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Mood: Whatever
Drinking: Whenevergalleria

Vanity, vanity, I’ve got new galleries.

Earlier this year you might have noticed a few web site renovations…some shiny new flash (and poetry) on the home page, new photos, new book pages (to accomodate the upcoming Secrets), a few new poems hiding out here and there, and of course, a photo slot here in She Says, which I’ve had lots of fun with.

We kept a few other changes up our virtual sleeves because they weren’t quite ready yet, but we’re putting ’em all on the table now. The Galleries are full of fun new bits. There’s a whole new section for Bruce Willems’ photography, lots of new photos from Patti Monaghen’s 2006 shoot here in California, and my favorite — a cinepoem photo gallery!

Somebody usually has a camera on hand at the cinepoem shoots, and now you can see all the behind-the-scenes tomfoolery, as well as photos of my cinepoem team — Michelle, Misha, Kathy, Sarah, and all my other girls (and a few boys) who’ve pitched in along the way. (God knows there are enough photos of me around here. I’ve gotta give some space to some new faces!)

Speaking of narcissism, I have developed a habit (thanks alot, myspace!) for taking photos of myself in bathroom mirrors. The one above was taken in the bathroom at The Hotel Utah a few weeks ago. I find them highly amusing. Of course, to take this kind of self-portrait, you have to look very serious, or at least pretend that you’re taking this photo shoot seriously. No goofy mirror mugging. It’s all about the haughty downward pointed chin. You should try it! That’s what digital cameras are for — you don’t have to feel bad about wasting film. Just wasting time.

Enough of that nonsense…

I’m extremely happy to report that The Secrets of Falling is going to the printer NEXT WEEK. We are finishing up final files and it looks so beautiful. Kathy Azada is an amazing artist, and I can’t wait until you all get to see her work. Speaking of which, stay tuned for details about a book release party here in San Francisco in May, and (maybe, possibly, don’t get too excited yet) a book signing in Alabama later this year…

And the creative juices keep on flowing… We have two (2!) cinepoems scheduled to shoot in April, “Kiss & Fly” and “Abattoir”. Both will feature something new: boys. There will be guest starring spots from more than one of the men in my life, and I can’t wait to show ’em off to you!

So that’s it for now. But more is always on the way.

Oh, and P.S. — Happy Wedding, Sara & Israel! Wish I could be there, but J & J will give you hugs for me.

-Lo, who knows that the secret to being photogenic is to delete all the bad photos.



Mood: Quiet
Drinking: Done

Equinox: Vernal

Today a robin
at the edge of the lawn

with stick figure legs
and telltale red breast.
So cockeyed and careful
while trilling the cheerily carol.

The world seems determined
to get back on track
to go on
without him.

The seasons arrive
on schedule.

Hence the bird
with attendant worm
and sudden violet,

all the usual signs of spring
that weren’t there
just yesterday.

Soon the grass
will need cutting.
The earth will
want seeds.
And she can’t move
like she used to.

There was no snow
the day he didn’t wake up.

there were no robins
either. Now the ache
wakes with the sun.

And any minute
she expects him to
walk in the door.

But the long days
bring only birds.

(For Ruth. And Vernon.)

-Lo, who wishes he’d walk in the door, too, if that would make her happy.


internet_peevesMood: Stuffy. Crabby.
Slightly smelly.

Googling yourself is much like eaves- dropping.
You often end up hearing/ seeing/ reading things that you’d rather not know.

But who can resist the self-google, with its titillating promise of heretofore undiscovered gems about oneself? I cannot resist, Internet. Every once in a couple of weeks, I type my own name into the google box and let the link clicking begin.

Which brings me to one of my top five pet peeves. (It sits squarely in between public-sidewalk-loogie-hockers and close-line-standers/bumpers.) It makes me very cranky. And I have enough to be cranky about this week, Internet, what with the sudden onset of a spring fever, complete with a drippy nose, scratchy throat, and all-over aches. Not to mention the crazytown that work has been this week, plus a looming publishing deadline, uncooperative scheduling, and bangs that are now so long they prevent me from seeing properly.

I am justifiably crabby.

So. The peeve. Well, let me prevent bossy emails by first acknowledging that I do know when you put something out there, into the wide world, with or without the aid of the web, you no longer have control over where it goes, who sees it, how it is interpreted or mis-interpreted. I know this. But that doesn’t make me any less peeved when I find something that once was mine smeared all over somebody else’s blog without so much as a by-your-leave or even a simple spellcheck. But this is exactly what I discover all too often on one of my self-googling adventures.

Just a couple of days ago, a dude out there in blogland borrowed something of mine from his friend’s blog and reposted it. (And god knows where his friend got her copy. These things replicate faster than bunnies…) Basically, it’s the transcript of my infamous 1998 “This is who I am” video, copied and pasted without any appropriate paragraph breaks, making it virtually unreadable. I know the video is out there, making its tireless travels for nearly a decade now. But who in the world took time to sit down and transcribe the whole thing, word for word, so that well-meaning but ill-advised bloggers could manhandle it all over the Internet? At least this guy spelled my name right — but then he describes me as an “intense poet and blogger”. Um. Thanks?

But whatever. Blogger boy meant no harm, and although he really needs to learn how to break a paragraph, I’ll leave him well enough alone.

The Texan Preacher Man, however? Not so much. I discovered recently that someone, somewhere in Houston has decided to write a “discussion guide” to go along with the aforementioned infamous video. Unfortunately, Mister Discussion Guide is quite misled. Here’s how he describes Generation X:
“This is the generation of young adults born in the 1980’s who are coming of age in our world today. This is the generation born to the late Baby Boomers whose parents grew and matured during the late 1960’s and 1970’s. They were born in the gross materialism of the late Reagan era and the moral confusion of the Clinton sexual revolations (sic).”

Sorry, mister. You are wrong on so very many counts! You really must check your Wikipedia!

Texas Preacher Man also gets a great many things wrong in his version of my biography, and apparently thinks of me as an “internet poet and blogger”. Which, I guess, means that I write poems about the Internet? Or they exist only on the Internet? Or they are written with invisible ink that can only be read virtually? So many possibilities…

(One of my friends used to call himself the “Death Poet”, because of his penchant for writing about dead things. He had business cards and everything. Hmmmm. Perhaps I should market this Intense Internet Poet thing? …Nah.)

The interesting thing is that both of these peeve-makers seem to be aware of this website, with its handy “Says You” tab making it so easy to communicate with me. But neither of them have ever stopped by to say “Hi!” and “Oh, by the way, can I rewrite your biography and/or take your words completely out of context?”

I have written to Texas Preacher Man, thanks to the handy “feedback” link on his site, asking him to please correct his frighteningly obtuse errors, but that was two weeks ago and he hasn’t gotten back to me yet. Unsurprisingly.


And I know, naysayers, I know. I should be happy that anybody out there pays any attention at all. I should offer some benefit of doubt, I should cut some slack, I should quit my bitching, I should give a nod in the general direction of good intentions, I should, I should, I should.

But I’m not famous enough (not nearly) to have developed the thick skin necessary to not care about blatant misrepresentation. I am not used to getting ripped off, even by the well-meaning.

And also? Did I mention the runny nose, with accompanying red, chafey nostrils?

So leave me to my crabby. It’s entertaining.

-Lo, who needs to find the guy who made that mousepad and get another one.


Mood: Disturbed
Drinking: Delinquent

dead men tell no tales
the living won’t shut up.

we eulogize with lies.
we fantasize about a happier ending.
about what could have been
if life were lived on film
managed by disney
scripted by ephron
and sponsored by coca-cola.

even as the ashes fly
we cannot speak the truth so
we fall back on fabrications.
history is so easily revised
when we no longer stare death
in the fading blue eyes.

we memorialize a different man
who might have been
but never was.
under the supervision
of this sacred steeple,
we fill in the blanks
we mad lib bullshit.

St. Peter’s unnamed children
Angel wing autopsy saw
Myocardial infarction of the Pearly Gates

the rules of revision require
politeness and pretty words.
defects are pastorally photoshopped.
all evidence of human-ness
is swept into the skeleton closet
to join the cigarettes and heart attacks.

don’t speak ill of the dead
within earshot of the second wife
she’ll send you on your way
with “journeying mercies” and
a backstabbing knife.
(God love ‘em)

we inter all his sins with
what’s left of his bones.
bronze all the stars, leave no grave
undisturbed in our
quest to manufacture
peaceful rest.

all saints are dead.
all dead are saints.
the living tell no tales
of imperfect truth.

-Lo, who doesn’t want a whitewashed eulogy.

Back Where I Belong

ggbridgeMood: Tired
Drinking: Tea

Driving along Illinois freeways lined with crumbling grey piles of unwanted snow, I remembered all over again why I don’t live there anymore.

When my plane touched town on California concrete Wednesday night, I felt profound relief. It’s not that Illinois (or Ill-annoys, as my friend Jesse calls it) is a bad place. It’s not. Some of my best memories were made there, and I had a great time on this trip re-visiting my old haunts in Chicago with my friend C. (I was happy to see that Alien and Predator still live at The Alley, and that Medusa’s Circle still has the best collection of lightning bolt necklaces.)

Illinois used to be home. But I don’t belong there anymore.

Being back for my grandfather’s memorial service brought up more memories than usual. Maybe it was seeing all those estranged relatives — cousins I haven’t seen for nearly a decade, who now have children I’ve never met before, and great-aunts with blue hair and unwelcome advice.

Maybe it was because my mom, dad, and I spent countless hours digging through boxes and boxes of old photographs — some of my immediate family and lots of my grandpa. Photos I’ve never seen before, like the blurry black and white of my grandpa holding my dad when he was just a baby.

Maybe it was hanging out with my friend A from high school and her two children, the eldest of whom is nearly a woman herself now.

Maybe it was just driving down all those familiar roads, past places that used to define the boundaries of my world, and seeing now how small they are, and how colorless.

Maybe it was everything combined.

All I know is that there is a girl I used to be, and she exists now only in pictures and memories and whispers in the back of my mind. And although it’s always hard to leave my family and friends behind, to know that it might be a very long time before I see them again, the girl I am now belongs in San Francisco.

You can’t deny your heart its home.

-Lo, who was also reminded there is nothing to miss about the snow, the cold, and the flat grey sky.

Beanhead’s Birthday

Mood: Sleepy-eyed
Drinking: Morning teajobday

When I found out, at age 4, that my mom was going to magically pop out a brand new little sister, I begged my parents to name her Tracy.

Much to my disappointment, they knew better than to take the advice of a punk-ass toddler, and named her Johanna instead.

One of my earliest memories is of my baby sister laying on the floor in her white cloth diapers with the big yellow safety pins while I played drums on her naked round belly.

Four years doesn’t seem like a huge age difference now, but when we were kids, it meant that we lived worlds apart. She was getting into stuff (paper dolls, bicycles, sandboxes) when I was outgrowing them.

She always wanted to tag along, and I always wanted to leave her behind. I don’t even know how many times my friend Jason (who was only 2 years younger than I) and I would hop on our two-wheeled bikes and pedal furiously down the lane, while she climbed onto her orange tricycle and tried to keep up, yelling “Guys! Wait for me.”

Even as a tiny thing, she was always an old soul, always worried about everybody else, always standing at the window waiting for mom to arrive home safely, always bossing me around when I least expected it.

But when it came to make-believe, I was the boss. During every stuffed animal army invasion, her teddy bears were always on the losing side. When we played dress up in mom’s clothes, I got to wear the green bikini top stuffed with Kleenex, not Jo. I took our Star Wars reenactments quite seriously. I was always Princess Leia, of course, and the Otto boys were always Luke and Han, and Jo was shorter than all of us (not wookie-sized) so that meant she had to be R2D2. And she wasn’t allowed to talk while in character – she had to beep, just like R2 did.

When I was 12, my horse-owning dream came true, in the form of a donkey named Jackie, which I purchased from a distant cousin for $25. After he bucked me off and broke my arm, my dad decided that both of us girls needed to take riding lessons. When I first walked into the stable at Copper Bit Ranch and saw all those glorious 16-hand horses, I knew that I was going to be a star. I was going to be riding a sleek black steed over 3-foot fences in no time.

Yeah. It didn’t actually work out quite like that.

Since I was the only one in the family with a horse-type-creature (come on, a donkey is decidedly NOT a horse), my sister got to ride one of the stable ponies – an adorable little brown mare named Ginger. I, on the other hand, I had to ride Jackie. The donkey. With the stiff western saddle my dad picked up at a farm sale.

So while Johanna trotted prettily around the arena, touching the dressage letters on the wall with ease and grace, Jackie and I lumbered along, veering wildly to the right or the left as I tried in vain to make a donkey actually do what he was told. The riding lessons usually ended up with my sister trotting merrily past me, all the onlookers “awww-ing”, while Jackie leaned his full weight against my left leg and smashed me into the wall. It was highly amusing to everyone but me.

Johanna and I didn’t really become friends until I was in college and she was in high school. It happened when she drove up to visit me one weekend. I don’t remember the details of what we did. I’m sure we rented videos and ate beer nuggets (a college-town delicacy). But all I know for sure is that when I watched her little red truck pull away that Sunday afternoon, I realized that I had made a friend.

That was just the first of many sister weekends. They’ve become a special tradition for both of us, although now we usually show up at each other’s door with a dog in tow (and sometimes a husband).

Today is my sister’s birthday. And it’s a big one this year. Not so much in numbers, because she’s still younger than me (and I’m not old!). But it’s a big one because more than ever this year, I realize what kind of woman I have for a sister.

She’s gorgeous, of course, although she’d never admit it. (And she’s probably blushing furiously right now, reading this.) She’s one of the few people who can get me to laugh, even on the worst of days. She’s much nicer than I am. She is a fiercely loyal friend and an incredibly gifted teacher. She kicks my ass in an argument, hands down. She plays the piano beautifully with those long and slender fingers, and has this whole crafty thing going on that’s really quite impressive. She’s all the things you want in a best friend – she’s smart and funny and witty and warm. She can come up with some astonishing insults, too. In fact, we’ve taken to answering each other’s phone calls with insults. I think the latest one is “What do you want, you bitch-faced whore?!” Every time I see her name flash on my incoming call list, I start smiling before I even answer the phone.

She’s one of the bravest people I know. Right after she got engaged, her fiancé was notified that he was getting shipped out to Iraq. They had a wedding all planned, and she had a gorgeous white dress waiting in my closet, but it was all going to be two months too late. So I got a phone call on a Tuesday morning, “J and I are getting married tomorrow. Can you be here?”

There were 10 people at her wedding – the only ones who could make it on such short notice. Not even my parents could be there, so Boy walked her down the aisle. And she spent the first 18 months of her married life alone, in a new apartment, in a new city, with her new husband on the other side of the earth, staring down death in the desert every day. It was hard for her. I saw it. But she didn’t complain. She had her bad days, yes, but she was braver than I ever could have been. She sucked it up and stuck it out and I have never been more proud.

So today, Jo, on your birthday, here’s what I wish for you:
A kind mirror. Pancakes. A birthday kiss from J. A high-five from McKinna. Sun and falling stars. Lists of baby names. Dreams so close, you can touch them. A sudden onset of inspiration. New sheet music. A pedicure. Traffic-free highways. Girlfriend phone calls. A tall glass of wine. An optimistic sky. Fuzzy slippers. A good book. The all-pervading calm that comes with knowing you are loved, you are wanted, you are appreciated, and you are exactly where you’re supposed to be.

Happy XXth, Beanhead!

-Lo, who could always use more sister days.