Wednesday, July 30, 2008

Gilda, Gilda, Gilda


Gilda's cousin mailed her a joke. She left out the pictures that went along with it. Here is the joke.

The Eulogy. She married and had 13 children. Her husband died. She married again and had 7 more children. Again her husband died. But she remarried and this time had 5 more children. Alas, she finally died.

Standing before her coffin the preacher prayed for her. He thanked the Lord for this very loving woman and said "Lord, they're finally together." One mourner leaned over and quietly asked her friend, "Do you think he means her first, second, or third husband?" The friend replied, "I think he means her legs."

Gilda (pronounced Gee-l-da) has always been married to the same man. She has two boys, two girls. Once upon a time, she had a half-baked career as an actress, but so many other women did too, that she began play-acting at home and for her friends. Not charades, more like, creating drama and comedy to get it out of her system. Drama, mostly.

"Who do you think you are?" she'd scream at her teenage daughter. "If you don't like what I bought, just say so, but don't talk to me like that." She'd stomp off, usually to wash dishes or put in laundry.

"You have to go to school, get up," she'd bellow at her son, shaking him, jiggling his shoulders like he was a bowl of jello, touching his face--which caused him to roar at her like a lion since he had zits and everyone harped at him not to touch them.

"I'll get up, I'll get up," he'd say as he turned his head toward the wall and fell into a deep sleep.

Gilda announced to her husband that she was going to stay at her cousin's house for awhile. She had to think things over. Things weren't going well, he didn't help out at home, and well, enough just might be enough. What she really wanted, was to learn how to get along with her children, and for that matter with her husband.

She packed a suitcase, her pillow, the laptop, and drove away.

At first, it was fun. They watched a subtitled French movie, sat in the patio and drank tea. They ate pasta primavera. They went to a movie. They talked. They worked crossword puzzles together. Gilda chopped up carrots for her cousin's pet tortoises and watched them waddle over to their food, eating slower than slow. The tortoises made a tiny little hissing sound once in awhile, otherwise, they were quiet.

Her cousin studied a lot. She was getting an MBA. Gilda slept in the guest bedroom that had a futon on the floor, matchstick blinds and a large bright white tiled bathroom with one bath towel and one face towel.

Finally, on the fifth night, Gilda called home. Her husband answered the phone.

"Is everything alright?" she asked. "I haven't heard from you."

"You left in a huff, so why should I be eager to talk to you?" he said.

"How are the children?" she asked, her voice all quivery like she was going to cry any minute.

"Same as ever, doing fine," he replied. "What else do you want to know? I have things to do."

Gilda hung up. Devastated. They didn't care. They didn't miss her. Everythingwasfine, everythingwasfine, every-thing-was-fine. The house was probably a huge mess.

She told her cousin who laughed. Laughed out loud.

"I remember what your mother would say to you that made you furious," Gilda's cousin said, as she put her hands on her hips and pursed her lips and spat our the words. "Who do you think you are young lady, Mary Astor's daughter?"  

Gilda had to laugh even though she really did not want to. "I hated it and slammed a lot of doors," she said.

"When she left the house in a tizzy, you were glad to see her go," her cousin added. "Things quieted down for awhile."

"All I ever wanted was lots of kids, and a loving husband," Gilda started to cry as she said the words. "I've had the same stupid man all these years and four infuriating kids."

"I have tortoises," her cousin said without emotion, looking Gilda straight in the eye. "You got what you wanted."

Gilda packed up and drove home. The house was tidy, dishes in dishwasher, clothes in hamper. It was the middle of the day. The children were at school, her husband was at work. The dog welcomed her at the front door, jumping around and weaving around, between Gilda's legs.

"Are you trying to murder me?" she barked at him. "Stay out of my way."

This time, she heard her own drama. A cup of tea worth-of-time-later on the patio, she spied a green praying mantis on the tip of a rose leaf. Then another one, this one was brown.

In a brillant moment, Gilda recalled that last year her youngest son had brought home a container of tiny praying mantis to keep pests off the rose bushes, as her birthday gift. Both of the large, mature praying mantis sat quietly, gently, peacefully magnificent on their perches.

Gilda, Gilda, Gilda


Gilda's cousin mailed her a joke. She left out the pictures that went along with it. Here is the joke.

The Eulogy. She married and had 13 children. Her husband died. She married again and had 7 more children. Again her husband died. But she remarried and this time had 5 more children. Alas, she finally died.

Standing before her coffin the preacher prayed for her. He thanked the Lord for this very loving woman and said "Lord, they're finally together." One mourner leaned over and quietly asked her friend, "Do you think he means her first, second, or third husband?" The friend replied, "I think he means her legs."

Gilda (pronounced Gee-l-da) has always been married to the same man. She has two boys, two girls. Once upon a time, she had a half-baked career as an actress, but so many other women did too, that she began play-acting at home and for her friends. Not charades, more like, creating drama and comedy to get it out of her system. Drama, mostly.

"Who do you think you are?" she'd scream at her teenage daughter. "If you don't like what I bought, just say so, but don't talk to me like that." She'd stomp off, usually to wash dishes or put in laundry.

"You have to go to school, get up," she'd bellow at her son, shaking him, jiggling his shoulders like he was a bowl of jello, touching his face--which caused him to roar at her like a lion since he had zits and everyone harped at him not to touch them.

"I'll get up, I'll get up," he'd say as he turned his head toward the wall and fell into a deep sleep.

Gilda announced to her husband that she was going to stay at her cousin's house for awhile. She had to think things over. Things weren't going well, he didn't help out at home, and well, enough just might be enough. What she really wanted, was to learn how to get along with her children, and for that matter with her husband.

She packed a suitcase, her pillow, the laptop, and drove away.

At first, it was fun. They watched a subtitled French movie, sat in the patio and drank tea. They ate pasta primavera. They went to a movie. They talked. They worked crossword puzzles together. Gilda chopped up carrots for her cousin's pet tortoises and watched them waddle over to their food, eating slower than slow. The tortoises made a tiny little hissing sound once in awhile, otherwise, they were quiet.

Her cousin studied a lot. She was getting an MBA. Gilda slept in the guest bedroom that had a futon on the floor, matchstick blinds and a large bright white tiled bathroom with one bath towel and one face towel.

Finally, on the fifth night, Gilda called home. Her husband answered the phone.

"Is everything alright?" she asked. "I haven't heard from you."

"You left in a huff, so why should I be eager to talk to you?" he said.

"How are the children?" she asked, her voice all quivery like she was going to cry any minute.

"Same as ever, doing fine," he replied. "What else do you want to know? I have things to do."

Gilda hung up. Devastated. They didn't care. They didn't miss her. Everythingwasfine, everythingwasfine, every-thing-was-fine. The house was probably a huge mess.

She told her cousin who laughed. Laughed out loud.

"I remember what your mother would say to you that made you furious," Gilda's cousin said, as she put her hands on her hips and pursed her lips and spat our the words. "Who do you think you are young lady, Mary Astor's daughter?"  

Gilda had to laugh even though she really did not want to. "I hated it and slammed a lot of doors," she said.

"When she left the house in a tizzy, you were glad to see her go," her cousin added. "Things quieted down for awhile."

"All I ever wanted was lots of kids, and a loving husband," Gilda started to cry as she said the words. "I've had the same stupid man all these years and four infuriating kids."

"I have tortoises," her cousin said without emotion, looking Gilda straight in the eye. "You got what you wanted."

Gilda packed up and drove home. The house was tidy, dishes in dishwasher, clothes in hamper. It was the middle of the day. The children were at school, her husband was at work. The dog welcomed her at the front door, jumping around and weaving around, between Gilda's legs.

"Are you trying to murder me?" she barked at him. "Stay out of my way."

This time, she heard her own drama. A cup of tea worth-of-time-later on the patio, she spied a green praying mantis on the tip of a rose leaf. Then another one, this one was brown.

In a brillant moment, Gilda recalled that last year her youngest son had brought home a container of tiny praying mantis to keep pests off the rose bushes, as her birthday gift. Both of the large, mature praying mantis sat quietly, gently, peacefully magnificent on their perches.

Friday, July 25, 2008

Francine's File: One Watery History


Francine looked up at the stars, her head flung backward over the side of the seat with her curls trailing down, dangling free. She'd never seen so many stars. And there, clear as could be, was a shooting star. Then another, quartz opal and larger than the first until it flew apart into hundreds of lavender fingers of light that faded into a pale warm glow.    

A man's voice, echoing like over a faulty microphone said, "Wow. You were really flying." His pink Venetian mask with black swirls in a figure eight around tiny peepholes glided into view on a halogen stick. The faulty microphone voice asked "Is there someone I can call for you?

"I'd love to play," she heard herself whisper. "Will there be games with prizes I can win?"

A swirly pink straw with full smiling perfectly shaped red lips slid around from behind the mask. "You must be thirsty, love," it said. The straw dripped warm water onto her cheek. 

Puckering her lips as though for a kiss, water flowed around them and slid sideways.

"You are not the surface of the lake, you are the lake," the water said. The smooth opening bars of Beethoven's 9th played on the current which lowered first her head, then her feet. Her fingertips and toes spread out, warm breath hovered all around like a halo. 

Her father sat erect up front driving a carriage pulled by two white horses. Her mother peered from inside, her fingers beckoning, drawing the halo closer and closer.

Bliss. She smelled it. Like white birthday cake with butter cream icing. 

The lights shifted through a rainbow spectrum. Francine drifted off in a bubble of perfume. 

A vibrant orange silk ribbon wrapped itself around the sphere like a package with a big bow. With her breath, Francine unfurled the bow into translucent bubbles where she saw her reflection. Or was it her mother's reflection? Or was it the reflection of someone she had yet to know? 

And then, poof, the bubble was gone. Francine, Francine, are you there or have you gotten lost?  

Francine's File: One Watery History


Francine looked up at the stars, her head flung backward over the side of the seat with her curls trailing down, dangling free. She'd never seen so many stars. And there, clear as could be, was a shooting star. Then another, quartz opal and larger than the first until it flew apart into hundreds of lavender fingers of light that faded into a pale warm glow.    

A man's voice, echoing like over a faulty microphone said, "Wow. You were really flying." His pink Venetian mask with black swirls in a figure eight around tiny peepholes glided into view on a halogen stick. The faulty microphone voice asked "Is there someone I can call for you?

"I'd love to play," she heard herself whisper. "Will there be games with prizes I can win?"

A swirly pink straw with full smiling perfectly shaped red lips slid around from behind the mask. "You must be thirsty, love," it said. The straw dripped warm water onto her cheek. 

Puckering her lips as though for a kiss, water flowed around them and slid sideways.

"You are not the surface of the lake, you are the lake," the water said. The smooth opening bars of Beethoven's 9th played on the current which lowered first her head, then her feet. Her fingertips and toes spread out, warm breath hovered all around like a halo. 

Her father sat erect up front driving a carriage pulled by two white horses. Her mother peered from inside, her fingers beckoning, drawing the halo closer and closer.

Bliss. She smelled it. Like white birthday cake with butter cream icing. 

The lights shifted through a rainbow spectrum. Francine drifted off in a bubble of perfume. 

A vibrant orange silk ribbon wrapped itself around the sphere like a package with a big bow. With her breath, Francine unfurled the bow into translucent bubbles where she saw her reflection. Or was it her mother's reflection? Or was it the reflection of someone she had yet to know? 

And then, poof, the bubble was gone. Francine, Francine, are you there or have you gotten lost?  

Monday, July 21, 2008

Enlightened, exotic, better than Star Wars

Jirapen comes to our house in the San Fernando Valley every month to cut my husband's hair. He brings the old red schoolhouse chair from the back bedroom into the middle of the kitchen floor, while she sets up her scissors, razors, talcum and brush, and spray bottle on the counter. 

It's all very unhygienic, but they've done this long enough that neither one of them even thinks about food and hair in the same breath. It makes me cringe. For the next week, I imagine hair in my food.  The one time I finally got him to put the chair on the patio, the sunlight lasered down on them like a spotlight making little wafts of his grey hair stick wherever they first met sweat.

Jirapen quit trying to brush them off his neck. He didn't notice anyway. What brought the chair back into the house was when those little balls of grey fluff glued themselves on her face, kind of like very soft light fur. She never stopped talking and laughing the whole time. 

I didn't see her wipe her face, but the haircut continued as soon as the chair, the kitchen floor and my husband connected. Her face pale and clear as ever, her big brown eyes all sparkly, her long straight brown hair down her back, and the pink silk blouse smooth as a baby's butt.

"I'm so sorry," I said. "I didn't realize how hot it would be."

"Thailand very hot," she said. "Not like L.A. L.A. not so hot." 

She looked pretty hot to me that day. It was a couple years ago. I don't know if she's forgotten. I sure haven't. 

Now Jirapen is very conservative Christian.  Her father was a well-respected attorney in Bangkok so she didn't get much education because it was always assumed she would marry well and it wasn't, well, I guess you'd say, lady-like in those circles. She had lots of brothers and sisters and her mother lived like a queen, waited on hand and foot.  

But what happened is Jirapen ran away with a boy all the way to the United States. Of course, he wasn't the kind of boy her family had in mind or they wouldn't have had to run away. They married and had a daughter but things didn't work out and she became a single parent. Without an education, far from home, learning a language very different from her own, struggling to make a living. 

She worked at the same place as my husband, who probably liked her because she was pretty, and exotic and fun. I'm sure he admired her gumption. She also knew how to cut hair and offered to come to his house to do it. Clincher right there.

That was all 15 years ago. 

Meantime, she's  hardly lost any of her accent. So, when she says rose it comes out like loses--long o--and and when she says her own name it comes out like Jillapan. Words kind of run together with lots of laughter linking them, and pauses stop the lilting language like light posts.That alliteration of sounds, like chimes and tinkling bells, in a rhythm all it's own with those unexpected halting silences, tells stories without needing to make sense. Still, I think of that day I made them go out to the patio, and feel ashamed.

Tonight as she was cutting David's hair in the kitchen, she asked me if I knew the story of Daniel. She's gesturing at me with the scissors, leaning this way and that while she laughs those linking lilting light l's, looking heavenward from behind the glasses she wears nowadays, and wanting a reply from me, but I'm not getting any of this, just the aesthetics of the sounds.

"The King of Babylon," she said. "He had a dream about a tree, high to sky, and no-body can interpret. What to do?"

My husband sits there. Silent. Comprehending, I don't know? I'm not sure what she's referring to so I don't answer either.  

"Do you know the story of Daniel from the Bible?" she asked me. "King has a dream. Better than Star Wars." 

Now remember all the r's sounds like l's, so I am listening very closely to follow what she's saying which still sounds more like music than speech to me.

"No," I say. I really don't and it's so pleasing to hear her voice that I would want her to tell me even if I did know.

"No one can interpret King dream except Daniel," she says. "King tell Daniel he heard heavenly voice say, cut down the tree because is so beautiful and animals eat from under,  all so big and..."  She's waving her hands over the floor, then lifting them above her head and opening one hands upward, razor gripped in other hand, and laughing again. "You see what I say to you?" she asks.

I nod. I really do.

"The voice said to  leave the, oh what it is called, the thing low to ground...?" She's getting frustrated, unable to find the English word.

"The stump," my husband pipes up. 

"Yes. Voice says to put a round it." Her index fingers point moving like two little spoons stirring a thick pot of stew and moving her body in a circle.

"Put a fence around it," I say.  "Like a chain-link fence, in a yard with things growing on it."

"Yes, yes, yes." She's excited realizing that I get it. However, she has stopped cutting my husband's hair and he's twitching slightly not wanting to show his impatience but the frown is a dead give-away.

"So what happens?" I ask, as I look at her then back at my husband. 

"He has nice hair, you see that?" she asks as she lifts a section of hair between her fingers and clips off the uneven ends. "Beautiful hair, white like an angel." She's sectioning off another lot between her fingers and clipping.

He lets out a sigh and the twitching stops, relaxation drops his shoulders beneath the plastic cape snapped at his neck and draped over his body. His arms move slightly.

"Daniel tells the king tree is you, the king," she says, getting back on story track. "Daniel said worship God first, or he will get cut down and lose kingdom. King look all around, up and round, admiring all he has. God says you become like animal after one year, you admire kingdom still."

Long pause as she sections and measures and clips. A large pink hair clip gets moved to the other side of his head and she scoots around him in the red chair to begin the cutting process again. 

I'm leaning on the cook top completely swept away by the musicality of it all and sort of following the story, eager to know where it is going.

"You know the story now? she asks.

My husband nods his head. Just cut blinks like a neon sign on his forehead.  He's too kind to say a word but ever hopeful of getting this haircut over sooner than later.

"I'm following," I answer, wanting to hear her but also wanting the haircut finished.

"Oh," she's dancing around and laughing again, not cutting. "He had to live as an animal for seven years!"

"I don't understand. Do you?" I ask my husband. I am thoroughly perplexed.

"Yes, yes," he says, not moving his head but blinking his eyes faster and faster. "The king had to live like he was an animal. Head and body of a man, but eating from the ground like an animal." Curtness filling the space between us, which is about three feet. 

Jirapen doesn't seem to notice, clipping tiny fly-away hair now, bending and looking into his face, she's all smiles, he's not.  "Look good. Want to go look in mirror?" she asks.

He practically jumps up heading for the bathroom. 

"Take mirror to see back," she insists. "Broken but you can see how you like it."

The smile and calm and bliss has never left her face, being or body. Happiness radiates around her. "Good hair cut," she says. "Do you like it?" she calls out to him.

So what happens I ask her. 

"You do not know this story?" she says, stopping, silent, waiting for an answer maybe, maybe not. "Okay. Lord bless him and he get back everything. Made him humble not ashamed. God not like shame, he was worship. Why have to wait to see God. Know right away. Love God with all you heart. Feel good."

That's the whole story. Book of Daniel in the Bible I learn from my husband upon his return after asking her to make a few adjustments. 

Then I get it. She never complained about the heat that day on the patio because she is humble and believes, has faith that all will go well for her. She has no doubt about that. And it does work that way for her. Things do come her way. She needs an apartment, and a house is offered to her along with payment for her outstanding bills. She loves God and he takes care of her. 

Besides, Thailand is much hotter than L.A. And, it's only a haircut for her friend who pays her money that she needs. I kiss her goodbye, she says a quick prayer hugging me in the process. A bag of oranges from our tree goes with her. We wave at each other from the front porch. She says something unintelligible to me, but I understand by the look on her face she loves me. My husband walks her to her car and pays her cash which she much prefers to a check. 

We'll do this all over again in a month. That day on the hot patio recedes into the past.  

When you are a whole being, all things come to you. Lau Tzu said that in something like 650 A.D.

Enlightened, exotic, better than Star Wars

Jirapen comes to our house in the San Fernando Valley every month to cut my husband's hair. He brings the old red schoolhouse chair from the back bedroom into the middle of the kitchen floor, while she sets up her scissors, razors, talcum and brush, and spray bottle on the counter. 

It's all very unhygienic, but they've done this long enough that neither one of them even thinks about food and hair in the same breath. It makes me cringe. For the next week, I imagine hair in my food.  The one time I finally got him to put the chair on the patio, the sunlight lasered down on them like a spotlight making little wafts of his grey hair stick wherever they first met sweat.

Jirapen quit trying to brush them off his neck. He didn't notice anyway. What brought the chair back into the house was when those little balls of grey fluff glued themselves on her face, kind of like very soft light fur. She never stopped talking and laughing the whole time. 

I didn't see her wipe her face, but the haircut continued as soon as the chair, the kitchen floor and my husband connected. Her face pale and clear as ever, her big brown eyes all sparkly, her long straight brown hair down her back, and the pink silk blouse smooth as a baby's butt.

"I'm so sorry," I said. "I didn't realize how hot it would be."

"Thailand very hot," she said. "Not like L.A. L.A. not so hot." 

She looked pretty hot to me that day. It was a couple years ago. I don't know if she's forgotten. I sure haven't. 

Now Jirapen is very conservative Christian.  Her father was a well-respected attorney in Bangkok so she didn't get much education because it was always assumed she would marry well and it wasn't, well, I guess you'd say, lady-like in those circles. She had lots of brothers and sisters and her mother lived like a queen, waited on hand and foot.  

But what happened is Jirapen ran away with a boy all the way to the United States. Of course, he wasn't the kind of boy her family had in mind or they wouldn't have had to run away. They married and had a daughter but things didn't work out and she became a single parent. Without an education, far from home, learning a language very different from her own, struggling to make a living. 

She worked at the same place as my husband, who probably liked her because she was pretty, and exotic and fun. I'm sure he admired her gumption. She also knew how to cut hair and offered to come to his house to do it. Clincher right there.

That was all 15 years ago. 

Meantime, she's  hardly lost any of her accent. So, when she says rose it comes out like loses--long o--and and when she says her own name it comes out like Jillapan. Words kind of run together with lots of laughter linking them, and pauses stop the lilting language like light posts.That alliteration of sounds, like chimes and tinkling bells, in a rhythm all it's own with those unexpected halting silences, tells stories without needing to make sense. Still, I think of that day I made them go out to the patio, and feel ashamed.

Tonight as she was cutting David's hair in the kitchen, she asked me if I knew the story of Daniel. She's gesturing at me with the scissors, leaning this way and that while she laughs those linking lilting light l's, looking heavenward from behind the glasses she wears nowadays, and wanting a reply from me, but I'm not getting any of this, just the aesthetics of the sounds.

"The King of Babylon," she said. "He had a dream about a tree, high to sky, and no-body can interpret. What to do?"

My husband sits there. Silent. Comprehending, I don't know? I'm not sure what she's referring to so I don't answer either.  

"Do you know the story of Daniel from the Bible?" she asked me. "King has a dream. Better than Star Wars." 

Now remember all the r's sounds like l's, so I am listening very closely to follow what she's saying which still sounds more like music than speech to me.

"No," I say. I really don't and it's so pleasing to hear her voice that I would want her to tell me even if I did know.

"No one can interpret King dream except Daniel," she says. "King tell Daniel he heard heavenly voice say, cut down the tree because is so beautiful and animals eat from under,  all so big and..."  She's waving her hands over the floor, then lifting them above her head and opening one hands upward, razor gripped in other hand, and laughing again. "You see what I say to you?" she asks.

I nod. I really do.

"The voice said to  leave the, oh what it is called, the thing low to ground...?" She's getting frustrated, unable to find the English word.

"The stump," my husband pipes up. 

"Yes. Voice says to put a round it." Her index fingers point moving like two little spoons stirring a thick pot of stew and moving her body in a circle.

"Put a fence around it," I say.  "Like a chain-link fence, in a yard with things growing on it."

"Yes, yes, yes." She's excited realizing that I get it. However, she has stopped cutting my husband's hair and he's twitching slightly not wanting to show his impatience but the frown is a dead give-away.

"So what happens?" I ask, as I look at her then back at my husband. 

"He has nice hair, you see that?" she asks as she lifts a section of hair between her fingers and clips off the uneven ends. "Beautiful hair, white like an angel." She's sectioning off another lot between her fingers and clipping.

He lets out a sigh and the twitching stops, relaxation drops his shoulders beneath the plastic cape snapped at his neck and draped over his body. His arms move slightly.

"Daniel tells the king tree is you, the king," she says, getting back on story track. "Daniel said worship God first, or he will get cut down and lose kingdom. King look all around, up and round, admiring all he has. God says you become like animal after one year, you admire kingdom still."

Long pause as she sections and measures and clips. A large pink hair clip gets moved to the other side of his head and she scoots around him in the red chair to begin the cutting process again. 

I'm leaning on the cook top completely swept away by the musicality of it all and sort of following the story, eager to know where it is going.

"You know the story now? she asks.

My husband nods his head. Just cut blinks like a neon sign on his forehead.  He's too kind to say a word but ever hopeful of getting this haircut over sooner than later.

"I'm following," I answer, wanting to hear her but also wanting the haircut finished.

"Oh," she's dancing around and laughing again, not cutting. "He had to live as an animal for seven years!"

"I don't understand. Do you?" I ask my husband. I am thoroughly perplexed.

"Yes, yes," he says, not moving his head but blinking his eyes faster and faster. "The king had to live like he was an animal. Head and body of a man, but eating from the ground like an animal." Curtness filling the space between us, which is about three feet. 

Jirapen doesn't seem to notice, clipping tiny fly-away hair now, bending and looking into his face, she's all smiles, he's not.  "Look good. Want to go look in mirror?" she asks.

He practically jumps up heading for the bathroom. 

"Take mirror to see back," she insists. "Broken but you can see how you like it."

The smile and calm and bliss has never left her face, being or body. Happiness radiates around her. "Good hair cut," she says. "Do you like it?" she calls out to him.

So what happens I ask her. 

"You do not know this story?" she says, stopping, silent, waiting for an answer maybe, maybe not. "Okay. Lord bless him and he get back everything. Made him humble not ashamed. God not like shame, he was worship. Why have to wait to see God. Know right away. Love God with all you heart. Feel good."

That's the whole story. Book of Daniel in the Bible I learn from my husband upon his return after asking her to make a few adjustments. 

Then I get it. She never complained about the heat that day on the patio because she is humble and believes, has faith that all will go well for her. She has no doubt about that. And it does work that way for her. Things do come her way. She needs an apartment, and a house is offered to her along with payment for her outstanding bills. She loves God and he takes care of her. 

Besides, Thailand is much hotter than L.A. And, it's only a haircut for her friend who pays her money that she needs. I kiss her goodbye, she says a quick prayer hugging me in the process. A bag of oranges from our tree goes with her. We wave at each other from the front porch. She says something unintelligible to me, but I understand by the look on her face she loves me. My husband walks her to her car and pays her cash which she much prefers to a check. 

We'll do this all over again in a month. That day on the hot patio recedes into the past.  

When you are a whole being, all things come to you. Lau Tzu said that in something like 650 A.D.

Wednesday, July 16, 2008

Driving Diane to hysterics



It's August and boring in  West Los Angeles. Diane had gotten her hair cut and colored at Studio 210 in Brentwood Gardens. The back bumper was dented when the valet pulled the car up.  She wanted to get rid of the thing, maybe now was the time. A BMW with better mileage came with full maintenance for something like three years. 

"Are you blind?" Diane snapped. "Couldn't you see how far you were from that other car?" She wanted to scream trying to figure what the repair would cost. Wait a minute. She wasn't liable. Diane had never been into math. She couldn't balance the checkbook, used cash, loved credit cards. It was her mother's fault for not insisting she learn. The teacher never tried to help her after school either. 

Diane had cheer leading then dance practice anyway. A math tutor might have been useful, who knows. For now, she was faced with a difficult decision right here in the garage at Brentwood Gardens. All she wanted to do was scream really loud at everybody within hearing distance, especially the parking attendants.

Diane remembered a little picture at home of her and her mother at Sandusky Point, or whatever it was called. The two of them building a sand castle. Her mother was in a two piece bathing suit, fashionable for the time, poised and smiling on bent knees totally at ease with her hands in the sticky sand pushing a stupid bucket upside down on a mound of what was surely disgusting imported dirty stuff.

Diane had stood there in little girl cotton panties either very happy or very bored. It had been a great day like finding a fancy watch buried in that watery mess. It had been so exciting to go back to their motel greasy spoon and eat fish with green beans, tomatoes and radishes. The waitress had been slow and brought her pizza with pepperoni by mistake.

"That's not what I ordered," Diane had said. She hated talking to strangers even way back then. But she wasn't eating pizza with pepperoni. 

The waitress had looked right at her and said, "Yes it is, but I'll be glad to get what you want."

A man at the next table said, "Don't be so impatient, cutie-pie. Relax. You'll get it soon enough." That made Diane feel like a fool. She sat there, but wanted to hide under a table, gross chewing gum wads and all.

"I am not impatient," Diane remembered saying to him. He was trying to pick a fight, that's all.

That day was a metaphor for her hysterical life. Panic mode was her usual state of mind. Yet she wasn't going to let a parking attendant get the best of her. Not today or any day. Diane looked around. A woman with two girls under six wearing bathing suits blathered about the heat and dance lessons. A matron with starched yellow hair and a St. John two piece suit leaned on her ebony cane. A companion kept asking the matron if she would like to sit down.

"No, no, no," the matron said. "I'm not that decrepit yet." She looked at Diane and smiled. "Don't you hate it when they ding up your car?" she asked. "Makes me want to scream, but then I think about who works here. Wouldn't want to do it in a million years. They have families to support, you know." 

Diane rolled her eyes waiting for the manager to show up. She was offered water and generic chocolates. "My car is dinged up," she said. Willing the corners of her mouths to turn upward only succeded in a twitch, her teeth hinged tightly at the jawbone.  "That's not going to repair it."

A Rolls Royce pulled up. The attendant opened the passenger door, the matron's companion helped her inside. The matron shook an arthritic finger at Diane, then stared straight ahead. 

On the way home, Diane pondered how she would tell her husband what had happened. He's going to be angry. What if he looked on the internet and saw housewife, 42, dinged up Mercedes in parking garage? Housewife rudely snapped at attendant at Brentwood Gardens. 

Everyone would know she colored her hair at Studio 210 and not at some hotsy-totsy place in Beverly Hills. Who would invite them to dinner after that? She could throw a party and no one would come. Her husband's business would be finished. How would they live?

Oh, for the life of an independent woman. Why hadn't she gone to law school like her parents wanted her to do? Or she could have written poetry and become a professor at UCLA, praised for her originality and verve. How she envied those industrious women. They didn't need a husband, so when the car got dented there was no one to care.

When Diane got home, her husband lounged on the sofa in the den reading The New Yorker magazine. The dog, Boxy, his beloved Boxer, on the ottoman at his side. Boxy was asleep, kicking one back leg and whimpering, obviously chasing some squirrel in the backyard.

"How was your day?" Diane asked.

"Fine," he answered. "How was yours?" He didn't look up from his magazine.

"Okay," she said. "The parking attendant dinged up the fender."

"What are you going to do about it?" he said, still not looking away from his reading.

"Get it fixed, I guess," Diane replied.

"There's an invitation to a Chaine des Rotisserus evening on the dining table. No charge, we're guests of what's-his-name at work, you know who I mean, " he said. "The food and wine should be great."

It was over. Diane laughed. "I love you," she said. The gripping in her chest let go.

"I love you, too," he said, looking over from his reading. "What's up with you?"

"Nothing," she said.

Driving Diane to hysterics



It's August and boring in  West Los Angeles. Diane had gotten her hair cut and colored at Studio 210 in Brentwood Gardens. The back bumper was dented when the valet pulled the car up.  She wanted to get rid of the thing, maybe now was the time. A BMW with better mileage came with full maintenance for something like three years. 

"Are you blind?" Diane snapped. "Couldn't you see how far you were from that other car?" She wanted to scream trying to figure what the repair would cost. Wait a minute. She wasn't liable. Diane had never been into math. She couldn't balance the checkbook, used cash, loved credit cards. It was her mother's fault for not insisting she learn. The teacher never tried to help her after school either. 

Diane had cheer leading then dance practice anyway. A math tutor might have been useful, who knows. For now, she was faced with a difficult decision right here in the garage at Brentwood Gardens. All she wanted to do was scream really loud at everybody within hearing distance, especially the parking attendants.

Diane remembered a little picture at home of her and her mother at Sandusky Point, or whatever it was called. The two of them building a sand castle. Her mother was in a two piece bathing suit, fashionable for the time, poised and smiling on bent knees totally at ease with her hands in the sticky sand pushing a stupid bucket upside down on a mound of what was surely disgusting imported dirty stuff.

Diane had stood there in little girl cotton panties either very happy or very bored. It had been a great day like finding a fancy watch buried in that watery mess. It had been so exciting to go back to their motel greasy spoon and eat fish with green beans, tomatoes and radishes. The waitress had been slow and brought her pizza with pepperoni by mistake.

"That's not what I ordered," Diane had said. She hated talking to strangers even way back then. But she wasn't eating pizza with pepperoni. 

The waitress had looked right at her and said, "Yes it is, but I'll be glad to get what you want."

A man at the next table said, "Don't be so impatient, cutie-pie. Relax. You'll get it soon enough." That made Diane feel like a fool. She sat there, but wanted to hide under a table, gross chewing gum wads and all.

"I am not impatient," Diane remembered saying to him. He was trying to pick a fight, that's all.

That day was a metaphor for her hysterical life. Panic mode was her usual state of mind. Yet she wasn't going to let a parking attendant get the best of her. Not today or any day. Diane looked around. A woman with two girls under six wearing bathing suits blathered about the heat and dance lessons. A matron with starched yellow hair and a St. John two piece suit leaned on her ebony cane. A companion kept asking the matron if she would like to sit down.

"No, no, no," the matron said. "I'm not that decrepit yet." She looked at Diane and smiled. "Don't you hate it when they ding up your car?" she asked. "Makes me want to scream, but then I think about who works here. Wouldn't want to do it in a million years. They have families to support, you know." 

Diane rolled her eyes waiting for the manager to show up. She was offered water and generic chocolates. "My car is dinged up," she said. Willing the corners of her mouths to turn upward only succeded in a twitch, her teeth hinged tightly at the jawbone.  "That's not going to repair it."

A Rolls Royce pulled up. The attendant opened the passenger door, the matron's companion helped her inside. The matron shook an arthritic finger at Diane, then stared straight ahead. 

On the way home, Diane pondered how she would tell her husband what had happened. He's going to be angry. What if he looked on the internet and saw housewife, 42, dinged up Mercedes in parking garage? Housewife rudely snapped at attendant at Brentwood Gardens. 

Everyone would know she colored her hair at Studio 210 and not at some hotsy-totsy place in Beverly Hills. Who would invite them to dinner after that? She could throw a party and no one would come. Her husband's business would be finished. How would they live?

Oh, for the life of an independent woman. Why hadn't she gone to law school like her parents wanted her to do? Or she could have written poetry and become a professor at UCLA, praised for her originality and verve. How she envied those industrious women. They didn't need a husband, so when the car got dented there was no one to care.

When Diane got home, her husband lounged on the sofa in the den reading The New Yorker magazine. The dog, Boxy, his beloved Boxer, on the ottoman at his side. Boxy was asleep, kicking one back leg and whimpering, obviously chasing some squirrel in the backyard.

"How was your day?" Diane asked.

"Fine," he answered. "How was yours?" He didn't look up from his magazine.

"Okay," she said. "The parking attendant dinged up the fender."

"What are you going to do about it?" he said, still not looking away from his reading.

"Get it fixed, I guess," Diane replied.

"There's an invitation to a Chaine des Rotisserus evening on the dining table. No charge, we're guests of what's-his-name at work, you know who I mean, " he said. "The food and wine should be great."

It was over. Diane laughed. "I love you," she said. The gripping in her chest let go.

"I love you, too," he said, looking over from his reading. "What's up with you?"

"Nothing," she said.

Tuesday, July 15, 2008

Cruisin' to Calm with Chris


So, I've been dreading this. Anticipating it for at least a month. We've been having unusually hot weather for this time of year here in sunny Southern California, and neither me nor my lady want to have a brawl.

However, She has made an appointment for me with the veterinarian today. In the name of peace and sanity I hope she has a simple plan. She tip-toed out to the garage first thing this morning, pulled down that big old grey heavy carrier from the top shelf, wiped it down inside and out, then put a few soft old ragtag pieces inside. 

I sprawled out across the top of the dryer while she kept her back to me so I wouldn't see what she was doing. She's really a love, so I take it all with a few bits of dry food. Here's hoping she sprays that old thing with the Feliway stuff. It's to me what a couple of glasses of wine is to her. Meeoouw.

So far, the day's not going well for us. The phone started ringing at 8 AM, seemed everybody had something important to talk to her about. I wanted my time, too, so clawed her yoga pants until she picked me up.  "Stop that, you'll rip them," she says, right before she picks me up. Works like a charm.

She tells everyone about the vet appointment. Has herself all worked up about it.  I'm saying to myself something along the lines of every thing's going to be fine, that vet likes me, I like him. He's a good bud. We're cool. 

It's cool on the kitchen floor. I think it's nap time. Ah, feels so good to stretch out. Wish she'd cool it. Every time she starts to get something done, she looks around to find me. What am I going to do? Run away. Only a dog would do that.

I'm going in her office, get away from her craziness. I can see myself in there, kind of up against the glass on the wall. I'm a good looking big silver dude, fur all nice and fluffy, eyes clear and so yellow, tail moving just how I like it.They don't call me Christopher Columbus for nothing. This is the last place she'll look for me.

Oh great, now she's got that new ear piece on her head. She's shouting to someone how she's got to get used to it. She'll get a ticket if she doesn't have it in the car. Blahblahblah. She's doing the multitasking stuff, never works for her. When will she learn to do one thing at a time, relax, take it easy. The woman thumps around this house like an elephant, too.

Here she comes. I've been found out. She's got that stupid black cat, Merlin, on her shoulder while she juggles the cell phone. Guess the ear piece isn't working. Hah! He moved, scratched her shoulder and she dropped him, phone too. Good thing there's carpet. Okay, so maybe, while she sits at the computer, I can get some peace and quiet.

That pile of papers over there looks like just the place for me. First, I think I"ll pad on over to her and jump on her lap. She'll even let me walk on the computer keyboard. Then I can knock the phone off the desk while I jump to the top of the bookshelf. It's cozy up there. Easy to fall asleep. 

What, what, what's going on. She's creeping down the hallway. Oh no, she's going to put that carrier box right out of my sight so she can slide me in there before I know what's up. Well, I'm not moving. How's she plan to get me down from here? Puuurrr...

I give, I give, don't want her to cry or break something getting me down. Isn't this too sweet. She scoops me up, slouching around like some thief in the night, hustling me into that thing. "It's okay, scrumptious," she coos. "I'm not going to let that mean old doctor do anything bad to you." I'm getting a shot, I just know it.

Maybe I'll kick the door with my back legs just for good measure, right before she closes it. That felt good. Feels pretty good in here, for a big plastic igloo. Why can't she get me something nice? Meow, meow meow. She's not listening.

The rest of this big ordeal goes one, two, three. "Hey Chris," the vet says as he hefts me out of that cage, "you're looking really good today." I want to kiss him, so I lick him. "Let's see how much you weigh."  I hate the weigh-in. If I'm a little over, she gets all worried and wants to change my food.  I like my food. It's always the same, agrees with me, and in the bowl. I won't eat it if she changes it. She should know that by now.

"Healthy," my Mr. Fine Vet says. "I'll be quick," he says to me or her, I'm never sure. So, it sticks and stings for a second. Big deal. I'm a big guy. "That's it for today," he says and rubs me right behind the ears." He is a really cool guy with really cool paws.

But, I'll be walking myself back in that carrier, thank you very much. Ready to go home now. A seconds worth of sting for me, a morning's worth of anxiety for her. 

Wish I could tell her my affirmation every day. Move toward my intention smoothly and easily, eat and nap and play. She sure did waste a lot of energy. Her third chakra needs attention. 

Since she can't purr, why doesn't she try humming?

Peace. 

Cruisin' to Calm with Chris


So, I've been dreading this. Anticipating it for at least a month. We've been having unusually hot weather for this time of year here in sunny Southern California, and neither me nor my lady want to have a brawl.

However, She has made an appointment for me with the veterinarian today. In the name of peace and sanity I hope she has a simple plan. She tip-toed out to the garage first thing this morning, pulled down that big old grey heavy carrier from the top shelf, wiped it down inside and out, then put a few soft old ragtag pieces inside. 

I sprawled out across the top of the dryer while she kept her back to me so I wouldn't see what she was doing. She's really a love, so I take it all with a few bits of dry food. Here's hoping she sprays that old thing with the Feliway stuff. It's to me what a couple of glasses of wine is to her. Meeoouw.

So far, the day's not going well for us. The phone started ringing at 8 AM, seemed everybody had something important to talk to her about. I wanted my time, too, so clawed her yoga pants until she picked me up.  "Stop that, you'll rip them," she says, right before she picks me up. Works like a charm.

She tells everyone about the vet appointment. Has herself all worked up about it.  I'm saying to myself something along the lines of every thing's going to be fine, that vet likes me, I like him. He's a good bud. We're cool. 

It's cool on the kitchen floor. I think it's nap time. Ah, feels so good to stretch out. Wish she'd cool it. Every time she starts to get something done, she looks around to find me. What am I going to do? Run away. Only a dog would do that.

I'm going in her office, get away from her craziness. I can see myself in there, kind of up against the glass on the wall. I'm a good looking big silver dude, fur all nice and fluffy, eyes clear and so yellow, tail moving just how I like it.They don't call me Christopher Columbus for nothing. This is the last place she'll look for me.

Oh great, now she's got that new ear piece on her head. She's shouting to someone how she's got to get used to it. She'll get a ticket if she doesn't have it in the car. Blahblahblah. She's doing the multitasking stuff, never works for her. When will she learn to do one thing at a time, relax, take it easy. The woman thumps around this house like an elephant, too.

Here she comes. I've been found out. She's got that stupid black cat, Merlin, on her shoulder while she juggles the cell phone. Guess the ear piece isn't working. Hah! He moved, scratched her shoulder and she dropped him, phone too. Good thing there's carpet. Okay, so maybe, while she sits at the computer, I can get some peace and quiet.

That pile of papers over there looks like just the place for me. First, I think I"ll pad on over to her and jump on her lap. She'll even let me walk on the computer keyboard. Then I can knock the phone off the desk while I jump to the top of the bookshelf. It's cozy up there. Easy to fall asleep. 

What, what, what's going on. She's creeping down the hallway. Oh no, she's going to put that carrier box right out of my sight so she can slide me in there before I know what's up. Well, I'm not moving. How's she plan to get me down from here? Puuurrr...

I give, I give, don't want her to cry or break something getting me down. Isn't this too sweet. She scoops me up, slouching around like some thief in the night, hustling me into that thing. "It's okay, scrumptious," she coos. "I'm not going to let that mean old doctor do anything bad to you." I'm getting a shot, I just know it.

Maybe I'll kick the door with my back legs just for good measure, right before she closes it. That felt good. Feels pretty good in here, for a big plastic igloo. Why can't she get me something nice? Meow, meow meow. She's not listening.

The rest of this big ordeal goes one, two, three. "Hey Chris," the vet says as he hefts me out of that cage, "you're looking really good today." I want to kiss him, so I lick him. "Let's see how much you weigh."  I hate the weigh-in. If I'm a little over, she gets all worried and wants to change my food.  I like my food. It's always the same, agrees with me, and in the bowl. I won't eat it if she changes it. She should know that by now.

"Healthy," my Mr. Fine Vet says. "I'll be quick," he says to me or her, I'm never sure. So, it sticks and stings for a second. Big deal. I'm a big guy. "That's it for today," he says and rubs me right behind the ears." He is a really cool guy with really cool paws.

But, I'll be walking myself back in that carrier, thank you very much. Ready to go home now. A seconds worth of sting for me, a morning's worth of anxiety for her. 

Wish I could tell her my affirmation every day. Move toward my intention smoothly and easily, eat and nap and play. She sure did waste a lot of energy. Her third chakra needs attention. 

Since she can't purr, why doesn't she try humming?

Peace. 

Saturday, July 12, 2008

When Annie Gets Anxious


...in July she makes applesauce. Lots and lots of applesauce.

That's when Beverly Hills apples ripen in Sherman Oaks, California where she lives. Annie picks them all from a single tree in the backyard or from where they've fallen and rolled in the garden. Some are large streaked in red, others quite small like pale green rocks. Most of them, at least in part, make it into the pot. 

Annie soaks the apples in a sink full of sudsy cool water, then runs her fingers around each one feeling for bruises or holes. Ones with stems still attached get rinsed separately. If the stems made it this far, then they deserve gentle removal.  A good rinse and the apples are ready to go.

She slices them open with a paring knife in one swoop. Then cuts, slowly and methodically, on each side of the core until only the seeds are left. With one swoop the seeds are offed. This precision wastes none of the solid white flesh and often exposes worms rather than chopping them up.
 
Annie leaves a small bit of apple around the worms and sets them aside on a small clear glass plate. The squiggling worms used to give her the creeps, but since she doesn't peel the apples, Annie perfected cutting around them. That way the worms ended up in the composter and could eat something else rather than dying such a harsh sharp death.

Of course, Annie has a big old dutch oven. It's ordinary enough and special enough to have hosted fish and potato chowders, chicken soup (every time somebody gets sick), boiling potatoes that get mashed right there in the pot every Thanksgiving, and even bouillabaisse. No lobsters.  

Annie thinks about all those delicious, delectable meals as she drops the first few quartered apples, bing bong, onto the bottom of the pot. Her fingers work steadfastly, quickly, paring away like a corpsman on kitchen duty with a sack full of potatoes.

She pops a piece in her mouth periodically. The fresh juicy tartness brings a slow smile that spreads, by the time the pot is full, from ear to ear. This is her secret, and greatest delight. 

Annie's never measured how much water she pours over the apple slices. Enough, is what she'll tell you if you ask.  A heap of cinnamon and dusting of nutmeg contrast so distinctly with the apple green she wishes it didn't have to be stirred into the vortex that ultimately leaves an appearance of green speckled skin, then dissolves into a neutral multidimensional background. 

"I imagine a very early Andy Warhol might have looked like this, before he added the vivid gold leaf and pale singular figures. Back when he was just figuring out how to juggle the images and colors, "she said once.

As in every cooking experience, time lapses while the pot simmers, and the mind can rest as it watches the natural events take place as the mixture shifts, mushes, mulls and dissolves into an aromatic new form. There have been times when Annie put in too much water, so she had to cook it off, which gave her a little more time to consider the process. She thinks about how if her hand didn't stir the pot, the apples would stick to the bottom of the pan and burn and be ruined. She realizes with joy that she has a "hand" in the outcome of this endeavor which is inevitably successful in about an hour or so.

So simple and so beautiful.

Annie would never presume to tell others how to make applesauce, or even that they should make applesauce, but she does love to share a bowl full with everyone she knows. 

And that's the truth. To some extent.

When Annie Gets Anxious


...in July she makes applesauce. Lots and lots of applesauce.

That's when Beverly Hills apples ripen in Sherman Oaks, California where she lives. Annie picks them all from a single tree in the backyard or from where they've fallen and rolled in the garden. Some are large streaked in red, others quite small like pale green rocks. Most of them, at least in part, make it into the pot. 

Annie soaks the apples in a sink full of sudsy cool water, then runs her fingers around each one feeling for bruises or holes. Ones with stems still attached get rinsed separately. If the stems made it this far, then they deserve gentle removal.  A good rinse and the apples are ready to go.

She slices them open with a paring knife in one swoop. Then cuts, slowly and methodically, on each side of the core until only the seeds are left. With one swoop the seeds are offed. This precision wastes none of the solid white flesh and often exposes worms rather than chopping them up.
 
Annie leaves a small bit of apple around the worms and sets them aside on a small clear glass plate. The squiggling worms used to give her the creeps, but since she doesn't peel the apples, Annie perfected cutting around them. That way the worms ended up in the composter and could eat something else rather than dying such a harsh sharp death.

Of course, Annie has a big old dutch oven. It's ordinary enough and special enough to have hosted fish and potato chowders, chicken soup (every time somebody gets sick), boiling potatoes that get mashed right there in the pot every Thanksgiving, and even bouillabaisse. No lobsters.  

Annie thinks about all those delicious, delectable meals as she drops the first few quartered apples, bing bong, onto the bottom of the pot. Her fingers work steadfastly, quickly, paring away like a corpsman on kitchen duty with a sack full of potatoes.

She pops a piece in her mouth periodically. The fresh juicy tartness brings a slow smile that spreads, by the time the pot is full, from ear to ear. This is her secret, and greatest delight. 

Annie's never measured how much water she pours over the apple slices. Enough, is what she'll tell you if you ask.  A heap of cinnamon and dusting of nutmeg contrast so distinctly with the apple green she wishes it didn't have to be stirred into the vortex that ultimately leaves an appearance of green speckled skin, then dissolves into a neutral multidimensional background. 

"I imagine a very early Andy Warhol might have looked like this, before he added the vivid gold leaf and pale singular figures. Back when he was just figuring out how to juggle the images and colors, "she said once.

As in every cooking experience, time lapses while the pot simmers, and the mind can rest as it watches the natural events take place as the mixture shifts, mushes, mulls and dissolves into an aromatic new form. There have been times when Annie put in too much water, so she had to cook it off, which gave her a little more time to consider the process. She thinks about how if her hand didn't stir the pot, the apples would stick to the bottom of the pan and burn and be ruined. She realizes with joy that she has a "hand" in the outcome of this endeavor which is inevitably successful in about an hour or so.

So simple and so beautiful.

Annie would never presume to tell others how to make applesauce, or even that they should make applesauce, but she does love to share a bowl full with everyone she knows. 

And that's the truth. To some extent.

Thursday, July 10, 2008

How Becky Got Married


Becky is small and naturally blond with deepsea blue eyes and a very svelte figure. She works as a secretary, same place for a couple decades. She had a model's portfolio and ambitions when she was younger, but it didn't pan out, and eventually she got a good job.

A short lousy marriage along the way really got her down, but with the help of family and friends, she got over it, and learned what not to do. Meantime, she went to work every day, showed up on time, took disappointments and frustrations in stride, and saved her money. 

She lived in a variety of places over the years, but no matter what, she had a cat or two or three. Wherever she moved cat food, petromalt, brushes and combs went with her. She's the type who would go to the city shelter and buy a cat who was on death row with the last money in her checking account. I don't know if she ever actually did this, but it is her nature.

She would try every way she could come up with to find homes for stray cats. Almost overnight she would become attached to these cats and want to keep them herself. She knew she couldn't so she made it a point to have lots of friends who loved cats.

Eventually she bought a condo where she lived for several years quite happily with her cats. There was a cat box upstairs as well as downstairs and she kept them clean and tidy. The condo never smelled of cat odor. Cat fur was not a problem either.

Someone once suggested that the cats were her substitutes for a real relationship with a man. She did have relationships but none of the men interested her more than the cats, and certainly not enough to get rid of a cat. She felt sad about this but the cats loved her and accepted her in a way that no man ever had.

She knew that when the right man came along he would be willing to accept these circumstances like the Prince accepted Cinderella's ugly stepsisters, who once they got used to him weren't ugly at all, merely a different species of God's creatures.

Because Becky was so beautiful, and her cats were so beautiful, she looked for beautiful men. She hoped she had found the one in an ex-body builder with slicked back black hair and an Italian accent. He liked her condo so much he put in a lot of time, not necessarily money, making changes. The more changes he made in her condo, the more she wished he would change.  He didn't mind his own mess, but she and the cats did.

This went on for awhile. She even ended up in the hospital at one point. First one cat got sick, then the other one. All this made Becky sad and mad. The Italian accent (who had never been an Italian stallion) had to go. 

She mothered her cats, taking them to the vet, giving them medicine, making sure they were properly nursed when she could not be there. 

Then one day, she had lunch with an old friend. He and his wife had divorced, his children were grown, he was lonely. She didn't know it but he had wanted to date her a long time ago, but she hadn't been interested. See, he didn't look like the Prince Charming she'd envisioned. 

After a few weeks, or maybe it was only a day, Becky realized she was falling in love with him. He was gentle, kind, considerate, fun, sparkly, loving and more beautiful than any cat she'd ever cuddled because when they cuddled in front of the television he was much more exciting in a manly kind of way. He also had the kind of career that allowed her the same independence as the cats always had.

They married shortly before Christmas and moved into a home of their own. 

Becky walked around her condo one last time after it was sold. She felt sad but glad that her life had been so happy there. Her sisters were happy for her, her friends were happy for her, and she got lots of new stuff for the big new house.   

There was one problem. Her sick cats. Moving them into the new house proved to be too much. And, her husband had inherited from his ex-wife two tiny fluffy elderly dogs. Her husband felt sorry for her two sick cats, so when each died, he buried them just outside Becky's reading window.

Becky was now past the point of wanting to have babies, besides she had gained the affection of his children, so she acknowledged his dogs as God's creatures, too. Her remaining cat settled in, and the five of them are living very hap-hap-ily, as Becky said recently.

And that is true. To some extent.

How Becky Got Married


Becky is small and naturally blond with deepsea blue eyes and a very svelte figure. She works as a secretary, same place for a couple decades. She had a model's portfolio and ambitions when she was younger, but it didn't pan out, and eventually she got a good job.

A short lousy marriage along the way really got her down, but with the help of family and friends, she got over it, and learned what not to do. Meantime, she went to work every day, showed up on time, took disappointments and frustrations in stride, and saved her money. 

She lived in a variety of places over the years, but no matter what, she had a cat or two or three. Wherever she moved cat food, petromalt, brushes and combs went with her. She's the type who would go to the city shelter and buy a cat who was on death row with the last money in her checking account. I don't know if she ever actually did this, but it is her nature.

She would try every way she could come up with to find homes for stray cats. Almost overnight she would become attached to these cats and want to keep them herself. She knew she couldn't so she made it a point to have lots of friends who loved cats.

Eventually she bought a condo where she lived for several years quite happily with her cats. There was a cat box upstairs as well as downstairs and she kept them clean and tidy. The condo never smelled of cat odor. Cat fur was not a problem either.

Someone once suggested that the cats were her substitutes for a real relationship with a man. She did have relationships but none of the men interested her more than the cats, and certainly not enough to get rid of a cat. She felt sad about this but the cats loved her and accepted her in a way that no man ever had.

She knew that when the right man came along he would be willing to accept these circumstances like the Prince accepted Cinderella's ugly stepsisters, who once they got used to him weren't ugly at all, merely a different species of God's creatures.

Because Becky was so beautiful, and her cats were so beautiful, she looked for beautiful men. She hoped she had found the one in an ex-body builder with slicked back black hair and an Italian accent. He liked her condo so much he put in a lot of time, not necessarily money, making changes. The more changes he made in her condo, the more she wished he would change.  He didn't mind his own mess, but she and the cats did.

This went on for awhile. She even ended up in the hospital at one point. First one cat got sick, then the other one. All this made Becky sad and mad. The Italian accent (who had never been an Italian stallion) had to go. 

She mothered her cats, taking them to the vet, giving them medicine, making sure they were properly nursed when she could not be there. 

Then one day, she had lunch with an old friend. He and his wife had divorced, his children were grown, he was lonely. She didn't know it but he had wanted to date her a long time ago, but she hadn't been interested. See, he didn't look like the Prince Charming she'd envisioned. 

After a few weeks, or maybe it was only a day, Becky realized she was falling in love with him. He was gentle, kind, considerate, fun, sparkly, loving and more beautiful than any cat she'd ever cuddled because when they cuddled in front of the television he was much more exciting in a manly kind of way. He also had the kind of career that allowed her the same independence as the cats always had.

They married shortly before Christmas and moved into a home of their own. 

Becky walked around her condo one last time after it was sold. She felt sad but glad that her life had been so happy there. Her sisters were happy for her, her friends were happy for her, and she got lots of new stuff for the big new house.   

There was one problem. Her sick cats. Moving them into the new house proved to be too much. And, her husband had inherited from his ex-wife two tiny fluffy elderly dogs. Her husband felt sorry for her two sick cats, so when each died, he buried them just outside Becky's reading window.

Becky was now past the point of wanting to have babies, besides she had gained the affection of his children, so she acknowledged his dogs as God's creatures, too. Her remaining cat settled in, and the five of them are living very hap-hap-ily, as Becky said recently.

And that is true. To some extent.

Tuesday, July 8, 2008

We were at a wedding shower...

...in Los Angeles having a great time when one of the six bridesmaid's announced her big day would be 8/8/08. 

"I love the idea of 8-8-8," she bubbled and cooed, reaching her long arms around me and bumping my forehead like we were making a toast. "I wasn't sure about this until today, and now it is just so clear to me," she added in that whirlwind way that spirals upward in its own vacuum and tunnel.

Her mother quietly beamed at her, then at me. The paucity of words made her glow that much more meaningful. This woman had lost her husband of nearly 3 decades only a year earlier following a protracted illness. She, herself, was ill although no one spoke about it. 

"I'm really happy, I think," the mother said after awhile. "I love where we live now. The sky is full of stars after dark, there are distinct seasons, it's really beautiful." She paused. Her breath so soft that nothing moved.  "It's good to start over, I've changed my name." 

A group hug and round of picture-taking shifted the mood back to party mode. The room rocked, more like bounced, with girlish giggling, oohs and aahs, and a familial competitive spirit as one game followed the other, winners announced and applauded, followed by short silly speeches. More giggling.

Strapless afternoon dresses swirled and long straight hair hung thick and groomed over straight bare shoulder, while these friends tried to remember what had been so important way back when they were in high school, even in grade school.

"The pomegranate tree, the pomegranate tree," someone shouted. 

"Do you remember the pomegranate tree in the school yard?" asked my dearest young friend who had just announced her wedding day. 

I shook my head. I really didn't.

"I do," her mother said. 

And that, I thought to myself, is what today is all about. 

"I do." 

We were at a wedding shower...

...in Los Angeles having a great time when one of the six bridesmaid's announced her big day would be 8/8/08. 

"I love the idea of 8-8-8," she bubbled and cooed, reaching her long arms around me and bumping my forehead like we were making a toast. "I wasn't sure about this until today, and now it is just so clear to me," she added in that whirlwind way that spirals upward in its own vacuum and tunnel.

Her mother quietly beamed at her, then at me. The paucity of words made her glow that much more meaningful. This woman had lost her husband of nearly 3 decades only a year earlier following a protracted illness. She, herself, was ill although no one spoke about it. 

"I'm really happy, I think," the mother said after awhile. "I love where we live now. The sky is full of stars after dark, there are distinct seasons, it's really beautiful." She paused. Her breath so soft that nothing moved.  "It's good to start over, I've changed my name." 

A group hug and round of picture-taking shifted the mood back to party mode. The room rocked, more like bounced, with girlish giggling, oohs and aahs, and a familial competitive spirit as one game followed the other, winners announced and applauded, followed by short silly speeches. More giggling.

Strapless afternoon dresses swirled and long straight hair hung thick and groomed over straight bare shoulder, while these friends tried to remember what had been so important way back when they were in high school, even in grade school.

"The pomegranate tree, the pomegranate tree," someone shouted. 

"Do you remember the pomegranate tree in the school yard?" asked my dearest young friend who had just announced her wedding day. 

I shook my head. I really didn't.

"I do," her mother said. 

And that, I thought to myself, is what today is all about. 

"I do." 

Sunday, July 6, 2008

Sometimes it is all about how we SEE things

My husband can be so annoying. He has these all-knowing illusions.   

For instance, tonight my son called asking how to get mold off of his linen pants. He'd stuffed gym clothes in the hamper (where they should go as opposed to on the floor) and forgotten about them for a few days. One entire pant leg had grown mold. 

My husband overhears our conversation, and intervenes with well-intentioned information about lemon juice and salt and putting the pants in the sun to dry. Instead of shutting up at that point, he makes a comment alluding to how careless and irresponsible our son is. He points out that car keys have been misplaced, a cell phone crushed, and now linen pants damaged. 

 My husband then hangs up the phone, with no illusion whatsoever as to his hurtfulness. I hit redial, and calmly remind my son that his father might be allusive since this is his assessment, and perhaps there is something more going on that we need to discuss and correct.

His girlfriend has been giving him a hard time for forgetting things. He gave her a birthday card (not a gift) two weeks late. FYI: Alluding to a poor memory eludes the fact that she will have no illusions about you.

He added that she has been "picking on him" this weekend. My son continued to elude his forgetfulness claiming a hundred good reasons. 

I decide to ask him directly why he is being so elusive suggesting  that this is actually about his illusiveness

Sometimes, things slip his mind, he says, like the gym clothes and giving her a gift, not to mention the card. He doesn't understand why his dad and girlfriend are upset with him. He just wants to clean up the linen pant, and get along with them both. He's one sad fellow.

So, it falls to me, the mother to point out to him that he is under the illusion that there are no consequences for actions. You put sweaty gym clothes on linen pants in a closed place, and mold will grow. You fail to give your girlfriend a gift, or at the very least a card, for her birthday, and she will be unhappy with you. Your dad isn't going to be sympathetic, he's going to point out the obvious, matter-of-fact.

It is illusory of him to pretend otherwise. That illusiveness could well be what is eluding him from properly caring for the sweaty gm clothes and the girlfriend. It even might be why he lost his car keys. It is time, I alluded to him gently, to be open to meeting new girls.

And, I added, keep in mind that your father only alludes to being right all the time because he has illusions about himself which trip him up on a regular basis as he eludes the obvious, which is that I am the one who is usually right. 

Sometimes it is all about how we SEE things

My husband can be so annoying. He has these all-knowing illusions.   

For instance, tonight my son called asking how to get mold off of his linen pants. He'd stuffed gym clothes in the hamper (where they should go as opposed to on the floor) and forgotten about them for a few days. One entire pant leg had grown mold. 

My husband overhears our conversation, and intervenes with well-intentioned information about lemon juice and salt and putting the pants in the sun to dry. Instead of shutting up at that point, he makes a comment alluding to how careless and irresponsible our son is. He points out that car keys have been misplaced, a cell phone crushed, and now linen pants damaged. 

 My husband then hangs up the phone, with no illusion whatsoever as to his hurtfulness. I hit redial, and calmly remind my son that his father might be allusive since this is his assessment, and perhaps there is something more going on that we need to discuss and correct.

His girlfriend has been giving him a hard time for forgetting things. He gave her a birthday card (not a gift) two weeks late. FYI: Alluding to a poor memory eludes the fact that she will have no illusions about you.

He added that she has been "picking on him" this weekend. My son continued to elude his forgetfulness claiming a hundred good reasons. 

I decide to ask him directly why he is being so elusive suggesting  that this is actually about his illusiveness

Sometimes, things slip his mind, he says, like the gym clothes and giving her a gift, not to mention the card. He doesn't understand why his dad and girlfriend are upset with him. He just wants to clean up the linen pant, and get along with them both. He's one sad fellow.

So, it falls to me, the mother to point out to him that he is under the illusion that there are no consequences for actions. You put sweaty gym clothes on linen pants in a closed place, and mold will grow. You fail to give your girlfriend a gift, or at the very least a card, for her birthday, and she will be unhappy with you. Your dad isn't going to be sympathetic, he's going to point out the obvious, matter-of-fact.

It is illusory of him to pretend otherwise. That illusiveness could well be what is eluding him from properly caring for the sweaty gm clothes and the girlfriend. It even might be why he lost his car keys. It is time, I alluded to him gently, to be open to meeting new girls.

And, I added, keep in mind that your father only alludes to being right all the time because he has illusions about himself which trip him up on a regular basis as he eludes the obvious, which is that I am the one who is usually right.