Dawn’s Early Light

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Long ago and once in Greensboro, I had a friend who had been trying desperately to quit smoking cigarettes. Dawn had tried everything! She tried yoga, hypnosis, various medications, and “low involvement” support groups.

What she wasn’t able to do, and this had always been her downfall, was muster even an iota of willpower or determination.

And then one evening, after a rather robust and fulfilling carnal romp with her husband, she lit a mighty Salem. She puffed away in a rather seductive manner as befitting the mood, focusing on lip expressions and smoke formations. Mind you, I wasn’t present and she confessed all to me the following day!

What she didn’t notice was that a cinder had strayed, landed on her sheet, and sparked a small fire. Before Dawn was aware of this errant ignition, the smolder had penetrated the sheet, the mattress cover, and finally the mattress itself.

Unfortunately, Miss Dawn and her dutiful hubby slept on a waterbed.

The burn ate through the synthetic casing just enough to weaken its fiber and, naturally, force a leak. A mighty geyser sprung forth … at that very moment. Dawn, in her rather dim yet charming manner, was rather relieved that the water extinguished any potential of further fire.

Of course, that was until she realized that the ashes had probably washed into the hallway. The weight of two bodies was further forcing water out with such pressure that, within moments, almost half of the mattress’ filler had been “evacuated”.

Dawn and her husband were on a king-sized island … about twenty feet from dry land.

That, my friends, was the day that Dawn knew she finally had to kick the nasty habit and quit smoking once and for all.

Mind you, Dawn’s sense of reason was not necessarily well-developed. After much forethought, she devised what seemed like the ideal solution … for her. She would simply smoke a joint whenever she craved a cigarette.

Of course, she wouldn’t sublimate ALL of her nicotine urges in this manner, just the excruciating ones that made her restless and perhaps a little bitchy.

Within a few days, she was smoking nine or ten such hand-rolled delights a day, including one in the morning as she enjoyed coffee and Jane Pauley’s banter. And yet another on the way to work, I am certain!

No one was actually the wiser, except for a few confidants who were privy to her new regimen. Dawn, remember, was already a kooky, rather pixilated woman with a very slow, very Southern drawl. What did change were some of her habits:

She once took rubber bands to her pant cuffs and made harem pants. Sadly, she wore these to her office and was thus admonished.

She lost her car in a shopping center parking lot, took a cab home, and ultimately infuriated her husband. Again, she was thus admonished.

And she started going to lunch at 9:30 each day. She likewise was taking her afternoon break by noon. She not only had gained fifteen pounds within a month, but she had created an endless cycle in which afternoons at work were simply Hell. And it was those times at which she really craved a cigarette.

Poor Dawn! Within a few months, she realized the folly of her strategy to quit smoking. She resumed that awful habit, normal lunch hours, and her previous lifestyle. She was quickly smoking over a pack a day again, having the last one right before going to sleep at night.

But when Dawn and her husband turned off the lights, they would cuddle in their new sleigh bed. Dawn found it finely fitted with a more traditional mattress system, a Serta pillow-top!

Dawn confided in me once that they actually slept more soundly, but that their carnal romps were much less robust than those atop the waterbed.

But she never feared such a flooding again!

And yes, Dawn did finally quit smoking … about a year later when she found that she was pregnant. She never again resumed the habit, at least according to local gossip and reports of the local fire volunteers.

That child is now in graduate school. And dear Dawn is president of a thriving software company.

She is also now fully aware that rubberbands are not appropriate accessories, and that harem pants are best worn behind closed and well-secured doors.

(Image: “Santa Maria” by Ray Caesar, 2007.)

Accepting Fear’s Exception

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I used to keep a journal filled with thoughts and doodles. It became obsolete over twenty years ago. At that time, the most productive and motivating outlet for self discourse was via email.

An afternoon of scribbling, without so much as a blinked scan’s proofread, made way to an equally-quick click of the always-busy “send”!

Years later, specifically in 2010, this very blog emerged from an raw, emotional heap of isolation, fear, exhaustion, and confusion. Tartuffe’s Folly, in a private way, became my salvation. The entire email option at once seemed silly as I had found a legitimate outlet.

The process of posting helped extract and explore my optimistic nature. Since then, I’ve been far more emotionally fit and my own best “hope junkie”!

Except on certain days, that is. Days like today. My thoughts drift into my rarely charted recesses of pragmatism and realism. To many folks, such talk is morbid and symptomatic of some evil neurosis.

But as they say in the deepest of Southern back alleys: “That don’t make no never mind.”
My 851 days of waiting for a new heart have given me all too much time for reflection. Now that I’m in the hospital until after the transplant, there’s no escaping the truth.

What if a donor heart is never procured? What if I don’t survive the surgery? What if my body succumbs to rejection impulses? After ten weeks in this room, my list of queries and hypotheticals continues to grow.

I’m in no way a “Pollyanna”. If I was a terrific candidate for the procedure back in December 2013, time has only eroded those odds. On some Sundays, the odds seem fated for only a fifty percent recovery.

Of course, my beloved and I can discuss the subject … but only insofar as neither of us becomes melancholy.

I know of two friends with whom I can share such intimate thoughts — a friend from college days and one from New York.

There are no definitive answers, no sure things. But if, in my most investigative deconstructions, I indeed have such thoughts, it likely suggests one thing.

I’m scared.

And today, in my most roundabout and rambling manner, I now can admit it to myself. I’m scared.

Mind you: broaching this discussion with a family member or close friend may yet be several Sundays ahead. But not now.

Similarly, I never shared my journals or my “emails to myself”.

Everything is a process these days. What better day than an April Sunday for a review?

(Image: “Vanitas” by Fernando Vicente, 2008.)

A Holiday That Evolves With Time (and Hormones)

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Easter has always been a complex and inconsistent holiday for me. When I was a relatively wee lad, the day was filled with baskets of fine chocolates, books, and ensembles perhaps better befitting a young dandy. We would attend church service and return home to a celebratory meal and a day of family bonding.

The imagery and explanations confounded me, however, as I struggled to link the Resurrection with a rabbit in a dinner jacket. Upon over-ponderance, I’d face the weary truths of kickball, grass-stains, and parental over-compensation.

As I approached the twitch of pubescent hormones, the treats were offered, naturally, far less frequently. We did, however, still go to Easter service which was always joyous and offered triumphant music. I realized at a young age that this day was the only one that, being Catholic, the hymns would be upbeat and melodic.

We’d return home to again share a special lunch and to reminisce about relatives I had never met. I would soon-after rush outside to join-up with my neighborhood cronies. I could always frolic until dark, since North Carolina was yet the only state that honored Easter Monday. The next day was another holiday!

As I became a young man, Easter became less of a special day, except that stores were closed. Many folks either went to the beach or spent the day with visiting relatives. Or savored moody independence, like I did.

I usually slept late, stayed in my robe, and spent the day either fervently reading or watching some Easter classic film that was hopefully neither “The Ten Commandments” nor some cloying Jeff Chandler chestnut!

Then as I started my journey of drifting toward and away from serious romantic relationships, the day always meant some spectacular meal: a festive brunch or elegant dinner party with perhaps a dozen guests. Certainly it was a festive day but no one really thought of Easter, its history, or its intent.

We made merry and indulged, and nursed a wretched aftermath.

Of course now I am in my reflective dotage and the day has further evolved. Like all my peers, I am prone to embrace nostalgia and share tales. Jon and I usually fix a special meal, nothing extravagant, but something out of the ordinary. 


This year, perhaps the hospital kitchen staff will make good on their vow to prepare something indeed special. If not, we can enjoy the richly and serene imaginary from equally imaginary open windows. And dine separately together.

We both have such fickle appetites and limitations, that “n’er the twain doth meet!”

Jon will play his sacred music most of the day as he swoons with the swell of the chords and the organ. We will savor a few treats. And we will reminisce about friends and lovers who have passed away and relatives that the other has never met or probably even heard mention.

It’s just the two of us, the cats, and of course the Easter bunny. I doubt I ever stopped believing in her. Yes, I learned long ago that the bearer of such sweet sentiment, gentle nostalgia, and special delicacies had to be a woman: a gentle, patient, and motherly type.

But alas and alack. I will sadly not be playing kickball this year, although it is not for lack of want.

Happy Easter, my friends. 
The Easter bunny is an angel; it’s an unwritten law of nature and divine order, at least at Marklewood and in #3702.

Personified Personas

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Historically, my alter-egos have always teetered on a mucky brink. That 60’s “Sybil” of 70’s Sally fame had no idea just how simple her life was. True, her ratings were always better.

Add to the mix a few moody ids and restless egos.
Hmmm. That sounds like a psychiatric country tune, eh Lillian?

Not to fear, these potential, but perhaps dismissed profile pictures all result from too vivid episodes of wishful thinking and subconscious projection.

Okay. Okay. I’ll admit it now. While in Sr Edward Patricia’s class at St Thomas More Elementary School in Chapel Hill (1964-65, “She Loves You, Yeah, Yeah, Yeah”), my self image was derived from Saturday morning images of Mighty Mouse, Johnny Quest, and Natasha Fatale (Boris Badenov’s paramour).

That was countered with an equal part 2nd grade dysfunction in Mrs Greene’s decidedly UN-Catholic class at Glenwood Elementary. When asked to raise our hands if any characteristics or circumstances apply to “us”, I once too often scanned the room to find I was the only 7-year old with a raised hand. (“Who here isn’t Protestant?” “Who has heard Foreign languages at home?” ETC. ETC. ETC.)

Hal and Margy found no resistance when they presented me with the notion of transferring. They surely underestimated my relief.

Neighborhood buddies (Damian, Mark, Carol) helped assuage my blossoming neuroses and need for control.

I also met who would become my first girlfriend while seated in the third row. For two years she encouraged my primary school bravado. We alternated spending weekday afternoons at each other’s house. She complimented my first pair of glasses, round tortoise shell.

And I learned firsthand the joys of distraction that schoolyard drama can have.

I cried when we moved away during the summer before fifth grade. My pen is raised to “J”, whom I never saw again until a chance moment in an elevator in DC fifteen years later. We recognized each other immediately.

(Image: “Caricature No. 61, Albert Clev” by Benjamin Roubaud, Panthéon Charivarique.)

Long Ago and Beyond the Blarney Stone


Saint Patrick’s Day celebrations have never come without mixed feelings or odd associations.

That was true when I was wrestling with my staunch German heritage as I grew up in the Post-Camelot sixties. Holiday celebrations involved very little that was either festive or libationary.

That was true when I questioned my maternal grandmother Dorothy about her supposed Irish ancestry. Even in grade school, I was certain that one doesn’t inherit one’s spouse’s nationality, even with Rights of Survivorship benefits.

She was born in Michigan in 1904 to a couple who was decidedly Anglican. By the fifties, however, she had taken Cavanaugh as both her maiden and married names … at least by my deduction.

That was of course true during my years spent with the anti-Christ who was indeed unabashedly Irish. One year, we spent the evening of the 17th enjoying the West End production of “Chess”. Afterwards, we embarked on a tour of good ole “Ugly American” bar-hopping.

As we later rounded the corner to our hotel, we were drawn into and argued at what turned out to be a drag bar. I should’ve never commented that extra dry Martinis didn’t seem particularly appropriate.

I best forego the seedier details that followed. Leave it with this veiled note: I was awake and stirring by 7am while the A.C. slept into noon and then dressed a little too leisurely and haphazardly.

Lastly, there was the benchmark trip to Ireland that followed five years later. George (Ooops. I broke confidentiality.) and I had bid on a two week all-inclusive holiday at a charity event. We scheduled it for mid-March not knowing that, as of the week before we’d be uncoupling.

He ended up spending the trip with an until-then neutral third party. I immersed myself in the NCAA tourney from home. I was guilt-free when I charged his credit card with a lavish dinner for six to L’Auberge Chez Francois. The night of his return, we each confessed disdain for the other.

I immediately planned my move back to Greensboro via an extended and healing vacation to Fort Lauderdale. (My employer had dissolved my division. At age 37, I was left with a severance package and a meager retirement match.)

And now we come to today. Although awake by six, the realization that it was St Patrick’s Day wasn’t fully realized until after lunch.

Since then, I have pondered: Spatzele, that oh-so green Windy City river, the anti-Christ’s damned Green Book obsession, my grandmother’s unanswered sighs, and all things “Magically Delicious!”

Erin Go Bra-less!

Yes, Sr Edward Patricia, I said it. Just please don’t tell Sr Mary Fitzpatrick.

(These are a few of my miscellaneous “green man” images from my iPod archives.)

The Chess Boys: Everything But Yul Brynner

12289597_1069713003072716_8351927731320183124_nWho among us can forget those Twelfth Night soirées of the late ’80’s and early ’90’s? The limitless Stolichnaya vodka shooters? The dreadful, yet mandatory sing-along with the Original London Cast Album of Chess?

Those, together with a Beluga and fixings station that was not unlike a Wendy’s baked potato bar, made for the merriest of Epiphanies this side of the St Pius X School for the Parochially Enslaved.

Only two of us have survived to today tell the tales, although we dare not phone each other. Even the anti-Christ is long gone. The passage of time has softened the now campy Andersson-Ulvaeus-Rice musical and made it almost listenable.

Except for “One Night in Bangkok”. I imagine it’s in heavy rotation on Hell’s Muzak station. By “heavy” I mean alternated with only “Billy, Don’t Be a Hero”, “Endless Love”, and “Playground in My Mind”.

Speaking of the anti-Christ: He’s probably adjusting to the afterlife regrettably arguing the differences between Chess’s London and New York productions. Ad Infinitem.

(PS: Enjoy a Healthy & Happy New Year and Feel Better Soon, Cousin Eve.)

Cold Cream (The ‘D’ is M.I.A.)

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Henry has been sleeping under my chin as I lay in bed imagining an improbable but increasingly craved beach romp. He usually has a fresh scent with a hint of lavender. Tonight, though, was different. Weirdly so.

He smelled just like my grandmother Dorothy always did. But that puzzled me and left me theorizing: Henry hasn’t used cold cream in years. And it so defined “Dodie” who incidentally had graduated from Oberlin in the early 20’s and later worked for the Smithsonian Institute. That perhaps was where she learned to neatly archive her secrets.

She was arguably the moistest person I have ever known. I used to mumble to my sister: “Quick! Secure the paper towels. Get the loofahs to a secured location.” I often thought that she could definitely befuddle the Brawny spokesman.

My mother called my grandmother only as Dodie. Just to bug her. Ah the tales of dysfunction always simmer this time of year.

It may just be time to get out the very dusty Pressure Cooker. I shall name it Dorothy Helen in memoriam.

With Neither Maize Nor Wattle

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I was reminiscing this afternoon and sharing with Henry my most memorable Thanksgivings. It was a broad task for sure. But I tried.

Best Food? 2001 at my sister’s. No one can best her Prime Rib and Brisket. And that year, we also had turkey and oysters and a lot of people.
I was extremely emotional because Michael died just a month earlier.

Most Fun Thanksgiving? 1989 at the house I shared with the anti-Christ. The day stands out because everybody was happy and mingled well. We had moved in two days earlier and I was up all night organizing all our new kitchen. The weather was perfect.

We danced, listened to music, hung out on the deck, and threw a frisbee with our sheepdog.
After folks started to leave, three particular friends, my sister and her husband each fixed a cocktail and secured a seat for ROUND 2.

Most Forgettable?  1974 at my mother’s. My Father insisted on coming over. They had divorced 8 months earlier and he was living in Dallas and in a relationship that he rekindled from 1951. He showed no interest in my sister’s first year in Middle School or my freshman year at UNC. As soon as our utensils were gathered on plates, Polly and I left. It was all just so wrong

Most exotic Thanksgiving? 1958 in DC, but my mother was in Minnesota where she worked for Eugene McCarthy.

Legend has it that my father invited all of his friends who were from Germany, Italy, Kenya, and other points in between. After cocktails, everyone went into the dining room to eat. I was sound asleep on the sofa in the livingroom.

I woke up at some point … and crawled and toddled all around the room. As I advanced I looked into each glass and ate the garnishes. I happily dined on mainly cherries from Manhattans and olives from Martinis. I also finished each drink.

When dinner was over, my father and guests returned to the livingroom and found me sound asleep. Okay. Okay. I had passed out on the previously mentioned sofa.

The rest of the day unfolded as one would expect. Yes, my mother was livid when my Father confessed about a month later.

Finally, my most earnest and better prioritized Thanksgiving? 2011. Jon was recovering from a life threatening illness and I had recently had yet another heart attack.

Life had quickly become fragile. Nonetheless, we celebrated our union and found that, yes, we actually could afford a leg of lamb.

It is now four years later. Jon is much better but ridden with ailments of being almost 70. I’m still waiting for a heart. Henry is almost 13. He is your typically lazy tom but would even “turn pussy tricks” if it meant an entire turkey slice might fall to the floor. Since I am “projecting” with this post, we’ll just say He hopes that the turkey slice cascade to the floor. And that Claudja and Hermione are watching some football game.

We will share Thanksgiving with: my sister and her gentleman suitor, my niece Sara and her husband, my niece Sophie and her husband, and my niece Aubrey. My sister’s ex-husband, his wife, and young son will join us.

I will not try to understand the unfortunate inclusion of the latter nor will I let it interfere with the joyous part of the day. It may very well be the last time we are all together.

I am confidant to assume that we’ve each already endured a questionable, perhaps grossly dysfunctional Thanksgiving.

“Receive” will thus be Thursday’s Groucho Marxist “Word of the Day”. (К сожалению об этом.) I intend the word “receive” to invoke that 70’s and 80’s serendipitous suggestion for welcoming a positive karma.  We’re nonetheless surely due for a Cohen-esque Perfect Day.

And if not? Groovy. Bring it on, My Friend. Bring it on.

(Image: “The Small Village Torzhok” by Konstantin Ivanovich Gorbatov, 1917.)

Commuting Fate & the Daydreamy Mr Tapper

Art AuctionsWhen I was 30 years old, I worked from 8am to 5pm, endured an hour’s tedious commute to/from, and generally worked every Sunday. I did all the cooking, shopping, housecleaning, and gardening. The anti-Christ and I entertained often, the detail of which were left to my discretion and execution.

YET somehow I managed to get everything done on both my work and home agendas. The anti-Christ and I went to the movies each week, attended most of the Kennedy Center events, and made time to go shopping in Pentagon City.

We also traveled frequently and impulsively: monthly to New York and three or four times a year on some indulgent holiday to Provincetown, Martha’s Vineyard, Key West, or somewhere more exotic. The AC got all the airline travel points in the separation decree. I got the playbills.

Today at age 59, I am retired and have given up volunteer work. Jon does all the driving, marketing, and household missions. I spend most of my oddly-configured day on various writing projects and watching CNN. I’ve been an election junkie since 1968, but Jake Tapper somehow makes it sexier and wittier.

I no longer can cook anything substantial … and certainly not a complete dinner with courses. The oven is almost exclusively for heating DiGiorno frozen and self-rising sausage pizzas.

These factors weighed and considered, I still end my day with frustration and self-flagellation because I leave so many tasks incomplete or untouched.
Time now gets away from me and does so rather quickly.

I am never able to reach forward and just grab it.

What I can do, however, is reminisce back to a time when I could do it all. Of course, I am much, much happier with my beloved.

(“Three Studies of Lucian Freud” by Francis Bacon, 1969.)

The Perfect Wine to Compliment a Face Mask

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Freshly picked berries, a still warm Bundt, a Gewürztraminer with an odd hint of basil, and an unopened jar of an Erno Lazlo facial mask cream. The hummingbirds hovered closely. The year-round inhabitants of New Jersey’s historic Joyce Kilmer Service Area privately smiled politely, not quite sure whether they should be nervous.

Toby and Damian questioned their motives and were now certain they were indeed sending mixed signals.

Fleur de Lisa and Neeley shared a sweet, questioning wink … albeit of a private and reassuring nature. Were they leading the boys on simply by remaining open to the notion? Aren’t all Saturdays meant to provide both score and script?

All four picnickers felt some type of guilt. And that guilt placed in four distinct notches on the Sieber-Markle Continuum of Guilt and Other Malfunctioning Emotions.

By that point, Toby had poured each of them a “separate but equal” glass of wine. The story in their eyes traveled quickly around the blanket, coming to rest on the bottle’s neck.

“Salut” “Here’s to the noble hummingbirds!” “To us! To our individual stories and the one we’ll pen together” “Cheers, my friends, and dance. The Bossa Nova knows no shame.”

Damian went to his truck to fetch another chilled bottle of wine. He also needed a few moments of privacy in his Dakota to rearrange his sexy charm and to rehearse the verbiage.

It’s a boy thing.

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

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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.)

Acceptance Seems to Suit Me

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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.)

And It’s Only Tuesday

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There are mornings on which I think back to how life actually “felt” in the days without computers and instantaneous communications and transactions. Although it becomes increasingly difficult to do with any clarity, it is still comforting to visualize life with dial-tones, newspapers, and night-long election returns.

We were less likely to rush to judgment; rush to physical reactions; and to rush to verbal responses. It was worth the time to sit down.

Nowadays, the constant barrage of “all things instantaneous” is exhausting, depleting, exacerbating, and a bit frightening. The word “stress” is used probably ten times as often as it was in the 80’s, and perhaps only five times more-so in the 90’s.

I’m tired. It’s just Tuesday. And it’s just past seven in the morning.

There did seem to once be a time when we looked forward to our days.

We also got more sleep. There was such a concept of “bedtime”. And intimacy was more likely to flourish in the home … whatever its components were.

My hatches are unbattened. My guard cowers listlessly on the floor. My motivation is sleeps fitfully in the guest room.

Wasn’t there a time when Tuesdays were less tiring, less dreaded?

Now, I’m just tired. And it’s only Tuesday.

(Image by Ricardo Renedo.)

Do you, Jonathan Howard, Take Yours Truly?

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Days are often long, lonely, sweltering spans of time. Others pass with the wear of a moment. In the past few years, My beloved and I have yielded to both, fretting in fear and cowering in some intimate anticipation.

Our separate lives and the one we share will hopefully endure the bloodied sutures of this harrowing unfold of divine operations. I plan on it. Henry plans on it. Jon is an unrepentent skeptic and relies on my plans. I dare you to quote Mr Burns or Mr Murphy.

Now together for almost fourteen years, we have had quite a few candid discussions about marriage. Yes, beachside nuptials are an option for the two of us. But my generation has fought most often and harder for equal rights, not really marriage.

As it is, the topic is perfect for the occasional shared breakfast. We can obsess and brainstorm “ad infinitem” and then retreat to our upstairs/downstairs separate worlds. I can stretch out in my chair to ponder while Jon props up his legs and meditates with the hummingbirds.

Fourteen full years later, we are no closer to a decision. Perhaps you have advice, Gentle Reader. We must consider inheritance, rights of survivorship, and income taxes. We both worry about the other and his coping skills.

For me, it’s a triple wham of a notion. Southerner that I am, the whole process of finances are just not mentioned. We are both aging co-dependents who make acquiescence seem an artform. I am from an extremely liberal and Bohemian Catholic family. Jon grew up among mid-Western “Southern Baptist ” evangelical types.

Do we marry? Do we simply create indisputable legal documents? We both have sisters who’d likely not dispute anything whatsoever. I have, however, heard that declaration before and seen it throw a grieving mate into the inlaw fury from Hell.

So as this is Friday and “just a day”, please advise me. My mind’s eye debates in gray tones. Do Jon and I just ride out our dotage? Or do we create a magnificent moment?