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.

Saturday, January 9, 2010

Critique, Schmitique: don't backhand my blog...

...with a parable about a woman thinking someone's hanging dirty laundry only to learn she was looking through dirty windows. Instead, do something. Take your light from under the bushel and share it, bare it and make it public. Then tell me about "my view" from your own experience and crushed vulnerabilities, out loud.
"The lot of critics is to be remembered by what they failed to understand." George Moore.
Moore was said to be the first great modern Irish novelist. Wikipedia cites that Moore's first novel, A Modern Lover (1883) deals with the art scene of the 1870s and 1880s in which many characters are "identifiably real," and banned the book because of "its explicit portrayal of the amorous pursuits of its hero." I think Moore would have entirely approved of the blog-scene, particularly my blog and many like it, for it's reality-based writing.

Whenever I ponder criticism of my own work, I recall Wayne Dyer speaking to this very issue. He says that he wrote back to a reader who heavily criticized his work. He responded by saying that he was "reading the man's letter in the smallest room in his house and was gratified to know he'd have something with which to solve his dilemma in a few moments when he found himself without toilet paper." I'm totally paraphrasing, but you get the gist.
"The strength of criticism lies only in the weakness of the thing criticized." Henry Wadsworth Longfellow
How do I feel about my work thus far? Just today I've deleted a great deal of it from November and early December that was no longer pertinent to my life or my continued growth as a writer. It was mostly pure snark and catharsis. Like vomit, that stuff is best disposed of at the earliest possible moment.

Also today I've changed my profile to reveal more of who I am today. My chanteuse shot profile picture carries with it a far more authentic caption for today's Toni, Woman of Letters. Amidst the honesty that is my life and what I choose to share with others, I am still beaming at the future with a wide open perspective.
"What the public criticizes in you, cultivate. It is you." Jean Cocteau (1889-1963)

Friday, January 8, 2010

I dream angels whisper...

I dream angels whisper
that love is a leap of trust
Let it under your skin
Listen to the heart hungering
Embrace life by escaping into joy
Love gives life its fullness
Linger together through time
Explore the gift between souls
with true promise

This is a poem I "wrote" for my husband on the refrigerator about ten years ago in those "magnetic poetry Romance edition" tiles.

These are poems I wrote after my father died about five years ago.

Wicker Rocking Chair

Sun swings low in the summer sky
Daddy's calling, girls come in
Lightening bugs just getting glowing
Wicker rocker in the twilight
Daddy sits with us awhile

Momma wants us off to sleep
Daddy singing low
and close to curly heads
Rock-a-bye your baby
with a Dixie melody
rocker creaking, squeaking
trying to harmonize

Prayer Phone

Dreaming deep I dial the phone
I hear the ring and wait
My father answers from far away, "Hi hon."
It's Heaven I guess, my eyes open

This dream is fresh as tears
start falling.
He's so close, I hear his voice,
and now I see his face plain as day.

"Hey Dad how's the weather up there,' I say
'Do you live among the clouds?
Or are you making the devil wish
he'd lived a different life?"

I wrote this poem for Father's Day June 14, 1980:


One hundred feet tall
and unwavering
In the palm of your hand
sometimes wrapped round
your little finger
A volcano, always grumbling and muttering
hardly ever erupting
Your security blanket and water bearer
in the middle of the night.
Your comrade, guiding spirit
and friend.

See? I don't always write snark. Sometimes I write...and bare my real soul.

Thursday, January 7, 2010

Thanks for the Memories...

How do we want to be remembered in this life? Benjamin Franklin said,
"If you would not be forgotten as soon as you are dead and rotten, either write something worth reading or do something worth writing."
As for me, I would prefer to do both at the same time. Until then, I will be content with every day works I consciously accomplish, both good and "memorable."

I would like to be known for my humanity and simple acts of every day kindness. I would like to think the things I do make a difference in how the world views me, the people in it, the bugs I don't step on or save from others who might - - things like that. Today in Wal-Mart, I traded carts with an elderly lady. Her's was squeaking up a storm and it was embarrassing her. It bothered her so much she stopped to tell me how awful it was. Seeing her dismay, I offered her my perfect, unsqueaky cart and we swapped our stuff over. She was grateful and toddled off - - in silence. I squeaked away, laughing to my Self, wondering if I would ever be old enough to care if my cart squeaked? Doubtful!! I mean this is not give-someone-a-kidney-great, it's paying-attention-kindness-great.

One time, and to my husband's EXTREME dismay, I hugged a fella who was standing outside in the cold giving away poppies and taking donations on Veterans Day. I put some money in the can and took my poppy. The guy said how cold it was so I threw my arms around him and hugged him before either of us really knew what happened. It was great and rewarding. I didn't stop to think about the propriety of it, but my husband did. He just kept looking at me all the way home, like I'd lost my mind. It was very cold, and it wasn't at all sexual. It meant people can reach out without risk sometimes and give to strangers from their heart.

I also want to be remembered for being a fierce single-minded warrior. Many years ago, I lived and worked in a different locale, way more city-fied than here. I was divorced and living alone. I left my apartment one morning, headed for work, and needed to stop first at the local grocery store. I noticed this weird guy driving a shit-box car who looked like he was following me, so I drove an alternate route all over hell to see if I was right. Well, I was. He followed me to the grocery store, INTO the store, and was in the next line, buying tacks, tractor tires and dental floss or some other unlikely combination. I was really checking him out at this point, all slitty-eyed and pissed off. How DARE this jackass follow ME? THEN he followed me to the gas station, where I stopped. He parked at the pump on the other side from mine and was standing there outside his car not pumping gas. I was so f--king furious, not scared, mind you like a normal person would have been. Spitting nails furious.

There's a saying that ignorance is bliss? Ever heard that one? Yeah...let's just say, I was ignorant of the implications of what this gorilla could have done to me even on a very busy street in broad daylight. Television shows like "Criminal Minds" and "CSI-Miami" weren't even thought of then.

Anyhow, so I say to this guy, "I know you're following me, you jerk." Yeah, why pull any punches? Let's piss off the psychotic slasher who could bash my head in with one slam of his ham-fist and toss me into his trunk. I weighed all of a buck-ten at the time? And I continue, "I've written down your license plate number and I'm going to call the police as soon as I get to work you f--king asshole."

Even though it has been many years since this encounter, I know this is my verbatim speech to a certified psycho killer/serial rapist/cannibal with zero regard to my safety or my continued safety. This guy obviously knew where I lived. (Hey, Bees, you think I have balls now, you should have known me then...!!!)

What I'm trying to say in more words than most people would use - - is I want to be all things, good and "memorable." I want to be remembered. That's what this whole exercise is about. Finding my place.

Wednesday, January 6, 2010

"So Attention Must Be Paid."

W. H. Auden, the poet and playwright, said, "Choice of attention - to pay attention to this and ignore that - is to the inner life what choice of action is to the outer. In both cases, a man is responsible for his choice and must accept the consequences, whatever they may be."

Consequences...hmmm? Would anyone venture to guess how many times in the past four months I've destroyed good food because my entire attention was focused on my writing instead of the burner I turned on and forgot about? Or how many times the toaster oven has been found to contain petrified bagels that neither my dogs nor the omnivorous crows will even look at? Just this morning, I neglected my oatmeal. My habit is to plump the raisins as the water boils and then add the oatmeal. It takes awhile for the water to boil, so I came back to my work, sat down and zoned out. To make a long story short, there were grapes in my oatmeal this morning. Lucky for me, I like grapes.

I sometimes even burn hubby's lunch, if I make toasted cheese and soup for us. Woe betide him if he makes the tragic error of going outside or down cellar for longer than a minute. I take that as an opportunity to dash back here to work on my writing. I'll smell cheese-turned-charcoal - - that's my version of alchemy. I can make it back just before he reenters the kitchen, but I never fool him. He says he "didn't come down with the last rain, you know. Ayuh."

Dinner, well, it's the same thing, only now I usually have Bacardi & Coke and WADD (Writer's Attention Deficit Disorder) to contend with. [Sigh] But that's hubby's fault. It is, too! I never drank rum until I met him. I am not deflecting. Balderdash! That's a kids game, did you know that? A kid is either a human child or a young goat. Domesticated goats are a subspecies of goat from the wild goat of southwest Asia and Eastern Europe. Eastern Europeans live in Belarus, Bulgaria, Czech Republic....OKAY, I'll stop deflecting. Dinner is not often neglected because my husband is more watchful as he has a vested interest in the outcome. He's also an excellent cook.

I look at everything now as an opportunity to write. Memories bubbling to the surface of past events funny and unfunny, relationships long since cooled and dead, secrets that no longer matter to anyone. When I walk the dogs, do the dishes, drive in the car; my eyes, my mind both wandering and watching for that moment of inspiration. Overheard comments or seeing something that reminds me of something else can trigger an explosion of scribbled notes on any available paper product. A remark made in an e-mail that sets off a flurry of memories, or forgotten resentment at a tone not heard in decades can change the course of any writer's ebb and flow. It's all for the taking, the musing, the writing and revealing. In not so many words, or a whole lot. Margo and I say, "Fasten your seat belts. It's going to be a bumpy ride."
"The writer should not be ashamed of staring. There is nothing that does not require his attention." Flannery O'Connor.

Tuesday, January 5, 2010

Still Waters Run Deep; Babbling Brooks Don't Mind Their Keep.

What is the most fearsome thing? Is it the deep, dark stillness you cannot see through or get to the bottom of? Or is it the never ending turmoil you can't stop, limit or change the course of?

(Don't let your dingle-dangle dangle in the dirt, but always let your preposition dangle when flow matters more than "correct" grammar. And it always does...)

Leeches and other dark, slimy things abide in still water, deep or not. My Dad, the Prophet of Welchville, warned me about this very thing many times. I paid attention but thought perhaps it wasn't always true. Nothing's always true, every single time. Right? (He also told me not to play on the sprucewood car rack that was temporarily on the ground because I would get a splinter. I paid no heed, that is, until I drove a very robust three inch splinter into my five inch little girl hand from tip of middle finger to middle of palm.)

As a young child, sitting on a rock at Wild River, I once dangled my feet in the warm, still water that was so soothing after paddling in the unforgiving frigid, whitewater outflow from the White Mountains. After a few minutes, I found to my horror a shiny black leech overtaking my little toe, otherwise known in our family as "Achy Pea." (The line up from smallest to biggest is: "Achy Pea, Penny Rue, Rudy Whistle, Mary Tostle, and Old Man Bumble." Oh, ayuh.)

I ran screaming to my mother, who after eight other kids was non-plussed. She plucked it off, did little to assuage my heebie-jeebies and offered me into the care of one of my older sisters. Wild River was more than an hour's drive from home and my savaged little toe bled the entire way. It was a real life lesson for me at age five to avoid still water at all costs from that day forward.

Forty years later, I continue to avoid still water for the leeches I know live there, both real and imagined. People who seem mysterious or who are not at once likeable in any small way are also avoided because I know there's a leech in there somewhere. I would summarize my feelings as "Fool me once, shame on you; fool me twice, shame on me." Or, as our ex-president, George W. Bush so eloquently said,
"There's an old saying in Tennessee — I know it's in Texas, probably in Tennessee — that says, fool me once, shame on — shame on you. Fool me — you can't get fooled again.".
Right now, I'm just howling with laughter because I pulled this quote off YouTube and watched the video of him saying this. Oh my GOD!!! I need to take a pee break!!!! Phew, I think I'm done laughing for now. Whooo doggie! Will Rogers said "The problem with practical jokes is that very often they get elected." Poor Georgie boy, the bumbling, bubbling brook, always off course, while his pal, Cheney, the indiscriminate shotgun-toting leech, slithered around in silent deep cover making a lot of terrible stuff happen. Both very dangerous men for very different reasons in my naive opinion.

So for me, the babbling brooks of this world that ferret and swirl don't give me a moment's worry. I accept that change is the only constant, as my resume will reveal. Only now, this lack-of-career move makes sense. I kept trying to resign my Self to some mainstream thing, a normal career with a normal paycheck, benefits, vacation time, insurance coverage and it never worked for me. Now I know why.

I finally did the right thing, launching headlong into the eddy, in my pajamas and diamonds. (I really need to sit down and write some lyrics for that song, "Pajamas & Diamonds." )
"All you need to do is hold on tight...and believe." Stephen King.

Saturday, January 2, 2010

"Find a Penny, Pick it Up...

...keep on looking, find a buck. Toss the copper to the ground, let another's luck be found." As quoted in bastardized fashion by the spectacular and super anonymous...ME.

The other day I spied a penny in the supermarket parking lot, picked it up and stashed it in my pocket, as I always do. My husband hates it when I do this and keeps on walking like he doesn't know me. What the hell? It's not like it's gum or garbage. I must interject a story about my hubby. He's very "proper" or hyper-aware of politeness or what he feels as societal pressure at times and it just cracks me up. He said he once drove by a couple of guys he'd known for years who were working on a house pounding nails, and shouted out, "Hey don't hit your thumb" and then remembered that one of the guys had cut his thumb off in a table saw accident. He related this story to me, all horrified that he'd said that. I laughed so hard I thought I'd break a rib. It wasn't so much the story that got me as it was this look of dismay and honest shame he felt, which I humored out of him as I rolled all over the floor trying in vain to regain my composure. We told this story at Christmas Eve to my family and got the same hilarious response. The laughter was deafening and hubby felt a lot better about his alleged faux pas. This is hubby in a nutshell. He's so damned funny and he never tries to be. Unlike me....

Anyhow, when I retrieved the penny hours later and inspected it, I saw it was dated 1964 - - the year of my birth. I remarked all aflutter about this to my nonplussed husband who replied "Oh ayuh."

Now, what are the chances of that happening?
"Of all the jeans pockets, in all the world, it 'walks' into mine....[swaggering inflection inferred]."
The "Megapenny Project" states that since the first penny was minted in 1787, over 300 billion pennies have been minted in the U.S. Those in current circulation are estimated by the U.S. Mint to be 140 billion. And I found one with my birthdate on it out of mega-ton of pennies?

Like everything else that has happened since I gave my old job the heave-ho, I'm seeing this numismatic find as a lucky coin-kydink. Albert Einstein said "Coincidence is God's way of remaining anonymous." In my estimation, He Who Floats My Cosmic Boat and I are at last on the same wavelength and it feels far less mysterious than ever to be handed a penny with my birthdate on it than it would have six months ago. I liken it to becoming an experienced hiker versus a woods-walker. The markers are no longer necessary as your intuition now guides you, but you glance at them, thankful nonetheless.

This penny is now bright and shiny, thanks to some elbow grease and copper cleaner, and has a place on my desk within easy reach and view. It reminds me that time has flown and continues to fly. It tells me that there are one hundred ninety-six days to my next birthday. What I accomplish between now and then is up to me.
"Do not wait; the time will never be 'just right.' Start where you stand and work with whatever tools you may have at your command, and better tools will be found as you go along." George Herbert, 1593-1633

Friday, January 1, 2010

In the Days of Old Long Since...

I love literal translations. This is the translation of the song title "Auld Lang Syne," written in part by Robert Burns in 1789, and to a lesser known poet, Sir Robert Ayton. The Scottish folksong collector and editor, George Thomson set the poem to a Lowland melody, "I Fee'd a Lad at Michaelmas" around 1796. (You did what to a lad at a party?) There is a very fine recording of Frank C. Stanley's 1910 robust performance on Wikipedia. Mr. Stanley's rolling Scottish brogue does great justice to this song, now two hundred fourteen years old. Tune in and be inspired to sing it better next year, you clamoring mokes.

Seeing as it's January 1st, I'm cleaning up and clearing out, per usual. I made two resolutions, believing for once I could handle a limited number with complete success. They are: 1) to use my treadmill everyday and 2) to stop using chocolate as a meal substitute. I have failed already even though it's only a little past noon. I do still have time to walk, but I'm not going to. Why kid myself? In defragging my computer and deleting a shitload of unused program files, useless documents, cookies, etc., I regained more than ten percent hard drive space. I know, I was surprised, too.

I've also off-loaded several people from my Facebook friends list. I will admit the allure of having 267 friends or some other insane number is quite appealing. It would make me look pretty darned popular, wouldn't it? As it stands, I am very comfortable at less than twenty friends, and I'll talk to all of them on a regular basis.

Now, this may come as a complete surprise to you, but I've never been the girl who wanted to win the popularity contest. Hey, now don't act like that! I'm sorry to rip your time space continuum all to hell. I know what you're thinking. It's like I've grabbed you by the hand to wantonly and willy-nilly hokey-pokey around the blackhole that is your reality. But, yes, I've pretty much always marched to the beat of my own drummer. There I've said it. Just deal!!

I was never in the geek squad in school. I floated amongst the advanced placement, college-bound pains in the ass, the music-focused, drama club type kids, and the business school, accounting class pencil pushers. I fit in pretty much everywhere except with the smoking area kids. I was a singer, so I didn't smoke; mezzo soprano in case you're taking notes.

Marie von Ebner-Eschenbach said, "We are so vain that we even care for the opinions of those we don't care for." Ms. von Ebner-Eschenbach was one of the most important German-language writers of the latter 19th century, and is credited with the aphorism, "Even a stopped clock is right twice a day." (Her picture on Wikipedia is grim and she looks like a monster, so don't look it up or you'll have the wooly-booger nightmares. It's something to do with her lips...)

Anyhow, those were my "vain thoughts," Marie, when I "friended" this guy on Facebook that we all used to call "Sammy Smellsmore." That is the barest alteration of his actual name, mind you. He sent me a friend request, but I feared he hadn't changed much for the better since high school, knowing full well I hadn't for sure. Before friending him, I checked to see who his other friends were. Seeing that some of the more popular kids from high school had friended him, I "accepted." It wasn't long before he proved himself to be the same perverted, repulsive, intrusive, disgusting, leering, icky guy he was twenty-eight years ago. I spat him back into the Internet-ethers never to be friended again, at least not by me.

I mean how far had I sunk to friend this guy I knew in my gut was going to be a pervert? Just to add another "friend" to my list? All to gather "friends" on Facebook? Looking back over this perv's list of friends, all these nice, decent people who never spoke to this guy in high school, who don't speak to him now but just want another body to add to their list.

Let's face it, I'm not the "Facebook type." My one reason for being on there is to network with family and a few used-to-be-close friends from high school and work life. It's not about how popular I think I am or desire to be. It's a vehicle for revealing the tenor of my life thus far; what I love and who I love. I share so we can all reminisce on "days of old long since."