Selfies the Munchkin took…
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Selfies the Munchkin took…

My inbox recently topped 10,000 messages. Really? Lordy. So I’m pruning the mail, deleting what should have been sent to the trash long ago, and moving other emails into specific mailboxes.

Meantime, I came upon these photos, taken by my daughter before my hair was cut into a bob.

Selfies the Munchkin took Selfies the Munchkin took

Belonging: the either/or/both/and conundrum of Universal and Specific
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Belonging: the either/or/both/and conundrum of Universal and Specific

There’s a chilling moment in The Talented Mr. Ripley movie when wealthy Meredith Logue says, “The truth is, if you’ve had money your entire life, even if you despise it, which we do–agreed?–you’re only truly comfortable around other people who have it and despise it.”

I thought of this quote today at lunch, but not because of wealth. It came to me in the broader sense of similarity and common elements in life, and how we feel most comfortable around people who have undergone similar life-defining experiences.

I met one of my loveliest, most precious friends at our usual spot. We shared and laughed and joked and commiserated and exclaimed on each other’s behalf, as always. Then there were things we said to each other because we could. We both had shitty childhoods and we both have heart-wrenchingly difficult grown kids and we both are exceedingly well educated and we both love BOOKS and writing. Oh, and she has Native American blood, too, same as me.

I looked across the table at her sweet, intelligent face and thought how lucky I am to have her in my life.

There are things I can only say to her, things confided in her alone of all people ever in my life, things I’ve never told husbands or shrinks or other friends. This is so because she has endured things that I have, happenings and feelings that cut deep into the innermost sanctum of the soul. So my friend gets it. She knows what it means to survive and then to heal, and then to go on and lead a rich and imperfect life brimming with love and progress and hurt and joy and tears and laughter and gratitude.

There are other friends with whom I share common bonds. I have two friends who lived military lives, and that’s a specific, defining thing, too. There’s us, and there are civilians. So it’s always a relief to be in the company of my military friends. We understand the tacit assumptions that govern life in the military and we don’t have to explain that particular ground of being to each other. We just know.

I have friends whose lives have been vastly different from mine, and I prize those friends, too. It’s fun to meet and grow close to all sorts–especially for a novelist, who is always looking for characters for her stories. One of the great privileges of being an author married to a famous artist is that we’ve sat down to dinner with billionaires and with broke XXX-movie star underwear models and with everyone in between. Artists travel freely among social castes and classes, which is delicious.

The first time I married, it was into a family whose expectations and understandings of life couldn’t have been further removed from what I grew up with. I raised my older daughters in that culture, and I did so with some success. To this day, it remains one of the sweetest victories of my life that my former Grandfather-in-law, my former mother-in-law’s father, said to me, “Thank you for raising your children Jewish, Traci. I know that wasn’t natural for you, but you’re doing it well.”

I’m paraphrasing because this conversation happened so long ago, many years ago, before this extraordinary and brilliant man died. He was someone with a fascinating life story of his own, and it thrilled me that he understood, he got it, that I had pierced the boundaries of otherness in service to his family and his grandson. I relished my conversations with him even before he thanked me, but after, I felt a special sense of gratitude toward him. He had seen me and he had acknowledged me.

The temptation is to judge Meredith Logue for her exclusivity, for only embracing other filthy rich people with her genuine, authentic self. But I think that’s too easy. We all go to that place of feeling safest and truest with folks who belong to the same ethnic group or socio-economic category or minority or whatever. We can easily get entrenched in our specifics–that’s a universal experience. It’s when we can hold both our specifics and our universals simultaneously that we transcend our limitations.

So the picture for this blogpost? My husband and daughter laughing at The Three Stooges. Larry, Moe and Curly’s humor has to be one of the most universal experiences going.


Real Friends; and Loving Stephanie Snyder on

Real Friends; and Loving Stephanie Snyder on

My friend A. is becoming successful, and she’s encountering snark from some of her friends.

I told her, “You know who your real friends are because they’re still your friends when you’re successful.”

Something unfortunate happened for me with a so-called friend when I got the book contract for Immortal, and that person fell away. I cared about her but she couldn’t deal with her own jealousy.

At least that person wasn’t petty. She couldn’t continue as my friend, but she didn’t try to make me feel badly.

A. has been shocked at the petty jealousy of some of her long-time friends, who are trying to tear down and minimize her accomplishments. Obviously, their malicious behavior is a reflection of their own inner emptiness and insignificance. I tell her that, as other friends of A. also tell her, but she still feels hurt.

We are all of us all too human that way.

Others of us are very pleased for A., and proud of her. A. is a lively, creative sort, big-hearted, hard-working and fun, wildly talented and genuine. She has many real friends. I’m sorry she had to learn this particular lesson, but she won’t let it dampen her brightness of spirit.

On to a completely different subject, except that brightness of spirit connects it:

My friends, family, and dogs know that I’m a dedicated practitioner of yoga. I do yoga every day, which is a good thing. Yoga contains my sometimes rambunctious energy. Last time my friend Paul was in town, and we were eating fried artichokes for lunch and drinking way too much wine, he sighed in the face of my gesticulating.

“You’re hyper today,” he commented, and turned down his hearing aid to tune me out. Or maybe he just ordered us both more wine so I’d get tipsy and giggle more and rant less. Or maybe he did both. Maybe I could say your real friends still love you when you’re hyper.

Truthfully, I have a lot of forward thrusting Mars energy these days, with Mars in Virgo in my first house by transit, squarely on top of my natal Mars in Virgo. This is in the Vedic system. But Mars in Virgo takes to the physical and mental discipline of Yoga like a duck takes to a pond. In fact, I secretly believe that Parvati, Shiva’s consort and the first yogi who was taught by Shiva himself, must have Mars in Virgo, as I do.

So, yoga keeps me calm. It regulates my energy. A little over a year ago I discovered an online yoga studio called I was an immediate enthusiast, because offers hundreds of classes for different durations and at different skill levels. I can do a two-hour hip opening class that opens my psoas and rocks my world, or I can do a half hour slow flow class, when I’ve already spent 45 minutes on the elliptical trainer at the gym.

There are some excellent teachers at I must mention Jason Crandell, whose intelligent, well-articulated classes are a special joy.

But this blogpost is a shout-out to the effervescent and inspiring Stephanie Snyder, whose classes are just wonderful, at any length, and at any skill level. I like to do yoga that is strong, supple, steady, and rhythmic, and Stephanie serves up her classes just that way, whether they are level 1 for beginners or level 3 for experienced yogis. I mean, I could always do without ekapadakounyasona (sp?), but I try twice as hard to master the pose when Stephanie is talking me through it.


Fun with my friends
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Fun with my friends

My friend Michelle Czernin makes great parties. She made one in New York City for a splendid young man, Europe’s hottest rising opera star, Daniel Serafin. I invited another friend, Debra Jaliman, author of the wildly popular SKIN RULES. Here we are….

photo credit: MC O’Conner/Savvy Shooter Media

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Smelling Different from the Tribe

Yesterday I had a conversation with a friend about outcasts. This question of those people who are not automatically accepted into the group has always fascinated me, probably because I have continually experienced myself as unlike the other members of every collective in which I have ever found myself. As a Navy brat, I was ambitious and intent on climbing up the world of books and ideas; at Yale, I was the oddball from the lower middle class, the first person of my family ever to go to college, who had never heard of a Trust Fund, and who had trouble understanding the concept of people receiving money for just being born; in my first marriage, I was the schicksa who converted, who was never quite fluent in the unspoken dialect and assumptions of born Jewry. Failure to fit in comfortably gave me the belief that The Lord of the Flies is an apt sociological description. That is, flocks of people thrust pointy weapons at outsiders.

But my friend astrologer Lynn Bell had insights into this archetype that I’d never considered. Lynn’s mind is rich, fertile, and playful–which is one reason I love speaking with her. She always has a mythic twist I hadn’t considered. It’s important to surround ourselves with those people who intrigue us into questioning our axioms, don’t you think? And Lynn’s point was that once the outsider, the outcast, brings something new and valuable to the tribe–he or she then becomes Prometheus. The light bringer. I guess that’s when you get to keep your scent and like it, too.
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Hello, Dear Readers:

This is the inaugural entry of my blog, In the mouth of the serpent. This blog will consist of my ramblings, rantings, observations, opinions, suggestions, and hopes for the future. My interests are passionate and diverse: books, pop and literary; art, especially of the Renaissance; spirituality and healing; politics; relationships; children and child-rearing; movies and TV shows and travel and yoga and any other topic that seizes my imagination. I hope this blog stimulates and intrigues you. Feel free to email me with questions and comments; if I’m intrigued, I’ll post your email and respond.
In Vedic astrology, I have entered a particular cycle of my life ruled by Rahu, the north node of the moon, the iconic head of the serpent. Rahu in general is considered malefic but in my horoscope, it’s unusually well placed by sign and house. So, for the next 17 years, I am standing in the serpent’s mouth: this is the view.
Very truly yours,
Traci L. Slatton