Wednesday, March 27, 2013


My older son takes his road test today.

It is a man-boy who sits in the driver's seat next to me, intermittently chatting nicely and sharing his life with me, and barking at me and shutting me down.

This, I know, is normal.

In the driver's seat, he is not in control yet, grasps for it where it waits, intimidating and unsure, right beyond his fingertips.

He asks me for guidance as he changes lanes, merges, makes lefts against the un-coddling traffic.

Yes, it has all become a metaphor for his quest forward, and that limbo space where he still exists, between needing me and having to do it all on his own.

My older son takes his road test today. I am both essential and unneeded, at times merely a crutch. Pass or fail, he is moving on without me.

In the shower this morning, water ran down me in sheets, melted shampoo in my eyes, and slipped time beyond my reach.

The Persistence of Memory, Salvador Dali, 1931.
I have never been a huge Dali fan, but suddenly this image appeared, The Persistence of Time, its clocks useless, liquid mercury slipped through desperate fingers. I never noticed before how there is water in the background. Now this makes sense to me.

My son takes his road test today. Still, somehow, I managed to shower, dry off, brush hair, put on makeup, get dressed. Now, I stand at the computer, writing. What else is there to do? There's no holding on to time.

I know he is driving away.

- gae

Thursday, March 21, 2013

Two Old Love Poems

photo credit: Rick Kopstein
(with added help from the simians at Pic Monkey)

So, it's World Poetry Day, and my good friend Jim King got me thinking of the old poet in me.

The truth is, before I ever wrote books, my first love was poetry, though the last poem I wrote was probably in my mid-twenties.

After that, there was the law school phase and then the lawyer phase that I'm fond of saying, "sucked the creativity right out of me."

Then there were: marriage and kids, and the practice of law, and, ultimately, when I returned to writing, it was with the (daunting) hopes of writing a novel in mind.

There was The Jetty (agented, but never sold), Swim Back to Me (agented but not sold, with new life breathed into it -- maybe, maybe not, The Pull of Gravity (sold!) Frankie Sky now The Summer of Letting Go coming Spring 2014, etc.

But before all that, I wrote poetry.

It was my first love, and my friend Jim has sent me into a bit of a reverie. . . (bear in mind I was only 21... ;))


I breathe
heavy air blankets the up-down rhythm
clocks and other night noises
float to me
here            aah, settle
to Autumn patterns
                   play and remind
                   (play and remind)
and, hey, you're too big for my heart
these days

                   The fan
and hot covers stifle
as somewhere water drips
slow            one, two
the radio and other sounds turned on to drown out
the constant, hollow fall of wet

but the man tells:
                    gunfire where you are
like he's reading from cue cards through static

Somewhere, between dark and mourning
I wake to call you
through dry cracked lips and no sound
only your name in my ears
and, hey, you're too big for my head.

-gae, 6/21/85

Temptations in Blue

(when you close your eyes, he said,
                           think only of blues)

so tightly I do
that I am at once surrounded and carried off
to where we can be.

there, I float as sea upon sea takes me
                             (though I tell no one, I recognize it is the blue of your eyes)
                              and I am safe to fall back where
somewhere, between childhood and pain
it begins to break
                            and scatter
into icy-cold marbles that tease and elude my uneasy hands
the fingers left groping at angels' wings

I drift,
          where I resurface I am lightheaded and weightless
                             flooded by turquoise so brilliant it pulls me

I do not follow but hold
                             to the edge of a peacock's tail
its cobalt center
                             trembles and bursts
                             and silently folds
                             into green.

          where I cannot remain
but try to

- gae 8/13/85

Friday, March 15, 2013

The Fear Age

Say goodbye to me. I'm dying.

Well, at least according to WEB MD, I could be.

This is what happened.

Last night, I looked down and the skin on my shins was peeling. Like, flaking off completely. Both legs.

Now, sure, I might have gone to Florida a few weeks ago and overdid the whole sun thing. But my arms peeled weeks ago. This was not from that, was it?

Also, my right shoulder has been hurting like a motherfucker.

And, yes, I typically swim a bunch of miles per week and, yes, swimmers notoriously have shoulder issues.

Add to that the yoga I've been doing a few times a week. Those chaturangas can be bitches on your shoulders.

But I've taken a FULL WEEK OFF and I'm still hurting.

Come to think of it, my left shoulder is hurting, too.

And, there's still the hip bursitis that's now lasted for a few years.

In fact, all my joints are aching.

So, back to my peeling legs.

What the fuck?

I do the prudent thing. I go to the computer (my mind screaming, DO NOT GO TO THE COMPUTER!!) and I google skin peeling on legs.

It asks me (via my further search choices) "in sheets?"

Jesus, no.  

It asks, instead:

"skin peeling and dry eyes?"

Why yes, my eyes have been dry. Just the other day, I was complaining to my husband . . .


I have Lupus. Or at least, four other symptoms that match that disease.

Or, you know, some other tragic disease.

Now, the good news is, a. I have a dear friend with Lupus and b. she is, for all intents and purposes, an Iron Man. Okay, well, she's a half iron woman. But, she can do, and does do, anything. So, you know, if that's what it is, I will survive it.

But what if it's something else? What if . . . I'm dying?

We're all dying, I remind myself, trying to stop that snowball from rolling. From the moment we're born, we're dying. 

BUT, what if I'm dying NOW??

where I swim to find my calm. It's been four months since I've found my calm.
Just so you know, so you're prepared, if I am dying, I'm not going to be one of those graceful, positive people I wish I could be when faced with some tragedy.

I'm going to be a blathering, disastrous mess. Tears. Puking. Panic. Passing out. It's a well known fact that I'm a passer-outer.

I'm sorry. I'd like to believe otherwise, and I guess we can hold out hope. But we should be otherwise prepared.

And, I know I'm not alone in this fear of dying thing. My brilliant writer friend, Amy Ferris, has documented her own Post-WEB MD spiral hilariously and poignantly HERE.

In fact, I remember a neurologist telling me that it's quite common with mothers . . . that overwhelming fear we develop that we will die and leave our children too soon.

In good humor, I've had many a facebook friend confirm their own, daily morbid fears.

I also know it's not mothers alone. My dear friend Jeff, a father of four, jokes about the goodbye videos he's made for his children, with every WEB MD self-diagnosis he's made. In fact, he's made me promise to keep them, and dole them out year after year.

And, yes, I've agreed. Of course, of course, I have agreed.

Look, we laugh about it. We joke. But the truth is, we're all terrified.

We're all laughing through our fear and our tears.


In the middle of the night, I woke up hurting, all dizzy and reeling too. This has happened on occasion, too, over the past two years.

So, I've called the doctor and made an appointment. Hopefully, she'll tell me it's all nothing but age and fear and dry skin. The good old process of "getting old."

And, if that's what she says, I swear -- I mean, pinky promise, girl scout's honor, signed in blood -- it's the last time I'll google WEB MD.

- gae