six word story no. 172

The duck confite was perfectly divine.

dine

 

Brought to you with joie de vivre and a giant bonne anniversaire to Nora, by Journaling as Sacred Practice: An Act of Extreme Bravery. Available now on Amazon.

Girls and Other Mysteries

2014-07-27-girls_cover-thumb

::REVIEW::

That you can never truly know another person is the central truth of Rufi Thorpe’s debut novel, The Girls of Corona Del Mar, but the book is so much more than that. It is also a coming of age saga, one where the narrative begins with two golden-skinned teens in sun-drenched Corona Del Mar, and it ends years later and universes away.

 At the onset, best friends Mia and Lorrie Ann share lives as intertwined as any pair of young girls. So close are they, that they can’t see the stark difference between them as anything but symbiotic. Mia’s divorcee mom scrapes by in a second-rate apartment to make ends meet. Even after she remarries and Mia’s brothers come along, they remain planted in the same spot, as if by gravity. Lorrie Ann’s parents conversely, a divinely bohemian couple, sink roots steadfastly in love and music. To Mia, Lorrie Ann’s family represents the happy ideal of an intact family.

It turns out that Mia gets pregnant in high school, and naturally, it is to Lorrie Ann that she makes her confession. Seemingly chaste Lorrie Ann, the saint to Mia’s sinner, helps her through the subsequent abortion. At the end of high school, Mia is the one who goes to Yale to pursue a degree in the classics, while Lorrie Ann becomes pregnant herself, and chooses to give up on dreams of college to have the baby.

But Lorrie Ann’s baby is born horribly deformed and from then on, she can’t seem to catch a break. She marries her baby daddy, who when his restaurant job can’t cover the requirements of his special needs family, enlists in the army. Then he is deployed to Iraq and is killed. Poor and struggling, Lorrie Ann eventually loses custody of her son.

Alternately, Mia becomes a scholar. Fifteen years later, their two lives intersect in Istanbul, where Mia and her fiancé, Franklin, are transcribing ancient narratives about the Sumerian goddess Inanna. Lorrie Ann calls Mia out of the blue and Mia goes to the marketplace to meet her, only to find her old friend traveling with a clutch of jet-setters, and addicted to heroin.

The reunion is predictably strained. Mia is just beginning to realize that she may be pregnant. She confesses as much to Lorrie Ann, who promises to keep the secret until Mia comes to terms with which path she will ultimately choose. Mia is afraid to tell Franklin, who is the best thing that’s ever happened to her. She is afraid that he won’t be ready to be, much less want to be, a father. But Lorrie Ann betrays her confidence and reveals all. One could say that as her friend, Lorrie Ann does what she feels is in Mia’s best interest. She can clearly see how much Franklin loves Mia. One could also say that as friends go, it isn’t Lorrie Ann’s secret to reveal to the fiancé of a friend she hadn’t seen in a dozen years.

Friendship. Betrayal. The nature of love, and the powerful lure of ancient mythology. Thorpe’s novel is a deep and layered journey, and for anyone who has ever deeply loved a bestie, it is well worth the exploration.

–Cynthia Gregory

Watch for my upcoming book: An Inspired Journal; the Art and Soul of Creative Nonfiction. Available soon on Green Tara Press at Amazon.com

dog daze

During this year’s extended vacation (HIGHLY recommended and thank you, Tim Ferriss), I adopted a puppy. Well, he adopted me. You know how that goes.  At any rate, he’s spectacular and I’m getting to know more about his poop schedule than I would have imagined. Still, he’s worth it. I mean, look at this face:

winston meditation

Here’s a TGIF tribute to all the happy puppies and all their happy people.

write now

journaling It was the most amazing, powerful, insightful, fabulous Yoga and Creative Journaling Workshop for Women, well, ever! We got your Crow, your Eagle, your Down Dog. Plus, we got your expository writing to not only knock off any proverbial socks, but to actually take you to that place you’ve always wanted to go but didn’t quite know the way. Yeah, it was like that.  And just to prove it, here is a little creative journaling sample:  I

n my tribe I am  loved, appreciated, and seen. There is no apology no room for shame, for what-ifs, if-onlys, no be seen not heards. This is a party palace, baby! This is where I am the celebrated and the celebration. I am the fireworks and the parade! But wait —  is this the same as hunkering down with syrupy sychophants? Oh, no my dear. My tribe both supports me and calls me on my philosophical slight of hand, my fancy emotional tap-dancy work. My tribe loves music and animals and sustainable living. It appreciates beauty, even the most imperfect beauty. This is a tribe of passion and compassion. This tribe has good taste and isn’t afraid to use it. Oh, Tribe of my dreams, I would climb into your mouth and sleep in the shadow of your teeth. I would brush your hair 100 strokes before tucking you in for the night. I would make you hot chocolate from scratch with baby marshmallows for breakfast and I would cut all the crusts off of every piece of toast in the world for you. My tribe speaks like a Windigo from Love Medicine. My tribe has eyes so deep you could drown in them. Namaste, peeps! — Cynthia G.

poem::poet::poetry

marigold

Sylvia Berek Rosenthal is a prolific writer. And it’s no wonder, as Rosenthal, a resident at Oakmont at Montecito in Concord, CA, who will turn 92 this August, has had plenty to write about. Her latest book, Marry Me With Marigolds, is a delicious collection of poems that reads like the spicy narrative of an interesting life. The genesis of Marry Me with Marigolds began when Rosenthal won First Prize in the  2010 Benicia Annual Love Poem contest.

The writer strongly resembles someone’s smart and jolly Nanna, with her shock of white hair, large black-framed glasses, bright floral silk jacket. She smiles gleefully. “It felt so nice for an old lady to win with a love poem,” she says about the contest.

Sylvia Rosenthal didn’t begin writing poetry until she was 75, an age when people tend to be outspoken with their truths. The poetry in this collection reflects a whole lot of truths, as it was written in the 15 years between 1997 and 2012. Many of her poems are funny and downright irreverent. Some are rich and tender. In all, her personal voice rings true. In the poem called “Maid in America,” she speaks of how her parents met.

My mother was born in Detroit.

You can’t get any more American than that

Can you?

When she turned seventeen she met my father.

He spoke Yiddish and Polish

She spoke only English.

They had no trouble.

Pillow talked worked just fine.

When she turned eighteen

They celebrated by getting married.

One year later

World War One

Began.

 

In the book’s namesake poem, Marry Me With Marigolds,  Rosenthal uses language in a way that is both playful and evocative:

Marry me with marigolds

Tempt me with your tenderness

Covet me with coriander

Chocolate and

Cloves

Favor me with foxglove

Gather me with the garden’s garland

Circle me with summer squash

Sesame and

Sage

Woo me with water lilies

Nurture me with nutmeg

Pamper me with peppers

Red green and

Gold

And I will stroke

Your balding head

Bake you babkas

Cook you cabbage

Pat your pot belly

If you will only

Marry me with marigolds.

Rosenthal may live in Concord, CA, but to hear her speak, you know she is pure New York, where she was a grade school teacher and guidance counselor. Her husband, George, was a ceramicist and artist. For years they lived something of a bohemian lifestyle, sojourning back and forth between New York to San Miguel de Allende, Mexico. After a time, the Rosenthals moved to San Antonio, Texas, to shorten the commute between San Miguel and the states. 

It was when the couple lived in Texas, that Sylvia discovered poetry.  Her husband had broken his shoulder and was recovering from surgery and she had tired of being his nurse. “I decided to take a writing class at the San Antonio branch of Texas University and the only two courses available were poetry and a business writing course,” she explains. “I wasn’t going to write letters, so poetry it was.”  In San Antonio, Sylvia became deeply involved with local writing and poetry communities. In San Miguel, she wrote columns for the Atencion and El Independiente newspapers. 

Her first book, Mrs. Letsaveit, is the collected body of these columns, which are mainly food literature essays very much in the style of Sonoma County’s M.F.K. Fisher.  The cover of Mrs. Letsaveit features a close up photograph of some of her late husband’s ceramics. The direct and humorous essays filed between the covers of the book are redolent of a happy home as Rosenthal describes her life in Mexico through a series of narratives about cooking and eating food. “Think of it as recipes through a  filter of Like Water for Chocolate,” she says, referencing the 1989 best selling book by first-time novelist Laura Esquivel. In Mrs. Letsaveit, Rosenthal writes about making bagels, corned beef, Mandelbrot, and other family favorites in Mexico, far from New York – or Texas style grocery stores.

An avid reader and writer still, Rosenthal is a member of the San Miguel PEN and San Antonio Poets; she is now involved in writing and poetry groups in the Clayton/Concord Area. Is her work fact or fiction? She smiles mischievously and replies, “I like to think of poetry is a piece of the truth, but not all of it.”

Sylvia Beren Rosenthal’s books are available on Amazon.

a gift for fiction

alice in wonderland

“Your story, that story that keeps replaying, the interaction of your expectations and what happens, the narrative, the disappoinments and the way you process it. . .it’s all invented.

“Ambien, the popular sleep aid, doesn’t actually help people sleep much more. No, the reason it works is that it’s an amnesiac. Ambien makes your forget that you didn’t get a good night’s sleep.

“. . .[our story] it’s all invented. It’s still real, the pain is real, the frustration is real, but the story that’s causing it all is something we made up, and something we can change. The pain is real, and so is a path to changing it.” 

–Seth Godin

The thing is, what is your story? What is the thing you repeat to everyone who will listen, about that thing that happened to you. The Course in Miracles says that we are all operating under a shared illusion and the fact that it’s shared, doesn’t make it any more real.

So what about it, cookie? What is your story? For goodness sake, make it a good one!