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Mood: Sniffley
Drinking: Tea

Why do they say you feel “under the weather” when you’re sick?

Something to ponder when I feel up to using my brain again. For now, all I can manage to do is pluck another kleenex from the box and hold it to my Rudolph-colored schnozz. Bleah. Summer colds are the worst.

Since my brain is under seige by snot, I shall take up the challenge by my friend Melissa over at Poet with a Day Job. Here’s a little list of stuff I’ve spent money on lately:

I just finished The Magician’s Assistant by Ann Patchett, and liked it so much I picked up a used copy of The Patron Saint of Liars.

Er. I had to think about this for awhile. I don’t buy movies very often. But I did purchase Enchanted last month for my parents. I knew my mom would love the story (and the songs) and my dad would love the pratfalls. It’s a sweet movie — Amy Adams is pretty frickin’ awesome in it.
The closest thing to a movie I’ve purchased for myself lately is Dr. Horrible’s Sing Along Blog. I’ll take me any old piece of new Joss Whedon I can get.

Journey’s Greatest Hits from iTunes. I had the cassette tape back in the day and I’ve only recently realized I never bought it on CD. And, well, Journey is an iPod must-have, especially for long drives.

This wasn’t on M’s list, but check out these beauties. I’m making up reasons just to wear them.

K. Gotta go blow my nose now…

-Lo, who totally believes in those Kleenex with the moisture beads.

In the Valley of the Shadow

Mood: Pensive
Drinking: Diet Coke

The people in this picture have been very close to my heart and mind lately.

Many of you who read this blog know the Zander family. For those of you who do not, a short backstory…

I met Dieter and Val in Chicago nearly 12 years ago. They swiftly became people I looked up to, not only as mentors, but as friends. Over the years we’ve shared many meals, memories, milestones, and even a marriage… Dieter performed the wedding ceremony for Boy and I.

We all ended up in California and have maintained a steady friendship even as our lives diverged down different paths.

Dieter, who is a minister and musician, has chosen to live his life within the church, as has Val, while Boy and I have moved further and further away from the church.

But never have I felt any sense of judgment or pressure from Dieter and Val. Nothing but the utmost love. We’ve shared many long and intense conversations over cups of tea about God, about spirituality, about the pros and cons of the American church, about the hopes and dreams that Boy and I have for ourselves, for our future.

We’ve watched the Zander’s three sons grow from tousled children to tall young men, and we’ve been so proud, as if we had something to do with the miracle of maturity.

So it’s no small thing to say that the Zanders, all five of them, mean a great deal to us.

When we heard the news that Dieter had suffered a catastrophic stroke on February 4th of this year, we felt as if some bedrock in our lives had suddenly shifted violently out of place.

After weeks in a medically-induced coma, Dieter woke up to a new kind of life, one in which his speech has been radically altered, in that he cannot find the right words to communicate, so his thoughts are virtually locked inside his brain, and his right arm is partially paralyzed, as well.

Boy and I have been lucky enough to get to spend time with the Zanders since Dieter’s stroke, a privilege that many of our friends back in Illinois who also love the Zanders would love to have.

We’ve seen Dieter take on this new challenge with amazing courage and faith. We’ve watched the Zander boys step up into manhood and take on heavy new responsibilities. And we’ve seen Val bear her unexpected new burden with such astonishing grace.

I visited the Zander’s church this past Sunday to hear Val speak to the congregation about what her family has been dealing with these past few months.

I had to mangle quite a few kleenexes just to get through her story, and I felt such deep respect and awe at her honesty in the face of great pain, and her unwavering commitment to her family. I am so grateful to have this woman in my life, and I continue to learn so much from her example.

All of that to say this… the Zanders are the kind of people who make this damaged world a better place, just by living in it. They are now enduring the greatest trial of their lives. And I want to help.

Their church has recently started “The Zander Initiative”, a fundraising campaign that will run through the month of May to help support the family as Dieter works so hard to regain the abilities his stroke has taken from him.

Whether you know the Zanders or not, you can help to, if you feel so moved. Please visit this website for more information about what you can do.

And even if you don’t give, please hold these dear ones in your prayers. And if you don’t pray, hold them in your hearts.

-Lo, with all the love in the world.

Upside Down

zandersMood: Heavy
Drinking: Not

This week brought some heavy news, and for days now I have been weighed down with the kind of sadness that leeches color from the sky.

A very dear friend of mine, Dieter Zander (pictured here at my book release party last May with me and his wife Val) suffered a large stroke earlier this week and is still in the hospital, his prognosis uncertain.

Dieter and Val have been a special part of my life since I met them in Chicago back in 1996. Safe to say I would not be the artist — or the person — I am today if I had not met them.

Dieter saw something in me the first time he met me, and he didn’t just say “I believe in you” — he gave me a stage, a place in the real world to use my voice — and in doing so, he changed my life. And Val, with her grace and steady strength, befriended me and in our lengthy heart-to-heart conversations, gave me a safe place to dream as she imagined with me the woman I could become.

Over the years, I’ve shared many meals with the Zanders and their three sons. They moved to San Francisco two years before Boy and I did, and were here to help us settle in and make a home. Dieter officiated at our wedding, and Val helped me choose the poems for my first book.

The Zanders have been to me mentors and friends, big brother and sister, inspiration and sounding board. I have just taken for granted the fact that they are and always will be part of my life.

So I have been shocked, I have been shaken to the soul by the news this week of Dieter’s stroke, and I feel ultimately helpless in my ability to make any of this better or less difficult for the family I love so much.

Many of you who read this blog know the Zanders, or at least have heard of them. I know you’ll want more information and updates about Dieter’s condition as the days go by, so please bookmark this website:

Whether you believe in prayer or good karma or healing thoughts, please take a moment today to send one skyward for my friend Dieter, his wife Val and their sons Kyle, Conrad, and Christopher.

I pray that his voice does not stay silent for very long…

-Lo, who has a hundred things she should have said.

Two for One

Mood: Sickly
Drinking: Green Tea

It’s very last minute, but that doesn’t make it any less fabulous…

I’m sharing a feature spot with my poetry pal Gary (pictured) this Thursday, February 7, at Bird & Beckett Bookstore in Glen Park.

The festivities start at 7 p.m. and are followed by an open mic. So if you’re around, head on over to 653 Chenery, grab a seat, and maybe even bring a few of your own rhymes to read.

In the meantime, I will be trying to ditch this scratchy sore throat that I brought home from New York so I can read without sounding like a frog. (I aim high.)

See you on Thursday!

-Lo, who believes in the healing properties of tea.

Getting a Read On

Mood: Medicine-head
Drinking: Medicine-stuff

Vacation is over and onward comes reality.

My lovely new head cold prevents me from having any thoughts that could be construed as intelligent, so I’ll save the holiday reminiscing for later, when the kleenexes are all used up.

Here’s the new news that you need to know:
I’ll be reading from The Secrets of Falling this Sunday, June 17th, at The Great Overland Book Company at 9th and Judah in San Francisco. The reading is produced by the Writing Salon and includes 8 other local poets.

The reading starts at 7:15pm and ends at 9pm. I’ll be the first one to read after the break, so I’ll probably take the mic around 8 p.m. But if you live in SF, come out and support all the other poets, too. It’s sure to be an evening full of good words.

-Lo, who is realizing that vacations are just as exhausting as real life.