Wednesday, October 07, 2015


Believe me, I know I have a pretty good life. I live in a beautiful place called Laurel Canyon. I get to see trees and birds and squirrels every day. I have two healthy, happy children. I have a cordial relationship with my ex husband. I have warm, kind, funny friends. I have work that I love and clients who are brilliant and chill. In Laurel Canyon the sun shines most of the time. [But we could do with a little bit of rain or even a bloody huge downpour for a few months]. The only thing that I sometimes think about, even as my three four-legged friends snuggle up to me in my bed at night and make noises that I consider affectionate, is being lonely. I have bored my kind and patient readers with this subject more than once. But, if I am honest I have to say that these last few weeks have been particularly crappy. It started with a dogfight. My dog started it as she is wont to do by barking furiously at the dogs on the other side of the fence. This time, they had had enough and they pulled us through the iron bars and proceeded to maul her. More foolhardy than brave, I leapt into the fray, and did exactly the one thing you are not supposed to do in a dog fight – put your hands in. I did. They got bitten. And after a visit to the emergency room for both of us we have puncture wounds [Both of us], broken bones [me] and a lost nail [lucky me, again].

Don't believe what anybody tells you, finger injuries hurt like a mofo. Stuffed full of Tramadol [both of us], we lay in bed together and moaned softly and pitifully. My two favorite things in the world are writing and riding and I can do neither. I am dictating this into my iPhone and hoping that I don't sound completely moronic.

On top of that, after lovely parents weekend spent in Maine, with my daughter and my ex-husband and various friends, a weekend filled with football games and beer pong and lobsters and L.L. Bean and laughing and staying at friends houses and visiting book shops in small New England towns and seeing old friends and eating pink lady apples fresh off the trees, I have come home cleverly with a miserable cold that has turned into gravelly voiced bronchitis, so that I sound like a distinctly un-sexy old man.

But, I am aware that while lying in bed at night and looking out at strange stars, or finding poems in the early morning when I can't sleep, or even driving to a Q&A with my client last night, down Sunset Boulevard, packed with cars driving too fast, or looking at the way the night comes early now as I sit at the dining room table and mourn the passing of summer, and whenever I feel even a little despair, I conjur up an image of the sweet man I have a little crush on and suddenly all is well and I have a silly smile on my face. It's so odd isn't it that even the thought of a wonderful person produces a warm and not unlovely glow, akin to the way you feel on bonfire night as a child when your hands are cold and it's slightly raining but somebody brings around the hot sausages on sticks and you can see the embers of the fire smouldering, with pictures in them. For the first time in quite a long while, and this may sound a little odd, it's easy for me to fall back asleep when I wake up in the middle of the night because I just close my eyes and think lovely thoughts and then everything is cozy and warm and OK. The world no longer seems menacing or even slightly scary. I said to him the other day, "it's nice to have someone in your corner" And it is. It may be nothing. It may be something. But today, with the ghastly broken finger and the voice that sounds like a coalminer and the prospect of spending 11 hours on a Transatlantic flight, absolutely nothing seems unsurmountable.

The second thing is I have discovered or re-discovered Robert Bly. Listen to this quote; "I am proud only of those days that pass in undivided tenderness."

(sent via voice dictation as my fingers heal, please forgive shoddy sentence construction and dodgy punctuation)

Monday, October 05, 2015

It's As If Someone Else Is With Me

It's As If Someone Else Is With Me

The dawn comes. Leaves feel it's time
To say something, and I feel myself drawn
To You. I know this is wrong.

To be drawn to You can cause trouble;
I do so against all advice, from that one
In me who saved me by keeping me alone.

I've lived in so many houses, where
You were not. If You became a dock
I became a boat and pushed away.

Those who are drawn to You become land
If You are land, or water if You are water.
I want nothing from You but to see You.

— Robert Bly 


Wednesday, September 23, 2015


"This grand show is eternal. It is always sunrise somewhere; the dew is never all dried at once; a shower is forever falling; vapor ever rising. Eternal sunrise, eternal sunset, eternal dawn and gloaming, on seas and continents and islands, each in its turn, as the round earth rolls." 

-- John Muir


Tuesday, September 22, 2015


I was thinking about being brave. I'm always bragging about how brave I am. But in reality, I'm a bit of a chicken. I gave up (sorry dear readers, I know it was amusing) on online dating because I couldn't stomach it. As I was telling my friend Lisa, who is a journalist and much better than I am at seeing the big picture, I was just too darn sensitive to weather all those people coming at you with their lascivious comments and their bad spelling. (And yes, I did go on very sweet and pleasant dates with some very nice men I met on those sites, but for the most part, it was one hell of a drag). I'm not brave. I'm a delicate little English flower that sticks to my comfort zones and misses the chalk and flint and clay of the Chiltern Hills. I am brave when it comes to horses but that's hardly bravery, it's more habit, and I'm brave in that I'll take on a fight for the underdog, but my fragile little ego is a tiny bit of a coward.

You see, I'm an evangelist: Love everyone. Love is the answer. #onlylove. Love not Fear...but can I tell you a secret? I am scared stiff of rejection. Love is easy when it's the universal kind, the Universe kind. The kind universe. My dogs are my solace. There is no stopping their unconditional outpouring of love.

As you all know, because it was well documented here, I was in love for a long time with a man who turned out to be incapable of it (at least with me; I do hope that he will find someone who is a better match) and my little heart was all torn apart and ragged.

And I'm selfish too. My friend, a very good friend, who has become somewhat estranged of late, is going through something, not a very nice thing, a divorce, and I realized that I was upset that she wouldn't talk to me about it. Do you know how many people I alienated when I was in the throes of the break-up with my children's father? I found myself spending all my time picking up my own pieces and trying desperately to put them back together before anyone noticed. And I dared judge my friend. I'm so ashamed of myself. She said "I'm barely hanging on." And it took me a whole day to process. Finally I called and left her a long, long message, apologizing for my selfishness. This is not for the faint of heart, this love stuff. Not at all.

We walk the precarious line between embracing our vulnerability, of opening up our hearts to possibility, and guarding our fragile little souls so carefully, so that we don't get hurt too much. We all want to feel that abandon, that glorious, warm glow of being in sync with someone else, of feeling something suddenly and knowing we're not alone it.

I said to the ex, the man in London, when we first started seeing each other, please be in this with me. If you're not, tell me. Of course, he said. Of course I'll tell you. But he wasn't, not in the same way. And so there you are, holding on to this big, fat feeling, and wandering what on earth to do with it. Where do you park it? How do you feed it?

You wake up every morning and take stock. How am I feeling? What good can I do today? Is the glass half full? Is the sun going to shine? Will today be the day?

The woman I had lunch with (and it was the first time we'd met) said, we're so lucky. Do you know how lucky we are. And her eyes filled with tears. And just for a moment I thought (and please, I know this is just a tiny bit ridiculous) this is an angel. I am sitting with an angel who is here to remind me to be grateful. And so, as you do, when dining with an angel, I wolfed down my salade nicoise and a whole half bowl of french fries.

Tonight it got dark early. Autumn/fall crept in when I wasn't looking. It's cooler. The owls are hooting even though it's only just eight o'clock. The spotted are asleep under my feet. It was a good day, filled with good work. Work is what keeps the gloom away. Work is the answer said the man in London, when we were an item. Work is the way to deal with melancholy and thinking too much. Work is what saves us. And I am very grateful for that. Now all I need are two strong, kind arms. But for the time being, twelve furry little legs are rather nice.

forgive our foolish ways

Monday, September 21, 2015

And then something happened

Not sure really what this is. To go from being alive and connected and buoyantly happy and feeling as if life is getting immensely better on every front. To glimpse real connection away from the isolation of alone-ness, to feel one's heart swelling (and all the things that goes with it, creativity, hard work, results, a feeling of belonging in the universe) and then something happens. Just a small thing, a misunderstanding, a hiccup, not much at all, but all of a sudden everything changes. Ephemera. And I am back inside the cocoon.

It's very hard to be vulnerable. I am terrible at it. But for a moment there I was. 

I suppose you lick your wounds and you move on. Right?

Matters of the human heart are not for the frail. 

Determined to be brave and strong and resilient from now on. 

(It doesn't help that it's about 80 degrees outside at 2.30am). 

It's that simple. Everything got much, much better. And then something happened. 

Tuesday, September 08, 2015

Just sleep

It's very, very hot here.
It's so hot now, at 9.50pm, that I daren't look at the thermometer.
I can hear crickets and the whir of the ceiling fan in my bedroom, with the occasional scratching of a dog.
I am lying naked on clean white sheets on my tummy, like a teenager, my laptop in front of me, feet in the air conducting an imaginary tune. It's too hot to do very much of anything although I've considered throwing myself into the pool, which is a nice, cool 72 degrees.
A good part of the last 24 hours were spent in an emergency room. First with Dotsie, my lovely lumpy old fifteen year old dalmatian, whose ear was downsized by a bite from the Frenchie, wherein my kitchen resembled a blood-spattered crime scene. Second with the bad, bad Frenchie who has been itching non-stop for days. We need to get to the bottom of this, goddamn it, I told myself I'd say to the vet. Instead I said, oh, it's awfully kind of you to see us, is there anything we can do?
The point of this is not to illustrate my dogs ailments but merely to show you that I've had very little sleep, if any, and so my perspective has shifted from blissful zen looking at the world as a wonderful place, to a slightly shifty-eyed, somewhat fearful, can't remember one's own name person. It's been such a long time that I even approached melancholy that I'd forgotten how one's shutter speed can slow down like that, how the whole lens gets squeezed and darkens. I had to look at the impossibly fluffy white clouds hanging over the San Gabriels as I drove back from the vet today to remember lightheartedness. It took a phone call from my favorite person this morning, who realized I was miserable, to cheer me, and to remind me that things are connected and those we are fond of care for us in return. There isn't much better in life, though, than waking up shaken, lacking in sleep, being close to loss (this is silly, I know, but the dog is fifteen, and frail and fragile and I had to sign a resuscitation waver that made me cry, at one in the morning, and I cried all the way home, because I just didn't want her to die there in that emergency hospital, with strangers), feeling out of sorts and unloved and alone, than getting a phone call from someone who noticed. Just out of the blue.

I'm not sure what I'm supposed to think or feel or be, ever, really. I just go with trusting, or trying to trust the universe, to lay out the path. And it has. I think I just need to sleep :)

School Prayer

In the name of the daybreak
and the eyelids of morning
and the wayfaring moon
and the night when it departs,

I swear I will not dishonor
my soul with hatred,
but offer myself humbly
as a guardian of nature,
as a healer of misery,
as a messenger of wonder,
as an architect of peace.

In the name of the sun and its mirrors
and the day that embraces it
and the cloud veils drawn over it
and the uttermost night
and the male and the female
and the plants bursting with seed
and the crowning seasons
of the firefly and the apple,

I will honor all life
-wherever and in whatever form
it may dwell-on Earth my home,
and in the mansions of the stars.

-- Diane Ackerman, via the wonderful Writer's Almanac


Thursday, September 03, 2015

Each Day Unexpected Salvation (John Cage)

Forest shade, lake shade, poplar shade, highway shade,
backyard shade, café shade, down-behind-the-high-school shade,
cow shade, carport shade, blowing shade, dappled
shade, shade darkened by rain above, shade under ships,
shade along banks of snow, shade beneath the one tree in a
bright place, shade by the ice cream truck, shade in the new-
car sales room, shade in halls of the palace as all the electric
lights turn on, shade in a stairwell, shade in tea barrels, shade
in books, shade of clouds running over a distant landscape,
shade on bales in the barn, shade in the pantry, shade in the
icehouse (the smell of shade), shade under runner blades,
shade along branches, shade at night (a difficult research),
shade on rungs of a ladder, shade on pats of butter sculpted
to look like scallop shells, shade to holler from, shade in the
chill of bamboo, shade at the core of an apple, confessional
shade, shade of hair salons, shade in a joke, shade in the town
hall, shade descending from legendary ancient hills, shade
under the jaws of a dog with a bird in its mouth trotting
along to the master’s voice, shade at the back of the choir,
shade in pleats, shade clinging to arrows in the quiver, shade
in scars.

-- Anne Carson via The New Yorker