It’s all in the frame

It’s all in the frame

It’s all in the frame. That’s what my friend Nan said when I told her about the car accident last week, the way I barreled into the intersection, the collapse of the cars, the older Asian man who emerged from his vehicle intact. It’s all in the frame, she said, how I stood there squinting into the bright Oakland morning sun holding my phone, texting the man I was supposed to meet for coffee, “You won’t believe this,” I tapped, how I then turned to the older man who was staring at his car dumbfounded, the way he turned to me, “why?” he seemed to be saying with his eyes. It was all in the frame. Impossible to take in, one minute at the stop sign deciding whether to turn right and look for parking or maybe go through the intersection… The moment of impact, the sound of it – sonic – two big cars colliding. How the man’s Subaru sat like a defeated animal on the side of the road – two flat tires pushed up against the curb, the passenger side of his car completely crumpled, airbags inflated. Later I’d be grateful no one was sitting in that passenger seat, that he’d left his wife at home before heading to Costco. It was all in the frame. The 911 operator who tells me that there are 192 emergency calls ahead of mine and that if there are no injuries to simply call our insurance companies. How the older man had forgotten his phone and that I called his insurance company for him. “Are you sure you want...
Solo Notes

Solo Notes

1. Almost all the sounds are yours. And the ones that aren’t – the dry crunch of leaves along the side of the house, they’re either animal or man. Man is the heavier step, the raccoon and the possum are more tentative, more low to the leaves. And if you’re scared, you can get out of bed, like you did last night and stand by the window, flicking on the outside light to watch a little mouse duck under your house. 2. Your ex-husband left you a woodpile, which you need to load into the wheelbarrow and stack in the wood bin. It’ll take some time, but the gift will be the way you’ll remember how to use your body, the way you’ll bend to pick up the pieces he split, tossing them into the wheelbarrow, which you’ll make too heavy, lifting the handles, and wheeling it over to the wood bin. You love this honest labor. 3. The pile has been there for three weeks, ever since he drove away to New Mexico, and while it’s true you haven’t had the time to get to it, you like looking at the pile sitting in the yard because it reminds you of this act of love – the way he rented the wood-splitter to split the wood from the dead tree that came down. 4. Your love language is service, and as long as you can see the pile, you can feel the love. Maybe this is why asking for help feels so intimate. 5. There are people to call for the jobs you don’t know how to do;...
Lemon Cheesecake

Lemon Cheesecake

It’s been hard to write full pieces this year, instead I must offer you the smallest things … The slice of lemon cheesecake bought on Friday to eat on Easter Sunday – in a white box in the refrigerator – and the way I cut the sheerest slices from it each night before Easter, before I went to bed. It’s me telling my daughter to come at 11, that I would make deviled eggs with jalapeño and bacon, that I’d pull together the lemon ricotta pancakes, and bring out the cheesecake. It’s the text I sent earlier in the week thanking the man for the date, and the second text I sent a few days later showing him how I’d used the details from our date in a writing lesson on details – which was really just me making contact. The way I named his sturdy, hip looking boots, how he’d picked up the check, ordered a mint julep and touched my shoulder when asking about my sisters. What I didn’t text him, but which was also true was How at the end of the date, as we were ending our walk at the top of my street, both of us masked, I told him that I’d had a good time – because I had – because it was easy and he was smart and he said he made his own bread. As I was saying my masked goodbye, no hug, no handshake, just me saying “let’s get together again.” It was the way I peeled away from him saying, “I’m a slow boat,” which were words I’d never...
I mean to make you a life raft

I mean to make you a life raft

One of the interesting parts of my work, and the work of anyone who works for themself, is sharing it with the world, marketing it. You can create a beautiful offering, but if you don’t let people know about it you’ll be the only one at the party. This is what I was thinking about a few mornings ago as I debated whether to share a new Wild Writing program I’d just created. The day before we’d all witnessed the spectacle of madness outside of the Capital building, and if you were like me, that was all you were thinking about. Still, for weeks I’d been preparing to launch this offering I was excited to share with people, and now I wasn’t sure if it were the right thing to do, whether it was tone deaf when all sorts of dark craziness had been unleashed into the world. There were more important things to focus on than creating a writing practice. I remember at the beginning of the pandemic, days after being told to shelter in place, I was getting the same emails I got all the time from clothing companies trying to sell me jeans, or furniture companies trying to sell me living room sectionals. There were discounts on skin cream and hair products, and I was like, what the hell, people, really? There’s an invisible virus out there and you want me to think about my skin? One thing that matters to me very much is paying attention to the world around me … I want my work to be a life raft in the midst of...
I Dream of Pie

I Dream of Pie

I wrote this entire blog post in my sleep this morning. Which is to say, I dreamed that I had to make all these pies – savory and sweet – for a wedding, but that I’d put the task off – probably because pie making intimidates me – all those special things you have to do get the crust right. To make matters worse, there was this big sack of pie filling leaning against the kitchen table that was on the verge of going bad, but in the dream, someone told me there was still time to make the pies, so I took a big breath and I baked. This was the blog post I was going to write, me telling you about the courage it took to make some pie. I woke up at 5am this morning to transcribe the story, and as I entered the kitchen, I realized there was no wedding, there was no pie making, there wasn’t even exactly a blog – there was just this dream that I thought was real. I honestly thought the whole thing had happened. I stood there for a minute lost in the gauzy fabric that separates real life from dream life, and it took me a moment to sort it out, me standing there in my kitchen at 5am in the gray morning light, my pajama bottoms sweeping the floor because they’d lost their elastic years ago. No pie to be seen. It’s been a year like that; the life before, the life now – how what seemed like a dream, an impossible way to live, has become...
Spooning with my Mother

Spooning with my Mother

Well, I finally got the courage to ask my 83-year-old Mother if she wanted to spoon with me in bed.  I’d been wanting to ask her to cuddle for days, ever since my daughter and I arrived at her house earlier in the week. My Mother’s house is small, perfect for one, with a little bedroom and an office. It’s bright and sunny with windows which look out into the garden. I was supposed to be sharing the fold out couch in the office with my 25-year-old, but it proved too tiny for two grown ladies. So after a few nights of tossing and turning, I headed over to Mom’s bed down the hall, which she shares with her two little dogs, Jack and Jackie. To this day I do not know which is which, but my Mother speaks to them as if they are her children. “You’re as close to human as possible,” she whispered to the fluffy white one just two minutes ago as I sat here writing, “but better,” she cooed. The first night I gingerly peeled the covers back on the far side of Mom’s queen-sized bed so I could slip in unobtrusively – almost like I was never there. My plan was to sleep and rise without messing up the sheets. Partly because I felt like I was intruding, but also something deeper, and which would take me a few days to understand. We’d come to L.A. to help her with some house projects, and to give her company during the pandemic, which she’d weathered alone with the dogs. We’d work in the garage,...