Saturday, April 04, 2009


Because I could care less these days
about poems or writing poems, 
they tumble from the tummy easy-
like, which is weird because
both my kids were ripped and torn
from me like MacDuff was 
from his mom.  Maybe they'll 
be cops, or thespians, when grown. 

Also, people talk about 
language like it has its own
address, somewhere foreign but
recognizable, like
Canada. I don't get
it. Language is like skin 
or air. Wear it. Breathe it in.
It matters when it keeps us here.

Friday, April 03, 2009

Shaken, Not Stirred

by Christa Forster
(in celebration/degradation of National Poetry Month.)

In the end the swivel sticks
did nothing for me, casualty
of gin. Whatever cherry darling
I believed I was betrayed
me from inside out and all
my songs were sung, my rings rung,
Fun no longer fun. Options
gone but one: trundle in
the earth. Children by the berth. 
Husband throwing dirt. Black shirt.

Now the shaking keeps me steady,
Yes, it does, dear Teddy, yes
It does. A pounding from my feet
via calves, knees, thighs,
through my cooch busts apart
large white rocks hectoring
My heart with sound-proof strategies,
diminishing returns, orgies
where no one really ever came
anyway: my mark finally clear.

Wednesday, April 01, 2009

April -- National Poetry Month.

Where l attempt to write a poem a day in celebration (or is it degradation?) of National Poetry Month.

by Christa Forster, April 1, 2009

Who doesn’t love a river, dark
And deep, the sights unseen
Along its shores – eyeless Oed,
His punctured queen and mother,
And other dead celebrities
Like these? Sure it’s stuffy
Underneath the earth, hard
To breathe and difficult to walk,
Too. Throngs of endless sinners
Seek relief – they all want you.

The river’s got its own roots,
But unlike trees, its roots resemble
Fangs, or tendrils of disease.
Tubers tumor in the current,
Tunneling into traffic jams
Near the raw maw of infernal
Pangs, a heart-like mouth, full
Of fire and despair. O wonder
You’re above it. Look, a dam!
Perk up. And comb your hair.

Friday, March 27, 2009

Where AM I?

I'm so sick that I somehow missed getting tickets to see Alvin Ailey and Sweet Honey and the Rock at SPA this weekend.  Parenthood, coupled with revising my novel, gives me the worst tunnel vision.

Tuesday, March 17, 2009

Two Funny Women


This Wednesday, writer Gwen Zepeda will discuss her practice and read some of her stuff at the Spacetaker SPEAKeasy.  Gwen is one of my favorite new writers -- she's funny, piquant, and totally readable.  I'm loving her new novel, Houston We Have a Problema, published by Grand Central. for more info.  FREE,  6:30 p.m.


This Friday and Saturday, March 20 and 21, Michelle Ellsworth is at Diverse Works with The Objectification of Things, which she says is about "taking objects from our lives and making them subjects."  The first time I saw Michelle, she stunned me with All Clytemnestra on the Western Front, where she singlehandedly retold the Illiad from the point of view of Clytemnestra, playing every character herself. After seeing her, I trekked to Boulder, Colorado to workshop my one woman show -- Antilogical Pedagogical --  with her, which was one of the highlights of 2003 for me.  She will offer you a way of thinking about performance that you have not thought of before. for tickets and info.

Friday, February 06, 2009

25 Random Facts about Me

Rules: Once you've been tagged, you are suppose to write a note with 25 random things, facts, habits, or goals about you. At the end choose 25 people to be tagged. You have to tag the person who tagged you. If I tagged you, it is because I want to know more about you.

This is a meme.

1. I thought I'd already done this list, but I can't find where (I thought) I saved it.
2. I believe my inability to find the first version of this list means that it wasn't meant to be.
3. I trust that things "mean to be."
4. I met Barak Obama in April 2008, and he was surrounded by a totally visible white aura.
5. I thrive within a clear-cut structure, and because I subscribe to the idea that I must create my own system or be enslaved by another's (a la William Blake), I I'm saddled with the responsibility to create my own clear-cut structure. I spend a lot of time tinkering with my self-made structure, thereby leaving little time for me to thrive within it.
6. I have no doubt that I am my own worst enemy.
7. The animated advertisement to the right of my typing this note -- of a bouncing girl wearing a pink bustier with the headline "Mate 1: Intimate Dating" and the copy "Swing!" --distracts me because 1) the girl appears to be bouncing up and down on something priapic 2) Is it an ad for swingers? and why is it showing up on my page? 3) it's a pretty darn clever ad -- because it lured me to scroll down and see what she was bouncing on (nothing, as it turns out) -- and I'm a sucker for clever ads.
8. I'm the type who watches the super bowl for the ads.
9. My favorite shows during childhood were
a. Happy Days
b. Little House on the Prairie
c. The Six Million Dollar Man
d. The Love Boat
10. This list is not a virtuous distraction from the virtuous work that I must do, but for some reason I feel justified letting myself think it so.
11. 11 is one of my favorite numbers, besides 3 and 9 and 22. Do you see the pattern?
12. I'm one of the 11:11 advocates.
13. I received a grant three days ago for a memoir project.
14. Which means that I better finish revising the draft of this novel I've written so that I can get cracking on the memoir.
15. I write poems, songs, performances, plays, stories, essays, emails, blog posts, articles, journal entries, to-do lists, grant applications, grocery lists, status updates, and checks, among other things.
16. In high school, I was a varsity cheerleader.
17. I also sang in the choir in high school and college.
18. The highest fever I've ever had was 106.7 (when I was 20). I could not talk correctly for two years after that fever.
19. Sometimes I feel like my husband is spun from gold.
20. I have a touch of the hypochondria.
21. I'm gluten-free/casein free because my body needs to be.
22. 22 is a master builder number.
23. My ancestry is Irish, Mexican, English, Dutch, West Indian, and African American.
24. 24 was a very, very hard year for me.
25. It took me 30 minutes to write this list.

On the Meme "25 Random Facts about Me"

I do not agree with the backlash against the Facebook meme, 25 Random Things about Me, as seen in Newsweek and Time, among other places recently.  The jist of the backlash is that this meme is stupid and harmful and a waste of time.  In the Time article, a statistic cites 800,000 hours of productivity as being wasted on participating in this particular meme, although I'm not sure how the writer came up with this statistic.  I'm intrigued with the discussions taking place about this meme in the national news, as well as on my "wall"; I'm intrigued by the emotions stirred up in me as a result of these discussions; and  I'm also intrigued by my friends who choose to 1) not respond and 2) disdain it publicly.  Overall, I think what I'm most intrigued by is the fierce and charged emotions that are resulting from the act of sharing "Random" (well, as random as 25 carefully selected facts can be) details from one's life with others on Facebook.

First of all, I am a lovah not a hatah.  I enjoy reading the specific details my friends and acquaintances reveal about themselves, because most of the people in my "friends" list are actually friends or acquaintances I like; therefore I'm not opposed to knowing more about them.  In fact, I relish the opportunity.  These carefully selected random facts from their lives are offered with a spirit of generosity, pleasure and risk.  I like knowing that my friend Amy freezes rice.  Or that Miah believes in a secret siblinghood of shared birthdays.  I appreciate the the tone, the style of each person's list. Writing -- as opposed to talking -- especially in this catalogue form (i.e., the list) is a quick way for a person to reveal personality, whether consciously or not, not only through the content, but also through their form (for example, what he writes next -- how his mind associates).  Perhaps because I'm a writer, and therefore a de facto armchair anthropologist, dilettante psychologist and weekend scientist, I thrill to revelations of personality, because they are eminently useful to me in the creation of literature (whatever form my literature takes).  

I'm interested in the anger the meme seems to inspire in people who don't want to respond to it; for example, Time's Claire Suddath calls the meme, "viral narcissism," and scathes that "it's just so stupid.  Most people aren't funny, they aren't insightful, and they share way too much. " It may be true that people aren't taking care to think beyond the moment they're writing; for example, they might not have considered what could happen if  their boss -- whom they've not yet "friended" but might in the future -- finds out that they hate their job.  Perhaps some of the people in Claire Suddath's cyber-circle of friends do fail to show a larger intelligence.  However, it's also possible that Ms. Suddath's anger reveals a resentment less about the meme and more about her choice in friends. 

Steve Tuttle's piece in Newsweek from February 4 has a similar tone -- an I-am-so-much-more- human-than-Facebook tone.  He addresses the notion that the hours he spends on Facebook are wasted time (a feeling I'm familiar with), resulting in a loss in productivity (a feeling I'm also familiar with), and he insinuates that this "time-wasting" is endangering our global philanthropic fabric.  "When I think about all the hours I wasted this past year on Facebook, and imagine the good I could have done instead," Tuttle writes, "it depresses me.  Instead of scouring my friends' friends' photos for other possible friends, I could have been raising money for Darfur relief, helping out at the local animal shelter or delivering food to the homeless." First of all, what Steve is sorta blind to is that he could be doing these things ON Facebook.  If there isn't already a "Send Economic Relief to Darfur" group on Facebook, Steve could start one. Furthermore, I've noticed that two of our local animal shelters -- BARC and PAWS -- have Facebook groups, thereby widening not only the possibility of acquiring more volunteers, but also that a homeless animal will find its soul mate.  Also, regarding delivering food to the homeless, if this is something Steve did regularly BEFORE he joined Facebook, then maybe he might have considered going on a fast -- a Facebook Fast -- so that he could get back to feeding those hungry people!  What Steve decides to do in the wake of quitting Facebook is go back to the bar.  No doubt that action will help him accomplish the lofty goals he named above. 

My intuition tells me that people who are anti-25 Random Facts about Me are people who feel insecure in general, people who don't want to risk being known because they're afraid that people might judge them poorly.   They're plagued by Facebook because it acts, as do all social groups, like a mirror (or in this case, a hall of mirrors), reflecting their nature back to themselves.  And they just can't bear to face the freak show they might find there. 

Wednesday, January 28, 2009

Right Brained

Like Jill Bolte Taylor -- aka The Singing Scientist --  I've experienced brain "trauma" that has radically changed my perspective about how to live.  Listening to, and watching Dr. Taylor give her TED talk about her "stroke of insight", I started bawling because I identified so much with her revelation and the potential it has for reshaping the reality of our world.

I suffered my first brain trauma when I was 20: a series of high grade fevers ranging from 103 to 106.7.  I emerged from the last one with expressive aphasia, a condition associated with Broca's Area of the brain, the area that governs our use of language and speech patterns.  In my case, I lost my ability to locate and select the correct words for what I wanted to say, and, also, my ability to construct sentences using "proper"syntax.  So for example, I might be sitting at a bar with a friend, and ask "How's that mascara?" when what I want to say is "How's that margarita?"  Or if asking for the time, I might say, "On your wrist, that thing, round, what time shows it?"  After maybe five years, I was able to once again feel in control of my language capacity, but the foray into the loss of control was a beautiful and life-enhancing experience for me. The second  trauma I experienced at 39 was a brain hemorrhage, specifically a subarachnoid hemorrhage.  While I emerged from this "unscathed" (unlike Bolte Taylor did), I did come out of it with an understanding of just how lucky I am to be alive, what an incredible gift it is, and how I never want to take it for granted, how I want to be grateful for my life every single day.  Compared to Bolte Taylor's insights, my understanding seems trite.  However, as trite as it sounds, the practice of this gratitude, this not-taking-my-life-for-granted is one of the hardest, most complex tasks I've ever undertaken.  The outcome of my efforts thus far, however, have shown me that miracles are constantly happening, and are only a blink away from being noticed most of the time.  When I shift my gaze, the truth -- nirvana -- really does come into view.  

If watching Bolte Taylor's TED talk is difficult from this site, then go here, to TED directly.  If you haven't been introduced to TED talks yet, I hope you might find something to appreciate.  I feel safe in saying I bet you will.

Thursday, January 22, 2009

I sometimes visit a site called Daily Strength to help me cope with stress that stems from my family's dietary restrictions.  Today I was reading a doctor's recommendations for coping with Osteoarthritis.  I was compelled to comment on this doctor's blog after reading because NONE of her recommendations for alleviating pain involved dietary changes.  

Here is my comment:

Almost three years ago, I started experiencing symptoms of Osteoarthritis in my fingers, ankles and feet. I could barely walk upon rising from bed in the morning! At the same time, my 5-month-old infant started showing symptoms of eczema. Because a naturopathic doctor recommended a gluten-free/casein-free diet for my infant, suspecting his eczema was exacerbated by food allergies, and because I was breast-feeding my child at the time, I eliminated products with wheat-gluten and dairy immediately from my own diet. I'm not exaggerating in the least when I say that within two weeks, all of my joint pain DISAPPEARED, and it has not returned since. My infant son has been spared from severe eczema outbreaks as a result of our dietary habits. We have been gluten-free and casein-free since then, and I'm convinced that this diet has safe-guarded our health. I'm now regularly able to jog three miles easily. My son's eczema remains mild and confined mostly to his hands.

Melissa Diane Smith's book
Going Against the Grain was an informative and enjoyable read to help me understand the negative effects of wheat gluten on the human body. 

It amazes me that most doctors, including my children's pediatrician, still roll their eyes when I share that we're gluten-free and dairy-free.   So many people in the medical profession still believe that food allergies are a myth!  Why are these intelligent people so hesitant to embrace the idea that we are what we eat?  Why are they so reluctant to admit that diet is the #1 place to let the healing begin?

Do they scorn preventative medicinal measures, such as dietary changes, because they subconsciously believe they will lose money once people are healthy again?  I hate to think it, but I cannot understand why this subject is still scoffed at in many doctor's offices.

Friday, January 16, 2009

I Am My Own Mother

In my haste to get to CVS this am for some Zicam (take at the first! sign! of! your! cold!), I didn't notice that I'd put on different shoes. You might see how I made this mistake: While they are clearly different from one another, they share one obvious trait -- both are BRONZE. According to my husband, bronze loafers should remain the province of fashionable senior citizens.  

Thursday, January 15, 2009


Who:  Christa  Forster, Gwendolyn Zepeda, Chris Dunn, Hank Hancock, Jacsun Shah
What:  Literary Salon
When:  Tonight, Thursday, Jan. 15, 6:00 p.m.
Where:  Space 125 (next door to Stages Repertory) on Allen Parkway
Why:  Past Recipients of the Individual Artist Awards from the Houston Arts Alliance
How:  Reading

Wednesday, January 14, 2009

"This Shaking Keeps Me Steady"

Theodore Roethke's poem "The Waking" contains a lot of power for me.  This morning, I repeated the above line from his famous villanelle over and over while running around Memorial Park.  I started jogging VERY slowlyin October 2008 because the Chinese Medicine doctor who was healing me, Dr. Wang, told me that in addition to doing 300 jumps a day and eating bitter, sour and spicy foods I needed to exercise more.  I told him I had been walking two miles everyday.  He smiled, chuckled and shook his head.  "That's not enough," he said, "you need to shake your body. If you're already walking two miles, why don't you jog them?"

Because jogging is hard! I thought.  

But it turns out, if I do it really, really slowly, with the only intention being to shake my body, jogging is not hard.  In fact, I'm amazed at how easy jogging is.  Granted, most of the other joggers on the trails whiz past me.  I'm just a few paces faster than the fast-walkers; however, if I'm only doing it to shake my body, speed matters not a jot. 

And it makes me feel good.  And the pain that was hurting me -- completely wracked back -- has alleviated.  I shook it out of me.  

Tuesday, January 13, 2009

It's been so long since I last posted that I paused when having to type in my user name and password.  

Gwendolyn Zepeda chastised me this morning for not updating my blog to let people know that I'm reading with her, Chris Dunn and Hank Hancock at Space 125 this Thursday, January 15 at 6:15 p.m. 

I met Ms. Zepeda for the first time this morning while we were being interviewed by St. John Flynn (pronounced Sinjun, which makes it rhyme with Flynn) for KUHF's "The Front Row," which will air tomorrow sometime between 12 and 1 p.m.  88.7, people. Check us out.  I'll be reading on the air my poem "Chaos Theories," which is about the meaning of life. In case you're wondering what the meaning of YOUR life is, check out mine and see if we're compatible. 

Houston Arts Alliance Literary Salon
Space 125
Thursday, January 16, 2009
6:15 p.m.
3201 Allen Parkway
(next door to Stages Repertory Theatre)