Saturday, December 3, 2016

Posting for Zena McFadden

Born

Deep South
Land of contradictions
Ever victorious
Soundly defeated

Sticky mosquito buzz
Colonial Georgian hell
Summer above the gnat line
Rich folks up past Macon

Run from dem gnats
Broiling days
 -- leaving the darkies
Down below
Swimming in malaria sweat

Poor white share croppin’ bastards
Fend for themselves
No better off
Floating above the darkies
Barely breathing

Pine tar aroma
Couldn’t wait to leave
Headed for the Coast
West Coast

Freedom

Friday, November 25, 2016

Green Cap


Tiny green cap
Slumbering in the street
Dreaming of the little head
Does he miss you?

Mourning his bareness
The tousled redness 
Locks uncovered
Did he forget your gentle hug?

Cold wind whips your edges
Icy rain fills your basin
Despairing your fate
Does he miss you?

Tiny green cap
Ground into pavement
Weeping in winter
Forgotten and forlorn

© November 25, 2016

Friday, August 26, 2016

You look good for your age


I heard this at 43
running 6 days a week
in my sexual prime
what?
You say I look good for my age.

Women with image issues
media victims
cultural slaves
But say what
I look good for my age?

I didn’t wanna it hear then
at  65 
with sagging skin
Tell me now
 I still look good for my age? 

Boys
keep your backhanded compliments
Just tell her she looks good
leave it there
or shut up

©  8/26/2016

Saturday, August 6, 2016

until my death

until my death

I've given you away four times
In the end,
always taking you back

I was not the special one,
your first born desire
Still, only I, carry you

Tucked beneath your mantle
Until my death,
bearing my daddy’s name

© August 6, 2016

Wednesday, August 3, 2016

Thoughts for Today

"Your little will can't do anything. It takes Great Determination. Great Determination doesn't mean just you making an effort. It means the whole universe is behind you and with you--the birds, trees, sky, moon, and ten directions."
Katagiri Roshi
--------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------

Don't be attached to the result rather be immersed in the process. 
I said that. © August 3, 2016

Friday, July 22, 2016

My morning practice

I spied a tiny yellow dot
snuggled, stuck to the title page
“ From the Hand”
               
It shouted
get that hand working girl.

Tell your truth.

 ________________________________________________________________

Dancing
Words on the page
With limbs outstretched

Dancing
Whirling for love
With truths revealed

Dancing
Only for beauty
With no care

© July 22, 2016

Wednesday, July 20, 2016

Phoenix

I will rise
as the phoenix
from the bed of  your perfidy

Fly as an eagle
above the ruins
of your  despair

Immortal
invincible
I shine

© July 20, 2016

Thursday, July 14, 2016

Monday, July 11, 2016

New Design.

So yesterday I (with Claudia's help) figured out why people could not sign up to follow me....
I was using a piece of art work I made as the background....

It's much plainer now; however, if you want to follow now you can.

:)

Sunday, July 10, 2016

© 7/10/2016

Off to write

I am off to a wonderful week of writing, learning, and sharing with the fabulous Rosemary Daniell at the Zona Rosa workshop.
http://www.myzonarosa.com/


Monday, June 27, 2016

Characters ~ The Sacred Cow

The Sacred Cow- Home of Aunt Ruth’s Glass Grape Starlets
The Sacred Cow had its ample share of curious characters. They ran gamut from foreign dignitaries to the Egyptian bus boy who only stayed in America for a few weeks. He said “American women are mean and they have ugly skin—full of spots.” Egyptians didn’t have freckles. Was he on some sort of North African Rumschpringe? A few months after he left us we received a card from Egypt addressed only to “Mrs. J’s Sacred Cow” near W.72nd Street. Annnnnnd it’s a touchdown for the post office.

One of the regulars at the Cow, Blanche, lived at the top of the Ansonia Hotel. She was a longtime resident, having lived there since she was young. I met her when she was in her early 80s. She was rail thin and had the voice of a lifelong chain smoker. Her less than dulcet tenor tones sounded a bit like way too many martinis and cigarettes. When she visited the Cow she always sang a tune before she left. Leaning on the piano, cigarette and drink in hand, she belted out “Come to Me My Melancholy Baby.”

She told me, that when Plato’s Retreat was still open, she “liked to go to the basement and watch.” Plato’s, which had been in the bowels of the Ansonia, followed on the heels of the Continental Baths, a gay bathhouse where Bette Midler created her stage persona of the Divine Miss M—and where Barry Manilow accompanied her on the piano, sometimes clothed only in a towel. When in Rome... Unlike the baths, Plato’s Retreat was a heterosexual swinger’s club for couples—or breeders as straight people were sometimes called. I was not sure how Gladys got in? Maybe she watched through the window or had a long time resident’s VIP pass. Perhaps she just stood sideways and nobody noticed her—she made Twiggy look fat.

Once a month, at 4 pm, 10 Italian men visited the Cow. They were all in their 50s with the exception of one older gentleman to which they all deferred. Unless they were talking to me, they spoke Italian. I made sure I was only in the dining room if I had to be near their table, otherwise, I stayed in the bullet proof kitchen. I’m not saying they were mafia. I am just saying if it walks like a duck…

The gentlemen were always accompanied by two bodyguards whom, regardless of the season, wore trench coats. They were stationed at the bar by the front door. One of them, Johnny Boy, once offered to help one of the servers with her career. This most likely would have been a web of allegiance best circumnavigated however tempting it might have seemed. Struggling artists often tired of selling steaks and eating humble pie but, in the words of The Eagles, “every form of refuge has its price”. Sinatra was an amazing artist, but, one had to wonder how much he might have owed the family. Janice decided no—smart move.

All business, the gentlemen were polite, paid cash, and tipped generously.

Generous tips made serving worth the trials and trepidation. Too many people failed to understand that the lifeblood of a server’s income has always been the tips. It steamed me when people didn’t tip well. (Perhaps military and food service should be mandatory?) Tips were also shared with your support staff—bussers and bartenders. A twenty five dollar tip was stellar or a could be slap in your face, the face that always had to reflect joy at being able to serve—never mind the crap.

Two regular twenty fivers at the Cow were Joel and Jaime. A businessman from New Jersey, Joel, wore lots of gold. He was charming and gregarious with the taste of a frog. Along with the gold chains around his neck, he wore his shirt open half way down to his waist in keeping with the Saturday Night Fever/Travolta fashion meme. The chains were accompanied by a diamond choker that spelled out his name and a solid gold piece that measured about 4” x 3” which rested on his furry chest. The 4” x 3” was the Ten Commandments, Old Testament baby. And on his pinky, the pièce de résistance was a solid gold elephant head with ruby eyes. It wasn’t a big as a golf ball, but pert near. It didn’t matter if Joel came with just his wife, one another couple or ten people, he always tipped $25.00.

Jaime worked for the Mexican Consulate and was my least favorite patron. He could be counted on to arrive just before closing and to run you ragged, all the while treating you with disdain. It seemed important to him to make sure he made you constantly aware that you were part of the serving class. Like I didn’t already know. Once, I found Miles, one of our bussers, at the dishwashing station washing his hands in what was left of Jaime’s Dom Perignon. He was cleansing himself of Jaime’s assholery. Bravo, that was the spirit.

In very short order, I had my fill of Jaime. I began to ignore him. As I walked by his table one night, he snapped his fingers and said ‘young man, young man.” I whipped around saying “I am not a young man.” Then, spinning on my heels, I high tailed it for the kitchen. All the servers and bussers, regardless of sex, wore the same outfits—black pants, black vest, men’s dress shirts, and a black bow tie. To be fair, I was really skinny and have always had broad shoulders. My hair was the shortest it has ever been in my life, so maybe I looked like a young man from the rear. Puh. Ruth said he told her I didn’t like him and he didn’t want me to wait on him anymore—Hallefuckinlujah. I said to Ruth (in my sweetest voice) “I am so sorry he feels that way, I don’t understand.” Right, I didn’t understand my ass— I was able to look quite angelic on cue. Huwhatevah! I didn’t have to wait on him anymore. He could keep his attitude and his lousy twenty five dollars.

Midwestern businessmen in town for conventions, some looking like they had just arrived in OZ, frequented the Cow. There were times when I wondered if they knew that the lovely girl they were entertaining at dinner had alternate plumbing. Let’s hope they weren’t too disappointed when the final showdown came. Maybe they did know and were just feeling frisky. With eleven million souls mingling about, it was easy to feel unencumbered in the city. Who was going to know what you had been up to on your trip? What happened in the city stayed in the city, unless, a nefarious microbe hitched a ride home with you. Sadly, AIDS proved to be just such a deadly rider. Meanwhile, to be fair to the gentlemen, some of the girls really did look like gorgeous women. “I said, hey honey, take a walk on the wild side. And the coloured girls say Doo doo doo Doo doo Doo doo doo doo …”

When the toy convention was in town, we were slammed for two solid weeks and nobody got a night off— period. There was something about those men who made their living creating and marketing kid’s toys. They were a blast to serve. Lots of times we got toys or candy bars along with our tips. One slender, impeccably dressed gentleman always ordered lobster tails. If you were lucky enough to get his table, he gave you one of his lobster tails for your dinner along with half of his bottle of wine. Dinner, wine, and a tip! What was a girl to do?

About midway through the toy marathon, we all began to hit a wall of exhaustion. Handsome Pat, a former medic in Nam and now a New York City cop, would take the girls to the basement and give us free B12 shots. That had to be illegal. Well, he did take us in pairs. After the toy run, I felt I was in need of a sojourn in the south of France.


© 6/27/2016

Monday, June 13, 2016

June 13 inspiration

"Never bite off less than you can chew."
-- Freddy Addy, at 14, the world's youngest soccer pro


"Act like nothing is wrong. Live like there's no tomorrow."
--Rick Mashburn

Men are not smarter or more knowledgable than women...they just had more unencumbered centuries to do stuff.  Not all of them are the enemy.
--I said that. 

Wednesday, June 8, 2016

This

White people are a minority world wide... we are the product of the ice age. Over eons we lost our color--and only those with the palest skin did not die in childbirth because they had not developed rickets.  This does not make pasty colored people better; it makes them more prone to skin cancer.
If you don't believe in evolution, then you get the flu vaccine from 1970...try that one on for size.
We need to get over it and on with life... we are all part of the same human family.
America is becoming more brown--to match the world at large. California and the southwest is becoming more brown...like it used to be.
Europeans shipped Africans all over the globe.... the chickens have come home to roost... Embrace your brothers and sisters.
Love your mother--the earth.

Tuesday, June 7, 2016

Grapes of the earth

We humans are connected on an elemental level...though we have, for eons, refused to admit this fact.  We are teensy homo sapien grapes on the vine of humanity that stretches back to the first territorial apes... our vine grows from mother earth.

We are but twinklin conglomerations of stardust vibrating in physical form.  It has always seemed odd to me that, as a species, we have been so xenophobic.

Once I started teaching music appreciation to college freshmen, I delighted in telling them we are all African--just to watch their little southern egos twitch.

Post racial my ass.© 6/17/2016

Saturday, June 4, 2016

June 4

"If you don't bring forth what is within you, what is within you will kill you."
--The Gnostic Gospel of St. Thomas





"Empty the glass ofyour desire so that you won't be disgraced. Stop looking for someone out there and begin seeing within."
--Rumi

© 6/4/2016

Thursday, June 2, 2016

For Today: Rumi

"Woman is a ray of God. She is not that earthly beloved: she is creative, not created. "
--Rumi

Tuesday, May 31, 2016

Memories

You don't like my version of events?  Write yer own damn story.  

Memory is subjective. 


Once I counted up all the lovers, boyfriends, husbands, and one night stands.  Scared the hell out of me.  Sorry guys... I forgot some of your names. Then, for days...

Isn't it ironic...the only time I ever got an STD was from my philandering husband. 

Monday, May 30, 2016

Note to self:

We are inextricably entwined in the electricity of the etheric web of life, but how did Walt Whitman know about this body electric?  Didn’t scientists discover this after his passing? As a part of the spectacular family, why have relationships been so bloody difficult?  Oh, right, we arrive on the earth plane to experience and understand restriction.   What better way than in a relationship.
       Dealing with other humans, especially when sexuality clouds the issue, has always been my greatest trial.  I am no good at the make them wait for the milk game either. Is it truly all about the hunt for men?  I used to wonder: what if I marry some poor slob who is an absolutely failure as a lover? How would I know what I was missing if I never tasted the wine?   We try on clothes don’t we?  None of this ever made any sense to me.  The idea of being intimately welded to someone who did not fulfill my needs or, worse yet, who made my skin crawl, gave me the shivers.  
        I was in need of fire.
       I came of age in the time of random sex-- the 60s and 70s.  I admit I tested the waters.  Nevertheless, I was not in the mood for random sex.  Entwining my subtle energy in the act of physicality surely was meant as a bond between souls, wasn't it?   Pure lust was another ball of wax.         
     Well, at the moment, I was married to Lenny, but not in the biblical sense.  
  In desperation, I asked him “Should I have relationships with women; maybe I am really gay?”  “No, dear. You like men way too much”   He had replied reassuringly.  We used to admire young men together.  Once when I was musing about lesbian relationships to Tom, he said “they seem fraught with the same control issues, the same misunderstandings.”  
       Ok, for the moment, I ditched that curiosity. Maybe, I was just not relationship material.  Was I somehow so wounded I could not keep it together?  Was I too uncontrollable and volatile?   If you worked on a relationship long enough, was there a pay off at the end of all the struggles? I couldn’t seem to make it past the two year mark.   Still searching for the white dress?  Wasn’t a career enough? The problem was –what career?  
      I wondered what was beyond the 2 year mark of the relationship power struggles. Joy seemed an improbable ideal. If I managed to somehow live to the ripe old age of say 150, maybe I could find out.  I have known couples whose relationships seemed happy and even sounded joyous. I don’t know if it’s an intrinsic human need or just programming ---but women of my generation did seem compelled to attempt to snare the white dress on a quite regular basis, regardless of the consequences.  I once saw Tammy Wynette on the Johnny Carson Show and she said “I felt compelled to marry everyone I dated.” 
     Men, it seemed, did not feel this way. Even though they were attracted to your fire, most men I have met still wanted a woman that was a reflection of what they were-- without too much of a mind of her own. This conclusion might have been a gross oversimplification, but it seemed true of the ones I attracted. Note to self: work on your attraction paradigm.
© 5/30/2016

Quotes for Today.



"Nothing is worth doing except what the world says is impossible."
--Oscar Wilde

"Nobody sees a flower - really - it is so small it takes time - we haven't time - and to see takes time, like to have a friend takes time."
--Georgia O'Keeffe
-------------------------------------------------------------

There is no such thing as "try"... you either do it or you don't--with varying degrees of success.  

There is no such thing as procrastination; there is no tomorrow; there is only now.  So you cannot procrastinate for you are merely chosing to do or not do in the present. 

Throw out the word should... remove the words "I have to"... you are here now.  Do what you want to do, what you are able to do.  Don't bemoan having things to do.  There will come a time when you turn that corner...the corner no one can follow. 

Opinion makes you suffer; be joyous now. 

--I said that.
©5/30/2016

Sunday, May 29, 2016

Nashvegas and Trashing the Doormat


What the fuck am I doing here?

            Once we got to Nashville, Nicole and I piled into Jack’s car and began the search for housing. Now, exactly why didn’t he start looking for a place to live before we arrived, I will never know. I was shocked to find out just how afraid he was of discovering a different way to get somewhere.  He had been living in the Nashville area for several years--surely he understood the flow of the topography?   IF I65 and I24 both lead into Nashville, and we were in Franklin which was south west of Nashville and we wanted to go to a town that was due south of Nashville, don’t you think we could have taken Highway 96 east and have found this town called Triune? He would have no part of it— we had to drive all the way back to Nashville then go East on Old Hickory Blvd. to just head south on Nolensville Rd. "Going around your ass to get to your elbow."
We finally found Triune—15 miles south of Nashville and just 12 miles east of Franklin on Highway 96 and 13 miles west of Murfreesboro. Even though I had never been to Triune, it was perfectly obvious to me that we could have just taken 96 East and arrived at our destination. The terra firma was connected wasn’t it?   I mean the sun still worked in the same way it had for millennia-- right?  We did survive as a species before GPS, didn’t we?    Finalmente—we arrived in Triune. I was tired of driving around with Mr. too afraid to ask directions and too stubborn listen to me.   
            Our new home was to be a trailer. I had never lived in a trailer before—more fodder for the country songs I would never write.   Why did we move way in the country?  How could either of us hope to create income in the middle of a bunch of farmers? We had two cats and a bird--too many pet fees.  In Triune, there were no pet fees and the cat population eventually bloomed to over 20.  
 I liked the peace of the country and grew to know and like the farmers.  I needed solace to begin healing from the loss of my mother.  But, what had I gotten myself into this time?  Years ago when I divorced Jack, Mehair’s husband said “American women are so foolish; they think they can cure or change men.  They never can. A man that leaves his family will never change.” Note to self: did you put your ears in the basket along with your brains? IF so, kindly retrieve them as soon as possible as you may need them shortly.
            The first thing Jack did was turn down a road gig. “I didn’t want you to unpack the truck all by yourself.” What?  Right—of course, he waited until after the fact to tell me --he knew I would have told him to take the gig. Drummer boy refused to do anything but play the drums-- so why did you turn down work?  I began wondering what had he been doing for that couple of years he had been in Nashville. He wasn’t teaching—he excelled at teaching.  He gigged only sporadically.
It took me about two weeks to realize that this was the same load of poop in a slightly older less enchanting package. The clouds of fog began to ooze from my gray matter.  He stared at the television all day. He smoked and drank continuously, refusing to get any kind of job. Only if a gig dropped in his lap would he move. It didn’t matter if there was a child to feed or not.
Once, he worked a couple of days as a day laborer and, I suppose, in his mind, that was a huge contribution.  He was so dramatic about it.  It didn’t take long for the ten thousand dollars I inherited to dribble away.  Somebody had to work --so off it went.
            I found a full time job as a shift manager at The Slice of Life Restaurant in Nashville and, in the fall, I started grad school at Belmont.  I was working full time and going to school full time. Even though my salary was low and didn’t cover everything, he refused to contribute squat.  After a month, he said “I don’t know how much longer you can go to school if things don’t improve around here.” My hair stood on end.  I thought “what?”  You have got to be fucking kidding me.  You who are contributing virtually nothing to your own sustenance -- you are going to tell me what I can and cannot do.”  Kajing-- the light went off in my head. I suddenly remembered the poems I studied in English class.  “For Colored Girls Who Have Considered Suicide When the Rainbow is Enuf”. I set “no assistance” to music as a theory project my last year of undergrad.  I am not black; but, I am a woman and these poems profoundly resonated with me.  The poem darted though my brain:
with no further assistance; no guidance from you I am endin this affair
 this note is attached to a plant
 I’ve been waterin since the day I met you 
you can water it
yr damn self
            There was no way I was going to quit school while he sat on his ass doing nothing except picking the child up from school and, on Saturdays, taking her to ballet lessons.  She would have to ride the bus like the rest of the kids. I told him “You have to get some kind of job.”  After copious whining, he got a part time job that he kept for a short while.  Straight away he was back sitting on the couch with vodka in hand—wearing those same old leopard spots.  
            I came home from work one Saturday afternoon dead tired.  He said “Nicole is hungry all she has eaten today is a couple of pieces of candy.”
“Why didn’t you make her something to eat? What have you been doing all day? There is macaroni and cheese. She likes that—why didn’t you fix her macaroni and cheese?”
“You do that better than I do.”  
(Containing my annoyance) “It’s really simple. There are directions on the box. All it takes is a pot and some water. How hard could that be?” I said.  No reply.
Apparently, I had two children to support, one of which had a lot of expensive habits.    Thank goodness I had enough sense to not marry him again when he asked. I started planning his departure.   
            I was worried about the effect on Nicole when I made him leave. She had just lost her grandmother and been ripped away from the people she knew and loved.  I decided to wait until the end of the school year when I could take her to my sister’s for a week. 

When the time came, I told him he had to leave. He refused. Nicole stayed at Aunt Kathi’s for another week.  He tried to lure me into heated arguments.  Man,  all that therapy I had was a blessing.  I could clearly see the pattern of engagement.  It was soooo theatrical.  He would spout garbage and leave a space for my reply.  I stood in silence.  “Aren’t you going to talk to me? Don’t you have anything to say?” he said between sips of vodka.
“No, I am not going to discuss anything with you. You have been drinking.”
I turned and headed out to my car.  He chased after me yelling “you weren’t very nice to your mama when she was dying.”   Good lord.  Not the mama card. He really was desperate.   I went to the movies—great therapy.
            I talked with the landlord and, since we didn’t actually have a written agreement, she created one for me to sign--sans his name.  Still he would not leave. “Can’t we work this out?” he moaned.  He found a four leaf clover in the yard.  I looked at him blankly. What am I your mother? Not, no-- but hell no. I kept my own counsel and said nothing.
Finally, I got an attorney to write him a letter telling him to vacate the property.  The day I knew the letter would arrive I went to the movies again---“Faceoff” seemed appropriate.  He was gone when I returned. 
He got a job at Opryland as a night auditor and rented a room in a motel about 5 miles from us.   It was amazing how quickly he found full time work.  He did say “well, I guess I am just going to have to pull myself up by the bootstraps.”  “Yes, you are.”  I was done.
            When Nicole came back, I took her to the park to explain.  She didn't say much.  About a week later she said “it’s ok Mama, I’m glad he’s gone. He won’t be sleeping in my bed in the daytime anymore and the bathroom smells a lot better.”  Gotta love the honesty of kids.
            Much to his chagrin, I sued for child support.  At the hearing, he even asked that his visitation privileges be reduced since he was working and couldn’t take Nicole to ballet on Saturdays. I wasn’t sure what his real motivation was, but, I think it was the pity me syndrome. 
            He visited about as much as he ever did— a few times a year.  It never seemed to matter if he was 5 miles or 500 miles away, the frequency was the same.  He eventually moved back to Atlanta where he started teaching again.  For a few years he was the manager of a Mars Music store.  Um. Why didn’t I sue for more money?  Women don’t ask—we were taught not to make waves and to be nice.  That frickin’ doormart musta been creeping up on me again.  Lord—where were my brains?  Note to self: Retrieve them now before it’s too late before they dry out completely from disuse.  

I never let him back into my life.  
Dear Doormat: You can no longer glue me to the floor. I am ambulatory and moving about the cabin now. Mama said “Lie down with dogs you get up with fleas.”   Had me a real nice flea bath, focused my attention on raising my daughter, finishing my master’s degree, and, ultimately, finding work in my field. 
But, nothing lasts forever. 

Saturday, May 28, 2016

It's a process.




Quotes for today

"Flops are a part of life's menu and I'm never a girl to miss out on a course."
---Rosaland Russell


"Your work is to discover your work and then with allyour heart to give yourself to it."
---Buddha


Friday, May 27, 2016

Carol's Credos:

Thank you Rosemary Daniell  for sharing these words of wisom in your fabulous book Secrets of the Zona Rosa

Carol O.'s Credos

I allow myself to write when I have an idea, at any hour of the day or night, anywhere, at least to get the idea down.

  I allow myself to jump over the beginning if I’m stuck and to write whatever scenes or words or images that grab me, in any order that they come.

   I allow myself to write with a dirty house. Especially if I have a burning idea. Writing is more important.

I allow myself to used weak words in order to get an idea onto the page as quickly as possible. I will not critique myself on the first draft.  I can use the word “bad” or “very” or any other word to keep the flow going.

I allow myself to cry over a rejections, even a small one.

I allow myself a certain amount of avoidance tactics—cleaning, phone calls, e-mail, ptuzing—whatever I need for a certain amount of time—especially when I’m writing ‘truths’ and I’m scared.

  I allow myself to realize that ninety percent of writing goes on inside my head.  I might be working on a concept, scene, dialogue, or theme for months before a word is written.

 I allow myself to view my writing as a treat… it’s my martini at the end of the day. 

Dr Spock

"Women are subordinated inch by inch."

Me ... I just feel like I end up in a paper bag somewhere...

Rumi

"It's not necessary to burn a new blanket on account of a flea; nor would I turn my back on you because of superficial faults."

Monday, May 23, 2016

Transgender...

I spent a fair amount of time in the second grade flailing the boys with my umbrella, earning the title umbrella kid.   I was pretty mad about being a girl--boys got to do everything... I was the 1950s.   Thelma said “if you kiss your elbow you will become a boy.”  I tried and failed miserably.  Now, I have actually met someone who is flexible enough to kiss his elbow. Thelma’s fantasy was just another of her misconceived notions.  My actor friend assured me he has never changed sex after kissing his elbow. 
Transgender had not even been invented in 1956.

Monday, May 16, 2016

IED....What Wall Guard?

            Having children has always been a bit like living with an IED in the closet.  In an instant, they might implode in an irrational self destructive adventure . Granted--some chidren are more reserved than others-not me.
          I was latch key 9 year old.  Actually, I don’t think I had a key—people didn’t lock their doors in the 1950s. Despite the ever present terror of the Reds dropping bombs on us and thereby ending the world, things felt pretty safe. I did develop a fear of airplanes.  Anytime I heard one overhead, I was sure it was the Russians coming to drop an atomic bomb.  At school, in case we had a warning about said bomb’s imminent arrival, we practiced the march to the railroad tracks. We were told "in the event the Russians come, you will be marched to the railorad tracks where you will be loaded onto boxcars and taken to a safe place." Safe place? Where would our parents be? If that weren't bad enough, we actually practiced this maneuver. We were further instructed that, in the event of said bombing, if we couldn’t make it to the train tracks, we were to hide under our desks when the bomb was dropped. Duck and cover! What a way to scare the hell out of a bunch of kids. 
        I digress. 
      We lived in an old frame house with no central heating or airconditioning. In the kitchen, we had a coal burning, pot-bellied stove that stood about a foot from the wall.  This was used for heating. Regrettably, if you sat stove side you roasted; sitting on the other side of the table, your back froze.  
           One afternoon Thelma, my slightly older sidekick, suggested that we toast marshmallow over the stove. She regularly came up with  ideas that got me on the wrong side of parental approval. but,  it seemed like a shame that we never used the stove for anything more exciting than attempted climate control.  I said yes. 
           An available fire source and unattended kids, what could have possibly gone wrong? I knew Mama wouldn't like it, but, I figured we would be done before she got home from work. 
           We built a roaring fire and commenced with the toasting.   Mama arrived while we were munching on our marshmallows.  She shrieked…  “Hell's Bells--what are you doing. Are you trying to do burn the house down? Why didn’t you put up the wall guard, what is wrong with you...” 
“Wall guard—what’s a wall guard?” I asked. 
           The festivities were suspended. The 1950s might have been safe, that is, unless you had too crazy kids home alone.

Tuesday, May 10, 2016

Simple Times


Simple Times

In the 1950s, at least in the South, women were trained to be servants to their masters. This medieval practice meant any woman was controlled by any man in her life no matter how small he was. Now, I like sharin’and bein’ nahce as well as anyone but, Jesus, it was a long haul getting over that load of programmin’.
It was the good old days--television signed off at midnight to the strains of the National Anthem, all businesses were closed on Sundays (including the drugstores), and the only two flavors of bubblegum you could buy were bubblegum and grape. My flavor of choice was grape, partially because mother hated the smell. 
We were raised on the Southern Heart Attack diet,  which meant everything was laced with bacon fat.  Strawberries and cantaloupes only appeared in markets when they were in season, thank you. Grocery stores were not filled with cardboard tomatoes or South American produce. Broccoli and corn came with worms. The fact that everything was cooked with bacon drippings might have explained the frequent boils.  For those of you who have never expericed the joy of boils, they are basically zits the size of a golf ball. Ha, I became boil free once I moved to California and discovered fresh veggies not cremated in bacon fat.
            There was a mountain of things girls were not supposed to do or be capable of doing.  Frustrated, I longed to be a boy in the worst way.  Was I a mistake? Was there some magic way I could change my sex? Although Christine Jorgensen paved the way for rearranging one’s biological imperative, I had to adjust to being a girl. Still, all the things boys could do looked mightily  enticing.  If did manage to pull something off, I was told I was “pretty good for a girl”. This gave credence to the tiny voice in my head that constantly whispered “girls don’t do that, you must be nice, don’t make waves—blah, blah- fuckady blah”.   It was maddening...
 And, relationships! Every time I got into a relationship with a man, I would slowly lose all sense of self and become a doormat. I did not get the memo on how to be a steel magnolia—thank you.  Obviously, I must have been climbing the walls when that information was handed out.  I missed rulebook for that modus operandi. Actually, I am glad, as it appeared to take mountains of energy to be surreptitious.  Betty Friedan cracked the window.   Phew. There was hope.

Anyway, I tucked this “be a good girl and act like a lady” philosophy away in my subconscious, eventually taking it with me when left home with my suitcase filled with smoldering rebellious rage.  Eventually, the women’s movement gave me knowledge… it took a hell of a sight longer to get over the damn emotional damage.           

Monday, May 9, 2016

I begin

Hello world 
.
I begin
Ever since I first peered out into the sphere of humans, I have been trying to figure out how to navigate the terrain.  Coming of age during the cultural upheaval of the 1960s, I spent the remainder of my youth puzzling over the meaning of existence, studying psychology in hopes of escaping childhood indoctrination, and searching for a way to maintain my sense of self. I became a singer, an artist, and a feminist, all of which rattled the paradigm of my raising.  In the process, I prowled about the margins of the continent.
What is life but a comedy of consequences? It gives me solace to know I have always had good company.
 “I, myself, have never been able to find out precisely what feminism is. I only know that people call me a feminist whenever I express sentiments that differentiate me from a door mat or a prostitute.”      Rebecca West

Sorting out the jumbles

                After writing a thirty page recital paper in graduate school, I joked that I would never write again with so many restrictions on my creativity or without the promise of remuneration. From that day forward, I kidded about writing a trashy novel --even though I had never read one.  Still, with a bit of encouragement, the compulsion to write took hold.   God, I hope not everyone has lived in such constant turmoil, or, if they have, they will get a chuckle or two from reading about my foibles.
            Some great mind clearing and cleansing experience would’ve been nice before I began. But, not being able to make a trip to a temple or pyramid to participate in a three-day death and resurrection ritual to cleanse my spirit, I have stayed earthbound  planted in Tennessee scribbling my thoughts.

Followers