Saturday, November 17, 2007


Sometimes in the morning
I lie awake
to the dawn
rustling the covers
arousing the birds.
I smell the night air
Still rich with our scent
Feel the warmth
of your breath
on my cheek and the
of your limbs
entwined with mine
I employ the
newness of my
senses before
their exposure to the sun
tarnishes them
and renders me
worn and jaded
to the dark
of the night

Train Ride

The last thing she wanted to do was get on that train, but she had no choice-it was the only way to get back home, and she DID want to go home. Still, she hesitated. Bookie and Wolf started yelling at her as the train jerked to life
"C'mon! If yer comin!!"
"Here we go!!"
She came to life with the sound of their voices and she realized they were slipping away down the track.
"COMING!!" she yelled suddenly wanting with all her might to be on that train.

The train was gaining speed and she ran along beside to catch up to the open door.

Bookie stuck his big black hand out and she grabbed it after slinging her kit into the darkness behind him.

"On 3" he called "1 - 2 - 3 - JUMP!" and she complied flying into the boxcar like a fish reeled in by an exuberant boy.

"Queenie," he said " I didn't think you would make it girl. Good 'un." He flashed a smile at her as Wolf struck a match and lit his hand rolled cigarette. The match eliminated his face - the darkness of his beard over shot with his oddly yellow eyes. It was his eyes that gave him his name - that and his silence.

Wolf and Bookie had been riding the rails for close to 30 years. They'd taken her under their protection when she'd been brought to the hobo camp by a dealer. Queenie they called her because her years as a scoliosis survivor had given her a ram-rod straight back. That was the only regal thing about her. Still, they had noticed and the accepted and protected her. A single woman on her own in their world was either an addict or a camp whore and she was neither. She was a college kid who had slipped out of her life - abducted by the lure of anonymity and perceived independence of life outside of the box.

Queenie settled back against her burlap bag of belongings. She curled her hand around the bottle Bookie passed her, took a swallow and began to sing. Wolf closed his eyes and Bookie smiled as she sang them through the darkness and into the dawns light.

By noon the next day they were in Iowa. She could feel the fall cold sneaking in underneath her as they pushed northward.

She nudged Bookie with her foot and he opened one eye. "Soon" she said. He sat up stretching a bit and looked at her "You sure, girl?"

Queenie nodded and then smiled - lighting her eyes with her certainty.

"Good, you're sure." he said catching her excitement "Okay, just remember to roll."

The train slowed as it entered Ames and when she saw the campus rail sign she crouched by the door. Then she was flying through the air. She hit the ground hard and her wind left her as she fell and rolled as Bookie had told her. As her breath came back it took a minute for her to realize that she'd stopped - that it was the train that carried the motion forward while she laid still. She lifted her head and waved at Bookie watching her from his perch in the boxcar now picking up speed on its way out of Ames.

Queenie stood and picked up her burlap bag. She shook out her hair and brushed the grass off of her soiled jeans. She turned toward campus and Queenie became Jera as she stepped back into her college student life.


The card had been mailed 12 years ago and had I received it then, things would have been so different. I opened it. The paper - air mail paper thin as onion skin - was brown with age and crackled beneath my finger tips.

Dear Jen,
I got your card yesterday. My darling, I miss you, too. Call the embassy when you get this and we'll work out the distance issue. We can be together always.
All my love,

Tears tracked slowly down my face. I'd written him telling him I loved him--that I couldn't go back to just friends, that I would give up my teaching job if he'd have me in Gambia. But, if that wasn't what he wanted, to let me go - to let me continue my life with out him in peace.

I'd waited a month after I thought he'd have gotten my card. Then another month. I don't remember eating during that time, but I do remember not breathing every time I opened the mail box. Day-after-day. Nothing.

So I'd gone on being single. Being me. Living with mom, taking over the house when she died. Teaching at the elementary school I'd attended as a child. Solitary life. Not a wife.

At 42 I no longer held my breath when I checked the mail. I'd long since stopped expecting a reply - just as I'd long since stopped living - just existing.

Saturday, November 10, 2007

Pocket findings....

I found the strangest thing in my pocket Well, maybe it wouldn't be strange for some people, but for a confirmed city dweller like me a fresh blade of green grass is not what I'd expected to find. I'd been looking for a kleenex to wipe the city grime from my face and found instead this interloper - this reminder of a life I'd chosen not to live.

I examined it. Vibrant green. An in-your-face kind of green that even the limes in the green grocers have the good sense to cover up with city dust. There were lighter veins of color, too. And when I squinted at the blade I could see an entire rainbow of color trapped in the slender stalk.

It was crisp like lettuce served on ice and, when I snapped it between my fingers it released a fragrance that was indescribable. Fresh, clean. It brought to mind a cotton sheet hung taut on a line, snapping in the bleaching sun.

How did it find its way into the pocket of my coat? How did it come survive the city and in its broken-ness -- its loss of roots -- seem to thrive? Where had I been that it could have inserted itself into my pocket like a parasite catching a ride on an unsuspecting host?

I looked at the blade of grass - now in two pieces - resting in the palm of my hand. I lifted it up so I could see it, the window and the city outside of the train car. Perhaps it was a commuter like me.

My stop. My two pieced new friend and I stepped onto the platform. I opened my hand and like the single sheet of newspaper or the plastic bag held aloft by unseen forces, the grass continued its commute on the wind.

It's over

She comes across as an extrovert but isn't really. Silence is what really feeds her - well silence and the sound of her own voice. She can spend hours on the phone driveling on about the most inane things. I can only listen with have an ear most of the time. I like it when she calls, but it does go on and on.

One day she was rambling about something and I put down the phone. I didn't hang up. I just set it down and went about my business. I picked up the receiver about 3 minutes later and said "Uh huh" and set it down again. I didn't know what she was on about and, when it came down to it, I didn't much care. We'd been together so long that I didn't think it would matter. I know it sounds callous now, but that was how I felt.

I guess that was where our ending starts for her. Me walking out on her when she was pouring out what she calls soul...what I call drivel.

For me the ending probably started with the first call.

Maybe it wasn't her, though. My self doubts never flag. Maybe it was the fact that our relationship was all about the phone. I don't have much patience with the phone. The spoken word is so ethereal that without the body language, it is fairly useless......

Sea Monkeys

"To get the most out of your relationship with your Sea Monkeys you will want to keep them out of the sun. For external use only."

What the heck? Like I would ingest or otherwise insert the tablets into my body so I could grow sea monkeys where I couldn't 'see' them.

"When they're inside me, where it's dark. I walk around like Noah's Ark..." The old song came back to me and I laughed out loud. My son looked up at me, his eyes serious "What does it say, Mommy?"

"It says not to eat the sea monkeys."

"Is that funny?"

"No, not really. It just reminded me of an old song about animal crackers."

"Can we make the sea monkeys?"


I picked up the fish bowl now devoid of fish since Freddy died 5 days ago. Colin, 5 was still saddened by his pal's demise. I'd bought the sea monkeys and a book at a toy store in town while Colin was at school hoping that they would take his mind off of Freddy. I continued reading the instructions. "Warm tap water. Remove the chlorine..." we had well water so that was unnecessary. I gave the open packet to Colin. He very carefully took the tablet out and said to it "I don't know why they put you guys in medicine, but I hope you like your new home."

He dropped the tablet into the fish bowl and together we watched the Sea Monkeys come to life.

Saturday, October 20, 2007

Artist Prayer

O creator, still creating
I open myself to you
Let me be an instrument
of your will
Shaddai, let me be
with full acceptance,
who I am and help me
to accept others as they are.
Open us all to your healing.
And allow us to see
holiness and wholeness
in all creation.

Dear Artist....

Dear Writer Liz,
Please spend time with me. I don't want to talk. I want to write, draw, or paint. Coloring is good, too. Make time for me in places where you are. In your office, I'm small, I don't take up much space. I'd like a quarter of the space on your desk. A note book for me. You can publish whatever works on you management blog or on your own blog, which ever. I am not asking for money or a lot of time. Just some nurturing and space. Another thing I would ask for is more time out doors. Remember how good it felt to carve in the sun? Remember in the dead of winter how it feels to write in the sun. Create space for you and for me. We will create!

Diaphrams and Depression

"Flexing the diaphram to any significant extent requires conscious effort". Crap. I hate physiology. I snapped the book shut, stood, and stretched. My dorm room was a mid-term disaster. Papers mixed with dirty clothes were strewn about. My room had gone round - the corners each containing a collection of bags, books, CDs, papers and clothes. I hated it at that moment.

I glanced out the window into the courtyard. Empty. Everyone else was in a mid-term funk, too. The rain skittered off the window onto the tarmac below. Grey, grey, grey.

"God", I wondered "Is this what depression is like?"

Yep. I wonder how much of my life I've been depressed. I can look back and see the mania, but not the darkness. Not until I was in grad school and the knowledge that this IS all there is overcame me. Before I was excited by the possibilities that life held. But then I realized that we are pack animals and we structure our lives and our days to be much the same. Day after day.... That's when the greyness wins. Meds help. But I feel weak giving my mental health over to the chemical concoction that allows me to focus, to function. To not give in to the grey goat that lives on the roof of my house - trying to keep me prisoner.

What do I want? I want to be amazed - external. Try again. I want to be whole; to be different; lose the anger find the love; be a hippie; live lightly; dance; find joy.

If you live joyfully, though, how do you know? Don't you need the contrast of down days and sleepless nights to illuminate the joy? If not, how do you recognize her?

Anyway. My dorm room is a mess. It's raining and glooming and I'm struck studying my navel when I ought to be studying physiology. I think I'll go watch TV. Maybe I'll feel more inspired later. HA!

Saturday, September 29, 2007


All I can figure is the guy must have had tourettes syndrome. I mean why else would you stand on a street corner in a cold Seattle rain and yell obscenities at the mountains? It was raining for chrissake! You couldn't see them.

Nonetheless, there he stood. Hair matted to his skull, water in rivulets running around his nose, down his cheeks like tears. I noticed that under the ripped leaf bag he wore around his shoulders like a superman cape, his filthy green tee shirt was plastered to his scrawny frame. Water pooled around his feet--running from his jeans like he was a sculpture. His mouth opened whenever he noticed someone was near by and he stuttered out his cuss.

I glanced at my companion "Do you think it's Tourettes?" I asked. She was busy fiddling with her phone. "Yes?" She said "Yes, good. I'm calling about an obviously disturbed man..." Was she calling the cops? "Julie," I said "Not the cops! He's harmless". Julie mouthed 'wait' and gave whomever she was talking to our location. She flipped her phone shut with a snap and said "No, I didn't call the cops. I dialed 211- first call for help. That man is going to catch a hell of a cold and I don't want him to be sick."


I opened our umbrella and took her arm "Wait" she whispered and she took our umbrella and approached the man.

He saw her coming and began pointing and shouting in the direction of the mountain that guarded the city. The traffic was loud enough that while I could hear him, I couldn't make out what he was saying. He turned his ear toward Julie. She gave him some money from her purse.

"Julie!" I called out. She turned and started my way. Then she stopped turned back and handed the man my extra large black watch plaid golf umbrella. She ran towards me.

When she reached me she was soaked herself, but she was smiling slightly. She must have seen my puzzled look because as she took my arm she said "Sorry about your umbrella, Michael."

"Why did you give it to him?"

She stroked my arm gently and looked at me. Her eyes were deep with old hurt and new worries "His name is Jerry and he is my brother."

Important Calls

"Maybe there really are only 5 important calls in any one's life." she thought as she stood int he phone booth on 42nd Street, her quarter poised to drop. "Do I want to use this call now???"

Ugh. I pushed my bangs out of my eyes (note to self- I need a hair cut). This is crap! Why five? Why not two? What's the magic here?

5 calls. No more, no less. I let my brain run before my fingers on the keyboard. Five. Five members in my family. Five pets at one time. I've owned (or been owned by) five dogs - Lady, Boeuf, Doobie, Abu and Orie; and five cats - Mim, Puck, Griffen, Woodie, Pipen and Z - wait that's six....

How many important calls have I made?
1. To Mark - He's my therapist; the one who held me together when my life fell apart.
2. To my sister telling her to come home four days before Mom died.

Okay, those are the calls I've made. What about ones I've received?
1. The one from Rose telling me I had the curator job at the Governor's Mansion. I still remember that one although it's been 20 + years.

2. The call where Rose called in well - I can't come in because I feel too good - Because it was funny / not important in the scheme of things.

3. The one where Andie called about my first geek job....

Really though, I thought, most important things come by mail or in person.

I looked at the monitor. Crap, I thought, how was I going to get Juliet out of this phone booth? How was I going to rationalize...or rather how was SHE going to rationalize calling Dirk back? She had wanted to be on her own. Is she going back like a whipped puppy? Is she going back home? Is she joyful? Or is she calling to say neener neener I told you I'd be successful??

I didn't know. More importantly Juliet wasn't talking. She stood there in the phone booth - quarter poised at the slot. One hand holding the quarter and the other holding her purse, the phone receiver cradled between her shoulder and ear - nested in her wiry brown curls. She was wearing a brown suit with a tight pencil skirt. Brown. This whole thing felt ...... Brown.

Monday, September 24, 2007


For this piece we were given a situation and asked to write about it. Here's the situation:

Last week Jerry had been told to leave his mis-behaving kids at home. This week he headed out to the store, secretly glad that the kids were not with him. A bit later, though, he returned home with produce ground into his shoes, egg dripping from his hair, and a shirt covered with chocolate syrup. What happened?

Here's what I came up with:

Jerry pushed the cart through he crowded narrow aisles of the local general grocer. It was a small town grocer which had more goods than space and maneuvering with a cart was tricky on days when the store was empty. On a typical Saturday morning, when the place was packed, it was a nightmare.

Jerry was glad to have left his four year old twins - two boys who had gotten what Jerry called 'over exuberant' last Saturday - at home. Today he'd planned a quick trip in. The list, gripped tightly in his meaty fist read:
Ice cream (vanilla)
Chocolate syrup
white bread and peanut butter.

"Huh? oh, 'scuse me" he said as his cart nearly pushed over a boy of about nine. "heh heh, dint see ya there, kiddo." Jerry smiled at the boy. The boy shot his tongue out at Jerry and said "Shut up you fat ape."

"Huh?" Jerry reached across his cart and grabbed the boys ear lobe. "You need some manners, Sonny" he said.

The kid yelped and in a flash his dad? Uncle? Protector anyway - a man twice the size of Jerry - was there by the kids side.

The kid, the weasel, began stammering how he wasn't doin' nottin -- that Jerry hadn't even asked him to move, that Jerry had tried to hit him with his cart and how he'd just been mindin' his own business....

Jerry stood there, jaws agape as he realized that the bigger guy was the same manager who had chucked him and his boys out of the store last weekend.....

Saturday, September 22, 2007

For as long as she lived....

For as long as she lived, or maybe even longer, she would never forget his face as she climbed into her car and drove off. He looked at that moment like a lost little boy. She thought to herself for a moment "tell me to stay...." and then it was gone. For she knew he would never expose his emotions to her like that.

20 years married and it's come to this. She thought, "I'm expected to read his emotions and placate them before he knows he has them. She smiled thinly - almost a grimace - and realized that she had trained him to be that way. That expecting a change when you do something the same way for 20 years is a kind of self induced insanity.

The country side whizzed by and she settled in for the drive. Seven hours of road noise, setting sun, small towns and cornfields blown raw by the bitter March wind. Her special brand of intoxication rising through the cars floorboards.


No housework, no cooking, no cat boxes to clean. The project at work was over and she was, for the moment, unemployed. Her husband was behind her-left alone in the driveway and the open road poured in front of her.

His face, though, stuck with her. Years later it would be his face that she would see whenever she thought about the beginning of the end of their marriage. The sadness and sorrow at her excitement of leaving him behind.

Later she would be able to look at the memory of his face - frozen in that moment - and acknowledge that she, too, had had her share of sadness and sorrow about the end. Of course she would also realize that for her the end had actually begun 18 years before.....

While surfing the web....

While surfing the web I stumbled across Artie's blog. I wasn't really looking -- I mean I'd put my his name in the Google search bar and everything but I didn't expect to find anything.... Well, er, I'd hoped I would find something but I never thought it would be this type of a gold information. Anyway. I looked to see when he'd started his blog - 3 years ago!!!! Right while we were in the midst of our relationship!!!! And I didn't know??? I ASK YOU!!!


I once dreamed about riding an elevator to the 15th floor. At the eleventh floor, though, the elevator began to free-fall. Suddenly weightless, those of us in the elevator hovered near the floor in a panic. Except me. Stretching I pushed off of the floor and shot up to the ceiling. I was separate but still a part of the panic. And then I realized "Okay, this is it" and I was at peace with acceptance.


"Wait! That came out wrong!" He said as I gaped open mouthed at him. I didn't care what he had to say, I was done. He either wanted to be with me or he wanted to be with her.

He mistook my silence, my stillness, for forgiveness. he lowered his head and continued.

"Anyway, now she's pregnant and I don't know what to do."



I stared at him a moment longer. "Deal with the heart bit later" a voice inside me said. "You know what to do." Galvanized by that certainty I lowered my eyes so that my soul wouldn't destroy the image of coolness I was trying to maintain.

"Well, I know what to do."

I went to the hall closet and pulled down our largest suitcase.

"Pack" I said "Today you are moving out."

"That's not fair! You know it. C'mon. Let's talk this out...."

"Steven, we should have talked BEFORE you slept with her. Now you've made your choice. GET OUT." My voice sounded odd and cold - like I was at the bottom of a dark stone well - chilled to the bone. I could feel the coldness of his deceit griping my shattered heart.

"Please," he nearly begged "I've got no where to go."

HA, I thought and I turned my back. "I'm going out. Don't be here when I get back."

I headed out the door and started toward the shed. Tears blinded me but my feet knew the way.....

What would a man want in a 'guy' friend....

"What would a man want in a 'guy' friend?" I stared at the writing assignment on the white board. "Damn," I thought, "I'm clueless."

I breathe in deeply taking stock of my body - feet on the floor-check; head in the present-check; I glance at the white board again. "I need a feeling...."

I'm thirteen - maybe fourteen. Tym, the gender confused guy from across the street and I are sitting on the bank of the lake. His sparkly fingernail polish reminded me of the diamonds the water has when a light breeze lifts it before the sun.

"Waddayah wanna do?" I asked him.

"Let's fish" Tym said.

"No tackle" I say

He rolls his eyes and pulls from his pocket a paperclip and a long string.

"No bait" I point out helpfully.

"c'mon" he says getting to his feet as he fashioned the paper clip into a hook. "I know where we can get some cray fish."

We tumble across the road - him leading me tagging a long like a younger sister - although I was older by a month.

We squeeze through a hole in the fence entering the bird sanctuary that bordered the cemetery.

"In the marsh?" I ask

"naw, c'mon"

He leads us past the marsh skirting a pond to the wrought iron fence that surrounded the cemetery. He climbed a tree and jumped on to the fence-over it - and into the cemetery. He looked at me "c'mon".

Tom boy me. I climbed the tree and followed.

"I've never been in here before." I said.

"I have. I know my way around. Don't worry."

He starts down a hill toward a small lake. The grass - no marsh here - is meticulously cut. The bird sanctuary - a marvelously unkempt slice of wood, wet lands, and grass, looks brown through the fence. There are statues and large family stones that create a different kind of forest here. A silent forest. I breathe deeply and think of the bodies under my feet. A chill starts down my spine and I run after Tym.

He is squatting near the shore of the small lake. A statue of a winged baby angel looks over his shoulder as he lifts the muddy rocks at the shoreline.

"A HA!" he crowed as he lifted a cray fish. "Our first victim!"


Silence. That's what Mary likes about camping in the Mountains. It's early fall - too soon for deer and elk hunting, too late for summer travelers. She and Johnny have headed to the mountains for a last minute get away before his next job starts.

It's cold, though, at this time of year and they're almost at tree line. Mary snuggles back into her heavy sleeping bag trying to warm up either the flannel of her pajamas or the corners of the sleeping bag.

She glances in the direction of Johnny - snoring gently across the pop-up camper. It's dark and she can't see him but she imagines his warmth. He's on the opposite side of the camper because it's just the two of them - their girls, now adults, too busy with their lives to tear themselves away for a week with their parents.

Mary moves her wool covered feet. Her toes are numb. She listens to Johnny hrrremmmm, yrrremmmmm, ...... hrrrremmmm, yrreeeemmmmmm. His rhythmic breathing calls to her with a promise of warmth.

She climbs out of the sleeping bag taking care not to make too much noise. The table on her right brushes against her thigh as she feels her way across the camper. She climbs up on Johnny's bed and wedges herself up against him. Johnny is a big man - 6foot 3 and the size of a lumberjack north woods stories are written about. He always sleeps at a angle in the campers bed.

As Mary savors his warmth he moves in his sleep giving her room. Mary, while a neat five feet, is nearly as round as she is tall. She pulls Johnny's quilts over her and she melts into sleep.

Minnesotans are Horrible Drivers...

Minnesotans are horrible drivers because they only have winter snow covered rutty roads followed immediately by rutty roads blocked off by heavy equipment and orange signs. Orange season I call it, never mind that Minnesota is about as far from an Orange Grove as you can get.

I swore at the driver in front of me - "Oh yeah, like you didn't see the 'caution 1-lane traffic ahead' sign back there. "

Minnesotans horrible driving is made worse by the anonymity one assumes in a car - Minnesota nice - only a surface truth anyway - somehow evaporates like breath on wintry day once one is safe in the trappings of their car.

Many blocked people.....

"Many blocked people are actually powerful and creative", I wrote, and then thought - if I could only get this stick out of my ass I would be one of them --- the powerful and creative.

I know it's possible to go from blocked to creative but not today - not for me. Today I am stressed about the car. I just bought it, damn thing, and why is the check engine light on? Why are used car sales men such pricks? "It won't be covered by the warranty" - my ass. Do you, brainiac on the other end of the phone, know what's wrong with it? NO! Do you even know which extended warranty I have? NO! Shows to go ya you're an a-hole.....

Oh yeah, back to powerful and creative. If I were all powerful I would..... extract revenge on used car sales men. Wow! I am feeling a bit vindictive. How about if I try writing fiction instead of this mag piece I'm attempting on spec? My antagonist would be --a used car sales man!

Or, maybe, while I'm taking a break I'll watch the bit in True Lies where Ahnohld takes the used car sales man for a spin and imagines punching him in the face......

I get up, stretch, and walk away from the computer. My dog looks up hopefully. When I start down the stairs, he too, stretches, yawns and follows me down. About half way down he speeds up - knocking me sideways just in case there is a tasty morsel still in his bowl that I might snatch if I got there first.

I recover my balance and finish my descent. He greets me with a grin around the leash he's dragged over from the chair.

"Okay," I say, "I'm not working anyway."

And we head out the door into the afternoon sun.

Saturday, August 18, 2007

Another exercise...

This particular exercise included not only a starting line, but also an ending line. The start was:
I graduated from high school in 1974 and dreamed of living the bohemian life." and the ending was supposed to be "Why?" I am asked.

This was hard. Never mind the tense issues (the start is past and the finish is present), the piece is supposed to end in a question -- leaving the reader hanging...

I tried, though, and this is what I came up with.


"I graduated from high school in 1974 and dreamed of living the bohemian life." he said as he put the only visible remnant of that dream - a faded tie dyed shirt, torn and dirty with the kind of dirt that will never come out no matter how many cups of TIDE, Cheer, or whatever the detergent du jour you use - into his dresser.

"What happened?" I asked, noting that the rest of his apartment - a co-op albeit in the Village - was an homage to Kloss an upscale Danish designer; and that his hair was the comfortable mess that was due to a very expensive urban hair stylist.

He shrugged "I grew up. I learned that I needed to actually earn money. That smoking hashish under glass wasn't nearly as wonderful as baked Alaska or fresh tuna fillets. I learned that I liked what I could create when I thought, and hash just wasn't conducive to thought."

"Was it sudden? Like a bolt of lightening? Or did you discover this on mini-breaks from your hash haze?"

"Pretty much a combination. I started going clean so I could get a job and I started staying clean so I could work during the week. Then, one weekend with my buddies, we spent the entire weekend in a thicket in Central Park -- most of them were vets made homeless by the craziness following 'Nam -- anyway, we were smoking, dropping acid, tripping. The following Monday I stumbled to work, retched in the toilet and again in the sink when I put on my smelly clothes after shaving in the loo down the hall from my desk. I looked at my face - haggard and gray - in the mirror and thought 'I hate this feeling'. I struggled through that week but the next weekend I met up with the guys. Same thicket, same game plan, and I told them I was done.

"They were pissed - furious that the one who could afford to buy the stuff was leaving. But I did leave.

"The next Monday I went into the office and went up to Personnel - it wasn't called HR then - and I asked to speak with the Vice President of Personnel. When I went into his office I blurted "I'm a drug addict and I need help." Instead of firing me on the spot, he helped me stay clean."

"Wow! What a story!" I said. "He must have been pretty cool. Is that where you still work?"

"Why do you ask so many questions?"


See I didn't quite get there but I did end on a question... and in the present tense so I guess that counts for something.....


Wine.... and Whine....

"There's no such thing as 'good wine'. If you think it's good, then it IS good." she said. "What???" I replied. "Just tell me what I should buy--what would be good. I don't know these people--what their tastes are. I know...." I paused. What exactly did I know?

Don loved his grandsons, owned his own business, owned a scooter -- one of those two wheeled dealies that were supposed to revolutionize travel but really haven't lived up to their hype -- Kate drank wine. They had grown kids, a second marriage and a hot tub.

But here I was in a grocery store in Lincoln, Nebraska talking to the florist-cum-wine somalier asking her for direction as I faced the store's meager - but still too daunting -wine selection.

She looked at me and sighed. "Honey, how much do you want to spend?"

"$50.00 max"

"How many people are you buying for?"

"Two" I breathed deeply. This was getting easier. I could do this. My confidence rose and then she stumped me with "Foreign or Domestic?"

"I don't know" I wailed once again thrown into the depths of overwhelmed-ness (is that even a word?)

"Please," I was on the verge of begging for direction, "just tell me what you like."

"Honey, I like cheap and sweet - $4.99 for a bottle of Beringer Zinfandel is my style."

Shit, I thought, I picked up a bottle with a cool label. Shiraz from Austrailia. Hmmmm... Austrailia is cool, but is their wine any good?

At least, I thought, the label would look good on their shelf. That was my mode of operendis I decided. "There's no such thing as good wine - If you like the label, buy it."

First read....

Although my life is filled with honesty today, there is a past which is kept buried. The dichotomy between the two is stark and I try not to fall into the crevasse too often - It leaves me disoriented for days.

For example:
now: partnered rural lesbian living on a farm breeding horses and dogs.
then: suburban McDonald eating, van driving, soccer mom
see what I mean?

The past does come in handy sometimes. I still know my way around city traffic and I can drive on the four lane freeway without too much road rage or disorientation, but my life; dog food, stall cleaning, grooming and the care taking of animals (who don't yell "I HATE YOU" and "You're MEAN!" when I won't let them have an extra ration of oats) is much simpler.

The honesty, I think, comes from letting the feelings that I tried to stuff in my previous life, percolate and steep until they are as rich as the compost I dig into the garden each spring. My needs - for companionship, conversation, caring warmth and food, are met in a myriad of ways -each one healthier than those in the life I left behind....

I sighed as the dream left my head and I glanced at the clock in the van. "Amy's got dance in 15 minutes" I said to the back seat occupants as I pulled away from the curb.....

Warm up...

The dog finally went poop which meant I could go in out of the rain. I stepped inside, rain streaming from the baseball hat I'd had the presence of mind to slap on my head before heading out with the poodle. Not that my usual 3:00 a.m. 'do was anything I needed to protect - rather I'd had the sheets of my warm, comfy, and dry bed in mind. I hung the coat and the hat on the hook by the door and turned toward the steaming poodle. He looked woefully bedraggled and smelled of wet dog.

From the Atlantic Magazine....

"Celibacy had never been a problem, thank God" I thought as I pushed the cart which now contained all of my worldly possessions. "I must be naturally celibate"....

I started up Bergh's hill toward Robby's place. Robby had digs at the top of the hill in an abandoned garage. No heat, but a roof and warm companionship with cheap wine thrown in. The hill was steep and, something I hadn't noticed when I'd thrown my stuff into the cart, the carts right wheel was locked. It hadn't been much of an issue on the flat ground but now every few steps I was forced to kind of hitch it along.

I carried on; Me: step - push - "UH!" the cart: slide - stick "BANG!" up the hill.

The view at the top of Bergh's hill was usually nice but today the sharp fall air tore my breath - what breath I had left - from my throat and teared my eyes until they ran.

I blinked looking for the trail into the overgrown ditch that would lead to Robby's.

When I finally found it, the trail was even worse than I remembered causing me to curse the stupid cart. I kicked it, cutting my shin through my jeans on the sharp edge and that was it. I grabbed the cart and began pushing, shoving, throwing and shouting "f*ck YOU, you STUPID CART!!!! I F-nnnn HATE YOU!!!!

I shoved it with all of my might and it tipped over - spilling my black garbage bag protected belongings into the overgrown weeds at the edge of the forest. I was crying in earnest now. No longer blaming the bitter wind for the tears streaming down my face. I kicked my black trash bag and my things flew out of its mouth -- retching my life all over the place.


This piece is actually inspired by a novel I'd read a few years ago called "The Longings of Women" by Marge Piercy. If you want a good read about becoming homeless and relationships we find ourselves in as we age, pick up a copy.

Tuesday, August 14, 2007


Shit! Shit! Shit! That's triple shit if you're counting. I could not believe I'd been so incredibly naive. How could I have trusted her? She always told everything to mom. Now mom knew and there would be that special kind of mom-hell to pay. When, o when do I get to be an adult?????

I glanced at the calendar. Two weeks 'til finals, then a week of exams; one last bash with my buddies and then it would be time to board that bad boy and fly home.

Oh why had I told Ali about Ernesto? It was a FLING!!! The fact that Ernesto'd taken it so seriously and had bought me that ring was....well, to my mind, so totally inconsequential.

I went back to that call. Ali and I'd been chatting. My younger sister - my only sibling - was fresh out of high school. She'd taken a year off to work and was finally - to my graduate study addled brain - showing some signs of maturity. During that call - where we were commiserating about the goofiness of men -- well the men in our lives anyway -- I'd felt some sort of common bond. Kind of like the way I'd felt the summer I was 10 and she was five. I'd fallen off of our horse and given myself a broken leg and one hell of a concussion. She'd taken care of me and kept me company while I was bed ridden and for the first time in her short life she wasn't a complete PITA (pain-in-the-ass); she was actually funny - and good company.

It was that feeling that led me to relate the Ernesto story. Shit! Shit! Shit! Why had I forgotten that she still lived at home? Why had I forgotten that she couldn't, wouldn't, keep anything about me, my life, to herself?

Mom, I supposed, would be already planning the wedding shower. Expecting Ernesto and his brother Alois to come back with me to meet her, my dad and the chatty aunts that made up my family.

I had to nip this in the bud. I pushed the [play] button on the answering machine again. My mother's voice filled the room. "Hi Honey! Just calling to see if anything is new?" I grimaced. Yep, she definitely had heard....Shit! Shit! Shit!

She was confusing me....

She was confusing me. This was my tragedy, and I didn't know why she had to take ownership. I wanted to tell my story -- not sit back and let her take over. I stopped, drew a deep breath and said aloud "Stop!"

She looked at me as though I dropped my trousers or something. I looked back at her and said " this isn't about you. I wanted you to hear my story - I need to tell it myself"

Jen's eyes slid away and then she put her head down. "sorry" she whispered "I just get so involved...." her voice trailed off.

I understood. I knew how that felt. I often had owned Maggie's angst all those years ago. I pulled her into my arms and held her. She was much smaller than I'd imagined. Her head came just under my chin. I murmured into her hair "I love that you care" and then I realized that she was crying.

See. She always makes it about her!

Wednesday, August 8, 2007

Writings and musings

so this is where I'll post the stuff I write during our writing groups. I want my stuff to get read, but I don't want to clog my regular blog with it... so here it is.

How the writing group works:
We meet weekly at the Midtown Global Market in Minneapolis. Jen, our leader, gives us a line to start with -- a lead. Sometimes it's "Shit!Shit!SHIT!" or "Celebacy had never been a problem, thank God." and we, the writers, take it from there. As you'll see, my story that came from the Celebacy line had nothing to do with sex or sexuality. Go figure.

Anyway, postings will happen weekly if possible....