Starfish on the Beach


It is just past three in the morning and I am a few steps away from taking a final preoccupation to bed.

Do guilty pleasures phase out of our lives, finally become acceptable, OR ultimately dismissed as silly?

Or from years of Catholic brow-beating and shaming, does the Pleasure amass even more guilt? Is it more embarrassing, as you likely lied to yourself about such an inevitability? The wells of both guilt and embarrassment are surely bottomless

Does admitting that you enjoy and even sing along to “Seasons in the Sun” become easier or more difficult with time?

“But the hills that we climbed were just seasons out of time.” Is it even more difficult to admit that you know the lyrics by heart?

I wonder.

Three in the morning! My beloved is certainly pacing and counting cats, in the the most overlooked co-dependent talents. He finds it best to suppress any desire to nag, bother, or seem needy.

Shalom, shalom. Forgive my whisper. Let me quickly tiptoe to the bedroom.

Damn. I did it again! He will once again be cross about my dawdling into the wee hours.


The Visual Disturbance I Found Inside My Robe Pocket


A Brief and Late-night blurb from my robe pocket:

I was discharged late Friday, a week ago. Since then, Jon has been doting on me. His attitude hovers somewhere between clinical pragmatism, life-love devotion, and boyish wonderment. He’s also the strolling minstrel. And at least once a day I believe that his surname might just be Ratched.

While my healing continues, I spend my days revisiting more on my family and friends. Of course, I try to be appreciative and and less needy than some, the latter being a platinum-wrapped new goal. I shall work on it.

My discharge papers included a list of maladies about which someone somewhere seems to think that I complained while in the E/R. The funniest is “visual disturbances”. When I returned to my recently uncharmed life, I asked around. No one at UNC, nor of my home health team seem to know what those disturbances look like. It must be a Wake Med term for a Wake Med acknowledged and sanctioned condition.

Visual Disturbances? Are they anything like Trump’s toupee? Or America’s Funniest Videos? Or perhaps not unlike legendary automobiles the Vega, the Gremlin, and the Santa Maria? (Forgive me, Gentle Readers. I meant the Pinto.)

I am still laughing although not aloud.

And for now, I shall sleep in Slumber Land. If the future has become a static obstacle course, I must have faith that these sensitive Arms of the Universe will make us conflict-ready soldiers.

I do believe that Art will.

(Image: “Little Nemo in Slumberland” by Winsor McCay, 1906. That’s the illustrator’s spelling, not mine.)

My September Shaming by Sister Ed


Pondering these late September misstepped days of repair and salve, I have experienced a flashing of good Old-Fashioned Psychic Kodachromes. The half-century throwbacks left me thrown back fer sure. My heart was instantly charged with memories, as well as myriad questions concerning my Third, Fourth, Fifth, and Sixth Grade classes.

I have no memories at all of any first grade and second grade experiences at Lenox Elementary in Chapel Hill. None whatsoever! It’s as if I went from Kindergarten directly to Catholic School. Rather than spend years of therapy, I prefer dream that I skipped those grades, cherry-picked by Dorothy Maguire as an extra for some outrageous film parts.

Well, it could’ve happened … until the nuns censured me at age nine. “I was visualing your inspiring words. I would never daydream, Sister Edward.” I wanted to call her Sister Ed. Finally doing so at age 59 gives me no joy. She did, however, amuse me in other ways and anecdotes.

Sr. Edward Patricia had hidden a lockbox in her healthily pumping heart. The well-known warm and grabbable gorgeous girth protects and doles tools as we need them. And she guided fourth graders away from damnation.

That Sr Ed, formerly Pat and once Edward Patricia, sure was a doozie. She left her hormonal days as Pegeen Riley far, far behind her. Years later, she would pace the classroom, protecting her reluctant students from the world’s evil. She would guard the soul only to devoir it on a moist Saturday. While I’m sure mine wasn’t very innocent, my soul and I fit the remaining criteria quite amply.

I’m now like a bird. It suits the era’s tone. Ignorance keeps me safe and buys me time and a full set of dangling keys and pen-knives.

Please note: Details of the horrific peanut butter and jelly sandwich (c1965) have been held back for fine-tuning. Seriously.

(Image:  “Midnight Lullaby” by Dilka Bear, 2013.)

I’m Reviewing the Situation: Which Way, the Query?


I feel as though I should take September’s advice and look for those ageless life-reassuring sophomore’s books, and if I’m spent on such, step to “reaffirming” my quiet second look.
Life re-assuring is a calm, steady breeze;
Oh, your calm voice and gentle touch at once make gentle a “hard lesson”.

Life-reassuring is the denouement within Mr Cumberbatch’s Sherlock Holmes latest venture; on which to “drag aboard” a bloody drip and a better grip.
Life-reassuring is the last question on an assessment test; in a non-related Human Resources Department.
Life-reassuring is its answer, my pencil down far; too quickly.
Life-reassuring is sharing my brood in a never-ending first scene of a novel; yet put to words.

But I digress. Take my Promethean demeanor straight to bed. Take two metaphors and call me in the morning. I’ll tell you what to do.

(Image: “Reading at the Sea” by Vittorio Matteo Corcos, 1910.)

Dash My Wig and Bitch the Pot, Eugenia


On my nightstand in a stack of books, you’d find Bierce’s “Devil’s Dictionary” along with unmentionables, and a book of short stories by the Algonquin maven herself, a Most Real Dorothy. They’re both dusty from neglect with tiny paw prints forming swirls and arcs upon them. I am saving all of my modern era reading to the many months of anticipated convalescence at UNC. I will put that license to procrastinate in my wallet.

I refuse to be bored. I refuse to be lonely. I refuse to feel guilty.

Although I haven’t a clue as to when this might transpire, I am none-the-less reclaiming that time as mine. I’ll use that time in any way that I want: wisely, foolishly, or just gazing out a window and pondering. While it may very well be mentally exhausting to dissect and deconstruct my family’s dysfunctional legacy, it is still by my choice. I am cranky and cantankerous that way, not unlike Mr Bierce, were he in St Louis and if the air were permeated and thick from the Mississippi’s fragrant steam.

Crank is as cranky does. Aye aye, Ambrose, I challenge thee to a rather literate bitch-fest. We, as in you and I, can both reach into our bags of curmudgeonly metaphors and musty malapropisms. You have your “Devil’s Dictionary”, the Satan of which has yet to be authenticated. I can cite snippets and quips from J. Redding Ware’s “Passing English of the Victorian era, a Dictionary of Heterodox English, Slang and Phrase”. Whenever the mysterious Mr Ware found himself in a jovial way, he simply referred to himself as Andrew Forrester.

But I digress as surely both Bierce and Ware would as they too enjoyed the art of pondering. Bierce was British, a bit foppish, and five years quicker to rush such a compendium to print. Neither men, however, ever saw such a print, Mr W in 1909 and Mr B in 1914. We could suggest that the two books were both compiled from notes and then printed posthumously. With American writer and occasional bon vivant Bierce, we never really knew: he disappeared along with the world’s innocence. The Great War was demanding a forum for global communication and  a feverish media. Ferdinand made that so. Economics, politics, fashion, and transportation all followed suit, each in its own time.

All of that said, I too admittedly relish rate both wicked and caustic wordplay. Obviously I’d benefit from having read both books, having compared the implied unfold of Dandyisms, and from looking for shared lexicons. I’d also have computers and applications to do my bidding, without so much as a name. Even a century ago, a first name immediately gave the bearer a responsibility and a humanity.

It oddly would at once denote the gentility of a hard drive and a playful fondness for feeding obsessions their due.

(“Dashing My wig” = exclamation like “Fiddle-Dee-Dee” or “Egads!”); “Bitching the pot” = “pouring the tea!”)

Methinks I best go out and tickle my innards.

(Image: “Interpretation of Color” by Vincent Desiderio, 1997.)

Acceptance Seems to Suit Me


Young Man, it’s beginning to look as though we made it. The ideal lover must’ve skipped a few decades. I found him waiting for me when I neared fifty.

I no longer remember the litany of traits that he absolutely had to possess. Nor  do I recognize the unshaven, long-haired man who sternly looks back at me when I blow the dust off my razor.

Those previous relationships did little to prepare us. That’d be doubly so if the scorekeeper knew that my mind’s eye no longer compares or ranks or bandies the random regret around the sunroom.

Love gave my decades their Smiling Faces.

As he listens to NPR in the next room, my Beloved is wailing, albeit internally: “Oh, woe is me!” or “Oh, woe is he!” The over-enunciated names, the coy smiles, the romantic affectations no longer matter.

The anti-Christ is unable to fill my water glass with that delightful and most Southern of familial combinations. Guilt. Fear. Desperation. Dread. Emptiness. Of course, those feelings linger. I reckon that they always will. They, however and hardly ever, grab a chair and bully me with unspoken intentions.

My heart has reclaimed all of those well-intended moments from that ever-so-sweet sweet Icelandic boy.

The bigger, more boastful loves need neither resolution nor amends. The players are gone, having packed up the world before today and, perhaps, stacked boxes inside one of those millennial “Pods”. I don’t care. I can’t care

My heart only has room for today. And I’ve already given Jon any “Power of Eternity”.

I am ready for the ceremony and its pomp-less jubilee.

That would, of course, refer to both my pre-transplant and my post-transplant hearts and my ability to call them up for circumstance.

Young Man, save a seat for me near the front. Acceptance

(Image: “Untitled [Thinker]” by Esao Andrews, 2006.)

Purity Rings, Schotz Beer, and Grass Stains


“One, two, three, four, five, six, seven, eight. Schlemiel! Schlimazel! Hasenpfeffer Incorporated!”

Yikes, so starts the third most obnoxious theme for a 1970’s TV sitcom. Bested only by “Three’s Company” and “The Price is Right”, “Ode to the Nocturnal LaVerne No.3” has a moment of tastefulness and gentility among the myriad slapstick, farcical, bodily functions, and Burlesque-esse moments that seem never able to bind.

If not in Hell or Purgatory, those themes surely are in heavy rotation in one of ten waiting rooms for the Apocalypse. Smoking of all types is encouraged.

I rarely think of these shows unless a CNN interview prompts a new search, rife with possibilities doomed to remain dusty and tarnished. Times were easier and arguably more wholesome back then.

Emily Litella had a field day with fresh material, as she taught us all the pitfalls and pithiness of a modern malapropism. What would she make of the Republican Party behavior behind closed doors? Boehner would stick his tongue out and just claim his corner of the Chamber’s grand entrance. Silliness.

And now, Mr Bush is making an issue out of that Promissory Parade of Party Principles and the collective vow for the losers to pledge support to the eventual nominee. Pledge! As I think of the concept more and more, it makes me chuckle.

All I can think of is a Pledge of Purity ring and all that one might represent. I imagine that there’ll be new politico buzzwords for 2016: chaste, virginal, hard, soft, moist, and countless others that are queued to become mainstreamed and sweet Merriam fodder.

Would Jeb accept a purity ring from Donald? Would Carly kick the ring trade up a notch or two? “Ankle bracelets for Purity”? Really?

Oy ve. I’ll be humming TV themes all night: “Welcome Back, Kotter” “Love Boat”, “Nanny and the Professor” and … Ya know! It’s amazing how quickly we recall so many forgettable songs.

That will provide me with an engaging Friday afternoon mission. I’ll putz and ponder the possibilities.

“And we’ll do it our way. Yes our way
Make all our dreams come true
For me and you.”

Jeb and his Purity rings. Just how big are all of these Republican fingers? Just curious.

Today’s Tomato Trivia, As if Tomatoes Could be Trivial!

060_1960_theredlistSupposedly (and we Southerners mostly agree), Chapel Hill’s Merritt Grill has the planet’s best BLTs and BLTAs. They need, however, both coat check and baggage claim procedures.

After all, One will certainly return. One prefers the Double BLT with avocado on artisan Rye bread. One is getting a stirring of “wee hour” munchies.

I have a local friend who cannot, for the life of her, determine what “T” represents. True, I exaggerate but her query has gone unanswered since 2005.

The best of both yellow and red tomatoes can and should be eaten as if it were a fruit. Take a meaty bite, as one might for a golden delicious apple.

Grandmother Dorothy used to say “to-mah-toes”, having convinced herself that she picked up the affectation while a schoolgirl in the Cotswolds.

She, in fact, was born in Grand Rapids, Michigan in 1904. When she left home for studies at Oberlin, she didn’t look back. That is, not until the last moments of the cool and aloof Eisenhower years.

It is blasphemously and potentially dietarily incorrect to use a meat-free and, thus, vegetarian bacon substitute.

A veggie BLT should be eaten along side a lactose-free milkshake. My mouth is freakishly watering as I enjoy the tastiest of dreamy visions. But it becomes a small drip of colorless substitutions and lonely calories.

As for palette-pleasing and gastro-lubricating, mayonnaise is the only appropriate condiment. One might “stir in evenly” a diced jalapeño or favorite herbs. But the mixture blooms if chilled overnight in your icebox.

Oh how we love the homegrown summer tomato. We recall the years that our B and our L commingled with unusually superb Ts, yielding a king-worthy sandwich.

Here in the hinterlands, we may wait as many as 7 to 10 years for tomato perfection.

This season, we have been extremely lucky. My beloved and I each consume at least one tomato every day.

However, we first bow our heads in respect and gratitude to Saint Norma Jean, the patron saint of both safe harvest and ripe yield.

Vive les tomates beaux!

(Image: “Tomato, Something Unusual is Going on Here” by Milton Glaser, 1966.)