Wednesday, October 26, 2011


The sky was horribly dark, but one could distinctly see tattered clouds, and between them fathomless black patches. Suddenly I noticed in one of these patches a star, and began watching it intently. That was because that star had given me an idea: I decided to kill myself that night.
--Dostoevsky, “The Dream of a Ridiculous Man”

That's kind of how I feel having published another book.

As with all "big" things in life (getting married, getting a degree, getting a job, getting sober, getting divorced), you tend to think, all evidence to the contrary, When THIS happens, it's all gonna start coming together. Finally, I can rest. Finally, the shelf on which I live overlooking the abyss will be many feet wide, maybe even an acre or two, instead of three inches where I am always trying to find a foothold by day, and tossing and turning at night, and my heart is lurching lest I fall into the precipice. Finally I will have a little bit of money. Finally I will have friends.

Then you realize two things. None of those things are going to happen. And two, they've happened, in their way, already. 

I keep thinking of a time, years ago, when my ex-husband and I were driving to Tucson on an especially desolate stretch of the 10 when suddenly this big old pale yellow Mercury shot off the freeway and landed upside down in the creosote. We pulled over and a bunch of other people did, too, and inside was this wizened wiry dude who looked like he'd spent his life in a honky-tonk and it turned out was coming back from Vegas. The guys inched him out: cowboy hat crushed, blood running down his hands and face. And he sat there on the ground in the blazing sun, took a sip of water, shook his head--we were all amazed he wasn't dead--looked up, half in wonder, half in exasperation--and asked, What next?

So what's next for me? I have about four different book ideas, all of which have been roiling around causing my head to almost explode to the point where I have to sit up late at night listening to pandora radio, playing Brain Jam (have I "shared" about my intermittent Brain Jam addiction?), and jabbing the "skip" button every time Simon and Garfunkel come on the Iris DeMent, Kate Wolf, Gillian Welch, and/or Emmylou Harris stations. I even "watched TV" (is it TV if it's on your computer?) last week: Enlightened with Laura Dern which I must say made me laugh so hard in places (in identification) I momentarily forgot that I myself am wandering, as usual, in the dark...

A book about food (to which I have a complicated relationship--and who doesn't?), I'm thinking? A book about my friends....a series of reflections about cooking, shared meals, forays around L.A...Think of the possibilities! The 99-Cent Store meal, the potluck, the foraged meal, the meal where you throw all caution to the winds and invite people from all different parts of your life who are bound to either love or despise each other...actually, I had THAT meal last Saturday and we had a blast. Food is SO Eucharistic, of course....I could reflect upon Simone Weil's anorexic/privation "philosophy"....bring in Kafka's "The Hunger Artist"...but really I could cook, which I love and have not done much of the last couple of years...



  1. The foodie in me votes for the book about food. :)

  2. The food book sounds fun. That possibilities, seemingly endless. And yes, I can relate with that feeling, Heather. It's a good lesson to learn: that publication isn't the end-all. In some ways, it's just a beginning, like many others, just part of the journey. A nice mile-marker, but by no means the end. And that's a good thing! :) Onward to the next great idea. :)

  3. I tried your Tuscan kale and pasta recipe last Saturday and it was great, although I couldn't find Tuscan kale at the store so I had to substitute with Swiss chard.

    Have you ever written about Ignatian exercises and the Examen?

    Also I would love to read your take on Marian apparitions?


  4. Hi Jason and Roxane...thanks for the votes of confidence...ah yes, food...Swiss chard works okay, Ada, though I do think a little bulkier green goes well with the, have never written on the Examen, nor done the exercises (yet!)

    And here's my take on Virgin Mary sightings:

  5. Um, Heather, why not do them all? Heh heh. I'd read every one of your books. It's all PASSION what you write about. You're PASSIONate about so many things. And you have your personal PASSION (as in way of the cross Passion) that you are living with Jesus.

    It's all what you know about and are passionate about. So you can't go wrong no matter what you choose, can you?

  6. I'm sure you are right about the bulkier green and I was tempted to try it with collard greens, always available here in Georgia. Next time I will. By the way did you visit Flannery O'Connor's farm Andalusia when you went to the Monastery of the Holy Spirit? She had several monk friends there.

    A food /unseen LA/friends/frugal book etc would be great.It should include lots of your photographs which are quite good.I enjoyed your description in one of your blog posts about walking around urban desolation and in the midst a glorious blooming shrub. It seemed to exemplify the transcendence you keep talking about. It's there in Flannery O'connor's stories also.

    Keep on writing,


  7. Not excited by the food topic, unless it has a chapter on dark chocolate.

    I think you should write about sex. Sex sells!

  8. Oh I think food is all about sex in the deepest sense. Our relationship to food says everything about our longing for love, our sensuality, our procreative urge, our capacity for relationship, the stabbing of our hearts by beauty...
    So--dark chocolate. Yes!


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