Out like a … ram.

It’s the 31st of March, birthday of my wonderful Aries sister, Fox (Aries, the ram, hence this post’s title). She is my best-beloved, baby sister, my forever best friend, my voice-of-reason sounding board, and my cheering section. I have known her for her whole life and all but a short five and a half years of mine.

We don’t live close, which is still hard for me despite the fact that it’s been true for more than 20 years. She is always a call, email, or text away, but it’s not the same as having her in the next room. Not the same as meeting her early-early on Saturday mornings for a long walk in Prospect Park. Not the same as going with her to parties and concerts. Alas.

But we’re together for this weekend, and that’s all the way fantastic! We have laughed and shared stories and silliness, and we have a whole other day together tomorrow. So happy birthday to one of my most favorite people in the multiverse!!

It’s the final day of the 11th annual Slice of Life Story Challenge over at Two Writing Teachers! As the badge below proclaims, I am an original slicer. This challenge and my blog started the same year. My first blog post was January 28, 2008, and somehow I found Two Writing Teachers in time to sign on for Slice of Life only a few weeks later. And for all the time I don’t spend posting here during the year, I always come back for March. Always. Hope to see the slicing community grow even larger next year!


M is for: My Mother’s House

“Home” is wherever my mother lives. Which means home has been places I’ve never actually lived like Boulder, Colorado, and Rockville, Maryland. Anywhere she is, when I go there, I’m going “home.”

And here I am for this Easter weekend, for the belated celebration of Fox’s birthday. Home. With my family. The place I can always be the absolute, 100%, full, entire Stacie. I can say every nonsensical thing, can be as unclever as I sometimes am, can look a mess, can just breathe deeply. I have that ease with some of my friends, but it’s still not the same as what I feel at home. Even when it’s tense here, there’s still that comfortable pocket of freedom to be myself. I feel supremely lucky to have this space.

And tonight, Fox and I are hanging out, listening to music, watching videos … and it’s all I want.



A Lo Cubano
pulsing on the stereo —
this music, my heart
every beat calling my name.
What is the secret
connecting this to my soul?
Piece of history
or a piece of who I am:
under my skin, beyond words.


A chōka is a Japanese form poem with a specific syllable count per line. The shortest form of chōka  is: 5 / 7 / 5 / 7 / 5 / 7 / 5 / 7 / 7. The 5- and 7-syllable lines can repeat as many times as needed. The poem’s end is signaled by the extra 7-syllable line. The final five lines can be used to summarize the body of the poem.

Fox in the Henhouse

(Not really. I just wanted a title with”fox” in it.)

Today is my sister’s birthday. “Fox” is what I call her here. She’s my kid sister, my baby sister. She is, of course  neither kid nor baby. She  is my touchstone, the one I trust to tell me the truth even when I don’t want to hear it. Especially then.

Our ages are far enough apart that we didn’t have awkward childhoods together competing for the same friends and choir solos. Or ages are close enough that we could start to be friends when we were still quite young. We’ve been roommates and housemates. We share the same dark and demented sense of humor. We can play flute duets together, and we kicked ass as a team when we played Rapport. She knows me fabulously well, and I’m so lucky to have her as my sister.

We are sisters. So alike and so unlike. I wrote about her at the end of 2010’s Slice of Life challenge . This year I thought I’d usher in Poetry Month by writing a poem for her. (It’s the syllable pattern of a Zeno poem but not the rhyme scheme. I wrote it before I remembered there was a rhyme, and by then I liked what I had, so…)

This is our soul-deep sister-love,
me, her, we, us.
My heart  holds her.
She is
the love, laughter,
faith I


So the Slice of Life Story Challenge 2012 has ended.  I made it through a month of posts (yes, by the absolute skin of my teeth, but through all the same).  I am so grateful to Stacey and Ruth for creating this challenge and keeping it going.  This year I might just have to credit the challenge for saving my blog.  And I have the challenge to thank for introducing me some wonderful new bloggers and reacquainting me with the wonderful bloggers I’ve met in slicing challenges past.   I don’t know if I’m ready for a month of writing poems, but I’m certainly feeling more like a blogger tonight after this month of slicing.  Happy fifth anniversary, and thanks, everyone!

See all of today’s slices at Two Writing Teachers.

The Island of Lost SOLs: Kitchen Magic

Heh.  My computer hasn’t been playing nice with me lately: freezing in the middle of things, announcing that it is infected by some evil malware.  The result, aside from my utter frustration, is that I couldn’t get my SOLs posted for the last part of the Slice of Life challenge. Fox, in her online savviness, found a DIY article about the exact malware that’s hobbled me.  Last night I bought an external hard drive, and tonight I’m taking all my writing, music and photos off the computer and attempting to erase the badness.  (If that doesn’t work, there’s still the Geek Squad at Best Buy.)  It’s weeks now that I’m sans computer.  I have my mini, but it’s just so small to be an every day machine.  My big hands want a full-sized keyboard.  My aging eyes want a bigger screen.  Churning out grant proposals on this little machine made me tired.  But I’ve decided to stop whining.  I have a working computer, so I’m using it.  I missed the last weeks of the Slice of Life challenge, and I refuse to miss my month of poetry.

But what to do with all the SOLs I wrote in the last half of March but never got to post?  I like some of them.  A lot.  So, giving in to my love of the silly blog post title, I’m going to put them up over the next few weeks under the perfect-perfect heading: Island of Lost SOLs.

Here’s Lost SOL #1 from March 21st:

And the kitchen magic?  Well, actually just cooking.  The real magic of today is that we somehow managed to get all three proposals out the door with only an hour to spare before the deadline and got them all submitted.  I still can’t quite believe it.  If not for Mopsy and my boss, it would never have happened.

So, after more than a week of not enough sleep and almost no time off (Back to back weekends in the office is a bad plan, people. Learn from the error of my ways!), I came home tonight and … worked.  I am tired enough to just have walked in the door and gone to sleep, but instead I decided I needed to make some soup and do some baking.  Cooking always makes me feel better.  And not just because I like to eat.  I really like making stuff.  And baking … baking is all that times 10.  So, even on a night like tonight, cooking was a kind of relaxation therapy.

What was on the menu tonight? Baked Winter Squash Soup and whole wheat rolls.  This time I took pictures:

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I have recently felt the urge to bake yeast bread.  I bake relatively often, but I’m queen of the quick breads, the ones that require baking powder or soda, not yeast.  I made a spicy loaf of white bread a couple of weeks ago (really: it had cayenne in it!).  As I was kneading the dough, I realized I hadn’t made yeast bread maybe since I was a teenager, still living at home.  My mom was the bread baker.  She used to make several loaves of delicious whole wheat bread a week — the family supply.  I baked a little then, but never felt any pressing urge to do it.  That was my mom’s territory.  Then Fox started baking, and she was really good at it, so bread baking became her territory, too.  Fear not, I had some territory of my own — lasagne, in particular, macaroni and cheese more recently.  And I like quick breads, but they aren’t the same as the yeast ones.

With both Fox and my mom living three states away, I figure it’s high time for me to step into the territory I ceded to them so many years ago.  And, while I’m not sure where the bread-baking yen has come from, I’m enojoying both the process and the yummy results!

Thick dough yielding under my hands
minute after minute, again.
Smell of yeast is a memory —
my mother and sister knew how,
knew this quiet ritual. Now
that knowledge comes at last to me.
My house smells like family, like love
steam from fresh loaves rising above
warming my face with history.



My eyes need
something easy
come rest yourself
by here

— Ruth Forman

Don’t forget to check out the rest of the day’s slices at Two Writing Teachers!

She’s no April Fool.

Today is Fox’s birthday.  Fox is almost exactly five and a half years younger than I am, so she’s been in my life a long time.  We have history.

  • Staying up after bedtime to play games we invented that could somehow be played together though we were in our beds across the room from one another
  • Falling asleep to the weird easy-listening radio station our mother liked us to listen to (Green Fields, anyone?)
  • Going to so many concerts (Depeche Mode, Sting, Live Aid, Peter Gabriel, Midnight Oil, Joe Jackson, Echo and the Bunnymen … hmm, did we ever go see women in concert?)
  • Sharing that almost-empty apartment (during our “Poverty Twins” period) in a scary-dangerous building in Washington Heights
  • Cutting off our relaxed, over-processed hair and running around with our short afros (prompting people who didn’ t know us to think we were lovers instead of sisters)
  • Playing groupie-girls when Pulnoc came to town, driving down to see them play in DC, staying out til all hours with the band and their Tommy Boy handlers, somehow still getting to work the next day
  • Writing and recording The Family Adventure
  • Singing Breakdown with me as Tom Petty and Fox as the Heartbreakers
  • Adopting stray cats
  • Falling in love with Vancouver
  • Laughing so hard — at so many, many ridiculous inside jokes — that tears flow and our sides hurt
  • Making hummus (or trying to)
  • Suffering through a photo shoot with a crazy photographer so we could get some decent pictures to give our mother (who still laments not having enough photos of us)
  • Singing every Carpenters song we could remember in the wee small hours in my basement bedroom on Eastern Parkway
  • Sorting through all the possible sperm donors together when I was doing the fertility bank thang (if that first one had worked, Fox would definitely be responsible for my near-sighted, basektball-player-tall, half-Bosnian baby!)
  • Camping out all night outside Madison Square Garden to get concert tickets — including a curious encounter with a homeless man bearing semi-precious stones
  • Spending that weird-but-cool ghosty, mystical weekend at Arnolda
  • Sharing the same not-quite-right sense of humor
  • Being able to get angry with one another without it affecting the strength of our relationship
  • Loving one another unconditionally

I’ll stop.  She’s my sister.  I love her fiercely.  She is my closest friend.  She is so incredibly smart.  I love to get her laughing.  I’m glad that she knows she can always call me.  And I’m glad to know I can always call her.  I can’t begin to imagine who I would be without her.


It’s the end of March, the end of the Slice of Life Story Challenge.  This was the third year of the challenge, and I’ve participated each year.  That first challenge year was right after I started blogging, and Stacey and Ruth and the regular slicers (Kevin, Bonnie, Jane and Jane, Ashley, Juliann, Pam, Jen, Cathy and Cathy …) really helped me begin to develop what this blog was going to be.  Thanks to all of last year’s wonderful additions to the slicing crowd, and to this year’s much larger slicing crew.  I love that the challenge has grown so much in such a short time, love that it has connected me to so many interesting teachers, so many wonderful people.  Thanks, Stacey and Ruth!

Check out the rest of the slices over at Two Writing Teachers!

I got by …

… with much more than a little help from my friends!

I made it.  I finished the dreaded artist’s resume, wrote a proposal I think might actually sound good to the selection committee, and made to 34th Street before 10pm and got my parcel in the post!¹ 

It’s done, it’s done, it’s done.  I’d never have gotten through it without some serious hand-holding from my sister and without some very well-timed and uncannily on- the-money suggestions from my friend DR.  Ladies, you are my angels tonight!

And, of course, I’d never even have heard about this opportunity if not for The Harpist … and it was great to come home to a voice mail from her, saying she hoped I’d gotten everything together in time.

I wrote a tanka earlier in the week with today in mind … but it’s on my desk at work, so that will have to wait.  Instead I have three I wrote on the bus downtown on my way to catch the A train up to the post office:

that soft, milky smell
voices always a question
or sometimes a plaint
how does she manage all four
again I wish for just one

rain on my window
do those drops wish they were snow
long to be other
want mountains not worn concrete
or am I the only one

soft wave of your hair
my hand resting on your neck
this quiet moment
the space and time between us
all the reasons I am here

Yeah.  Guess I was feeling a mite creative tonight.  I’m so happy I pulled this off.  Yes, I want very much to be accepted, but at the same time, just getting this application in the mail was a huge step for me.  The closest I’ve ever gotten to applying for something like this was downloading the application, putting it in a folder … and then thinking how hard it would be to find someone to write a recommendation … or how none of my writing really seemed ‘right’ for what ‘they’ would want to see … you know, basically talking myself out of applying.  And I didn’t do that this time.  And that feels better than wonderful.


¹Thank goodness for the all-night post office … but only for a little while longer.  On May 9th, all that late-night fun comes to an end.  They’ll be closing their doors at 10.  Very sad story.

What’s in a name?

I am the middle child, but the first daughter.  I have a name I’ve grown to like … but I did have to grow to like it. Part of what I didn’t like was that it doesn’t really come from anywhere.  My brother’s name comes from my mother; my sister is named for a movie star.  And then there’s my name.  And then I remembered this:

Cathy Song (b. 1955 — )
from Lost Sister

In China,
even the peasants
named their first daughters
the stone that in the far fields
could moisten the dry season,
could make men move mountains
for the healing green of the inner hills
glistening like slices of winter melon.

And I read that and I think …   Jade?  Who would I be as a Jade?  I can’t imagine.  Ok, Song’s talking about a Chinese custom, not an African American one, but still.  I think this means my sister would be ‘Pearl,’ which I also can’t imagine.

Jade.  No, she really isn’t me.  I’d have been some totally other woman with that name.  And think of all the things I’d have missed. 

(I wouldn’t have met cute, underground-rocker boys in Prague who couldn’t get ‘Stacie’ and so called me ‘Anastasia’ in their deep, cigarette-scratchy voices instead.  I wouldn’t have had Annabell calling me ‘Daisy’ all the years she was my student, seeing my name on the board and asking — every time — “Daisy, why you spell your name so it looks like Stacie?”  And so many other things missed.)

And, too, my middle name comes from my mother.  And it certainly isn’t as though my first name was pulled out of a hat or some such random selection.   No.  My mother, the former actress, was very aware of the power of names, was careful which ones she chose for her children.  So here I am: not Jade, not Stephanie, not even Anastasia.  Stacie.  (I want to write ‘Plain and Tall’ after that, but only the ‘tall’ part rings true now.  I could once have been thought plain, but those days are long gone!)

So it seems that, yet again, my mother really knew best!