Wednesday, June 30, 2010

Wednesday Nite in the Suburbs

Camera in hand I went to Dan and Nicole's tonite. The great photo I took of Nicole -- only 44 more days left -- failed to materialize so we'll content ourselves by looking at Grace Catherine's father. We sat on the couch watching my new favorite show -- Criminal Minds -- we watched two gorey fantastic episodes -- and at one point I put my arm around my baby blue-eyed boy, shown here in his daughter-to-be's colorful room.

Dan comforts the new cat after his overnite stay at the vet's for an unknown infection. The Little Fellow is quarantined in the basement in case he's contagious. Careful, Mom, said Dan, when I petted him, he's got his claws.

Something wonderful about these TV photos. Here we have the great Joe Montegna in Criminal Minds. His grand opus was as a con man in House of Games, co-written by my college friend Jonathan Katz. He and Mamet walked around the room trading dialog that turned into the movie.

The new Settlement Music School being built on Davisville Road in Willow Grove, PA. Don't you love the cerulean blue color? Buildings are too drab. Wish they would keep it this color.

Yes, more pictures of our trip to the Big Apple mysteriously surfaced in my shiny little silver box known as a camera. Here's Peggela of Peggie's Boutique in Langhorne, PA, sharing fashion tips with Alice, Fontaine and aunt Marie.

Here's Tracey at a table for 15 at Carmine's. Kathy, not shown on the right, brought her own bag of strawberries, perhaps a first at the restaurant. BYOS?

No one is safe in Criminal Minds tho this little girl barely escaped. The acting on the show is superb. Do you know we all act? We all speak in dialog every single day. I told Dan we had a really dramatic meeting at New Directions last nite.
I was sitting in a small group, mildly troubled by an increasingly belligerent young man, when the sobs of a young woman rang across the cavernous room.

The next day, today, I worked about six hours following-up on the explosive events, settling the dust. My music? The Koln Concert, of course, which I lowered each time I got on the phone. Sustenance? A spicy chicken noodle zoup I made with chunks of veggies and brown rice.

No wonder I needed a nice vacation and went to Dan n Nicole's to watch the calming blood n guts series called Criminal Minds, which I'd never heard of before. Dyou think they'll let me return next Wed nite to watch it again? I was awfully good & barely asked any questions.

One thing I learned about taking pix. When my eye lingers on something, snap the fucking! Cuz that means it's gonna be a good shot. See, I was passing that g'dam blue building day after day and finally I said to myself, Do it now before they paint over that gorgeous blue.

We have a part inside of us that gives us orders. What's it called, Freud?

Freud: The chief dispatcher, Ruthie.

RZ: Oh, thanks a bunch, Dr Freud. I read your abridged bio by Ernest Jones but can't remember nothin.

Freud: Call my secretary in Vienna, you'll make an appt and lie down on my couch and we'll talk about it.

RZ: Really?

Freud: Yeah, bring your checkbook.

RZ: Dyou take credit cards?

Tuesday, June 29, 2010

Keith Jarrett's Koln Concert, 1975

Keith Jarrett, jazz pianist, born in Allentown, PA, in 1945. I wonder if they sent him a Medicare packet like they did me. I'm too scared to open mine. Paperwork. Hate it.

I bit the bullet. I bought the Koln Concert which, according to Wiki, is the largest selling jazz album ever. I hate buying things. As I said in my famous poem, whose name I can't remember - oh! People from the Midwest -- we like people more than things. With the exception of my mother who likes people and things b/c things remind her of people.

Within 20 years my kids are gonna throw out everything I own. Even the word 'own' is onerous to me. Why is that? And owning a piece of property, the cornerstone of the American dream,is the most ridiculous thing of all. Tell me, do I own the air over my property? The rain when it hits the ground?

The pianist Keith Jarrett came to my attn when my son/law Ethan Iverson did a brilliant interview with Jarrett. He may even have gone out to Jarrett's huge estate somewhere in New Jersey. Yes, I believe he did. When I visited Ethan and Sarah I asked which Jarrett tunes I should listen to and he suggested the Koln.

I forgot about it until I read, as I often do, my blogroll to the Right of this site. I list various things there so I won't forget them. Sure enuf, there was the Koln Concert and finally I said, You must have it. It will enhance your life.

What is the test for purchasing things? Luxury items like CDs. A girl needs to relax and to think. What I'll do when it arrives via Amazon is put it on my downstairs CD player and listen to it when I fall asleep. I can't for the life of me turn on the damn TV set. Fortunately there's never any good shows othan Turner Classics.

I do most of my writing up here in what was once the dining room. It's got a b'ful fancy chandelier over my head.

Don't tell anyone but I'm killing time now until my bread comes outa the oven. Then I'll go swim at Ada's pool.

Lemme say a word or two about being in the mood to do things. I have a unique capacity to do things when I'm not in the mood. My god, who feels like baking a bread today? Certainly not me. It needed to get done so I picked up the telephone and called some people to keep me company while I baked it. You know, you get your hands all yucky from the dough, the table gets messy. But you do it.

Had a very interesting phone call last nite from a woman who's had intractable depression for 20 years. Meds do not work. "Have you ever thought of getting ECT?" I asked her.

Surprisingly, she said No. Not even her doctor suggested it to her. Believe me, depression is terrible. This woman can't do a fucking thing. She can't work. She has a really good husband and a teenage son. If it were me, I'd look into shock treatments. I added a bunch of stuff to our New Directions website about shock therapy.

I was put here on earth for the following reasons:

- to give birth to Sarah and Dan
- to think
- to use my powers of enthusiasm to help show people the wonders and grandeur of the world
- to use my altruistic gifts
- to be the best responsible hedonist I can possibly be

PS - Thought you might enjoy seeing what a Nice Rejection Letter looks like:

Thank you for your query. Although your novel sounds provocative and memorable, I'm afraid it's not a good match for my list.

I do appreciate you thinking of FinePrint and me and I wish you luck with your work.

All best,
Meredith Hays

Meredith Hays
FinePrint Literary Management
240 West 35th Street, Suite 500
New York, NY 10001

I always have trouble with people named Meredith. Oh, well! Here comes another letter from a woman named Victoria. Let's see how she rejects Lil Ruthie.

Dear Author, Please forgive this impersonal note. We receive a tremendous number of query letters and are forced to focus our attention on a limited number of projects. We regret that we must decline the offer to review your work. We encourage you to keep writing and we wish you every success. Sincerely, Victoria Sanders

Sunday, June 27, 2010

A few words about God

Look, I have no idea if there's a god or not. But sometimes I get to thinking about it. Like a couple minutes ago. Here's the situation. It was night. I drove Scott to the train station and then came back to his house so I could finish watching The Postman Rings Twice, the great John Garfield-Lana Turner B&W film. After I finished I realized I was hungry so I went to my house next door, wearing my white nightgown and sandals, and popped some popcorn. Then I put some cut-up watermelon into a bowl and carried the food back to Scott's house where I'd spend the night.

And then I saw the fireflies. They were flashing all over the sideyard and the backyard. Stunning. Just stunning. I ate a few handfuls of popcorn and watched the firefly show. Better than television.

And then I remembered God. Several years ago when I was still on psychiatric medicine, I had what I believed was an intense personal relationship with the Lord. It's hard now to remember what it felt like but I was somewhat of a proselytizer, which isn't unusual for me, cause if I like something, I'm gonna tell you about it.

I turned God into a good friend of mine. A kind father who loved his Little Ruthie beyond all measure. Whatever happened to me was his will. His will, not mine. Yes, I got caught up in that trap, I fell for it, the Calvinist predestination trap. Why me? Thank the lord I saw the light and got myself outa the mire of he's-got-the-whole-world-in-his-hand and he loves ya.

My religiosity culminated with the poem Thank you for waiting until I found You, you, of course, meaning God, the Lord of the heavens, Zeus, Woden, whatever you wanna call him. And then, just like that - with a snap of the fingers - I couldn't get it up anymore for the Lord. Try as I might.

But neither can I entirely write him off.

I think spirituality runs deep in my own DNA. My mother and my late father are devout Jewish nonbelievers who take up the prayerbook, as did their parents. Where was god in all this? Why can't we feel him and other people can?

I'll never forget a young man who came to our writing group. He was an intellectual and said he became a Christian b/c he couldn't live in a world of such chaos unless there was a divine force and a Jesus guiding the universal order of things.

There is no one who could ever argue the case for god or against god to me. It's something only I can decide for myself. I am swayed by NY Times editorials on many things but on the god front a gal has to decide for herself. If in fact there were a god, it might be the sweetest feeling in all the world, like a cool breeze coming through the window, rustling the curtains and then brushing your cheeks and your hair. That would be god.

Essentially, as I said to my friend Rob one time, God is everywhere, the whole universe is a manifestation of his actions, for it is a living breathing expanding universe.

Does he care about the individual? Only yesterday I was thinking, He cares about the individual when it's millions of us over millions of know, the species, the generations begetting generations of more homo sapiens, but I don't think he cares a whit about how I spend my time as long as I'm true to my other words, that I use my talents and gifts, inclding singing and dancing and practicing altruism, which are all innate qualities that are borne out in various brain regions, we must practice those things that make us uniquely human.

So, you see, when that tree limb killed the baby in the Central Park Zoo, God was not thinking of the baby, little Gianna was one of those dreadful sacrifices that can ruin lives but in the long run, the species isn't nicked at all. Same with the Afghan war. Families are devastated, destroyed, but the long brave trail of life goes blissfully forward, never stopping to count the bodies tossed to the side of the road.

And meantime the fireflies do what they are coded to do...their flashing lights attract mates so these lively complex creatures that light up the darkness can fulfill their shortlived drama under the stars and the trees and the watchful eye of god, maybe.

Saturday, June 26, 2010

Manic depressives swing into Manhattan

Hagey Coach driver Bob Harmer was our affable driver from Montgomeryville Mall to Manhattan, a trip of about two hours. Since my sister Ellen and I sat in the first two seats -- for a great view -- we got to ask lots of questions like Why aren't buses allowed in the left lane and Have you ever gotten a ticket (no - and he doesn't drive in the left lane when it's not allowed).

Fifteen of us from New Directions went to see the 2010 Pulitzer-prize winning musical drama Next to Normal. The ladies needed tissues for this emotional roller-coaster of a bipolar woman whose family is devastated by her illness. Funny, poignant, high drama, real life. The small cast included the gentlemen below who came out the stage door onto Schubert Alley after the play where the audience photo'd them and asked for their autographs....

He played the loving husband who was loyal to his wife as the rigors of her illness assaulted her

See, you can't really tell if he's an actor or if it's our own Larry Kirschner who helped choreograph the trip with his wife Helen (our former Mall Queen who now runs the Giant talks)

This young man played the son Gabriel, who died at age 8 months. He lived in the mind of his mother, however, reminiscent of the faux child in Whose Afraid of Virginia Woolfe.

Over 90 degrees at Times Square today but so cold in the Booth Theater our teeth were chattering. According to our playbill, the theatre took in a record no. of $$$ -- something like half a million -- during several days' performances of Next to Normal. The theatre was only half full today so we all moved and got better seats.

Fontaine from our Family Member Group, every bit as saucy as her photo

Ah, here's Helen now, the coordinator of our trip. Helen and Larry are avid theatregoers. I understand why. Scott and I watch a lot of movies. We love our Turner Classic Films, our films noir, and graceful B&Ws of women in long gowns trailing along the screen. BUT it all takes place as in another room and far far away.

The theatre is right there! Immediate! Loud! In your face! The audience is part of the action. We are not so much viewing it as we are participating in the drama.

As soon as we go off the bus we noticed the e-n-e-r-g-y of the city, the pulse. It was thrumming in low key as we walked to our restaurant for a wonderful lunch at Carmine's. A huge black man in a wheelchair was begging for money but was very polite. People in the Big Apple are tremendously courteous. You've got throngs of people yet they give way to let you through, they obey traffic signs, and share the sidewalks. This takes a high degree of social cooperation to navigate such complex tasks and find the rhythm of the city so you can cross the street and follow your Bipolar Brigade.

Another movie star from the play. I remembered when I got Carrie Fisher's autograf from her one-woman show Wishful Drinking. A thrill to stand next to her, but did I really want her autograf? No. It sat at home, blurry from the blizzard we had that day, and then two months later I threw it out. New rule: No autographs please, tho, I do have facsimiles of two letters wrin by A. Lincoln, as he signed his name.

A word about Carmine's restaurant. Never, and I mean, Never, have I had such delicious salads. What did they put in the dressing? We had two different types and we couldn't stop raving about them. We shared the fare in the main meal -- eggplant parm, mannicoti, and a pasta mushroom chicken dish -- all of them superb.

Price for all of us including tip? $18. Figure that one out!

We planned our trip on Valentine's Day, four months ago. A few of us were sitting at SweetBytes Cafe in Ambler, PA, and Ron Abrams announced he and his dtr saw a terrific play.

We'd never planned such an event like this before. One that cost lots and lots of money. Not everyone could go. People are raising families and didn't have the extra moolah. But we did it!

The Lincoln Tunnel is a true wonder. Think of all the portals leading to NYC - the tunnels and the bridges. Larry Kirschner wondered, What made New York the great city it is, and not Philadelphia? Or Boston? Or DC? Now somebody knows the answer to this Q but it isn't me. Why New York?

Oh, I just thot of something. Ellis Island is right there. Settlements rose up all around New York. Jews. Italians. Irish. Germans. Could that be it, Bartleby?

We bid goodbye to the hazy city until we meet again.

Friday, June 25, 2010

Big day in Hatboro PA / Poem: The Visitor

The former home and beauty salon of the late Carroll Beame. He was a friend of mine who died at age 96 in his front room. He believed he would meet his beloved wife Florence in the Afterlife.

Carroll's splendid garden spilled over into the parking lot next door and the Hatboro post office out back. His twin sister Caroline lived just around the corner. She died a few weeks before he did. Both widowed, they visited each other daily.

See these beautiful pink snow peas growing thru the fence? Carroll gave me an envelope full of seeds and they're blooming right now in my backyard garden. My friend Marcy Belsh, formerly of Susan Road in Northeast Philadelphia, once transplanted wild sweetpeas from the field behind my house into her Philly garden, quite a feat, since wildflowers are notoriously difficult to transplant.

Carroll's house from PJ's bar across the street. Hiccup!

That morning I stopped in State Rep. Tom Murt's office with a bag of clothes and cosmetix I've been collecting for their quarterly shipment to Iraq. Tom had been in the army reserves & called up for active duty several years ago. He served in the war but never forgot the Iraqi people.

"We never should've been there in the first place," he told me at the retirement party of Lillian Burnley, former director of the Upper Moreland Public Library. (As you remember, Lillian is my muse in the kidney dialysis department, and is doing quite well.)

Only today, I had a Letter to the Editor published in the Bucks County Courier Times. It was about honest government. Be sure to read the comments on the bottom of the article. I sent an email notification of the Letter to both State Rep. Tom Murt and State Sen. Stewart Greenleaf, both of whom were kind enuf to acknowledge my email.

When I handed the bag of used clothes to Heather in Murt's office she said she sponsors a fundraising event for our soldiers in the ongoing foreign wars to supposedly keep our country free. A friend of hers was just deployed to Iraq as a helicopter pilot.

Ironic that last nite I ate at a Vietnamese restaurant after we destroyed their country...but not their spirit. I actually envisioned our darling waiter, a young man w/a spiked hairdo crouching down and running thru the fields throwing grenades.

Vat a vurld, she said in Yiddish. At least the grapes are sweet.

The zoup I ordered at Pho and Beyond was enough for 4 servings. I brought the extra over to my friend Walter's. We heated it up with a little mahi-mahi for extra nutrition. Walter had never tasted anything like this sweet zoup, which my son said tasted like dessert. Apparently it's the Vietnamese national dish and was replete with meat.

After our repast, Walt and I sat in his living room and talked for 2 hours.

Walter, I said, I'm gonna listen to what you say, but I'm gonna close my eyes.

Sure enuf, I fell asleep in the easy chair.

Walt and I were both celebrating our birthdays. Today I turned 64.5, and yesterday Walt became 91.5. He and I always wonder if I would've become his fourth wife if I were in my 80s.

Down the elevator we went to the scintillating pool. I was gonna remove my contact lenses in his apartment but decided I wanted the full view of the pool and accouterments. You DO know how I love a good pool.

When I saw this view I was ready to jump in and swim, but ran to get my camera. What colors! What movement! What promise of a swimmingly good time.

I swam laps for half an hour. Never have I had such a great swim. It was like swimming in a huge warm bathtub. Everytime I came up for air, a cool breeze brushed my bald pate. (I have very thin hair.)

Happy Half-Birthday Lil Ruthie! I'm in my Cleopatra headdress.

Ruthie and Walter. One time I wrote Walt a letter telling him he was one of the most remarkable people I've ever met. He read every word of the letter over the phone to his niece Sue, then residing in Bristol, PA, his hometown. Sue was a troubled woman who died like Anna Karenina. Walt was good to her, very good to her, and we grieved over her death.

After my swim, I went back upstairs to change.

Looky here, I said to Walter. I just happened to bring my latest poem. You wanna hear it?

Sure, he said, sitting on the couch while I pulled out two typewritten pages and adjusted my reading glasses.

After I read it, Walter laffed. You've got so much in there, he said. So much to think about.

Yeah, I said, but do you like it?

They put stuff like that in the New Yorker, he said. Send it to the New Yorker.

They don't accept unsolicited poetry, I said, remembering my first mania when I called up the New Yorker on the phone. I made dozens of phone calls that day, February 14, 1984, one of them to the Marion Locks Art Gallery where I said to the secretary, "Marion is expecting my call."


When I looked in the mirror
in our nation’s capital
I saw an american girl
with the same jewish eyes
as I wore back home
puffy now
from an unknown allergen
don’t tell me I’m allergic
to all the people mine eyes did see
mr bezwada on the amtrak going down
a ‘polymer chemist’ – what’s that? –
oh, you’re traveling to the patent office
- again – for an inner body contraption
to make us whole again
- do we really deserve it? -
your wife keeps the books
and cooks with curry
I lick your patchouli smell off my tongue

Have you seen the tall postal museum?
did you even know there was one?
security guards thick as pigeons
on the sidewalks of DC
hello, sir, where’s the ladies room?
make a u-turn, he says, doffing his cap,
go under the arches, you’ll see it then,
take care, he says, seeing me off from his podium
and I wave when I come back
drying my hands in the air

a confessional poem?
what’s to confess?
my intense love for Thee?
the sun knows all.
the moon enters my bedroom at night
through a single window
and makes my swollen legs
light up
now I remember
neighbor bill has emailed
there’s an orgy of lightning bugs
in the backyard

I slip on my robe and stand on the backporch
late for the show
but they don’t mind
I go out to meet them on the grass
cascades of them
passing like nations across the night sky
crisscrossing like the planes in the
air and space museum
missionaries of higher truths
I still aspire to
I hold out my arms like jesus
americans all of us
stung deep and hard
with the blood of life
blinking all thousands of us
nations unto ourselves
on and off
on and off

Thursday, June 24, 2010

Vietnamese interlude plus a literary bite

Dan and Nicole were trying to decide what to do for dinner when I called. Half an hour later we met at Pho and Beyond, a new Vietnamese restaurant in the neighborhood. I discovered the place at my Coffeeshop Writers Group and have been craving one of their delicious meals. Dyou think I'm pregnant?

My blue-eyed boy was up with the birds this morning to go to work and install a new billing system for his company. Boring work, he said, all math, but he and his 3-man team worked for two months to get the thing working. Unfortunately, there were some unforeseen kinks since they couldn't test it out but figured it out and will re-launch next week. That's my boy!

Nicole finished teaching at Willard -- see Dan's T-shirt -- on Tuesday and is reading her way thru the 51 days left in her pregnancy, not that we're counting. She said, I just wanna meet my daughter!

I drove all the way out to Roxborough to swim in Nancy's condo pool. As we approached it, I said, Ah! My favorite smell: chlorine. Like Pavlov's dog, I get excited when I see the blue of the photo. If you drive by my house late at nite you'll see me gazing with longing at the photo of the pool on the blog. Remind me to paint my own David Hockney-style pool picture. In fact, I've just put it on my To-Do list.

I picked these lovely hydrangea not b/c they're featured in the classic film The Manchurian Candidate but to give my mom and Nancy across the street.

So how come they're still sitting here?

Um, er, gulp, uh.

Excuses, excuses! You'll take em over tomro w/o fail or else you won't be allowed in Jean's pool. Fer-shtay?


My writing teacher Nicole Bokat instructed me to contact 40 literary agents. So late at nite, over a bowl of popcorn and grapes, with my eyes totally blurry from exhaustion, I sit with the radio on and send out email query letters. You read each agent's website and taper a letter to suit their needs. Taper is not quite the word I'm looking for. It'll come to me later.

I decided to count all the emails I'd sent since June 11 and shocked myself to find I'd sent out about 40. Is that possible? Where numbers are concerned I can't be trusted. Anyway, I finally received a note back where I was asked to send the first 50 pages.

Congratulations, wrote my teacher, when I told her.

Marion just called and left me a message. She thought our New Directions meeting at the Giant Supermarket was outstanding. She praised Helen for doing a great job as the leader. I had already emailed Helen to tell her so. I'm one of the few people who believe getting a therapy degree is a useless waste of time. Helen doesn't have a degree, nor does Mandy or Ada, yet they're better than most therapists.

For sure.

Ora Lee got to the coffeeshop first and pushed some tables together in a corner. It was so nice and cool in there and best of all, we could HEAR one another, unlike at the Willow Grove Mall with its echo chamber and acoustics so poor that George Szell and the Cleveland Orchestra will never be heard there.

Excellent turnout, a dozen or so. I'm so sad I can no longer call them The Mallsters. Every person emits some sort of energy field. At one point a woman named "Harriet" with a very heavy field was speaking. I gazed over at Helen who was leaning forward in her chair with the most intense expression I've ever seen on her face.

She was breaking into the heavy energy field this woman carries with her wherever she goes. Harriet is a positively brilliant woman yet the emotional deprivation of her childhood left her bruised and scarred which she carries around like an invisible ball and chain.

As for me, I'll lose all respect for myself if I don't finish polishing my newest poem The Visitor and get it up here.

In the meantime, read my daughter's excellent blogpost on a six-hour walk she and Ethan took.

Wednesday, June 23, 2010

McChrystal, Psychosis and more

When I looked out the screen door I saw this little chipmunk poking out from the bushes. Much to my surprise he began speaking to me. What he said was shocking, so prepare yourself, Dear Reader.

I used to be an important man, he said looking up at me, the commander in chief of the forces in Afghanistan. I kicked back and relaxed with a reporter, my, it felt good telling the truth to a good listener, but my boss didn't like it.

Dyou mean to tell me, Mr Chipmunk, that you're actually Stanley McChrystal?

The very same, said the chipmunk, shaking his head. I was so embarrassed and humiliated I cashed in my chips & asked to go underground. Sorry, lady, but I'm underground in your front yard.

I offered Stan the Chipmunk a piece of my newly baked bread, you know, Marcy, the same one I told you about with the whole wheat flour and the grits cuz my sister wanted to get rid of them.

Turns out Stan eats mostly bugs with some nutlike things thrown in. Likes birds' eggs too.

I asked Stan if he brought his family along. He said he was too embarrassed to face his wife and his adult son. As a man, he used to run 7 to 8 miles a day, according to my man Wiki, and ate only once a day. Slept 4 hours a night.

Big transformation.

Wanted to talk a little about psychosis. Visited a New Directioneer yesterday at Horsham Clinic who's been psychotic for over a month but has vastly improved. She no longer believes she's given birth to twins and can't find them. But remnants of things that happened to her in the past are still at play in her delusions. That's called 'method to your madness.' I told her most attentive mom, who drove us there, that mania is often accompanied by hypersexuality which her daughter is exhibiting.

I was impressed by the care she's getting at Horsham. Staff knows her case very well and refuses to send her home in her debilitated condition. Good!

Time for another photo. BTW, my camera is stuck and I can't load new photos onto the blog so must upload old rejected photos. I actually drove over to Staples where I bought the camera but when Larry tried it on his computer, it worked.

This room is the study I created so I could find peace away from my work. Guess how many times I've been up there to read a book?

At the last meeting of ND we had Wendi Rose doing Reiki with us but first we did a guided meditation. When she asked for comments, I said, I went into a state akin to the same place in my brain where my psychotic or dreamlike thoughts occur. I have no access to that brain department normally except when I'm falling asleep or am asleep but under her guidance, I found my way back to that state.

I also went there the other nite after our trip to DC. Images flashed quickly across my eyelids as I fell asleep. The second nite after DC, an amazing image shot up from the depths.

I saw the interior of the American Folk History Museum and a particular exhibit that was absolutely stunning. A man had designed an altar out of aluminum foil and it shone brightly in the museum, the size of a garage, just laden with symbols. I quickly assumed namaste position and worshiped the altar with the unknown artist.

I had taken numerous photos of that section of the museum, none of which came out. My camera sucks. It has a mind of its own. I wonder who it used to be before it was transformed into a camera.

Ron Abrams was kind enuf to enlarge and frame this lovely photograph of a man with a John Lennon tattoo on his calf. All I have is freckles on mine and mosquito bites.

When you write a novel like I did, you wanna get it published. So every day I send out query letters. I keep the results on sheets of pink paper, just listing the names of agents and their companies, and then crossing em off as the No's come in.

When the first No came in, 10 minutes after I sent out the letter, I was distressed for two days, and then I read my daughter's comments of the book, which I emailed to her. She liked it. I was heartened. So far, I have six X-marks on my pink sheets. One woman said she thought my idea was a STRONG project.

That's the word they use. Strong. My teacher said my query letter was strong.

Yesterday I freaked out, very mildly, b/c my computer froze and entirely stopped working. Scott wouldn't wake up until 2 pm but when he did he set it right. I made sure my laptop contained duplicates of everything on my main computer.

Apparently there are over 500 pages of agents listed at I learned what to do from my teacher Nicole Bokat. When I called her up, I wanted to hear from the sound of her voice whether she really liked my article and thought it was worthy of getting published.

It's one thing to read her comments of my gorgeously-written prose -- or was it grotesquely-written prose -- and another to hear it in her voice.

I am nothing if not insecure!

Nicole, dyou think it's publishable? I asked.

Her response took me by surprise. More of a clucking sound indicating, Are you fucking kidding? Of course it's good. (My words)

Wait a minute! Is that Stanley on my doorstep again? Lemme go look.

Oh, you will simply not believe this! Have you ever seen a chipmunk cry? The little guy is just sitting there, his body heaving, with wet tears streaking down his whiskered brown face. He let me pick him up and cuddle him. It almost looked like he's growing little epaulets on his haunches like old soldiers wear.

Friday, June 18, 2010

DC: Proud to be an American

When we see the Capital Bldg on tv, we don't appreciate its great beauty or its massive size. The day we went to the Capital, security was esp. heavy due to the appearance of the CEO of BP. You can't travel in DC w/o seeing some type of cop car every time you turn your head.

We tramped up the green grass toward the visitor's entrance. My friend Jonatha met us. She took the metro from MD. I hadn't seen her in 40-some years since we attended Grand Valley State University together somewhere in corn country Michigan.

One nite I was staying up late studying and I won a radio contest to identify Who Sings This Song. The Contours? I said. Yes, young lady. You've won a 6-pack of Dr Pepper.

Jonatha later got her master's in library science & loves working in libraries. She's also a quilter, like my sister Amy, and gave me a GORGEOUS machine-sewn quilt she made for GRACE CATHERINE! Now, there's a good friend for you.

This huge ole tree on the Capital lawn said it hails from Japan and Korea. It's nice to have favorite trees. What trees do YOU love in your neighborhood. It's nice to thank them. But you've gotta figure out how to do it yourself. "Shall we make that a goal?" that's what I say to people in New Directions. "Ya wanna make that a goal, Ruthie, to stop eating so much watermelon? And those burps! My god when is she gonna learn?"


Oh, Rob! I thoughta you in DC cuz your daughter Amy goes to school at American University. Miss you! Mwah!

I'd orig'ly met Karl when we were standing in one of the fast-moving lines to get into the Capital bldg. The next time I saw him I said, "Are you the fellow that just graduated from Pre-K?" This time he told me his name was Karl. Natch I asked if it was with a C or a K.

Ah, the best way! I said, trying to remember a famous Karl other than Karl Marx to tell him about. Actually, the first Karl with a K that kame to mind was a fellow that came to ND a few times. I do not know what this Karl's problem was but he stalked a Philly male news anchor for a year before he was caught.

I loved this b'ful wooden Ascension. Is it Christ ascending or is it Little Ruthie after hearing Steely Dan on the radio?

In the hall of the National Portrait Gallery were two paintings by the great Wm K Johnson. I'm familiar w/his work since I still have one of his calendars hanging in the pink bedroom next to a John Deere tractor calendar.

This wonderful museum was one of my favorites. When I travel I wear a backpack instead of carry a pocketbook. Better for your back. But, they won't let you keep it on your back or at your side at the Portrait Gallery. You've gotta carry the damn thing in front of you as they're afraid you'll bump one of the art works.

Fortunately they had a locker where I stowed it. You could take photos of anything you wished. I liked getting photos of tourists. At this juncture of the summer, most of the tourists were Americans. We had a cab driver from Nigeria - we lamented that Nigeria made a poor showing in the World Cup - and a black Jewish cab driver from Israel.

I had to complain to someone. I just had to tell someone. So I complained to the Nigerian cab driver. See those red double-decker buses? I said. We wasted more time on them! They're inefficient. The drivers don't know how to drive. Scott and I were speechless with dissatisfaction, sitting on the hot bus - Hop On! Hop Off! - while the clock was ticking away. Finally, we hopped into a cab.

Tourists are remarkable. They don't mind standing in lines, taking chances to be bored outa their fucking minds, they have a deep love of the unknown, the uncomfortable, they are tolerant, adventurous, kind-hearted, and often far from home and their loved ones. I have the highest regard for tourists.

Take me home! I wanna go home! I miss Mommy and Daddy! Oh, I forgot Daddy died 30 years again. Bye-bye Daddy!

More of same. This time I'm photographing them from the red doubledecker Hop On Hop Off tour bus that is sposed to run every 20 minutes.

We were open to seeing whatever museums struck our fancy. All I knew was that if it came to pass, I'd like to see Julia Child's original kitchen at the Natural History Museum. I did see it and also watched some film clips on the video screens set up outside her kitchen.

In one clip, Julia said she was in a bad mood and thought it would make her feel better to pound some tough meat for dinner. In her prime, she was a delight. She shoulda quit though before she reached her dotage.

Funny, but when we were sitting on the bus and had to make up our minds whether to get off or not, I suddenly knew: I've gotta see the Holocaust Museum. Here's the outside with this symbol that looks sort of like a swastika.

The Hall of Remembrance was elegantly simple. The moment I went in, I felt a seriousness come over me. All thought stopped.

A class of young Chasids went thru the museum. They wore those white religious scarves known as tallises. What must they have thought when they went thru the large glassed-in hallway, the hallway of horror, you might say, and in there we saw: Multitudes of shoes taken from the men and woman about to be slaughtered. We saw black suitcases of the soon-to-be-slaughtered, piled up in a heap. We saw their hair. We saw their hairbrushes. And we saw their utensils they brought from their kitchens at home. That, perhaps, was the one that got you in the gut. The women, thinking they were simply being transferred by the authorities to Somewhere Else. And believing, in their innocence, that they would again use their onion graters, their many styles of tea strainers, and piles and piles of scissors, too, yes, that they would certainly make tea and honey once again for all the people they loved.

We saw the ovens of the crematorium. And we saw the big iron gate of the gas chamber where they loaded the naked men and women, shut the door, and dumped in the canisters of Zykon gas.

This was the overpowering experience of our trip. There was so much to see and do in DC that the Holocaust Museum could not be appreciated then and there. Only now. Only now when I'm home.

Newsreel footage showed the Nuremburg trials. Various high Nazi officials sat among guards and were given a fair trial. For example, they were brought up on about four charges, then the judge would say, Not guilty on counts one and two, but guilty on counts three and four. Your sentence is Death by hanging.

And I felt very good that justice was done. Some justice, that is. How can justice ever really be done against such unspeakable horror?

Most of the audience were not Jewish. I felt good about this. Let them feel our pain and be better people for it.

The American Indian Museum featured tribes in the Americas. Here is a Bolivian tribeswoman weaving a blanket.

I wouldn't mind wearing a pair of boots like this. Walk a mile in whose shoes?

Did you know there's a US Postal Museum? Huge! Used to be a post office.

The ceilings in the downstairs room seemed about five floors high. They had several mail trucks, past and present, including today's cute white buggies made by Ford Explorer, I believe. I'll have to check with new Mailman Tom, who stuffed three days' worth of mail in my mailbox while I was gone.

What a pleasure it is taking the train. I read 50 pages of my book House of Sand and Fog by Andre Dubos III and stopped in the dining car for a refreshing drink. I wanted to experience The Dining Car. Stay steady on your feet, Lil Ruthie. Big people balance by holding onto the top rails. I balance by falling into people's laptops.

I think drinks taste better on trains. I asked if he had any lemonade. No, he said, but we have lemon-lime Gatorade. Yuk, I thought to myself. Sure, I said, I'll have one.

One glass of ice or two? he asked.

One, I said, overjoyed that ice came with it. I am an ice-chewer and recommend it to anyone who has teeth.

This is the longest post I've ever done but it's the only way for me to view my photos.

Did I tell you what my assignment is? Remind me later. It has to do with my novel.