The Germ Theory of Children & MI5

My oldest daughter, 17, was violently sick the other day, starting at 7 am. By 4:15 she was vomiting up Gatorade. She’s a bright kid and took the initiative to phone her pediatrician, who said, “Get to an ER so they can put in an IV and hydrate you.”

So she called me. I was picking up the little one from her nursery school but quickly rearranged my day to take her to the ER. It’s the kind of juggling act moms do all the time: recalibrating  plans, finding a sitter on short notice, arriving to handle a difficult situation within fifteen minutes of hearing about it. I’ve become a woman who is no longer convinced that women’s liberation was a victory. The burden of child-rearing, physical and mental and logistical, still falls primarily on women, from what I can see. But now we’re expected to be brain surgeons or trial attorneys while we nurture and raise healthy children who have high self-esteem and good values. From my perspective, what women’s lib succeeded in was 1, making sure that women never sleep; 2, making sure women always feel guilty–because we feel guilty when we’re at work that we’re not with our babies, and we feel guilty when we’re mothering our children that we’re not at our jobs earning lots of money; and 3, adding the extra pressure of achieving in the world outside the home while the demands of home and child-rearing are as intense as they always have been.
And I do know that men take on this role sometimes. My little one has a friend whose dad is the mom, and I applaud him for it. Perhaps it should always have been about choice, not about making more burdens. There’s a reason for a division of labor within a family.
Back to the germ theory of children. The staff at the hospital took one look at my daughter’s drawn face and they got her into a room with an IV in her arm. The fear was appendicitis. But the pain she felt never localized into one place, that lower right quadrant of the abdomen. After five hours,  three bags of saline solution and two different anti-nausea meds, the first of which made her flip out, requiring benedryl to counteract, she was discharged. “Probably a virus,” they said, “drink liquids.”
And a virus it must have been, because twelve hours later I was ill. And it wasn’t the first time. I was a little surprised fifteen years ago, when my oldest daughter first went to nursery school, that suddenly I was struggling with a cold every few weeks. By sixth grade, when my daughter had strep throat twice month and gave it to me every time, I was just thrilled when the doctor yanked her tonsils. Children are Typhoid Mary’s, every one of them. And now I just automatically include immune system boosting supplements into my diet. And whether or not the FDA sued airborne: that stuff works good! Figures the FDA would want to harass the maker. The FDA just wants us to buy medicines that only work for 60% of the people and have dreadful side-effects, so we have to buy more medicines. After all, the FDA protects big pharma, NOT the American people.
Speaking of Americans, why is so much of our television so bad? I’ve become a BBCA addict. MI5 is back, and better than ever! I am just in awe of the understated writing that is still suspenseful. Moments where what is left unsaid brims with excitement….

Mysterious family inequities

I am on a spiritual quest. I am trying to understand the nature of life, to achieve communion with the divine, to better myself at every turn. I don’t always succeed in being the best person I can be, though I try. I am as prone to err and fail as anyone. But I have this goal. And along the way, I wrestle with the questions that come up, as an engaged and present human being, in daily life.

There are the small heart-aches we who are alive on the earth face every day: loss of loved ones, divorce, loss of an income, illness, malaise. There are the larger, transpersonal heart-aches: war, famine,  plague, cataclysm. I talk about this a lot in radio interviews, when hosts ask me why I wrote a novel where the worst happens to the main character over and over again. I always respond, how do we affirm a good God in the face of all these heart-aches?
And then there is man’s inhumanity to man. Again, there are the individual and transpersonal cruelties. Today I am saddened over the individual ones, the intimate hurts people inflict on each other. In my own family, my sister betrayed me, maneuvering to get my father to cut me out of his will, and my mother collaborated with her. It wasn’t a lot of money because my father was not a wealthy man. Still, I was his daughter. This kind of behavior is not something you ever forget, though I have moved on. That was many years ago. Currently, there’s a problem with my husband’s parents, who largely treat our young daughter as if she doesn’t exist.
It’s mystifying. My husband has two wonderful daughters, one by his previous marriage, who is almost 18, and ours together, a funny, charming, bright little sweetie who is three and full of wonder and mischief. She is just as much their grand-daughter as their older one is, but they consistently demonstrate reluctance to see her. My husband’s mother once told me that she had a ‘privileged’ relationship with my husband’s older daughter. But she tried with that relationship. She put time and effort and care into being with my step-daughter. Lots of time, in fact. By contrast, she makes no effort at all with our little one. Rather, she uses every excuse to avoid her.
My husband’s parents are intelligent people. Both have PhD’s. One would think they would understand the impact that their behavior has: on their son, who is hurt; on their older grand-daughter, who loves her little sister and is acutely conscious of the inequities in the two relationships, and uncomfortable because of them; on an innocent little girl, who wants to love and be loved.
Man’s inhumanity to man. It’s inexcusable, and happens every day.
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The Passing of Friends

The Passing of Friends

Yesterday I received news that the best friend of my former mother-in-law died in a car crash. She was driving with her son and daughter-in-law and with her significant other, a good man with whom she had recently bought an apartment. Only the daughter-in-law survived the head-on collision.

This woman was bright, interesting, and always kind to me. She went out of her way to make a connection with me, and she was warm enough that it felt like she did so not just for my former mother-in-law’s sake, but for mine as well. I remember her with fondness. I still own a small red purse with which she gifted me on my birthday, some thirteen or fourteen years ago. The red purse is a long, flat rectangle like a wallet, and I dug it out when I bought my iPhone. It made a perfect iPhone carrier. Whenever I picked up the purse, I remembered this generous woman and smiled. It was an unexpected gift, all those years ago, and has brought me much joy. It feels good to be remembered, and I have always felt that generosity is close to Godliness. Indeed, generosity is a trait that this woman had in common with my former mother-in-law; it must have been one of the bonds between them, and it’s a quality I admire in both women.

So this posting is in your memory, RR: may you and your son and your mate find peace and joy on the other side. May your families and loved ones who remain here remember you with love and the sweetness of having richly enjoyed your presence in their lives. And may they find comfort in knowing that you are always in their hearts, never forgotten, with a spirit that continues on forever.

Promotion & Radio interviews

Last night I was interviewed on the “New Perspectives” radio program, an internet program found at

Host Rory Pinto interviewed me.
I’ve been heavily promoting my novel IMMORTAL and enjoying the process. Watching my husband sculptor Sabin Howard hustle to raise money for our family, I realized long ago that I wasn’t just in the business of writing books, I was also in the business of selling them. Talking on the radio is one of the ways I’ve been getting the word out about my novel.
By and large, it’s been a pleasure. Blogtalk radio attracts interesting characters, and I’ve enjoyed everyone I’ve spoken to: Pete Klein, Barbara Alexander, Sydney Molare, the sprightly ladies of HealthyWealthyWow, Steve Bonenberger. Yesterday I spoke with a young woman who interviewed me for WVBR 93.5 Ithaca, Maria, and she was bright and charming. 
But Rory’s an old friend who went through the Barbara Brennan School of Healing with me, so our chat had a special flavor. The BBSH is kind of like…4 years of spiritual boot camp, getting your psychological ass kicked so you tear down self-sabotaging old patterns while simultaneously interfacing in meditation and healing work with angels, who want to guide and uplift humanity. It’s a journey and a crucible, a mystery school with a left-brain twist for the modern age. It’s not easy and it’s not a perfect institution but the BBSH is wondrous, and it is life-changing.  
So Rory shares a language and set of experiences with me. We’re like two old soldiers who survived a campaign together, the Battle of Transformation. And he’s a skilled interviewer, a master at leading conversation into avenues of soulfulness and inquiry. He brought up issues of love and loss, the nature of choice in human life, victory and spirit, communion with the divine. These are the reasons I write.
South Bend, & Thank You to my readers

South Bend, & Thank You to my readers

Friday night I gave a reading at the Barnes & Noble in South Bend, Indiana. Technically it was in Mishawaka, which I understand is a village within South Bend.

The Mishawaka B & N is huge. In Manhattan, four to six apartments could fit inside it. It has a big friendly cafe and spacious friendly feeling; the parking lot was jammed and no corner of the store was empty. When I commented on the flow of people, lovely Jennifer, the events manager, told me that the B&N was a hang-out within the community.
At my stage of the publishing game, a first time novelist, mostly unknown, readings are really parties for my family and friends. I have family in that area and an uncle and some cousins and their families showed up. My mother’s best friend since 2nd grade came with her daughters and their families. It was touching to see her; her health has been poor and she has suffered, but she was determined to see her best friend’s daughter read. They rolled her in in a wheel chair and she sat there beaming at me from under the beret that covered her head, where her hair had fallen out from chemo. I hugged her several times and thanked her with love, but I didn’t quite know how to express my gratitude at the courage and determination it took for her to show up and support me this way.
In addition to family and friends, there were a few readers there. One was a lovely woman who had emailed me a few weeks ago, saying she had much enjoyed IMMORTAL and was happy I was coming to South Bend. I was delighted to see her in person. It wasn’t easy for her with two small children to get away for an evening. I was flattered and awed that she had made the effort to hear me read. And there were two teachers there from a teacher’s reading book club which had studied IMMORTAL. They were smart, charming, and interesting, and I came away with the impression that their students were lucky to have them. Teaching is one of the most under-appreciated professions. It’s back- and heart-breakingly difficult, requires constant energy,  imagination, and creativity, and doesn’t earn what it deserves. Yet here were these two women of sparkling intelligence, pursuing arts & letters outside working hours. You have to respect the interest and commitment. I hope they enjoyed the reading.
And so I would like to thank them all. My family and friends who come to my readings: I’m grateful! And to readers who have never met me and don’t have a blood obligation: thank you! I appreciate your interest. It matters more than you know.
Mom Jeans
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Mom Jeans

I have four children. Three daughters and a step daughter. My step-daughter and older two daughters are teens, my little one is 3. They are all feisty, opinionated creatures, beautiful and intelligent and bursting with life and mischief.

And they are all out to get me.

Mostly it’s subtle, though my oldest daughter did warn me that she wanted to watch me get beaten to a bloody pulp in the boxing ring. Ah, the sweet words of grateful offspring. But usually the blossoming fruits of my and my husband’s loins operate in more roundabout ways.

Like when I was invited to read from IMMORTAL at Sundance. They staged a palace revolt and refused to allow me to wear my trusty Levi’s to the film festival. For some reason they were determined that I would not wear my baggy, comfy, beloved jeans on the cold slopes of that Utah mountain. What is wrong with a trusty pair of Levi’s, one wonders? It mystifies one.

Racking my un-hip maternal brain, I remembered a certain incident when my husband remarked that my middle daughter was wearing jeans that resembled mine, and the aforementioned daughter burst into tears.

“Take that back!” she sobbed. “I do not wear mom jeans!”

But this pales in comparison to the time my oldest daughter saw a picture of the gorgeous, talented Julianne Moore and turned to me with a smile. “I like actresses like her, mom, who remind me of you. You know, attractive middle aged women.”

I can only apologize to Ms. Moore and assure her that, while I now know that I am middle-aged, despite whatever lingering delusions that I had cherished to the contrary, she certainly isn’t.

Back to Sundance. My middle daughter coolly, and relentlessly, dragged me to a nearby boutique and bullied me into trying on twenty five pairs of jeans. 25. Until she found the perfect pair that cupped my ass JUST SO.

This is disturbing on many levels. How would a 13 year old know to think this way? It mystifies one still more. And how does she have the stamina to try on that many pairs of pants? Is it the hormones, antibiotics, and pcb’s in the food supply? I was exhausted by the ordeal, and had to drag my middle-aged self home, clutching two pairs of jeans that cost more than a week’s groceries.