Friday, November 28, 2008

Baby, It's Cold Outside

“God, I’m stuffed,” he said. “I think I just broke a commandment or something.”

“A deadly sin, you mean,” she said, smiling. “Gluttony, right?”

He glanced at her legs folded on his couch. Her skirt rode higher when she sat like that.

Black stockings.

“Yeah, right.”

“I didn’t know a table could hold that much food,” she said. “I think I heard wood groaning.”

He bit the flesh of his cheek. Hard.

“Nah, that was my dad’s chair. Begging for mercy.”

She swatted him on the arm. They caught the glow of the TV in one another’s eyes. Quiet laughter died.

Staring at the muted football game, each grew painfully aware. The silence dragged into the fourth quarter. Game tied.

“Well, thanks for inviting me, Steve. It was a really nice gesture.”

Her feet struck the ground. Slipping those heels on.

“Oh. No problem. I know it sucks to be away from family on Thanksgiving.”

“And thanks for the record player! Yeah . . . wow.”

She was nodding really fast. Wine glass now consigned to coaster.

“Sure. I never really use it anymore.”

“Speaking of which,” she said, jabbing her thumb toward the door. “I should go ahead and load it in my car.”

“Really?” He cleared the whine from his voice. “I mean, it’s pretty cold out there.”

He shivered to prove it.

“Yeah, I should get on the road. ”

“It’s supposed to snow . . . ”

Her lips curved. A bit.

“Probably all the more reason I should go. Otherwise, I might be trapped here. Overnight.”

“Oh. Right.” His cheeks felt like two chestnuts, roasting. “Sorry.”

“Unless . . . ”

He pounced.


“Unless you have some good records here?”

On the television, some guy kicked a field goal.

“I think I can find something.” He stood, passing into the hallway. His pace struggled to match his smoking blood, but it was a losing ballgame.


He turned.

Her ankles crossed on his coffee table. No heels. Wine glass cradled in her lap.

She grinned.

“Make it something warm, okay?”


[Ray Charles and Betty Carter singing the holiday classic]

Monday, November 24, 2008

My News

Me in Paris, 2001

Now that I've signed the contract, I can finally share the news I've been busting to spill for a couple of weeks.

My novel, Plum Blossoms in Paris, is going to be published by Medallion Press.

I was a bit stunned to hear this from my agent, Jeffery McGraw of The August Agency, because the book has been on submission for almost a year and a half with no takers. Yes, there were near misses, but I had about lost hope. 20 rejections (maybe more--I can't bear to tabulate them all) will do that to you. But to Jeffery's enormous credit, he believed in the book, and kept submitting. And eventually, he found an editor who loves it. Persistence pays! It's been a two-year journey from the completion of the novel to an offer, but sometimes it just takes that long. So to all of you who are wilting on a path of endless waiting, keep the hope alive!

Anyway, I'm thrilled that the book will be published. It's very exciting. I will say this, though: as big of a jolt as I received from this wonderful news, it still does not compare to the sustained high I enjoyed from inventing that story, and loving those characters. Recognition and validation are important, but the act of creation trumps all. I better keep writing.

That said, I really do look forward to sharing the novel with all of you! In 2010. So stick around...

Friday, November 21, 2008

Waves (Letters: Part One)

(Letters is my series exploring a war-time
relationship across the miles.)

Dearest Patrick,

Remember our summer day by the lake?

You wore khaki shorts, I wore a lavender dress. You walked, I skipped. You brought a picnic basket. I brought a hunger. You wanted that bench. I coveted wildflowers.

We settled for leaning my lobster back against your white legs. I laughed as you fed me grapes off the vine. Neck tilted back, hair sweeping your thighs.

Do you remember crushed grapes? Our lips' sweeter wine?

After eating, you tried to talk me into swimming. But I convinced you to settle for the high tide of these arms. There, we shivered and clung. To the deepest end. Happy enough to want to drown. So happy I sobbed from the heat of seven suns. Bodies shimmering like strings, strung.

Do you remember our vibrations? The water I cried?


We haven’t known this day, have we, my sweetest. My love. And with you over there for another tour of duty, it must seem that I’m clawing ghost castles from a drought desert sand.

But . . .

Winter is a nap, spring is a yawn. Our love will stretch its arms again. And until it does, let these words dive between your ears, and fill you with Leo’s lullaby.

An ocean does not freeze. The ripples from my shore will swell into waves, all crashing into you.

My darling. This flood.


Part Two is here

Wednesday, November 19, 2008

Art Talk

The lovers

The other man

"I get it."

"That would be a first."

“You have a thing for the nerd.”



“He never looks at me, though.”

“He sits like he’s got something
to hide. Know what I'm sayin'?”

“He’s inscrutable . . . an enigma . . . a-a-a genius!
But why do I bother. You'd never understand.”

“I understand. I understand that a dude doesn’t sit
like that unless his creator short-changed him.”


“You’re the one with all her marble hanging
out and about. Heh. Not that I mind, baby . . . ”


“That’s it. He’s so dead. I’m gonna—”


“Seriously, just watch me—”

"Uh huh. You do that, Samson. Meanwhile, I'll just
lie here and dream what he could be thinking of . . ."

"I bet I know."

“You don't have the slightest inkling! Not the
first clue. Oh, but it's no use! No use at all.
I'll never know. My white matter will never be able
to penetrate his grey matter . . . the dark depths
of such humanity . . . that fine, tormented soul . . ."


(My apologies to Rodin and
The Cleveland Museum of Art.)

Monday, November 17, 2008


A halo hangs above my head, where sunlight streams and bends.

Find it there. Feel its balm.

A warm hand to choke the chill seeping through autumn’s cracked skins. It's held aloft by all these good deeds:

Leaves break and unwind, in lieu of summer’s butterflies. Cradled by a briny stream. Floating bridges upon which unwinged creatures dash and lean. Above the terrible drown.

Footsteps like raindrops.
The heartbeat of a forest.
A river of psalms.

I hear it all.

The voices in my head fall silent.

But for how long.

Friday, November 14, 2008

A Meme...and A Tease

Okay, I stole this "Have you ever...?" meme from my good friend, Vesper. I have bolded the things I've done so far:

1. Started your own blog
2. Slept under the stars

3. Played in a band
4. Visited Hawaii
5. Watched a meteor shower
6. Given more than you can afford to charity
7. Been to Disneyland/world
8. Climbed a mountain
9. Held a praying mantis
10. Sang a solo
11. Bungee jumped
12. Visited Paris
13. Watched a lightning storm at sea
14. Taught yourself an art from scratch
15. Adopted a child
16. Had food poisoning
17. Walked to the top of the Statue of Liberty
18. Grown your own vegetables
19. Seen the Mona Lisa in France
20. Slept on an overnight train
21. Had a pillow fight
22. Hitch hiked
23. Taken a sick day when you’re not ill
24. Built a snow fort
25. Held a lamb
26. Gone skinny dipping
27. Run a Marathon
28. Ridden in a gondola in Venice
29. Seen a total eclipse
30. Watched a sunrise or sunset
31. Hit a home run
32. Been on a cruise
33. Seen Niagara Falls in person
34. Visited the birthplace of your ancestors
35. Seen an Amish community
36. Taught yourself a new language (started, anyway)
37. Had enough money to be truly satisfied
38. Seen the Leaning Tower of Pisa in person
39. Gone rock climbing
40. Seen Michelangelo’s David
41. Sung karaoke
42. Seen Old Faithful geyser erupt
43. Bought a stranger a meal in a restaurant
44. Visited Africa
45. Walked on a beach by moonlight
46. Been transported in an ambulance
47. Had your portrait painted
48. Gone deep sea fishing
49. Seen the Sistine Chapel in person
50. Been to the top of the Eiffel Tower in Paris
51. Gone scuba diving or snorkeling
52. Kissed in the rain
53. Played in the mud
54. Gone to a drive-in theater
55. Been in a movie
56. Visited the Great Wall of China
57. Started a business
58. Taken a martial arts class
59. Visited Russia
60. Served at a soup kitchen
61. Sold Girl Scout Cookies
62. Gone whale watching
63. Gotten flowers for no reason
64. Donated blood, platelets or plasma
65. Gone sky diving
66. Visited a Nazi Concentration Camp
67. Bounced a check
68. Flown in a helicopter
69. Saved a favorite childhood toy
70. Visited the Lincoln Memorial
71. Eaten Caviar
72. Pieced a quilt
73. Stood in Times Square
74. Toured the Everglades
75. Been fired from a job
76. Seen the Changing of the Guards in London
77. Broken a bone
78. Been on a speeding motorcycle
79. Seen the Grand Canyon in person
80. Published a book (um...)
81. Visited the Vatican
82. Bought a brand new car
83. Walked in Jerusalem
84. Had your picture in the newspaper
85. Read the entire Bible
86. Visited the White House
87. Killed and prepared an animal for eating
88. Had chickenpox
89. Saved someone’s life
90. Sat on a jury
91. Met someone famous
92. Joined a book club
93. Lost a loved one
94. Had a baby
95. Seen the Alamo in person
96. Swam in the Great Salt Lake
97. Been involved in a law suit
98. Owned a cell phone
99. Been stung by a bee

I also thought this was an excellent opportunity to tease some news I will hopefully be able to share soon. For those of you who have known me awhile, the clues are in the photo, a couple of the bolded points, and one that isn't bolded...but really wants to be. ;)

Thank you, Vesper! I enjoyed this one.

Wednesday, November 12, 2008


Though it swells and contracts
to the rhythm of our
geometric captivity,
the moon is not inconstant, no,
but guards the night
with sweet severity

Monday, November 10, 2008

Full Circle: One Year Anniversary

Yes, Murmurs is one today.

It is difficult for me to express what this blog has meant to me over the past year. It began as a bit of an escape--a place to grow my writing and indulge my creative impulses--but it has evolved into another home. One that I share with all of you.

So thank you for visiting, and connecting, with me! I love our little corner of the neighborhood. Your support and good will have repeatedly recharged me, whenever my doubts ignited, and my discipline flickered.

I now trust that this candle will burn deep into the night.

Friday, November 7, 2008


“What’s taking so long?” she said. “This is ridiculous.”

“Welcome to the American health care system,” he said, looking everywhere but at the lung films on the illuminated screen. “If they can fuck you over, they will.”

She glanced at the photograph of the surgeon’s kids on his desk. “Insurers, maybe. Not the doctors.”

He shrugged.

“If it makes you feel better to think that.”

She tried to take his hand, but he lifted his wrist to check the time. Then he remembered that he wasn’t wearing a watch. Nothing metal in the MRI.

She reached for his knee instead. “Hey.”

His eyes scanned her hand. She could sense him tensing like a wary dog, before he finally sagged in submission.

“Hey,” he said.

“What’s wrong?”

“Besides the stage II tumor in my lung, you mean?”

He laughed.

“You’ve been pushing me away for days now," she said. "Ever since we got the first X-rays."

“No, I haven’t.”

“Will, please.”

Her voice scraped a raw sore.

He seized her hand, pressing the cold, pinched fingers to his face.

“I’m sorry,” he said, his breath warming her palm. "So sorry."

“But why? Why won’t you let me help you?” she said, touching his cheek.

“I don’t know,” he said, resting his neck on the back of the chair. “Too ashamed, I guess.”

She bristled.

“You didn’t ask for this!”

He glanced sideways at her. “That’s not entirely true.”

“No. You couldn’t help it,” she said.

He gently cleared his throat.

“But that’s not the point, really. I can handle that burden.”

She watched the small vein in his temple bulge past its skin.

“What, then?”

He stood and walked to the X-ray screen. Stared at the cobwebs in his chest, and the small, angry spider in the left lung’s lobe.

He shook his head.

“I just hate what I'm doing to you.”

She rose and went to him. Peeled him away from the black and white reflection. Placed her hand on his chest.

Warmth flooded her body.

“Can you feel it in there?” he said. "Sometimes, I think I can."

She smiled at him.

"No," she said. "No, I can't."

For all she felt was their heartbeat.

Wednesday, November 5, 2008


The land is wide weary,
It's been cold for?

Time to fly that new song,


The hope of millions carries—

That these feathers of time will hold us aloft
That fractured continents still might touch

Monday, November 3, 2008


The waltz of the clouds
rolls high above our thorns,
yet we will arise
from Plato’s dark cave,
and watch our shadows
dance with their forms