Tuesday, March 24, 2009


After my 4 mile bike ride this morning I decided to stop at the Cow's End for a smoothie.  The wind has been gusting here in L.A. and everyone knows that the day after a storm is guaranteed to be gorgeous, especially by the beach. I ordered my favorite, Sun Splash, and took a micro sip before hauling my bike and my drink down the Cow's End steps. 

What happened next unfolded in slow motion. The bike bumped, the cover flew off the smoothie, the drink jettisoned up and spun around, spraying thick, iced juice on innocent bystanders. A chorus of "ooooh's" echoed and as the cup fell to the ground it splashed the remaining drink over my bike, my body, and the cement. I was thankfully wearing a hat and sunglasses and didn't have to meet anyone's angry eyes. A kind man ran to me with a wad of napkins. "These are for you," he said, but he kept half of them and crouched down to help me clean up the mess. "Thank you," I said in a low voice. We scrubbed like Cinderella and I grabbed a few more napkins to clean off my bike, my shoe, my sweats. I was dying of thirst but too humiliated to go back and ask for more. I hopped on my bike and rode off - Wicked Witch speed - to my apartment. 

What did I learn from that? I asked as I peddled furiously. I could still feel the eyes watching, could still hear the collective gasp from the crowd. My shoulders and neck hunched in shame. I suddenly began to notice the other physical symptoms of shame as they played out in my body  - the feeling of ants crawling behind my ears, a weight on my eyebrows, a flutter in my stomach. Ah ha! I thought, as I neared home. These are the feelings the character in my novel experiences on a daily basis - an hourly basis - every second of every day! 

I am home now. Thirsty. 4-dollars poorer. But I am ready to dig in to my novel again and give it the shame layer it is currently missing. Wipeout as creative inspiration? You betcha.

Tuesday, March 10, 2009

The Phoenix has landed

New nephew Phoenix Miles Caloyeras was born on March 4 at 4:43am, weighing in at 9lbs 5oz. This kid is so unbelievably cute. He looks just like big brother Peter. (Photo credit: Sheila Clark)

In other news, I just found out I'll be teaching a course called Literature of Madness next fall. Sure, I proposed it, but it didn't occur to me that I actually had to create a syllabus. What do you think will be on the reading list? Would love some suggestions. I'm thinking J.D. Salinger, Plath, Gilman, etc. I might add myself to the list as my new novel is making me mad (in all definitions), but that's another post...