What Do You Intend To Do?


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I told him I was going to the Jersey shore for the weekend. I think it was a surprise, but maybe not so much.  It was my intention to receive a modest spring sunburn, to get pounded by Atlantic waves, and take some time to sort the rocks and beans and ribbons, thank you notes, condemnations, confessions, hopes, dreams, sorrows, love and confusion that occupied my mind. It was my intention to get up before sunrise, run across the road, sit on a blanket and watch the sun come up. I lost my phone, I dreamed a dreadful dream, I awoke well before dawn and ran across the road terrified that I’d missed the moment. I sat on the sand in full dark watching layers of light build, relieved, so relieved I hadn’t missed the moment. Stars were still present. My mind was preoccupied with the loss of my phone and memories I had no way to shake. Layers of light built out there on the edge of water sky as I intentionally watched the sun rise and used my kindle to record the moments.

Living intentionally means I have a vision for what I want my life to look like, I have reminders that trail me in blogs, on scraps of paper, on the black board hanging on my frigerator. Living intentionally means I choose to get up early and watch the sun come up, or I prepare for meeting with the Sundowners so we can say goodbye to the day. Living intentionally means I think of what I want to eat and drink and wear and prepare for the day, best I can.  Living intentionally means I listen more than I speak. That I choose to say “yes” or “no” and not feel guilty either way.  It means I understand what healthy human rhythms look and feel like, and I choose healthy… or not.

Living intentionally means I am not a pinball. I don’t wake up when your flipper knocks me out of bed. I’m not your silver ball driven by flippers, springs, gravity, and luck (yeah, good luck wit dat) ringing up points that are exciting but cannot move my feet across the ground avoiding life’s unseen mines.  It means I cook a healthy breakfast instead of buying it at the drive-thru, I rent movies at the library instead of signing up for Amazon prime, I buy foods that will feed my body for the week and foods that will also satisfy cravings, because what is life if we only drink water and eat tree bark?  I intend to enjoy my food.  It means I am taking small steps to live the life I want and need to live, no matter what’s going on around me.

Intention means I’m not living at the whims of life, reacting or responding well or haphazardly. No matter what life I choose to life, the sun will rise in the east and set in the west, the moon will glare in my window so bright, so intrusive in winter, far fainter in summer.  I will hunger and thirst and struggle, and I carry it all with me to bedroom and bathroom and wee living room. Intention means I will write, edit, and send my work out every day because it’s all I’ve ever wanted, all the while fighting my greatest foes. Intention is valiant, sturdy, knowledgeable, while living day to day feels like being a pinball.

Any honest, reasonable person knows it’s hard to choose getting up in the dark to see a sunrise when in a couple of hours we have to shower, get dressed, feed the kids, drive to work, work, work, come home, endure the fallout of the day and hope there will be peace in the bed we sleep upon.  Happy are those who can sort their intentions and move on them as best they can.

Jaws, Cinematic and Beyond


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When we were young, sometimes mom and dad would let us watch TV in their bedroom. Perhaps there was a show on the TV in the living room that we were not allowed to see… or maybe it was some night the babysitter had the remote control so me and brother would invade mom and dad’s room and watch the tube.  One night I recall watching “Jaws” in their room and I was shocked by the things I saw. Sheltered, I’d never seen anything like that, and I’m sure Mom would never approve, but there it was in all its toothy, briny glory.  Funny, I never had shark nightmares then or now. Only Godzilla remains my subconscious nemesis.

I’ve watched Jaws so many times I can’t count over the years, either for the pleasure of dialogue or some background noise. Rarely do I watch the movie these days with eyes fully focused on the screen, surveying and drinking in the landscape.   Last night was a game changer.  The Virginia Aquarium and theater is 20 minutes away (as the GPS crow flies), and I left an hour before the movie. I mean, who needs an hour to get 20 miles? However, I forgot the daily congestion on the interstate. With some dodging and deep breaths I found a nice parking place, got my ticket and discovered the movie had only started 3 minutes ago instead of 15.  I was lucky.

The screen is enormous, the sound overpowering. I wished to have a seat center, rear, but I didn’t get there soon enough to have that choice. I wound up kind of center and a chair in the aisle.  It took me a while to get used to the enormity of sound and vision. I brought my knitted poncho because I knew I’d be so cold in there, and I used it to hide behind the flesh-rending scenes. (I’ve danced that dance before, and I don’t need to dance that scene anymore.)  Sometimes the sound was too loud, so I had to close off my ears.   The screen was bigger than our house. Chief Brody’s fingernail was the size of a soccer ball.

On this enormous screen I saw things I hadn’t before and felt grateful and blessed as a writer to see them. Why didn’t I notice the blood on Quint’s hands as he interrogated Hooper? I knew that Spielberg provided the voice of the Coast Guard at one point but never actually heard him, recognized him until last night.  Quint’s fisherman chair was beaten and worn in ways I never noticed.  Robert Shaw removed a tooth, put it in an envelope and never put it back.  The audience was quiet for this movie. No cellphones went off, no babies cried. I wonder if we were all here for the same, tense reason, wanting to fill the same need–nostalgia, bigger than life? I wonder how many came just to hear Mr. Shaw deliver his soliloquy, that soliloquy, equal only to Hamlet?

I heard some young people in the parking lot who said they’d never seen the movie before. I wanted to ask them all kinds of questions, but did not approach because I was afraid my enthusiasm and need for answers might make me look like a crazy person.  I wanted to know why they came, what did they think of it, do they believe great whites are vengeful, and so on. Instead, I drove home into a sky filled with a thrilling fight in my south, Thor smiting his foes in the clouds.  I headed “west” on the interstate towards home and the sky ahead was filled with high, building clouds and flashes of lightning that could make one believe the gods are at war, but there was no sound and no rain. As I drove with windows down, a fighter jet came low across the road as I fought to keep my hair out of my eyes with my left hand, maneuvering lane to lane with my right on a homeward trajectory.

As I drove, I secretly wrote the thing about this movie and a certain moment, wondering where it will lead and hoping it will go.  I won’t tell you here, because it’s still in progress.  I watched a movie, enormous in story and physicality. I drove home on dark roads watching a storm flash orange in blue clouds.  I am blessed, again.

A Tired Morning


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Some nights, it feels like the dream will never end, and when I wake I am already tired.  Then I read emails and the 800-pound tired sits with me on the bed leaving me in stunned silence with a decision to make: flop back down to try and seek another hour’s rest in hot, strong sunlight or get up and get moving. Guess I chose to get up and work through the morning.

I’d known her for a long time. She was my friend, someone I used to work with. She was so very tall and big… a big girl (this is no lady) this girl with long, fair brown hair. (She reminds me of someone I knew in another life.)  She was in tank top and shorts, and she was leaving. And she left. All I remember right now is feeling heart-hurt for the loss, and that feeling seemed to go on for a long time.

The next part of the dream (or maybe a different one entirely, who knows it carried on so long) found me in a parking lot outside a very large industrial building. Looks like it’d been there awhile, the usual dents and creases, rust, and spots of paint paler where they scoured off some graffiti. I had one job to do. (Can you hear the meme? I sure could.)  I had one job, and it seemed like nothing and no one wanted to cooperate and help me get this 55-gallon blue poly drum on a pallet, into a truck, and shipped to its destination. One drum. What was in it? Where was it going? I have no idea, but the job was all-consuming to me.  I went inside the building to get a bill of lading to get this process going. The cavernous room was poorly lit. Girders and beams covered in dark masses of cobwebbed dust in the high ceiling. It was quiet inside.  Several really wide, long wooden tables were centered in the room covered in papers. Most of the papers had already been written on. Everything was a disorganized mess. All I needed was one blank bill of lading, and I couldn’t find one anywhere on or below the tables. Another co-worker, I’ll call her “Cindy” was there also flipping through papers, and now I can see a bunch of guys in tank tops, white towels hanging around their necks because they were hot, just standing around not doing a thing.

My cellphone (an old flip phone) goes off. It’s my dad. He wants to know if I shipped out those books yet. Apparently he told his co-workers he would arrange to have some books brought in so they could have something to read, like a small exchange. The books are piled high on a pallet in my building for some reason. I was supposed to know who’s book belonged to who, and ship them. The books are old, worn, faded jackets scuffed and torn on the edges, titles no one would recognize, books that you walk past at flea markets. Instead of me shipping the barrel in the back of my mind, now I’m opening book covers, looking for names and addresses and there’s nothing there. Another impossible task. I’m angry and verbally abusing my father (not yelling) but saying awful things to him about this problem he handed me. It’s his fault that I can’t get this task done, why is this my problem, on and on and on. And he just stayed on the line and took it.

I awoke feeling tired and terrible for yelling at my dad. I know it’s just a dream, one that means so very many things. Waking up feeling tired and terrible isn’t the worst thing I suppose. I would read far worse things soon enough, and deal with the day and this sadness hour by hour. Another hot, humid day where the sky is sweating on us. I’d like to go back and dream up some rain.

Sugar Effs, Breakfast of Champions*


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There is moment in the movie Sound of Music where Dame Commander Julie Andrews sings, arms outstretched, twirling around in a gorgeous field of flowers surrounded by cold, impressive mountains.  The internet latched onto the scene and uses it to create memes (amusing item[s]…captioned picture or video or genre of items that is spread widely online especially through social media — Merriam Webster.)  I do not know if Dame Andrews has seen any of these memes, but something tells me that a woman married to Blake Edwards would find them amusing at the very least.

I had that meme, captioned in bold white letters that said, “Look at all the Effs I do not give” in mind when I wrote my previous post. It was appropriate at the moment, and I’m sure it will be again every now and then.  I didn’t include the meme hoping the words would get the message across.  Isn’t everyone tired of blunt internet tools banging on our weary brains? Well some of us are anyway.

I think about Dame Andrews and the life she’s had so far: her tough childhood, iconic roles, the loss of her soulmate Blake Edwards, and the needless, criminal loss of her singing voice. There’s a woman who could spend a lot of time cursing the darkness.  There was a pause in her creative life, but she never completely succumbed to all the effs she could not have given, a la the memes.  She continues to sing, act, and she’s written piles of books (32) on her own and with her daughter. She continues to be a woman, mother, grandmother, actress, writer, and everyone who meets her says the same: she is as positive and wonderful in person as she is onscreen.  Authentic through and through.

There is irony (and some humor) in using a happy woman singing a happy song in a meme that expresses displeasure at best, misanthrope worst. Neither of us knows what it feels like to be hanging on by a fingernail to life or sanity, but we’ve had our share of life things that we work through in equal and unequal measures, no matter where we are on the globe. She reminds me that the trick is knowing how to hold onto happiness, blessings, caring, giving — life — no matter how effed up things feel.  So I take a spoonful of sugar to help the medicine go down, the stuff that reminds me it’s time to go back to giving a Royal Eff, to get focused and stay focused and not let the paltry shit get me down, to keep the pen moving and the love flowing no matter what the volcano is spewing. Isn’t that what winners, those persons who find happy moments and contentment in their lives no matter how small, wind up doing after all?


*Perspective, yo.



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Look it up if you don’t know what it means.  I am in official IDGAF mode, and it’s been wonderful.

I’ve pulled the sunglasses off to walk the world in a carefree way, smiling as I go, content that I DNGAF. Not two. Not one. Not a fraction or percent of one. I have none left to give today.

Since giving myself permission to NGAF, my pen has not stopped inking. Perhaps I spend too much time thinking about how to fix myself and fix the world while I’m at it, and I need to spend more time doing what I love doing:  Complaining! No, that’s not it, but damn I’m good at it.  Web surfing for news and writing! No, that’s not it, but I like that quite a lot. Reading and writing in silence! Yeah. That’s my ticket.

Today I DNGAF about clean air or water, healthcare for all, dismantling of nuclear weapons, peaceful resolutions to all conflicts, climate change, tolerance, religion, race, class, gender, puppies, kittens, a living wage, Neil deGrasse Tyson’s tweets, self help, self care, self-cleaning ovens, or helping a little old lady across the street.  She’s on her own, man, I mean it was her idea to cross there in the first place. She’s a big girl, she’ll figure it out.

I DNG one flying rats F about anything at all today, and by golly we’ll see if I still feel the same tomorrow.  Meanwhile, I shall assume the mantle of Norn (that’s Norn with the capital N, thank you, not the lowly lowercase norns who are honorable mention wannabes) and see what I do with you. On paper, anyway.

*fades to black,  “Mama Said Knock You Out” playing tinny in the background*



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Sleepless means I slept in your bed, eventually, studying the cottage paint pale in the moonlight until I could finally rest. I listened to trucks and cars and motorcycles traveling a dark road at a strange hour of the night.  They know who they are and where they’re going, but it’s all just invisible sounds to a woman trying to stop her mind from thinking and find her way into anesthetic sleep after a long, good day. I touched your arm.

I started writing something in my head that night, something about my other bed where blunt leaves nod and toss not so far from my window in the wind, a bed that squeaks horrendously if I move my head or blink or think. I began writing a little thing comparing nights and beds and trees and leaves but I didn’t get up to write it down, naturally.  I forgot everything.

Sleepless means I’m up at all hours, I sleep at strange hours, I write and walk and eat and drive at strange hours, not avoiding people necessarily, but it happens and I like it.

I’m awake when you’re getting home from a long night out. I see you in uniform heading out for the day. I see you come home to greet your cat on the windowsill, or sliding in and putting on the tube, a movie that emanates from your window, some kind of drama with raised voices that calls me to come and make sure everything’s all right.  Sleepless means I heard your fireworks at 10:30 but didn’t look out the window to see; I was reading, and I’m sure you’ll forgive me.

Sleepless means I can tell the time and weather by the sky as I lay prone looking out my bedroom window, heartburn burning, and this morning the birds were full up and at ’em.  I pulled on leggings and went outside, felt the air and realized I’d need a warmer shirt so I pulled on the flannel I keep hanging on my chair and took a walk, barefoot, braving the woodshavings and other ridiculous stuff that accumulates on the balcony.  The sand was comfortably cool.  I picked up plastic bags and threw them away, wondering how anyone could still be using these things.  The sun was still below the rim of the teacup but you can tell where he will rise by the intensity of the light.  Dogs on leashes because they are naughty, dogs running free because they obey.  Neighbors avoid neighbors because it’s a hallowed time, this silent, molten rising.

Sleepless means I pulled on clothes and dragged my phone down to the ocean in case I saw something. I tried to capture the waves breaking behind the breakwaters, for the wind is north, northwest again.  The water and air seem to be the same temperature in my lungs and on my feet, but the wave breaks in my eyes are not the same as what my camera sees. That’s all right. I will wander back to my cave and think about things.


Help Us Move On


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Long solo drives require that I have good music, and when I’m tired of that I have a good story to listen to on CD.  I never had a reason to get into books on tape when they first came out, but I have come to value them now.  After listening to four music CDs, I was ready to hear an audio book. The story asked me to suspend reality, to believe that a cyclops, the last of his kind, wandered an island and all that that entails.  The authors wrote a story that makes me believe. Yes. Why not?

I drove to New York to attend my son’s graduation from high school, and it was a wonderful day.  He is a beautiful thing in this world, not the standard teenage sheep, but a wild spirit full of deep thought, creativity, and the rebelliousness that comes along with not playing inside the lines or staying inside the box.  He’s cultivated some true friends along his journey, friends that certain parts of society might label sinners and sodomites.  He spent graduation night with his “fruit” friends, a name he lovingly calls them, and I am glad he was with them.

The next day I took a long walk with my dear friend in a local park and then we sat at one of the benches under the pavilion to continue our conversation in some shade.  We noticed a long-haired person lying on one of the bench seats, but he was keeping to himself so we kept on chatting.  He got up from his bench and asked if he could bet us that he could change our view of everything in one minute.  He was about 20 with lots of full, brown hair, board shorts, a tank top, and he wore a long pendant that had what looked like a dragon with wings outspread, but there was a symbol underneath my old eyes couldn’t make out and I didn’t want to get closer to discern.  I said, “I won’t bet you, but what’s on your mind?”  And he sprang into preaching the view of flat earthers.  Oh gawd… really?  Sigh.  My friend sunk into her cell phone while I engaged the young man in his beliefs, not trying to debunk him because you can’t tell an alcoholic to stop drinking just as you can’t tell a flat-earther not to believe.  I understood his reluctance to believe in what science espouses because it’s all just a conspiracy to get us to be afraid and conform and turn away from God, but once he said, “Just like they pound it into our heads that we have to accept trans people as normal….” all my light-hearted goodwill shut down.  I no longer wanted to let him take up any more of my time. I stopped engaging him with questions, I think he got the idea that I was done, so he got in his car and drove away.  All I could think was that if my son had been sitting there, he would have been up in that guys face, and it would not have gone well.

I am driving a car that no one could ever believe existed.  We are defeating diseases that no one could ever believe we could.  We build towers and bridges, planes, vessels, and armament that no one would ever believe could be true all those years ago, but here we are. I am typing my thoughts on a keyboard and screen knowing that there are people who will refute the science of vaccination.  I can’t disprove it, so proving it is impossible, like proving the moon does not have a light of her own, which she does not.  Right now I can’t prove that Newton and his society wanted to control the world with fear, nor can I disprove it. Only you can, and I ask that you spread the word of reasonableness. I want to ask that everyone set aside their emotion and look beyond yourself, your children, your grandchildren, and their children.  We are alone in the universe at the moment, not because the earth is flat but because we haven’t found anyone else yet, and even if we did, we need to take care of each other as we would brother and sister.   I would like to stress that the future is not white and god-fearing hetero, but it’s a future that understands we are tender, fragile humans that would like to go on, but you must use science to do so.  Science is not the enemy, no matter what anyone says.   Your beliefs are relevant and no one should ever shut you down, but at a certain point you need to believe that one plus one equals two. And those two need to embrace and keep the whole thing going.

A Wet Graduation.


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Do you remember the day you graduated from high school?  Was it a big day? A long, tired, sad but happy joyful tearful day? Maybe your parents dropped some cash to have a catered family gathering to celebrate the day, or you all met at the diner so Mom wouldn’t have a lot to clean up afterwards? Bellies full, lots of reflection and hopefully laughter and too many pictures?  Perhaps everyone repaired home and went to their separate rooms while you changed your clothes and charged back out the door with friends to spend the night doing what teenagers and young adults do when there’s no parents or teachers around.

The school my son attended has a very small population of students, many of whom live on campus because society just can’t handle them anywhere else, in the “normal” places.  Those students are handed over to the school and, once there, most of the parents wash their hands of them. They don’t show up when the kids get in trouble, when their grades are poor–or when they graduate.  My heart broke for the young lady who graduated yesterday and her living parents did not show up to see her receive her diploma, to watch her next steps into the world. Faculty and friends were surrogates and that made the ache a little less.

We celebrated my son’s graduation yesterday with a small group of family.  It’s been a difficult road for him and us and his teachers. He wasn’t easy on himself or anyone else because he’s not a typical teenage sheep that follows the rules and stays between the lines or inside the box.  He is a wild spirit with a huge heart, a deep thinker and deeply creative.  I hope he never loses those qualities as he finds his way in a society that expects us to be productive, to behave and be normal.  It took me a long time to learn and accept he’s just being himself, and that his self doesn’t look like the kind of child my parents expected me to raise.  He is a beautiful thing in this world, and I couldn’t be more proud of him.

He said goodbye to that school as only he can, with his girlfriend, jumping into the campus pool with their clothes on.  May there be many more wet, beautiful days to come for them all.

Being In The World


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Good morning, world.  It’s my favorite kind of day, when the clouds and humidity put a veil between me and the sun.  I doubt it will rain, but the sky wants me to believe it will. Everything is still.  Leaves on the trees are greener on days like these, allowed to show their true colors instead of being washed out by the sun’s rays.  My prayer plant’s leaves are more erect, they appreciate the softer canopy and lift their leaves in appreciation.  Haze covers the sky and the horizon so I cannot see across the bay.  What I see is only in near focus, not afar.

I woke thinking about something someone said to me long ago.  He became CEO after being plucked from his accounting office to lead the company.  He was variable as the weather, and my feelings towards him was equally variable.  He said something to me, publicly, humiliatingly, that left me with no response, but in these days of living quietly, of reflection, I realized what I should have said just then. It was a learning moment that passed me by.  Some might say I should be grateful for it.  If we are lucky we learn how to accept and rise from our mistakes and be humbled, grateful for the things we endured in the past, that we can develop our selves and become stronger persons.  Meanwhile, we wrestle with the hurt and grief that never leaves us. And that is not wrong.

It’s a morning where the black kids, employees of the building owner, head back from filling up their hands with buckets of paint and cordless drills, singing–not rapping–but singing.  I appreciate their youth, their working in the hot sun, and still maintain a good attitude against it all. I messed with them this morning, and we laughed, and god, it’s just what I needed.

As I write, the lady finch has finally stopped calling.  I’ve been up since dawn, and she hasn’t stopped making that sound, that “chew” or “two” sound, loudly, over and over and over again. I don’t know if she’s trying to protect her nest or keep away a prospective mate. She’s like Mrs. Roper on Three’s Company.  Why did Stanley put up with her? I wished she would go away last year, and that feeling is back again, but then I remember how silent the world is in winter without her.  I often wonder how she survives her passionate, endless “chew” or “two” call, hours on end, without stopping for food or drink?  Finches are tiny things, and I thought for sure I’d find her body in the parking lot by now, done in by fervor and lack of hydration, but she is stronger than that.  As I write this, her calling has stopped. A reprieve for my ears and for her body, too?  Perhaps she’s feeding or drinking fresh water somewhere.  When I stepped outside last night, all was still. No birds. Tree limbs frozen. The world is changing around me and it’s awesome. I can’t decide if I like activity or silence more.

As for this moment, it’s all about discovery.  Who has access to unending energy, bounty, the desire to create vs. those who watch red balloons floating away and make wishes? Meanwhile, I closed all my windows and turned on the a/c because my spirit, the god of war who turns his back on infants who cry incessantly, needs a rest.

I See You.


And then one day, it was all gone. It started with Facebook. The world tipped sideways running for Instagram and Snapchat after Facebook disappeared. All those pictures, all those private messages. Gone and gone, gone the way of Vines. Tinder, Twitter, Tumbler… gone. We had no way to tag each other in family pictures or deliver 140-character salvos. No more cat videos or frog memes. No more pics of our dimpled babies sharing summer ice cream. No more wedding fails or fishing fails. No more n-word posts from that girl you know is so much more. The only way we could offer our condolences was in person, or by picking up the phone if we were simply too far away.
Black night bloomed because nobody checked their phones in their beds while waiting on sleep. Lovers drew hearts and funny faces on each other’s skin instead, asking, “Does that feel good? Do you like that?”
It was the cramp heard ’round the world, all those young people’s hands suddenly grasping pens trying to figure out cursive. The loss of spell-check was called a tragedy.
The night social media died the world mourned. But we started seeing hazel and blue and coffee brown eyes and freckles and blonde hairs on our cheeks. We grew about 1.5 inches taller since we were no longer looking down into a glowing screen of infinite wisdom, hate, horror, irony, caring, sharing, and love. All that was left was finding out what our real voices sound like, and discovering we have real thoughts that cannot be captured with a picture of a heart or a snake.
“What’s that, daddy?”
“It’s the moon, sweetie. It’s been there a while, and I promise it’ll be back again tomorrow. Wanna come out with me and see?”
There was a long pause. She had nothing better to do, so she shrugged and said, “I guess.”