Tuesday, December 31, 2013

Dating by Committee

I got a text today at work today from someone not in my phone book, so no name appeared. It puzzled me, so I read it out loud to the five of us, and Melinda said,

"I know what it means! I know who it's from!"


It was from a man with whom I had a date, about three weeks ago, who offered to make a connection with a friend of a friend about a job possibility for my son. How was it that Melinda made this connection, but not me? Lord knows. There's a lot fidgeting around up there in the brain.

But anyway. I sent back a friendly thank-you, and got back to painting.

And then....ding. Another text:

How are you doing?

Of course, everyone wanted to know what it said, so I read it out loud.

"What should I say?" Not certain if I want this to go forward, in the romance department, I put it out the the assembled masses. And there ensued a hubbub of advice, from an assortment of people ranging in age from 26 to 60....

Don't answer right away!
Make him wait!
Answer right away!
Don't make him wait!
Give it 30 minutes.
Just say you're fine, and leave it at that.
You don't want to appear eager.
(I'm not sure I wanted to appear anything at all.)
Don't be chomping at the bit!

And on it went, a cacophony, a rabble, a hilarious noise and banter about being coy,  of timing.

I listened.
It continued.

Finally I responded.
He responded.
The end.

(I should mention that this is a common occurrence here on the job — these group advice consults — as two of us are single. Can't imagine what any of these prospective dates would think if they knew what goes on behind the scenes of their communications. Tee hee.)

Sunday, December 29, 2013

Eve Begat Raspberries.....

The guy at the cable store today had a tattooed wedding band with the name "Eve" in blue ink around his ring finger. I exclaimed at this — in the middle of trading in my old non-functioning cable TV gear for new fancy shiny boxes (and believe it or not I was excited about the fact that after three years of no TV I was going to be getting the most basic of all cable TV possibilities) — and I said,

"What if you get divorced?"
And he said, "We did."
"Yeah. No regrets. I'd have a bigger problem if I had a tattoo with a misspelling. Anyway, what have you been doing for the past three years without TV?"

How to answer this? I mean, first of all, the notion of a wedding band tattooed onto one's finger — there was no way I could respond to this. And the issue of no TV? How could I explain that the only thing I missed was Wheel of Fortune and Jeopardy? A few random advertisements? And that it took me three years to get to the point of missing them? How could I say to a stranger that I've spent this time engaged in frenzied writing, in deep and entrenched periods of thought and processing? I couldn't explain. I don't remember exactly what I said, but I mumbled something, of little consequence. For the most part I've eschewed TV, not wanted TV, not needed TV. But now, there's a tiny part of me that wants to be part of some larger group activity, part of the group of us boomers that sits down at 7pm (on the west coast) and watches Pat Sajak (who makes $8,000,000 a year)  and Vanna White talk about inane things and spin wheels and witness people buying vowels. Can I buy a vowel? I've always been fond of "o". I want to buy an "o".

So anyway.

I didn't say any of this to the Eve-tattooed man, just took my shrink-wrapped modem-thing-a-ma-jiggie and new remote control device and high-tailed it outta there, excited for wheels containing fortunes. Not my fortunes, mind you.

But there are other paths to gold, and mine, today, took the form of raspberries, at 99 cents a cup, at the fruit stand. Not local, and most unseasonal, but damn good and ripe and perfect.

Thursday, December 26, 2013


The Point at Seward Park

At Water's Edge

Sunset at Sayres Park

The day began lost in fog, ended in pale pink streaks across a cold sky.

Sunday, December 22, 2013

Noise, Oranges

Driving through the International District today was surprisingly easy, despite the mobs of people packed into Century Link Field for the Seahawks game. My timing was mid-game, so the streets were easily negotiable, even on this Sunday before Christmas.

I've been inside the stadium for football games, and the noise is tremendous, numbing, deafening. Today I stood in the parking lot at Uwajimaya (an Asian market), practically a stone's throw from the game, and the sound of 67,000 fans cheering was spooky, ghostly, traveling in waves that rose in tone and intensity then just as quickly died down.

A foggy mist sat heavy on the city, and everything dripped. A vendor sold hot chestnuts from a cheery red umbrella'd cart by the store entrance. In my bag were a few Japanese mandarin oranges, the kind with the green stems and leaves still attached, and a few blood oranges — seasonal splurges. The price of food is high these days.

I looked up the price of tickets available for the next Sunday's Seahawks game: starting at $170, for a single ticket. The maximum monthly alottment for a person receiving food stamps in this city is $189 a month.

I don't think I can say anything more.

Friday, December 20, 2013

Things being where they are....

When my poetry group met at my house this week, my friend Anne looked up at the ceiling at my Christmas branch, ornamentally laden.....


 ...and down to the wall where the tiny plastic nativity set is lined up on top of a picture frame (inside the frame is a stencil pattern for a hand-printed Japanese kimono fabric, which I purchased in Paris for my ex-husband for his birthday, who gave it back to me [I didn't ask for it] when he severed the relationship).....

.....and then she proclaimed, "Nothing is where it should be!"

Kind of the story of my life.

Tra la.

Monday, December 16, 2013

Why We Write

I had a conversation yesterday with a woman who just finished a novel and is doing the publisher search. I'm fascinated by why people write, and lately have been asking this of writer friends. The answer is generally something like this: It's what I do.

Seems it's as simple as that: it's what I do.

I said to her, You mean, like breathing? 
She said, Yes, that's it.

On one hand, I envy her a little. She's shopping a novel around, and there's always the (remote) promise of payment. Poets don't possess that illusion. But still we do it, day after day, hours at the keyboard or notepad, typing, scribbling.

And for what?

It allows me to breathe, this daily practice.

It's what I do.

Writer friends, any thoughts on this?

Saturday, December 14, 2013

And lo, a branch —

On a ladder, tangled in my hazelnut tree with a Japanese saw in one hand (and I was wearing a skirt) and the grave of a cat below me: a pair of hummingbirds visited, swirled about me, swooped and dived and performed winter acrobatics while I reached high up and cut a single branch, which caught in the twig jumble. Stuck. I climbed higher on the ladder so as to get some leverage, pushed the damn thing down into the neighbor's yard. I retrieved it, opening the neighbor's eight-foot-long gate which felt as if it hadn't been opened in many years. Dragged the branch up the alley and into my yard, up on the deck and in to the kitchen where the cats scattered, spooked.

And the hummingbirds? Sipping deeply of sugar-water nectar from the glass feeder hung on a hook above the dead sunflowers. (The chicadees and Oregon juncos sounded alarms when one of their branches fell. Clearly they were distressed!)

There's a hazelnut branch hanging from my living room ceiling now, strung with white lights. It was more work than a tree, involved yet more ladder-climbing, a trip to the hardware store, a drill, anchor bolts, 19 gauge wire, plyers, cursing.

I am a reluctant handyperson.

Wednesday, December 11, 2013


A wee visual posting of seasonal nature —
green sprig with red tips,
the sparkle of a snowflake
that caught the light
at the right angle —

Tuesday, December 10, 2013

Cracking the Shell

"Whereas our direct experience of nature is limited, science has enabled us to become aware of the vastness of the world outside us. A colleague's metaphor has us like an embryonic chick, consuming the stored food inside the egg until it is all gone and the world seems to be at an end. But the shell is cracked open and the chick emerges into a new, vastly greater (and more interesting) world." From Quantum Physics for Poets, Leon M. Lederman and Christopher T. Hill.

My newest labor, this book, and after several weeks I'm on all of page 46. Granted, I only read it before I fall to sleep, so it's a few pages read (and reread) at a time. I think it'll go on my Christmas list; don't know how many times I can renew it at the library!

But consider this: what if all of us, together on this planet, are embryonic chicks, consuming all that there is to consume, until there is no more, and then, what? Will we reach the point of no return, our own event horizon?  Will we emerge into "a new, vastly greater world"?

This is what I'll ponder tonight, where on my side of the planet the temperature has warmed up to 41 degrees fahrenheit, (up from 18 a few days ago) and I'm basking in the relative balminess of it all.

Monday, December 9, 2013

Ends and Odds

I'm thinking of a Christmas branch this year, maybe from my apple tree in need of serious pruning, suspended from the ceiling of my living room, strung with white lights. Maybe. It'll take a ladder and the sawz-all, a son or two. Hung from hooks, gotta find the studs (in the ceiling).

Just don't know about spending the $$ on a tree that sheds and tilts (and sometimes tips) and demands water. The $$ would be better spent on, oh, say, meat (rather a luxury these days). (And I do love to eat meat occasionally.) Or even on some really good vodka. It's the holidaze, after all.

And when I find a publisher for my manuscript, I want this to be the cover:
Tiny Tornado, by Rachel Maxi
Reminiscent of Edward Hopper but with an urban au courant sensibility, Rachel's subject range from
the odd vehicle....
Little Ghost Van, by Rachel Maxi
...to the dumpster —
Big White Rusty, by Rachel Maxi
— to oysters, unexpected still lifes, rusty locks and plastic ponies. 

Check out more of her work here.
And if you can, write her a big fat check, get a big fat painting. Or a tiny one.

Sunday, December 8, 2013

A Small Step

Childhood's End Gallery in Olympia, Washington took 14 of my pieces on consignment this week, a sweet serendipitous moment in the middle of one of my work days last week. A real gallery, not a coffee shop. Dare I hold my breath?!

Thursday, December 5, 2013

Smacked in the Face: Racism

Years ago, when my sons were in elementary school, I volunteered to help with the Christmas play, and was assigned backstage duty on the night of the performance, where I mostly kept a bunch of very lovable and delightful first-and-second-grade boys hijinx-free. They called me "Miss T.", which always, of course, came out as "Misty". It was joyful duty. I loved those children, and their unconditional trust of me, a white parent among black children.

My boys were the minority at that school; we were the minority in our community. Our zip code, 98118, boasts the most ethnically diverse population in the nation. Proud to boast! (Although I suspect that, due to rapid gentrification, this will not be the case in ten years or so.)

And although the student body tended to be a bit rough, I'm glad my sons spent their first years at a school where their white skin tone granted them no favors.  As Reilly's first grade teacher said to me once, when he was experiencing a run of bullying, "I know you feel like you're throwing your son to the wolves when you drop him off at school every day, but this is the real world." This, from a white, blond-haired, blue-eyed first grade teacher who looked like a human version of Bambi's mother.

A harsh real world, but indeed the real world.

Months after that Christmas play, I was sitting in the bleachers at a little league game on a balmy Saturday morning, when one of my backstage first-graders came running up to me shouting "Miss T.! Miss T.!" He charged into my lap, hugging me and laughing, nearly knocking me off the bench in the process. What complete delight!

Until his mother caught up with him, yanked him up and away by his arm, shouting: "DON'T YOU TOUCH THAT WHITE WOMAN! DON'T YOU DARE! WHAT DO YOU THINK YOU'RE DOING!" The boy tried to explain, and she slapped him and dragged him away as he burst into tears.

Believe me, it wasn't that she was worried that her son was "touching" a white woman. It was more that I was poison, garbage, worthless. Her glare might have withered someone with a disposition more delicate than mine. All it did was sadden me, mightily. Devastated me, really, that the lesson her effervescently joyful child was receiving was that the white woman sitting on the bleachers was someone to be reviled.

Here was racism smacking me in the face.

That single incident changed me, really. At that moment, I understood, deeply,  what racism meant, on my very small and, albeit, insignificant scale. I was judged by my skin color, period.

I want to believe that the child grew up to be a young man with an open and generous heart, with perhaps some memory of his early grade school years when a woman with pink skin, or green skin, or purple skin, maybe, kept him and his friends in good-natured line at a Christmas play at Whitworth Elementary School in Seattle. That we giggled quietly and waited for the right cues, backstage, where in the darkened light, we were all the same color.

Wednesday, December 4, 2013

What if —

I'm reading a book titled Quantum Physics for Poets, and I'm able to get through about two pages an evening. Read. Reread. And read again.

It got me thinking today about this:

What if we reached a point in our discoveries about the universe where we had learned all there was to learn, and there was nothing left to discover, to reasearch, except the present, which quickly becomes the past. What would this do to our sense of expectation, as humans? Our predilection for hope? Pema Chodron, the Buddhist nun, advocates banishing hope from our consciousness, in order to embrace, and be content with, the present, and to live more fully with what we have instead of extending our desires into the future, and basing a future happiness, if you will, on events that may never come to pass. What if this were the case?

I proposed this to co-workers today as a premise for a novel, and the young neuro-scientist painting beside me quickly vetoed the idea, even when I posed it as a sci-fi novel setting.

"That will never happen!" He insisted.
Ah. The young and the hopeful.

We sparred a few rounds, then let the notion go.

But what if, indeed?
I wish I had it in me to write a novel. I like to think that in an alternate universe, in one of the infinite universes that exists in the Multiverse Theory, that I'm already well at work on that piece of writing. (Be sure to check my blog in the other universe — I'll post updates on the progress.)