Wednesday, October 31, 2007


The epicenter of the earthquake was very close to our house, but can you believe we missed it? We were driving home on the freeway and felt no sensations at all. We walked into our house, and the first thing I noticed was that our telephone and answering machine were missing. My first thought was that someone had broken into the house. We discovered the phone had fallen behind the piece of furniture it's perched on.

We then scanned for anything else awry and in the living room saw some of our framed photos has fallen over.

"Oh, I bet there was an earthquake!" I said and turned on the TV. Yep, there were those reporters covering objects falled from store shelves, their eyes betraying their craving for more disaster.

It took hours for our cat to reappear from an especially good hiding place in the house. She's fine today.

It's amazing there wasn't more damage. It was a long earthquake, begun with a jolt. Our friend Sharon came over on her motorcycle to help us sniff for gas and to see how we were. She said, "Ah, yes, October--earthquake season." It's probably a coincidence, but the big 1989 quake occurred in October. All I can say is, "Welcome November."

Thursday, October 25, 2007

I Won Rosie!

On Joe.My.God's blog, I won a copy of Rosie O'Donnell's new memoir, Celebrity Detox, about addiction to fame . Yay!

If you've never read Joe.My.God, check him out here. Beware, though, he's addictive. But I guess it's better to be addicted to smart commentary on queer issues than to fame.


I interviewed Alice Sebold tonight on stage and am wired and tired. People tell me it went well, but I'm still kind of out of my body that I don't think I'll be able to write about it until tomorrow. In the meantime, I will finish this glass of wine.

All I can say right now is that she signed my copy of The Almost Moon, her new novel that has matricide as its inciting incident: Kill Your Mother! I told her I'd take that in the Freudian way. She seemed to think that was a good idea.

War Criminal

"Yesterday, CODEPINK activist Desiree Fairooz walked up to Condi Rice during a Congressional hearing and displayed her hands covered in blood. She yelled War Criminal as Condi prepared to testify and was immediately dragged out of the room by the police. This triggered a violent up surge in the police who began arresting every one in Pink. Medea simply held up her fingers in a peace sign and was arrested."

See the video:

Wednesday, October 24, 2007

San Diego Fires 2

My sister, who lives in North County San Diego, sent me some pictures:

This isn't fog in San's haze from the fires. The sun is almost completely obscured on what would have normally been a blue-sky day.

This is ash on her car, even though the fires are miles away.

Tomorrow my sister is flying out of town. If she gets some pictures of the devastation from the air, I'll post them next.

As a resident of the San Diego area for many years, she knows many people affected by this horrible event. She and her family are lucky ones.

Monday, October 22, 2007

San Diego Fires

My sister Ann lives in Leucadia, North County San Diego. It's hot, windy and overwhelmingly smoky there. My sister, wearing a bandana over her face, took her dog to the beach and walked to the post office and still suffered eye and sinus trauma.

Her kids' school has been cancelled for a few days now. She spent the day taking pictures of her house in case they are evacuated. She's close to the beach and so is hoping they'll be safe, but other parts of her city were evacuated today. Everyone's on alert.

Ann says there's a huge layer of ash, like a snowstorm blew in. Her sons went surfing and could see all the ash in the water. They're also busy trying to find a generator in case they have to evacuate so they can set up their X-box at the beach!

Friday, October 19, 2007

51 Birch Street

This movie is great. It reveals the truth of this family--and truths about all families--with brutal revelations and compassion.

We watched it the other night, and it's now one of my all-time favorite documentaries. It's the Uber home movie.

Wednesday, October 17, 2007

My Talented Sister

This is Ann, my talented knitting sister, holding one of her gorgeous creations.

Great purse, huh? Another one knitted by Ann. Love the colors!

Here are my nieces Hailey and Jenna modeling more purses made by Ann.

And here's Waxie, also modeling an Ann creation.

I'm bragging on my sister today for good reason. Check out Barrio Bags by the Sea to see more. (It's a family affair: my other sister, my mom, Annie and I all model too. )

Monday, October 15, 2007

Salman & Alice

Up next at the Center for Literary Arts is Salman Rushdie.

I hear he's a fascinating speaker, a funny guy and a "brilliant conversationalist." Of course there are people around the world who hate him, and people who love him. That mix is undoubtedly good for his literary career.

Salon did a good piece on him here.

He'll be at SJSU's Morris Dailey Auditorium on Thursday, November 8 at 7:30 p.m. Tickets ($25 general, $10 students) available at the SJSU Box Offie and Ticketmaster.


Next week I interview Alice Sebold. You still have time to float questions to me that you think I should ask her.

Friday, October 12, 2007

Be Audacious

Derided for her views that women needn't limit their lives to marriage and children, Doris Lessing has won the Nobel for Literature.

Derided as a has-been, an almost-ran, and a hyperbolic alarmist, Al Gore has won the Nobel Peace Prize.

Some days are good.

Some days we are reminded about the power of speaking our truths, of standing up for the "humane" in "humanity."

Wednesday, October 10, 2007

Guaranteed Rejection

If you aren't rejected enough as a poet, submit to The Futility Review to guarantee rejection.

Their Mission Statement: We are dedicated to the non-publication of the best works of the best poets in the English-speaking world. We value diversity and strive to include new voices in our evaluation process. Our goal is to provide a non-venue for all kinds of poetry and avoid the labeling of differing aesthetics. We eschew poetry politics and never let personal relationships enter into our decisions. The bedrock principle of The Futility Review is that any poet, no matter whether accomplished or beginning, will be rejected in the same open-handed manner.

Check out it out here--and don't neglect the links (especially the submission guidelines), which are hilarious.

Tuesday, October 9, 2007

Tips from Dorothy Allison

Dorothy Allison was amazing. Warm, funny, smart, real--all you'd wish for.

She gave an impassioned speech, urging us all to tell the stories that won't leave us alone, the ones we *must* tell.

(I don't think it's a coincidence that all weekend I spent spilling out page after page about my parents.)

She said rage and revenge are good emotion to spark a story, but they won't sustain the work.

Here are a few others things she said:

* The Missouri Review is publishing the best fiction these days.

* She encourages writers to publish with small presses (she did for 20 years before Bastard Out of Carolina hit the big time).

* (quoting Kevin, who took notes--thanks, Kevin): "She did much of her own publicity for Bastard by doing a bookstore tour in multiple cities. She feels this effort helped the book take-off. She went to on her own train ticket, sleeping on friends' sofas. She feels without this, the book would have not done nearly as well. The publicity department didn't help at all; indeed she was at risk, because the bookstores charge the publishers for these evenings. By the time the bills started coming in it was a hit, so she was okay, but she otherwise might have been personally liable as she'd gone out on her own. She said she'd 'cashed the ad check,' . . . to pay for her expenses, and she 'raced with her head down for six weeks,' which jump-started the novel's success. Later, when the book was a hit, for the paperback, they set up a very posh reading series, where they kept her at great hotels, but in the beginning she was all on her own."

* (quoting Kevin:) "She believes that, while the publishing houses provide 'editors,' they aren't very good. But the surprise was that she does believe there are a few good editors who have a special gift (with they eye, not the ear) who can be invaluable to a writer. She specifically mentioned three of them. The one she mentioned with most respect was Joy Johannessen, whom she thinks has been responsible for one major novel after another, especially in the nineties. . . . After Dorothy became successful, she requested that her new book be edited by Joy, to the tune of $25,000. The other two she mentioned were Sydelle Kramer of Susan Rabiner's literary agency, and Shannon Ravenel, associated with Algonquin Books and the Best American Series."

From the mouth of Dorothy to your ears.

Tuesday, October 2, 2007

Miley, Alice & Dorothy

I don't get this.
Does that make me old?

* * *

I have been asked to be "in conversation" with Alice Sebold onstage on Thursday October 25 at the San Jose Museum of Art. She has a new novel, The Almost Moon, coming out on October 16. I have a hot pre-pub copy in my hands and will be reading it after I finish re-reading The Lovely Bones and Lucky.

The Almost Moon is about a woman in her 40's who kills her senile 88-year-old mother. I'm not quite sure how I'm going to experience this, given that I'm in my 40's and my beloved mother has Alzheimer's.

If you have any questions you think I should ask Alice Sebold, please comment!

* * *

Tomorrow is Dorothy! We are all geared-up and excited.