress.

So I gave T his beloved little die-cast metal school bus to pass the time, but he wouldn’t stop banging (no, smashing) it against the window of the car and I had to take it away from him. As we drove down one of the hills near the Getty Center, my ears ringing and my head swimming, T had a meltdown of Wagnerian proportions. I mean screaming, non-stop screaming, for a full twenty minutes.

Have you ever had the feeling that you were in a movie? Complete with clever camera angles and a killer soundtrack? This was the exact opposite experience. I felt like I was categorically not in a movie right then and might not be ever again. The movie had ended and the credits had rolled and someone had forgotten to tell me.

Scott’s jaw was twitching and my chest felt like it was going to cave in. I was ready to climb out the window, claw my way to the side of the freeway and hurl myself off an overpass into the deep San Fernando Valley. And then the weirdest thing happened. It was as if my chest actually did cave in, as if every piece of resistance inside me crumbled. I put my hands over my face and started laughing. We were walking this hard road that a trillion parents before us had walked and I know it sounds dramatic, but I felt a sense of belonging- as in to the human race. Maybe my newfound sense of belonging was just a feverish hallucination, but if hallucinatory revelations were good enough for the Beatles, they’re good enough for me.

When we got home, the same Daddy who had been silently grinding his teeth an hour before threw a wicked Black Eyed Peas dance party, and you haven’t truly lived until you’ve seen Scott and Tariku dance to “My Humps.”

It was the worst day. But it was the sweetest moment.


All I Want


For my holiday gifts, I usually make it a practice to try to buy and request books by living authors- you know, the kind that need to make a living. But this Penguin Classic Limited Edition Bookset designed by Coralie Bickford Smith is just so gorgeous. And I’m a sucker for nearly all of the titles- Jane Eyre, Sense and Sensibility, Pride and Prejudice…My only complaint is that Emma is conspicuously absent. But I want them. I want all of them. I want to sit here in my office and stare at them during the eternal moments when the neurological connection between my brain and my hands seems to have been severed and no word, no sentence, no nothing is being transmitted.

I often stare at my books and wait for some borrowed muse to take pity on me. To me, books aren’t just a product of the muse; they’re often a muse in and of themselves.

I recently heard an interview with Will Self during which he referred to the book as an erotic object. There are, of course, different varieties of erotic objects. These books are all tarted up in La Perla lingerie. Maybe it’s wrong to say I love them. Maybe I’m just making that tired old mistake of confusing lust with love.

But still. Buy them for me.