Wednesday, January 31, 2007

Favorite Quote

"The final belief is to believe in a fiction, which you know to be a fiction, there being nothing else. The exquisite truth is to know that it is a fiction and that you believe in it wilingly."

Wallace Stevens -- from "Adagia"

Tuesday, January 30, 2007


Assignments are an important factor for my writing process. I need to have deadlines, even if it means that I have to wait till the last minute to meet the deadline. Word counts help a lot, too. Between 300 and 500 is a good goal to shoot for, in general for me. My friend Jason and I once did an assignment where we had to write an 83-word piece and send it to one another. We gave ourselves a deadline, too. Here is one of my 83 word pieces.

* * * * * *

I used to drive a copper-colored 810 Maxima Datsun. I drove it cross the desert with my dad to get to Houston. We stopped in Arizona to buy ice cold Lone Star Beer. We drank it in New Mexico between our bouts of fear of what it was we had the chance to do to one another. I wonder when he leaves his life if I will feel relief. I bet I won’t. I bet I won’t feel any of the ordinary grief.

* * * * * *

I like to figure out how to get the most breath, the clearest ambiguity I can, into 500 words. It requires making some painstaking choices, for sure. One wants to choose words wisely. I used to give my high school students an essay assignment where the topic was their choice but the word count had to be 500 words exactly. EXACTLY. In order to get at least a C, they had to meet the word count requirement. They were livid! "It's so hard!! Ms. Forster," they cried.

"Yes," I said, "It is."

"But it's not fair! What if I can't come up with 500 words?"

"Then you're not working hard enough."

"What if I have like 2500 words?" a star student asked.

"Then you're REALLY not working hard enough," I said.

The Sunday before this assignment was due, one of my student’s mothers called me, worried that her daughter was driving herself crazy trying to meet the 500 word requirement.

“She’s been working on the ending for 5 hours. I’m worried that she’s taking this too far. I told her that I’m sure Ms. Forster would understand if it were 439 words or 512 words,” she said.

“Actually, I want the essay to be 500 words exactly. That is the assignment, in fact.”


“It’s just that having to meet that kind of requirement teaches a person how to use economy of expression, how to capitalize upon diction.”

In general, her daughter consistently worked harder than the other students in class. I didn’t even have to read her paper. I gave her an A without hesitation.

Ultimately, word counts and deadlines create of me a better writer; that is, they make me show up and set something in writing on the page, a something I care about, so that I can call myself a writer.

After all, as the saying goes: a writer writes.

Monday, January 29, 2007

Celebrity Crushes

Top Three Celebrity Crushes I had when I was young:

#1 John Denver
#2 Sean Cassidy
#3 Bono

Sunday, January 28, 2007

Young Republican Camp: Part 1

When I was 16 years old, my parents sent me to Orange County's Young Republican Camp. OCYRC took place during the summer in a remote arroyo in Trabuco Canyon, off El Toro Road about 15 miles east toward the mountains.. The facilities sat nestled amidst live oak groves and rolling hills. Girls and boys bunked in separate dorm rooms; we ate our meals in a formal dining room; we met with Important Republicans in a conference center, screened videos in a media room, and had access to tennis courts. It lasted three nights and four days.

To begin, I didn't want to go. But my parents must have wanted me to go because they sent me despite my will to talk them out of it. It was non-negotiable. On the ride out there, I argued that I was not a Republican, and my father said, "that's one of the reasons you're going, young lady!"

My parents were Orange County Republicans. When I was growing up, they hosted several fundraisers at our home for politicians. Because my father had been the mayor of our small town, and because his family had lived in the town for 6 generations, he had some political clout. My mother had been a Democrat before she married my dad, but she finally switched due to the "if you can't beat them, join them" phenomenon. My father envisioned me growing up to become a California State Senator, and he'd be goddamned if I grew up to be a DEMOCRATIC Senator.

My father so loathes Democrats that if he told me if I voted for a Al Gore in the 2000 election, he would throw all my belongings out of his house into the street. Never-mind that I hadn't lived at home in over 20 years. One of his favorite photographs features him, his cousin Juan, and Governor George W. Bush at the Mission San Juan Capistrano. When Bush got to my father in the receiving line, my father said, "Governor, when you're president, can you give the Mission San Juan Capistrano back to the Forster family?" W. said "I don't think I can do that," according to my dad.

So Young Republican camp it was for me the summer I was 16.

To Be Continued....,

(Diego is crying and crying in the other room. I must attend....)

Favorite Foods

As a child, my favorite foods were

Flour Tortillas cooked on the burner then smeared with butter and rolled up
Bean and Cheese Burritos
Knudsen's Lime Yogurt
Bologna and Mustard Sandwiches
Tri-tip Steak cooked by my dad
Spanish Rice with Sour Cream (I thought I had invented putting sour cream on rice)
Chicken Pot Pies
Roasted Chicken
Iceberg Lettuce Salad with my mom's oil and vinegar salad dressing

Friday, January 26, 2007

Favorite TV Shows

My favorite TV shows when I was young:

Happy Days
The Six Million Dollar Man
Little House on the Praire
The Incredible Hulk
Dukes of Hazzard
Mutual of Omaha's Wild Kingdom
Mary Tyler Moore
Welcome Back Kotter

Thursday, January 25, 2007

Shohreh Aghdashloo

The first time I ever saw Shohreh Aghdashloo was when she played the mother in "The House of Sand and Fog," that awesome adaptation of the novel by Andre Dubus III. Ben Kingsley plays the husband/father. That movie slayed me. It was one of my favorite movies ever, mostly because of her.

Today I saw her at the MFAH, in the Hélio Oiticica exhibit. I was walking through this explosion of color, mostly oranges and yellows, and I see Marian Luntz, the MFAH's curator of film and video, walking with this GORGEOUS woman, whose voice sounds like honey warmed over glowing coals. Deep, sweet, resonant. I think, "I recognize her," and right when I think that, she sees me and says, "Hello, how are you?" And it sounds like she's truly interested.

"Fine, thank you," I say. "I adore your work."

Shohreh places her hands over her heart and thanks me. Then she says, "You have the most beautiful children."

"Thank you so much," I say. The air is warm and easy between us.

"And look at you, you are the MOST beautiful mother...your hat...." I was wearing a straw hat because the kids and I had walked to the museum on this first sunny day in a long time.

"Thank you," I said.

Then we said goodbye: she blew me a kiss, and I blew her a kiss back.

It felt as if we've known each other in another universe and here we were incredibly happy to see one another in THIS one.

And I admit that being called the MOST beautiful mother by Shohreh Aghdashloo sent me into happiness orbit for the rest of the afternoon and evening.

Wednesday, January 24, 2007

School Lunches

From Kindergarten to Eighth grade I attended the Old Mission School in San Juan Capistrano. We walked to school and carried our lunches with us in brown bags. From about 2nd grade on, my job in the mornings as the oldest child was to make our lunches. Sandwiches were either peanut butter and jelly, bologna and mustard, cream cheese and jelly, or tuna salad. Knudsens yogurt, saltine crackers, green grapes, tortilla chips served as snacks. We got a small carton of milk at school. There were days when my mom made the lunches because I woke up late or something, but she always put things like sprouts on the sandwiches, and that was totally unacceptable to us, although that didn't stop her. Our sandwiches were already untradable because we had to eat sprouted bread.

Tuesday, January 23, 2007

Tony Barilla

The first time I met Tony Barilla was at an IBP party at Greg Stanley's house on Rosedale, in a four-plex across the street from the Lawndale parking lot. He was standing in a threshold between rooms, propped against the door frame, quiet-like, watching things. He told me he was a musician, and I could have sworn he said he just moved here from Michigan. He used the phrase ex-wife in our conversation. He said the name of his band was the seximals.

He’s been a good friend for years. I hardly ever get to see him anymore, and I miss him.

Monday, January 22, 2007

Remembering the Future

Because I believe that time is not linear, that there is no hard past, present or future; that everything that has ever happened and will ever happen is happening now; because of these beliefs, I am able to remember the future. Some people may call this ability intuition, but not everyone who says intuition means it as remembering the future. Some people may call this same thing crazy.

For example, when I knew David was "the one," it was an occurrence of remembering the future. Before we were dating, we encountered each other one evening at a summer solstice party. Our hostess, a mutual friend, had been setting us up unconsciously (or consciously; she's highly intuitive herself) before that time. On a sultry Houston evening, I was on my way inside to get a drink, having left my date, my beautiful lesbian friend, C, sitting in the garden on a railroad tie. It was June 24, 2000.

On my way into the house, I hear the thought in my head: I hope I run into that beautiful David Brown. As I look up from the steps I'm ascending, there he his -- that beautiful DAB. I feel "there's the man I'm gonna marry." The next thought is "Wait a minute....WHAT?!!!???"

Once we were engaged and then married, people would ask me, "how/did you know he was 'the one'?"

"I knew. I felt it and I knew, but I don't know why I knew, how I knew." Later, now, I know that I was remembering the future.

I feel the same way about Clara -- I believe that she chose us. I felt her the morning before I got pregnant. Our house was infested with fleas. Not a few fleas: our house was infested beyond rational/natural measure -- we had moved out of our bedroom because there was a plague in there. We'd moved our mattress to our office, the mattress on the floor. One morning during the infestation, I was in the office, on the phone with my landlord, beseeching ONCE AGAIN for him to take care of the problem. He'd been trying to deal with the problem internally -- and there was boric acid (!) all over the floor of our bedroom for 10 days. I told him that I was sick of waiting, that I’d given him almost a month and a half to take care of the problem and that it hadn't yet been taken care of; therefore, the fleas better be gone by the end of the day, or else I was going to SUE HIM. I told him, "I could be pregnant, and your home remedies are not working. I may have to contact a lawyer regarding this negligence."

“Congratulations on your pregnancy,” he said.

“I’m not saying I am,” I said. “I’m saying I could be.”

Pest Control came out in the early afternoon, and the fleas were gone by the end of the day.

Clara was conceived at the start of the next.

There are a lot of other examples in my life of remembering the future, but these two are the largest ones.

Sunday, January 21, 2007

At 21, I attended my first literary reading: Galway Kinnell at the Laguna Beach Public Library. I had graduated from college that June; it was August; I’d be moving to San Francisco that November. I don’t remember how I knew Kinnell was reading at the library. Orange County, California is not the most obvious place for a New York, Contemporary American poet to give a reading from his latest slim volumes of poems published by Knopf. Maybe Kinnell has a cousin in Laguna Beach, or an old lover.

If there is anywhere for lovers, it’s Laguna Beach, California, one of the most picturesque places in the world, as gorgeous – if not more so – than any coastal Italian city. However, Orange County’s milieu (if you can call it that) differs dramatically from Italy’s. In Italy, for example, a person can buy a great loaf of fresh, warm bread at nearly every corner. In Orange County, sure you can get a good loaf of bread, but you might have to drive from one end of the county to the other to find it.

Kinnell read to a small audience, and I was mesmerized by his voice, his cadences, his use of words and the way he put them together. I went to the reading alone, wrapped in one of my great, great, great, great grandmother’s Spanish shawls, an orange one embroidered with flowers -- pink, peach, lavender, yellow and green. The scarf is over 100 years old, so the colors are muted, the silk thin. And it’s huge, probably 5’x5’ in measurement. There are long, heavy silk fringes that hang down from the scarves' edges. With it wrapped around me, I felt braver than normal, so after the reading I approached Mr. Kinnell and told him I liked his poems. After I said it, I felt faint. He asked me if I was a poet. I said yes because I knew I was a poet, but rather than feeling proud about this, I felt embarrassed.

When I applied to graduate school a couple years later, I was accepted with fellowships at two places, Houston and NYU. Sharon Olds from NYU called me and said, “Galway really likes your poetry a lot. We hope you’ll come here. Where else have you applied?” I said, “Houston is flying me down next week.” I said, “I need money.” She said, “If you need money, then we can’t compete with Houston.” And that was true. So here I am.

Speaking of that: I’m reading at Poison Girl this coming Thursday, Jan. 25. Reading starts at 8:30. Poison Girl is a smoky bar. Be warned. I’m not sure what I’ll be reading, whether poetry or prose. Probably a little of both.

Make Up Class

Last night, David and I had our SECOND date in ONE week, an occurrence so out of the norm these days that I forgot to post my memory for January 20.

Today I will therefore post two: one this morning and one this evening.

In high school, every class I took bored me, except the ones where 1) my teachers were funny (both haha and weird) 2) I learned something inordinately useful like typing 3) a cute boy sat next to me. Academics were secondary of course, as they are for most teenagers, as they would tell you if they trusted you enough.

Here are the classes I do remember:

Marine Biology -- because Mr. Manning seemed really out of it, but cool, too; like he was always stoned. And also because of the ring of aquariums lining the classroom.

Chemistry I -- because Mr. Pancini let me and Michelle Fosdick clean his test tubes in the glassed off storage room instead of making us do the class work. We got extra credit (probably to make up for the tests we were bombing because we didn't know the material).

Chemistry II -- where Mr. Babb ticked and touretted through his explanations of chemical reactions and barely acknowledged when a group's project exploded on a Bunsen burner.

American History -- where Mr. Johnson, who got the most popular sophomore in our class pregnant, said (and I quote), "In this class, if you want to get up and sharpen your pencils, you better be a girl, because I like to watch the girls jiggle as they sharpen their pencils. If you're a boy and you want your pencil sharpened, give it to a girl sitting next to you to do it."

Sophomore English -- because Mike Copeland was in the class, and I thought he was drop-dead gorgeous.

Spanish I -- because the senior Brad Somethingorother thought that I would let him cheat off my scantrons. And I did. Because I was scared not to.

Algebra II -- because Mr. Dye's dry wit made me laugh, and because I was the only student who laughed at his jokes, I was his pet.

Reading Development -- this was like a study hall, only a study hall where we had to read works selected by our teacher, a woman who had cancer and came to school wearing a bandana over her bald, chemoed head. Brad Somethingorother was in this class, too, and I remember learning to loathe him beyond measure because he was a complete idiot -- reflected in his desire to derail the teacher at every opportunity, even though our teacher was DYING.

AP English Literature and Composition -- Mr. Victor loved Alexander Pope and Samuel Johnson. I did not. I loved the Romantics. He did not. But he was the only teacher I ever had who played music during class as a lesson -- Pete Seeger singing "Little Boxes", and Don McClean's "Vincent" (Starry Starry Night). He also accused me of plagiarism in my paper on Jane Austen's EMMA. I did not plagiarize; though my use of the word primordial made him think I had. This false accusation scarred me for a long time: it indicated to me that some people thought I was dumber than I actually was. It was also the first indication that my writing was better than I believed it to be.

Friday, January 19, 2007


I listen to Clara crying in her room, making a real drama of not being sleepy -- she just won't let up tonight -- and in my head I'm yelling ENOUGH ALREADY! GO TO SLEEP. STOP CRYING. IT'S JUST BEDTIME FOR CHRISSAKES. IT'S NOT THE END OF THE WORLD.

I remember when I was a kid that on some nights I did not want to go to bed either. On those nights, I would sneak out of bed, crawl into the living room and watch tv from behind the couch. Sometimes I would just sit there and listen to the tv, not because I cared at all about the tv, but because I wanted to be near my parents a little while longer before I fell to sleep.

Thursday, January 18, 2007

recent memory

Driving home tonight from seeing IBP's presentation of today's Suzan-Lori Parks plays, Outtakes + the Three Constants, and also driving home from an Arts Initiative party at Winter Street, we hit a light at Pease and Louisana. While we were waiting for the light to change, a guy in a plaid shirt, tight jeans, a hoodle and a canvas book bag slung over his shoulder crossed the street. It was raining; the cold had lifted a little, still there was no one else out on the street there. David and I sat at the stop light for a beat, then the light turned green. David said, "It's a really weird world, and I don't understand it."

That sentence in that moment was the truest philosophy I've ever heard.

Wednesday, January 17, 2007


The first time, I was a sophomore in high school, maybe a junior. I can't remember. I did it with gin, and not just a little gin, a lot of gin, a tumbler full of gin. I had no idea what alcohol could do to a person. Gin looked like water, so I drank it like water.

I took it from my parents' booze cabinet, filled a blue plastic tumbler with it, smelled it, pinched my nostrils together to keep from having to smell it again, then drank it down so fast, faster than I had time to taste it, a method which seemed the best way to ingest the stuff, it being so rank and all.

I sat in the back of my Leah’s mom’s station wagon on the way to the game. I thought: I don’t feel anything. We were headed to a Capistrano Valley High School football game. By the time I arrived at the stadium, I was swimming, like the stadium was under the ocean. People seemed nicer. I sat in the bleachers and watched the football players scramble, jump and clobber one another over a little ball. Then I sat under the bleachers and looked at the ground. Everything sounded terribly loud. Then somehow I got home, although of course I can't remember how. I don't remember being sick later -- I don't remember anything after the ground under the bleachers.

I do remember that after that I could not drink gin for at least 15 years. I finally had myself a gin and tonic one California summer afternoon with my friends Andrew and Patricia. My taste buds must have regenerated by then. The drink refreshed me -- the effect, lovely.

But my first drunk kicked lovely's butt. It lived so far from lovely, I didn't drink again until I entered college. By the time I got drunk for the second time, I'd forgotten the pain of my first hangover. The second time -- a garage party in a house down the street from LAX -- left another hideous taste in my brain, so I didn't drink again until Spain.

Tuesday, January 16, 2007

Once Upon A Time

Once upon a time, David and I could sit around for hours in the evening, drink wine and talk to one another about enjoyable things. We would talk about things like ART and POETRY and THEATER and lalalalalalaliiiii --things other than our children, our beautiful, stimulating children.

The love we have for them is more than we know what to do with, and this extra love can sometimes feel like a burden because there is so much a person wants to do in life. So much it seems like it might be better to travel light. Children add heaviness, and well....

Well, it's a heaviness that's worth it.

One thing I've learned for certain from becoming a parent, and this can apply to everyone, not only other parents: don't work so hard to avoid the cliché. In fact, and after 20 years of experience of being an adult, I've come to realize that they're all true -- the clichés -- so it becomes a waste of time to try to invent a new feeling. Everything that one can feel has indeed been felt before. Therefore, spend time FEELING the feelings, rather than thinking about the feelings, because finally -- thanks to clichés -- someone has already done the thinking for you. And thinking is exhausting.

Here are some clichés that drive home familiar feelings that I wish I hadn't spent time thinking about because I would eventually experience them in person anyway: Children completely change your life; shit happens: all you need is love; old age is not for sissies; ya da da da da.

The best thing David and I have done together is to create our family, brought our two children into the world. That is a certain. It's also the downright scariest thing we've ever done together. But the love that comes with this awesome reality is not to be underestimated. It's a big love, a larger reality, the impossible made possible: A real, live storybook situation.

Monday, January 15, 2007


"Hi Monica!"

During my 14th year, strangers in my relatively small hometown started greeting me this way, mysteriously often. The first few times, I felt like I must be imagining it: Did I just get called Monica? Again? After about the 8th time it happened, the mistaken identity began to bother me.

"Who's Monica?" I asked my friend Leah.

"She's that other redheaded girl," Leah said. "She goes to Marco." Marco Forster Junior High School was the public Junior High School in town. I went to the Catholic school. Leah played fullback on the AYSO soccer team where I played goalie. We'd been Brownies and Girl Scouts together in Elementary. We were also in National Charity League together during high school. Incidentally, we also went to the same college, although we didn’t room together. Leah liked nothing better than to hang out and chat with me in the backfield while our forwards were running the ball furiously toward the goal. (I owe much of my former soccer goalie prowess to Leah's sieve-like defense of the goal box.) Leah went to public school; therefore, she knew this Monica. "She's taller than you are, but you look a lot alike," she said.

Instead of playing soccer, Monica danced ballet, which explains why our paths took so long to cross. We finally met when our different National Charity League subchapters convened at a common house. The girls in Monica's subchapter were debutantes. This meeting-nay-party was all about how to give ourselves manicures -- a very useful skill, like typing, for example; how to arrange flowers; how to sit down in a chair properly and what to do with your legs while sitting. My own subchapter did community service together: we candy striped; we patterned a local quadriplegic girl who had been paralyzed since birth; we delivered meals on wheels, read for Head Start students, walked together, along with our mothers, in the Swallows Day Parade. A few times, we met with California stateswomen, like Marian Bergeson. I have to say that as noble as these things were, I remember more from that one meeting where I learned manicure skills (always file in one direction), flower arranging skills (cut the stems under running water), and sitting etiquette (back up to the chair until the backs of your legs brush the seat; sit straight down; fold your ankes around one another and let your legs lean together to one side. Never! Cross! Your! Legs!).

It might have been through our participation in this group that my parents found out about Young Republican Camp, where they sent me when I was 16. But that is a totally awesome memory that I'm reserving for a future writing.

The moment I saw her, I knew I'd met my match.

"You must be Monica," I said.

"You're Christa!" she said.

"We don't look alike at all," I said.

"No," she said.

We stood staring at one another, trying to hide our greedy need to find our difference in one another. Then, recognizing our awkward silence, we tried to start talking again.

"I guess our hair color is kind of similar," I said.

"And it's cut sort of similar," she said. Our haircut resembled the cut that Tracy Austin, the 80's teen tennis star, sported in the 70s: longish, with bangs and slight feathering around the face.

"Yeah," I said.

Monica and I didn't say anything to each other for the rest of the party, and I never saw her again.

Sunday, January 14, 2007


My favorite trees are the Live Oak and the Eucalyptus tree. In Coastal California, the landscape is often dominated by one of three types of trees -- these two, plus the fir tree. There are 600 or so species of Eucalyptus trees, but the ones I like best are the ones that grew up around my childhood home -- the "ghost gums," called that because of their white trunks. These are tall, willowy trees with long, thin, fingerlike leaves that make a shhhshhhhing sound in the breeze. Their menthol scent is rich and heavy. Indigenous to Australia, they were happy transplants in the California soil; Abbot Kinney -- a famous Los Angeleno from the 1800s -- planted thousands of them in the Los Angeles basin. He was obsessed with these trees, as I am, and even wrote a book called -- no surprise -- EUCALYPTUS in 1895.

The most soothing sight -- besides the ocean -- I could find as a child was the one I had from my bedroom window of the eucalyptus trees on our back slope. I loved to watch them bend and sway against the blue sky. At certain times of the year, they would shed their bark in long strips. I loved to peel the bark, to see the smooth soft white trunk underneath. Sometimes, I peeled the tree's skin before it was ready to come off on its own. Then, underneath, the trunk was a cold, bright green. I remember feeling sad and sorry because I had hurt the eucalyptus by peeling its skin away too soon.

Saturday, January 13, 2007

The Body is the Servant of the Mind

I lived in Spain from 1986 to 1987. This period was another time in my history when I almost died. In Spain, though not especially because of Spain, or at least I don't think so, I suffered from extremely high fevers (another head malady), specifically fevers that reached 106.9.

The reason....There was no reason. Another medical mystery. The discharge record from the University de Salamanca Medical Clinic said "virus," because the doctors had no name for the reason. It wasn't TB, wasn't Rheumatic Fever, wasn't HIV, wasn't anything. The doctors didn't say "psychosomatic," but other people said it.

The Spanish family I lived with in the manzana named "Calle de Espiritu" would sit around the comida (late lunch) and bemoan how I'd been so beautiful when I first arrived in Spain for the AIFS exchange student program (pronounced eyefsss by the Spaniards), but how I'd become so ugly in the interim. Physically ugly. I had collapsed into unconsciousness several times during a University class -- once in Spainish economics and once in Literatura del Siglo Oro (The Golden Age). On those times that I blacked out in class, I was carried out of the classroom by my friend Angel, the Spanish student with whom I had an intercambio (a conversation where I practiced my Spanish and he practiced his English). Angel put me in a taxi and rode home to Calle de Espiritu with me, carried me from the taxi into the elevator, and then to the doorway of my apartment on Piso 7.

I was ugly because I was homesick for the United States, America, my mom. While in Salamanca, I wrote my mother's mother several letters thanking her for giving birth to her daughter, my mother. I was singularly depressed. The fevers probably were the manifestation of my depression, which was hot, not cold.

In addition, I was anorexic: I hadn't had a period for nine months. (!).

In truth, I woke up in Spain. I woke up to the reality that the body is the servant of the mind. I remember waking up one morning in the hospital, the one I'd been a prisoner of for nine days with a brain-damaging fever and a diagnosis of "muy mysteriosa." I could see the day outside from a small window in the far corner of my room. Through that window it was violently fall. Autumn in every shimmer of light, every shadow's hue. It was screamingly beautiful, not the least because there I was stuck inside, away from it all, relegated to a hospital bed, my roommate an old woman dripping black bile from her stomach into a plastic bag hanging below the sheet line.

While looking through the window at the glorious day I was missing, I realized that I didn't want to miss any more days like the one I could see through my window. Within hours of this revelation, I was discharged from the hospital. It wasn't a coincidence; only hours before the doctors had told my parents (by phone) to fly to Spain because I was probably going to die there.

The body is the servant of the mind. I forget this a lot, but it's true. "Nothing is good or bad but thinking makes it so," says Shakespeare. If I think I'm ill, then I'm ill. If I think I'm not, then I'm not.

Friday, January 12, 2007

The first few months after Clara was born, I'd be out on a walk with her in the stroller, and I felt nearly convinced that some random person on the street was going to approach me, shove me down, and run off, stealing her away from me. This feeling was a constant gnawing in my craw.

I was surprised when my sister Alicia asked me, after returning from a stroll around the block with Clara, "do you ever feel like someone is going to try to steal her away?"

"Yes!" I said. "I feel that all the time."

"It's like I kept looking at each passer-by as a potential baby-stealer," she said.

"I know," I said. "Exactly."

Today I noticed that I don't feel that way while walking with Diego in the stroller. It must be because I've gotten used to having a baby -- he being my second. I almost miss the feeling -- it belies a particular kind of new parent awe: how in the world was I granted the right to be this child's -- any child's -- mother?

Thursday, January 11, 2007

Pacific Ocean on a Full Moon Night

Sitting in the back seat of the El Camino station wagon, my dad driving, my mom in the passenger seat, homeward bound on Pacific Coast Highway after a party or dinner at a local Mexican restaurant, I would stare out at the ocean, mesmerized by the way the moon broke the sea open with a path of white, shimmering light.

Wednesday, January 10, 2007

French Bread Bags Don't Need to Move With You

Twelve years after my parents divorce, my father is moving homes again -- from a largish tract home on one hill to a largish tract home on another hill; this one with an ocean view. My sister is helping him move the stuff in his old garage to his new garage. She calls me to come rescue her from my father's old garage, where she's sure she's picking up the Hanta virus. I arrive at my dad's new house to find my sister unloading boxes from the bed of his pickup truck. I approach them through a maze of box upon box of empty wine bottles. "Dad," I say, "this is the kind of stuff you're supposed to throw away when you move."

"God dammit Christa!" He yells. "Your mother throws everything away. This is why she has no history! My family has a history! I am a historian! I'm a saver, goddammit. In the old days, people didn't just throw stuff away. If you needed some string, or some iron fillments, the nearest store was 40 miles away. You'd have to borrow them from a neighbor!"

"Okay, Dad," I say.

My sister interrupts, "Excuse me, Dad, but where would you like me to put this?" She pulls a lone french bread bag from the pickup bed and holds it up for my dad to see.

He points across the driveway, to the far corner lined with the potted flowers he spends his days tending, "Put it over in one of those boxes with the other french bread bags," he says.

355 Days/355 Memories

In homage to, or rather stealing the idea from Suzan-Lori Parks' 365 Plays/365 Days project, I'm going to post 355 memories in 355 days. Anyone who's been reading this blog knows what a challenge it will be for me to write something on it everyday. But I'm going to try. It's my contribution to the theater.