Wednesday, May 29, 2013

onions, babies

something about roundness and the shape of infant heads, papery onion skin and the sheen being somewhat similar to the reflective quality of flesh.

Tuesday, May 28, 2013

like martin luther king

it was the biggest gathering of people the world had ever known, but there was no hysteria or shoving or disorganization and considering the sheer number of human beings, even the collective din of their voices was not really more than the white noise from a waterfall. what was about to happen was change, big change. everyone was serious this time and everyone was really there. no more armchair activism. we finally understood that if we really wanted to eradicate corruption, lies and leaders that you thought were one thing but were really something else, everyone had to get their asses out there and see to it personally. it was now or never and somehow everyone had finally reached the same conclusion at the same moment. medgar evers was making his way through the crowd and i heard him say to his wife, 'he's like king, he's like martin luther king. oh baby, it's too late for us, but now i wish i was young again...'. i looked over to the man at the podium. he was eloquent and spoke with strength and clear intent and in that way he reminded me of barack, but he really was one of us and he was not lying for wall street, the military, the current government or the corporations. i remember thinking, 'there are so many of us, why didn't we do this before?' at that moment, i felt myself caught up in a moving cluster of people. the expressions on their faces told me it was no accident. they were military dressed as civilian. i tried to call for help and wave my arms but someone yanked my hands down and soon i was swallowed up by the throng of large men that surrounded me. we moved up a hill to a speaker tower. all the members of the old government were there and they were all disguised as real people. they kept telling me to change it back- to stop it. i laughed and said, 'i think you have the wrong person- i don't have any power here.' i could tell they wanted to kill me out of frustration on the spot but were afraid for their own safety if they did.

i remember thinking that earlier i had glued two pieces of wood together in my shop and i probably shouldn't have done that because it wasn't the right solution for my project. i realized i would have to take them apart and start over when i got back there.

Monday, May 27, 2013

sarah jessica parker

sarah jessica parker was on oprah, but it was the tonight show set. i somehow got stuck watching the taping and because i hate them both, i thought oh great, here's another two hours of my life i'll never get back. as i stood in the wings i felt surprised that sarah jessica parker was actually funny- self-effacing and seemed authentic. uncharacteristically for oprah, she mostly just kept her holier-than-thou dictates to herself and laughed at sarah and her stories so i almost forgot she was there. sarah was talking about what a hausfrau she was in real life and how no one ever recognized her when ever she went out to the grocery store etc. because she dressed like a bag lady. she would then pop back stage and change into her shopping outfits to illustrate the point. each one was funnier than the last and she kept saying, 'go ahead and laugh- i really wear this!' it was hilarious. as the segment was wrapping up oprah said, 'i heard you brought the twins with you, can they come out and say hi?' sarah agreed and soon the twins were carried to the stage by crew members. something seemed a little off and soon it became apparent that each of the twins had a  bone growth on one knee that looked like a jagged star anise and prevented the joint from moving. soon the audience grew quiet, but oprah and sarah wanted to leave it on a high note, so they started calling for more bag lady outfits be brought out for the twins. both oprah and sarah were wrestling clothing over the frozen limbs and laughing as though they could not see the horror of the situation. the twins were quiet and compliant. they stared at the audience as though it was nothing more than a black void.

Sunday, May 26, 2013

stick figure

i was a stick figure and i was rolling through the events and memories of my life. sometimes my circle face had expression in the form of two dot eyes and a line for my mouth, sometimes it was blank. i kept wondering who had drawn me and why my life had been so substantial since i was only a few simple lines.

Saturday, May 25, 2013

so. much. blue....

Friday, May 24, 2013

the white tent

he looked far too young to be a doctor- barely out of his teens. his skin was dark and poreless. his neck was thin and his build was slight- so slight, the heat of the jungle hadn't squeezed a drop of sweat out of him. in spite of the oppressive wet heat and his long journey on foot, his shirt was as white and crisp as if he had just stepped out of an air conditioned office. his thick rimmed glasses made him look studious and slightly surprised. all around us were the moans and labored breathing of those who had fallen ill and i felt my last bit of hope fall away when i realized all my desperate pleas to the ministry had been answered by a ragged line of porters being led by one small boy- barely a young man- to save an entire village of dying indigenous people. several of the skinny village dogs sniffed at him and then the large bundles that were being laid carefully on the ground by the porters. 'i need a place to set up my tent' the young man said to me. i pointed dejectedly to a piece of clear ground that had been tamped hard and clean by generations of dancing feet but no foot had touched since the sickness had come. i walked away and found a spot in the forest just out of earshot to sit on a log and cry.

all the blood-work and biopsies we had sent back to the medical center for months had been so badly mishandled and degraded by the heat and humidity that most had been useless. i had called in every favor i'd ever been owed, begged, pleaded- i even stooped so low i brought god into my pleas for help in the hope that fear of a smaller golden cloud castle in the 'after life' would inspire someone to action out of greed or guilt. my only prayer was that they had forgotten i was an atheist. anyway none of it mattered now because all of these people were dying from something unidentified (therefore untreatable) and there was no time left.

i wiped my face clean of tears and walked back into the village. the bright white tent had already been set up and the last of the supplies were being unloaded. the tent was... incredible. it was a fully outfitted lab and field hospital with enough room for several beds. i walked through the flaps of the tent and was almost blinded by the shiny newness of the equipment. 'but how...' i stammered. 'i found the bacteria. we've seen it before, but it has never jumped a species except in a lab. the international community thinks of this as ground zero. i can start treating patients in 20 minutes. we're certain the efficacy of our existing protocols will eliminate the disease in your indigenous population. of course we are expected to stay here and find the reason for the jump.'

almost overnight everyone was healthy again and the big white tent that had saved everyone's life soon became an elephant that no one could even see.

Wednesday, May 22, 2013


something that was complicated and included a lot of conversations about horses.

Tuesday, May 21, 2013

general store

something about a general store, a man and the south. he knew where all the items were on the shelves and rang them up seamlessly when customers came in to purchase. but something was off.

Monday, May 20, 2013

black cigarette

the big concern was the dogs; the house was great, but was on a corner lot and it had to be escape-proof or there would be drama in the form of loose dogs while I was at work. the back yard was perfect; tight as a drum, but the doggy door let out into the front yard which was wide open on the side next to the neighbors driveway. we were about to have a giant housewarming party and i needed the issue resolved or i would be chasing dogs all night instead of having fun. fatima brought over the 40 feet of accordion gate that i had loaned her and with the addition of a few strategically placed zip ties, the issue was resolved.

people started arriving and because it was new orleans, there was absolute spectacle with the drag of some of the guests. it was wonderful. i ran to get my camera and was soon capturing incredible images.i looked down and saw a worried little mabel at my feet as i stood in the street. the fat little corgi, peepa was all over the place. i had to stop taking pictures and sort the dogs out. it was irritating because i thought i had addressed that issue and i just wanted to meet people and have fun.

at that point, a criminal hotshot arrived. he thought he was dressed to the nines, but he was actually dressed like a corny pimp; matching hat/suit/shoes etc. i somehow found out that he had the intent to murder someone at my party. when he gathered up few willing girls to ride in his ghetto-fabulous car, i slipped in too hoping i could direct the journey permanently away from my house and keep everyone safe. he seemed to accept my presence and was soon complaining about his missing toe. one of the girls said, 'oh, you can have mine! it comes right off!' and with that she slipped out of her heel and began to twist at the base of her toe. i was repulsed and morbidly curious. the toe of course did not come off and she seemed truly surprised and frustrated. 'i'm sorry, i'm sorry...' she kept saying to the criminal. the criminal had feigned indifference but i saw that he'd kept one eye on the road and a sly eye on her struggle to detach her toe. 'whatever.' he said and went back to his driving. i could tell that he had wanted to see blood. soon we were loading out at some crappy little liquor store and he was shopping for long, thin, pitch-black cigarettes. i was sure it would wind up in a city-wide search that would eat up his night and he would forget all about my housewarming party. i was on the cusp of happily slipping out of the group and catching a cab back to my party when the skinny clerk magically produced them from behind the counter. 'shit.' i thought. soon we were all back in the car and heading directly back to my house. the smoke from his lit cigarette tasted like absinthe in my mouth and i was feeling angry. i understood that he had every intention of ruining my party. i was totally finished trying to finesse the situation. i thought, 'fine, fucker, i'm calling the cops when we get back to the house. they can show you the hard way.'

Sunday, May 19, 2013

darla and miranda

darla and miranda were trying to pull a fast one on me by skipping school. i had just bought a house in savannah, georgia because i was working there and had let them come with to finish up the end of the year so they could summer with me and get a taste of the south. i was working hard to get the house together before i didn't have any more time to do it and just trusted that they were where they said they were without paying too much attention to their exact comings and goings. one day i was outside painting the mail box and i realized it was too dark to paint anymore but the girls weren't home yet. i stood up and it dawned on me that this was the 3rd day in a row they'd slipped in later than they had reason to. just then they pulled in the driveway and as they got out of the car and moved toward the front door i could see they were just trying to slide in and act like everything was normal. i stopped them and began to question their arrival time and they totally tried to blow me off and continue on into the house. i said no, where have you been? they looked directly into my eyes though the gathering dusk and lied. they were totally united in their story and said they'd just been let out of school- and btw what was my problem? i was having difficulty wrapping my head around the fact that they were so plainly (and easily...) lying to me. it was like they were different people than i had known them to be since they were small and innocent. i kept flipping the pages in my mind trying to identify the moment they'd turned into assholes and wondered why i hadn't noticed it when it happened.

Thursday, May 16, 2013

matt leblanc, courteney cox & kathy bates

we were shooting an episodic, there were three cameras but no stage. i think we were in a house- a small house, a full crew and LOTS of equipment. the actors were moving from room to room and every time they changed position, the entire crew would have to scramble like rats not to be in camera range. everyone was piled on top of each other like laundry when they were not involved in the scene. i kept thinking, 'what a bunch of crazy fucking bullshit, wtf am i even doing here?'. just then the camera would swing around again and everyone would have to scramble to stay tucked in. at one point i found myself squished up against matt leblanc (who was my boyfriend). we were actually in the middle of a fight and i was still really pissed but since we were working i could only pause the verbal part of the exchange and bombard him with stoney silence. he was being such an asshole and kept hamming it up for the benefit of the other crew members and saying, 'c'mon, smile!' ensuring that our conflict did not remain private. every time he was on camera, he would intentionally fuck up the scene to make everyone laugh which guaranteed our time in the cramped quarters of the house would be prolonged. i was so over it. soon i was squished up against courteney cox (who was a close girlfriend) and she looked at matt and said, 'he's such an ass...'. i finally wound up in a room that was at least not in the middle of the action. kathy bates sat down on the couch next to me and said, 'my god, shandra, what are you doing here?' i answered her question with a dead stare that clearly said, 'i have no fucking idea...'.

Monday, May 13, 2013

broken instincts

we were about to go on tour but our piano player flaked so we were desperately trying to replace him. we were on our 3rd day of sub-par disasters when in walked a tall, beautiful and calm man. he sat down at the keyboard, looked directly at me and said, 'i know everything you've ever written by heart, you and i stand in the same place musically.' he then began to play the most lush, beautiful, soulful piano i had ever heard. the band came in after several bars and it was as though we had all been playing together forever. of course he got the gig.

as the tour progressed, he and i became closer. i thought, 'well, i guess i get to have one more great love in my life...' and i was happy just to let it unfold. we went from city to city all over the world- every show was better than the last and it was truly magical.

aside from our core crew, there was a revolving door of people who helped on the tour depending upon our location, but about 1/2 way through i began to notice the frequent presence of a slightly built, fey hipster. i was too busy to pay much attention, but one day i was walking down a hallway in a venue and i saw him making out with 'my' piano player. i backed out quietly and thought, 'wow, you just never know until you know...'. i stayed friendly with him but was careful to never be alone with him after that. about 2 weeks passed and i heard someone pounding out 1970's pop glam rock on a piano. i followed the sound and soon stood in the shadows watching my former lover give a passionate performance of the bombastic but vapid piece to his boyfriend. it was clear that this was the music that totally inspired him. i was blown away. i could not understand how my radar had been so off about this guy. on a personal level, i had been wrong before- but my music? never. at that moment he spotted me and jumped from his seat running toward me. i turned and walked away from him saying, 'no worries, it's cool, just be who you are.' he was pleading with me, 'no, don't you understand? i want to marry you!' i could not even respond it was so crazy. i just laughed and shook my head as i held up my hand for him to keep his distance.

we finished the tour to standing ovations, but for me there was no satisfaction.

mariel hemmingway

i was excited to be going and it was fun that the whole house was packing up but i was worried about my grandmother. she kept saying 'go, go', but i could tell she was just being brave. i was organizing my possessions trying to figure out what to take and what went into storage and i remember feeling surprised that i had so many vintage hand blown glass pieces. they were so beautiful all sitting on the table and the hardwood floor. the light shining through them from the window made a pool of light that was so liquid i wanted to lose myself in it. i kept thinking about africa and how i had always talked about the day i would go with longing and awe, but now with my grandmother so old and the house i grew up in so familiar and beautiful, i was rethinking my plan. i knew i would not see my home or treasured things for a couple of years, but i was worried i would never see my grandmother again.

as if she was reading my mind, i felt her cool, soft hand on my shoulder. 'my darling, this is a wonderful thing and you need to do it.' as she spoke, she pressed into my hand a note of passwords wrapped around a safety deposit box key. 'i have enough money for the trip' i said as i tried to push the bundle back into her hand. 'no, this is for you... for always.' i understood then that she was giving me my inheritance and i started to cry. 'don't be sad, she said. am i in your heart?' 'always.' i said through my tears. 'then that is the important part of the story. go to africa and see everything we've talked about. i want to see it again through your eyes when you write to me. now pack. this will all be here when you get back.' i nodded and hugged her with all my might.

as i ran down the hall, i saw a tall homeless woman. it was mariel hemmingway. her skin was brown and thick, cracked from the sun. her hair was thin and the color of straw, there were dirt and twigs entangled in it as though she had been sleeping on the ground. 'what do you need?' i asked. she began to undress in answer to my question. i need these washed she said as she kicked her clothing toward me. i saw that she had strange 'undergarments'. a collection of carefully knotted once white pieces of muslin that were now stained with urine and old blood. i took up the bundle and led her to the bath. i ran the water, gave her soap and shampoo, made a quick check that there was nothing she could hurt herself with and went to tell my siblings.

as her clothes washed and mariel soaked in the bath, my brothers and sisters bubbled with the news of her arrival and had decided that she would be the perfect person to stay with grandmother in our absence. i protested but they shouted me down and told me i was selfish. i watched as they got mariel out of the bath, dressed her in a clean cotton gown and put her in bed next to my grandmother. 'see?' they said 'it's perfect '. my grandmother was quiet. mariel was grinning but it was more like the grimace of a chimpanzee who has been 'taught' to smile. in her eyes i could see a deep madness.

i stopped packing, finished washing mariel's clothing, fed her, redressed her and sent her and my siblings on their way.

Thursday, May 9, 2013

juan martinez

juan martinez was a brilliant prosecutor but his personal life was a mess. he had been living with a woman and her 8 year old daughter since the girl was a toddler. he adored them both, but his work was the thing he was married to and if there was a big case, he would never make an effort to squeeze in family time for birthday, holidays (or school recitals). soon the woman gave him an ultimatum about rearranging his priorities but since he was in the final phase of prosecution of a felony murder case, he sadly packed up a suitcase and left. the woman was crying and i was the woman, but in my dream i did not want to hurt that much so i became the girl. the girl was filled with a thousand questions about what she could have done differently to make the only father she had ever known love her enough to stay. in my dream that was too painful as well, so i became the family dog. i knew i was a silver weimaraner because while the girl was sitting in front of a mirror on her bedroom floor drawing pictures she hoped would change the situation, i came up to her and put my paw on her hand. the girl smiled and in return put her hand on my shoulder as thanks. after that i traveled through the house in my dream as a silent observer. like always, the woman readied the house for the holidays in an effort to give the girl comfort, but even though all the pieces of the holiday house looked warm and perfect, there was a sadness because juan was not there. the woman exchanged strained and brief telephone conversations with jaun, handed the happy child the phone and then would go into another room to quietly cry. i tried to cuddled them or give them my ball to throw to take their minds off their sadness, but really, there is only so much a dog can do and in the end it did not lift the sorrow more than a tiny bit, even then it only lasted a few moments.

on christmas eve, a few hours after the woman and her daughter had finished their dinner, opened a couple of small gifts and were sharing a bedtime story by the light of the yule tree, the doorbell rang. it was juan. he was wearing his suit from court that day, but his tie was pulled down and around his neck rested a poorly wrapped christmas wreath with a crumpled bow. he looked silly and vulnerable. the child ran to the door and pulled him in. he wrapped his arms around them both and they all slid to the floor in an emotionally exhausted pile. i watched and wagged my tail tentatively. jaun cleared his throat and with some difficulty said, 'you're right, i need to be here for you both first. i'm sorry and i will do better at making that a priority.' the woman and the little girl cried and smothered him with happy kisses. i went and got my ball and tossed it to jaun. he threw it again and again.

Tuesday, May 7, 2013

men with clubs

i was watching men with clubs train other men with clubs. they kept slapping the clubs on the palms of their hands. they were circling the base of a mountain. the mountain was beauty. starting at the base, all the workers were picking it clean to bare rock and then scraping all the beauty from the rock itself. the workers were in rags and thin. many were children. they seemed fearful of the clubbed men and would sneak glances over their shoulders as the men passed. the men would catch a glance here and there and return it with a threatening look and a harder palm-slap with the club. one of the new recruits seemed unable to let go of his gentle side and was looking at the workers with compassion. the other men laughed at him cruelly to toughen him up. i remember thinking that he would not be able to hurt anyone.

Saturday, May 4, 2013

abandoned house

 i was walking with kady and we saw that a house that had been filled to the brim with a fringe religious 'family' (a billion dirty kids, dozens of haggard and unsmiling 'wives' and only one bombastic and didactic man...) now looked to be empty. all the doors and windows were thrown wide open and there were large mountains of trash spilling from the windows and strewn about the yard. as we drew closer, it became obvious the 'trash' was actually just everything they had owned- most of it brand new. it looked like they had merely emptied the contents of the house out of every opening and then left into the night. as we walked around the house we could see into it and it was completely vacant. we examined pile after pile and were surprised to see that most of what had been discarded was name brand, higher-end merchandise; kitchen-aid appliances, hawkins and smith garden furniture, clothing (most with tags still on) from saks, neiman's and barney's. the biggest pile was a 7 foot ski slope (emanating from one of the higher windows) of jeans (all new and seemingly clean and unworn); levis capital e, seven for all mankind, ernest sewn, apo, gucci, escada.... the list was endless. for some reason, neither of us had the instinct to touch anything with our hands and instead were lifting the pant legs out of the pile with sticks like limp indigo spaghetti strands until we could see the brand. it was incredible that all these items were 'luxury' brands since all we had only ever seen the cult members wearing old, faded ugly flour sack-like coverings that obscured every detail of their body. kady and i looked at each other and i knew we were sharing the same creeped-out feeling. i poked the pile one more time and it began to undulate like denim water. as soon as the movement had subsided, kady poked it and this time the entire pile seemed to come alive. we both backed up- not yet ready to run because, well, what the hell WAS that? we stood far enough away that whatever was in the pile couldn't grab us and watched as the movement slowly calmed to one small roiling point on the very edge. kady and i looked at each other and without exchanging words were trying to decide whether to run or stay. suddenly something began to poke out from underneath the pile. kady and i grabbed hands, kind of crouched and not taking our eyes off the spot, turned our bodies away so that we could escape as soon as we had our curiosity satisfied. just as we were both losing courage to stand there one more second, a little pink pig snout poked out and started making cute little baby pig noises. we both ran to the pile and helped him out. he looked thin and hungry but seemed vigorous. as we examined him, we saw a giant worm sticking out of his chin. i used a leg from a pair of the jeans and tried to gently pull it out, but it just broke off and retreated back into his chin. we found a clean towel, wrapped him up and drove him to the vet. on the way we were both laughing and saying, 'well, i guess we have a pig now!'.