Hear Me Perform at Grossmont College’s Literary Festival

Grossmont College’s 18th Annual Literary Arts Festival


12:30 – 1:45 P.M., GRIFFIN GATE

Presentation and Reading



“Cramps and agues” is a literary term used for centuries

to describe the daily strife of malady and affliction.  Join

local writers Cali Linfor, Karl Sherlock, and Nancy

Cary, along with students Mark Reilly and Jay Mower,

for this transformative reading of original poetry and

story, as they share their experience, humor, and

insights about life with malady and disability.   “Cramps

and Agues” is part of the multi-disciplinary, countywide

“One Book, One Campus” Project featuring The

Emperor Of All Maladies by Siddhartha Mukherjee. Just the tonic!


Invitation: Join Nancy Cary at May 30th “So Say We All” Performance

Mother’s Day morning I got the news:  my “America’s F*&$% City” piece has been accepted for the May VAMP (Video Art, Music, and Performance) showcase for So Say We All.

Here’s what they asked for:  “…if you live here you know life isn’t all palm trees and jello shooters.  May’s VAMP tells the stories of the shady side of San Diego, the parts that don’t make it into the tourism brochures, the kind of noir and depravity that couldn’t happen anywhere else, or at least in plain view under blinding sunshine.”

I’m in training with a writing coach and a performance coach as we speak!!

You’re invited to hear all of our voices.

Thursday, May 30th
Whistle Stop
2236 Fern St.  San Diego, CA  92104
$5 suggested donation.

Follow this event on Facebook

Andy Warhol Stops Me Mid-Bite in Neighborhood

This is not gonna be a restaurant review.  Although thoughts took place in a gastropub called Neighborhood….


Here’s the set up: Yesterday. Afternoonish around 2:30 following an hour Foot Reflexology treatment. Hungry and wandering around between a few blocks where we had meter parking space…(I know those are fragments, but that’s how I felt—in a daze).  I was angling for the still sunny corner of Café Chloe where my husband and I could extend our massage date and still pretend we’d entered some other silky world, but he steered us to an opposite corner down a block toward 7th, a spot now in concrete shade, grays and industrial steel but with signage that alerted him to craft beers.

We got in there and much to my surprise, sports coverage was not blasting loudly and fresh air gently moved through the pub’s up-swung windows.  Other pluses: lots of great wall art—huge tile-scape of downtown scene, oil and acrylic paintings, and funky plaid bar stool covers.  But being a wordsmith type, my eye went to the scrawl of words on all sides of the wall-mounted TV screen and surrounding shelves of spirits and tall-size craft beer bottles.

Maybe it was just the brainwave zone that I was still in after fingertips had drawn circles on my scalp and forehead, pinched and pulled at my toes.  I can’t say I was under the influence yet of the pork cheek sandwich, citrus beet salad, or Coronado Idiot IPA, but upon reading one of the quotes scribbled right next to the TV screen, I opened my phone “Notes” and typed.

“When I got my first television set, I stopped caring so much about having close relationships.”

Andy_Warhol_photoThen I noticed who had said it.  Andy Freakin’ Warhol.  The King of Pop print culture and more.  The guy who mediated into brightly painted, repeating screen panels so much of what we all consumed during the 60s from Campbells Soup to lipstick in a tube to TV.

For me, it’s not so much about getting a TV.  TV was in my life because other people or college dormitories that I was forced to live in bought the TVs and there they were.  I’ve gone without TV for years at a time and most people who know me would probably attest that I’m not one of the top five TV addicts that they know.  However…

Since acquiring that little black box—Apple TV—and since NetFlix went to streaming and since cable now offers the DVR option, in the past year I’ve been sucked into a number of TV series, American, Swedish, Danish, and British.  I justify my TV consumption because I think that these shows—the scripts, the actors, and the production quality are soooo much better than ever before and anything currently running.  Also, I can rip through an entire season, pulling an all day or late night binge and feel that I’m not tied to some schedule that requires me to be in front of the set every Thursday night instead of out dining in the ‘hood  and catching up with friends.

I confess to consuming the following series up through their current season and/or final ending episodes (and I highly recommend all of them, even though I get irked by some aspects):  Wallander (Swedish and Brit version, but Swedish is my fave), Homeland, Downton Abbey, Breaking Bad, The Killing, Mad Men, House of Cards, The Protectors, Top of the Lake, Annika Bengtzon, and Rectify.

Other shows that I tape and DVR through include:  SNL, American Idol, The Voice, Sunday CBS, Padre Games, Glee, PBS specials, History Channel specials on War and Terrorism.

I’m probably leaving something out.

The truth is that I don’t think I care less about having close relationships.  I’m not watching these shows at the expense of spending quality time with my husband (he’s usually somewhere on the sofa next to me along with our old cat and sometimes two dogs).  I’m also usually texting my TV watching friends who also might be watching some of these shows and saying things like, “Did you see that?  Whoa.”  Sometimes I’m knitting, reading, of course, eating, and occasionally catnapping, and also playing Hanging with Friends whenever it’s my move.

I spend lots of quality time with Skye and the rest of my family.  Most weeks I meet up with writing friends, also catch movies, dinners out, walk the dogs around OB, read plenty and write.

I think what it comes down to is that I’m losing sleep.

And then there’s the thought that yesterday afternoon if I’d stayed home and eaten a turkey sandwich while watching the night before’s episode of something I’d taped, I wouldn’t have gotten downtown to the Green Bamboo for that foot reflexology treatment and then late lunch at Neighborhood.  I wouldn’t have had that date with Don.  I wouldn’t have seen that Warhol quote about getting a TV and caring less about close relationships.

Here’s another quote, one my husband loves to pull out because a) it’s short enough he can recite it from memory; and b) it can easily be leaned upon to justify any number of past times.  He read it first in his 1975 Hopkins High Yearbook—who knew?  He credits Jan Gilbert for posting it beside her Senior photo (upon “googling” it, credit goes to any number of people including John Lennon and Bertrand Russell for saying it as well):

“Time you enjoy wasting is not wasted.”

No more big chested divas—from high brow to low

Jason Moran ticket

My ticket to great jazz. (Photo: Nancy Cary)

Last night was interesting.  I listed all kinds of music as “a big like” on my “Things I’ve always loved” list on the Welcome page of my new website.  So, that kinda explains why I could go from an early evening concert experience with the young, hipster jazz pianist Jason Moran, sparking up the keyboard, putting his Monk twist on deconstructed Fats Waller tunes to coming home and DVR-ing through the taped American Idol show, down to the last three women contestants—soulful South Carolinian Candace covering U-2’s “One”; Texas Country-but-edgier-Kree breaking hearts with a Rascal Flatts hit “Here Comes Goodbye”; and then Angie from a small town north of Boston putting her spin on Pink’s “Try.”

American Idol2

American Idol’s “big chested divas.” (Photo: Nancy Cary)

But the judges!  Rolling Stone writer Melissa Locker got it right when she said, “Judges spent more time reminiscing and crying than judging.”  I went from rolling my eyes once again at Mariah Carey and Nicki Minaj spilling out of their wench-revealing tops (sorry but they deserve that slam) to feeling totally “played” by the sentimental scenes of the singers going back to hometown fans and the ole family home and then to more of the judges fawning, including over themselves.  “Kudos to us,” drawled Randy.

In the morning my husband read a bit of showbiz gossip that all four judges may have options to return next season but—here goes more spin—Fox won’t be picking them up.  Here I misheard—because I had my morning 88.3 Jazz blasting—Don to read from the short news blurb, “No more big chested divas.”

What?? I actually laughed and knew I musta got it wrong…The real line was “No more big checks for divas.”

Alas!  And you might be thinking, “Why? Why watch such drivel??  Aren’t they too old for the AI demographic?

OK, I know.  We aren’t 13 year old girls voting tons of times on our AI apps for our fave Anglo MALE heart throb from the south.  And as far as all of the mind-numbing crap on the show, we zip through it—the beauty of the DVR feature!  By the time AI reaches the final six, say, the singing performances get pretty darn good.  I was sorry to see Houston’s downhome girl Amber Holcomb go last week.  She made herself vulnerable on the stage and could put a young woman’s spin on a standard like “My Funny Valentine.”

A good voice is a good music experience.  Even if it has to come to me through AI.  The truth is that there’s enough room in this world for all kinds of voices.  All kinds of music.  As a writer I can still get insecure (ha! Ha! All the time…), that there’s no room for a small voice like mine in the big sea of all these great writers’ voices already out there.  I can talk myself out of writing some days with that thought.  I can go into a complete stall on working on my novel.

I know better though.  I had good writing teachers that would point out how each year new voices in poetry keep emerging.  Strong, charismatic voices of narrative characters continue to woo us.

Going from Jason Moran’s show to AI’s episode reminds me of my eating tastes.  I can savor the yummy 3rd Corner Restaurant’s wild sea scallops with capers, olives and roasted potatoes and the next day cook up and pig down my mom’s meatloaf recipe.  It’s all good.

More on Jason Moran soon.  It was a mind-blowing experience in a mind-blowing setting, the Scripps Neurosciences Research Institute auditorium.  I’m just looking for the words to translate that music into English!

Invoking Sei Shōnagon; make me a sassy, bad-ass blogger

Today seems like a fine day to start a blog. Like the saying goes, Tuesday’s child is full of grace…or Tuesday’s blog, in this case. More on grace another day. A Monday morning start might have been fraught with Monday.

And there’s the lucky number thing…five for the month, seven for the day, and, well, thirteen, maybe…

pillow book coverSome years ago I came across an excerpt of Sei Shōnagon’s “Hateful Things” from The Pillow Book, musings penned from, oh, just a thousand plus years ago. Skimming through titles and authors of personal essays compiled in Phillip Lopate’s tome The Art of the Personal Essay, I stopped at her page because, frankly, the majority of the entries from the ancients were men, and I was looking to balance a reading list I that was preparing for an Intro to Nonfiction class. No offense, dear male reader (as they said back in the day) and, yes, women had little encouragement or educational opportunity way back when, I started reading Sei’s list of things that really annoyed her.

Here’s a taste:

“While one is cleaning a decorative comb, something catches in the teeth and the comb breaks.”

“Anything that cries out at night delights me—except babies.”

“It is absurd of people to get angry because one has gossiped bout them. How can anyone be so simple as to believe that he is free to find fault with others while his own foibles are passed over in silence? Yet when someone hears that he has been discussed unfavorably, he is always outraged, and this I find most unattractive.”

“Pleasing things: finding a large number of tales that one has not read before. Or acquiring the second volume of a tale whose first volume one has enjoyed. But often it is a disappointment.”

Here’s what we know about her. Sei (c966-1017) was a Japanese author and court lady who served the Empress Teishi around the year 1000 during the middle Heian period (don’t ask me for details).

shonagonShe inked her thoughts, often musings about things that both pleased and annoyed her in everyday life. She applied her wit to human nature and saved her lyric sensibility for morning skies in spring, the natural world.

So, I’m invoking Sei because I want to get better at being honest on the page. What would it mean to be present to what annoys me and what pleases me about people, things, and places during a day? A writer friend once shared during a performance that her best poems came from writing about what pissed her off. Passion!

One more:

“One is in a hurry to leave, but one’s visitor keeps chattering away. If it is someone of no importance, one can get rid of him by saying, ‘You must tell me about it next time’; but, should it be the sort of visitor whose presence commands one’s best behavior, the situation is hateful indeed.”

And lest I become like one’s company who cannot take her leave, I’ll end this entry here.