Saturday, June 19, 2010

...and All that Prophetic Jazz

This was my astrological horoscope for yesterday, June 18, 2010:

CANCER (June 21-July 22): You need to make some serious changes to satisfy both personal and professional associations. Reconstruct the way things have been in the past and you will realize what needs to be done to make the future better.
Now, I used to be the kind of person who read my horoscope religiously [smirk] every single day, sometimes twice a day from different sources just to make sure I was on track. As time went by, I sifted through all the chaff to find the truth and philosophy I liked and could relate to. I finally settled down to make my peace with the Universe and practice My Thing. It's surely not Your Thing, but that's okay - - at least with me.

This horoscope, however, was after-the-fact-prophetic. Earlier that morning I discovered my intuition was correct, dead-on in fact, that I was not going to get the job with my dearest friend, Toughy the attorney. The silence had been deafening from his end and I knew in my depths that the coup was complete, that decisions had been made behind his back and he would be the last to know.

What I cannot change about the past is my past. I cannot change the depression I suffered after my car accident; it wasn't my fault and it simply happened. But my medical history was an open book to the powers that be and I was determined to be unfit for duty for my dearest friend, to return to my former career in that firm, and set him right in his direst time of need. Some, like the Maine Labor Board, might consider that Harrisment of a sort, and in case you didn't know, it's highly illegal to ask a new hire to reveal any medical information about themselves.

However, if an entire medical history from a car accident case is:
  • already there for the picking and choosing of facts;
  • for the sole purpose of eliminating a candidate for employment because she's gone batshit; and
  • if said perusement can be denied by all culpable parties - -
  • well, you get the picture.

    [This is strictly my hyperbole, for the record, you cowards...just try me.]
I had gotten the news that I was never in the running for consideration on the drive to my mother's house to pick her up for her hearing aid appointment, and before I read the horoscope in the local newspaper. I was pretty teary-eyed about the whole thing but swallowed it whole in order to present a smiling face to my mother.

And, so here I am looking sort of dumbfounded at this finger-wagging horoscope in the hearing aid guy's office, waiting for my mom to get her adjustment. I'm trying to bend my already addled mind around this two sentence blurb. Should I not have even tried to recreate the past by going back to an old career? I'd had serious reservations about returning to law all along; I was only considering it for Toughy's sake. I was a jackass specialist as well as legal assistant and paralegal. Until Toughy came along, that's who I was hired to tend. And, working for lawyers is an art. You know the art that looks like the splatter a hefty Hereford could create after a large meal of corn and oats? That kind of art.

Today, I'm stuck in neutral; moving neither forward nor backward. Toughy and I are likely in the same mode. The Universe is forcing his hand to decide and make "some serious change" and "reconstruct" just like me.

I think I'll go for a long walk and try to find grace in all this confusion.

Monday, June 14, 2010

Baring the Blackened Sole

These blackened soles of mine have traversed many the highway and bi-way, rumbling past hitching seraphims with trembling thumbs only half-heartedly exposed beneath their cloaks. I've tread there and beyond, baby, and only sometimes and rarely am I reminded of my somewhat naive and vaguely sordid youth and past when I get a faceful of someone else's.

See, I believe the focus should be not so much the dirt we "get on our hands" as the history, mystery, and experience we receive as a gift from daring to go where "angels fear to tread." It is the only place we get perspective on other people's lives. Sometimes, we get a glimmer of truth about ourselves but usually not until much later.

All that I am began in 1964 and ended here today, so far. All the good, the bad and the really unsavory stuff I've done, I believe I've both benefited from and paid dearly for along the way. When I finally met my truest love, my loving husband, I felt that I had "evened the score" on my Karmic dance card. I'd hurt and been hurt and finally I was back at zero and had a clean slate to work from. I could feel the Cosmic Cast Iron Frying Pan in the Sky hovering above me, waiting to swat the back of my head if I screwed up this time but I was now older and wiser. I knew I had gotten to a place in my life where my future could be grand.

All the suffering, inflicted by others and purely self-inflicted had been working toward this moment in time. It had prepared me for the love of my life; this thing I'd been dodging and unprepared for was finally mine to have. I deserved it. And, here I am many years later, content with my truest love, my husband, my life settled down and peaceful.

In order to be completely honest, completely human and "there" for my Self and my dearest friends, it is imperative that I never again forget my blackened soles and the dangerous paths I tread with my quivering angel hovering a step behind and whispering "Don't!"

Thursday, June 10, 2010

You Gotta Know When to Hold 'Em, Know When to Fold 'Em...

How does one approach the job market nowadays? Can there be any room whatsoever for bargaining, negotiation, or "feeling one's oats," as it were?

The reason I ask this very broad question is I'm really struggling with specific facts about my Self, which make me feel proud and a little self-righteous, if you want the whole truth:

I'm nearly 46 and I have an excellent resume that clearly stands out in a crowd. I am well-spoken, mature (when the mood strikes), and make an excellent first impression. I am well organized, can work for any jackass on the market with ease and professionalism, and can learn any job quickly and easily. These are FACTS about me.

Okay, facts aside and despite all of these glorious things: I have been unable to find a job after applying for between 45 and 50 jobs since I quit my job in September 2009. I have applied for jobs ranging from "Unemployment Specialist Hearings Officer" (hey, they sent the referral TO ME) to cleaning lady at the hospital (now you know what that would entail, right?).

I cite my age above because I feel I'm beyond certain types of jobs like working at McDonalds in a paper hat or hustling plates at the local diner in orthopedic shoes and a threadworn blue and white poplin waitress get-up. I would rather clean up hospital ickies than do either of those jobs.

Hundreds, no thousands of college grads are pounding the pavements for real and in the computer ethers, debt-laden and possessing papers that should be getting them through doors that are shut fast against them. Those people with jobs aren't budging and the companies who are downsizing are not rehiring. They are simply making do with less workforce.

And, here I am thinking I should be able to negotiate because I'm valuable. WOW.

Even as I write this and see how crazy it all looks and sounds as I read aloud, I'm still convinced I should be able to negotiate something better for my Self - because I'm valuable and I know it. Pride goeth before the fall, eh? Well, shit even after I fall down I'll still be rolling around screaming, "...but I'm valuable!!"

Thursday, June 3, 2010

You Can't Cry Foul If You Aren't Playing The Game...

Of late I find my Self reminiscing back in time when I was about eleven. This was when I realized my parents were no longer sleeping together in the Biblical sense. Mom had "cut Dad off," as it were for reasons that still mystify me some thirty-five years later. I know this because it was pretty obvious that they'd drifted apart, plus Mom told me, quite confidentially in that icky mother-daughter way that results from mommies losing their grip on who they are and what role they actually perform in their children's lives. She pole-vaulted the line from Mother to unwelcome and untrustworthy confidante in one fell swoop. At age eleven, I became the adult in our relationship. My mother could no longer be trusted to act as an adult, take care of me properly, or be confided in.

Many years later when Dad finally sought out the affections of another woman, Mom flipped out. She was incensed that he could "cheat on her like that." I was older then with a sensibility that sympathized with Dad's loneliness and anger at Mom. "Cheat on you like what" I asked her? My very handsome father who had seven children with my mother wanted to be with a woman who found him attractive and wanted to have sex with him. It was just that simple. After A DECADE of denial, hostility, criticism, and inattention Dad finally decided to go find a woman who actually wanted to talk to him, to find him irrepressibly funny, and to walk down the street with him at dusk in complete silence listening to the peepers and watching the dancing fireflies. And to have sex - lots and lots of life- and soul-affirming sex. My darling husband says that "even a hundred year old man wants to have sex." I'm sure he's correct.

Mom screamed that I didn't understand and she was one hundred percent correct. I obviously wasn't an insane sociopath like she was. To this day, I will never understand how Mom or any other person can treat their spouse like a cuckhold for years, sometimes decades, and then be surprised and angry when their husband or wife finally breaks down and finds someone else to love them - mind, body and soul.

Mom called all the shots in the marriage. It was her way or no way. Black or white were your two choices. She even had the nerve to try to bring all of us kids over to her side of the issue, succeeding only with one kid in making Dad the bad guy. Most of us recognized that although Dad wasn't perfect, we knew what Mom had done was just wrong in a marriage, or on a basic human level. Mom would threaten Dad in subtle and not-so-subtle ways that his fighting her or his telling us the truth would result in a loss of his children.

How do I reconcile this now that I'm much older, married, and looking at life with experienced eyes? I see it the same exact way I did when I was a kid. Mom was wrong and there was no fixing that. Dad wasn't "right," but he ended up giving up an important part of his real life for his kids out of fear he would lose us. Mom had no right to cry foul for Dad's infidelity. She treated him with incredible hostility with zero explanation.

I recently forgot about this life experience I've just chronicled when I was dealing with a very dearest friend's life event. I was called upon to use my intellect, powers of reasoning and love for him. Instead of doing these very things, I reacted to the hysterical rantings of a sociopathic woman. See, I didn't know any of her backstory, like I knew my mother's or I would have...waited. I let my friend down in a big way by not trusting that that he was fulfilling that very important part of his life that had been denied him for a decade.

Thursday, May 20, 2010

I Dreamed Last Night I Was On A Boat To Heaven....

...and by some light I had brought my flask along. And, there I stood nicely passin' out the whiskey, but the passengers they knew right from wrooooonnggg!!! And....the....people all said sit down, sit down, you're rockin' the boat!!!"

This is an excerpt from a song in "Guys and Dolls." We performed this show at my high school "back in the day," which would be some ten thousand plus days ago in actuality. I guess I've always been a "boat rocker." It's my nature. I'm a rule breaker, but you'd never know it by looking at me. I look quite docile. Ha, Hah! Fooled you didn't I?

What I'm facing and concerned with right now is going back to work - - in law. This surprises me and frightens me at the same time. While a decade ago a new legal secretarial/paralegal position wouldn't have given me two seconds thought or grimace, now I'm feeling sincere trepidation.

Why? Because I am a "boat rocker," and a dyed-in-the-wool rule breaker. I act and then ask for permission later. That's who I am; it's how I am. My motto is "It's easier to ask for forgiveness than permission." I swear to God that this is my credo and I am known for it, and oh so much more.

Who thought all those burned bridges would catch up with me one day? Hmmm? I sure didn't.

My land is bare of chattering folk, the clouds are low along the ridges and sweet's the air with curly smoke from all my burning bridges." Dorothy Parker

Ol' Dot sure knew, didn't she? What advice would she give me today, with all my trepidation? She'd tell me to f--k off and get the hell away from her until I grew a pair, in all likelihood. Ah, the days before Prozac...poor Dorothy.

But, the question is, do I really care how I'm "known?" No, I really don't. [Insert self-satisfied smirk] As I told my pal, Toughy today, I'm still quite pretty with a disarming smile, quick wit and possessing a nice rack. I can get away with almost anything with men. With women, I'm the kid sister, funny, kind and sincere. I'm a sister and a woman. If I'm playing anyone, it's the men, just like all women - we get what we want but we all stick together in the end. Sorry guys, someone had to tell you what you already knew.

Will I be okay? You bet I will. Dressed to the nines, ready in every respect, wanting this for my Self and for Toughy who needs me like the Sun. Wish me luck.

Saturday, May 15, 2010

Language, people!!!

My husband asked me what the southern guy said on the commercial for "Swamp Loggers" last night. I replied that he said "Mnnggrrhhhh flagarutty naglard, bida glangyrupy yup dare streem." Or at least that's what I heard. He said, yeah that's what he heard too. We still have no idea what that really means and that's okay; it's not radio and we'll get to see what they're talking about. Several fellas on this show are always subtitled because there's no way in hell you're going to figure out what they're saying. 'Could have something to do with the five disparately-spaced teeth and the wad of chew floating around...'just sayin'.

Now I fully realize that "the South" is a different country with a different language, much like the Midcoast is also a different country requiring an occasional interpretor or twelve. Our lovely Southern-belle neighbor, Solana often turns to me for a translation or two from my beloved hubby.

While watching "CSI: Crime Scene Investigation" the other night, both Hub and I distinctly heard the detective say to the perp, "Hey Sputum Booger Head!!!" Now, that's not really what he said of course but it snapped us to attention. We looked at each other quickly in disbelief and then roared with laughter once we realized we'd both heard the same thing. The detective actually said "Hey, put 'em behind your head." I actually think he did say "sputum booger head" and they just left it in to see if anyone would notice. Seriously.

Friday, May 7, 2010

The B.I.T.C.H. (Beautiful Intelligent Talented Charismatic Humorist) is Back...

...from St. John, Newfoundland. And, can I just say right now, I LOVED this trip except for the dry-drunkard, know-it-all, Little-Man-Syndromer that we were semi-forced to drive to the Manchester Airport with and then subsequently fly with to and from St. John, Newfoundland. Let's call him...well, "Dog Shit on My Heel" is just too long - appropriate, yes, but too long. Geez, this is a tough one! How about "Scrappy?" A little guy, always looking for a fight, yet small enough to kick like a football.

Okay, my idiot tolerance is very low and that is not my fault. It is genetic. I come from a long line of Scottish-Russians with giant bony heads, tippy-in Eskimo tailbones (it's true - call my chiropractor), and an extremely low tolerance for stupidity or light-weight drinkers who can't put down a fifth of Scotch or Vodka without puking or passing out - - or worse - - sharing.

So here's Scrappy, about my height, all of 5'3", weighing a buck twenty soaking wet, with "dirty fighter" written all over him. He's totally going to go for your eyes and your nuts, and not necessarily in that order. So, Scrappy starts out in the car ride to Manchester by asking me - NO BY TELLING ME that I voted for Obama. Well, you pesky little dick head, you. This "man" is a business associate of my hub's, and not one he particularly likes and I know this. However, I can hear my lovely and demure mother's voice in the back of my head telling me to be polite or she'll knock my block off. So I'm polite against all odds and desires. I respond through smiley gritted teeth with a constrained-yet-politely-sarcastic response, and he changes topics all on his own to the fishing industry and starts ranting and raving. I glance over at my utterly tolerant husband and I see his eyes are rolling around in his head, so I'm satisfied that I'm not alone in my misery. I am silently wishing, however, that my car didn't have one of those new "Get the f--k out of the trunk free" glow-in-the-dark safety pull tab devices.

Blah, blah, blah, we finally get to Newfoundland after fog and delays. Scrappy and my sweet hubby get off to their fishing workshop just fine and I stagger jet-lagged and sleep deprived off to bed. Shit-heel keeps on doing his dry-drunk routine, telling me I smile too much and querying "just why I am so happy?" Well, just keep talking jackass and you'll f--k that all to hell eventually.

On Day Four, he finally pushes it to the edge of beyond. At breakfast he says, and I quote, "I know too much." [Insert meaningful and knowing tilt of the head and jutted chin....] Oh, spare me and just jump, you asshole. He's not jumping; he's sitting at our breakfast table in the Marriott dining room. He begins ranting for fifteen minutes ending by saying rather loudly "You should be involved in this too, Joni!! You can't hide your head in the sand, you know!," See, I've been just eating my breakfast during this tirade, basically ignoring him, and that's gotten Scrappy's diaper all wet, poopy-filled or up his crack. What I'm getting at is he's been made to feel like no one's listening BECAUSE NO ONE IS LISTENING. Now, at this point I quietly get up from the table - - seriously, I just say nothing and get up - - and go into the little computer area where I send off a missile of an e-mail to Abella spewing expletives left and right with a speed and pressure that would turn carbon into diamonds in a nanosecond. Upon finally returning to the table, hubby and I are exchanging looks that any carbon-based life-form would recognize as meaningful, but Scrap-meister actually has the cahones to say "I think I made Joni mad" and "I think your wife is angry at me." He says both of these things at least twice each. Can you even f--king believe that? Well, it's true. At this point, my hubby suggests that we both return to the room before he leaves for his fishing workshops that day.

Okay, I'm not made of stone. We return to the room and my resolve crumbles. I begin crying and now hubby is FINALLY showing some anger at this jerk. I've been trying so hard not to be rude to this guy for my husband's sake, and just for general mature polite behaviour's sake. All of this appears to escape Scrappy's notice or concern. To call him a Neanderthal would be an insult to evolution. This guy was "shit on a rock and hatched by the sun," as my sweet and demure mother would say.

Luckily for me, St. Johns, Newfoundland is a treasure of a town, and they have magnificent hiking trails just blocks from the hotel. At all costs, I must clear my psyche of anything and everything having to do with this morning's unpleasantness, so I started off for the Sentinal Hill hike. Not for the faint of heart, scared of heights, weak of knees, or badly out of shape, this hike is all business.

The first sight I encounter is Cape Spear, the northern-most point in North America. By way of background, this is the very first day of four that the sun has even shone, and it is forecast to be short-lived. This hiking trail is alive with people of all ages and all abilities. The wind blows mightily across these barren rocks and the beautiful pewter and feather-white sea. I have to fight to keep my footing just to take a picture or two once atop Sentinal Hill, which I find kind of funny but have no one to share my silliness with. Bracing my feet as far apart as they'll go without committing an act of treason to my hamstrings, I take glorious pictures of the ocean, skyline and carefully restored architecture. The buffeting wind is enough to, as my witty and articulate Dad would say, "Blow a sick whore off a piss pot." Ah, such a poet! How I miss you, you funny, quirky man.

The remainder of the trip was uneventful as Scrappy had been neutered, of sorts, coming to some realization all by his little teeny tiny self that he'd overstepped the bounds of normal and polite human interaction. Or possibly he'd spoken to his wife on the phone, relaying the situation to her, and she'd told him what a f--king dolt he was. Hard tellin'.

We plan to return to Newfoundland next summer when we can really spend some time vacationing, hiking and mellowing out with the warm, welcoming people. And, next time we'll make a point to get "screeched in" and become honorary Newfoundlanders by kissing the cod, downing the Screech, and reciting the requisite phrase: "Long may your big jib draw the ol' cocky, mate!"

Friday, April 2, 2010

The Hardest Thing, Revisited

In all honesty, having a husband like mine who has been silently supportive of whatever it is I wish to do has been my silent undoing. This is the hardest thing about quitting a job, finding a writing life and following it.

His loving support has allowed me to wallow, fritter, dither, dally and every other word that literally means "f--k around" while he works diligently to make our lives happen.

Never before in my relatively short lifetime have I been afforded the luxury of being able to not work for a living, make a paycheck, bring home the bacon. Only now, my greatest fear has been realized in that ennui has set in and I'm playing Farmville and Fish World on Facebook more than I'm writing or being creative in my own thoughts. I've turned into the worst case scenario that I can even imagine, and I'm actually encouraging others to follow suit! Cest wut ler fuk do I think I'm doing with my life? Raising imaginary pixel sheep and grapes?

In my own defense, life has not been generous in that we've lost my husband's aunt and one of my sisters within days of one another, along with his mother being in and out of the hospital. These distractions have been a mighty influence on my ability to function creatively and my "little plantation" has given me many hours of simple and mindless enjoyment when I couldn't stand to speak or think in ways that were appropriate or without a measure of grief that others just don't want to see or be around. Pixel cows and chickens are happily fed by weeping women.

Thursday, April 1, 2010

The Hardest Thing

The hardest thing? As Stephen King and other well-worn writers would say, "a supportive family." Very bad. A very, very bad thing. They "love" you whether you pass or fail, so THEY say. I think that might be some kind of softsoap or "horseshit," as Tom Hanks likes to say.

I've been away from my writing FAR too long, my snarkiness too long; my bitterness and sarcasm, along with my soulful crooney doopy-doodling. Too bad, once again. People love the gamut of writing; I love to write what I love to read. And so I do what I love.

Take for instance today. I bought a car. This car salesman Jonathan Hindend (or Jack Ass for short) apparently thought I would appreciate his being rude to the On-Star man in the Philippines because I told him he was bullshitting me when he told me some BULLSHIT. I did not. I apologized to this man named Dan in the Philippines once Jack Ass was out of the car and gone for good. Dan from On-Star said it was no big deal. I assured him it was to me and apologized from the bottom of my heart. We continued installing and talking about the benefits of my On-Star and ended amicably. I'm sure he felt better for the interaction. I know I did. The last thing I want is some guy making minimum wage in the Philippines feeling bad about some car salesman being a twinkie to him for no good reason.

Okay, I'm way off track. The hardest thing to getting back to work is a supportive network of family or friends that says "it's okay" when no one will hire me. Me? My resume kick's ass, perhaps a little too much in this economy and in this "neck o' the woods." 'Story of my life.

I've come to the conclusion that I'm no longer going to be "sorry" [imply whiney sarcastic tone] that my resume looks better than most. I'm no longer going to be sorry that my interviewing skills make the average person twitchy and I end up asking most of the questions after the first two awkward minutes. And, I'm going to wear my very nice Bulova pearl-faced and diamond watch next time. I want a job and I'm going to stop apologizing for being who I am. Maybe that will actually work?

That being said...

I'm heavily considering a return to law. Yes, I've said it. Now it just has to happen.

Friday, February 19, 2010

The Joy of Joblessness

I'm finding there are certain joys to being aimless, feckless, and jobless. I have time to take our grandsons, Taylor and Adam, and their first cousin, Jacob, during school vacation. Taylor is ten, Jacob is nine, and Adam has just turned seven.

The other grandmother, "Nanny" a/k/a Marie and I took the kids on an extended "field trip day" yesterday that began with bowling. We talked smack to the kids all the way there, saying that two old women were going to "kick their tiny hineys all the way up between their shoulder blades." It was hysterical listening to the retorts from the back seat. We told the boys that when they lost, and they would, we'd buy them nice frilly pink and yellow Easter dresses at Wal-Mart to go to lunch in as a penalty for being LOSERS!!! This got them going big time and they shouted back they'd rather go naked, they were going to win because we were girls and they were men, etc. and giggling up a storm.

We stopped at Dunkin Donuts on the way there because Marie and I needed coffee to brace ourselves up with. Has anyone else ever seen a boy child with a head no larger than, say, an oversized cantaloupe shove more than half of a Boston creme doughnut into their mouth? And still be able to chew? Well, I It was something like watching a boa constrictor eat a baby gazelle in one gulp. Little kids are so weird.

So we start bowling - - the big balls. Adam, the littlest one, picks out a 12 pounder because he likes the color. The guy running the front desk very kindly and surreptitiously places a 7 pounder onto the ball return with a wink at me. Adam quickly discovered he liked this ball a whole lot more than the other one due in great part to the fact he can actually carry and throw it. I don't believe Adam weighs much more than 60 pounds soaking wet. The kids are having a pretty good time. Jacob is the best bowler with his long arms and legs. He's also much more deliberate and patient. Marie and I are jumping around and whooping it up at every little victory. We're embarrassing the kids as much as possible until they beg for the quarters we brought for them so they could play the arcade games and get as far away from us as possible.

After bowling, and kicking some tiny hineys - hey it was three against two - we had lunch and then off to check out a buffalo farm out in West Bath that I'd passed going to my tax guy on Monday. That was an event for sure. The boys were all bravado and talking about manure and how gross the buffalo were, hooting and clanging around on the fence at them. That is, until the leader of the pack whom I'll call "Gargantua" showed up from down pasture. This fella weighed in at a ton plus manure weight on his fur. He started snorting loudly and eyeballing us, sidling around, wanting to know why we were looking at his harem. The kids were standing right up against the fence when this began and asked, all happy like, if the buffalo was farting. I said no, that he was snorting at them. Then to their great delight, he started licking his tongue up into his nose and that started off a whole volley of disgusting little boy comments.

Suddenly Gargantua snorted really loudly and charged about five feet toward the fence. I have never in my life seen three little boys move so fast. I turned to look and Taylor was all the way up next to the road, Adam had dashed behind Marie, and Jacob was nearly back to the car some 25 yards away. Long legs win out every time. That ended our buffalo viewing for the day. On the way back to the car, we did pat some nice beef creatures and have running commentary from Taylor on manure. It's amazing the fresh perspective children can give something as simple as cow poop.

On the ride back, "someone," it might have been me, started trouble by winding a big squishy green ball into the back seat at three little heads. Hey, they taunted me by saying I wouldn't do it. Poor Jacob, was right in the middle and got most of action square in the forehead. We had to stop once the ball got lodged onto the back deck of the car out of reach. You never heard so much delighted giggling and shouting, but the car stayed completely under control, all you concerned parents. I can throw a ball and drive, just don't ask me to change a CD and drive. And, they started it.....

It was such a great day. A reminder of what it's like to be a kid and just laugh and have fun, act silly and smile until your face hurts. Or bowl until you can't lift your arm over head the next day. What I'm happiest about was the kids asking their father if they could come back again the next day even before they'd left yesterday afternoon.

I think this is the greatest job I've ever had.

Wednesday, February 17, 2010

Haiku! Gesundheit.

Once again my hearing is not up to par. While driving back from Brunswick the other day, I thought my beloved husband said:

"That c--ksucker must have some kind of death wish."
I abruptly turned in the drivers seat and said "What the hell did you just say! Who has a death wish?" I'm thinking someone's flipped us off or whatever. He said, "Toni, I said, that hawk sitting up there must see a fish." I busted my chitterlings, people, and was unable to tell him for a few minutes what I was laughing about. He hates this with a passion and gets very grumpy. He says I'll laugh at anything, which may or may not be true, but this was funny with a capital FUH.

And, so anyhow, not only is my hearing shot, but I cannot remember what the hell I'm doing from one minute to the next. I put some garlic bread in the oven at 400 degrees. Remember this temperature as it is vital to the story, okay? My darling is late getting home from shrimp dragging; it's after 7 p.m. so I'm a little frazzled. He comes in and I dish up a very nice dinner, we dine, wash the dishes and chat awhile before trundling off to bed. The whole while I can smell something burning like toast, and I realize I haven't turned off the oven. Simple enough.

I awaken the next morning at 4 a.m. with a start, realizing that I never took the garlic bread out of the oven for dinner the night before. I leap from bed - why I don't know - and dash into the kitchen. What I find are two extremely large croutons at this point, drier than a old maid's...tears.

The next night, I left the lovely and highly coveted bread stuffing from the lovely roast chicken in the microwave overnight and had to toss that out the next day around 2 p.m. when I finally discovered it. That was a bummer. My bread stuffing is phenomenal. I nearly cried.

Menopause brain? Ennui? I think I'm off in my own little world much of the time, staring and absorbing my surroundings, "writing them," as it were. I've turned into quite the little geeker of late, giant purse that can hold my new read, Elizabeth Berg's "Escaping Into the Open," my notebook and pen, along with all my "girl" stuff. Pretty quick I'm going to have to have the voice recorder to record all my jaunty little thoughts as they pop up 'cause I'm too damned important/lazy/artistically fartzy to use a pen.

Thursday, February 4, 2010

...again at the beginning.

My mind is like a rogue toddler on a mission to destroy the entire household by whatever means necessary. I used to be a champ meditator. Nothing could break my concentration and now I can't focus for two seconds, much less sit with my legs crossed for five minutes without pain. I've lost my mental edge along with my physical flexibility.

My favorite focusing technique is Caroline Myss's mantra from her book, Anatomy of the Spirit: The Seven Stages of Power and Healing. The point is to focus on the chakras, or the body's energy centers, from first to seventh, imagining them "light up," with their requisite colors and repeat for each one in order:

All is One
(Red, Base of Spine)

Honor One Another
(Orange, Reproductive)

Honor Oneself
(Yellow, Solar Plexus)

Love is Divine Power
(Green, Heart)

Surrender Personal Will to Divine Will
(Royal Blue, Throat)

Seek Only the Truth
(Indigo, Third Eye)

Live in the Present Moment
(Violet, Crown)

This is my preferred method because it doesn't require complete stillness of my body. Combined with the physical exertion of walking, it allows my mind to come to great conclusions unhindered by the day's stresses. Not being the "omming type," I can barely commit to sitting down and watching a DVD all the way through without wandering away to find something else to do. My doctor describes me as a "Type A-," an accurate description.

I loved meditation for the "afterward" and the portals of creativity it opened for me. My level of awareness became profound and my dreams prophetic. The Minions of Morpheus and I were on actual speaking terms. I began this practice during the time I worked in law, seeing pictures of dead people intermingled with pictures of fellas lying on picnic tables sporting the glory of their erections. Meditation was the outlet that offered me peace along with the clarity I used to write my earlier poems and work.

Lately my dreams have been about day-to-day things. I particularly recall a dream where I was tearfully telling my husband that no one would hire me, that I'd tried to get all these jobs, it wasn't my fault - - as I pulled moldy hotdogs, chickens and cabbage out of the cupboard. Then I dreamed that I was really taking my aggressions out on someone I couldn't name or know. There lurks a part of me that feels remiss in not being a viable wage earner and also some anger or disappointment in my Self for being talented and qualified for so many things yet unable to get hired. Yeah, I've joined the 10% National Unemployment Club.

Those dreams stick with me, along with the feelings they produce, and halt my creative flow big time. It has even stymied my colorful, hyphenated swearing capabilities of which I am legend. Now, that's hitting below the belt!

So we start again at the beginning. All is one.

"Healing requires far more of us than just the participation of our intellectual and even our emotional resources. And it certainly demands that we do more than look backwards at the dead-end archives of our past. Healing is, by definition, taking a process of disintegration of life and transforming into a process of return to life." Caroline Myss

Sunday, January 31, 2010

Say What?

I am perpetually mishearing things. Last evening on the news I distinctly thought I heard the reporter say that:

"a man awoke to find a big menacing guy standing in his bedroom with a pickle and he was scared for his life..."
I said to my loving husband, "A pickle?!" He said, quite exasperatedly, "No (you blithering idiot), a PIT BULL." Well, I started to laugh loudly and uncontrollably and could not stop. Being shot a look that would singe the hair off a slathering wolverine's hiney and send it ky-yiying into the wilderness, I got out of earshot of my beloved and laughed myself silly.

Running through my mind were all of these scenarios of what harm could befall someone at the hands of giant man armed with a pickle. "Ye gads! Is he going to shove that up my ass or down my throat?!

Anyway, I started thinking back over the many times that I've busted a gut listening to people sing lyrics to songs and discovering that they, too, were guilty of mishearing words or entire sentences. The substitutions were often completely ridiculous. I and others sang them this way for decades with the crazy lines fully intact. A co-worker of mine made up a screwball, and somewhat black humored line to "I Like Pina Coladas." The real chorus goes:

"If you like pina coladas, and getting caught in the rain, if you're not into yoga, if you have half a brain. If you'd like making love at midnight, in the dunes on the Cape..."
To which she sang: "If you'd like making love at midnight, in the dew suffocate."

That spun my head around in a hurry. I let her in on the secret of the correct wording since she'd only been singing it wrong since 1979.

I pulled some classic mishears off the Net for you, enjoy:
  • Somewhere over the rainbow, weigh a pie (Wizard of Oz)
  • Every time you go away, you take a piece of meat with you (Paul Young, Every Time You Go Away)
  • The only boy who could ever reach me was the son of a pizza man (Dusty Springfield, Son of a Preacher Man)
  • Doughnuts make my brown eyes blue (Crystal Gayle, Don't It Make My Brown Eyes Blue)
  • The Ants are My Friends (Bob Dylan, Blowin' In The Wind)
  • I can see Cleveland now, Lorraine has gone (Johnny Nash, I Can See Clearly Now)

Sunday, January 24, 2010

I Still Have All My Marbles

It's true, I do. I still have all my marbles from childhood, sixty-two of them. They sit on the windowsill in a wire-hasp Ball canning jar where I can see them every day. Now both the jar and the marbles would be considered valuable antiques. They range from pee-wee all the way to the big guys. They are my memory-makers. When I look at them I remember my days at Welchville School, a four room school house, where we actually played marbles, skipped rope, and all the other things kids did during recess in the early 70's.

My parents being antique dealers passed down to me many valuable things that I cherish and not because of their dollar value. My Staffordshire dogs, the oil on glass painting of birds in cattails, and a Mary Gregory cranberry glass bottle, are but a few of my prized possessions. When I look at them now, I remember my history and family history. For more than twenty years, I watched the sun rise on the white china dogs, the western sun shine through the cranberry bottle, and the sun set on the painting. I remember how old Mom and Dad were when they gave them to me. Therein lies their value.

Breaking down life into material objects, there are few of such great importance worth truly loving, fighting for and keeping close until our passing. They are things that continue to give you something today from the past with one look or touch.

"No memory is ever alone; it's at the end of a trail of memories, a dozen trails that each have their own associations." Louis L'Amour.

All of us kids have items of Mom and Dad's that we treasure with a lifetime of memories attached securely to them. My sister, Leelee-Bop has the massive twin chalk pastel river scenes of Scotland that hung on either side of the picture window in the living room from the time my older siblings were very young. They have now been restored to their original beauty and hang majestically in her home. I know when she looks at them, time flies through her mind from birth to now, along with recent memories made with her husband. I see them in my mind's eye as I write. Thinking of them reminds of me of watching "Kolchak: The Night Stalker" with Dad, as they hung behind where the television sat. Do you remember that show with Darren McGavin? Dad would always first berate us, "Now girls, I'll watch this with you, but don't you go to bed on me before this is over, okay?" We'd always promise vehemently, and half the time skedaddle off to bed after fifteen minutes. It was so scary, but naturally he'd be hooked and have to sit up until 10 p.m. to finish watching it by himself. Poor Dad. I wonder if L-Bop thinks of that when she looks at those pictures? Well, she will now.

I love the things that remind me of Mom and Dad, of growing up in the big old house with the strangest assortment of things you could not imagine. We had potato guns, trucks full of mattresses, trunks busting with silks and satins. My first wedding dress was a plaything my sister and I dragged out of an old trunk. My marbles didn't come from a store, not one of them. They came from "somewhere in time." Like my memories.

Saturday, January 23, 2010

Some Letting Go, Some Holding On

How do we let go of life? At forty-something? A friend has metastasized cancer now in their lungs, spine and liver. This person has battled, done all of the treatments their doctor recommended to them, and still they are facing death before Spring perhaps, and most certainly by Summer's end. The body has surrendered. Or so the doctors say. I have to say that, you know. It's the only way I can manage the awful truth, that perhaps the doctors are just plain wrong. Dearest God.

My chest tightens with blood running cold at the the thought of a such a diagnosis coming my way. I'm forty-something my Self. The thought of dying doesn't bother me so much as, first and foremost, leaving my husband alone, and second, leaving my book unwritten. There are certainly other considerations; my mother witnessing her youngest baby dying before her. I couldn't do that to her; I'd rather make up a story of traveling far away and forcing every one to go along with it for her sake until her passing.

Hearing of someone in the Great Circle nearing their own mortality is breathtaking. I hug my own body, my Self, and thank God, the Universe, Allah, Buddah, every single possible god and goddess who would hear me that I live and continue to walk and breathe and love my husband and my family. As I'm writing my husband came rushing in here to whisker kisses all over my neck, face and lips and then rush out again with a devilish smile on his face. He tells the dogs "I ran in to kiss your Mama." The tears spring hot into my eyes, thinking of this soul who is dying as I rejoice in my life, my every cell burning with love and hope for this unbelievably wonderful life I own for today and for now, if not for tomorrow.

"The aim of life is to live, and to live means to be aware, joyously, drunkenly, serenely, divinely aware." Henry Miller.

Friday, January 22, 2010

Hole, Woke, Open, Old, Toe, Oh

Hole, Woke, Open, Old, Toe, Oh: these are not tough words to spell. However, four of these words can either be spelled differently and/or have two different meanings. These are spelling words that our seven year old, first-grader grandson, Adam brought to our house last night to work on. Adam and Taylor were spending time with me until their dad and my husband got back from shrimp dragging.

As I made my World-Famous Chocolate Truffle Cookies, we three worked on these words, spelling them out, writing them down, and making sentences out of them. The promise of these decadent cookies upon completion of six sentences did the trick. There was, of course, quite a bit of stalling, talking about Indiana Jones, Legos, the Titanic and other boy-related things, but we finally got the job done.

This is obviously hard for Adam even though I tried to make it as fun as possible. So we also talked about how truly difficult the English language is to learn. I wanted Adam to understand it's not an intuitive skill, and to not get too frustrated with himself. I compared it to learning a new video game. He practices, he gets better. Simple. I don't believe he'll ever really love reading; it's not his "thing." But Adam's imagination and intelligence are keen and he will find his niche and brilliance elsewhere.

Taylor is much more intellectual at nearly ten years old and we talked about being from Africa, Germany or Japan and the difficulty of learning English as a second language. He said with great conviction that "he was glad he was born in the good old USA." He sounded like a pitchman and I had to a squelch a little laugh, and smiled really hard at him instead. He's so darned smart and cute, not that I'm at all biased.

The kids then settled into the living room with their snacks to watch a movie, "Major Payne" in the hour or so before their dad got home. As I listened to them laugh hysterically over every utterance of the word "turd," I worked on dinner pondering the construct of learning to read.

By the time I was five years old, I could read and oh so much more. That's the extreme value and utter downfall of being the youngest in a very large family; you are sponge to so much information. I was listening to Joe Cocker, The Beatles, and Petula Clark for music. Books were read to me and my next older sister, Leelee-Bop by Mom and older sisters. I was looking at Life Magazine and National Geographic, playing Super Spirograph with my high school age sisters, and hearing about Vietnam and everything else at the dinner table. And this is where Joni the Barbarian began.

At kindergarten, I wondered why I was sent someplace with so many stupid kids, and that's the God's honest truth. That first day, there were kids peeing their pants, crying for their mother, and then there was me. When the teacher told us to first outline our clearly outlined picture with black crayon, I distinctly recall muttering "I'm not doing that." That was for the dumb kids who couldn't color in the lines and it would make a mess. I was a teacher's nightmare, but thank God I was cute! No shit and no kidding; I saw what happened to the unruly homely kids. These were the days when corporal punishment was IN, baby! As it were, Leelee-Bop and I should have both been moved up a grade immediately, but back then they didn't do that stuff.

By the time I was in third grade, I was reading Anya Seton, Victoria Holt, Mary Stewart and the like; Mom's romance and mystery novels. She tried to direct me to Charles Dickens, but I found him confusing. That's kind of funny, isn't it? She really must have anticipated quite a lot from me at eight years old. Dickens was where reading ability and actual comprehension fell apart. Anyhow, we had tons of books, including lots of Readers Digest Condensed Books. That's where I found Jack London's, Call of the Wild. Wow, what a book! I was probably ten years old when I read it.

"If we succeed in giving the love of learning, the learning itself is sure to follow." John Lubbock.

As I see Adam struggling like any seven year old to learn the written language, I yearn to help him more than I know is possible. I wish I could tell him how to fall in love with the written word. There is no explanation. Self-discovery is the only way.

"For one who reads, there is no limit to the number of lives that may be lived, for fiction, biography, and history offer an inexhaustible number of lives in many parts of the world, in all periods of time." Louis L'Amour

Wednesday, January 20, 2010

Who Are You? Who who! Who who!...

Identity seems like such a simple thing, but today I'm pondering it. Just this morning, I have identified my Self as Sparklefish, Joni the Barbarian, Mrs. Soandso, and Mr. Soandso's wife with no first name. Then the pharmacist called me Ms. Soandso and had to revert back to calling me Toni to get my attention.

Who the hell am I? Who are you? Who ar-are you, who who who who, I really wanna know!!! Seriously. First I was Bill and Jean's daughter, the youngest. This is Joni-in-training wearing brother, Glenn's combat boots.

Then, suddenly there I stood, eight years old, in the pink crepe paper skirt with the shiny face smiling innocently at the camera. The time in between was just time, and now excellent blog fodder. Years fly.

At twenty-one, I became Mr. Premature-ejaculator's wife, Mrs. Premature-ejaculator. You think this looks bad written here? You should have seen it printed on checks and in azure embroidery on an L.L. Bean bag for Christ's sake. What a four year stretch THAT was. Phew-whee! He very quickly became someone else's problem, having strayed to another's bed before officially leaving mine. (I hope it was the best ninety second sex she ever had...) Some years later my former wedding photographer gleefully informed me that ol' P-E's new bride was sick all through the pre-wedding pics. She then puked down the front of her wedding dress at the reception. Bad omen, anyone? (By the way, this is the only pic I saved with both me and P-E in it because I loved the expression on my face, the crumple and flow of the antique Irish slipper satin, and the joy with which Great Aunt Whozadingy was tossing the rice. And you can't see P-E's face.)

Okay, so then I'm just Bill and Jean's kid again, little Miss Nobody, until the guys at the Great Falls Post Office in Auburn come up with the nickname, "Toni the Ten." I was such a rube I even challenged them on it, questioning them about their sanity. They stood "firm," as it were. I was so innocent, even at 25 years old, I just passed it off as nothing, but these guys were jonesing for me bad. Men = penises with cars and money? I still haven't decided how to define them as a species and it's been a lifetime. My husband says "Even a hundred year old man wants to f--k." He's such a poet. Brings a tear to your eye doesn't it? I think he's channeling James Joyce...although James would proffer,

"Men are governed by lines of intellect - women: by curves of emotion."

(Right. "Lines of intellect" is man-code for "their peckers." That's how Jimmy rolled, dawg!)

Friedrich Nietzsche said, "The 'doer' is merely fiction added to the deed - the deed is everything." That reminds of Stephen King's repeating incessantly that "only story is about story." People, like books, are all about the story they create from what they're given; what they make of themselves by what is accomplished in the very short span of less than a hundred years. Status, wealth, and beauty fade into obscurity and vanish forever, but story remains.

Bit by bit, you're getting me unbound, funny and unfunny. What may seem blithe is measured well, unlike my earlier work. The comments I receive about being brave in sharing my pain, shock me a little because I don't feel brave or even honest writing about my life. It's my story, that's all. As my guts spill, I get stronger and lighter; my writing life becomes more and more real.

So who am I? I guess we'll find out together.

Monday, January 18, 2010

Two Women in One

One of the blogs I'm following, Applehouse Poetry Workshop, had a lesson plan of sorts: write a poem about ten things you've not done, maybe wanted to do, never wanted to do, too scared to do, being sure to end with "But once I did...". I read through the poem comments they received and thought I'd give this a try for my two Selves. The first is for Toni, Woman of Letters and the second, for Joni the Barbarian.

The Missing Five or Ten
I never felt the free fall bliss
or silken parachute catch me up
from jumping from a perfect plane.

The rush of gratitude and love
from giving birth I've never known
but didn't miss, this time around.

Deepest blue green water scares me
I haven't dove the coral reefs
or breathed air bubbles from a tank.

I cannot say I'll ever know
the thrill of heights that others crave
to see the face of Everest's might.

A hairy legged tarantula
won't gaze at me upon my arm
I could not be as one with it.

As thrilling as it seems to be
I've never galloped free and wild
upon a horse who'd love it too.

Jamaica's where the rum is sweet
my sweeter husband wants to go
I just can't make my mind say yes.

The roller coaster tempts me Come
You won't fly off to Heaven yet
but I say no, I'm chicken still.

I've never stood upon a stage
with Karaoke mic in hand
I'd rather sing the Requiem.

I know too much about raw fish
to eat it in a sushi bar
I've pulled out squirmy worms myself.

But once I stood and braved the day
and said enough, I'm done at last.
I am a writer from now on.

Okay, now let's do one for good ol' Joni the Barbarian. Here are some things she did and shouldn't have, and one final thing Miss Joni regrets she's unable to do today.

That Ten That Made Me

Trajectory is everything when throwing
rocks at hornets' nests. So as I ran they
too could fly along, following air streams left
behind me, getting vengeance on the way.

A lovely cobalt bottle full of worms,
seemed a good idea one summer day
found, uncorked but strangely gone to liquid
Lost forever, sadly killed by little me.

Muttered "Stupid" when angry teacher stormed
had a temper tantrum in our classroom.
He had heard me, made me answer why, I
made up some excuse but wasn't sorry.

Flying Etch-a-Sketch sails through the antique
china hutch, and Thank God! smashing side glass
Meant to injure sis, but both of us will
suffer badly now when Mom and Dad get back.

Naked man with pecker-recktus picnic
table posing pictures, he's defendant
we're for plaintiff, wished I'd never seen them
Time cannot eradicate him from my mem'ry!

"You and your husband may come in now please."
My faux pas catching me too late, oh damn,
as hardened voice said "I'm a woman, too,"
the f--king ground refused to swallow me.

Warm champagne and hot lasagna, salad
with Italian dressing, seemed so very good,
Me drinked whole bottle. Riding, riding, homeward
Sick and spinning, porcelain is hugging me.

In my awful utter haste I stepped through
what I thought was solid ground, up to my
waist, my shoes and clothes all slick with slime.
Why can I never take the path more traveled?

"Geronimo!," I cried, as blue and deep the
ocean water called me from the wharf. My lover
said don't go, I jumped, he shook his head and
like a silly frozen fish gaffed me back in.

Summer party, kiddie pool, all done,
but tipsy me would do the trick. I lifted high
up on one edge, with weighty water pushing back,
to knock me down and souse me for the crowd.

But once I wish I'd known my Self enough
and slapped a privileged face real hard who
only wished to stall my life with talk of
love, far Lake Nipissing, scotch and little else.

Ta DAH!!!

Saturday, January 16, 2010

The Pink Album

I'm currently reading Stephen King's, On Writing, A Memoir of the Craft, as my walking-on-the-treadmill book. The book begins with his high praise for Mary Karr, and her novel The Liar's Club. He writes with shades of awe and envy for the "totality" of the recollections of her childhood being "an unbroken panorama." As a prelude to the story of his own childhood, which he says was "herky jerky," it seems to me self-preservation had a say in his choice of memories.

This first part of the book he says is "not an autobiography" but calls it the "C.V." He gives the reader snapshots of his life. After reading all about his childhood and his early struggles to write and succeed, I felt this was an author I never knew much about, only that I loved his work. By the time I reached the passages describing his mother's death, I was bawling and howling for the pain it laid before me. I just kept walking, sobbing, with my head down, tears falling on my sneakers and the black "ground" moving ever backward.

"Forget your personal tragedy. We are bitched from the start and you especially have to be hurt like hell before you can write seriously. But when you get the damned hurt, use it - don't cheat with it." Ernest Hemingway.

The word "snapshots" reminded me of a project I've launched headlong into. I started scanning hundreds of photos from one of our oldest family albums, "The Pink Album." Making sure everyone in the family has access to these pictures on CD as real film degrades, pictures are lost, torn and fade, is important to me as the youngest child of nine. It's one of the little things I can take care of, seeing how I'm "aimless and fiddle-diddling" on the computer all day anyway. Picture five hundred eighty-eight or so has hit my hard drive with a thud and I'm looking forward to being done. I've four more albums to conquer yet. Wish me and my hard drive luck.

When I began the project I didn't expect the head trip it would take me on, filtering through memories - - The Pink Album Time Machine. This album starts back when my folks were in their mid-thirties, 1950-something. The black and white film does great justice to the time, way more than color film could have. There are pictures that make my parents look like something from The Grapes of Wrath, sans the dust storm. They were certainly as hard-pressed, poor and struggling, with too many kids.

Each child growing up, picture after picture, there's an evolution of each happy kid to teenager. Then some change would occur in each one. It was the sixties then the early seventies, the hippie days with alcohol, marijuana and worse. You could almost see the moment when the times and some "thing" overtook their lives. From one Christmas to the next, a once great, smart kid turned drunk or drug-addicted, or somehow now despondent, or uncaring about themselves. Then they'd just stop being in the pictures altogether. The older siblings then gone from the house, away on their own. They were either running off across county to escape responsibilities or desperately wanting to simply be gone from a small mill town. The worst of all? Getting married to cover the cost of a life carelessly tossed like a coin without first checking to see whether it landed heads or tails. All of us girls did that, me included.

"Memories may escape the action of the will, may sleep a long time, but when stirred by the right influence, though that influence be light as a shadow, they flash into full stature and life with everything in place." John Muir

I remember in these photos my parents turning from what I understood to be loving and responsive to no more pictures together, and no more kisses good-bye in the morning. Each picture showing how far apart, the body language now so obvious to my seeing eyes. A picture of our old kitchen reminds me of the day Mom threw a plate full of breakfast and an orange and white coffee cup at Dad's head across the room and missed. I loved that cup. It was iridescent when held up to the sun, all shimmery like an eggshell with orange stripes. I might have been five and I just couldn't understand why. She was always doing things like that, but there was no one to make her stand in the corner for being naughty. Dad never gave up but he knew when to walk away.

All the screaming and yelling was nothing compared to the silence, when I'd hide under the dining room table until Dad got home. I was so little at the time, I fit in the small space where all the inside legs came together, maybe eighteen inches square. Fear was a big part of my life before I started kindergarten and my days became filled with something other than soap operas. At this point in time, my oldest sister would frequently visit Mom with her children in tow. She always had a slap for me like I was her kid and not Mom's, and I hated her for it. She always had a lie to tell, too, and she and Mom were perpetually on the outs. Perhaps if she'd realized I'd become a writer, she might have thought twice before laying a hand on me and lying her ass off? Too damn late now.

"Your memory is a monster; you forget - it doesn't. It simply files things away. It keeps things for you, or hides things from you - and summons them to your recall with a will of its own. You think you have a memory; but it has you!" John Irving

This album takes me through my entire early life and family history as I look at the snapshots. Experts on family dynamics say that the youngest child does not have the most accurate memories of events. Mine may not be accurate, but they formed who I am today. These memories are where I live in my head and what sets me howling on my treadmill. They are why I write.
"It's surprising how much of memory is built around things unnoticed at the time." Barbara Kingsolver.

Friday, January 15, 2010

I Went to a Garden Party... make me some new friends
A chance to make good memories
& dispel my fears about them.

When I got to the garden party,
No one could care if I came
They all took turns ignoring me
I was the butt of their game

Bunch of nou-veau riche hags!
(Bum scum bum scum bum scum bum)
Hard drinking skags!
Think you're hot, but hey Cougars, you're not!
You're on the down-hi-ill draaaaag!

So, I'm reminded of a little "party" I went to this summer by a snide remark I see flit across the screen "somewhere." Funny, right? Not so funny. I'm apparently a bigger joke than I figured I was, my gut's never wrong, and it's not wrong now. Saddle up and tally ho!!!

This blog is not directly intended to slight the host of the party, but the other participants. At the time, her intentions were pure.
"The errors of women spring, almost always, from their faith in the good, or their confidence in the true." Honore de Balzac
She had high hopes for her friends, the "Coven." They are kind to her because...I don't really know why? She's very nice herself and forgiving of other people's natures, but I would proffer they are not always kind to her behind her back. Okay, shall we?

Soooo, I get talked into this little gathering. My not-so-inner jackass is really screaming at the top its lungs "NOOOOO!!!" but I've agreed and I can't back out. I've even bought these charming little cheesecake bites to bring. F--k, I say, how did I get my Self into this?

Allow me to describe the participants to the best of my remembering, and I'll start with the likeable ones. The only other nice person besides the host didn't show. I'll call her Eve, a natural, earthy and garden-loving woman. She talked my ear off the last time we met. Engaging, well-educated, very likeable - - a wholly dubious participant in this grouping, seriously.

Next, I'll call this one Amelia. Brunette, younger than the rest, all proud of herself for being accepted into the "group." A little tiresome, nice on the surface but there for a reason, right? There was a local teacher there, an innocuous, almost invisible woman, pale and disappearing - - a follower. I don't even remember her name so I'll call her Casper. There were several others there I can't recall because they've faded out of memory.

I chatted briefly with a woman I'll call Asshole, because that's just what she was, an asshole. Thin, dark frizzy hair, played the alto ukulele with her husband, "not from around here." She remarked to me that I "didn't even have an [Mainer] accent," in other words I didn't "sound like the rest of the f--king hicks she'd run into." What's interesting about this interaction is I very likely remember well more about her than she does about me, except that she thinks I'm an uneducated hick turd.

Onto the big hitters: Boner, the hard-drinking, hard looking bottle blonde whose looks are indicative of the "rode hard and put away wet" category. And, Petunia, the chunky monkey whose serene countenance belies a boiling point just below the surface; a Nazi in tight capris and sleeveless poplin button-up. These are the killers in the group; the leaders. They guide everything and everyone, including our host.

The party is moving, lots of nice food on the lovely table, our host flitting here and there. I am doing my best to go from grouping to grouping, chitting and chatting my way along. Suddenly I notice I'm standing in the dining room alone. Alone. I haven't really been aware that the groups as I've approached them have drifted away and into the living room. So I turn, by myself, and walk into the living room and see that everyone is grouped together, no more seats available. I stand there behind one of the chairs for a few minutes, smiling congenially, and not one person looks up or at me or says one word of greeting.

These "so-called" really nice people that my host wanted me to meet and be friends with had pulled a huge snub on me, quite deliberately, and I had a choice to make. Looking down at my half-finished drink, listening to the chatter, I'm wondering if there's any turning this around or making it better. I know with peripheral vision, Petunia and Boner can clearly see me standing there alone. If they're so nice, why aren't they saying "something?" Why isn't anyone saying something?

Having never been a very good "game-player," I decided I would rather be home with my loving husband than here with this group of awful women. He'd actually warned me this would likely be the outcome when he heard who'd be there. I dumped my drink, put the glass away and walked out the door. I'm almost home before our host even knew I was gone.

The joke was on me, and it seems it still is. To quote the master, "Hahahaha."
"Cruelty has a human heart, And Jealousy a human face. Terror, the human form divine, and Secrecy, the human dress." William Blake.
I've lived to fight another day, thick-skinned hick turd that I am. It made me wiser, kinder and sure to listen deeper to my intuition, "next time." If and when that bestseller comes pouring forth, I pray to God these staving bitches are still alive to see it. I'd better hurry...

Wednesday, January 13, 2010

The Bonfire of the Vagaries

Okay, Witty-ville is where I'm from and it's where I'm comfortable. We have the Snark Bar where I drink my Bacardi & Coke. That's where I laugh and write the good stuff. Then I just walk downstreet to The Soul-in-the-Wall to have my Southern Pecan decaf with soy milk and make the other half of my brain say, "Aaaaah" and write my poetry. Kidding, it's all done right here in the Wanderlust Room on Banter Island. Pa-dum-pum, ching!

I'm in the midst of a booger-flavored gobstopper of a personal injury lawsuit and I get these boilerplate questions I have to answer called "Interrogatories." (That's French for "Cest wat lur fuk?") I'm sorry to say I cranked out this offal in my before life as a legal secretary. Only now I'm looking on them with fresh eyes and see how blatantly ignorant they are. Here's a fine example:
"State whether you have been convicted within the past 14 years of a crime which was either (a) punishable by death or ..."
My smart ass answer was "Yes, I was executed." Would I be filing suit if I were dead?

To one of the other questions about any injuries I've sustained over the last ten years prior to accident, I am forced to answer, "stepped on a tack; had to have a tetanus shot," because that IS my only answer.

Actually, I was getting ready to step into the tanning booth at my hairdresser's salon and stepped onto a large upholstery tack that had dislodged from somewhere. I felt this sharp pain in my big toe i.e., Old Tom Bumble. (For those of you without Yankee parents, the lineup goes Achey Pea, Penny Rue, Rudy Whistle, Mary Tossle and Old Tom Bumble). I lifted up my foot and thought I'd stepped on glass, but it was the shiny head of this GIANT tack, smack up against the bottom of my toe. After pulling for what seemed like an eternity, it finally dislodged with a popping sound. Holy Mother of Goog! But, being a Yankee myself, I tanned anyway, standing my gusher toe on a paper towel, and told the gals about it before I left.

Here's another beauty:
Set forth in full the substance of any admission by a party or by any alleged agent of a party, and include within your answer the name of the person making each such admission, the date and time of the admission and the names and addresses of all persons present at the time of the admission.
You know what the standard answer is to this one? F--k off. No really. Only they say it like this: "Plaintiff is without knowledge or information sufficient, just f--k off!" See I told you.

Interrogatories by their very nature are designed to make the other side just give up and fork over whatever it is the other wants: the money, the truth, the secret treasure map, etc. I've seen these documents contain hundreds of pointless and horrifying questions all designed to humiliate and wear down the opposing party. The really nasty lawsuits ask for personal information the likes of which you'd see on Jerry Springer, and even he'd blush.

Someday, it will all be an expensive nightmare, I mean, memory. I'll still limp, predict the weather with my kneecap, and hate driving on icy roads. But "cest wat lur fuk?"

Back to soul...for now

These are all poems I wrote more than ten years ago. They unearthed themselves for me.

Change of Season
The leaves of red and gold
the paler sun and bitter winds
did once foretell the chill
ascending in a soul
a life was rendered
changed forever.

Subconscious tricks of heart
and soul that left you breathless
The sun that once would
warm your core
departed now and

Now reds and golds tell of light
and fire that burns of love anew
enduring patience made to ease
erase the pain
and change the season
once again

Becoming One
A long time coming, this contentment.
Stirring where forgotten feeling lies
and distant memory lifts its head
to ponder where the good life went.
But slowly, still yet crystal clear
the recollection comes in view
and to a heart once shuttered fast
the promise of a calm renewed.
So now instead of lonely days and nights
spent praying to whomever hears
the plaintive words to send a love
the days fall sweetly down and rest
an easy calm ascends the night
with paler moon then brighter sun
begins the day with hope anew
embracing hearts
becoming one.

For You
How do I let you know my love?
What once was thought to be sigh,
and inner breath was said aloud
and to the night, you by my side,
not daring breathe
not knowing how or if to move
but you
love you

I, too, have heard the words and seen
the look and know the lie in sound
and how the eyes deceive.
What looks like love is often lust
the words we hear, we want to trust
in you
love you

We fit like gloves, each hand in hand
We walk the step in time and yet
the fear of what could be
keeps us a measure off
away from me
and you
love you
I love you

The Dance
We met, we danced
we shared our stories on the edge.
We knew the something that we felt
Could not be shared until the
me and you
were there in whole
not just in part.

And now each one is one
our pasts and futures
turning 'round, entwining hearts
that felt a spark
when we were half
and touched again as
we are whole.

Tuesday, January 12, 2010

Waiter, there's a foot in my mouth!

Oopsey whoopsey! Here's the awful truth about me, once again.

For some unfathomable reason, I believed I could go back to work in law. With lawyers. In a law firm. Crazy, ain't I?

Our local rag had all of five help wanted ads and one of them was for a legal secretary, "excellent pay, part time, flexible hours." Hey, just the thing, right? I called and left a message saying I was interested in speaking to him about his job opening. My kick-ass resume and cover letter had been mailed in order to be on his desk by Monday for review prior to his calling me. That's what professionals do. Keep that in mind as you read on.

Sooooooo, last night he calls me back. Let's just say the poor bastard is now a little wiser for having spoken with me, and I can cross law off my list once and for all. Here's how it went down.

Little Sir Whipper Snapper calls, all self-important, saying how gosh-darned busy he was all weekend, blabbity blah, asks about my credentials. I suggest my resume should be on his desk. He retorts he doesn't have time to look for it. (Say what, you gumptionless turd?) So I rattle off the many fields of law in which I've worked, realizing I should have started with the short list of law I've not done. I tell him who I've worked for and he's quick to say he knows the "big guys." (Groveling kiss-ass.) Then he drops the bomb: "I'll want you to take a typing test."

Oh ho ho, wait just a minute there skippy boy! Polite as I can muster, I say, "I think at this stage of the game, that would be unnecessary with my level of experience. That's a bit offensive."... [insert dead silence on his end of the phone]. Or in the words of a master,
"All great truths begin as blasphemies." George Bernard Shaw.
Sir Snapper's Spideyman underroos are now riding up and he's stymied for the moment. He finally splutters back that no one has ever refused to take a typing test. He just keeps repeating in different ways that he's never heard of anyone being offended, mutter, mutter, mutter. Now I just feel sorry for him and he knows it. I reply, "Wait until you see my resume and perhaps then you'll understand." HIII-YAH!!! Right below the belt, kiddo! How'd that feel?

You must realize at this point, I could not care less. The tone of this kid's voice, his eagerness to ride on coat tails of the "big guys" I mentioned, and his obvious lack of organization speak volumes to me without meeting him face to face. My desire to babysit a cluttery, muttery wet-behind-the-ears braggart are ZE-ROH.

We end the call after I tell him if he finds in his eighteen applicants a no-hitter, to call me. Ha ha HAH! Like that's going to happen. That little punk had nightmares: "Hither came Joni the Barbarian! Curly-haired, sullen-eyed, lipstick in hand, a thief, a reaver, a slayer, with gigantic melancholies and gigantic mirth, and tiny fists, to tread the jeweled thrones and typewriter of Sir Whipper Snapper under her sandalled feet!!!"
"Truth, like gold, is to be obtained not by its growth, but by washing away from it all that is not gold." Leo Nikolaevich Tolstoy
The Universe wants me to write every day. She wants me to listen to Heaven's mandate to create. For whatever reason I keep trying to make an outside work life, it is in vain. My work is here; my writing life is my work. That is the golden truth.

Monday, January 11, 2010


As the anniversary of my father's passing, February 26, 2005, draws nearer, I draw closer to him. This was my eulogy on the First Day of Spring, March 20, 2005.

First of all, let me say that Dad would never have attended an event like this except in that urn.

Dad never rested on formality in his life, or on convention, trends of fashion or any other normal, polite way of being that most people accept as "the right thing to do."

Dad marched to the tune of his own drummer - - always.

Dad was about living. He was a collector of things; a packrat with the intention of saving stuff that someone, someday, might want.

He was also a collector of people - - a wildly diverse group that he held close in his life. His stories about them kept them alive for him and the rest of us long after they'd passed.

Dad lived to tell a story, a joke, or some how make people laugh. He was always keenly aware of any opportunity to be the center of attention or to make a heavy moment lighter.
I'll tell a Dad-esque joke: A skeleton walks into a bar. The bartender says "What'll you have?" The skeleton says, "A beer and a mop."

All of us kids inherited the ability to find humor even in the darkest moment, however seemingly irreverent. We owe this skill, of sorts, to Dad.

I'll tell you a story from the hospital bedside and I pray I get through it with tears of laughter:

We were all sitting quietly and Dad was unconscious but listening as the hospice nurse proved to us. As some of you know, Dad would often say "What?" if you said something directly to him, but he could distinctly hear a whisper to Mom in the other room that you didn't want him to hear.

So Mom asked Kerry if she'd thought to bring the stuffed gargoyle toy to put on Dad's bed. Kerry said no, that Dad didn't like it and kept turning it around last time. Kerry then said that she'd thought to bring the other stuffed creature - - a vulture - - but thought it might be inappropriate.

This took one long second to reach the rest of us and we all began to laugh really hard, knowing how terribly funny Dad would have found that, too.

This is a day and a time to remember the best, tell your funny and perhaps irreverent story and laugh with Dad, who is definitely listening. Please share with us today all of the happy, crazy, wonderful reasons we all loved him.

Thank you.

When will YOU write something profitable?

That's what my husband said to me this morning, a bit tongue-in-cheek but also a real question. We were watching the news and the New York Times Bestseller Top Five came on. Naturally, Dan Brown's "The Lost Symbol" was number one and has been since it's release in mid-September, 2009.

I've just researched Mr. Brown to find he wanted very much to be a singer/songwriter. He self-produced music for children and the adult-genre, fighting mightily to gain ground in that field for years. He eventually turned to his true calling and "became" an author in 1996. He wrote several humorous books, then wrote and published his first suspense novel, Digital Fortress with limited success in 1996.

Fame and fortune did not reach him until his fourth novel and blockbuster in 2003 entitled The Da Vinci Code. See, all ol' Dan needed to do was start nudging his size elevens towards the Vatican's fat rich ass and the brass ring was his. Take a swing at the big man in the pointy hat, yessir!
"Oh's what's that you say? Jesus had a penis and he used it to bear children? Well, he did no such thing! Blasphemy!!"
Seven years is a long time to churn out great writing, waiting for the "thing" that the World notices. At least he wasn't crawling toward death before he was recognized for his talent as a writer. (One might postulate that Danny-boy signed his one-way ticket to Hell when he shat on the path of righteousness. But, I'm not saying money can't buy forgiveness if the check is papally, I mean, properly endorsed...)

Does the public want to read the drivel that pops up in my mind? I don't know. You're reading it. It's also the kind of stuff I like to read and isn't that the point?

Sunday, January 10, 2010

Father Times

Captive Ashes
Above my head white birds soar
in silver sky etched
with teal and gray
swirling fast like water white
flowing from far away

Seldom now do tears take me
down the long road of
my memory
Smiles then laughter filling space
feeling finally free

Captive ashes, in silver
urn rests like death and
quiet now and sees
all, it sits just marking time
with both of us at peace

Wild River
Sunbaked rocks, picnic blanket sand,
Hydrox cookie crumbles on our lips.
Sandwiches made special for these times
and these alone, with root beer floats to celebrate
our return home.

Daddy always jumped in first so's we'd
be braver someday soon.
Playing silly games to teach
us swimming skills, and nature lessons
along side watching minnows nibbling toes.

Picture-taking Momma on the shore,
not so much a beach as sandy spots
among the rocks and tree debris
from winter's slashing fury of spring
turned to summer's glory.

Others swim for the huge rock ledge
The wicked wild water's fast and deep
Memories of peanut butter and jelly
never tasting more like heaven here
in days of Wild River swimming.