Monthly Archives: August 2011


In reading an article about Helen Mirren in a magazine, something she said about sexuality caught my attention:

Sexuality for girls is so complex and tricky. I was never beautiful, but as a young woman, beautiful or not is sort of irrelevant. Being a sexual object is mortifying and irritating, yet it’s giving you power–an awful power that you’ve done nothing to deserve, a powerless power. I think some young women fall in love with that power…

The quote stopped me because the power of that power was what I was trying to portray in Princess Henriette in Before Versailles and hopefully portrayed in Rene de Keroualle in Dark Angels…..the heady excitement of knowing you’re noticed, of seeing your effect upon men….how that notice can become so needed….the power of beauty. Mirren contends that is may not even be beauty; it may simply be sexuality, a girl’s sexuality that makes her desired by the other…..I love the articulation of “an awful power that you’ve done nothing to deserve.” Is it truly powerless? I don’t think so.

What do you think about sexuality in girls on the verge of becoming women? What do you think about the power Mirren speaks of?  Did you have it? How did you navigate it?

Ah, the stuff of novels for me…….


Not knowing is a place I don’t like to land in. I know with my rational mind that there’s really nothing I know for certain, nothing I have or own that is for mine forever, guaranteed, not even relationships. I can discuss the theory of this quite beautifully at some dinner party or with a friend. But being in it again, as I am now, is distressing. How I long for security. How I long for permanence. How I long for knowing. I don’t know what to do about my mother, who has Alzheimer’s. Continue her living with family or move her to a facility? I don’t know what to do about my career, whose heartbeat I can’t find these days. I am Tennessee Williams’ cat on a hot tin roof, my mind pacing, jittering from one thought to another, searching for solutions, searching for a hold I know isn’t there.

I would like to beg you dear Sir, as well as I can, to have patience with everything unresolved in your heart and to try to love the questions themselves as if they were locked rooms or books written in a very foreign language. Don’t search for the answers, which could not be given to you now, because you would not be able to live them. And the point is to live everything. Live the questions now. Perhaps then, someday far in the future, you will gradually, without even noticing it, live your way into the answer.

That’s Rilke. And here’s another suggestion: Friend, don’t let the world run you crazy. The world ain’t even honking at you. You just think it is……..

What do you do when you don’t know what to do? Be still, I guess. Be still and valiant in the unknowing….



the wall

I added to my collage wall today. It’s been a long time since I’ve done that. I’ve stepped into the last year of my ninth seven-year cycle….I move into the beginning of a new seven-year cycle next year. The base of this collage wall is a drawing made sometime in my forties, when my internal life resembled a trek in a fire-ravaged forest, no green visible anywhere. Atop that is life since then, anything that has attracted the magpie in me….pretty ribbon, words from friends, beautiful art cards or wrapping paper, a few photos. I can see it from where I work, and sometimes I’m amazed at all that’s pinned up there, amazed that I really no longer remember much of the fire.

I’m moving into an end game in this journey. I don’t write that to be dramatic, but to be soberly clear with myself. There may be less than one seven-year cycle left to me, or I may attain more. What do I want to do with this long or short season left? Health, for one thing, as I watch Alzheimer’s take my mother. A live Robert Earl Keen concert instead of just listening to the mix my son made for me, that’s another, but small. If it doesn’t happen, I won’t really care. I don’t long for foreign lands, but I do long for meaning.

Time for another bucket list, a deeper, gutsier one….what’s yours? What would make you say, today, today is a good day to die?




The cats and Youngest Grandson have reached detente. There won’t be war, but relations remained strained and wary, at least on one side. When he was crawling, they could watch him from a distance if they were so inclined and then leisurely stroll off as he made his way toward them. Now, he walks.

The last time he came over, both were in their deep nap time. He’s so excited when he sees them, saying Cat! in a loud voice and often squealing, which neither cat is fond of. In fact, the squeal is usually when they disappear. But this time, neither moved as he approached slowly. I’m trying to show him how to go slow. I like it that they are more accepting of him, but I also know he has to be careful. I held his hand so that he could very softly pet one of them. It was almost more than he can bear. Cat! he said loudly, then there was the delighted squeal and a stomping of feet and a crow of laughter. The squeal sent one running, but the other didn’t budge, other than to open a green-hued eye. There was another stroke or two, then I distracted him to finding the other cat, which of course we didn’t. (Cat go bye-bye, he said to himself over and over.) I don’t want this to descend into scratches, though cats can be elegant in their boundary setting.

I have a memory of my older grandson. He was at the walking age. We were taking a walk, and there was a cat atop some front steps. The cat just watched as he exclaimed and walked up the steps. He was so excited and eager. Before I could move, something in his excitement went too far, and fast as summer lightning on a desert plain, the cat reached out and smacked him hard on the head, twice. No claws extended, just two very hard taps. Then she was gone.

He sat down in tears and wailed. I laughed as I comforted him…..What a velvet stop-it-now….the best I’d ever seen.