Cindy-Lou Who?

Telluride Daily Planet, Sunday, December 23, 2012

Michelle Curry Wright: Are you kidding, I’m thrilled you called me! But, I mean, wow. Cindy Lou Who.  Just. So. Surprised.

Cindy Lou Who: I’ve never given an interview — not in years and years; and back then it was, you know, the local Whoville press wondering how I liked being a star. Fifty five years later, I’m done. Done with being two.  You’re in your fifties — I figured you might understand.

MCW: Yes. Yes, of course.

CLW: And also – with the house burning down to the ground and all… [sighs]  I thought, why not just come clean and start fresh.

MCW: The house that was–

CLW: Yes, the house in the book. Our house. The first one the Grinch visits.  On page 49 of the Whoville Historic Registry.

MCW: You lived there all these years?

CLW: Yes. But it’s not uncommon for entire Who families simply to add on to their parents and grandparents homes. I never did marry, though.  And with mom and dad both gone and now the fire… well, everything is crazy again. [pauses] Only this time I’m not drinking.

MCW:  Whos drink?

CLW: Um, yeah? You thought we didn’t have bad habits? Dr. Seuss created our Who-topia, but he didn’t deny us free will.  No good writer does that. I’ve been sober eleven years two months and three days.  Very proud of that. And grateful to my sponsor.

MCW: I feel like I should just let you talk instead of interviewing. What do I know, anyway?

CLW: [pauses] I like the questions, actually, and hearing your voice.  I do want people to consider how much their collective belief over the years has affected me, though, and you probably weren’t about to ask that question. I mean yes, I am two in the book and in the TV show, and two every time it’s read or watched. But things unfold. Lives happen. We don’t hold hands and sing in a big circle anymore, for instance.

MCW: [stupefied by this] You mean, no “Fah who foraze, Dah who dor-“

CLW: [plugs her ears] Stop it! We haven’t done that since Grinch died.

MCW: The Grinch… died?

CLW: In ‘97. Got an official Whoville burial on account of his being mayor for three terms, then running the Pudding Kitchen as if he were on a mission from god.

MCW: The Pudding Kitchen?

CLW: The Who-Pudding Kitchen for the Poor, Tired and Huddled.  Who pudding seems to bring everyone back to their senses —  at least temporarily. Rich, [reminiscing], comforting, nutritious. Buttery vanilla, but not too sweet.

MCW:  Mmmm.

CLW: We’ve even learned to make it with coconut milk now.

MCW: But. I mean, Whos still do the whole Christmas thing, right? Nobody can stop it from coming, like it says in the book.

CLW: Oh it comes, the little ones make sure of that. Grinch would always see to it the Whoville lights were better than the year before. [pauses to reflect] You know, the color completely drained from him when he passed. His fur turned pure white all at once. Like Christmas snow. [sharply taking a breath in]

MCW: You were close, obviously.

CLW: Uh, more than close. Another part of the story no one out there knows. Even here, it was like, “How can you love a Grinch?” and “He’s not one of us, Cin.” But he was more one of us than we were. [openly crying] You know? I mean I’m sure for him I represented his heart opening and all the goodness he made himself available to receive after our seminal first meeting. For me, he was just… all the sweeter for having been gruff. Plus he actually wooed me.  Or Whoed me, as we say here.

MCW:  [swallows, says sadly] Wow. I mean, who knew?

CLW: This Who knew. [giggles once] Anywho, I feel lighter. Thank you.

MCW: I didn’t do much except listen.

CLW: Which I needed … You know in Whoville in the spring, the electric blue and yellow flowers we call Turleegluts bloom all at once and last a single day. We celebrate new life and practice gratitude for all the things we have. I don’t know why this comes to mind now. But it’s as if they all wake up together, and then decide that one perfect moment is worth a lifetime. It’s a beautiful thing. A beautiful thing. [laughs like pealing bells, then sighs] Anyway. Merry Christmas to you. Thanks for picking up the phone – from a blocked number.

MCW: Merry Christmas to you, Cindy Lou Who. One never knows who might be calling.

CLW: Nope. One never does.

Christmas tattoo

Telluride Daily Planet, Sunday, December 9, 2012

Dear Santa,

It’s three in the morning, if that tells you anything.

I’ve tried every one of my sleep remedies except the self-hypnosis CD, which… well, too bad you can’t just slap it in and let someone lull you down, but you have to learn the routine and I haven’t gotten there yet. Generally, I start with a passionflower tincture. Then if that doesn’t work, a valerian cap.  Then Calms-Forte. Then I go into deep breathing and shoulder dropping and relaxing my eyeballs out of that text-reading position and into the far-horizon one, as if staring out over snow or sand or spume just as far as closed eyes can see.

My last resort is always the same: I tell myself that sleep doesn’t matter that much, so it doesn’t really matter if you don’t get enough of it some nights. Eventually, though, human beings do need rest and rapid eye movements; so, then, I think briefly about tossing back half a Valium with a squirt of St. John’s wort… but generally don’t. Tonight, as the stars throb and gleam in their deep vacuum of space, I’m writing you instead.

You’d think I was asking for sleep for Christmas or something, after all that! Seems a bit rude to me — like asking for a blindfold during the Nutcracker of life. But, yes, on a side note, if you can slip me some fairy dust every once in a while to knock me out, I’d be grateful. Oh, and more dreams like that recent one where Richard Gere has a note delivered to me (with a key in a Ziploc) about meeting him at Hotel Valencia for the one night he’ll be there. Gosh, that might be all I ever need, really.  Next time, I’d like not to wake up in the middle of furiously texting him back from the Thunderdome. As a matter of face, let’s eliminate the Thunderdome completely, however much I like the idea of Richard Gere in my post-apocalyptic world.

Anyway, you know this, of course, about my childhood: three in the morning is about the time, on Christmas eve, that I would pop awake for a brief spell and pad down to see if the cookies and milk I’d set out for you were gone. At the same time, it was as if my whole head was sprouting ears – instant chia seed antennae — for hearing even the faintest, most distant and mellifluous sound of your sleigh bells. Ching, ching, ching.

All those years dreaming of a cheerful ribbon of northern lights, reindeer air-galloping, pulling your mysterious Swedish-fish-and-loaves, ever replenishing version of a sled, loaded down with every conceivable elf-made toy, from Twister to Creepy Crawlers and Picadoo, two coveted items you would have had to have been around in the 60s to appreciate. Consisting of little aluminum molds out of which were made spiders and quilt-like squares with something called Plastigoop. From Mattel. We cooked plastic in aluminum squares, without ventilation, for fun. And you let us!

In those years of waking up to a black sky and imagining a rainbow of sparkle hoof prints and sleigh contrails so vividly, it was like a permanent swipe had been tattooed across my heart. A banner reading, “Believe or die.”

Naturally, it was the anticipation of Christmas I internalized – sealed with carols, and cookies, and crafts, and the smell of pine — this idea that normal life had been suspended and compressed into a five-sense present moment. In the waiting-hoping place, everything was, on a quantum level, different in my brain and heart. Like glass, it was neither liquid nor solid but some soft, sweet, stretchy, magnanimous in-between state. One of possibility.

What is this place, where anticipation has not yet allowed expectation to turn it from sweet cream to sour milk?  Where hope floats instead of blindly groping for the life ring? Where the plasticity of our faculties and talents — and of life itself — become self-evident, like Silly Putty in our hands?

Whatever it is, can you pipe in a little from my childhood this Christmas?  Just get me started. Let me jump on the trampoline of make-believe and bounce until I’m high enough to feel that moment of suspension, that sustained moment where everything – absolutely everything — of great importance happens.

Fifty Shades of Pink – Censored!

SPOOF NOT PUBLISHED, Sunday, December 2, 2012

“When you split the hard fruit open, a mass of red seeds in a spongy white membrane is revealed. Only the seeds, with their sweet-tart flavor and juice squirting texture, are edible.” Product description, Garden of Eden

Isabella leans up from the sink, face flushed, pink juice dripping down her quivering chin – and then reluctantly tears herself from the rind of the seeded apple. Her knees are weak.

Eating her first pomegranate of the season, there is that familiar but Oh-my fresh thrilling, the headiness no other fruit can induce in her. She is hot, even in the cold of the midnight kitchen, because, yes, she is eating her initiatory pomegranate at midnight on a Tuesday in December because the full moon has wreaked its raging havoc upon the veils of her inner goddess, the goddess that is hungry, thirsty, and perpetually unsatisfied… and yet, also veiled.

Other seeded orbs are hidden safely away in the refrigerator for another day: will she tame them or will they tame her? She gasps. She does not know why, it just happens. The words “submission” comes to mind, again for no apparent reason. Can a piece of fruit have such power?

With stained and trembling hands, she finds the hard knob of the faucet and turns it on, letting the water gush, and then slowly washes the sweet, sticky remains from her face. A moonbeam shines in through the small kitchen window, hitting her obliquely at the nape of her neck and then down her extended arms –and she pauses, thoughtful, bitter seeds stuck in her back teeth like flies in a screen porch door in the dead of summer. Seasons are interchangeable. Time has stopped. Only the beat of her heart keeps time, moving her forward and through the excruciatingly sublime present wherein she is captive to her senses.

Is there any other fruit but this one?

There was! Just a few days ago, there was  — she’d even told someone at the grocery store that plums were and had always been her favorite fruit, had always given her just what nourishment was needed. Who was it she was talking to, again?  Oh. That skinny man-boy picking the wrong cantaloupe. In the plaid shirt and glasses, with tousled auburn hair, storm blue eyes, high cheek bones and white teeth.

“Please,” she’d stopped him brazenly, holding the cantaloupe down on the pile by placing her hand on his. “You mustn’t.” The melon wasn’t nearly ripe, surely not ready to be sliced open and de-seeded by his amateur hands. He’d released the cantaloupe-colored globe and stared at her, and then at the plums from South America in her basket.

At the bidding of her domineering and sometimes bossy inner goddess, she had gushed on about plums and their sweet fleshy insides, their tart, taut skins. Plums with their ridiculous jewel tones, their meaty cores clinging to rough pits. Plaid boy had blushed deeply and then moved toward the pyramid of said fruit in close proximity, looking back at her as she nodded him closer and closer to them, urging him on.

That was then. This is now. Now it is winter and punica granatum, an early native to Persia and fortuitously brought to California in 1879, is all Isabella can think of, its arils, bead-like, translucent, and plump. Her fingers have just extracted –tenderly, greedily — its pink pearls of love.

Suddenly, she notices a portion of the pomegranate that she senses has not been fully picked clean and reaches hungrily for it. Pulling back the white flesh, she gropes for treasure until, finally, she hears the plink of a stray granule hitting the steel of the sink. She picks it up, lays it on her tongue, and then maneuvers it between her teeth, bearing down until she pierces the flesh, and then lets it burst in her mouth, finally cracking the astringent seed. Exquisite torture, sweet going to bitter and bitter back to sweet. The drop of liquid nectar releases into her throat. She swoons and her inner goddess swoons even more, swoons so much she melts into her veils and disappears in a purple puff of liquid smoke.

It is bedtime, and Isabella, spent, tiptoes up the stairs in her bare feet, lit candle in hand. Though the pomegranate has left its indelible marks — tiny specks of crimson flecked on her nightshirt, red under her nails, pink rimming her lips — when she wakes up, will she remember her romp in the night, her silent tryst, her tête-à-tête with the red head of the seeded apple under the opalescent light of the Beaver moon? Or will she, wandering about through the starker light of day, merely sense that something terribly sweet and juicy has happened in the night?


Telluride Daily Planet, Sunday, November 18, 2012

Just recently, I see a saying I like from a post on Facebook or Instragram or Pinterest, I forget which one because I try to forget because I’d prefer to have picked it up old school, like from a fortune cookie or out of a book I’m flipping through in the library or, better yet, from a handwritten snippet someone has left in a book about honeybees, say, or the Lewis and Clark expedition.It is the kind of saying one thinks about while stirring oatmeal, or writes on the blackboard of ones mind during the afterschool of one’s day, so that one can internalize it, so that one can live the words rather than just curtsying politely to them.

A quick Google gives me the original and superior epithet, another little biscuit tossed to us school children by Albert Einstein, and because I sense that his original words, too, will have been used on T-shirts and posters and posts and paraphrased and pithed in different but equally dumbed down ways, I find myself at the online Yoda-Speak Generator I’m so very fond of. Because with the exotic flourish of a fictional extraterrestrial from an unnamed world, cannot the oft-said sound new again? Worth a try.

“Only two ways to live your life, there are. Miracle, one is as though nothing is. Miracle, the other is as though everything is.”


So: What if, one day, while you are looking at Persian rugs in the Metropolitan Museum of Art in New York, staring at textiles so fine your skin melts, you suddenly hear these two-ways-to-live-your-life words as if for the very first time? Your immune system, fueled by revelation, screams out in health, as you and your neuropeptides parse out the sentiment: that for one thing, it is a miracle you are here at all, let alone on a bench, in an unpeopled area of an unbelievable structure containing all of history, and staring at walls dripping with irresistible wool finery from another juicy slice of time and another quadrant of the globe.Maybe it’s the softly hypnotic dripping water from a nearby fountain, but, wow, all of a sudden, yes, you feel the force of Yoda-stein’s words: “Miracle, the other is as though everything is.” It starts with rugs, but it explodes, fireworking everywhere — just everywhere.

In a flash, you see the brilliance of artists and scientists walking down their soft red carpets of talent, and then you see the 10,000 other shades of red encountered every day, from the rims of eyes to the insides of ripe figs to blushing cheeks to pomegranates and to cinders that glow crimson with heat. And then you see flames licking up with cores of flint-like blue, flames like the one in the candle you light on your wooden table, the one heaped with bounty and attended by friends, the multifarious people who miraculously stand by you when you are way down or up again or everywhere in between.

Have you counted them lately, these snowflake dears whose crystalline mind-hearts hold you so close? Who have, to some extent created the filigree in your own design, the one having nothing at all to do with ego or vanity or pride but with the person you have become including the one who can at the very least and with some measure of humility start to sense the importance of Miracle/No miracle and the nature of choice?

And beyond the scope of the ridiculously abundant world you live in, where you are warm as toast even on the coldest and darkest January day, where jagged peaks tower above you, thrumming out their deep-rock vibrations, and topped, depending on the season, with green or white velvets, where ice forms and then melts and spills down the mountainsides forming rivers that nourish the body of Earth like veins and arteries, beyond the absurdity of wealth nature rapid fires at us every day with its sky-shows and wind-howls and beetles bravely putting one foot in front of the other on the pavement of a lonely road —

And what if, beyond all this, even, is the miracle of everyday-ness. Where you are here. In the present moment, staring out of a double-paned window in your house at the tines of bare branches, gray and white and dun colored, and at a small ordinary bird perched on one of its twigs. The light is watery and wintry and extremely tender and time stands still, still enough for you fathom, for a brief and glorious moment, the billions of details, like diamonds in the night sky, that you now have in your coffers should you choose to look around.

Then, what if you chose to look around?

Worthy of you and Yoda and Einstein and Tiny Tim, that, my friends, would be.