Thursday, December 04, 2008


For the third year in a row, I have completed NaBloPoMo. Let's see if I have the wherewithal to continue to post on a semi-regular basis in this forum.

Sunday, November 30, 2008

Bone Tired

The title doesn't even begin to describe the extreme exhaustion the last three days have brought about. Remembrances of the weekend flit through my brain too quickly for me to capture them in words. Too much to even record in fragments. It is enough that I am upright, though I won't be for long.

To bed. Perhaps more tomorrow.

Saturday, November 29, 2008

Day Two of Three

Two days into our opening weekend of the Dickens Fair and too exhausted to write a full recap. Hold onto your hats until Monday. I may have the energy then. For now it's dinner and then bed. Up to early to do it all again tomorrow.

Friday, November 28, 2008

Quote of the Day

"You should never underestimate the predictability of stupidity."
Bullet Tooth Tony, Snatch

Thursday, November 27, 2008

The Great Dickens Christmas Fair

30 Years and Going Strong!

The Great Dickens Christmas Fair transforms the Cow Palace in Daly City into an authentic recreation of Victorian London - the Bay Area's best holiday "stay-cation" of 2008!

The 30th Annual Great Dickens Christmas Fair
Four Weekends including the Friday after Thanksgiving
28 November through 21 December 2008
11 am - 7 pm in the Cow Palace Exhibition Halls

The day after Thanksgiving, escape to London, England and a Victorian wonderland of waltzing, laughing, feasting, singing and shopping for treasures. The only event of its kind in the world, featuring 600 performers. We have transformed 100,000 square feet of the Cow Palace Exhibition Halls into "London in San Francisco."

Charles Dickens' message is even more relevant today: that kindness and caring are better than greed and distrust.

Guests of all ages will delight in entertainments on six stages and throughout the streets of "Old London Town."
Here's a small sample of what's new this year:
  • The Metropolitan Music Hall at the Victoria & Albert Theatre
  • The fabulous Habbi Ru Middle Eastern Dancers
  • An All-new Saucy French Postcard Revue!
  • New juried crafts booths including Dancing Flame Candles, Toadstool Fairy Art, Plumania Feather Creations, Doone's Dejavu and Allen Jeffrey's Fine Gentlemen's Attire
  • A Children's Tour of London
  • The Punch & Judy Stage
By coming early in the season, you will enjoy the best selection in fine and-crafted gifts, from first edition prints, glassworks, and pewter goblets to clothing, jewelry, toys and Christmas florals. From sugar plums to hot buttered rum it all awaits you at the Great Dickens Christmas Fair and Victorian Holiday Party!

Tickets are only $19.00 when you order online today (price at the gate is $22.00). Enjoy the convenience of having your tickets waiting for you at Will Call. Children 5 and under are free, and kids ages 5-11 are always discounted at only $10.00. For Group Discounts (15 or more), call (800) 510-1558 for ordering.

Do Join Us, Won't You?

Wednesday, November 26, 2008

The Day Before

Too much to do before tomorrow and Friday and not enough time to write. Today has run away.

Happy Thanksgiving everyone.

Tuesday, November 25, 2008

The Hetrosexual Questionnaire

This is passed along via the lovely folks over at Queers United. Enjoy!

This is a fun survey, but also an activist survey. Please repost this to your email list, blog it or use it in a group setting. Have fun with it but also let the point be made.

1. What do you think caused your heterosexuality?

2. When and where did you decide you were a heterosexual?

3. Is it possible this is just a phase and you will out grow it?

4. Is it possible that your sexual orientation has stemmed from a neurotic fear of others of the same sex?

5. Do your parents know you are straight? Do your friends know- how did they react?

6. If you have never slept with a person of the same sex, is it just possible that all you need is a good gay lover?

7. Why do you insist on flaunting your heterosexuality... can’t you just be who you are and keep it quiet?

8. Why do heterosexuals place so much emphasis on sex?

9. Why do heterosexuals try to recruit others into this lifestyle?

10. A disproportionate majority of child molesters are heterosexual... Do you consider it safe to expose children to heterosexual teachers?

11. Just what do men and women do in bed together? How can they truly know how to please each other, being so anatomically different?

12. With all the societal support marriage receives, the divorce rate is spiraling. Why are there so few stable relationships among heterosexuals?

13. How can you become a whole person if you limit yourself to compulsive, exclusive heterosexuality?

14. Considering the menace of overpopulation how could the human race survive if everyone were heterosexual?

15. Could you trust a heterosexual therapist to be objective? Don't you feel that he or she might be inclined to influence you in the direction of his orher leanings?

16. There seem to very few happy heterosexuals. Techniques have been developed that might enable you to change if you really want to.

17. Have you considered trying aversion therapy?

- Martin Rochlin, Ph.D., 1972

Monday, November 24, 2008

From the Trenches

The first in a possible series entitled, "Songs my Father Taught Me" or "Unconventional Lullabies."

The Bells of Hell
from Songs and Slang of the British Soldier 1914-1918 by John Brophy

The bells of hell go ding-a-ling-a-ling
For you but not for me
And the little devils how they sing-a-ling-a-ling
The sing so merrily

O death, where is thy sting-a-ling-a-ling
O grave, thy victory?
The bells of hell go ding-a-ling-a-ling
For you but not for me

Good night, my darlings.

Sunday, November 23, 2008

Good Company

Due to my recent online activism with regards to the aborted protest by the Westboro Baptist Church of Alameda High School's production of The Laramie Project, this blog is now linked from the news section of the God Hates Fags website.

This post was linked with the label: "Check out this freak 'mommy'- and she is different from all other american/worldly mothers, how? Not at all!"

The wonderful folks at Queers United were mentioned as well, just seven spaces below mine, so I'm in the best of all possible company.

I have to laugh at the fact that I am labeled as a freak while also being called completely normal. Color me amused.

Saturday, November 22, 2008

I Am One of the Ruins That Cromwell Knocked About A Bit

While driving home from a full day of teaching Yanks to speak old-fashioned Victorian-era Cockney, coaching acts and rehearsing in preparation for the opening next week of the 30th Annual Dickens Christmas Fair, I composed a chatty and full blog entry in my head. I ran over the events of the day, things that made me chuckle, things that felt victorious, things that I thought may hold some interest for you anonymous readers. It helped to pass the time on the drive home and keep me alert after an exhausting 10 hours on my feet.

Two hours later I sit here shivering in the studio, a bit hungry and more than a little tired, all the amusing anecdotes of the day have fled my brain.

And then I remembered this. I feel it is important to learn as many new things as you can and today I expanded my acting repertoire. I play two of Charles Dickens characters at the Fair: the beloved Peggotty from David Copperfield and, at the complete opposite end of the spectrum, one of Dickens' great grotesques, Sairey Gamp, midwife, nurse and layer-out-of-the-dead from Martin Chuzzlewit.

Sairey Gamp is known (among other traits) as partaking liberally of snuff. I have never had the stuff, last year being content to go through the motions without ever having actually done it. As promised to me last weekend, one of my friends and fellow cast members Jon DeCles (an astounding Mr Micawber) presented me with two different varieties of snuff and a brief lesson on the ritual of inhaling tobacco. While not being something I will make a habit of, the ritual and experience was wonderful and gave me even more insight to properly portray her avid snuff use on the streets of the Fair.

I ramble on as my weary brain begins to long for sleep. Mostly I wanted to share with you a wonderful YouTube video recording of a song made famous by the Queen of the Music Halls, Marie Lloyd with the wonderful title, I Am One of the Ruins That Cromwell Knocked About a Bit. In this recording it is sung by her daughter, as sadly Marie never recorded this during her lifetime, but Marie Jr. manages to do her mother proud by infusing her rendition with the proper Cockney swagger in her voice. Of special note is the long patter in the middle of the song, a lovely display of Victorian Cockney pronunciation and slang that has been abandon by the contemporary denizens of London's East End over the last century.

This link will take you directly to hear the song. My gift to you. Sit back, have a pint and enjoy.

Friday, November 21, 2008

Sometimes There is No Compelling Reason Why

Alternate Title: Why I am a Terrible Mother

Arabis: Mommy, want cookies for breakfast!

Me: No, sweetie. Cookies are not for breakfast. Would you like an egg and toast (her favorite)?

Arabis: No, thank you. Want cookies!

Me: No cookies for breakfast. Maybe we can have a cookie for dessert. How about a bowl of cereal and some strawberries?

Arabis: No! Want cookies and a glass of milk. PLEEEEEEASE?

Me: Sorry, ducks. No cookies for breakfast.

Arabis: Why?

And you know what? Damned if I couldn't think of one reason why. So we had cookies and milk for breakfast (for those wondering, they were Trader Joe's Shortbread cookies with fruit filing and chocolate filling. At least there were no crappy preservatives).

They were really good, too!

Thursday, November 20, 2008

Random Mumblings

Copied from PicaboMama over at Heathen Family Revival (best blog name ever), here's a tantrum-free post.

1. Who did you spend at least two hours with today?
Arabis, my Evil Minion and beloved goof-ball.

2. What do you look forward to most in the next six weeks?
The 30th Annual Great Dickens Christmas Fair!

3. Who was the last person you called?


4. What were you doing at 12am last night?
Watching mindless television while trying to finish a knitting commission.

5. What did you fear was going to get you as a child?

Infinity. I had serious issues with the concept of infinity. I used to fall down the rabbit hole of thought and lose myself in pondering exactly what it meant, which I couldn't (and still can't, if I let myself really think about it) fathom. Infinity was my monster under the carpet, the thing that lurked in the corners and in the closet at night. MC Escher drawings were a fascination and a nightmare all at once.

Yes. I was an odd child. Next question?

6. When did you last see your mom?
Tuesday night.

7. What are you wearing right now?
A pair of cropped sweat pants and a tank top. I'm shivering. It's cold in here.

8. Where is your favorite place to be?

In the ocean. Or barring that, at the very least on the coast.

9. Where is your least favorite place to be?

I've got to go with Kelly on this one: anywhere I don't have an easy exit, for example: uncomfortable social obligations and family weddings.

10. Where would you go if you could go anywhere?

London. Or to take Arabis and visit my dad for an extended period.

11. Where do you think you’ll be in 10 years?

Where the wind takes me.

12. What was the last thing that really made you laugh?

This sounds pathetic as hell, but right now I can't remember. It's been a glum week. I'll hazard that watching an old episode of "The Graham Norton Show" on the DVR last night elic

13. What cities/towns/villages have you lived in?

San Francisco (born at St. Francis Hospital on the feast day guessed it....Saint Francis)
Corte Madera, CA
Oakland, CA
Kittery, ME
London, England (specifically Hounslow and West Hampstead)

14. Are you a social person?

Pre-motherhood, I would say no, which surprises many people. I'm an introvert. Really.

Post-motherhood has found me isolated and craving the company of anyone over the age of three. And fruity rum drinks. That is another craving given me by motherhood.

15. What do you like about winter?

Rain. Fog. The Dickens Fair (see above).

Round Two -
Unconscious Mutterings:

I say … and you think … ?

Coverage - ground
Cynical - heh
Gust - wind
Improvised - my forte
V - sod off, ya tosser
Guests - ohmygodIhavetocleanthefreakinghouse!!!!!!!!!
Brutal - my brainmeats
Grant - bestow
Pull - push
streaming- consciousness

Wednesday, November 19, 2008

Stream of Consciousness Rant

I'm angry tonight for a variety of reasons that really don't need to be posted for the world to see. Nothing to do with my immediate family or mate, just an urge to scream and break bottles against a concrete wall.

There are a few things that come to mind. Of course, there always are. Passive-aggressive people. Those who don't come right out and say what they want or mean but must beat about the bush. Creditors. The patriarchy. Ex-friends who still exist on the perimeters of one's world, spreading their own skewed brand of truth. Pompous windbags. The poorly socialized. Stalkers. People who can't let go.

I'm broke. I've gotten a few knitting commissions that are giving me gas money and cash for sundries. And I am making this post quickly, so I can go back to them.

I'm tired of struggling.

And I wonder, who the fuck are you people, who stop by this blog once or twice a day? What do you get from this, you internet voyeurs, who leave no comments, no trace of your passing other than what my site counter tells me?

Why do I bother doing this? Am I writing for me or you?

Tuesday, November 18, 2008


Home from an exhausting 39 hours in my mother's neck of the woods. The arterioscopy on her left leg is now done. Too tired to go into details. To bed.

Sunday, November 16, 2008

Sunday Night Brain Drain

Up too early to take my mother to the doctor for the second stereoscopy other leg. Too tired to write. Long day of teaching and rehearsing.

I have become addicted to Scramble. It is evil.

Saturday, November 15, 2008

Friday, November 14, 2008

For Everyone Doing NaNoWriMo and All Us Crazy Dumbsaints

Jack Kerouac's Belief & Technique for Modern Prose

List of Essentials
  1. Scribbled secret notebooks, and wild typewritten pages, for yr own joy
  2. Submissive to everything, open listening
  3. Try never get drunk outside yr own house
  4. Be in love with yr life
  5. Something that you feel will find its own form
  6. Be crazy dumbsaint of the mind
  7. Blow as deep as you want to blow
  8. Write what you want bottomless from bottom of the mind
  9. The unspeakable visions of the individual
  10. No time for poetry but exactly what is
  11. Visionary tics shivering in the chest
  12. In tranced fixation dreaming upon object before you
  13. Remove literary, grammatical and syntactical inhibition
  14. Like Proust be an old teahead of time
  15. Telling the true story of the world in interior monolog
  16. The jewel center of interest is the eye within the eye
  17. Write in recollection and amazement for yourself
  18. Work from pithy middle eye out, swimming in language sea
  19. Accept loss forever
  20. Believe in the holy contour of life
  21. Struggle to sketch the flow that already exists intact in mind
  22. Don't think of words when you stop but to see picture better
  23. Keep track of every day the date emblazoned in yr morning
  24. No fear or shame in the dignity of yr experience, language & knowledge
  25. Write for the world to read and see yr exact pictures of it
  26. Bookmovie is the movie in words, the visual American form
  27. In Praise of Character in the Bleak inhuman Lonliness
  28. Composing wild, undisciplined, pure, coming in from under, crazier the better
  29. You're a Genius all the time
  30. Writer-Director of Earthly movies Sponsored & Angeled in Heaven

Thursday, November 13, 2008

Alameda High Presents "The Laramie Project"

To bring everyone up to date, there was to be a protest by a group of right-wing fundamentalists on a student production of The Laramie Project at Alameda High School. Info can be found on Queers United. This post is an update to that.

I just spoke with Captain Brock of the Alameda Police Department. As of today, the protest by the Westboro Baptist Church has been canceled.

He was notified of the event yesterday, when a concerned parent of a student called him. He contacted the Westboro Baptist Church and spoke with Phelps' daughter. According to her, they are *NOT* coming to Alameda, but instead are going directly to Hawaii to protest at the funeral of President Elect Obama's grandmother.

Captain Brock took this all very seriously, making numerous phone calls to the Topeka Kansas police dept and the Westboro Baptist Church itself. According to the Topeka police, the WBC always notify the local police where ever they plan to be, to ensure their First Amendment rights are upheld. They also tend to get a lot of counter demonstrators when they come to California and their groups are very small, generally between 10 and 15 people. Captain Brock also met with local Alameda LGBT groups.

The listing is supposed to be removed from the website (although it has not been as of this posting). Captain Brock is aware of this. When I asked if he was concerned about other, more local Phelp's supporters seeing this and showing up, he seemed confident that that would not happen, as the WBC tends to fly all its people in as a group.

Captain Brock assured me there will be a police presence tomorrow night and that they are also organizing a candle-light vigil in support of the students, the local LGBT community and Matthew Shepherd. This will happen a bit away from the school grounds at 6:00 PM.

Please come show your support of Alameda High School and their courageous theatre department by attending the performance after the vigil.

The show starts at 7:30 PM.

Alameda High School Little Theater
2201 Encinal Avenue, Alameda CA
Tickets cost $10 for adults, $7 for students.

Wednesday, November 12, 2008

Wisdom from Uncle Jack

Thinking of the stars night after night I begin to realize "the stars are words" and all the innumerable worlds in the Milky Way are words, and so is this world too. And I realize that no matter where I am, whether in a little room full of thought, or in this endless universe of stars and mountains, it's all in my mind. There's no need for solitude. So love life for what it is, and form no preconceptions whatever in your mind.
Jack Kerouac, Lonesome Traveler

Please Help

This Friday, 14 November 2008, Fred Phelps of the Westboro Baptist Church has announced that he will protest Alameda High School's production of The Laramie Project. The group plans to picket between 6:45 PM and 7:30 PM.

As a counter-protest and buffer of support and protection to the students producing the play and theater-goers, requests are being made for support. Please show up at 6:00 PM at the following location:

Alameda High School
2201 Encinal Avenue
Alameda, CA 94501

I want to quote to you from a flier on Westboro Baptist Church's website:

"...God hates the Alameda High School Little Theater and all and everybody having anything to do with spreading sodomite lies via this tacky bit of cheap, fag propaganda masquerading as legitimate theater."

For more information please visit Queers United and The Island.

Tuesday, November 11, 2008

Cockney Pride Begins in the 'Ome

Arabis has been "helping" me with my materials for the cockney class I've begun teaching to performers in preparation for the Great Dickens Christmas Fair. I've been doing quite a bit of reading aloud which I didn't think anything about until today, when she asked for a banana (!) and replied with "Fank you" after being handed one.

And earlier she broke a crayon while coloring and exclaimed, "Bugger all!"

I'm doomed.

Monday, November 10, 2008

Ramblings on Motherhood Written by a Brain of Little Sleep

I am spent. Utterly exhausted. While talking with Surrey after teaching our last class yesterday, I realized that in this one weekend I have spoken and interacted with more people than I have the entire year. It is a little overwhelming, but my brain is starved for the intellectual stimulation.

I love being my daughter's mother, but there are so many identity issues around becoming one. The transition into motherhood causes one to explore and question identity. Especially if, like me, you come to it unexpectedly and rather late in life.

I have done so many things with my life, worn so many monikers, swirled them about me like Salome's veils and shed them when they were no longer apt or when I could no longer support their weight. Artist, writer, actor, dancer, fight choreographer, educator, athlete, director...and now mother. In some ways, each built on the other, skill enhancing skill, art strengthening art. And because I've had such a full life already, in a simpler world it would seem the transition to motherhood would build on all the others.

If you buy that, I've also got a bridge in Brooklyn that you might be interested in.

These last three years have been a struggle and internal chaos in the presence of the most immense love and perfection I have ever known. The conflict is intense. Arabis is my joy. I had almost given up on ever having a child. It certainly was no longer in my mind after my divorce. And the moment I felt her growing inside me, I felt the fiercest and strongest emotions I will ever know. But she grew in the midst of so much turmoil, my own brain having long been known as my own worst enemy.

When I held my daughter for the first time, whispered her secret name in her ear and spoke to her softly in Armenian, being a mother was enough. There was nothing else.

It is who I am: Arabis' mother, but it is not ALL that I am. All that came before, all that I have done, all the people I have loved that make me who I am contribute to it. I am mother and so much more.

But when all your time is spent with a small child, the rest can fade to the background and seem like another world. There is a mourning for the past as well as a joy in the present and I wonder that more women don't speak of this for fear of seeming unloving or ungrateful of just purely unnatural.

I remind myself daily that she is only small once and that this time is so precious and so fleeting. Watching her and learning the world anew through her is a joy like nothing I have ever experienced. But I feel my life on hold, while I give her as much of me as I can, *while* I can, to help her walk strong and confident in the world.

I am finding myself anew while she is discovering who she is. Perhaps it is a parallel process. The thing I am learning not to do, trying not do, and it is the hardest for me, is mourn the past, mourn who I was. Pregnancy wrecked havoc on my body and I have still not recovered. I still carry much of the baby weight, exacerbating my old dance injuries. I will never be the athlete I was before.

A chrysalis phase? Metamorphosis. As long as I don't end up a cockroach at the end of the journey, I think I'm doing okay.

Sunday, November 09, 2008


A long, exhausting and fulfilling weekend is past. I have taught, I have played, I have rehearsed. I have reconnected with people from almost 30 years past, met knew ones and relaxed into the embrace of those that have been there all along.

What a crazy life I've led. If I stop to think of all the things I've done, it almost makes my head spin.

I'm talked out. I've got nothing left even for introspection right now. Mostly I just sit here in the glow of the screen, one cat draped across my shoulders and another perched, gargoyle-like, on the monitor before me. There is the soft, indecipherable hum of the television from the other room and I suspect that if I venture in, Mojo will have fallen fast asleep in front of it.

And really, sleep is where I should be. The allure is undeniable. Time to get flat.

Saturday, November 08, 2008

I've Been Remiss

So here it is, the eighth day of November and I've not "officially" announced my participation in this year's NaBloPoMo. Although I'm sure that you, my two astute readers, will have figured out by now that I am participating.

This will be my third year in a row and I promised myself more actual writing would get done; something humorous, a little witty, maybe some thought provoking prose and possibly even an attempt to wring a tear or two from your jaded eyes.

So what have the last eight days found me doing? Running through my crazy days after my three year old and finally collapsing around 11 at night only to realize mere minutes from the clock tolling away the last hour of the day that "OhmygodIhaven'tpostedyet!!!!!!" Thus begins the mad dash to the computer, my eyes bleary and tired, staring at the blank screen, trying to pull something remotely interesting from a brain whose synapses no longer even spark let alone fire.

Today I am starting a little earlier, but I indulged in a bout of insomnia last night that left me with only three and a half hours of sleep. And then a full seven hours of workshops and rehearsals in preparation for the 30th Dickens Christmas Fair have left me giddy and almost falling asleep on my keyboard.

This is the best I can do for now. So let me ask a boon of you, anonymous reader. I know I have a few regulars. Leave a comment. Say hello. Tell me how you found my and why the heck you come back to read my sporadic and often sparse ramblings. Indulge my curiosity.

Just for the hell of it.

Friday, November 07, 2008


Much running around today with little accomplished. So this is my sorry excuse for a post.

Thursday, November 06, 2008

Thought for the Day

"All revelations are personal. That's why all revelations are suspect."

~ Neil Gaiman, from American Gods

Wednesday, November 05, 2008

Bonfire Night

Remember, remember the Fifth of November,
The Gunpowder Treason and Plot,
I can think of no reason
Why the Gunpowder Treason
Should ever be forgot.
Guy Fawkes, Guy Fawkes, t'was his intent
To blow up the King and Parli'ment.
Three-score barrels of powder below
To prove old England's overthrow;
By God's providence he was catch'd
With a dark lantern and burning match.
Holloa boys, holloa boys, let the bells ring.
Holloa boys, holloa boys, God save the King!

Tuesday, November 04, 2008

"Feel the Power of Your Vote!"

There is a poll worker in my precinct who has been a volunteer for at least as long as I have lived here (eight and a half years). He is an older black man, with a shock of white hair and a ready smile. Mojo likens him to an economics professor for some reason.

When Mojo got to the polls at our local fire station at 7:00 AM, the man was there, greeting everyone and keeping the mood upbeat and jocular during the hour that Mojo had to wait. Twelve and a half hours later, when I went to cast my vote, he was still there, standing outside and greeting people, finishing the last of his cigarette.

"Are you here to feel the power of your vote?" he asked as we approached the door. Mojo and Arabis talked to him while I registered and went in with my ballot to make history.

As I filled out my form, I could hear Mojo talking to a female fire fighter and her asking Arabis if she'd like to see the engines. From there they disappeared down a hallway while I finished up.

"This is the part that you've got to love, girl," the man told me as I took my ballot to him. "You hold on to that and get ready to cast your ballot. Are you ready to feel the power of your vote?"

I felt like I was at a revival or old time rally like you see in black and white movies.

"I am," I told him.

"Hold on to that with both hands and feed it right in here and FEEL THE POWER OF YOUR VOTE!"

Afterward I wandered into the garage portion of the fire station where an EMT/firefighter named Linda was helping Arabis climb behind the wheel of a fire truck. We talked for a while, I mentioned that I had a friend who was a firefighter in Piedmont (Hey, Dave: Linda in West Oakland says "hi" and that you're awesome!). Arabis wanted to climb up the big ladder on the other truck, and Linda said if we wanted to come back one day that she could climb across it as it lay flat (so it looks like we have a day trip planned sometime soon).

Everyone was happy and laughing and filled with hope. I live in a low-income, predominantly African-American neighborhood with a historically disappointing voter turn out. I over heard the poll workers talking, saying there were only about 350 registered in my precinct and they had already seen over 300 people today. This is unprecedented. The fact that Mojo had to wait an hour this morning is unheard of. That even I, less than an hour before the polls closed, entered to a full house and more people still coming in, gave me hope.

That is what I am struck by. A sense of hope that we have not felt for so many years. I am optimistic and tried to instill some of my excitement in Arabis as we sat watching the returns later that evening.

"We're electing a new president. We're making history."

Monday, November 03, 2008

The Mother, the Maiden and the "Other One"

We're not even dressed up for Halloween, just carrying on the family business: my daughter, my mother and me.

Sunday, November 02, 2008

Dia de los Muertos

This is always a bittersweet post for me and I've sat reminiscing before the blank screen now for longer than I care to admit. Last year many in my circles bemoaned the loss of more friends and relatives than we were prepared for (not that one really can prepare for death, despite its inevitability). We cursed 2007 and boasted that 2008 could never be as bad.

It wasn't. It was worse. Too many gone.

I know I've inadvertently omitted names, but I'm lost in the flood of memories.

Rose Rushdoony Deovlet (Grandma Rosie)
Phil Deovlet (Grandpa)
Robert H. Deovlet (Uncle Bob)
Rose (Vartoohi) Mahdesian Deovlet (Grandma Darling)
Benjamin Deovlet (Grandpa Darling)
Richard Deovlet -(Uncle Ricky)
Rose (Vartanoush) Rushdoony (Grandma Rushdoony)
Y.K. Rushdoony (Grandpa Rushdoony)
Mary Movsesian (Auntie Mim)
Spurgeon Avakian (Uncle Sparky)
Ruth Avakian (Auntie Ruthie)
Evelyn Cooper Smith (Grandma Evelyn)
Haywood Smith (Grandpa Haywood)
Joy Deane Wagner
Auntie Margie
Bob Thomas
Dave Ricker
Robin Wadsworth
Michael Hefflin
Maxina Danner (Snookie)
Jennifer Lee
Patrick Lee
Mace Hanley
Shelly Munge
Dan O'Brien
Ricky Paul
Barbara Rose
Ronnie Geoffrion
Dave Coker
Don Mills
Wally Lockwood
Sally Schneider
Linda Underhill
Manny Suarez
Mary Jo Goss
Andrew Small
Phil Robledo
Amethyst Mariani
Theryl O'Ryan
Timur Otus
Brian Dall'Armi
Auntie Posie
Sully (Gordon Sullivan)
Ruth Leggett
Jorge Luis Farias-Martinez
Bill Harris

Not not known personally by me, but deaths that affected me nonetheless:

Tasha Tudor
U. Utah Phillips
Maila Nurmi (aka "Vampira")
Benazir Bhutto

"To absent friends, lost loves, old gods, and the season of mists; and may each and every one of us always give the devil his due."
~ Neil Gaiman

Saturday, November 01, 2008


Arabis sings to herself, her voice clear and strong, in rhythm with the creak of the swing chain:

"I'm smiling,
And swinging,
And laughing at the clouds!"

Sunday, October 26, 2008

A Quote for the Quiet Time of the Morning

I shot an arrow blindly and hit forgiveness.

~ Sherman Alexie, from "Last Will and Testament" in Summer of Black Widows

Saturday, September 27, 2008

Four Years

Maxina Danner
Born: 25 March 1987
Murdered: 27 September 2004

You are loved and missed, Snookie. You are forever in our hearts.
You are remembered.

Arabis and I are meeting Lee at the cemetery to visit Maxie and spend the afternoon. The day is lovely and warm, bittersweet and beautiful.

Monday, September 22, 2008

In Lieu of a Real Post - MEME!

Take a picture of yourself right now.
Don't change your clothes, don't fix your hair... just take a picture.
Post that picture with NO editing.
Post these instructions with your picture.


Monday, September 15, 2008

Conversations With My Daughter

ME: "What do you want to be for Halloween this year?"

HER: "Six."

Surrealism, thy name is Toddler.

Saturday, September 13, 2008

Quote of the Day

when they ask you
why is your mama so funny
she is a poet
she don't have no sense

Lucille Clifton, from Admonitions

Tuesday, August 26, 2008

The Last Few Days

I have passed a few really lovely days.

Blue and Arabis in Fairyland

On Saturday, Arabis and I went to Children's Fairyland with my friend Lisa and her son, Blue. Arabis and Blue have known each other for over two years and it is adorable to watch the two of them together. He is enamored of her and she being the strong-willed creature she is, gladly tugged him along after her. If anyone is interested, the full set of photos is here. For contrast, check out Blue and Arabis on their first trip to Fairyland together, almost two years earlier.

On Sunday, Mojo and I went to Forbidden Island to hear Meshugga Beach Party, a mock-Hassidic surf band while my mother agreed to spend the afternoon and evening with Arabis. Mojo and I got three and a half hours of alone time together, something we haven't had for far too long. After two sips of my first fruity rum drink my head began to spin and I remembered that the last meal I'd had was breakfast, having forgotten to eat lunch. Oops. We ordered food, had drinks and I got delightfully tipsy. We flirted and joked and managed to not talk about either kid for almost an hour and a half.

After Meshugga had packed up this woman came up to Mojo and I and handed me a flier for her book, Cool Jew: The Ultimate Guide for Every Member of the Tribe. We started talking and after a while she said, "You are Jewish, aren't you?"

I laughed, "No. I'm Armenian, but I get that all the time."

"Wow. I totally thought you were a member of the Tribe. That's okay. Do you still want the flier?"

I told her I did and would pass it on to a friend in Brooklyn.

Meanwhile, Arabis was at home with Grandma having a tea party. As Mojo and I were walking out the door I realized I had forgotten my phone and ran back in to get it. Arabis was sitting very primly at her little table while grandma sat on the sofa at the other side. She was holding out a demitasse cup and saucer to my mother and saying very properly in a mock British accent, "Would you like a cup of tea?" I melted just a little bit.

Yesterday was relatively mellow at home, culminated by two hours in the community garden. Some other tenants were there as well, and as the sun set my neighbor Brad blew bubbles for Arabis which she danced in and then gleefully popped. The two of them were laughing hysterically and I found myself sitting back in the twilight, watching and smiling and daring to think that life was actually pretty good.

I took a few 30 second videos but unfortunately cannot download them since Arabis spilled yogurt on the USB connector cable for my camera and it is dead. If anyone has a spare Sony VMC-MD1 Multi-Use Terminal Cable for Cyber-Shot cameras, I'd be eternally in your debt! I'll have to wait until the first of the month to order a new one.

Today, we got up early and made pancakes, Arabis helping me in the kitchen. I had her stir the batter and she started singing the Mexican Chocolate Song at the same time, while shaking her little hips back and forth:

"Bate, bate, chocolate
Tu nariz de cacahuate
Uno, dos, tres, CHO!
Uno, dos, tres, CO!
Uno, dos, tres, LA!
Uno, dos, tres, TE!
Chocolate, chocolate!
Bate, bate, chocolate!
Bate, bate, bate, bate,
Bate, bate, CHOCOLATE!"

I had to call her padrino (godfather), Tio Riqui, and held the phone near her so he could hear her singing in Spanish. Hopefully she's going to have a good grasp of both Spanish and Armenian as well as English.

I think today we may head up to Lake Anza and go swimming. She has been asking for it since we woke up and I'm feeling pretty good right now.

Oh, before I forget, I had the oddest dream this morning. What I remember of it is this:

Robin and I are going to Cat and Peter's house for some unknown reason and we are standing at the front door ringing the bell. Only it is not their house, but a house across the street with the last two numbers reversed (this actually happened. To my mortification, I transposed the numbers of their address one night and spent 20 minutes outside the wrong house waiting for them. In my exhaustion and distraction, I was convinced that they had given me the wrong address and admonished Peter for it. But it was my fault all along). So Robin and I are standing on the porch of this yellow house, ringing and ringing the bell and finally the door answers and there they are, still in their pajamas. Cat is wearing a loose fitting, light-colored, pajama top and bottom set with white bunny slippers and Peter is clad in a pink bunny suit with attached feet that zips up the front (like the sort kids wear, only much bigger). Robin and I ask why they aren't ready and they tell us that daylight savings time has ended and it is an hour earlier than we think it is. Embarassed we apologize and offer to go have coffee on Castro Street while they get dressed. Peter is laughing at us and then I woke up.

Very strange place to live, my brain. Hope you all have a magical day. We're going swimming!

Friday, August 15, 2008

The State of the Brain

Yesterday I was making lunch for Monkey Boi (my not-a-step-son who is here for the summer) and Arabis. Grilled cheese sandwiches with fruit was the order of the day. I made Arabis' first so it had time to cool a bit, carefully trimmed the crusts and cut it into four pieces. No problem.

Next comes the sandwich for Monkey Boi, which I grilled to a lovely tan color and set proudly on the table, retreating back into the kitchen area to make my own.

From the table I hear his tentative voice, " you know there is no cheese in this sandwich?"

That's right, folks. I forgot to put the cheese in his grilled cheese sandwich.

He was very good-natured about it and ate the toasted bread while I made him a new sandwich, and I wasn't sure whether to laugh or cry.

I think I need a vacation. Calgon couldn't even begin to take me far enough away!

Sunday, August 10, 2008

Brian Dall'Armi

I wanted to get out a public post for any of our lost and scattered Tribe who may google Brian's name in search of information.

Photo by Peter Overstreet of Brian and Cat Taylor, February 2007

Brian Dall'Armi
5 August 1946 - 9 August 2008

Brian died last night a few minutes before midnight. Nell was at his side.

I spoke to Nell for almost an hour today and here is what she wanted me to tell all of you:

"Brian got away in time to make the 12 o'clock show. There won't be any arguing over who will drive (the band) because Ricker will take over as he always did, and Bob Thomas and Brian will be goofing off in the background. Most likely, they'll both be kicked off the stage at some point.

I can hear Ricker yelling at them now: 'No Middle Eastern hootchie-coo on my stage!'

Bob and Brian will sneak off to the coffee house in the sky and sit around the table telling stories and laughing. No one else will be able to get a word in edgewise!"

The Brian Dall'Armi Memorial Tour will include stops in Vallejo, the Northern California Renaissance Faire at Casa de Fruta and the Great Dickens Christmas Fair. Exact dates have not been set at this time, but expect the Vallejo memorial to be anywhere from two to four weeks away, perhaps the beginning of September. Once plans have been solidified, I will update everyone.

Nell thanks you all for the visits and the emails she has received. She read the emails aloud to Brian in batches and is awed and blessed by the love that is coming from our community, our family. Many stories made her cry, more made her laugh and a few she hadn't even heard before.

She also wants to thank everyone for their offers of help. She has more than enough food in the refrigerator and even more in the freezer, and asks that everyone save their food and beer offerings for the memorial. She did mention most emphatically: NO CASSEROLES!

Please feel free to contact Nell by email but to refrain from calling as she still has many details to iron out and needs to keep the phone relatively open. If anyone would like her email, please comment here with an address I can reach you at privately and I will send you that information.

I was able to spend the afternoon with Brian and Nell yesterday. Many of the Brunos and other friends have been coming by in the last five days to sit by Brian's side and play music for him.

Brian was loved and respected for his many talents and he will be sorely missed. Another fiddler has joined that amazing band in the afterworld.

Monday, July 28, 2008

"This Is Now"

Tonight I finished reading "Little House in the Big Woods" to Arabis as she fell asleep. When I was a child, Laura Ingalls Wilder's tales of her girlhood were favorite books. So much so that my mother still laughs at the memory of me being offended when the televised series came out. Oh, I watched every episode and afterward would indignantly rip them to shreds, to my mother's glee (keep in mind that the series premiered just a month prior to my ninth birthday. I was {and still am} very protective of my literary loves).

My friends and I used to play a game based on the little house books which we called "Pioneers." We would take our little red wagons and stand an empty cardboard box in the back. Then we would put our dolls, our mess kits, apples, bread, cheese, a washboard, anything we had that was "old-timey" and go out into the fields to play (this was when we lived in Marin, before it was the overgrown yuppie-ville it is today).

My childhood friend Jenny's dad (who is an artist) made her a covered wagon frame that slid onto the rails of her Radio Flyer. We marched in the Fourth of July parade with it one year, all dressed up in our costumes. I'll have to post some photos (now that we finally got the scanner hooked up).

I haven't read these books since I was young, but found a complete series in a used bookstore about a year ago and promptly snatched them up. In reading to Arabis, I take myself back in time and so many things become clear to me.

My father always said that he was born a hundred years too late. I think that trait was passed on to me. I learned to spin and dye when I was nine years old from a woman named Ida Grae (who wrote the definitive book on natural dying, "Nature's Colors"). I used to do my homework on my old-fashioned desk by the light of a New England oil lamp. The first major purchase I ever made with my own money came at age 14 when I bought my Ashford spinning wheel (which I still have - along with the original receipt!). I collected the Foxfire books and learned crafts from my father (carving, shooting) when we were together. I devoured history, my own and anything else I could get my hands on. I sat at the feet of my great-grandparents and aunts and uncles, listening raptly while they told of their lives in the old country and here. Tales of what was. Of how things were.

Arabis had fallen asleep a few pages from the end, but I continued reading aloud:

"What are the days of auld lang syne, Pa?"

"They are the days of a long time ago, Laura," Pa said. "Go to sleep, now."

But Laura lay awake a little while, listening to Pa's fiddle softly playing and to the lonely sound of the wind in the Big Woods. She looked at Pa sitting on the bench by the hearth, the fire-light gleaming on his brown hair and beard and glistening on the honey-brown fiddle. She looked at Ma, gently rocking and knitting.

She thought to herself, "This is now."

She was glad that the cozy house, and Pa and Ma and the firelight and the music, were now. They could not be forgotten, she thought, because now is now. It can never be a long time ago.

That final passage just struck me hard. It was so poignant and real to me, living in the moment, in the now, with my daughter's head cradled in my arm and her breathe moist on my skin. One of those beautiful, transcendent moments that I wanted to cherish forever.

Tuesday, June 17, 2008

Friday, May 23, 2008

Happy Birthday

Arabis Newly Cleaned

Three years ago, at 10:35 PM, my beautiful daughter was removed from my body and held above the surgical drape on my abdomen. I remember crying and speaking to her, whispering into her ear in Armenian, because that was the first language I wanted her to hear. I whispered her gypsy name to her: the name that will never be used, that only I spoke, she heard, and the earth knows.

It's so hard to believe that three years are past. I can't imagine what my life would've been like without her upbeat energy and goofy smile.

I love you, my heart. Many, many happy returns of the day.

MAY 206

Wednesday, May 21, 2008

This Is Not A Knitting Blog (But It Plays One on the Internet)

Unmentionables Mosaic

My mother had a big health scare recently, which resulted in the serious neglect of this blog. Not to go into too much detail, she was three weeks in hospital and three weeks staying with me, so that I could give her daily antibiotic infusion therapy (trained by the in-home nursing staff) and aid in her recovery. She is back at her home and doing better now, so I am making tentative forays into the vast territory that is the internet.

While my mother was in residence, I didn't knit at all. There was no time. From sunup until far past sundown I was on my feet and working non-stop, tending to her and Arabis. And for the three weeks prior to that, while she was in hospital, the needles lay quiet as well. Now that my life has wound back to its normal levels of insanity, I cast on an adorable pattern for Arabis late last month: Emma's Unmentionables from the newest Knitty.

I have found it to be a refreshingly easy and straightforward knit. One error in the pattern, when you attach the legs to the body, but that was easily spotted and remedied. I began casting on the first lace ruffle one night at midnight which I know is never a good idea. On a whim, I reread the pattern the following morning. While the pattern calls for the body of the work to be done on a US 5 needle, the lace is to be worked on a US 6. Very subtle difference that I didn’t even notice on first reading. So I knit the lace as loosely as possible and it looks fine.

Before grafting the crotch stitches, the final step of the pattern, I tried the garment on Arabis and when I took it off her she had a fit.

“Mine, Mommy! Mine, mine, mine!! Want to wear!!”

In record time the stitches were grafted and she wore these for three days before I hid them to wash.

I have, of course, started a second pair, of which is about 75% done. This pair is in a lovely wisteria color, using the suggested yarn and the larger sized needles for the lace. I'm in love with this pattern and the compliments I've gotten on the finished garment have been wonderful.

Here's a link to my project page for all you Ravelry nuts out there. I really need to make a pair of these in black. They'd be a hit with the goth toddler crowd.

Pattern: Emma's Unmentionables from Knitty
Needle: US 5 (3.75mm) circulars 16 inch and 20 inch, two US 5(3.75mm) double pointed needles
Yarn: TLC Cotton Plus Solid in Kiwi (3643), 3 skeins
Size: 4T

Unmentionables for Arabis in Progress

Ruffle and Lace Detail

Arabis Loves Her Unmentionables

Arabis Loves Her Unmentionables

Friday, March 07, 2008

Totland: Where the Fun Never Ends

So on our foray out to walk amongst the people, the Minion and I go to Totland. You folks remember Totland, right? Home of the Berkeley (S)Mothers. We go to Totland because the Minion has requested it: "Wan' go PLAAAAAAY! Wan' go SWIIIIING! Wan' go TA-LAAAAND!"

The Minion is a swinging fool. She swings for 25 minutes. I know, because I had this feeling and checked the time a few minutes into our foray. From that time to the end, when she finally consented to be removed, was 25 minutes. I can feel it in my shoulders, the repetitive motion of pushing a 32 pound toddler as high as she can, non-stop. At the top of the back-swing just before the descent, she likes to throw her head back and yell "Upside-down, Mommy! Upside-down!"

Because it is her favorite thing.

We are making more inroads with the "big" swings, but they are slow. Our conversations tend to be something like this:

ME: Do you want to use the big swings today?
ARABIS: Um...okay, mommy.
ME: Be sure to hold on.
ARABIS: Um...okay, mommy.
ME: And sweetheart,
ARABIS: Yes, mommy?
ME: Be sure to tell me when you want to get off, okay? Don't just jump off.
ARABIS: Okay, mommy.

I know we're in for it. So she swings and I stand half behind and half next to her, reminding her every few swings to tell me when she's all done. She smiles that beatific smile she has and replies in the affirmative. The next minute she has flung herself from the swing and flies through the air, landing on her hands and knees.

"All done, Mommy!

Wednesday, February 13, 2008

St. Valentine's Day

Tomorrow is Saint Valentine's day,
All in the morning betime,
And I a maid at your window,
To be your Valentine.

Then up he rose, and donn'd his clothes,
And dupp'd the chamber door,
Let in the maid, that out a maid
Never departed more.

William Shakespeare
Act IV, Scene V