Sunday, June 8, 2014

Of Bangles and Silk

Photo Credit
I have a gypsy shadow… She rises from the steam of my bath, curling, twirling, spinning madly, arms raised entwined above her head. The tinks and clinks and tiny bells upon her skirts hypnotize my busyness, slow me down, calm my buzzing brain. She is a froth of activity, but so free, so wild, so unencumbered I forget to worry, I just watch…

She twirls into the depths of me and spins herself around my heart, releasing all of the things I should not do, could not do, have not done. She opens the gates on my fears and sends them fleeing out into the openness, away from me and my soul. She laughs at my reluctance, dances through my anxiety and flings my insecurities and doubts far away.

She unfurls my confidence like the silky scarf tied fast around her hair and opens me wide with the flick of a ringed hand, bangles clanking against her wrists. Refusing my hesitation with a hearty cascade of laughter she reaches in deep, caressing my inner secrets, cherishing my awe and wonder wresting from me the gems I never thought to possess.

The silver bells on her ankles bounce and sing as she beckons me to loose the wild, to dance with her in abandon and unbridled joy. Her cascading laughter and whispered sighs encourage me to dive and spin and twist beside her, to open that vault of mystery and explore the delights inside. She pulls the burn of my desire from my deeps and spins the flame, unafraid, into an orb of bright and inviting light. She is revealing the hidden and giving wings to my dreams in ways I could not do.

I have a gypsy shadow and she's never far away…. Listen and you can hear her sing.

Tuesday, June 3, 2014

Watercolor by Quincy Brown

I see you…

I see your intensity, your smiling eyes, your mouth pursed as you create the life you imagine through your art and your writing.

I see your desire to do right, to choose wisely, to make us proud.

I see you…

I see that spark that lights within when your friends reach out, when they touch your heart, when they hear your silent cries.

I see a woman with incredible drive, a lust for life, a laugh that reflects immense joy within.

I see you…

I see my shadow, pale and waning; not much of me now, but all of you.

I see your heart, vulnerable and soft, in your touch and hugs, your breath on my neck.

I see you…

I crave your voice, the laugh that cascades like water, the way it floats on air and sings back to me all of your secrets and dreams.

I feel your loss, the stepping away, the testing of boundaries and I see your cautious look back.

I see you…

I see the day fast approaching when I will wait to hear your call, to watch you drive in the driveway, to feel your hug around my neck.

I see your wings, stretched out, ready for flight and new, adventurous views.

I see you, darling girl, with all of your shining little gems. I see you when you are sure nobody sees. I see you and I am filled with joy!

Monday, May 26, 2014

Getting Affairs In Order (Short story: Long post)

Photo Credit: Creative Commons
She was there, kneeling on a low gardener's bench, her aged hands gloved and working steadily, a large brimmed hat with a festive floral ribbon pulled down on her greying head. She alternated between the small spade and her hands, turning over the earth and plucking out the unwanted weeds. When she sat upright and reached for the glass of lemonade not far away, August decided she could interrupt.

"I was wondering when you would come through that gate," her grandmother grinned sidelong at her as she replaced the glass at her side and began her work again. "What's up, Buttercup?"

August sighed and sank to the railroad tie that delineated one of her grandmother's small flower beds. She fidgeted with a dandelion that had been yanked from its purchase and tossed to the side. Just the thought of speaking to her Gran was causing her eyes to sting with unshed tears. What was it about voicing a problem that made her puddle like a school girl?

"Take your time," the old woman offered gently, still turning earth over and creating a soft dark pillow around the plants and flowers. "I'm not going anywhere."

August took a long breath as an attempt at steadying her voice. Still unsure, she took another, watching as the gnarled hands of her grandmother worked gently, lovingly, but steadily; turning with the spade, sifting with her gloved hands, the freckles along her papery skinned arm shifting and flexing with each movement.

Finally August offered softly, "I don't know what to do anymore. I feel so lonely and lost," and with that, the tears began to fall. She watched as her grandmother kept on working, shifting her gardening bench into different areas, but still the same methodical movements. She was giving her room, permission to find the words in her own time, with her own voice.

"I don't know, Gran. Maybe I am making a mountain out of a mole hill but he's so distant, and I am so angry and we fight all the time. I wonder if it's over," her voice cracked and broke, tears coursing down her face now, her breath coming in ragged bursts. She swiped at her cheeks, and blew a breath out through her pursed lips.

The old woman rocked back on her haunches and wiped at her craggy forehead with the back of a gloved hand, "Do you want it to be over?" She gazed at her granddaughter with clear, bright eyes, concern etching her thin mouth in tiny, fine lines.

August could only shake her head no, too afraid to risk speech lest she begin to bawl incoherently.

Gran nodded to herself and returned to the earth in front of her, "Then it isn't over."

"But how do I do this, Gran? How do I keep our marriage from imploding? How did you do it, all those years with Poppy?" She listened in desperation as the hat bobbed up and down, rhythmically keeping time with the movements of her hands in the dirt.

A grin crept along the corners of Gran's mouth as she delicately placed an upturned earthworm back into the shade of a peony bush where it burrowed quickly into the soft black soil. She turned her gaze on her granddaughter and chuckled, "I had affairs. Lots and lots of affairs."

August  dropped the dandelion and gaped at her grandmother, working ceaselessly non-plussed in the hot sun. Had she heard that right? Surely not! "Gran, what did you say?"

"I had affairs." The hands turned and flicked, sorted and sifted, leaving behind newly turned earth, breathing new life to the roots of her precious garden. She was smiling to herself and patting at the brown carpet before her before turning round and sitting on the kneeling bench, her knees the color of coffee, the wet dirt caking her khaki capris.

August could only stare in shock. Her grandmother had affairs? She couldn't make her head wrap around the image of Gran in another man's arms. It was unfathomable.

"I think one of the things that we women do to our men is put them up on these pedestals that they never asked to be elevated to," Gran continued, "We ask them to be our everything: friend, lover, confidant, provider, and the weight of that is crushing," She took a long draught of the glass heavy with condensation before offering it to August. She refused with a shake of her brown curls.

"We think that once we are married our lives should center around this one man, this one thing about us: our marriage. We think we have to concentrate our entire effort on being the best wife, the best mother and the best couple among our friends. We lose ourselves in that single solitary thing about us and we expect that our husbands will lose themselves too," she glanced at August who was watching her intently. "and when they do not, we are crushed. We wonder what we did wrong, why doesn't he love us they same way we love him? We forget to be who they fell in love with; we forget that we are vibrant, loving, talented women and we wither in our lopsided bitterness."

August sighed at the recognition. She had done just that, but was the answer really another man? She shook her head from side to side, "I don't think I could do it, Gran; take on a lover?"

Her grandmother burst out laughing, the peals of it cascading around the brick foundation of her home and trickling down the vining roses along multiple trellises, "Oh my word, child! I don't mean I had affairs with other men!" Her laughter echoed around the copse of fruit trees and trotted back to them on tiny unseen hooves, "If I am having issues with the one man, why on earth would I invite another into the mix?" It was Gran's turn to shake her head, grinning from ear to ear as she patted August on the back.

"No, dear child, I had affairs with myself, with my interests. After almost leaving my marriage in only the third year because I had mistakenly made it the complete center of my existence, I decided I had to find another focus. I began to explore me and who I was, who I wanted to be. I gardened," she gestured at the fabulous beds surrounding her home, cultivated from years and years of attentive grooming. "I painted, I read voraciously, I volunteered, I even traveled. I did it all without the aid or company of your Poppy. I had to."

August nodded, recalling all of these things in her Gran's life. She was here because she admired this woman, so strong and vibrant, even with the sudden passing of her husband after 48 years of wedded bliss.

"Once I quit making that man the sole center of my existence, once I released myself to take care of me," she pulled her gloves off, one finger at a time, "I released him to remember I am capable of living without him. It eased the burden he already felt heavy on his heart. It let him breathe."

She lay the gloves on the bench beside her and clasped her hands around her knobby knees, "A marriage cannot survive inside a sealed vault. It has to breathe," her bright eyes locked with August's. "If you hold a bunny too tightly, soft and lovely as it is, what happens?" Her scant eyebrows lifted with the question.

August recalled holding that little grey ball of fluff as it breathed its last in her hands, having refused to put it down for far too long. She had been just a child but it had been a lasting lesson, and her Gran had been the one to pick up the pieces when she fell to devastation over the loss. She sighed into her lap, "It dies."

Gran laid her hand on August's shoulder, "You have to let it rest, honey. If you overwater and over-tend, your garden will die. There is a time to weed and work and a time to sit in the shade with a glass of something and enjoy the view."

"Giving him some space will remind him how much he enjoys your presence. If there is never absence, there isn't a chance to miss someone. If he never misses you, he will take you for granted. If he takes you for granted, you will want to know why you are trying so hard, why you should stay." Gran stood and stretched out long, her bared shins as freckled with skin as papery thin as her arms, but there was strength beneath that aging skin. Her calves were muscled and wiry, her torso thinner than most women her age. She had obviously taken care of herself, thought August, and maybe this was the very reason she still radiated vibrance.

"Does it get better?" August tried to be hopeful, "Did Poppy appreciate you more?"

Gran's face shifted to a wistful smile, "No." The word hung like a pall between them, "But I appreciated me more." A tear traced its way down her soft cheeks, rosy with the heat.

"You cannot make someone notice you nor change who they are inside. You can only decide whether you will stay and what you will do to make it work for you. I knew I loved him more. I knew I would always be a little bit lonely in the marriage, but I also knew I would be devastated without him. I chose. I chose to stay; I chose to choose me when I needed to and I chose to love him in the ways he needed." She stared off into the muggy humidity of the morning. "It was not a silver bullet, darling. Nothing is. Marriage is hard and often an unequal endeavor, but then I was never taught it would be equitable."

"That is a lie that your mother's generation tried to sell you," she grinned and wiped at her leaking eyes, "Marriage is very seldom an equitable endeavor. There will be times when it is easier to look into each other's eyes and then there will be times you are fathoms apart. In those times, when you cannot see eye to eye, don't look to him for your happiness. Look to the mirror and look to God." She bent to reach for the bench and her now empty glass.



"Thank you." August stood and clasped her grandmother in a hug around the myriad awkward pieces of equipment in her arms.

"Go do you, August. You will appreciate it, even if he doesn't." Gran pecked at her cheek and waved with her fingers as she turned to retreat into the cool shade of her kitchen, screen door slamming against the wooden jamb in punctuated finality.

August sighed and made her way back out the garden gate. She would have to find a way… No, she would choose to find a way.

Wednesday, May 7, 2014

Mourning Light

They were gone. The noise, the warmth of their multitude, the chatter of their voices, low and reverent… It was all gone. Now the silence invaded, creeping slowly along the hardwoods, seeping in through the cast iron vents, trickling into her ears and down her neck to her heart held together tenuously with frayed string and tainted memories.

She drew her breath in slowly, closing her eyes to the evening light that fought to remain in the open air of the living room. She listened as her indrawn air filled her chest and seeped out of her in stuttering puffs. The grandmother clock in the hall ticked rhythmically taking on a loudness in the looming silence; the house creaked and popped sharply in the heat of the waning day, registering its complaints to no one in particular. Gradually she opened her eyes.

The fading light streamed through, bathing her in its soft caress. The dust motes swirled and dipped in the golden rays, bandied about by her breath - in and out, in and out, just as she had watched his breath come and go in those last days. In and out, just keep breathing she had prayed, please just keep breathing. Until he didn't.

Until he died.

Tears stung at her eyes again. Here in the silence she let them fall. She didn't stop the flow, pat at her mascara, smile that insipid smile she had recently adopted. She just let them fall, course down her cheeks and drip off her chin to her chest where they ran tiny rivulets into her shapeless navy shift.

She looked around the room, devoid of furniture, the wood of the floor glowing a burnt umber in the sunset. Gone was the hospital bed, the monitors, the tubes, wires and bags of fluids. Gone was the form wasting away under layers of blankets that held no warmth. Gone was the symphony of sound that marked his presence and then his passing. She stared into that beam of sunlight and could almost see him there, faded and blurred against the tears.

She reached into the ray and swirled the motes with her hand gently, just as she had touched him during those final moments.
Photo Credit: Creative Commons
The clock struck off the hour, chiming melancholy tones into the cavernous house where she stood alone. Time to feed, she thought to herself. A sigh escaped her from deep within and the motes swirled in response. There was nothing to feed anymore. They had sold the animals to fund his hospice and final passing. Even the calf they nursed in the laundry room for so many weeks had been sold. She had been a pet of sorts, runted and dog-like, following her around the yard begging for a handful of grain or a stalk of celery.

All of it was gone. There was only her now. She turned toward the doorway and stepped onto the porch as the last of the days light slid below the horizon. She wrapped her arms around herself and drug the night air into her lungs. The light around the place the sun had sunk on the skyline glowed pink and violet, celebrating one last favorite of his as it disappeared with a flicker.

The finality of it was done, marked by darkness and the slow dawning of stars in the azure sky. She would move on in the morning, make decisions and plans, trod the new path of her life without him, but tonight, right now - She would savor the last of it.

She sank to the steps of the porch and leaned her head on the pillar, gazing into the darkening heavens around her. Each star that appeared, shining forth its light gave her heart a pin prick of hope. Even in the stark sunlight of the brightest day she couldn't see the stars in their gentle placement. It was only in the blackness that they gleamed forth. The darkness would allow her to regroup, gather herself gently to her purpose, feed her soul the comfort of silence…

Friday, April 25, 2014

What you don't see….

The early morning light creeps through the slats in the blinds. Tinged petal pink and innocent, it reflects nothing of the darkness it endured in the hours prior. My body is awash with relief that another night has passed and another day is underway. I can see the sleeping form of my oldest, still breathing steadily in slumber under mounds of covers and pillows. I smile at our night curled next to each other, lending comfort back and forth like a brush to comb out our emotional tangles.

I stretch quietly beside her and marvel at the refreshment having her weight on her father's side of the bed lent me. As I watch the light creep into my room, stretching its yellowing fingers along the ceiling, bringing brightness and energy, I am reminded that there is so much that no one sees in my life.

Padding to the kitchen, rinsing the coffee pot in ritualistic steps, I realize much of my life is hidden, sheltered, isolated. No one sees the long nights, the television playing well into the morning hours to drown out strange sounds, the sudden way I can awaken and sit bolt upright in bed. No one sees the kink in my neck, the knot in my hip, the drag in my gait because I cannot sleep when he is gone. No one sees the tears of frustration I have dropped off the end of my nose because timing was off and there was no momentary break to hear his voice, read his words, feel his love.

I sip at my mug and recall the thank-yous, the compliments of my support, and I smirk to myself. I return those honest and genuine sentiments with a forced smile and an easy "of course," but in my heart I am jealous, envious, seething. I want to scream at them, "Do not thank me!" I want to cry, "I get no choice…" But I don't, I only smile and nod. It is vastly inappropriate to be so territorial, I tell myself. I shouldn't covet, I chide, but therein lies the rub.

Like a child learning to socialize and share their toys, I must continually give more, not just of myself, but of him also. Like that same toddler, I peer sideways as they take him off, reveling in his talents and his gifts and I want desperately to yank him back. I want to tell them, no - I changed my mind… I will give you anything else, but not him. I know it isn't possible. I know it isn't fair.

I realize in my thoughts I have drained my mug and I wander back to the pot, once more. The ebony liquid swirls against the cream and crystalline sugar and becomes a shade of warm caramel. It's transformation sparks me…From black and bitter, adding the milk and the sugar I create something I can enjoy. If I want to stand beside a man with so many dreams and desires, I have to be willing to drink my cup without resentment. I don't like black coffee, so I add sweetness and light to make it more palatable. My life is the same. I cannot live in a world of isolation and bitter loneliness, so I add to it the sweetness of friends, the bright light of social interactions. It is a constant battle to push outside my comfort zone into the illuminated world around me, to resist the pull of my own darkened heart waiting sullenly for his return.

So much of me is hidden, deep in the folds of sleepless nights and broken hearts, and like the moon I will shine forth the face I want seen, but she is there, that jealous one. She is there slinking in the darkness and only by adding the tiny flicker of a friendly candle can I keep her at bay. Always, always, she is there…in what you don't see.
Photo credit Creative Commons

Tuesday, April 15, 2014


Photo used with permission from Antonio Ysursa
The bus rocked and tipped along the narrow dirt road, crammed to the rafters with the small brown people she had lived among the past year. Even from the concealing folds of the modest hijab she wore, she felt conspicuous; a lumpy pearl among shining, dark amber. What the hell was she trying to prove anyway? She didn't belong here, she didn't have any business inserting herself into this culture, and yet going home seemed like failure.

She peered from the headdress and bowed stance to gaze at the occupants packed with her into the rickety, creaking auto bus. There were young girls in plaid school uniforms, old men reading crumpled day-old papers, women coming from market with bamboo encapsulated chickens and ducks. It was a cacophony of sounds and menagerie of color; bright saris and drapes, the crisp white of the men's tunics, all against the exotic mochas and deep chocolates of shiny brown skin.

No one looked twice at her, despite her towering height of five foot nine. She was just another traveler on this dusty road, bumping along, grabbing for any purchase as the driver slung the top heavy bus around narrow corners and swerved to miss oncoming traffic. She was nothing to them. She was an outsider, a European, a White.

She sighed as she returned her gaze to her lap. The fringe on the edge of her wrap had drug on the ground as she had run for the teetering bus and it now lay caked in mud from the gutter. She picked at the small dried clods with her fingers and reached into her bag for a bottle of water. Using a few precious drops, she cleaned the bright pink and red silk. She turned back to replace the bottle to safety and that was when she saw her.

She was the only person on the bus who didn't seem to ignore her, with her giant stance, her pale skin and her auburn hair. It took just a moment to recognize that the child's skin was freckled, pale like hers and her eyes were blue, glinting steely from the slate blue head covering. Her heart stopped and she was reticent to draw breath. Where was the child from? The woman sitting next to her had nodded off, being elderly with her craggy brown face bobbing about as they swayed and dipped along the road. Her mind whirred with mystery and she looked up and down the crowded aisle of the bus, searching for anyone who might lay claim to this porcelain skinned youngster. The girl just continued to stare, unblinking, unbending… Unnerving.

She tried a smile but those eyes bore into her; accusatory, excavating her insecurities and exposing her fears. Those eyes were not youthful eyes, but weary with mistrust and brimming with hatred. The gaze of a child so filled with contempt was startling to her, but the look itself - it was familiar.

It was a stare that she had become so acquainted with, matched with cat calls because she was white. Of course she would be a whore, she had been counseled before her trip: she was American, her hair was red, she was labeled with all of her un-Indian-ness a devil. She had no business being there, despite the humanitarian organization she worked for, she would never, ever fit in. While this had been drummed into her, she had naively pressed on in her insistence that she was perfect for the work, that her heart would overcome, that surely it couldn't be that bad.

Despite the open antagonistic nature of the people among whom she lived and ultimately served, the mission statement of the organization held her fast. The compassion she had for Hindu women and the deep longing she held for rescuing those ensnared in the sex trade quelled her desire to leave. She could take the stares and the vile propositions launched at her in broken English. What she couldn't take was the horribly calloused way she had seen Indian women, women of their own hue, beaten, raped, slashed and tossed away like garbage. It was heartbreaking.

The bus hissed and screeched slowly to a stop at a small town, dusty and rural. The old woman, opened her eyes as if by clockwork and grabbed roughly at the child's hand, dragging her toward the exit, pushing slowly through the close press of bodies. As the girl reached her seat she whispered in Hindi, her eyes mean slits in that angelic face, "Go back. You don't belong. We hate you!"

She sucked in breath at the vehemence of the statement. Even as the old woman tugged at her hand, those eyes accused her, looking back, staring through her to some unseen threat, coated in loathing and contempt. She lowered her gaze as the tears began to sting her eyes. It was a confirmation of all things she had taken for granted, the simplest act of friendship slapped away in a hail of racist abhorrence. She realized then that just because she looked the same, because their skin was the color of milk and not coffee, she was still recognized as outside the norm. It ran deeper.

Racism ran chasms into any culture, no matter the origin, and here… Well, here she stood out like a beacon ablaze with enticing neon light. But could she quit? That was the question that kept at her. That was the meat of the matter, as her grandmother would say. If she did quit, what did that say about her convictions? What did it say about her heart and her determination? It was always going to be hard. It was always going to have someone telling her she couldn't do it, she wouldn't fit, she would fail. Failure meant so many would go without, some would perish, many would starve disfigured and alone, and why? Because her feelings got hurt? Because some nasty little man asked her to perform fellatio in the streets of Mumbai? So what.

She took another breath and waited as the bus refilled with faces that didn't match hers, with women who tsked and whispered and pointed, with men who leered. She adjusted her wrap and sat a little straighter in her seat. No one had said it would be easy. In fact, most had told her she would fail, she would be home inside a month. Well, she had been here a year. She was by no means a super star, but what she was doing, what she awoke each morning to accomplish, it was her dream. It was a terrifyingly difficult task and she may never see success, but what would she see if she quit? Nothing. And if only one woman was saved, if only one girl was plucked from the sex trade, still intact and unscarred, then maybe she could say it was worth it. It would be so worth it...

Sunday, April 6, 2014


Photo Credit:
Maybe it was desperate. Maybe not. There was something about the moment that needed touch, as if tactile affirmation could somehow coalesce into the forgiveness she was seeking. It was an olive branch of sorts, a white flag not of surrender, but of comprehension, understanding… Acceptance.

It was the recognition that although it was nothing she had ever comprehended could be, it was amendable to her. She would accept it, assimilate it, absorb it into her being and allow it to become a part of her. Like tendrils of wild ivy, she would reach out and touch him, pull him closer, wrap him safely in her grasp and cement him to her, the softness of her touch deceptively strong in its persistence. 

There was only a moment in time marked by the tender caress of her fingertips, trailing soft and gentle over his bared forearm, only seconds to convey the warmth that had been missing from them that morning. Only briefly did she touch his skin, but the magnitude of it, the sincerity - they swelled and cascaded over him like the waves on the beach of their honeymoon, making love in the sand. In that one gesture, that one sacrificial motion, there was tranquility.

She need not look at him, his eyes forward on the road as it unfurled before them, to determine the effect of it. She felt it in his exhale, in his shoulders dropping, in his thighs relaxing into the seat. It was all that she needed. To know there would be peace, even at the expense of her desires, was more important for now. To be right, righteous, confirmed - it was hollow victory to being happy.

Something inside her shattered and it was a revelation to her heart. Sacrifice was no longer about an exchange, one giving now to get later on, but about the joy that was created in the extermination of one's ego. Suddenly and without warning she understood what it was to be married and the comprehension filled her with quiet triumph, stretching beneath her skin slowly, languidly. The lesson permeated her with its quiet surety, parts of it looming with the painful reality, parts of it lulling her into a sleepy welcome.

There would be more of it; more sacrifice for him, more disappointments and exposition of her fairy tale misconceptions. There would be more taking than giving and more misunderstandings. That was the nature of this life. In this moment, however, right here in the warm sunshine on the road to celebration and cacophony, there was peace and acceptance and it felt like a gift to herself as much as a bestowal on him.

She inhaled deeply of it and allowed her hand to fall from his warmth, ready to return it to her lap and the hum of the asphalt before them. Before she could move herself away, return to her own bubble of isolation, he grasped her hand in his and squeezed, holding her fast to him. His answer to her touch was one of firmness, of steady solidarity, it was his declaration without saying a word.

Yes, marriage is about sacrifice, about loss of oneself into the joining of the two, but it is also about union of mind. Marriage is about the welcoming of one lover's selfishness and enfolding it into our undeserved caress with the realization that they too have released expectations in order to return our love. Marriage in surrounded in inequality, in unrequited desires, in shattered dreams. It can only be successful if we lose the desire to keep score and in that moment, with less hesitation than she could have imagined, she erased the board and slung her chalk along the shoulder of the road.

It was only a touch, briefly delivered in the moment of a morning, but it was a lasting declaration of the rest of their lives.

Tuesday, March 25, 2014

Fifteen things I want to tell my younger self...

Photo Credit:

I realize now that there is no way that I would have listened…. I get that. But in a perfect world, where we take the sage advice of our elders and apply it to our daily lives, I have a few things I wish I could have imparted to a younger me. Having teenagers on the verge of big life decisions is at the core of this post… Bear with me.

  1. Never be afraid to try. Failure is so much easier to overcome than regret! Try new things as often as you can: new foods, new activities, new music… Try out things you aren't sure you will be good at, stretching yourself into uncomfortable situations in order to view the strength of your fabric. You may just find your life's passion by stepping out of your comfort zone.
  2. High School is so temporary. I swear, there will be so few people you keep in touch with and you won't remember the names of some of the most prominent, "popular" people you think are so important now. Take it with a grain of salt and laugh at the absurdity of it's woes. 
  3. That boy/girl will not be the center of your world in two years… Just trust me on this one.
  4. You aren't fat. You will get so much fatter. Really. Very, very fat! (so fat…)
  5. Travel with your parents. Yes, I know they are so dorky, or 'derpy' if you prefer, but they are footing the bill for only a short time and if you keep your eyes open you just might learn a thing or two. Even if all you see is Western Kansas, you can log that in your 'been there, done that' file at no cost to you.
  6. Tanning spray over tanning beds. Trust me, they are getting better. And skin cancer or a sunburn are a complete harsh to the groove. No one looks sexy with either one…
  7. Drink more water. Filter it, buy it, pull it from ancient wells, but drink it. It will serve you so much in your later years. Your skin with thank you.
  8. Learn to listen. When you are young it is in your nature to want to rattle on about nothing, to hear your own voice, to confirm what it is you think by saying it and saying it loudly. Don't. Listen more than you talk. Folks will not only imbue you with qualities of patience and wisdom (which you may or may not have) but they will tell you things you wouldn't hear otherwise and some of those things will be valuable.
  9. Instead of finding a job to make money to fuel your passion, work your passion and find a way to make money at it. So many of my colleagues now are sunk in professions that suck them dry rather than inflame their passions. If there is any way you can follow a dream and make it reality, risk it. If you fail, so what. There is always a toilet that needs scrubbing somewhere and a guy willing to pay you to do it. If you succeed, you have now conquered the biggest life-hack known to man: Loving what you do never feels like work!
  10. When you are dealing with someone who has a terribly bad attitude and it is pointed straight at you, remember this: Recall in your mind the worst day you have ever had and imagine that this person is having that same day. Empathy goes a long way and you just don't know what someone else is dealing with. Don't add to it with your hurt feelings. Chances are they won't even register that you are irritated anyway, so all it will do is wreck your mood. 
  11. Nothing is ever free. No matter what it is, it came at a price. Be grateful, be cautious and pay your way whenever possible. I am not saying be suspicious of generous souls but I am saying realize that generosity should always been gratefully received, and where ever possible, repaid. Whether you repay with gratitude, a generous tip or a smile, give something back.
  12. Hug your mother. Yes, this is blatantly self-serving, but something I wish I would have understood more as a kid. The simple fact is, she is pretty certain she is screwing it all up and a hug from you would make her at least stop and wonder if she is getting it right. As moms we go along, day in and day out, giving of ourselves without a second thought. You squeezed out of our tired bodies, you demanded food immediately and we have been hopping to ever since. Hug her, she needs to know you aren't really in need of deep psychotherapy because she lost it in the grocery store when you dropped the jar of pickles.
  13. Put your phone down. Yes, we all know how terribly important you are and that your entire social network counts on you for witty responses and funky e-cards (I know mine does). Put it down. When you are in the company of someone, value that they chose to spend their time with you. They didn't have to, they could have picked someone else - anyone else. The world will not stop spinning if you actually look at someone while they speak to you. Turn off the notifications if you need the less distracting option, but look up, meet their gaze and smile.
  14. Take walks. Yes, outside. Yes, without your phone, if you can. Yes, without music in your ears. Listen to the sounds of what is around you. Quiet your mind and take a break from the distractions you face every single waking moment.
  15. Laugh more. Every day if possible. It releases tension, increases dopamine and seratonin levels, burns calories (that will help with #4) and it's attractive. Well…. Don't do it while drinking a liquid, that can be disastrous, but in general people are much more approachable and attractive to others when they are smiling and laughing.
I am sure there are more… Add to this list if you wish! But these are my top fifteen. I would never have listened, but it's a nice thought...

Wednesday, March 19, 2014

Play Misty… (warning: long post)

She hated weddings. The always awkward 'singles table'; the constant, "I'd like you to meet…"; the terrible food concocted in hopes of keeping deranged, over-lubricated Uncle So-And-So from wrenching the microphone from someone at an inappropriate time - which was, of course, inevitable. She hated it all.

And yet, here she was. Again.

She stared into the large mirror and reapplied her lipgloss, ran her fingers through her hair and adjusted the bright red gown with the plunging neckline. A pair of younger women washed up behind her, chatting about this guy or that guy, ever hopeful of 'love in the air'.

She gazed back at her reflection along the empty granite vanity with a sigh. Damn, she hated weddings! she dropped the tube of gloss into her clutch and clicked it shut.

She stepped into the corridor and thought about heading back to the large room, bedecked in fluffy pink tule and white peonies. She could hear the sound of that dreadful chicken dance wafting down the hall as the doorway opened to release another giggling gaggle of girls.

"Nope." It was a declaration of freedom. She didn't want to go back and she didn't have to. She was a grown woman, she reassured her wavering conscience. She wandered down the opposite direction, toward the lobby of the grandiose hotel and the revolving doorway that would mark her escape. She could go anywhere, she reasoned, her obligation had been fulfilled: gift delivered, cake cut, first dance observed. She didn't have to stay.

The lobby was ornate and welcoming with large overstuffed sofas and wing backed chairs arranged in groups designed to facilitate conversations. She recognized a few wedding guests who had also escaped the bubble gum fray of the reception. They guiltily ignored her as she strode toward the entrance of a dark paneled pub as if it had been her destination all along.

The sound of a drawling saxophone splashed toward her lazily as she entered, pausing a moment to allow her eyes to adjust to the soft lighting. A musician dressed in a herringbone blazer and dark pants blew into the sax on a small stage to one side, his eyes closed and an ancient felt fedora with a wide ribbon tilted precariously to one side of his natty head. Candles in tiny holders flickered a welcome to her along low slung polished tables and posh leather swivel chairs. The room smelled of expensive cigars and aged scotch mingled pleasantly with lemony wood polish.

She strode to the bar and perched like a flamingo, one leg exposed from the slit in her gown as the bartender took her order, "Martini, rocks, very dirty, three olives." She lay a twenty on the bar and swiveled on the stool, crossing her bare leg over the crimson silk of the other, to watch the musician as he coaxed his instrument into sounds far beyond its capacity. The music swirled and dipped around her, embracing the sharp edges of her mood and polishing them into softness. She assured herself that this was a good idea and took a relaxing breath, whooshing out her tension and letting her shoulders drop from their uncomfortable perch.

She sipped from her cocktail, nodding her approval to the bartender and slowly let her eyes take in the low-lit room. That was when she saw him. Pushed up against a corner not far from the stage, legs kicked languidly out in front of him, his arm resting on the table, toying with a glass of dark liquid. He was dressed in a white coat tuxedo, black ebony buttons glinting in the candle light.

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He was staring right at her. She shifted on the stool, suddenly aware of the plunging neckline and open slit of the gown. Her face flushed with the realization and she begged the darkness of the pub to cover her insecurities. She looked away from his stare, unblinking in his boldness.

She tried to concentrate on the musician at the microphone. She sipped from her drink, silently praying that she wouldn't fumble and spill vodka down her front. His gaze was unnerving and she could feel the heat of it from across the room. Her hand quaked ever so slightly as she set the low ball on the bar.

Too soon the musician spoke softly into the mic and excused himself for a break, leaving the stage empty of anything to capture her attention. She smiled at the man in the fedora as he made his way to the bar and took a soda from the bartender. He winked at her quickly and strode to the darkened corner and sat himself down with the man in the tuxedo.

While they chatted together she watched, keeping her eyes low beneath the shroud of her dark lashes. He was exquisite! His hair darkened with a smattering of pomade and combed back from his brow, a slight scruff of beard beginning to show in the late hour on his strong jaw, he oozed confidence and easy attraction. He was trim, but sure strength lurked just below the elegant tux and starched white shirt. Even the bow tie seemed to sport a cavalier, almost mocking grin from below his chin, now broken in a wide smile as he conversed and chuckled quietly with his friend.

He reached for his drink and raised it to his lips as she watched, now openly enthralled, her shyness forgotten in an instant of unguarded appreciation. His eyes locked with hers. She could see his smile behind the glass, transmitted more through the smoldering gaze of his deep brown eyes than anything she could see of his mouth. He lowered the glass and she watched his adams apple move up and down as he swallowed the liquid.

No matter that her mind was screaming at her, panic rising in her exposed chest, she couldn't seem to break his gaze. He reached across the table and patted the musician on his shoulder, still staring right into her eyes as if he were boring into her very soul. He rose from his seat and said something in low tones to his friend, hand still resting on his shoulder as he started her way.

He was coming across the bar, a smirk beginning to form at those perfect corners of his mouth. Oh good Lord! Her mind was reeling, her heart pounding a rhythm in her chest so loud she was sure he could see it thump in the bare spot at the neckline of her gown. It was too late to run. She would probably trip in these shoes, anyway, she thought wryly. She was a grown woman… Surely she could handle this.

He eased his way to the bar, across the chasm of the all but empty pub and leaned on an elbow in front of her. He said nothing as he observed her slowly, letting his eyes flow from her face, down the neckline of her gown, coming to rest at her crossed legs and back up again. The move would normally have left her cold and irritated, but something about him muffled her usual responses. Confidence emanated from him and enveloped her so completely that all she could feel was the giddy rise of heat in her blood.

He smiled easily at her and reached for her hand. And as he opened his mouth to speak a sharp, shrill beeping began to trill in her ears painfully. He looked past her in startled wonder. Desperate to silence the sound she cupped her hands over her ears to no avail. His mouth opened and closed, clearly trying to communicate something to her but all she could hear was that horrific screeching! Was it a fire alarm? Damn it! She could feel the pull of something hard against her, dragging her from the stool and his grasp. Suddenly, she was surrounded by a blinding light...

She groaned in desperation as she rolled from the warmth of her comforter and blankets to slap at the alarm, railing cheerfully at her from the nightstand at her bedside. She kept her eyes closed just a moment longer, but the dream was gone. The man in the tuxedo was gone, as was the fedora clad musician, slipping from her like mist burning off in the intense sunlight pouring through her bedroom windows.

She blinked against the bright light of the morning and turned to gaze at the numbers on her bedside clock. It was time to get up and get showered. She had a wedding to go to.

She hated weddings...

Friday, March 14, 2014


** Please be aware that I do not always write Christian inspirational stories. I understand that some are offended by secular writings, but it is also a part of my bent. This is one of those writings. I can promise you that I will not write anything here that is considered "erotica" or graphic in nature. My aim is romance not arousal. I will tell you that when I see pictures of many types and compositions, my brain instantly devises a story to go along with it. It is in this nature that I warn you. 

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There it was again. That moment… It flooded back to him unbidden, halting him abruptly, jerking him back in time like a dog at the end of some unseen leash.

He couldn't always tell what triggered it; sometimes the scent of her perfume would waft by on another woman entrancing him. Other times the way the light spilled through window panes carrying motes of dust on the invisible currents of air would send him reeling into remembrance. It was disconcerting and comforting at the same time and this time he closed his eyes where he sat and drifted on the memory, letting it propel him gently back to that day.

It had been only a moment, the way the light had cascaded in from the windows, unshaded and bright in the early afternoon. Yet it had seared itself into his brain like a fiery brand. She was there, laying atop him, her body warm and soft against his, kissing him and pulling him deeper into her spell. His hands were tangled in her hair, savoring her every taste, every touch, every scent. It had been only a moment, but it was everything.

The play of light across her bare shoulders, the scent of her perfume in his nostrils, the feel of her soft and supple and yet tightly toned against him. He had pulled her back to look into her eyes, to swim in the pools of deep green and savor the depth of her soul. He had wanted to stay like that, to lay there motionless, drinking her in thirstily with all of his senses, but there was urgency in him too. A feverishness to possess her, to claim her… It had been only a moment, but it had been everything.

Too soon they had parted, spent and moving quickly into the current of their very separate lives, carried into routines and events, parties awash in chasms of division. He had never intended to think on her again and in his naiveté, willed it to be so. But there was that moment… And he realized too late he would never be rid of her, that possessing her had been folly when she so utterly and completely owned him.

It had been only a moment, but it had been his undoing.

Thursday, March 13, 2014

Conversations and reunions...

Well, hello there… It has been long time, hasn't it?

Yes, I'm back.

Not sure how long yet… I am still finding my way.

What have I been up to? Oh, stuff… Writing stuff…

I proved to myself I could finish. Finished a novel.

Well, I sent it to six agencies, so I am trying.

No, haven't heard back yet. The waiting is hard, but not writing is harder, so I started again.

Yes, another novel, but this one is different. Harder, but right. It really feels very… right.

I missed you too. I want to try writing here again. It was good for me.


I think this time I will bring you short stories. Ones that make me better. Ones that stretch my courage…

oh, I have a few ideas. Pinterest helps, when I am not hiding in it.

Yeah, it is great to be back! I'll see you tomorrow, I hope!