Wednesday, March 14, 2018

Happy Pi Day

Pie are square. Pie is round. Pi is approximately 3.14159265.... I know this--that is, I still remember this--because my idea of a good time in high school was to compete in the honor society quiz team against other local high schools. Other students submitted questions (vetted by our faculty sponsors) and we four had at them. Students liked to ask us to give the values of e, and π, and√2. All to 10 places, of course. I specialized in reeling them off like a phone number. God help me, I still love to produce right answers. In this instance, I have wrestled for 52 years to produce the perfect pie crust.  A golden flaky crust is almost a prayerful experience--and takes the same kind of focus and intention and devotion. We'll have some for lunch, and maybe for breakfast tomorrow, if any is left. It's only a 7" pie. But check out the flaky layers!

Postscript:  If I do say so myself, this may have been the best pie I've ever made. Pastry as buttery and flaky as any I had in France. Miam miam! [French for 'yum yum']

Friday, December 29, 2017

Sarcastic Neon Art

A visiting European friend and I headed into downtown Los Angeles, by train and on foot and by bus. I had not realized how well our public transportation does work, if you only use it. No one-way streets to navigate around, no parking, just walking and serendipity.

After I showed her Frank Gehry's Disney Hall, she wanted to take advantage of the Broad Museum (rhymes with "road") on the next block. No charge for admission! and no crowd! as it was already 3 pm.

I had never heard of Glenn Ligon but he impressed the hell out of me. Engaged, sarcastic/sardonic, utterly original, eye-popping comments on American society. Seeing and hearing, though ignored and unheard. How glad I am that my friend insisted. Dayam.

Monday, October 30, 2017

Lifestyles of the Undead and Fabulous

Very Personally Yours—or—When Life Sucks

 Congratulations! You’ve risen from the dead! Everyone has questions about becoming a vampire, so don’t be embarrassed. We hope this pamphlet will help you as you begin this new cycle.

When I found this pamphlet under the wilting flowers, I thought it was some kind of joke. They don’t tell you what you really need to know, any more than those Kotex booklets from the 1960s told a girl what to expect. Those pamphlets made a girl think that her flow would be blue, that she’d have to learn to play tennis, that she’d become slim and dainty. Nothing about the mood swings, or what would happen to your clothing. Same for us new creatures of the night.

You will have risen at night, waking up in a coffin. You’ve clawed your way out and up through six feet of dirt. It’s a special time. No wonder you’re hungry!

Lucky for you, you’ve just been to a funeral. You’ll be well-dressed, so important for putting people off-guard before you jump them and tear into their arteries with your fangs. Don’t worry about that part. It will feel like the right thing to do, and you’ll know how. But no one tells you where to get one of those cool leather coats that swirl and flap like wings, the coats that never get in the way of fighting. Forget the high-collared capes lined in satin. That’s what your grand-sire wore.

You may wonder about your social life. Some vampires like to go it alone, all brooding Romantic, but most prefer to nest. A good way to find others is to share your kill.

I’ll tell you one thing about your social life:  it’s all after dark, baby. The louder and cheesier the club, the better for hunting. You will literally smell their desperation to hook up. It’s a win-win.

Enjoy your new existence. You’ve got super-strength and mad martial arts skills. What’s more, you’re virtually immortal!

About that ‘immortal’:  you won’t age, but that doesn’t mean ‘invulnerable.’ You didn’t have to read the pamphlet to know about wooden stakes, or beheadings. What about the lifestyle? No tanning, no driving up the coast with the top down, no dancing in front of the fireplace. If you were vegan, that’s gone too. You’ll know what you want, but you still might feel squeamish about blood from a cup, even an IV bag with a straw. No one’s ever figured out how to talk us through that part. On the other hand, you can eat and drink anything else you want—death-by-chocolate cake, double-double cheeseburgers animal-style, fettuccine Alfredo. If you want. There isn’t really much point, is all. But go ahead and smoke. It can’t hurt you now, right? You can’t breathe but you can blow impressive dragon plumes out your nostrils. Just don’t ask me where the air comes from.

Just because you’re a vampire doesn’t mean it’s the end of the world. In fact, a whole new world is waiting—for you!

Yes they are. Waiting for you, I mean. A good thing you can fight and kick like—well, like a demon. Also, you carry no weight on your feet. No reflection, no weight. It’s that simple. When you have no soul, your soles never wear out. It’s catchy in English, kinda pointless otherwise.

Friday, October 20, 2017

Meredith Burton Mitchell, 1927-2017

My dear friend, my former analyst and supervisor, my mentor and quasi-father, Meredith Burton Mitchell, died today, two months short of his ninetieth birthday. He had suffered increasingly poor health over the last several years. His first heart attack came 35 years ago, late for the men in his family, most of whom died before they were 50. He labored mightily to support his health, his heart, despite several other miserable conditions. His big conceptual contribution to Jungian psychology was to recognize that the opposite of the hero is the victim, and he was determined not to be a victim. Here he is at the left, rejoicing at my wedding, where he was one of the chuppah bearers. The chuppah is the traditional canopy under which the bridal pair stands, and Meredith joyfully helped consecrate my union with my husband.

 Here are Meredith and my husband talking about life--children, retirement, deep and playful thoughts--in Meredith's airy home. I was so happy that they got along so well together.
Roberta, Meredith's wife/widow, and Meredith. They found each other after much travail, and were such a loving couple.

I've been grieving him all day today, and probably will be grieving for some time yet. I met him when I was 17, and he saw me into adulthood and launched me into psychology. What strength, what empathy, what all he overcame himself. Very much a human being, but so aware of the power of the transference and of his responsibility to hold that projection until the patient is ready to re-integrate its power. Thank you. Thank you. We love you. Good-bye.

Monday, July 24, 2017

Such a problem

Buds in silhouette, cloudy day

Garden glove masquerading as kitten

Western Saw-whet Owl

Here's the problem that is, perhaps, not a problem:  you know that I write poems and that I take photos. I've had poems published since 2008 (about a year after I returned to writing). I've had photos published since 2008--as soon as I started submitting them. What's more, my hit rate, my acceptance rate, is considerably higher for photos than for poems.

I *work* on my writing. I've attended conferences and workshops, I've worked with other poets for years on end. I've read so very many poems, mostly for love, but still. I've been trying to write--I have been writing--since I was nine, since I first read a poem and thought, I want to do that. Words have always been my strength and my joy. Some of my poems are quite fine, some are too closed, some just aren't very good. There is a lot of competition, as witnessed by the ten thousand poetry journals out in English. About half of what I write gets published, eventually. My hit rate, based on total submissions, is something like 20%.

My photos, I take on the fly. Something catches my eye, I find it, I snap it fast as I can set the exposure and speed. I've looked at others' photos, but not a lot (not by my standards) and admired what they did. I have certainly never taken a course, have not even consulted with someone else. I didn't even know that I had an eye until we went to Paris and to Greece in 1999. But editors seem to love them! They often accept every photo in the batch. I've been paid perhaps the highest compliment, namely, a vendor stealing one of my photos to put on a T-shirt. That settlement constitutes the only real money I've ever been paid for Art. My hit rate for photos is over 70%.

So, the problem? I value the poems more. I don't mind, much, if photos get rejected (perhaps because it is relatively infrequent) but I take it rather personally when poems get rejected. Most conflicting is when an editor rejects all the poems but takes (some or all or most of) the photos. Anyone got any non-anodyne corrective thoughts I might call on when my pictures are valued more than my words?