When I Am Seventy-Plus


It took a year-plus to relieve the trauma we recall

From last winter that pounded us with seventy-plus

Inches of snow. It took an unseasonably mild winter


To counter the instant dismay caused by a sky greying

Over like ice over broken tar. We paused, tensed,

Refused to panic. We checked our shovels. We relaxed


When we realized that the 36-inch forecast meant

An inch or two, though wet. We still shudder to think

Of the wall of snow on every sidewalk, the wall that made


Parking almost impossible. We still shudder to think

How cold we were. We still shiver. Last July, I heard a man

Talk about how he still couldn’t believe the snow had melted.


Last July, the last of the snow finally melted. Last July,

When the summer was mild and I was not melting

In the 70-plus-plus but not yet 90-degree heat,


I shivered, but not as much as I am shivering this winter,

This mild, mild winter, when Christmas is 70 degrees

And it’s snowing at Easter, and no one really knows


How to forecast the future, how to predict weather:

I shiver in fear that the extra 20 or 30 degrees added

To our winter will also be added not just to this summer


But to all the summers to come, both those now

When I squander my forties and those later when I, 70-plus,

Look around at the 120 degree heat, and learn despair.

Where is the Outrage?

Christmas in New Haven, CT was around 58 degrees this year, which is about 30 degrees higher than normal. This past Monday, February 1 was 60 degrees, which is about 40 degrees higher than normal. Can you say anthropogenic climate change?

At the grocery store, I keep hearing people being happy about this “nice” (unseasonable), “beautiful” (unreasonable) weather. Here is the thing people: I know, I really do know, that last winter’s 9 feet of f#$%ing snow was traumatic. I remember taking 2 hours to do a 30-minute commute via the MBTA. I remember climbing mountains of snow to get from the sidewalk to the street and then, on the other side of the street, having to do it all over again.


I remember this very clearly. Like you, I still have flashbacks.

But tell me, when it is July, which is usually in the mid-80s or August, which is usually in the mid-90s, if we have 110, 120, or 130 degree weather, are you going to call it nice?

Somehow I doubt it.

Weather Reminds Us of Our Own Existential Helplessness


So a while back I signed up for a Meetup party that is happening this evening. Last week, Weather Underground was predicting 8-12 inches of snow for today in Boston. By Tuesday, it was down to 1-3 inches and by Thursday 3-5 inches and today it is back to 1-3 inches here, but apparently our friends down South have already got 31 inches and counting, and we have received a wet dusting. WHY DO THEY EVEN PRETEND TO KNOW WHAT’S COMING?

I will admit a tiny bit of schadenfreude for all those folks down South who didn’t share in our NINE F@#$%ING FEET OF SNOW last “spring” who might just possibly have felt a trifle left out. Well, there you go. Enjoy.

Facebook peeps have been posting amusing maps of the Midatlantic area, showing the areas in which inhabitants will need lots of books or yarn or just a few/little. The pictures of back porches are already in. And here in Boston, where I can still make out the colors of the cars in my street beneath their light dusting of powdered sugar-like snow, the stores are full. Now it makes sense to me that Trader Joe’s would be full. It’s the kind of place you can buy your booze and your bread and milk. But Sephora’s? It’s a ghastly cold day with Weathah about to come down on us and THIS MANY women need to get a blizzard stash of eyeliner? At least I have an excuse. I signed up for this party a few weeks ago and this morning woke up to realize I have never actually been taught to do my makeup, beyond the simple 1950s style my mom tried to teach me before my prom that I was way to nervous about poking myself in the eye to really absorb. And since, if you’ve spent a certain amount of money in their insiders program you can get these 15-minute mini-makeovers, I figured, go in, get them to make me look good and explain how they did it, buy the stuff, and go to the party looking a whole lot better than I would if I tried to do it myself without the practice. (One of the downsides of a girls’ high school and a university career: my whole life has been Mind Over Mascara. Sigh.)

So all I can say is that when Bostonians hunker down tonight or step out to the sidewalk and driveway to clear all the sh–er–shnow off their cars, they are going to be looking damn fine.


Illustration by Mike Allegra.

Epic (Fantasy) (Fan) Poet: Or What I Did During that Nine Feet of Snow Last Winter


So every few days or so, I spend time reading other folks’ blogs and getting a kick out of the vastly different kinds of things that people find their passion in, whether it is cooking sous vide, or geeking out about TV shows, or the joys of shoveling snow. And I discovered D. L. Perching’s website for t-shirts for writers of All Kinds of Genres. She had Fantasy Writers and Fan Fiction Writers and so, naturally, I asked if she could make an Epic Fantasy Fan Poetry Writer t-shirt for me, to commemorate the four months I spent back in Spring Semester (read, New England Winter: nine f@#&ing feet of snow, errgh), writing about 250 pages of poetry about Xena: Warrior Princess.

She said yes. Reader, I bought one. In honor of the up-and-coming anniversary of the start of that project, I am going to be posting some of the poems that I wrote, with some of the thoughts I had about the problems of the show I was trying to address. Here is the first, for starters, which is about the events of the pilot episode from the point of view of Gabrielle, when slavers try to take all the women in her village, and Xena, who in dark despair has decided to give up being a warrior (and possibly living–it’s not clear). She then takes up arms again to save them, leading later to Gabrielle following her on her road and then joining her on it.


The Slavers Reach Potidaea


When you wake on the day that changes

Your life forever, you have no idea, you

Think it’s just another blue, green and

Ordinary day, perhaps a good day

For bringing in sheaves or beating out

The laundry against rocks by the river.


On the day that changes your life for

Good, you think your life will never change

From the round of hard work, festival,

Hard work, but that is just because you don’t

Know how to recognize a day like

The one that changes your life forever.


Change rarely happens here. When you wake

You know what’s coming: the same old thing.

Then one day, that change. Everything

Changes. Slavers, sweaty and leering,

Sweep through the village like a reaping

Leaving the men bleeding, taking just


Young women, the strong or beautiful,

Those who can do the kinds of work that

Such men deem the work of womenfolk.

Terror. Screaming. Chaos and that acrid

Sweat of fear, of the knowledge of what

May be—is—coming. The heart beats too


Fast. Even when the unexpectable

Happens: a war cry, sudden salvation—

Your heart still gropes in darkness. And

The next day, when you wake, after that

Night when you relived those horrors, oh,

After that day that has changed your life


Forever, you too are changed, like dough

That, when introduced to extreme heat,

Becomes bread, nourishment, food for your

Journey. Sometimes fire destroys, even

Annihilates. But, sometimes, it anneals,

Leaving you stronger even than you were before.