Feminist Review on Bluebird

This short but meaningful book is a smart combination of self-help, memoir, and academic study. Gore does not surmise a remedy for the blues, she does not use her life as an anecdote to overcome defeat or as a guiding light toward beatitude, nor does she use statistics and theory to expose her education. Instead, Bluebird: Women and the New Psychology of Happiness is a collection of wise womanhood, the crannies of optimism that are too often ignored.

With eloquent emotional pacing, Gore forms a convincing argument that happiness, particularly among women, has been historically understudied and oversimplified in her academic field. She asks, “How is it that psychology— once envisioned as a great healing art—has gotten to this place where our neuroses are considered so much more valid than our resiliences?” Gore bravely takes on the secret of joy by combining her personal memoirs with history, science, and first person accounts of real women experiencing real happiness. Her words have the contagious effect of positivism without the obnoxious, evangelistic ethos found so often in the self-help aisle.

Papergirl flow

I fold newspapers in the still dark morning. I fold them in three and snap a rubber band around the middle.

I am the first in our neighborhood to know that Mount St. Helens has erupted, that Ronald Reagan has won the presidency by a landslide, that John Lennon has been murdered.

My fingers black with ink, I pack the newspapers into the metal basket of my sparkly blue three-speed bicycle. I pedal fast. I spread the news…

Read more…

gnash your terrible teeth

Maurice Sendak is cracking me up.

from Amy Graff at sfgate:
Maurice Sendak tells parents to go to hell

This Friday, October 16, the movie adaptation of Maurice Sendak’s Where the Wild Things Are opens in theaters.

The poignant 10-sentence book about an angry boy who is sent to bed without supper and sails to a magical land overrun by wild creatures has been made into a full-length feature film with a script by director Spike Jonze (recently interviewed by the Chronicle) and local boy Dave Eggers.

Ever since the media got word of the film, reporters have hounded Sendak, Eggers, and Jonze. One of the main questions reporters are asking is, Will this film based on one of the best children’s books of all-time be appropriate for children?

The creative minds behind this film have seemed to dance around this question in most interviews, but Sendak freely spoke his mind for a Newsweek story, appearing in the October 19 magazine. Sendak, Jonze, and Eggers were all interviewed for the story.

Reporter: “What do you say to parents who think the Wild Things film may be too scary?”

Sendak: “I would tell them to go to hell. That’s a question I will not tolerate.”

Reporter: “Because kids can handle it?”

Sendak: “If they can’t handle it, go home. Or wet your pants. Do whatever you like. But it’s not a question that can be answered.”

Jonze: “Dave, you want to field that one?”

Eggers: “The part about kids wetting their pants? Should kids wear diapers when they go to the movies? I think adults should wear diapers going to it, too. I think everyone should be prepared for any eventuality.”

Sendak: “I think you’re right. This concentration on kids being scared, as though we as adults can’t be scared. Of course we’re scared. I’m scared of watching a TV show about vampires. I can’t fall asleep. It never stops. We’re grown-ups; we know better, but we’re afraid.”

Reporter: “Why is that important in art?”

Sendak: “Because it’s truth. You don’t want to do something that’s all terrifying. I saw the most horrendous movies that were unfit for child’s eyes. So what? I managed to survive.”

Big Red

I am sad this morning because my Gammie Evelyn died. Here’s a picture from when she came to Portland last month for her 91st birthday. (with Maria, Shannon Wheeler, my mom & lil’ tuxedo Max)… And an incomplete story I wrote a few months ago…

Big Red

My Gammie Evelyn drives a big red Cadillac. She calls it Big Red and it smells like Coco Chanel.

We speed all over Orange County because Big Red can handle the speed bumps and the police never stop my Gammie when she’s driving Big Red. It’s summertime, of course. It’s always summertime in Orange County because I’m on break from school and the sun is shining. It might be summer break or Thanksgiving break or winter break or spring break. It doesn’t matter. It’s summertime when she picks me up at John Wayne Airport and my Gammie says, “You’re beautiful, Ariel, but you’ve got to be kidding with that hair. Can’t you put it up? I mean, honestly.”

“You’re marvelous of course,” she says. “Do you have a beau?”

“No,” I tell my Gammie. I don’t have a beau.

And she says, “Well, not now, but soon the fellows will want to take you out and just remember, you don’t pay. When a fellow takes you out, he pays the bill.”

I am 12 years old and I listen intently because my Gammie is beautiful and she wears red lipstick and she paints her long fingernails red and she wears her hair in a bun tied with a bright red scarf as she speeds down the Pacific Coast Highway in Big Red.

My Gammie Evelyn’s house is painted coral orange.

Inside, there is soft, plush coral carpet, and in the guest bedroom soft, plush yellow monogrammed towels.

How are her towels always so soft?

On the low black coffee table in the living room there’s a big crystal bowl full of mint and chocolate candy.

How is the candy never stale?

I sit on the plush carpet in front of the coffee table and I eat and I eat and I wonder how my grandmother keeps the bowl full, how she keeps herself from eating it all when she gets up in the middle of the night to pour herself a glass of milk and bourbon.

thinking about Revolutionary Letter #19

by Diane di Prima

(for the Poor People’s Campaign)

if what you want is jobs 
for everyone, you are still the enemy, 
you have not thought thru, clearly what that means.

if what you want is housing, Industry 
(G.E. on the Navaho reservation) 
a car for everyone, garage, refrigerator, 
TV, more plumbing, scientific 
freeways, you are still 
the enemy, you have chosen 
to sacrifice the planet for a few years 
of some science fiction utopia, if what you want

still is, or can be, schools 
where all our kids are pushed into one shape, are taught 
it’s better to be “American” than black 
or Indian, or Jap, or Puerto Rican, where Dick 
and Jane become and are the dream, do you 
look like Dick’s father, don’t you think your kid 
secretly wishes you did

if what you want
is clinics where the AMA
can feed you pills to keep you weak, or sterile,
shoot germs into your kids, while Merck & Co. grows richer

if you want
free psychiatric help for everyone
so that the shrinks,
pimps for this decadence, can make
it flowers for us,

if you still want a piece 
a small piece of suburbia, green lawn 
laid down by the square foot 
color TV, whose radiant energy 
kills brain cells, whose subliminal ads 
brainwash your children, have taken over 
your dreams

degrees from universities which are nothing
more than slum landlords festering sinks of lies,
so you can go forth and lie to others
on some greeny campus

THE ENEMY, you are selling 
yourself short, remember 
you can have what you ask for, ask for 

Maia & Max

Just back from L.A. & other lucky adventures — got Maia settled (or something like it) in her new digs. Went to the mountains & saw some pretty big fish swimming upstream.

Here’s a picture of the kids from earlier in the summer…

your instructions

In 2008, vow to be more creative
And less work-a-day.

* * *

It was coming ‘round time for the annual solstice puppet show in Portland and my friend Moe gave me a call.

She said, The people, they need instruction going forward into the new year. Will you give an astrology reading before the show?

Now, I’ve asked Moe for a favor or two in my day. And my friend Moe has never refused me. Well, I guess she has. But she’s always been very polite about it, so it’s not like I could say, Why don’t you go ask one of those bitches who didn’t just give birth?

So I said, All right.

I’d give the new year’s astrology reading.

But then I awoke the day before the show and I said to myself, I said, I AM NOT AN ASTROLOGER. I mean, if Moe wanted an astrologer, why didn’t she call Rhea Wolf?


I mean, what am I?

I closed my eyes.

I said, God, What am I going to tell these people? They need instruction, going forth.

And when I opened my eyes there was this sort of impish woman standing in front of me, with grey hair. And when she opened her mouth I swear she sounded like she was from the Bronx.

I squinted my eyes, because you know I don’t see so well. I said, God?

She said, No, Grace Paley.

I said, Grace! You’re not God.

And she said, Jesus Christ, Ariel. God’s busy. But I brought you the instructions. And she handed me this piece of paper.

This is a famous poem, she said. Maybe they’ve heard it before. But it’s high time they heard it again. Only this time, tell them they oughta listen.

Because in these times of dire beauty when truly everything we do matters, these are your instructions.

* * *


It is the responsibility of society to let the poet be a poet.

It is the responsibility of the poet to be a woman

It is the responsibility of the poet to stand on street corners
giving out poems and beautifully written leaflets
also leaflets they can hardly bear to look at
because of the screaming rhetoric

It is the responsibility of the poet to be lazy to hang out and

It is the responsibility of the poet not to pay war taxes
It is the responsibility of the poet to go in and out of ivory
towers and two-room apartments on Avenue C
and buckwheat fields and army camps

It is the responsibility of the male poet to be a woman

It is the responsibility of the female poet to be a woman

It is the poet’s responsibility to speak truth to power as the
Quakers say

It is the poet’s responsibility to learn the truth from the

It is the responsibility of the poet to say many times: there is no
freedom without justice and this means economic justice and love justice

It is the responsibility of the poet to sing this in all the original
and traditional tunes of singing and telling poems

There is no freedom without fear and bravery there is no
freedom unless
earth and air and water continue and children
also continue

It is the responsibility of the poet to be a woman to keep an eye on
this world and cry out like Cassandra, but be
listened to this time

* * *

In 2008, vow to be more creative
And less work-a-day.

Vow to be a responsible poet.

If the bald eagle
can make a come-back

why not you?