Young Adult

 

She didn’t know why she did what she did, she just found herself doing these weird things. Like tonight, here she was, crawling all over her parents bed among the winter coats and the purses, opening the wallets in the purses and taking out the licenses. Taking them out, examining the pictures of the women, correlating height and weight on the license with what she knew of their physical reality. No way Mrs. Dewart weighed 108 pounds! Why was she doing this? She had no idea but once she had started there was no turning back.

So here she was with a dozen licenses in a small, neat little pile in front of her on the bed. First, she put them in alphabetical order, then she put them in birth order, and then she had no idea which wallet she had removed them from but at that point it really didn’t matter. By the time the women came upstairs to get their coats and reclaim their enormous bags, she would be safely in bed, in her room, safe from blame. Then it occurred to her there would be no blame until one of them was either shopping and needed ID or pulled over by one of Connecticut’s finest.

That’s what she felt: this sense that she was doing the right thing even though she was obviously doing the wrong thing. Clearly somewhere in her slightly above average mind (as her last teacher in writing had said) she was twisted but the thing was, she liked being twisted and that was that. She figured as long as no one knew what she was up to, it was kind of like a Robin Hood gig in the world and no one ever seemed to catch on.

Her life most of the time felt like a gig. Unfortunately, there was no chance she was adopted as she was definitely the child of Robert and Susan Crawford of 11 Meadow Wood Drive in Greenwich, Connecticut. She knew this with certainty as she had inherited a particular blood cell disorder that caused no damage but made genetic identification a perfect science. The thing was she couldn’t find one bit of similarity with either her Mom or Dad or with Joseph, her twelve year old amazonic and idiotic brother. She had felt like an outsider from the time of her birth when her mother refused to nurse her. Oh, she knew that was an ambient memory all right but apparently it was a true one as she had asked the nanny if she had been nursed.

“Oh no, dearie, yer mothah had meny meny things on her mind and couldna be bothered with the demands of a young lady like yerself.” Said Hilda, the constant nanny, who spent most of her time in front of the TV watching Days of Our Lives and Jeopardy and eating Cadbury’s Milk from a very large bar. She never shared.

“Yr mothah was a good Mum and did giver yer brothah a lot of time and milk so aftah that , yew see, it was time fer her ta go back tew bein a wife for the man.”

“Yew were a good babe and didna take much time sew it was jest  girrrel. Just a bit small!”

Avery, (can you believe they had named her Avery?) was small. This was very true. Just under five foot four was small for the eighth grade and she knew it. It didn’t take a brain trust to observe that most of her class was taller than she was. They were also  blonder, had straight hair and wore mostly matched clothes with shoes that came from the “cool” store in town .Avery was small, as you know, and had very curly hair which frizzed out around her head in a halo when the weather turned the slightest bit damp.

At certain times, when no one was on the second floor of the house, Avery looked at herself in the mirror. If she was doing this naked, she did it sideways as it was less of a shock. She turned off the bathroom light, opened the medicine cabinet door so the mirror was more visible, and let the towel slither to the floor. Sometimes she wore a second towel wrapped around her head as she liked the look of an exotic person and it distracted her from the sight of her body.

Her body, apparently, was not responding the way D. R. Waters said it should be responding at this time in her life D. R. had written a book on “The Advent of Puberty” which Avery consulted regularly. She had once asked Margret who had given her the book and  why there was a reference to Christmas in the title. She still had a really fat tummy and a completely flat chest. All right, all right, her tummy wasn’t really fat it was just not what Avery felt it should look like when comparing it to the bodies in her mother’s fashion magazines. Avery’s body looked shapeless to her and rather like a white fish with a head and no tail. It was depressing to look at it so she tried not to most of the time.

Clothes: now clothes were a problem as her closet was filled with clothes chosen for her mother, without Avery in mind at all. There were racks of little pleated skirts in plaid and plain with skirts that flew out at the slightest provocation. White blouses with puffy sleeves and tank tops that went underneath. Shoes with ties that could be changed for other ties depending on the mood of the shoe wearer. (The ties had never been changed.) Everything arranged carefully in terms of color, style and season. There was even another closet upstairs in the attic with another complete wardrobe but for summer.

The whole clothes thing was unimportant to Avery and very stressful. She liked it better when they were on vacation as no one cared what she wore then. On vacation meant the best thing to do with her day was to find a place where ever they were that was safe from her brother and had food. On vacation but at home meant wearing black and white combo’s daily that all looked the same as the chances were good her parents were not around. She had exactly three pairs of black jeans, a black skirt, and three white shirts and this was all she needed. Unfortunately, her mother didn’t know this and continued to fill her closet not noticing Avery was not wearing anything from the “mother” pile.

Avery had known from the time she was a toddler that having too much was more of a problem than a blessing. She preferred only one book at a time, one pair of shoes, just a little bit of clothing and usually the same kind of food from each food group. Like apples, chicken breasts and arugula(this was Greenwich)and an occasional chocolate bar could hold her until she died. Just the smell of red meat made her nauseous and orange juice really killed her throat. It was also out of her color chart. It made her get a headache if she had too much around her to be responsible for and too many decisions to make so she kept her life as simple as a eighth grader could : eat, sleep, school, homework and then the whole thing all over again.

She had a great way to get rid of excess and she made use of it usually once a month or so. She had discovered that the other people in the house also had too much stuff and never went deep into the back of their closets. Her mother had so many closets she usually only went into one or two on a weekly basis. Her father was rarely home and his dressing room was tightly organized and more challenging for her system. Her brother was disastrous in keeping his room organized and discarded his clothes both new and old on the floors of his three closets. The maids were given standing orders to remove clothing from the floors weekly, wash and return these items to their proper place in the closet.

So here’s the system: if everyone in the house had too much, Avery thought that it would be” helpful” to her family to cleanse the house with regularity and so she did. Every month or so she went into her own closet first and removed a sizable chunk of the clothes her mother had bought recently. Then she went into her mother’s closet and crawled way back into the second row where she found the items her mother never wore but was too greedy to give away. These items ranged from evening dresses to cashmere sweaters to jeans: all very costly and very soft. As a matter of fact, that was how Avery learned about the value of clothes: the softer something was the more expensive it turned out to be.

After finishing up with a few choice items from her father’s closet which were usually items he was hoarding(a habit Avery knew to be bad for him) she moved on to her brother’s room. This outing was the most dangerous and had to be conducted with the most serious reconnaissance. She dressed in one  of her all black outfits, carried her IPHONE with its recording capability, attached her air horn to her belt, and she was ready to go .Her brother’s schedule along with every other family member was on the office bulletin board and so it was pretty easy to see when he would be out of the house. Unfortunately, however, he was known to have a hissy fit from time to time and insist the driver take him home from where ever he was earlier than he should have been home. She had to lie still under the bed listening to him reading gross magazines, chomping on chips, and talking with his mean friend, Jerry, who also tortured dogs. 

Once she had assembled all of the “donations” it was easy. She went to the kitchen and sat down to speak with Margaret O’Toole about going to Whole Foods with her on her weekly shopping trip. Avery loved Margaret and the feeling was mutual so the kitchen was a cozy place where Avery learned how to cook as well as how to do good works in the world. Margaret was a Catholic but never had anything bad to confess as she was a very sweet lady. Avery asked her all the time about confession as she wondered if it might be good for her. Margaret had convinced her that remaining a Protestant for the time being was probably the best bet. She had been in the kitchen for as long as Avery could remember and despite the fact that Avery’s mother could never remember Margaret’s name, she was the most important person in Avery’s life. Avery could tell Margaret anything but she never did as she didn’t want to jeopardize her position in the household. If Margaret knew the stuff Avery did, however, Margaret would still love her and that was a pretty powerful love.

Anyway, Margaret liked to have company when she went shopping and so taking Avery was easy. Margaret had been the first person to tell Avery about the cost of Living. Living was always capitalized in Avery’s mind as she didn’t feel she was really living in this house. People who lived had dinner together and bought milk and bread and butter from lists which told them they needed these items. In her house people just bought what they wanted at that moment. The more Avery knew as time went on about Living the more she thought up ways to correct her family problem.

Margaret and Avery went off in the family errand Mercedes wagon and travelled down North Street to Whole Foods where Margaret went into the store and Avery went to buy comic books, something she did every week. Avery waited until Margaret was safely inside Whole Foods before walking over to the Goodwill dumpster and emptying the contents of her back pack into the conveniently located drawer on the side. She walked away happy as she always did.

There was a time in her life when she wanted to be a Catholic and this act of initial thievery made her queasy, but she had outgrown that. Now she completely believed she was helping others with the cost of Living.

 

Avery knew she wasn’t like other kids because she lived in a world that she didn’t like and she had no idea of how to get herself out of this world so she found ways of dealing with it. From what she had read it wasn’t normal for a kid to think about how she didn’t like her world.

 Sometimes she saw other kids her age whispering with each other or giggling when certain boys passed them by and she felt jealous and uncertain. Maybe she was missing something. How could she become like them? The idea was so completely hopeless it depressed her. On the one hand she wanted to be like them but, on the other, she knew it wasn’t in her DNA to act or think like they did so she just kept on feeling out of it and made the best of it. The biggest and most compelling thought was that growing up would make everything better so she waited for that to happen.

 

 

 

 

 

                                              

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

                                                     Chapter Two

“Avereeee? Avereee?” called her mother from outside her door in her usual happy voice which really sounded like a really weird kid pretending to be an adult voice.

Avery slowly opened her door to be faced with what looked like a main character in the movie Wall Street which happened to be the only movie she had watched with her Dad. Her mother was dressed in her “serious” outfit which was usually composed of a tight fitting suit with a slit up the rear and very seriously precarious shoes. This time the suit was fire engine red and so were her lips.

“Yup, Mom, I’m here!” said Avery to this apparition of importance.

“Avery: you know what night tonight is, don’t you?”

“Thursday, I think, because tomorrow is the end of what has been another boring week in the life of Avery, the freak of the eighth grade!” said Avery

“Avery! You know I don’t like to hear you speak like that. You are not a freak and you have lots of friends!

Not falling for that trap, thought Avery, as her mother continued to move her lips almost pneumatically, and Avery watched without hearing the words coming out. By the time her mother had turned and was walking out the door, Avery realized she had been talking about Parent’s Night at her school. Quick, Avery thought to herself, what had she been up to at school recently? Anything obviously wrong there? Nope, Avery thought, I’m good. Mrs. Yan really likes me because I am obviously sucking up to her in class and the stuff she teaches us is really obvious.

            I guess I can just allow her to go to school dressed like a female Batman and see what she runs into.

Avery closed the door of her room and went back to doing her math problems. Arithmetic was so satisfying as all you did was play with some numbers and make them do what you wanted. You could check your work, know immediately if you were right, and then move on.

Another knock on her door sounded. “yes?” said Avery in her other mystery voice. She had two mystery voices for the phone and one for herself only. The phone voce was exactly like her mothers’ and very useful.

“Its Margaret, Avery dear, wanting to know if you want to have dinner now as I am leaving soon.”

Avery jumped up and ran over to the door, opening it and saying. “Yes! I love dinner with you! What are we having?”

“Squabble duck and farty pear,” said Margaret with her serious face on. “Lets go down right now and eat it up!”

No matter what Margaret said, Avery laughed. She had noticed this reaction to Margaret a few years ago and had no idea why she laughed.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Sometimes Avery hid from people. She had no idea why but it felt good. She hid in the large linen closet on the very top shelf and was able to lie completely flat up there next to the ceiling. She had been interrupted quite a few times from her slumbers up on the shelf by people entering the closet to take or give linens and no one had ever noticed her which was how she knew it was a brilliant hiding place.

It took a while to get situated up there because you had to make sure there was no one around before entering the closet. Then you had to be prepared to carefully climb up the shelves which was no mean trick! The shelves had ruching thumbtacked to them and so they felt unstable and potentially dangerous which was part of the challenge. Once you reached the top shelf the hard part was going from an upright person holding onto a shelf to a sideways person on the shelf which was two feet from the ceiling. It took a leap of faith, literally.

She was getting really good at this move after about a year of attempts. The weird thing about hiding was she didn’t care if anyone found her she just liked being invisible. It was a secret she couldn’t share with anyone as she figured it was weird for a relatively old kid to be doing this. Somehow hiding made her feel safe which was a good thing. She felt as if having a safe place in the house was good in case she needed it someday.

Dinner

Light the candles, dim the lights, serve the good wine, make people laugh, tell them to go home after 2 1/2 hours, go to bed, drink water, pet your dogs, Dream of passion.

Water

 

No Safe Place 2

Water      

 

Water,

wet, moist ,damp, soggy,

only a lost commodity .

When I first tasted your skin

it was covered in water.

Remember water?

It was hard to describe but it was free.

Lakes are craters now.

A child asks “Who pulled the drain plug?” as

you drive by the empty, barren memory of a

lake. T

There is deep sadness in the retreating

water leaving a reluctant

path of tears sinking into the dust,

searching for an oasis to nourish, water

looks down

and sees it’s vanishing.

Cries out to the lone red bird

perched on a burnt tree,

cries out to the cactus who needs no one,

cries out to

you and me who have forgotten water

already.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Last Night I Saw My Friend Vanish

Last night no one knew if it was

the sun setting or the moon rising

but it was orange: hung there by a

wire moving around our sky, currents

of warm air lifting and lowering its round

shape enough to light the narrow, soft roads

crisscrossing the sandy summer peninsula.

One young woman pushing her

old cruiser bike silently, leaving Book Club late after

a chat about amphibians, taking the

long way home, blond hair falling in a

triangle down her back, white Keds glistening,

she thinks of fall when everyone will be gone

and suddenly there in the mist she becomes

invisable except for the sound of one repentant

bicycle spoke grinding it’s rhythm until she’s home.

This Afternoon

I like young old men.

Men whose twinkle never faded like some

lust or the memory of really good vanilla ice

cream. I like the round muscle of their arms,

the temptation of golden skin,

and the quick way they look at me for

what seems like a long time while we are

kissing. Each time I open my eyes there

is that gaze, eyes so clear and full of intent.

I don’t know what to do with that gaze.

It never varies. I’m so unused to direct

and constant I’m checking it, closing my

eyes and then quickly opening them again

like a child thinking it will be gone. The kiss

goes on and on like undulating waves in

a warm climate with hopeful palm trees

that clap their fronds for any passion seen

below.

I think it’s over but something like

one finger on my cheekbone

begins the spiral again.

It would not be sensible to want this

on a regular basis but everyone does.

Desire and to be desired.

We all wait.

A remembered afternoon in summer.

Shades of Gray

Shades of Gray

 

When you’re a child you think everyone tells the truth.

You think your mother and father will be together forever.

When you see your first divorce it’s kind of like seeing your first accident.

You can’t believe this could happen

Sometimes people stay together because they can’t stand to be alone.

They tell themselves it is  for the children

but actually it’s to spare themselves pain.

Sometimes you think it’s better to lie and have maybe three or four different lives and after a while you don’t know which life is real for you.

I’ve known a lot of people like this.

Unfortunately more than one have wanted me to join in but the problem is I don’t see shades of gray.

I like black and white.

You are mine I am yours and that’s it.

Call me crazy but it’s a heck of a lot easier.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Hopeful

Yesterday a man held my hand so

powerfully I couldn’t tell after a while

as it seemed so right

that consistent pressure.

Normally I don’t like comfort in any form as

it embarrasses me like the chameleon

turning pink

on lava or carnation, I pull away from

touch as I know the consequences.

But this time I stayed and cried.

It had been so long since I

felt comfort.

Loss

Loss

In the gray half open eye period prior to

full alert status I feel a touch or maybe an

outstretched limb, a phantom connection

I may remember. Warm and wanting..

Delaying the awakening I dwell there

In hopeful desire among my fresh sheets,

memories of sun fragrant and salt drying,

my fingers on your chest, lightly, sensing

your heart which in these dreams is

still faithful to us, your family.

Maybe

 

  Soon Enough

 

It is dark nearly all of the time.

People have forgotten the feel of water.

Lifetimes have shortened

Partners are assigned

The dictionary has been revised.

So many words no longer exist,

Joy, Hope, Heart ,Listen, Compassion,

Friendship, Cookie, Sunshine, Language

Touch

The past disappeared so rapidly that

history

Forgot to transcribe itself.

There are no more Buddhists.

It’s tomorrow.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

The Last Bing Cherry

 

The Bing cherry is named after Seth Lewelling’s Manchurian orchard foreman and friend, Bing. Bing was over 7 feet tall. The Rainier cherry, named after Washington State’s famous volcanic peak, was created in 1952 by cross-breeding the Bing and Van varieties.

Wikipedia

 

 

 

Yesterday I ate the last cherry in the white bowl on the varnished wood counter

In my warm kitchen.

It sat there in the bowl, shiny, impervious to dust, all afternoon staring up at me like a disemboweled eye.

Why did someone name the cherry Bing?

after a 7 foot tall Manchurian, a candidate for the forgotten man?

In my mouth the cherry felt like a vulnerable marble: warm not cold and very round yet porous; wondrous, and intimate: impossible for an explorer to resist. I pierced the shell of the cherry with my one Wisdom tooth and tasted through my teeth the sweet and the bitter, surprising youth and pungent old age. Holding it all under my tongue slowly moving the pieces I wondered was there anything else so delicious on earth as the last bite of anything on earth?

Bing Cherries

The Best Memory

                                   The Best Memory

 

 

The best Fall I remember happened outside of Paris due

north near Chambord in November maybe October’s

when the Beaujolais Nouveau was released along with

me…I walked out

the door of the inn we stayed in

while you drank with our host.

I wandered following troughs of wet leaves marking

the crusades and the dark fall  all yellow

smelling of dank and my life as an

obedient pathfinder Joan of Arc

wanting you to worry I was lost

yet  knowing you never would.

Hours later I reluctantly returned just as I used

to at 8 and still no one noticed.

I think we made love that night

as we usually did but the bed was small, you

said, as you moved across the parquet floor

to the adjacent one

and closer to your children across the

Atlantic and I imagined

us leaving in the morning croissants uncurled

and me dressed in black because you said it was

best and before I knew it we were back in

California and you were married again

yet I was still outside of Paris in November

in 1996 longing for something I had felt

for a brief moment but never again.

In Reality

For the longest time I thought I might become

someone else.

I could be Norwegian and learn the language well so people would say how

no one could tell I wasn’t a native.

My hair would miraculously turn blond.

It would be ok to like sex.

I like the sounds of their desserts.

Or I could be a lawyer in Manhattan wearing crispy tight suits in black with very high heels and click click click across the court room floor stating my case with brilliant red lips and always winning.

Rootless like a malformed carrot I

refuse to flourish in one place.

I know this is a  problem this rootlessness.

It’s prevented me from 

applying myself  to much of anything: love, housekeeping, friendship, home repair… you get the story. I kept a suitcase filled with cash hidden in my house and a bag packed with essentials which changed from month to month.

Now my rootlessness fits right in. No one is going anywhere but everyone would like to be rootless.

Where will I go when I can go anywhere?

Hawaii because I can’t get the music of palm trees out of my head.

Like Eloise, I could move into the Four Seasons hotel on the Big Island and go down to dinner every night sitting at the bar overlooking the lapping ocean generously tipping the bartender so that he always saved my seat.

And oh yes there is the spa with palm leaves that rattle above your hut while you are having a massage. Preferably a Lomi Lomi massage and I don’t know what that is.

I have entertained myself all day thinking of places I would like to go when I can go anywhere. Frankly, it may be better in my imagination. That’s been a life long problem of mine.

Last Woman on Earth

I am the last woman on earth.

I live alone in my house and every day I do the Schedule:

yoga, coffee, meditation, breakfast, look out the window, laundry,

make the bed,

take a shower, take a walk, lie on the floor, wait for the dogs to

jump on me, eat stuff from the fridge,

gaze into it awhile. Brush my hair.

Add blush. Add mascara after thinking about how long it will take

to remove later.

No lipstick.

Yesterday I considered a small glass of red wine with breakfast.

I can’t remember the day.

My neighbor’s new dog barks

enough to make napping problematic.

I drink a lot of tea with half and half and maple syrup which is

tastier than sugar.

After 6 my garage is a café for friends

and dinner comes in white cardboard boxes. We slip food under

our masks like horses with feed buckets or dogs with muzzles.

We are dreamers who believe

next month will bring hope back and neighbors come

two by two

like passengers on Noah’s Ark

run aground and have a hard time leaving.

I’m glad for the distraction and for the wine and anesthesia.

I don’t tell anyone about the hopelessness.

Minnow

Today I was watching an

insignificant film in which a

young girl traveling in Italy with her

Dad was swimming in a hotel

pool doing laps inside of the

20 foot bowl back and forth

and I started to

cry. Only in Italy do they have

hotel pools carved out of marble

lipped with travertine, lined with

Carrera, filled with the water of

Aquaducts and baptizing tears.

I saw my daughter at 12, a swimming

minnow,

Black haired and glistening, and I

remember promising her we

would return with her

daughter to a pool in Italy

someday. I wonder if anything

I promised will come true…

I am the last woman on earth

I am the last woman on earth.

I live alone in my house and every day I follow the schedule that I have arranged for myself.

That’s my game. It’s the best way to get through this.

Yoga, coffee, meditation, breakfast, look out the window, do the laundry, make the bed, take a shower, take a walk, lie  on the floor and wait for the dogs to jump on me, eat stuff from the fridge

after gazing into it awhile. Brush my hair.

Add blush. Add mascara despite considering how long it will take to remove. No lipstick.

Yesterday I considered a small  glass of red wine with breakfast.

My neighbor’s new dog barks

enough to make napping problematic.

I drink a lot of tea with half and half

and maple syrup which is tastier than

sugar.

My garage is a café after 6

and dinner is in white cardboard squares

ready for all of us dreamers who believe

next month will bring hope back and

neighbors come two by two

like passengers on Noah’s Ark

run aground and have a hard time

leaving.

So how do I feel?

I’m glad for the distraction and for the wine and for the anesthesia. I don’t tell anybody about the hopelessness.

In Reality Travel Doesn’t Measure Up

                        In Reality Travel Doesn’t Measure Up

For the longest time I thought I might become someone else. I also thought I might live somewhere else. I could be Norwegian and learn the language well  so people would say how no one could tell I wasn’t a native. I like the sounds of their desserts.

Or I could be a lawyer wearing crispy tight suits with very high heels and click click click across the court room floor stating my case and always winning.

Rootless like a malformed carrot I would refuse to flourish in one place. I know this was a problem this rootlessness.It prevented me from applying myself to much of anything: love, housekeeping, friendship, home repair… you get the story. I kept a suitcase filled with cash hidden in my house and a bag packed with essentials which changed from month to month.

Now my rootlessness fits right in. No one is going anywhere but everyone would like to be rootless. I wonder if after we finally figure out this virus and we are free again if everyone will prefer being rootless? After all, being imprisioned at home for over a year can drive even a boring person crazy.

Where will I go when I can go anywhere? I think at this point my first stop would be Hawaii because I can’t get the music of palm trees out of my head.I often thought it would’ve been a perfect place to live full-time. Like Eloise, I could move into the Four Seasons Hotel on the Big Island and just go down to dinner every night sitting at the bar overlooking the ocean generously tipping the bartender so that he always saved my seat. Reading a terrific novel all during dinner while drinking wine and eating sushi would be heaven right now.

And oh yes there is the spa in all those hotels and the spa always has palm trees with leaves that rattle above your hut while you are having a massage. Preferably a Lomi Lomi massage. I still don’t know what that means but I love them. I have entertained myself all day by thinking of places I would like to go when I can go anywhere. Frankly, it may be better in my imagination. That’s been a life long problem of mine and one I intend to keep as it’s so useful.

Living the 70’s Dream

My sister knew everyone in New York. Every couple of weeks she would have a dinner and she would always invite me. I never thought about it at the time but now, looking back, I realize what a generous thing that was.

When I was invited to one of her dinners I felt slightly sick, incredibly lucky, and completely shy.

Sometimes we would go shopping before these events to a special section in Bloomingdale’s where they had amazing designs from a young London woman who created costumes which were perfect for my sister. Generally, they were dresses that extended to the ground and when you lifted your arms in them cascading waterfalls from each arm in colors one had never really seen before fell around you.. In fact, I thought my sister looked like  a glamorous bird of paradise.

I loved  these shopping trips. I wouldn’t go in the room with her because that would’ve ruined it for me. I sat outside instead on a bench and waited for  her reveal. It was always extraordinary and we always knew right away which one was going to be the right one for the night.

I wore the same outfit pretty much to all of her dinners. Jackie Rogers was a designer at the time who had a shop on Madison Avenue and I had spent way too much money on a black chiffon pleated skirt that was slightly transparent. I would wear the skirt with whatever black top I happened to think looked good that night. The best part was getting into the taxi on my way to my sisters and saying “ 7 Gracie Square, please!”

I thought it was the most glamorous thing in the world and surely the taxi driver must realize I was a very important person to be going there.         

Once I got to her apartment and she opened the door which she always did And I could hear the hum and buzz of the party within.. I knew what time she would be serving dinner so I always arrived about 15 minutes prior to that time because in doing that I wouldn’t have to spend too much time making small talk which was not my strong point.

My sister would always introduce me to whoever she thought would be fun for me to talk to. One night I met Fran Leibowitz, George Plimpton, and Erica Jong. I felt as if my lips were frozen and certainly I couldn’t have had much of a conversation with any of them but just being in their presence was probably the coolest thing I could’ve imagined.

In those days everyone wanted to have fun. It didn’t really matter what you said or thought but if you laughed and had motion in your thoughts people adored you. Consequently I think I was adored at least by some of my sister’s guests.

It was the first time in my life I actually thought I was interesting. In the 70’s going out meant going out! We got dressed up. We took makeup seriously. We read Women’s Wear Daily and tried very hard to have big hair, beautiful dresses, and a lot of fun and we did.

I remember going to El Morocco which was a night club on 56th St. and the east side with various girlfriends and what I loved most was the staircase entrance. You showed up at the front door and Bart, the doorman, who was always wearing a top hat, would open the door for you and show you immediately to the elevator.

The elevator would take you to the second floor where the ladies room was and you could check your makeup for the 20 billionth time that night. After you exited from the ladies room there was a grand staircase descending  in front of you. It was also mirrored on the right hand side to reflect the entire room of people who were dining or drinking. As you descended you knew that all eyes were on you whether for a second or longer. It was the most thrilling experience of my life. Don’t forget, I was all of 22 years old.

Bart, the doorman, often intervened when men became too amorous. I remember one night when my sister and I were going back to her house and one of our admirers wanted to come along with us in the cab. Neither my sister nor I seem to be able to be forceful enough to stop this however Bart took it in stride. It was quite exciting needless to say.

El morocco had been around since my parents were dating and was the most glamorous place people could go. There were black and white zebra skin banquets and palm trees with white feathers hanging over them. It was very important to be seated near the dance floor so you could see everybody and everybody could see you. I was never a Studio 54 girl. El morocco was the place for me. The music was amazing and the food, forgettable. The lady in the ladies room knew everything about everyone. If you were smart you would give her a good tip. Otherwise she might tell people things about you that might be true but weren’t pleasant.

Tonight I have been reflecting on how much fun that time was. The 70’s were a great period. The music was great, the parties were great, people were light hearted and wanted to just flirt and have a good time.

I was saying to my sister tonight how much I appreciated her support and friendship during those years and how it had made all the difference for me in my life. I am so grateful for all those memories of her apartment, all those interesting people, the food, the wine and the ambiance. I felt safe there.

 I felt like nobody was going to say anything mean to me and everyone was going to protect me. She was the perfect older sister. Without sounding sappy, she was good to me. I don’t think people enjoy life in the same way that we did then in today’s world. Even when Covid leaves I don’t think young people have as much fun. It’s too bad.

It’s too bad because in those moments you could forget anything that was going on in the world and just listen to music, listen to the beat, look into the eyes of some interesting person and have a wonderful night.

The fish never stop hoping

The fish never stop hoping they’ll be put back in the niantic river yet the current drive them down to the ocean and the seagulls grab them and throw them down on the beach disemboweled and still quivering. For centuries now this has happened. For centuries now we keep fighting our own destiny which is what keeps us alive.

Covert Covid

  Covert Covid

I spent so much time as a child hiding and waiting that I am

really good at doing this thing that we have to do right now.

So we hide and we wait but we’re not really sure how long we have to do this.

So I know that’s why I am getting itchy skin and restless legs syndrome.

And I find most other people really hard to take.

A policeman on the street corner near to me

yells at an old lady. Construction workers spit in your path. Mask wearers versus non-mask wearers have set battle lines and there is going to be a fight this Saturday at 2:04 PM on the corner of Harrison and Santa Rosa. A duel.  Sharp tongues used as weapons and nobody has a second. Or a third or even the first. A first.

 Someone asked me what it was like the first time I knew I was in love. I told them it was so long ago I couldn’t remember.

I guess it might honestly be right now with my puppy who jumps on my head in the early morning but does it so gently it feels like butterflies on my eyes. The first time she did it I was astonished.

 I force myself to leave the house. Yesterday I went to the dentist and it was terribly exciting. I have a canker sore. She asked me if I was stressed. Then we both couldn’t stop laughing.

 On NPR two scientists announced that the general population was drinking too much. For some reason I have always hated the obvious.

The biggest thrill is going to the supermarket. Now I’m eating things like tuna melt and macaroni and cheese balls. Before too long I’ll be a chubby old lady. I don’t really care. Yesterday my cousin said he didn’t really care either.

I’ve always loved that particular cousin. It’s hot now and it might be hot for a while.

 I can’t hold my breath underwater anymore as I  feel like I’m drowning even if I’m not in the pool.             

The Best Memory

The best Fall I remember happened outside of Paris due

north near Chambord in November maybe October

when the Beaujolais Nouveau was released along with

me…I walked out

the door of the inn we stayed in

while you drank with our host.

I wandered following troughs of wet leaves marking

the crusades and the dark fall  all yellow

smelling of dank and my life as an

obedient pathfinder Joan of Arc

wanting you to worry I was lost

yet  knowing you never would.

Hours later I reluctantly returned just as I used

to at 8 and still no one noticed.

I think we made love that night

as we usually did but the bed was small, you

said, as you moved across the parquet floor

to the adjacent one

and closer to your children across the

Atlantic and I imagined

us leaving in the morning croissants uncurled

and me dressed in black because you said it was

best and before I knew it we were back in

California and you were married again

yet I was still outside of Paris in November

in 1996 longing for something I had felt

for a brief moment but never again.

What I mean

Autonomy

like monotony

but without the pendulum

marking time.

This time

Is monotonous

but for the autonomous

It’s fine

For a time.

What I’m Really Saying about life in California

I’m beginning to see

I need no one after a time.

I’m preparing for the lifeboat,

the buoy,

the evacuation of the planet,

no packing, everyone is coming.

I’m leaving everything

behind.

It’s meaningless.

People come and go.

I’m trying to be brave.

Now I realize people want to hear hope from me as I’m old.

So I hand them some perfectly ripe

tomatoes from my garden,

tell them how to chop the basil

add the olive oil,

mix with hands.

Serve at room temperature

perhaps outside with the sun

fighting to make its way through the smoke just for one last time.

It’s good to eat with others

as things digest more easily.

Someone Asked me

Someone Asked me How I Start a Poem

Someone asked me how I start a poem

And I said it had to do with scent,

I remember, summer 1957,

being underwater and chlorine and the vivid

look of other swimming beings.

Play “Tea Party”

“Why?”

I never understood “Tea Party”

or the scent of afternoon grass

in Connecticut

in June.

Lying there, listening to

airplanes floating, hawks looking

for sex, prey,

safety.

We lay there

among the blades, clipped,

eyes gliding across summer blue

skies reading cloud clusters like

braille translating childhood.

No language for bewilderment.

Listening

I would highly recommend learning the art

of invisibility at a young age.

It’s useful to sit still

breathing but not moving your ribs.

Taking notes..

It’s in the details one

learns the ropes and

listening to neighbors in hotel

rooms is lesson number four.

To cries, whispers, the click

of locks,

learning what stops listening

like ear plugs or music or white

noise. Stop.

Other people will always disappoint

you.

Stop taking notes

on life.

Summer 1955

Summer 1955

Nothing is moving today.

Neither the trees nor the grass

not the top parts of the ocean

nor the blacks birds over the path.

The heat falls onto us mid morning and

children

lose interest in torturing the dog.

I think I hear

the Good Humor man’s truck,

an echoing television from an open window,

the hiss hiss of the sprinkler whipping

around its three pronged medusa heads,

over the damp, soft grass.

Inside, a white eyelet nightgown’s

rustle, moving metal treasures in my

Grandmother’s drawers while she napped

with her eyes open.

My Mother’s Hair

My Mother’s Hair

My mother’s hair always escaped

from under her red kerchief or the

hairspray

lacquered on  for control and the hair

often went

dancing in a night club in Manhattan

even when she was in labor with

one of us. You can’t control wildness.

My mother lay, legs askew, baby

coming, never having  to push as Dr. Leroy

removed us with forceps while her hair was

dancing at the Stork Club and her waist, so

thin

turning sideways she could have been

an exclamation point or a bent spoon.

Her hair, curled in the heat and the moist

music, was happy as rhythm was the

clef of curl and the smoke, the smoke,

smoothed her out and persuaded her

life could be El Morocco and the possibility

of finding Mr.Rich.

Even after she found him she

worried he wouldn’t stay. He told her to

make

her hair softer. It was always

touch and go but he made the rules.

Older, her hair curled around nurses

who loved her sweetness while her children

longed to hear her truth.

You see, life was a silken tendril and a

Frigidaire,

TV dinners and flowered dresses with waists

cinched by men who knew how to lead.

Scissors hadn’t been invented and music

could anesthetize freedom. Hair could go

anywhere.

Vol de Nuit

              Vol de Nuit

“This is your captain speaking” I hear as I look around my seat and curiously push the dimly lit buttons with the diagrams on them of what I may want to do for the next 10 hours.

 I love the deep voice of the captain especially when he’s British: so reassuring and yet sexy as if any minute he’s going to offer me a cocktail and anything else I might want.

“Ladies and gentlemen” he says “our flight will go over Newfoundland tonight. We expect no delay in our landing at London Heathrow and  it is our hope that you will enjoy your flight asleep or awake.Thank you for flying with us.”

 I am longing to hear that captain’s voice again.

 I want to be in the capsule of transportation.

I want a lady with make up on and coiffed hair to offer me a blanket and a billet-doux.

I long to be taken across the Atlantic, flying high through the clouds while someone else is in charge.

 Maybe I’ll fly to Charles de Gaulle and exit through one of the tube escalators up and escalator down into the customs area where I will be met by a chauffeur who will take me to a five-star Hotel in Paris where I will acquire several new outfits and a chauffeur.

At night when I can’t sleep I think of all those opportunities. My daughter kept saying to me, “Mom!Go live in France for a while. They’ll  understand you there.”

I know it’s too late and that’s OK but I still love to imagine the sound of that voice “Good evening ladies and gentlemen!Welcome to flight 27 from San Francisco to wherever your heart desires.”

I  am wearing my travel clothes so I will look perfectly chic when we land.

I’ve been wearing them for five months.

I’ll never stop dreaming just as I’ve never stopped  breathing so if I never stop breathing I can’t guarantee I won’t in-jest something that could easily kill me.

So that’s why I’m happy I’m a good imaginer.

I always travel light and rarely breathe.

Wasp Homelife

WASP- Homelife

I hate Italian families.

When you see them in a group they’re always laughing and eating,

kissing and hugging and touching each other as if they really mean

it and they don’t mind being close.

Don’t they know that they’re not supposed to behave like that?

In the best of WASP families you never touch anything but a cheek

with another cheek.

You have children but they leave the house

young.

To a WASP there can be no answer as

nothing is written down.

It turns out your family will never resemble an Italian family. 

Never.

Wasps require large houses because everyone needs a greater than normal

amount of space in which to sequester themselves from their

childhood memories.

So if they can afford it they move into mansions and most of the

rooms are left empty.

Certainly on holidays there is one long table but it’s like

Covid before Covid.

I’m trying to learn how to be Italian.

I’m a genetic aberration.

I used to have a friend in the mafia who definitely was Italian.

He used to take me to dinner at the Italian club and during the meal

the table would shimmer and shake according to who was shooting what

weapon at the gun range on the floor below.

Having dinner with Vincent made me feel weirdly protected but

also somewhat

apprehensive . Like having indigestion before you even thought

about eating. I asked him to adopt me but that wasn’t what he had

in mind.

I found out a year ago that Vincent had died. I hate that.

People that you keep thinking of for years

and years and then suddenly you hear that you shouldn’t

have been thinking about them because

they were dead.

“Ashes to ashes, dust to dust, we bury the upper crust!”

Motto from a WASP funeral company

Lust

I feel lust when It should be dust

I feel lust when I should feel like dust,

too much testosterone according to my

Geriatrician. I can’t help myself.

Fireman make my mouth water.

 I put on rubber gloves,

a mask, a lab coat, and go to Brice’s house for

a drink last Friday

(we’ve been slow dancing electronically).

Like all women I want to talk

before sex and be a little drunk and be

kissed with intention to

paralyze but only for seven minutes or I get

Jittery.

 I just decide I am ready to tell him because

now I am bored with this dance after 50 years,

too many partners to remember identifying marks

or howls.

Listen, I say, here’s what I want.

I look at him in his old Patagonia, ripped at the hem and spotted,

hair half brown half gray stuffed under a Patriots cap,

face unshaven, nylon turtleneck blued into gray, open mouth

revealing years of ground out rage and he’s thinking,

What the hell now? So I

say I want to have dinner with someone every night.

I want a body in the bed next to me that doesn’t move or make

sounds.

 I want someone to have my back.

I want you to figure out what we are going to do about dinner.

I want the smell of soap and skin and silk and the feel of hips and maybe

a gun in the house,

 a stick shift car and a big dog, Trivial Pursuit 80’s version,

I want you to figure out what I want and then give it to me when I want it not when you do and I want

chocolate pie.

And then he says I don’t want to have dinner every night.

Memorial Day

In honor of Memorial Day I choose the Good Humor: a treat on a wooden stick, vanilla ice cream covered in thin dark chocolate, covered in white shiny paper that was hermetically sealed over it. Teeth were the utensil most often used to open it up!

The good humor arrived in the truck driven by the Good Humor man. The truck had a refrigerator on the back which could be accessed from both sides by opening a door with a stainless steel handle. Sometimes, when I was last in line, I would stand on the stone wall so I could see deep inside the truck. There were pale cardboard boxes in there piled to the brim of the truck like shoe boxes or small coffins but unmarked.

The arrival of the good humor man was akin to the arrival of Santa Claus. In our house there were no treats so ice cream on a stick was a major event.
I don’t know why I seemed to be the only sibling that was able to buy two Good Humors, but I can only assume it was because I have always been a saver.

The good humor man came between three and four on Sunday afternoons but only in the summer months and announced his arrival with a clanging of a sweet sounding bell which reverberated through the neighborhood and into the ears of kids longing for ice cream. The good humor man did not always have a good humor and often seemed slightly frightening to us kids.

We would save our allowances until we could afford to buy at least two so that we could put the one that we didn’t eat right away into the big refrigerator in the back of our garage with our name on it.

From the time I was a little kid my favorite toy was a tiny red cash register that could accept nickels, dimes and quarters and wouldn’t open until you had saved $10. I loved that piggy bank. As a matter fact I think I would still be using it if I knew where it was. It was incredibly gratifying to put in that last coin and see the cash drawer spring open and make the noise “Cha Ching !”

Gratifying, but also somehow sad and disappointing. You had achieved your goal now what would you do with it? Probably most kids wouldn’t really even think like this but I wasn’t looking for happiness, I was looking for safety.

In the 50s families were flush with falsehood: Betty Crocker, Aunt Jemima, Birdseye, Henry Ford, Bass Weejuns and Chryslers. There was a long line of things that people wanted to acquire in order to feel that they didn’t need to eat too many good humors.

Women wore lipstick called “Cherries in the Snow” bought in the Five and Dime and men wore suits and took the train to work and smoked. Everybody smoked. They smoked in the car around the children. They smoked in their office. They smoked in their bathrooms with the windows open. And they smoked late at night while they gazed at the moon and wondered why they were feeling so empty.

You can’t go to war and kill people and then come back home and be happy. It doesn’t matter what people say about defending your country, once you’ve dropped a bomb on a village or shot a man in the chest as he’s coming at you , you can’t ever forget what it felt like. You have those moments when you remember what you did and even though you had to do it it never really sits right with you.

People think soldiers do it out of loyalty to their country and maybe that’s why they do it in the beginning. I don’t think you can stop thinking about war just because the war may be over. In the 1950s the war was over and people were celebrating by buying things and having children.

We were winners. We had won. Everyone knows that once you win a prize you don’t care about the prize after a while. It becomes meaningless and you even forget where or what it was but you keep buying.

On this memorial day I would like to remember the young boys and girls who started out with innocence in their hearts and grew up and went to war believing they were doing the right thing. I would like to remember what they lost by doing this. Some came home with seriously damaged bodies and some came home with seriously damaged minds. Some were addicted to drugs and some became homeless living on the streets with nowhere to go and no one to be with.

Once the war was over and they were sent home there was no follow up or real responsibility on the part of this country to take care of people. None of the vehicles set up to do this really took care of the problem.

It’s been said before. War is not necessary.

Now we are in the midst of a pandemic yet each country takes care of it in their own way. The news reports the number of cases worldwide and how many people have died in each country every day. It’s as if we are watching a horse race and placing bets. Each country owns a different horse and hopes their horse will win. The price will be monumental. Still we don’t work together.

I read the other day that people spend more money on lottery tickets than they do on taking themselves out for dinner, to the movies, beach, a play, an amusement park. It made me really sad to read this. Instead of enjoying life each day, people spend money on the tiny possibility they will win money and believe that winning money will make them overjoyed to be alive. Winning money will take away the pain.

So I’m coming to the end here. On this memorial day I would like to focus on our children and our grandchildren and think about how we can make their lives happy and make them see and feel and understand what it is that happiness is.

I don’t think it’s buying things, and I don’t think it’s going to war and killing people, I don’t think it’s winning a lottery ticket, I don’t think it’s buying a car,I don’t think it’s winning and I don’t think it’s losing.

I think it is having the ability to accomplish a small task for yourself and then be proud.

I think it’s setting a reasonable goal and accomplishing it. I think it is being a kind and loving person and a generous one. I think it is valuing the qualities that make a good citizen in the world: compassion, generosity, and the practice of non-violence.

I am an optimist. I think we have a chance to recognize this now when we’re on the brink of global extinction.Everyone feels like they’re not safe. Everyone feels disconnected. I just keep thinking about the movie, “ET”. If we could all just reach out our fingers and touch someone else and make them feel safe then maybe we would feel safe too. I don’t really think there’s another solution.

The last human left on earth

Survival instructions when you are the last human left

First thing:
crumble twigs on bare floor before waking and walking.
Freeze some flowers the night before then
turn a rose inside out and label the petals
in order to remember what they said.
Historian.
If you find a coyote in your house ask
what she needs from outside and tell the
hairless goat to stay in the closet for a while.
There might be a vulture on your roof so
watch it when you go out.
(Nothing by mouth
not even cacti)
If Georgia O’Keefe steps through a window
don’t act surprised or needy just have a
conversation about stillness or sex or tools.
Any will
prove useful.
The world will be pale but don’t be enticed to
touch the green as then it, too, will die.
It is your job to keep noting:
Rock
Water
Warmth
Cold
Alive
Dead
Just sit. Not wait.

Is it too late to be Nancy Drew?

Is it too late to be Nancy Drew now that it’s hard for me to get up in the morning and one knee hurts so badly but it does stop about seven minutes later? Is it too late to be Nancy Drew now that I forget things and my hair has turned gray and sometimes I look in the mirror and I don’t recognize myself? Is it too late to be Cherry Ames, Dude Ranch Nurse , solving mysteries that no one else could solve because she was smart and beautiful and accomplished. (Remember Cherry was not a doctor but the nurse at the ranch).

I want to be that woman who gets dressed in a three-piece suit with spiky heels and stalks across the courtroom floor and wins the case against the giant corporation making millions of dollars for her firm and saving millions of employees their jobs. Is it too late for that? I don’t know why I didn’t think that I could do that but my parents never read one report card and only looked at the beauty in my face and the lilt in my voice and the trail of suitors following me.

I had a longing deep inside of me like a drill bit that never stopped whirling and now I see the women getting in cars going to work with a confident twitch of their hips and I want to be them. I want to be successful and get a big paycheck and have a room full of men hang on my every word. I want to be brilliant and knowledgeable and respected and powerful and I want to have done it all myself with my big beautiful brain and I don’t want anyone to get in my way and I don’t want someone to marry me and make it happen. I will want this until the day I die.

A Sign

A Sign

My Daughter has been dead for nearly three years and I haven’t heard a word from her until yesterday, that is. You may think that sounds weird, but I was a big believer in communication with the dead.
Before she died, I believed there were all sorts of ghosts, spirits and parents out there who could and did communicate a lot! For the life of me I couldn’t get my Mom out of my head but now I like to hear her. Right after Tina died, I felt her near me, and I felt how worried she was to leave me. She could not get into her orbit and it was up to me to pray for her and to let her go which I did.
Dragon flies were plentiful around the bench she had last sat on in my garden and they stayed for days in the summer sun, something they never do. Reluctantly. They were Tina’s symbol.
She died a painful and terrible death and had quite a few minutes to struggle, to have changed her mind, to face the fact that it was too late, and to realize she would never see anyone here on earth again. I think she died because she didn’t see a way to happiness like many others who choose suicide. I think she had no idea what it would be like.
So, then I lost her and though the silence seemed right in the beginning, after a while it seemed wrong and bitter and empty and very unfair. It was a loud silence as if she had gone so far away that there was no trail to finding her and worse, she had lost the trail back to me.
I would chidingly talk to her photo when passing it in the hallway saying good morning and good night and ask why she was not in touch. I would try very hard to understand what her eyes were telling me. I would think about our time together when she was a child and what she was like and what we did together.
I came to know some of her friends better than I ever had when they were young. I reconnected with a babysitter who had been with us one summer. My way of healing was to keep listening to stories about my daughter and to keep on searching for understanding as to why she had ended out where she did.
I read through all her emails to me over the years both angry and loving. I looked at her artwork. I opened her trunk of childhood and removed dresses, coats, shoes and hats, holding each one in my hands, often pressing it to my face and always asking for a sign that she knew I was waiting to hear from her. That she knew I missed her.
I started to go to church but found many lacking. The expression on the faces of ministers often made me wonder what their diet was composed of. I never felt at home there and hated being greeted by strangers wanting to hug you.
Finally, I went to the church next door where Father Mike, my friend, was the priest. In the cavernous space filled sparsely with young and old, I found some serenity and I remembered how praying had helped me not be afraid of the dark as a kid. I began to pray. At first, it only took a minute before I went to sleep but as time went on there were so many people needing help.
You won’t understand this unless you have lost someone you love very much. Its just what people in mourning do.
Then one day everything changed. I was in the living room looking intently at a photograph of Tina and wishing once again I felt in touch with her. I said it out loud several times. I think I was beginning to cry.

Then my cell phone rang. It was my two-year-old granddaughter Rosemary, wanting to FaceTime with me. Rosemary was born one month after Tina died and my daughter and I think a part of Tina is in her. Rosemary wanted to talk about unicorns. Unicorns were Tina’s spirit animal.

I know I am in touch now and I got my sign

Star In A Sci-Fi Film

I’m a Star in My Own Sci-Fi Film

“Each morning I wake Up

Before I put on my makeup

I say a little prayer for all of us”

I wonder if Diane Keaton is cleaning her own toilet? I know that’s a superficial question but what the heck? What are all the famous and rich people doing without their housekeepers? Today I found that if you use a Q-Tip you can really get stuff that’s been there for God knows how long. I’m a pretty good cleaner having used this obsession for many years to avoid stress and anxiety. Nothing like a good cleaning to make you feel in order.

 It’s not really working.

I walk the deserted streets of my town hoping to have a socially distanced conversation with someone, anyone. I think it still hasn’t gotten through to me that this might be it for the rest of my life. If someone doesn’t come up with a cure for this virus, we will all live like surreal movie stars, alone and unbelieving.

Am I lonely? Weirdly enough I am not. I’ve been practicing for loneliness all my life. Others who have partners seem very concerned about me and call or text often. I’m so grateful for this. I feel like ET is reaching out all the time. I love Facetime and today my granddaughter took me into the bathroom this morning because she “wanted some privacy with Grandma Lulu”

I told her a story about how Harry and Stan (my dogs) went out today to get burgers and fries. Apparently’ she didn’t know what fries were as her Mom is the most amazing Mom and makes everything organic for her. She loves garlic and eats it for lunch in cloves.

What helps is having the focus be on today. If I allow myself to go into fear, I think I’m a star in my own disaster film. I’m the last person alive on the earth and I can’t leave my house. I look upon the UPS guy with deep suspicion and refuse to accept the package and ask him to leave it on the ground.

My Dad worried about a nuclear disaster and we had a bomb shelter in my basement. There was a handgun on the wall right next to the heavily barred door. He said it was for the neighbors who would try to get in and be safe. I knew then I would never go into the shelter with my family, but I had to find a way to be outside with everyone else preparing to die. I don’t blame my Dad as he loved his family and protecting us was his goal. I just didn’t want to be the last person standing.

I could see clearly it wouldn’t be fun to be the last family alive on earth or at least in Greenwich, Connecticut.

I have a schedule because I love schedules. It makes me feel safe to have one. I am meditating longer and walking longer. I’ve found a new walking friend but It’s hard as we must walk Indian file so as not to be too close. Luckily neither of us has a hearing problem yet.

I think I will put two lawn chairs six feet apart in my driveway and set up a Peanuts sign saying “advice” and entice other walkers to stop and sit a spell. My sister once said if I stepped into an elevator in the Empire State building by the time, I reached the top I would have 50 new friends. I am compulsively friendly believing everyone really wants to communicate. In truth, it’s because I suffer from abandonment.

I have volunteered with a local church as well as a neighborhood group to call and check on people and the good thing is that most of the group I call are also calling people. The worst thing is calling and getting a machine saying the message taking part is full. I don’t know what to do or who to call. And its worse when you go to the house and no one answers the door. Where have they gone?

We all had a choice a few weeks ago to leave the area with our animals and drive to Wyoming or God knows where. Most of us stayed knowing instinctively that if this quarantine were going to be for months it would be better to be at home. Some believe it will be over by summer but I’m certain it will be Christmas at the earliest.

If you take it day by day, the days become softer and more pleasant. It seems natural to take a nap or lie down on the sofa after folding the laundry. I find myself being captured by the site of my blooming Camelia tree several times a day through different windows in my house.

My best advice: start some type of creative project whether it’s a book, poem, picture, painting or collage. You will be amazed at how the time flies once you get absorbed in it.

I have no real advice only the thought that if this is my own sci-fi film, I’m making the ending a happy one and so should you.

This time its different. We all care about each other. Its harder to live like this for some than others. We are all hurting but those of us who are approaching the end of the runway are really hurting. We know how how little time we have left anyway to spend with our grandchildren before they are no longer children. It’s all speeding up but also slowing down.

Save Our Global Community: Stay Home

The Virus

Remember the children’s game “gotcha last”? In our family we played it for hours. It actually drove our mother crazy but we couldn’t help ourselves. The game would stop for hours and then there would be a little subtle finger touch during the dinner hour that one of us would feel all too late and know we had been tagged and we were it.

Now it’s become a reality. Chances are, if someone is infected with the virus and comes within 6 feet of someone else, and then they happen to sneeze, another person will catch it. If we go to the gym and we use hand sanitizer but happen to miss one tiny spot and wipe our noses without thinking, boom, we have it.

This isn’t an exaggeration. No one in America likes to be told what to do. Everyone I know in my group of friends has claustrophobia.Everyone I know has abandonment tendencies and hates to be alone. Everyone I know thinks the idea of being told to stay home and in their house and to avoid social interaction is akin to being incarcerated.

Well, guess what? If we don’t stay home and we don’t keep our families at home we are jeopardizing our freedom to live. Yes, we are jeopardizing our right to stay alive. Yes, we are jeopardizing the right of all of our neighbors to stay alive and be safe and healthy.

It’s really time to realize that this is no joke. We need to take care of our country. We need to look after our elderly population and make sure everyone is taken care of. Staying home is not such a bad thing and it’s what we all should be doing right now.

I  walk around my house and see how lucky I am because my house is filled with books many of which I have never read. Now I can read them.Now I can go in my garden and sit and reflect on a single camellia or the tenacity  of an ant.

 I am so grateful for the texts from my family which happen almost daily and the phone calls from my friends. They warm my heart and make me feel less alone than I’ve felt in years. Now is the time for us to reach out through our wonderful technology and communicate with our children and our grandchildren and our friends and our family and tell them we love them. Finally, technology is a good thing.

Now is not the time to go out to restaurants and cafés and parties and risk catching the virus and then spreading it to other people who may not be strong enough to survive it.

Now is the time to respect our medical personnel who risk so much to take care of us. Now is the time to guard our families by realizing that  staying at home is actually a wonderful thing to be doing.

Consider our future and the future of our world and the safety of our population and make a decision to do your part in preventing the spread of this virus. Stay home. Read a book. Eat lightly. Take a walk. Pet your dog. Play a game with your kids. Delight in the sunrise and meditate longer. Take a bath. Practice deep breathing. Look at your scrapbooks. Get in touch with everyone you love and tell them you love them.

Do the best you can to stay safe and healthy and carry the world in your hands as if it’s a precious breath you would like to share with everyone around you. Just think, if everyone did this we would be safe.

Musical Chairs

Musical chairs

I feel like we’re playing musical chairs in the world.
I am not good at that game.

Where can we go?

What can we do?

Where is it safe?

When I was a kid people used to scream

at me because I would never leave my chair.

If I did it was to slither

over to the next chair
before the music even thought about stopping.

In my house there are many chairs.
There are many photos.
I like to stop

and sit on the chair that looks directly into the photo
of my family surrounding me.

That’s all I see
That’s all I pray for.

Happy Birthday Edna St Vincent Millay!

When you, that at this moment are to me
by Edna St. Vincent Millay

When you, that at this moment are to me
Dearer than words on paper, shall depart,
And be no more the warder of my heart,
Whereof again myself shall hold the key;
And be no more—what now you seem to be—
The sun, from which all excellences start
In a round nimbus, nor a broken dart
Of moonlight, even, splintered on the sea;
I shall remember only of this hour—
And weep somewhat, as now you see me weep—
The pathos of your love, that, like a flower,
Fearful of death yet amorous of sleep,
Droops for a moment and beholds, dismayed,
The wind whereon its petals shall be laid.

Obsession

You know what it’s like when you meet someone and you can’t breathe and you feel like someone’s given you a date drug but you know that’s not possible and you keep wanting to stare at the person and you are so self-conscious you can hardly talk? Remember that? Pretty much, most people remember that if they are lucky.

And then what happens is that memory, that electric memory, just goes away and we’re left with whatever decision we made about that person along the way. We could’ve married them, we could’ve dated them, we could’ve just thought about them, it doesn’t really matter. That feeling that you get when you’re attracted to someone is so dangerous because it can cloud rational thinking for your entire life.

I remember having that feeling. I remember meeting someone and thinking that it was the most surprising meeting I’ve ever had in my whole life.

Looking back, I remember after our first dinner we were waiting for our respective cars and it was a cold night and somehow without thinking I leaned back into him and he said something like “ is this OK?”

I didn’t respond to that because we both knew that it was.

We spent a year together off and on because our children were young and sometimes we had to be alone with them and not with each other. We tried to plan our weeks so that we each had our kids at the same time and we wouldn’t be lonely. I remember thinking I wasn’t lonely because I had my kids and I had him and I was fully convinced that he loved me more than anyone had ever loved me before.

Once, when we were on our way to a restaurant in San Francisco and walking past an alley, he grabbed me, pulled me into the dark of the alley, and kissed me in a way that I’ve never been kissed before, to quote a song.

We went to Paris together, we went to Lake Tahoe together, we went to New York together where he asked me to marry him.

We had been dating at that time for maybe eight months and I had not even been divorced a year. Neither had he. We were sitting in a hotel room on the upper east side and he said there’s something I want to ask you. He was pacing at the time which I’ve never seen him do. He said, “stand up”and so I did and he said “the only way I can solve this dilemma is if you marry me”.

I said what dilemma? And then he told me that his ex wife was trying to get back into his life and he felt guilty because after all he was an Irish Catholic and there were two children to consider and if we were married she would stop doing that.

I looked at him.

He said to me you don’t have to say anything I can tell how you feel. You look like a deer caught in headlights.

To be honest, I was panicked. This was the first I had ever heard of this and we’ve been together almost 9 months at this point. I was scared shitless but I didn’t believe it. I didn’t believe that this was really happening because I was so convinced what we had together was so strong it would never be broken apart.

I said to him I can’t marry you because I’ve just gotten divorced and it would mean so much upheaval for my children. I think it would be too hard. Let’s just keep on having a great time and after a while I know it’s gonna work out. You can’t go back to your wife. You were miserable!

He said oh just forget about it let’s go out to dinner and things were never the same between us.

We got back to California. There was Christmas to get through and suddenly he just stopped calling. At first I didn’t recognize it for what it was. Honest to God it never occurred to me that this great passion would have an ending. This camaraderie, this intellectual compatibility, this deep understanding of each other: it never occurred to me that this was going to go away. I didn’t believe this could ever happen or even think about it. Nothing could take this away for me as it was the first and last time I’ve ever felt like this.

I called, I wrote, we had dinner, but he never had the guts to sit down and look me in the eye and say “this is breaking my heart but I have to go back to my wife and my family even though it’s you that I love”.

He left phone calls unreturned. Once in a while we would have dinner but he would never come home to my house. I heard through friends that he had moved back in with his wife. It was the most unbelievable thing to me that I had ever heard. I had spent months hearing from him how that would never happen and how she had lied and cheated and he would never go back. I believed him. Just as I believe the clock on my iPhone now.

I thought we would be together forever because it was so good.

I behaved badly for a few more years. I was so embarrassed about my behavior but I couldn’t help it. I would call him and write to him and try to see what he was doing. I couldn’t get him out of my mind.

Years have gone by since things between us ended. To be honest, I don’t really think about him much anymore.We did meet one night in a bar and had too much wine together. Unfortunately it broke my heart all over again and there’s nothing that hurts more than having to put something together a second time.There are so many more pieces.

Last fall I went with a friend to a funeral out in Marin and I chose my seat on the side of the tent very carefully because I did not want to see or be near him. I knew he would be there. A nice young man came and sat next to me and I said to him he looked familiar. As the service was beginning he said I am married to blank blank who is the daughter of this man. For a moment I thought I have to get up and move and run out of here but I decided that at this time in my life I would stay put.

I watched my friend give his tribute to his old friend who had died. It was clear to me that he had noticed me. It had probably been close to 15 years since we’d seen each other. I can’t comment on how he looked because I knew I still loved him and he could be 500 pounds and purple and I still would.

He had the power to make my heart turn in my chest and to make me feel tremendously sad which is a feeling that I have had all too often in my life. It’s almost like if you’re going to sleep and you know you need another blanket so you take the same one from the end of the bed and put it over you but it doesn’t warm you it only makes you immobilized for time.

I’ll probably never see him again. We will never be together. The future I saw so clearly in 1995 will never exist. I don’t know whether it’s better or worse to have felt this kind of love for someone else and to have felt this kind of passion or if life would have been easier never knowing the feeling? People talk about sustainable farming. I wonder if sustainable passion exists?

I only know that with this man I felt like a woman first and It didn’t matter that he was alcoholic, completely sexist, rude, sometimes mean, in the long run I can’t explain it. We had a chemistry that was different and magic and it never changed over the time we were together.

If he came and knocked on my door tomorrow I’d pack my bag and leave with him. There’d be no turning back, there would be no questioning. He’s the first and last guy that I trusted enough to consider traveling with through life and letting him drive.

But then again I’ve made a lot of bad decisions about men.

Sante Fe

I am in Santa Fe visiting a 90-year-old friend. I feel like it’s important to come and visit her every year because you never know when you’re going to lose her. Of course, that’s true about life in general. You never know when you’re going to lose anything. They say being resilient is a very good quality to have in life as those of us who are resilient seem better equipped to deal with what life throws at us.

I never thought I was resilient, as a matter of fact, I sort of thought that I was a wimpy whiner. I seem so scared of so many things. Of course I had this well hidden but there were those who knew about these irrational fears. I made a list of things that scared me when I was in my 40s because I was just done with it. The first thing I did was number one on my list and that was learn to shoot a gun. My teacher said I was a “born shooter” whatever that means but I loved my gun. To be honest I still do. The other night I had a young boy here with his mom and he asked me if I had a gun and I said yes of course I did and so we went upstairs and got my shotgun keys and brought it down and then his mother and I tried to remember how to put it together. It was really hysterical how complicated it seemed but we didn’t give in and let the boy do it.

Here in Santa Fe I went for a walk the other night before dinner because I had been on an airplane all day and I wanted to stretch my legs. The center of town has a lovely Square which is lit up with Christmas lights year-round and surrounded by interesting and often touristy shops. I love to walk around when all the shops are closed and look in the windows and just imagine which things I would buy if I were going to buy anything.

As I was rounding the corner of a jewelry store a white Volkswagen bug pulled up beside me and a young woman stuck her head out the window and said ” hey you !I saw you steal that!”

I have to tell you this frightened me.I thought oh my god who is this person and why is she saying this and screaming this at me? I said, “I beg your pardon?” her screaming got louder and louder and she said “I’m going to call the police right now and they’re going to arrest you because you’re a thief.”

You know, there are many of you will read the story and think how ridiculous that she was upset by it. Most guys would just laugh at her. But here I was alone on the Square in the dark next to a car full of young strong women who were clearly enraged at me and on drugs and repeating nonsense. It was deeply upsetting.

For the rest of my time in Santa Fe I discreetly asked around about increases in crime and anger and problems with tourists being harassed and unfortunately found that this happens all too often. Apparently the police drive around the Square every five minutes. I must’ve missed their minute.

I really love Santa Fe because it’s beautiful and to anyone who is at all creative you can’t help but be moved by the colors of the Adobe houses, the sky, the painted signs in blues and pinks and the presence of wonderful museums and galleries that inspire you.

From the first time I visited here however, I felt a darkness but I couldn’t get out of until I left the town. There are many people here living in extreme poverty and many of them are Indians and many of them owned this land centuries ago.I don’t blame them for being angry.

I think things like what happened to me in Santa Fe are going to start to happening all over this country. In fact, they already have. Every time I get on an airplane I am saddened to see the rudeness particularly among young men who push and shove right by you to grab the last space in the overhead bin. I remember the days where gentleman would help you put your bag in the bin and then say “after you “if your seat was by the window.

In my youth the worst thing I saw was Jimmy Mellon stealing my Halloween candy and he only took the Red Vines, Sure, I was lucky, I lived in a very safe spot. I don’t know how we’re going to turn this around. I have a feeling the anger is too deep. I was reading Elizabeth Warren’s article in Rolling Stone in the airplane on the way here and she spoke about how minimum-wage 20 years ago could actually support a family and allow them to have a house and food on the table and a cozy life. Now the average cost of food for a family of four monthly is approximately $900. The average minimum wage is $12 an hour.

I am teaching math to my fourth graders using this as an example . I am hoping that it won’t make them sad to think that they’ll never be able to make enough money to have a decent life. I’m hoping it will inspire them to look for new elected officials and new ways to behave and to work hard in their lives. I want them to learn the practical skills of survival but I also want them to maintain a hopeful attitude that they can change things in the world. We can’t let it continue on the way that it’s heading. I am on the end of my runway but these kids are just beginning.

I don’t want to be frightened in Santa Fe anymore or anywhere But I don’t know what the answer is.

Travels with Trulia

Trulia is my travel agent of emotional escapes and several times a week I am a voyeur into other people’s lives. There are several settings to consider before I go on my trip: price, location, amount of bedrooms and bathrooms, acreage, and one that I always take seriously which is fireplaces. Once I have made my selection, I begin my voyage. I prefer houses that range in price from 10 to 20 million with at least seven bedrooms because then I have a lot to manage. It’s important to have staff rooms as well. Yesterday I transported myself into a mansion in Pebble Beach, California. The rooms were large and had heavily ornate little metal crosses on the walls and enormous arrangements of dried flowers in dark, muted colors like vampire rooms.There was a dining room with a stand in the corner for reading the Bible and at least three kitchens spread throughout the house. My very favorite room, however, gave me the inspiration that I had been looking for. The master bedroom. There was an enormous bed with a headboard covered in powder and silk and a duvet also covered in the same silk spread over the feet. The nightstands consisted of pieces of glass balance upon carved gold wood made to look like unicorns who are slightly crazed. There, above the fireplace, was a portrait of the mistress of the house and when I saw the portrait I knew I had found my true self. She was blonde with babe hair that hung to her waist and was thick and wavy.She wore a black knit dress, unbuttoned, and a black lace bra under that. The black dress clung to her curves and she was leaning forward with both hands holding onto a couch breasts pressed forward as if to say I’ve got you in the palm of my hand. She was a dame. She was a slut. She was in control. There was no question that this was her House. Oh! How I wanted to be her! Powerful! Sexy! Men falling at her feet! She probably had a gun underneath that black dress. She never suffered from loneliness or despair or depression or anxiety. No way Jose. She just lived in this giant house and swished around the hallways in her black dress and bossed people, Particularly men. It was really hard to leave that Trulia house.I figured if I stayed long enough staring at those photos I would end out being just like her.Fearless and powerful and as a woman who had never been victimized.

In the Desert You Can’t Remember Your Pain

 

In the December desert near the crepuscular 

hour many people experience subtle, ocular

change. Sometimes these changes are

permanent. Saguaros (Te 

quiero) can begin to move

and appear to challenge with their arms

the delicate prickly pear while the Feather

cactus plays, “catch a falling Star“. It is, however,

the Christmas cactus that interests me: 

blooming blood red pink like a baby‘s lips exactly at the

time they say we had a virgin birth.

Who will tell it to bloom now that we have lost faith:

a world divided, no party lines, no Avon lady, no 

agreement  not to kill each other?

 

 

 

The Neighbor

The Neighbor

Each morning the dogs walk her down Chestnut Street.

Past Taylor’s house, empty lot, red mower for sale($95.00) ,

Mrs. Alonzo’s dead flower bed, and she’s got makeup on and

clothes that are good because it’s time to wear the good clothes.

There’s Bob with the two white poodles prancing and Bob prancing

because he can when he’s out of the house.

She always stops at the empty lot, stares at the two abandoned rattan

chairs and wants to slip into one, take a breath from dancing all night,

sip the last of her champagne.

She still hears music.

The Meeting That Never Happened

I am very easily bossed around by men with a low, testosterone filled, voice. So easily, in fact, that the other day I almost got lured to a man’s house I didn’t even know.

How did this happen one might ask? Well the truth of the matter is I am on a dating site because I am hopeful and incredibly romantic. Most of the men that I see on the site seem like perfectly nice men but I know that they are not for me. Yesterday, however, a man responded by email that actually looked like a reasonable person who might be fun to hang out with. He suggested we have a phone call.

I called him and we had a very lively conversation for about 40 minutes. During the course of the conversation he informed me that he was quite well known so that I could count on him to behave well. When I googled him I found this to be true.Our conversation was filled with flirty little innuendos on his part and laughter on my part and an increasing feeling of uncomfortableness because of the inappropriate familiarity.It was certainly fun to have someone appear to be so interested in me and to be so intimate in his conversation and so appreciative of my wit and intelligence.

 As time went on I began to notice that I felt like I was being cornered in a way that was quite shocking to discover. Because this man seemed so intimate and so knowledgeable about me and my life in such a short time apparently he had some control over me. 

Luckily, I was driving to an appointment and I said to him that I needed to get off the phone because I was at my destination. He asked me where I was and I told him and he said that he lived within 10 blocks of that location and after I was done with my appointment I should call him and he would direct me to his house. We would have wine and get to know each other. At this point I was so anxious that I just laughed and said great and hung up the phone.

I went upstairs to see my dear doctor and told him what happened and he said “No, Lucinda, you go to Starbucks.”

I realized how quickly I had fallen into the trap of being the obedient prey of the testosterone filled male. I felt as if I had been drugged for a period of time and without knowing it had gone along with something that was completely insane. The thing that scared me the most was I thought that if I hadn’t had to be at a doctors appointment I would’ve driven to his house as instructed.

Once I had completed my appointment I got into my car and called this man back and said look I’m so sorry I can’t come to your house as I don’t feel comfortable doing so why don’t we meet at Piatti or some local spot that’s convenient to us both and have a glass of wine and get to know each other.

There was an explosion from this man of anger and abuse. He accused me of agreeing to meet him and then saying I wouldn’t. He wouldn’t listen to the reason on my part as to why I felt uncomfortable coming to his house when I had never met him. He belittled me and made no effort to try to find a comfortable place to meet where we both could get to know one another in a normal manner. The more I listened to this, the more I felt frozen. I realized that I felt just like a child: unable to stop him and terrified by the anger I had a provoked in a man I didn’t even know.

All of this happened in under three minutes.

This seemed like slow motion. I find that when these type of things happen I often feel frozen. I knew I should hang up the phone but there’s a part of me that was so scared of doing something wrong. I kept trying to work things out for way too long.

Luckily in this situation I did finally end the call and it was clear to me that he wanted to be sure I knew he was the one that was breaking this off. All I could think of was what would’ve happened if I had gone to his house and had a glass of wine with him?

I have told the story to four or five of my women friends. Friends that I consider to be very wise and very confident and very liberated in their lives. All of them understood my behavior and said that they had done similar things. What was really bewildering to all of us is why that intense and frightening testosterone filled male voice still had the ability to make us do things we would never do.

I’m very grateful that the bottom line for me was that I didn’t go to this man’s house and I have had the time to reflect on the insanity of doing that. It’s also made it much clearer to me the kind of man I want to be with: a man who treats me with gentle compassion and respect and deep and abiding love. We laugh at the world, have each others back and feel cozy but also spicy together. Our conversations are open periods of expression with listening and sharing. Above all we have respect for each other. I know he’s out there somewhere.

trying to write

I’ve been trying to write a Young Adult piece for a while now but I can’t really get into it. I like the imagining part and I can see the character clearly but I can’t make her move forward after drawing her. I like what she is doing and I think she is clear to me in her motives but I can’t figure out her future. This stops me from pursuing her path every morning. Finally, this morning I could understand why this is…. None of us can see the future. We are all siting around waiting for something to happen, to change, and nothing seems to. What’s here is here and repeats itself. The virus abates but then increases but in different areas. The vaccine does its job but then it doesn’t. “Groundhog Day”.

I try everything to overcome these feelings of hopeless, ennui, sadness, loss, and lethargy in my life. I have never walked further, but then again, I find myself eating junk food, something I have never done. I am more independent, more sympathetic, more forgiving but much less interested in being around others who are less so. I’ve become intolerant of the unevolved and the narcissistic. I am very tolerant of children and animals. I now like the color red. I remember what it’s like to sleep next to a lover though I do not have one. I thought this morning I might never have one again which didn’t see to frighten me as it once had.

I think I am not alone in this.

Save

Sometimes you have a problem with a friend. That’s life. It’s better to laugh it off and decide the friendship is the most important thing in the world. It’s like the children’s song, ” make new friends but keep the old, some are silver and some are gold.”