journeys, birthdays, gratitude

The next Postcard From Cuba comes tomorrow; today, my eldest son turns 14; today, it is 14 years since I was first called mother by the world.

14 years since I learned how to love.

14 years on this journey, my little love…

…little boy with a man’s voice, a man’s shoulders—already taller than me, and he’s only just started growing…

Happiest of birthdays, son.



In the photographs I take of my children, while I’m documenting their journey, our journey, I often take this angle, have you noticed:


This is very, very important.

Walk on, my son.

Every step you take is your journey, not mine.

Every step I take is mine, not yours.


A few days before my son turned 14, I turned 42. Compared to 14, 42 is insignificant—it’s just a number. But, of course, if you are a Douglas Adams’ fan, you know 42 is the answer. I can’t wait…

Flora: “Congratulations, Mom, you’re one year closer to death.”

Jane: “Thank you, babe. I cannot wait.”

Not true, of course—I say that to tease. But this, this is true: I cannot wait for the next year, for the next decade. Do you remember, it wasn’t raining but it felt like it should have been, and you were so unhappy, and he was dying, and you said that thing you sometimes say about us getting older and closer to the end and I shook my head, “Fuck no, me, I’m just getting started.”

That’s tied into that motherhood thing, 14 years of.

You sent me so many birthday wishes.

I sent you gratitude:



You know, do you not, that everything I write is a love letter to my children? To you? On the days when I am feeling particularly human, the world?

Today’s love letter, though, is just for my son.

Happiest of birthdays, you incredible human.




So you know the spiel that follows & if you’re reading and you haven’t yet  put a PayPal click where your heart is, it was just my birthday last week, d’ya wanna buy me a birthday coffee?

Trio on benches at laundry park3

The best things in life and on the Internet are free, but content creators need to pay for groceries with money. If you enjoy the Postcards project, please express your delight and support by making a donation via PayPal:

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You: “But how much should I give?”

Jane: “I get $1 each time a sell a traditionally published book, so my bar’s set really low, love. Want to buy me a cup of coffee? That’s $4.75 if you’ll spring for a mocha or latte. Bottle of wine? My palate’s unsophisticated: $19.95 will more than cover it.”

If you’d like to make a contribution but have PayPal issues, email me at nothingbythebook@ and we’ll work something out.

Or, ya know. Just hang out with us and enjoy. That be cool too.


“Jane” / Tweet tweet @NothingBTBook / Instagram NothingByTheBook


#postcardsfromcuba catch up

I was in Cuba before Obama. And I want to tell you all about it… in pictures… in words… through sound:

PfC: introduction

So, I introduce the project, and then…
…I shower you with pictures:

PfC: I haven’t found a post office yet… (image)
PfC: what are you looking at? (image)
PfC: Acuario Nacional de Cuba (image)
PfC: zombie Fiat (image)
PfC: sharp edges & powerlines (image)

Then (drum roll, please) release the first listening postcard:

PfC: blame it on Hemingway (post + photographs + podcast)

It’s not really about Hemingway, but you know, #hemingway is a good hashtag.

Next I show you:

PfC: the ugliest building in Havana (image)

& then I teach you some

PfC: Cuban math (post + photographs + podcast) & I also pick up / get picked up by a 25 year old Cuban boy. Seriously. Check it out, and then check out

PfC: this is also Havana (image)

& find out why I’m going to hell:

PfC: Necropolis (images + riffs)

after which you can watch how the entire country of Cuba is trying to prevent me from buying eggs:

PfC: egg hunt (post + photographs + podcast)

then try to figure out what this photo’s all about:

PfC: the view from here (image)

& then pray for me. Just pray:

PfC: we will survive (post + photographs + podcast)

Thank you. Now come with me to a beach. No, not that kind of the beach. The kind of beach that isn’t kept pristine for tourists:

PfC: but you’re not going to make us swim there, are you? (image)

& now you’ve got to meet Jack Gilbert, and understand what having children (in Cuba, anywhere) really means:

PfC: and she asks, is being childless good for a poet (post + photographs + podcast)

Now, have a look at a haunted house:

PfC: haunted house (image)

& then cringe as I explain to Flora the relationship between poverty and crime:

PfC: but is it safe? (post + photographs + podcast)

Then meditate on this photo

PfC: through bent bars (image)

& listen to me try to buy matches:

PfC: matches (post + totally unrelated photographs + podcast)

then take on a hustler:

PfC: get out of my dreams get into my car & pay me 2.5X the going rate pls (images + riff)

& then fall in love:

PfC: Lazaro’s farm (post + photographs + podcast)

and then decompress with:

PfC: a splash of orange, three versions (images)

Now get ready to get all political and cultural with:

PfC: flora, fauna + waiting (post+ images + podcast)

then look at pretty things:

PfC: behind closed eyelids (images)

& take a ride…

PfC: on the bus (short podcast + post + images)

to explore a castle: PfC: castillo means castle (slideshow + postcard images)

& look at some boats.

And how you’re caught up.

Until next tomorrow.

Love letter discipline

Love Letter Discipline

When my kids are having “one of those days”—you know which ones I mean, the ones where nothing works right, and you’re wondering how wrong is it, really, to post your child on Kijiji… or Freecycle—I have two fool-proof strategies.

Strategy 1: I take them out for ice cream. (That’s yesterday’s post).

Strategy 2: I write them love letters.

Seriously. Sometimes in my head, sometimes—on the really, really “those” days—physically. Here is an example of Flora’s:

To My Flora,

You are my most beautiful, brilliant little daughter. And you will grow and grow into my most beautiful, brilliant big daughter. And I will love you every minute and every second and every nano-second of your amazing life. I will love you when you laugh and when you cry, when you’re angry and when you’re happy, when you’re celebrating the world and when you’re fighting it, when you need me to hold you and when you need to be alone. I will love you, every part of you, forever and ever and for always. Because you are Flora, because you are you.

And here is one for Cinder:

To My Cinder,

You are my most beautiful, brilliant not-so-little son. And you will grow and grown into my ever-bigger beautiful, brilliant son. And I will love you every minute and every second and every nano-second of your amazing life. I will love you when you’re full of joy and when you’re full of sadness. I will love you when you do what I ask you to do and when you march off listening to the beat of your own drummer. I will love you when you’re strong and when you’re weak, when you’re creating and when you’re deconstructing, when you’re wild and when you’re calm. I will love you when we are together and understand each other, and I will love you when we are apart and don’t. I will love you, every part of you, every thought of you and every moment of you, for ever and ever and for always. Because you are Cinder, because you are you.

By the time I finish writing or thinking one of these—or simply re-reading one I wrote during a previous crisis—I’m usually regrounded and recharged. Able to put the current moment’s craziness in perspective. Reminded of how much I love the little beasts, no matter how beastly they seem in this particular moment.

Got a moment? Write your own love letters to the munchkins. Don’t wait until you want to freecycle the little dudes. Do it now—and then when one of those days come, pull them out and read them.

And then take the kids out for ice cream.

I’ve recently shared a very long love letter to Cinder with you on occasion of his birthday, and you’ll find a very long love letter to Flora here. These longer letters were not written or composed in the heat of an “everyone’s evil!” moment, but I do refer to them in the heat of the moment quite often.

If you’ve written a love letter to your beasts… er, I mean beloved munchkins, please share it.

Love heart