Thursday, September 27, 2018

Industry Amidst The Ruins

The prettiest words are the greedy ones. They alight. Then they pollinate.

Because you have things to do.
Upright and important
You squirrel them away - somewhere.
Until they are a damned nuisance.

Then give it all a smidge of time.
Stingy and cheap but better than nothing.
It’s not enough. It’s never enough.

When you’re  about to burst you give them some room.
So what if it’s the rocky soil? The tamped down, head between hands.
The between of, not the desk, or even a nook.

The words, they comprehend.
For them it doesn’t matter.
They see no craggy impediment.
Any accommodation will do.

You are wildflowers.
A furnace, a factory.
The early 20th century.
A virile stag. Aloft.

You are trite but you don’t care.

From the archives:
Suffer The Words

To mend

Sunday, September 16, 2018


It’s a heat wave. I’ve done this before. I’m pretty good at it.

This is not something to be messed with. I exchange texts with my husband. I ask him to remember to pack water for his commute home. He agrees. Now I’ll worry less. Worry is what I do. I’m good at that too.

I’m already drinking water because that is how I roll.

I think about people in my social circle and wonder about how they are faring. My mind rests on one person in particular.

I think about texting him. It would be succinct. It would simply say drink water.

I don’t send the text. I reign it in. It’s a long story.

I send the drink water message telepathically. Was this a kind of prayer? Who knows?

I use what I have because worry is creeping around the edges of things. I still worry about him. This is freaking annoying. But I know better than to argue with it.

I can hear you now. He’s not a child. He can be trusted to take care of himself. This is not always true. Sometimes very smart people fail to drink water.

Anne Lamott, a favorite writer of mine wrote something that initially came as a bit of a shock. She said, “Tell your stories. If people wanted you to write warmly about them, they should’ve behaved better.”

Lately her words have settled in more. The words and I are not exactly on a first name basis yet. You could say I’m slowly becoming acquainted with them. Which is fine.

But for this particular situation, Anne Lamott’s exact words do not quite fit. So I went ahead and adapted them.

Tell your stories. If people wanted you to stop worrying about them, then they shouldn’t have told you about the time they went sightseeing alone in a foreign country, fainted at the entrance of the hotel, created a hubbub, refused an ambulance, requested a bottle of water, drank it and realized they really should have hydrated sooner.

From the archives:
Yes, Please

Chicken Scratch
Check Back With Me Later

Monday, September 10, 2018

Shana Tova

The kids have two days off from school. You don't think about the why as much as the when. The time off is convenient. It makes for a tidy four-day weekend. You fill it up neatly.

Then you remember why the kids have time off. It's for Rosh Hashanah. You email a couple of Jewish friends. You wish these folks a happy new year.

You were raised Catholic. You're not religious. Your husband is Jewish but not particularly observant.

The customary new year for people like you is on January first. You're not crazy about New Year's Eve, and New Years Day is no better. It's random. Too much noise. Too many expectations. Like most holidays, they make you feel small and insignificant.

You're in the midst of the long weekend. You're removed from your usual life. You and hotels don't always get along but this one is brand new and spanking clean with a cushy bed and warm lighting.

The days leading up to this hotel stay were a shit show. Your feelings got trampled on by somebody. Without intent, you hurt their feelings, too.

You've been wronged - no misunderstood - but being in a different place, away from your comfortable home you see the humanity of the person who hurt you. Their words cut, but they are essentially good.

You feel like crap, but you're a good person too.

As you send out one more happy new year email to one more person identifying as more Jewish than your husband, you seize on something about yourself. When a door opens for you, you walk through it. Not everybody knows how to do that.

By accident or by design somebody else's new year just fell in your lap.

You don't know how to celebrate the Jewish new year. Like most of what you do, you'll adapt to it and adapt it to you.

Just thinking about the previously ignored new year gives you good ideas about the problems you created and the ones brought about by others. Not everything is your fault.

You need this fresh start, cool and crisp, nobody foisting and nobody expecting. It's a construct. But like many traditions, it's useful.

You remember something about apples and honey. Your teenager requested an apple. Maybe she's feeling it too.

You announce your plans to observe Rosh Hashanah. Your daughter is happy to make matzo balls. You'll make vegetable soup because she's a vegetarian. Your husband is befuddled and a bit put out by your request to make challah bread but agrees to do it. After the challah bread is baked, fragrant and delectable, he denies ever being taken aback.

Because you customize, because you have maverick features, because you do whatever the hell you please, you decide to borrow the day of atonement from the Jews and jump the gun by observing it a week early. You're going all out.

You craft a heartfelt email to the person who stirred the pot with you. It’s better to be kind than right. You can’t control how the communication will be received but you feel a lift anyway.

Some people find truth at temple. Others at church. Yours found you at the Best Western. That's who you are. And you're starting to like that person again.

From the archives:
The sun it did rise again
Picture Edit 

Tuesday, September 4, 2018


Its 1981. I’ve just been dropped off at college. I’d been insufferable at my high school for half the year because I couldn’t wait to get there.

Now that I’ve clearly arrived at my first-choice college and only viable option for myself, I’m starting to get uneasy. I don’t know anybody here, but then I remember that nobody knows anybody here.

There’s only one way through the uneasy feeling. I plan to go up and down the hall of the dorm. I’ll knock on everybody’s door and introduce myself. I am not going make any friends sitting in my room, especially since the college may been conducting a bizarre sociology experiment by making the three of us individuals roommates.

I knock on everyone’s door and visit the guys’ suite at the end of the hall, methodically saying hi. I am met with a friendly reception from all involved.

The room across the hall holds a family of dark-haired people. I don’t know it at the time but I’m saying hello to my future husband and in-laws.

I’ve been on campus for under three hours.

But before I can marry that guy I’ll make my way bravely to a keg party the welcome committee thoughtfully set up on the lawn. I’ll finally take a whole bunch of art classes all day, every day. I’ll vow to never take any mathematics again, and keep my word.

I’ll use the door-to-door skills honed during orientation to collect one dollar from everybody in the dorms for the parties we’d throw on Friday nights. I’ll briefly sing show tunes, skipping arm in arm across campus with one male friend and one female friend.

My future husband eventually transfers to the college. That last part is really serendipitous. One thing leads to another.

Nothing is ever a straight line. There are some notable twists and turns on the way to the altar, or in our case, a whitewashed, light-filled loft in the photo district.

For some people life unfolds slowly and incrementally. For others, it moves fast and you see your future all at once, although you almost never recognize it at the time.

From the archives:
The Water Table

Time, As Few Of Us Know It
So Long