Tuesday, March 24, 2015


Dear Husb. never imagined he and Angelina Jolie would be mentioned in a sentence together, but I'm going to do it because he's unconscious on a ventilator in the University of Maryland Medical Center ICU heavily sedated from a fibula flap mandibular reconstruction jaw tumor and she said something wonderful today in her piece "Diary of A Surgery" for The New York Times about her choice to have her ovaries removed; she's at high risk for ovarian cancer.

She said, "The beautiful thing about such moments in life is that there is so much clarity. You know what you live for and what matters. It is polarizing, and it is peaceful."

Husb. looks like he's had bricks thrown at him by people who hate his smile and his way of life.  He looks like crap. Bar brawl. Border control. The scars are Mary Shelley Victorian lit shit. (I'll post pictures later, because he asked me to.)

You should see the other guy(s). They're state-of-the-art best-in-the-country medical bricks known as the good doctors Ord and Lubek, grown scholarly men I have clapped to my bosom with gratitude especially Dr Ord who is a Welshman, and, in my youth I spent a glory of days in Angelsey. Yes, wearing Wellington boots.

The waiting room for long-haul-to-Asia type flights of surgery like Husb's, was full of people like me, and -- one must imagine -- like Brad Pitt waiting for Angie. It was peaceful. I knew there was no where else to be. Nothing else to do. The focus was like the first time I looked through a microscope and at first everything was blurry and I was like, this sucks, I can't believe this is my big birthday present for turning 12, I can't see anything, and then -- the feathers of a butterfly's wing. 

I, who flail like a drowning man in a teaspoon of tepid tap water, am in the tao of the thing and --  it's a surprise to me too -- I'm not feeling too bad going over Niagara Falls in a barrel. 

Friday, March 13, 2015

There's More Water In The Solar System Than Was Previously Thought

"There's more water in the solar system than was previously thought." How's that for not burying the lede?

The Washington Post reported last night that NASA discovered an underground ocean on Jupiter's largest moon. 

To celebrate I've doused myself in Gucci's 90s perfume called, appropriately, "Rush" and I shouted to the dog, "Hey dog, where there's water there's life," and she rolled over onto her back to have her belly rubbed and we enjoyed the moment as only sentient beings can.

Fly me to the moon, I'm so excited, I'm listening to covers of famous swing songs on YouTube, something I also used to do in the 90s when I got caught up in the era of the Swing Revival and went to...wait for it... dance camp. It went so badly I thought Husb. and I were going to break off our engagement. I hissed at him, referring to the beat, why can't you find the one? You're Latino for fuck's sake.

I love a good science info graphic, as above, of Ganymede's interior, or in this link, about the mantis shrimp.

Rocky mantle. Ice core. Ice crust. These are superhero names. I wish I had an iron core.

Thursday, March 12, 2015

Weird Shrimp

The Boston Globe reported on this newly discovered 7 foot prehistoric giant anomalocaridid (from the Latin, meaning "weird shrimp") calling it "like an alien," and "as if a child put a jigsaw puzzle together incorrectly."

I say, let's call her Sylvia, after a babysitter I had as a child who taught me to play the opening notes of Jaws on the piano.

The Weird Shrimp can't help the way she looks, which is definitely "as if a child put a jigsaw puzzle together incorrectly" to which I would add, "during a fever dream" after "a bad reaction to antibiotics" "at an Ashtabula, Ohio Episcopalian sleep-away summer camp for the first time."

I'm so judgey, though. I did learn some good songs at that camp. And I braided a lot of lanyard.

Yesterday in mindfulness meditation class we were instructed to take off our socks and look at our feet with interest. We noticed we could judge them (mine: calloused, heel-cracked, off-puttingly odd angled, frankly scary) or consider them with compassion.

With gentle receptivity we could cradle them as ours, that is, valuable, hard-working, here for an undisclosed but perfectly good reason in the mechanism of evolution.

Tuesday, March 10, 2015


My mom tried to bond with me when I was 16  by taking me to swim the dolphins in Key Largo. Not a euphemism.  The dolphins that were supposed to happily zip around their enclosure with me on their back smiling a big white American Girl On Spring Break smile, ignored me.  I bobbed in the water, awesome smooth totemic marine mammal-less.

We saw a lot of manatees, though.

Manatee comes from manati, the Taino word for breast. Manatees are also the origin of the myth of the mermaid. (See: sailors, drunk.)

What should the collective noun for manatees be? I vote for "a sea lettuce." A big head of romaine is what zookeepers in Pittsburgh would feed the Aquazoo's resident manatee when I went there as a kid. I went there a lot. Chuckles, the Amazonian river dolphin, eyed me through the murk of his tank with what I convinced myself was trust. Save me, he seemed to be saying. Do it.

An aggregation of manatees was rescued last month from a Florida storm drain near Cape Canaveral. They had gathered in our wastewater outfall, trying to warm up.  It's been a hard winter for everyone. Leonard Nimoy died. Lisa Adams died.

But yesterday the sun was out, and it was so shocking, so yellow, so beautiful and warm that I stood in it, letting it pour over me like soup from a ladle, and I understood exactly those manatees in the storm drain.

Friday, February 27, 2015

Blue-rayed limpet

Blue-rayed limpet sounds like a Shakespearian insult.

However scientists at Harvard and MIT this week have -- and I quote -- "examined the 3D nano-architecture of the photonic structures embedded in the limpet's translucent shell" (I won't even pretend to know what that means) to find out how these tiny, fingernail-sized North Atlantic limpets glow so gorgeously blue.

Maybe I wanted to know, and maybe I didn't. Maybe I wanted them to be lines of wish-granting electric aquamarine drawn on by some diminutive shellfish fairy. Can't a middle-aged suburban mother of two have some magic?

It has to do with the zig-zag way the shell's calcium carbonate has formed. But I was happy. "Zig-zag" appeared as an adjective in a peer-reviewed scientific journal and I have never seen that before.

Wednesday, February 18, 2015

Let's Be Serious

I'm so far from being a samurai poet like Mazahide (above), or his teacher, the master Bashobut last night our furnace started smoking. It filled the basement with smoke and carbon monoxide and the detectors went off at a high pitch I couldn't hear but DS, 9 could hear and he told me, and Husb. and I called the necessary numbers yelling into the phones over the sound of the barking of the alarms as they got louder and everyone could hear them and then...we scrambled around the house grabbing essentials, in case we were never to return.
Never to return. Those are poetic words, and shouldn't be used lightly as I have just done.
DS, 9, brought a Ravens dufflebag he won in a raffle, filled with Lego minifigs that he says are "exclusive." Me: iPhone and charger, wallet, and five days worth of anti-inflammatories. Husb:  iPhone, wallet, leather I'm-not-a-schlub teacher briefcase and a book about being an Earthman on Mars. DD, 7: A stuffed animal cat with magnetic nursing kittens. No one packed socks or underwear or toothbrushes.
I thought -- I don't want to die with  my essentials in a NFL-themed duffel -- and then we ran from the house into the polar wind, dressed incorrectly. Hats, scarves, mittens we'd also forgotten. For heat we could burn the Mars book? Eat the kittens? I thought about refugees from the war in Syria, and previous wars. And famines. And droughts. 
The point is, I can see the moon alright, as a result of this experience and here's what I've learned: you never know what's going to happen, when your furnace is going to smoke or the tide rise, so you should have a go-bag.  

Tuesday, February 17, 2015

Oh, Waiter, This Conversation Isn't Very Good

It had been so long (more than more than a year) since Husb. and I had had a date night that when my mother (yes, my mother) organized a date night for us my first reaction was, Oh, shit.  

My mother is always do-good-ing. I admire it when the object of quality of life improvement isn't me

The word  rusty came to my mind, closely followed by middle-aged, and doughy. And that was my wardrobe. I have a snake-print DVF knock-off wrap-dress from 1995. 

I hadn't had my roots done in awhile, these days the word "toenails" is more likely not followed by the word "polish" but "fungus" and "Did you call the dermatologist?" which is gross but, we've been married more than a decade and the fruit of my loins is not a Georgia O'Keeffe painting. 

The door to the bathroom stays open for there is no polite way to get the work of house-holding done as we yell to each other, "Did you defrost the meat, hon?" "Did you sign the permission slip, hon?" "You've been on the throne awhile...hey, asshole, are you watching House of Cards?"

Would we need a conversation menu

Thankfully not.  Like one might capture an angry badger in a flour sack I cinched the wrap-dress tight around my "waist," (success!) but with the boots I overshot. 

In trying to zip them over my cankles, I struggled with the zipper, and grew frustrated because I knew Husb. was watching me hoping against hope for a Pretty Woman tableau. I gave the zipper a final yank, grunting like a longshoreman, and I lost my balance and knocked my head against armrest of the hotel armchair real slo-mo and sexy-like.