Archive for June, 2009

We left our watches…

June 30, 2009


We left our watches, left them on the nightstand, next to a half glass of water with a ring of condensation under it, sweating through the night.  Some hours before, I crossed your fields, burned your crosses, dressed your burns, and ripped your dress, or at least I talked about it or maybe it was you doing the talking.  You were beautiful and spiritual and endless and a fourth thing that I cannot describe or explain or now even recall.  The images were fleeting, sexual and possibly in black and white, but mostly grey.  The lights flickered on and off.  By your hand, by your foot.  In the moments after, I seemed confused but I felt that I was not.  You looked at the clock but could not quite make out the hands across the room.  The sun was going to come up soon or it had just gone down.  The natural light was falling faintly across the ground outside your window.  Later you were gone, writing, and I was finding myself where I was supposed to be.  I looked at my watch, drank the water, and waited for you.



Tapas & Wine Party

June 29, 2009

Table of Spanish tapas and wines

Next Tuesday, I’m planning a little wine and tapas party for a few of my friends. I wanted to share what’s on the menu:

I’m hoping to have a nice Spanish, Argentinian, and Chilean wine. Maybe a summer white. These are my hopeful picks:

Marqués de Riscal (Spain)
Sangre de Toro (Spain)
2006 Montes Alpha Series Syrah (Chile)
Cuvelier Los Andes Gran Vin 2004 (Argentina)

Calamaries Fritos
One of my all time favorite tapas (although I don’t recall ever eating them “as” tapas in Spain, Calamaries fritos are fried squid. Love to eat them with a chunky marianara sauce or with nothing but a little mayonnaise and a chunk of baguette.

Tortilla Espan~ola
Possibly one of the most popular and simple tapas in Spain is what’s commonly known as the Tortilla, or potato omelette. When I first lived in Spain, I must have made this every day for an entire six months. They’re very addicting. Basically just potato and egg. That’s it.

Jamon Serrano con Melon
This is a perfect mezcla of sweet with salty. Jamon Serrano is a thinly sliced deli ham, akin to the Italian Prosciutto. Wrap it around a thick slice of honey dew and it’s perfect flavor.

Chorizo con pan y Queso de Manchego
Bread, cheese, sausage. Can’t live without this combo! I’ve chosen Manchego, which is a hard cheese and chorizo sausage, which, despite a million varieties, I will have no choice but to pick up whatever the supermarket carries at the time. hopefully sweet and not too smoky.

My mother-in-law makes a great gazpacho, or cold tomato soup. Most people are surprised when it comes out looking so “pink” as opposed to the classic red. This is usually due to the variety of tomatoes used and whether or not she’s added watermelon.

Sardinas y pan
More bread, but this time, I’m pairing it with sardines and maybe even mussels. We’ll see… But these are very popular tapas in Madrid.

A little Paco de Lucia, Carmen Paris, Lola Flores, Jose Mariano, etc.


She’s smiling

June 29, 2009

She’s smiling
She’s smiling at him
She’s smiling at him but you can’t see him
Because he’s not in the picture
But he’s smiling back at her who is
And they’re laughing about a joke he just told
Something funny
Something funny about a Vespa
And wearing matching crocs
Something that makes her laugh so much
That she feels like she’s connected again
That she feels like she’s in the right place
For the first time
And smiling

I teach therefore I am (going nuts)

June 26, 2009
OK so, I am not presently teaching. I am learning to teach. I will teach in the fall. Got the job. Yahoo. But at present, I am poring over pages of printed documents that my supervisor sends me that are quite overwhelming; documents that say things like: Perhaps you could give checks, check-plusses, and check-minuses based on a rubric that you give students. Maybe a certain number of each within the three-part range can equate to a grade that falls under a “prewriting activity” portion (worth 5% or so) of the final grade.

Hey, now. What’s up with all that? That’s getting into math. I’m a Basic Writing II teacher not a professor of Blah, Blah, Blah.

Anyway, I learned three things last night:

  • I’m as hollow as a log
  • I’m catastrophically overwhelmed
  • I’m blind as a bat (Well, that’s an exaggeration. But I did learn that I need reading glasses for bigger print now.)

More importantly, I am losing faith in my self and my ability to learn, process and retain information and ultimately, teach. And a couple more things. One, let’s not forget a general uneasiness to perform in front of students and two, I am beginning to worry about my growing disintegration of vocabulary words.  This leaves me feeling self-conscious, mindless and just plain terrified to get up in front of an audience of judgmental, snickering twentysomethings who don’t have patience for my little “oh, it’s right on the tip of my tongue” crap. I fear I’ll be up there, at the head of the class, and panic will ensue. I will need only to hear myself say: You’re a fraud, Tracy. You’re not qualified to teach anything, let alone this class. And down I’ll go. Into the hall of college adjunct fame for passing out and hitting the floor under the dry-eraser board.

Ok, so maybe that last bit won’t happen at all. Maybe I will stutter and stammer a few times until I build up more confidence and “get it.” Maybe everything will be alright. One thing’s for sure…I will definitely have to calm down about the whole thing before driving everyone nuts, including myself.

I am stalling

June 24, 2009

I am not working on my teaching syllabus. I am not going to the gym. I am not sticking to my diet. I am not maintaining the cleanliness and organization of my house. I am stalling. I am obsessed with Morocco. And I am enviably free to do just this. Nothing. It’s the bleakness and the rain. This past month has left me feeling rather uninspired. And so, Morocco is really the only thing truly drawing me into a world of sunshine, dry earth and color. A place where there is never a cloud in the sky during the mirage-hot month of August and the only thing on my mind is scenery and where to find toilet paper in a bivouac. Anyway…I am posting old drawing I made somewhere back between 1992 and 1995. More proof of my procrastination and my continued life of leisure.

Day job

June 23, 2009

I’m quite pleased on how these turned out. Needed to share.


From Spain to Morocco…

June 22, 2009

So…my little dream may come true after all. The one I’ve had since 1991. D and I have been tossing around the idea of going to Morocco next summer. I’ll fly to Madrid with my kids to stay with my in-laws for a few weeks. D will fly over at a later date and together, we will take the trek down to Granada by train and then over into Morocco. There’s still a few holes in the plan, missing hotels etc. But basically, this is the beginning of a great adventure. Check back for updates and added plans:

Madrid – Granada – Algeciras– Tanger – Fes – Merzouga – Marrakech – Tangers – Algeciras– Madrid

Day 1
• August 18, 2010

Day 2
Madrid to Granada (5.5 hours, train)
• August 19, 2010 

Hotel Casa Morisca Cuesta de la Victoria, 9
18010 – Granada España
tel. +34 958 221100 / -609 817859
fax +34 958 215796  — 1 double bed with sitting room and 15th. century coloured wooden ceiling and jacuzzi-bath. [Price: 198 € – 150€ ]
• Los Baños Arabes
• Flamenco show

Day 3
Granada to Algeciras (3.5 hours, bus) –
Algeciras to Tangiers (30 minutes, ferry) –
Tangiers to Fes (5 hours, train)
• August 20, 2010
Ryad Laaroussa (Green Room, 220 Euros), 3 Derb Bechara, Fes-Medina, Morocco. Tel.: +212 6 74 18 76 39

Day 4
Fes to Merzouga (10 hours, 4×4)
• August 21, 2010
Hôtel Kasbah Kanz Erremal | Adresse : B.P:12 Merzouga 52202- Maroc 
Tel: (00212)35578482 | Fax: (00212)35577265 | GSM: (00212)66039178 | Email:,

Day 5
• August 22, 2010
Hôtel Kasbah Kanz Erremal | Adresse : B.P:12 Merzouga 52202- Maroc 
Tel: (00212)35578482 | Fax: (00212)35577265 | GSM: (00212)66039178 | Email:
• Camel rides
• Pool
• Hike to desert

Day 6
Merzouga to Marrakech (12 hours, 4×4)
• August 23, 2010
Hotel Riyad el Cadi, 86/87 Derb Moulay Abdelkader
B.P. 101
40000 Marrakech-MédinaTel.: +212 524 378 655
Tel.: +212 524 378 098
Fax: +212 524 378 478 INFO@RIYADELCADI.COM

Day 7
• August 24, 2010
Hotel Riyad el Cadi, 86/87 Derb Moulay Abdelkader
B.P. 101
40000 Marrakech-MédinaTel.: +212 524 378 655
Tel.: +212 524 378 098
Fax: +212 524 378 478 INFO@RIYADELCADI.COM. You cannot reach this riad by car. You need to get there via a ten minute walk. Here’s a cute video on the arrival.
• Medina
• Majorelle Garden (Jardin Majorelle)
• Jemaa el Fna
• Les Bains de Marrakech
• Koutoubia Mosque and Minaret

Day 8
Marrakech to Tangiers (11 hours, train)
• August 25, 2010

• Hotel –or-
• Tangiers to Algeciras (30 minutes, ferry)
• Hotel

Day 9
Algeciras to Madrid (5.5 hours, train)
• August 26, 2010

Day 10
• August 27, 2010

• Plaza Mayor
• Puerta del Sol

Day 11
Madrid to Philadelphia
• August 28, 2010

• Home

“…time we all reach out 4 something new…”

June 19, 2009

So, out of the blue, up pops my very first boyfriend from 25 years ago on facebook yesterday. The one and only B.J., affectionately known as “homeboy.”  The 17-year-old I lost my virginity to during an abridged, radio version of Purple Rain. The boy responsible for one of the most defining moments of my life. Back from the dead. On facebook.

As a child I often loved the idea of an old lover coming back after many years to find me still pining away for him and ready to pick up where we left off. But as Time, intelligence and my own transient, fickle nature would have it, it really never worked out that way. Nor would I have ever wanted it to. And yet Homeboy, and a boat load of others from my long ago past, keep popping up, forcing me to once again re-evaluate how far I’ve come and how very little of myself I am actually able to discard.

So, I start  re-reading old journals from when I was sixteen, while simultaneously analyzing Hemingway’s Hills Like White Elephants and the John Patrick Shanley film “Doubt.” Combining old me and new me makes me feel as though I have come far (analyzing literature and film with my hot, intelligent, creative boyfriend as opposed to chasing some dope-smoker around, forcing him to wear purple bikini underwear-ah yes. I have changed).

Both Doubt and Hills Like White Elephants leave the reader/audience in suspended animation. With Doubt, the audience is asked the following: “do you believe character A or do you believe character B?” But no resolution is ever offered. If it were, the film would be sending a different message: we may always expect the truth and know the answer. That, however, is not the case, nor is it the underlying message in Doubt. 

Hills Like White Elephants also leaves its readers conflicted as to what will happen in the end regarding Jig’s possible abortion and the relationship between her and the American because nothing is ever really said. It’s all implied with Hemingway’s expert use of symbolism and subtlety. 

My point of comparison I guess with all these things, including Homeboy and the journals, is not so much the storyline as the fact that we are left without a solid conclusion. We connect to these characters but we never quite know the truth in the end. 

To appreciate something like Hills Like White Elephants you have to be satisfied with guessing. And the same can be said about Doubt. Do we really know as audience members what the Truth is in either of these stories? Not really. Instead, we must replace “fact “with assumption and opinion and learn to appreciate it anyway. That’s a hard thing to do, and yet art and life so often demand it. 

So, Homeboy popped up on the screen very briefly and then disappeared again. We connected, once and again, and yet, there is never any ultimate truth in the end. Still, the meeting left me to rediscover some long ago truth about myself and my past via his presence. That the collection of facts and memories and people from long ago never really go away. They are a quiet, unspoken, but latently existent testament to how I was built and who I became. Good or bad. They are the marks of humiliation that eventually morphed into what now makes me humble.  And they are a celebration of my progress and courage to grow and change as opposed to a sad reminder of who I was. Most importantly, whether they be true or not, they have shaped me based on my own personal interpretation of them. And just like we can appreciate Doubt or Hills Like White Elephants for their substance and not their conclusions, so too can I appreciate my own life for the fact that it is circular, changing and sometimes has no ultimate message. And that the only truth I can assign my life is that which I make up all on my own. 

Ironically, Spin magazine’s cover this month (July) has “Celebrating 25 years of Purple Rain.” I could so look at that magazine cover and say, “that fucking song should have been buried 25 years ago, right along with Homeboy.” But instead, I saw the purple, Princy cover and laughed at it having been exhumed.  I remembered a 14-karat gold chain I was wearing during the “act” that one afternoon and how, much later, after I was home and crying hysterically about my newly acquired loss of virginity, I noticed it had broken off. It had made me smile as I assumed it was left some where between the sheets of Homeboy’s bed. Whether it was or not was really not of importance. What was important was that I remember trying to gauge at what point it broke off by the lyrics of the track.  Did it happen as early as “I never meant to cause you any sorrow,” or was it later at “I only wanted 2 be some kind of friend”? At whatever point it happened, or even if it never really did, I was happy believing it was somewhere in his room.  It meant I was connected to Homeboy. It meant that he’d go to sleep that night and feel the cold chain rub against his ass and think with his little 17-year-old boy brain, “Wow. Her virginity is all mine until the end of time.”

Nothing will make me feel better

June 3, 2009

I am sick. I slept maybe one hour last night. My son was up all night vomiting with a high fever that I couldn’t lower because he couldn’t keep down any advil. The image of Mr. Brass blowing his brains out kept playing over and over in my head. I feel blackened by all this. And it’s not quite over. There is a tarp hanging in Mr. Brass’ window to cover up the spot where he shot himself and the window he blew out. It’s falling down. I’m the only one on the block that has his spare key and a haz mat crew is due to come over today to clean up the mess. I’m supposed to let them in. Hello! I can’t remove a dead mouse from my house let alone witness the scene of a crime. 

So, this is all quite difficult for me to manage and keep in perspective. And yet, my Buddhist training teaches me to accept it all. DOn’t deny it. Let it in. Feel it. It’s the process of living in the moment. It’s an ugly, dark, hopeless feeling, but it’s mine and I need to own it. What calms me slightly is knowing that it will pass, as all things do. It’s only a matter of time. 

I wanted to put this out there for anyone else feeling hopeless, sad, dark, depressed. No matter what your circumstances, know that these are the feelings and traumas that make you human. We are fools to believe that there is such a thing as constant happiness, constant success. As if our lives were as simple as walking up a ladder to achieve some lofty goal at the top. We have been lied to by therapists and doctors and Hollywood and the media and made to believe that there is a place free of pain and suffering if we only have the right combination of thoughts or have chosen the right road. 


Embracing the idea that suffering is inevitable and a part of this life allows us to forgive ourselves for not being able to achieve happiness. It accepts the notion that suffering is intrinsic to life and no one is spared. It’s not a question of personal failure. It’s merely a fact of nature. And this acceptance keeps us from feeling as though we have been singled out, or hand picked by the gods to suffer unduly. 

Today I am being called to carry the weight of my suffering, my children’s suffering, my financial issues, the ugly concept of suicide, my neighbors’ pain, uncertainty and doubt. I cannot carry this alone. The weight is crushing me. Nothing will make me feel better. So, the only defense mechanism that is kicking in at the moment is rocking back and forth like a crazy person and eating bad food. So be it. This too shall pass. It’s just a matter of time. 

Suggested reading:

Radical Acceptance, Tara Brach

Man’s Search for Meaning, Viktor Frankl

No rhyme or reason…

June 2, 2009

My 80-year-old neighbor, Mr. Brass,  shot himself in the head this afternoon, in a successful attempt to kill himself. He had been planning it for quite some time though no one was exactly sure. The bullet apparently went through his head and broke through his front window pane. Julien, who was home sick from school today along with Dani, heard the breaking glass. But neither of my children know exactly what happened. They think he lost his balance and fell out of the window.


When the mail truck comes, I sometimes collect Mr. Brass’s mail (mostly if he asks, but sometimes on my own). This afternoon, I crossed the street to do so, but midway, something stopped me in my tracks. A thought. I turned back home and said, “I’ll check on him tomorrow.”


Who knows what determines the path a soul takes. When it comes into life and when it extinguishes. Who knows the value of life or the cause or the effect. I am muddled with questions and a sick feeling deep in my stomach, wondering if I may have averted a timely bullet myself by not going over there, or if I could have stopped or even postponed the inevitable. Whatever the case, the end result is an ugly one. Men are zipping themselves up in white protective suits and heading into his house now to take photos and recover his body. It is, after all, a crime scene.