Friday, February 02, 2007
I don’t believe that people can channel other beings but I swear Anita simultaneously channels Warhol, Brautigan, Joni Mitchell and Theodore Geisel. Her beaming smile and poetic nature whispers “One fish, two fish, red fish, blue fish” without uttering a sound. Shhhhhh. Hear that?
Friday, January 26, 2007
Harry, a photographer and purported art-lover, waves in the air a piece of mail art I’d received – from Belgium - asking “What do you get out of this?” Perplexed by the question I ask “What do you get out of waking up every morning?”
Saturday, January 20, 2007
Roy rakes his fingers through his gray buzz-cut hair (a reflex to quiet billions of neurons now firing in his brain) while his rich, lived-largely-abroad life flashes before his eyes. Then--trained to think quickly--answers, “No, not a spy. An intelligence officer.”
Tuesday, September 12, 2006
I watch Matt lick creativity off the rim of a whiskey glass. Later he’ll toss paint onto an empty canvas with such confidence that I’m convinced the banality of his rural subjects is critical to our species’ happiness; so it is. So it is.
Monday, September 11, 2006
Armed with a 2002 Cabernet and 1940’s romance videos, Carolyn spends shadowy hours ironing her family’s clothes, table linens, even pillowcases. Pressing. Sipping. Remembering. Planning. Sometimes pretending. She smoothes troubling wrinkles from their laundry and whenever possible from their day-to-day lives, or hopes so.
Ps. It's good to be back...
Ps. It's good to be back...
Thursday, September 07, 2006
Almost twenty-five, Casey’s perched on the threshold of what the future will claim was her favorite decade. Brutally self-directed but youthfully naive, she’s still learning the subtle differences between responding and reacting. Once she masters the two, she’ll undoubtedly be a superhero. Virtually unstoppable.
Monday, July 10, 2006
Thanks for all the emails/comments - I've just hit a REALLY busy spell this past week. I've got some catching up to do. I will be back in the next couple of days...
Friday, June 30, 2006
166/365 Samuel William
Will is a Mississippi cotton grower who considers himself a gentleman farmer. Countless acres of southern heritage roll up to his back veranda. Given the opportunity he’ll share anecdotal history of the tractor – the kingpin of farm legends and lore. Next to the barn.
Thursday, June 29, 2006
Each morning (often braving subzero temperatures or 85% humidity) Steve walks the half mile from his home to the Trading Post for the daily paper. Sometimes I can’t help wincing as he passes. Not all that long ago is beloved wife walked beside him.
Wednesday, June 28, 2006
Gimme Relatives for $800, Alex.
Who was the only one of ten cousins who didn’t have a child out of wedlock, quit school, steal a car, pummel someone, runaway from home, shoot up, join a cult, spend a night in jail.
Who was the only one of ten cousins who didn’t have a child out of wedlock, quit school, steal a car, pummel someone, runaway from home, shoot up, join a cult, spend a night in jail.
Tuesday, June 27, 2006
Since her death I remind myself she did the best she could >>>> Did the best she could >>>> The best she could >>>> Best she could >>>> She could >>>> Could >>>> Could >>>> Could >>>> Couldn’t >>>> Couldn’t I >>>> Couldn’t I have >>>> Couldn’t I have tried >>>> Couldn’t I have tried harder?
Monday, June 26, 2006
Tina is a hefty young woman who works at the health club checking in members, sometimes posting bulletins about risks associated with obesity. Usually she’s sitting at the desk. If only working at a gym and working out at one produced the same benefit.
Sunday, June 25, 2006
Doug pours exhausting amounts of creativity and into making lots of bread (the kind baked in loaves) and occasionally painting (houses). In his home three small, intricately-cut collages sit on a windowsill like snapshots of his dreams (and talent held captive by life’s parenthesis.)
Saturday, June 24, 2006
Over the past 18 years Mike might have sold you a boat, apple wine, perhaps a car. Soon he’ll be convincing you to buy that supplemental insurance with the irritating spokes-goose. He knows selling is about the transaction and your ego, not the product.
Friday, June 23, 2006
First quarter Vere was the only student in our seventh-grade homeroom to ace honor roll with straight A’s. Intellectually fit, he offered himself as a trainer (like athletes use) for your brain. His required reading list included Lord of the Flies and Archie Comics.
Thursday, June 22, 2006
Furious with the family cat, Ken stuffed it into the trashcan and left for the office. Eventually conscience prevailed and he called home alerting his wife before the garbage collectors came. Invariably this is my first thought whenever otherwise ultra-mild-mannered Ken comes to mind.
Wednesday, June 21, 2006
Gary runs hot and cold. Today he’s as personable as a talk show host, dishing dirt and clever one-liners. Tomorrow he’ll torpedo me with a menacing stare from behind the toilet. Whatever. He’s a plumber. He showed up. He’s my savior. Glory. Glory. Amen.
Tuesday, June 20, 2006
Jackie, the physician’s assistant, is everyone’s first choice when requesting an appointment. As sharp as the doctor, she actively listens when you answer questions or describe odd symptoms, then responds with comprehendible words and genuine comfort to what troubles you most, your inescapable mortality.
Monday, June 19, 2006
Sturdy and a little distrustful, Bonnie was born to be a police officer, not a judge. She vigilantly protects right and punishes wrong regardless of class or circumstance. Only she’s bound by the rights/wrongs of her upbringing, unaware there are new ones; especially rights.
Sunday, June 18, 2006
The summer we moved to Pennsylvania my friend Greg traveled six-hundred miles to visit and I demanded he turn around and drive back to Connecticut—me with him—making him an accomplice. Whenever we spotted cops, I ducked. But the cops were never called.
Saturday, June 17, 2006
We had to ask Jill to come because she’d seen us in the schoolyard before the bell. “Leaving’s against the rules.” Her refusal sounded like underwater blub-blub, a result of partial deafness. We chanced sneaking through the fence without her. Jill finked us out.
Friday, June 16, 2006
They found Rose and me playing in my basement and marched us back to first-grade. We were ushered to the principal’s office by the infuriated meter of my mother’s high-heels smacking the hallway floor–echoed by Rose’s mother somewhere in the distance wailing in Italian.
Thursday, June 15, 2006
Elaine, a divorced, beautifully-coiffed, Italian tinkerbell, tried with all her diminutive might to love my father–even drew Reddi-Whip hearts on his pumpkin pie. Smarter than we guessed, she gave back the diamond ring before choosing a date, concluding he loved her money most.
Wednesday, June 14, 2006
Susan had two things every fifth-grade girl and boy wanted: breasts. Not just fashion accessories—plump, powerful currency—she’d wager them in risky bets then nonchalantly lift her shirt (giving winning boys a face-full of bra), knowing her bikini revealed far more, for free.
Tuesday, June 13, 2006
We later learned Peter missed his cousin's wedding because he was back where he’d recently graduated college, having a son. After months without speaking his father asked his youngest child, why not marriage? “And add divorce to the list of ways I’ve disappointed you?”
Monday, June 12, 2006
Content at the center of its universe, the sun believes it alone illuminates existence and enlightens the planets revolving around it. It forgets each planet’s individual rotation and dismisses the reality of their darksides as myth-simply because it can never see them.
Sunday, June 11, 2006
“Pssst! You hear Tony’s coming back to eighth-grade?” “ No?” “Yeah…I did…was kicked out of high school. Big trouble nobody will talk about.” “Diane heard he was in jail.” “Andrea said he killed someone.” “Who here thinks he’s cute?” “Me.” “Me too.” “I do.”
Saturday, June 10, 2006
I only remember Jon’s soft heart, bull’s-eye spiral and varsity jacket–the one emblazoned with our school mascot, a Rebel. QB embroidered on one shoulder, #11 on the other. Parading around in it those Saturday games I was sophomore royalty during a championship season.
Friday, June 09, 2006
146/365 Von Roy
Von Roy plucks a chartreuse ping-pong ball from elephant dung and pockets it, explaining: Marula fruit. Undigested. Fermented it’s alcohol but drunk elephants is a myth. Back at camp he downs a glass of Shiraz like a shot. Staggering South African alcoholism - no myth.
Thursday, June 08, 2006
Everybody knew Neil was my rebound date. Even Neil. He was a hulkish man with a steroid-shrunken meatball brain. Now pay attention here: I was a bleached blonde twenty year-old flake. I thought he was dumb. Too dumb for even rebound sex. That dumb.
Wednesday, June 07, 2006
I don’t recognize Rick. Wheeling a grocery cart he looks like any old joe–not the all knowing master of the universe he is when there’s a slab of wood littered with coasters and goldfish crumbs between us. It’s like he lost his cape.
Tuesday, June 06, 2006
143/365 Ina Lou
Ina-Lou had the wiry frame of a posable stick figure while her parents were marshmallowy dollops plopped onto the back steps. Slow moving, quick hollerers. Summers they escaped Florida’s heat for Connecticut refreshment. I imagined they ate the meat off Ina’s bones en route.
Monday, June 05, 2006
Linda looks more like an attractive 30-something (who perhaps led a stressful life and smoked a pack a day) rather than the fifty-three-year-old she is, which may explain her voracious attraction to and steady attention from hot younger men. Or I’ve got that backward.
Sunday, June 04, 2006
Mercedes wore sandals, flowing gauzy clothing and her wavy chesnut hair in a long, natural style. On the school bus she spoke about metaspirituality, the nature of goddesses and Wicken lore. Except when stoned. Then she’d laugh, poking fun at disco—the Devil’s dance.
Saturday, June 03, 2006
In the lovely house he built himself that’s now surrounded by trophy homes and second mansions, John dreams of leading his new neighbors' lives of wealth and leisure. He already does by most world standards, so I suggest moving. Ever look into Mexico? Lesotho?
Friday, June 02, 2006
When I phone that I’m not stopping by to see the home gym equipment he’s selling, Dave’s desperate, overblown persistence is unnerving even after we hang up. Staring at the receiver I ponder: did I truly detect a serial killer quality? Or imagine it?
Thursday, June 01, 2006
Every Friday evening Joe walks home from the train station carrying his briefcase full of highly respected financial wizardry, an armful of flowers for his wife, and giggles, tickles and dreams for his children. A warning to potential muggers: you’ll only get the briefcase.
Wednesday, May 31, 2006
Every weekday–after eight hours stationed in the receptionist pulpit–Kim drove the quick hour home, promptly showered, did her hair, re-applied her perfect makeup, dressed in a fresh outfit then waited for her husband’s arrival. The rumbling garage door signaled pour the vodka.
Tuesday, May 30, 2006
When we met Irene her weight and age were about equal: eighty-two. A silver-haired burst of ambitious wisdom, it was she who stripped the staircase in the house we now live down to its heart pine glory–one layer of history at a time.
Monday, May 29, 2006
135/365 The Morris Family
Donny was another young man filled with promise and starshine that was erased by a car accident. His mother, a single mom, spent years crumbled in a heap while his sister, cursed that she (the less perfect child) couldn’t live up to his ghost.
Sunday, May 28, 2006
At the center of a world known for irrational outbursts, inbred drama and misleading innuendo, Sean was a man of reason, the sole source of common sense and steadfast predictability. From behind the bar he maintained order by pouring another or calling a cab.
Saturday, May 27, 2006
Idris’ gorgeous brother Tony was the reason girls hungered for pizza after school. From counter seats, ovenside, they watched his sculpted body (wrapped in a fitted t-shirt) toss pizza dough into the air - a vision that planted the seeds of fantasy. Perennial fantasies.
Friday, May 26, 2006
Idris leered. Constantly. It wasn’t the 40-year-old Romanian’s intention--just the unfortunate, odd arch of his brow combined with the permanently-crooked corner of his mouth. It didn’t help that his interest in young schoolgirls who came into his family pizza joint teetered on perversion.
Thursday, May 25, 2006
Alan was a Napoleonic manager in the management consulting department of an international accounting firm who believed he was of vital importance. Critical. Key. Pivotal. While coworkers left scheduled department meetings with to-do lists, he had action steps. Everyone secretly called him Buzz (words.)
Wednesday, May 24, 2006
In the dark theater I studied every scene in Apocalypse Now for clues to why Brian (holder of all senior-yearbook-superlative titles) had asked me out. The only logical reason: a dare. I made up excuses to not see him again. I was an idiot.
Tuesday, May 23, 2006
With poetry so exquisite you almost overlook loss is Donald’s recurring theme and glimpse his beloved wife mopping a poem off the floor or napping in a painted bed. You see her - his words build bridges for her to return. You see her alive.
Monday, May 22, 2006
Barbara was my first brief experience with psychotherapy. During a memory exercise designed to project me back into the cradle, it was Barbara who wept at the imagined image of an infant crying for mother’s comfort that never came. I sat still. Stunned. Helpless.
Sunday, May 21, 2006
When Joshua isn’t figuring out where splittable atoms come from he’s snapping a camera an arm’s length from his face trying to capture detached hipness in his aviator shades and upturned collar - a still life of a fifteen-year-old he’s getting to know, by blogging.
Saturday, May 20, 2006
126/365 Mr. O'Keefe
Boring Mr. O’keefe once told our biology class about a breathtaking seascape he had photographed, enlarged, framed, and gave to a friend after cutting up the negative - making it one-of-a-kind. Destroying the negative seemed profoundly courageous to this untethered tenth-grader. I suddenly liked him.
Friday, May 19, 2006
Into his eighties but appears much younger thanks to youthful Swedish genes and optimism, Stig breathes inventions to life. He’s made a career worth millions out of tinkering in his cellar and showing his drawings to fabricators - which is the part he most enjoys.
Thursday, May 18, 2006
125/365 Eddie - Third Cousin Twice Removed
Eddie, unemployed and approaching fifty, frequently visited the Woolworth’s department store where my great-aunt worked after her retirement from fifty-three years in the ball bearing factory.
“Couple dollars?” he'd mooch.
“Not for booze."
“No. Final Net.”
Eddie wooed ladies with his Liberace-style, gravity-defying pompadour.
“Couple dollars?” he'd mooch.
“Not for booze."
“No. Final Net.”
Eddie wooed ladies with his Liberace-style, gravity-defying pompadour.
Wednesday, May 17, 2006
Wives consider Robin the Brad Pitt of carpenters. Pin-up gorgeous AND skilled and affordable, his truck pulling into your driveway is like donning a tiara. Seeing it parked at a friend's requires you visit - if only to ask her what she broke, on purpose.
Tuesday, May 16, 2006
Will is the sort of guy who will painstakingly peel away the many layers of existence, pluck out the essence, snort to himself at the inconsequentiality of it then go take a nap. Somewhere a file cabinet contains a note a doctor scribbled: manic-depressive.
Monday, May 15, 2006
Held together by spit and anger, Roy used his prized jackknife to slice half-way through the neighborhood rope swing in the hope of witnessing some other kid crash to the ground. I don’t recall ever hearing him being called home. Not once. Not once.
Sunday, May 14, 2006
There’s a joke or amusing anecdote for every occasion, every situation, every moment of everyday. George delivers them fluidly between hellos and good-byes. I leave aching from laughter. The folly arises when realizing I’ve known the comic 18-years but haven’t yet met the man.
Saturday, May 13, 2006
Barb’s a lifesaver, guiding at-risk students along paths that lead to lives worth loving. Some would make it anyway (via their own unconventional routes) but Barb patiently waits for those who can’t see ahead or read a map. During “off-hours” she drives an ambulance.
Friday, May 12, 2006
119/365 My Dream for Jacob on his 19th Birthday
Jacob awakes in a foreign country without language or familiar customs. He takes the breakfast waitress hostage with a wink and she teaches him new pronunciations for love. When he meets the ruling emperor and his stable hand, he feels genuine kinship to both.
Thursday, May 11, 2006
In sixth grade there was no denying David bore a striking resemblance to Scooby-Doo. Even teachers made the comparison. It might have been the droop of his eyes or the whinny in his laugh but he was a dead ringer for the animated dog.
Wednesday, May 10, 2006
At the charter meeting of the women’s writing group Cynthia nervously eyes the room while thumbing empty notebook pages. Then announces the book inside of her must be written and reveals that before her recent divorce she hadn’t left her home in eight years.
Tuesday, May 09, 2006
116/365 Mrs. Holleran
Marks’ mother was prejudice; she disliked rich people. Regardless of their route to wealth, the financially-solvent were less deserving of grace than the needy poor she met through catholic charities - people who couldn’t walk away from her table without a beholding sense of gratitude.
Monday, May 08, 2006
Growing up Beau was the cousin with the volatile temper who no one fully trusted alone with kittens. He had impish eyes with an unnerving smirk and a lingering rage that he brought from the womb, but folks rave about his mash potato-stuffed meatloaf.
Sunday, May 07, 2006
Patrice was horrified when after tasting the first dried out wafer we cooked, I suggested we bake something other than "cake" in my new Easy-Bake Oven. “Like what?” she asked nervously. “I don’t know. How about some Barbie heads? Or arms? They’ll fit better."
Saturday, May 06, 2006
Ken, Starr Pass Resort concierge, flamboyantly replies, “Heavens! Decent Thai doesn’t exist outside D.C. or Frisco; forget Tucson honey!” I read his badge. “Okay then, what’s life like in Morgantown, WV? “Bolted after high school. Who remembers?” I suspect he does. Perhaps viscerally. Perhaps woefully.
Friday, May 05, 2006
Margot sang in the choir and arranged Polo Match fundraisers for her wealthy Presbyterian parish. When her father passed she turned feral, clawing his widow for an antique bureau, knowing her father wasn’t in it and she owned several already. Bloodshed for wooden planks.
Thursday, May 04, 2006
Om. Om. Om. Om. Om. Om. Unfortunately I get the sense that like many spiritual leaders Tom wants to be a guru more than he wants to lead me to enlightenment. Om. Om. Om. Om. Om. Om. Om. Om. Om. Om. Om. Om. Om.
Wednesday, May 03, 2006
Jody helps us pack-n-ship our excess vacation. She shimmers copper and her raven-black hair lifts off her shoulders when she twirls to grab the tape as gracefully as any ballerina. Any ballerina. She’s wearing pink to her prom. The ballerina in the UPS Store.
Tuesday, May 02, 2006
Barbara must have swindled god out of this small slice of desert heaven. Her pueblo oasis is adorned with classic native art plus cheap Mexican chachkas leaving no space too empty. She tucks artificial flowers amongst the natural ones for a more pleasing bloom.
Monday, May 01, 2006
Perpetually on the lookout for what the world lacks and ready with an excessively indulgent supply of fresh towels, gentle-mannered Mariela is your ideal spa attendant. Without my wallet I can only thank her by asking about her children. She begins. Soon she’s glowing.
Sunday, April 30, 2006
For years Ruth, a Hungarian, has driven the same five-mile shuttle route through Grand Canyon Village. Through hissing speakers she shares information, geology and lore, but never the deepest secret she knows: the Canyon is filled by people emptying. Next stop Bright Angel Trail.
Saturday, April 29, 2006
106/365 Miss Heuig
Friday, April 28, 2006
105/365 Bartender in Benson
Desert baked and still shriveling up, in the beer cooler’s glow she appears to have two black eyes. She ain’t lived here a few years but if someone she knows ain’t been drinkin’ comes in she ain’t serving them their first. Hell starts elsewhere.
Thursday, April 27, 2006
104/365 Man to my right
He was sixty-two and retired when he started smoking cigarettes. “What were you thinking?” I ask from the bar stool beside him. “I was just looking for something to do,” he says, “I don’t even inhale, just puff.” Note to self, plan for retirement.
Wednesday, April 26, 2006
103/365 Mr. Scott
At my seventh-grade homeroom teacher’s wedding I floated down the aisle on the arm of the boys’ gorgeous gym teacher. The chapel blurred into unfocussed haze as everything outside that beam of light streaming down on us dissolved. Simply remembering still weakens my knees.
Tuesday, April 25, 2006
Shari was the woman-half-his-age my father brought to my brother’s wedding after the divorce. A sharp young defense attorney, she sat quietly at the family table among the ex’s and steps, deciding for herself whether the stories dad told her was perjurious or purgative.
Monday, April 24, 2006
101/365 Mrs. Azzarito
Food and love are interchangeable with Italian mothers and they’re happy to feed both to everyone. Producing good children or a decent tomato sauce demand equal devotion and the same well-intentioned yelling. Danny’s mom doesn’t know it but witnessing this behavior changed my life.
Sunday, April 23, 2006
Tom was re-elected mayor of a small upstate town even after his variety store was penalized with temporary closure by the state for failure to pay sales tax. So what, his constituents reasoned, he’s willing to do the job that know one else wants.
Saturday, April 22, 2006
It’s easy to first confuse the impassioned twinkle in Thabelo’s gaze with the more reckless spark of emerging youth but you eventually realize her African upbringing - in the cradle of humanity - has so suffused her with unvoiced universal knowledge that she shines from within.
Friday, April 21, 2006
Steve coaxes exotic woods and veneers into furniture it didn’t know it could be. Listen for giggles and whispers of secret mythic histories when you open a drawer. An unbounded reverence for God, art, and the living hushes him into a deceptively quiet man.
Thursday, April 20, 2006
97/365 Nigger Alice
Alice spent afternoons opposite my grandmother (Honky Alice), slamming cans of Pabst Blue-Ribbon on the kitchen table, laughing, cussing and badmouthing men they’d long since buried. Identical beneath the skin, they used racial slurs as terms of endearment so you knew which was which.
Wednesday, April 19, 2006
96/365 Uncle Robin
My stepfather’s younger brother Robin was the sweeter, cuter, funnier son. He was a fistful of glitter tossed into the air. When I was eleven he left me to marry the sassiest Irish lass ever born. I finally forgave him around their third anniversary.
Tuesday, April 18, 2006
Mike let me drive his new Anniversary Edition ’78 ‘Vette knowing I had no license. After almost burning out the clutch we rocketed like light along rural roads unaware a school bus was unloading around the bend. Slamming short of the unthinkable, nobody spoke.
Monday, April 17, 2006
He was everywhere, getting high or crashing, but I only remember him hurrying out of the neighborhood park wearing tan corduroy bell-bottoms, a windbreaker tied around his waist. Someone had called the cops and he didn’t want to risk having to empty his pockets.
Sunday, April 16, 2006
93/365 Mr. Dement
Mr. Dement taught Print Shop to distracted eighth graders, rapidly plucking individual letters from trays that were already becoming trendy home décor. He commended my ingenuity in using a mirror to proofread backward-set type but still took it away - insisting life be unnecessarily difficult.
Saturday, April 15, 2006
Mary’s GI Joe and his bazooka guarded my Barbie in her dreamhouse. When Joe finished killing I urged them to kiss. “No! Gross!” There was something different about Mary but we hadn’t yet learned any of the words that could explain or condemn it.
Friday, April 14, 2006
Lorraine’s first time playing charades she quickly abandoned proper miming for frantic pointing. We persistently responded. Grass! Yard! But never: garden, a British term for yard. We realized we meant the same thing but not before time ran out. Luckily we're allies, without bombs.
Thursday, April 13, 2006
People bring Marion flattened, dead frogs from around the world that she uses to create roadkill ceramic art. Pressing an impression of the carcass into clay seems to resurrect its spirit. I think that’s what art does: arouses life and death simultaneously, like god.
Wednesday, April 12, 2006
Tom’s authored the business world’s best-sellers on subjects of excellence and chaos. Listening to him spout to dinner companions it becomes clear he does what gurus do: applies his microcosm of personal foils and failures to a broader group; then oh-so-boldly points to it.
Tuesday, April 11, 2006
The world and all its gods loved Mary. We ribbed her for marrying our brother then voted to keep her (and give him back) when they split. Photos of that perfect Christmas — the one before the family started shattering — make us miss her more.
Monday, April 10, 2006
87/365 Slim Jim
Jim wasn’t called Slim because he was, although genetically-linked wealth made him appear thinner. Immense bulk provided protective padding for his razor-sharp wit and fierce mind. His life’s largest cruelty was inheriting the family business where he effortlessly wasted unspeakable amounts of creative potential.
Sunday, April 09, 2006
I thought I’d married the perfect man but discovered he too has flaws: he sometimes forgets to remove tissues from his pockets before doing laundry--littering the whole load with white debris. Try imagining the life I’ve had, living with a man like that!
Saturday, April 08, 2006
Jan either likes you or she doesn’t. Her choice. You have no say in the matter whatsoever. If she does you’ll have the most loyal, supportive, and dependable friend you could want in this life. If she doesn’t...whoa! I've heard some plead for death.
Friday, April 07, 2006
84/365 Terry's Parents
Senior year Terry’s devoutly Catholic parents learned their college-bound daughter was miraculously pregnant. Abortion was never an option until Terry ruled out adoption. Then they reasoned god surely created abortion for Ivy-league situations like theirs but remained morally against it for other people’s daughters.
Thursday, April 06, 2006
A tourist at the bar, Lulu kept leaning into our plates. “Smells good. What’s that like?” I worried she might take a bite. When her entrée arrived she moaned, “Deeeeelicious!” And without hesitation offered us a heaping forkful. “Taste this!” I still regret declining.
Wednesday, April 05, 2006
82/365 Little Irene
Little Irene isn’t little or big. (She’s “Irene, Jr.” but of course women aren’t called that.) Not overly intelligent, attractive, or pleasant; nor remarkably cunning, disturbingly ugly or alarmingly wicked, she appears to be the very mean of humanity, but Irene’s can be deceiving.
Tuesday, April 04, 2006
We were twins separated at birth by time. After his unexpected death I upended drawers hunting down photos—terrified I’d forget his face even though it was in every mirror. Shrapnel from the bullet he gunned into his own tormented heart, lodged into mine.
Monday, April 03, 2006
Brian listens to carburetors and fan belts like a maestro hears an orchestra. He spends hours on his back, gazing upward like an artist finding shapes in the clouds, mumbling about universals. His simple explanation for quitting school: they insist you sit in chairs.
Sunday, April 02, 2006
Both sides of John’s brain are sharply developed making him a gifted poet and a skilled lawyer. Apparently neither side dominates. That combination would make me schizophrenic but he manages a fine balance - often delivering his poems printed on the back of revised contracts.
Saturday, April 01, 2006
It could be argued that in 1971 Kiki was the most bubbly camp counselor on the planet, but paralyzed by a headache from enjoying too much pinot noir last night, I am in no condition to do so. Just take my word for it.
Friday, March 31, 2006
Ron falls for every boy his daughters bring home for dinner. Instantly anointing them his best pal, he shows them off as the son he wished he’d sired. When they leave or are let go Ron, broken hearted, impatiently waits for replacements to arrive.
Thursday, March 30, 2006
76/365 Peter, circa 1983
Peter, a government-trained killer, tosses pebbles at my balcony window until I awake. Across town his pregnant wife also sleeps in the dark, leaving me wondering whether lies I’m told before he leaves me are like the ones she hears before he loves me.
Wednesday, March 29, 2006
Before Don became a V.P. at twenty-seven, he and I would regularly go watch the N.Y. Mets lose another one at Shea, but after buying the requisite BMW he suddenly refused to take his car into Queens and stayed home. So much for success.
Tuesday, March 28, 2006
Dan, a waiter (who claimed he could tell by looking), was constantly sizing up dining room customers, picking out sinners bound for hell. He believed he was serving spiritual nourishment--medium-rare with a side of godliness while I, the cocktail waitress, delivered their vice.
Monday, March 27, 2006
No embellishing adjectives for Irene. To look at she wasn’t too anything, except easily overlookable. Then alone on stage during a sophomore concert she opened and all creation’s untold harmony flooded the hall. Astonished and humbled, I vowed to rely less on my eyes.
Sunday, March 26, 2006
When we met Beja was 43 and at the end of his life story. Hugging good-bye he assured me he’d see me from heaven but understood I (not believing in heaven) wouldn’t see him. I look up anyway; honoring his beliefs, I wholeheartedly wave.
Saturday, March 25, 2006
Vicki doles out favors like someone trying to hand out advertising leaflets at busy intersections, but not if her daughter asks. Vicki manages to mimic sincerity: Sorry dear. Vicki’s daughter gets what Vicki thinks she needs, and only when Vicki thinks of it herself.
Friday, March 24, 2006
Bar conversation reveals Danny's good-ol'-boy demeanor camouflages a penchant for Kipling and cooking. We discover he'd been pals with Jimmy, my high school boyfriend, and start playing "What about...?" We stall at Mike. Nothing sours reminiscing's sweet bouquet like the unmistakable scent of mortality.
Thursday, March 23, 2006
69/365 Ronald's Well-Meaning Mother
Ronald’s mother stormed into the classroom demanding a conference with his fourth-grade teacher and the classmates who taunted him. She reasoned; threatened; poked her parental finger in their faces. Afterward they called Ronald, Mommy's Ronnie and threw nasty names for her at him too.
Wednesday, March 22, 2006
Rick was dump curator until it closed. A geyser of black curls sprung from his head and he grinned Mona Lisa’s smile while helping sort your recyclables (art-in-the-larvae-stage.) Unwilling to trash art others already had, Rick hung “undiscovered masterpieces” - works that admittedly belonged there.
Tuesday, March 21, 2006
Pleasant, pretty, perfectly pressed, Lisa was hired as the small-town newspaper publisher’s wife. She quickly bore daughters -- one, two, three -- until finally producing an acceptable heir, Dad, Jr. The whole town sighed joyful relief - now pretty much guaranteed future headlines identical to those past.
Monday, March 20, 2006
You like Julie because she’s always asking about you. Simple things: What do you think of that new deli? Complicated things: How do you feel about your mother having left after you were born? Julie wants to know you as much as you do.
Sunday, March 19, 2006
Carol is a soft-spoken, rugged man who gathers the complexity of simple living (woodchopping, haying, sugaring) into gentle metered paeans of rural values. When asked about his process he admits he fears he’ll run out of titles long before he runs out of poems.
Saturday, March 18, 2006
Patty’s in-your-face sex appeal teetered on sluttish but she honestly believed her post-game dalliances with hunks of the varsity team furthered her feminine acclaim. She could never understand why they became other girls’ boyfriends, nor could she appreciate the difference between popularity and notoriety.
Friday, March 17, 2006
David’s Virginian pedigree shows as he twists a Hayden poem until it suggests blacks have a lock on chronic anger and winter Sundays. Pointing to my childhood neighborhood (where African-Americans were the neighbors, not the help), I argue poverty is colorless; privilege less so.
Thursday, March 16, 2006
Beginning very early Kayla learned by watching her father. Now she delivers lies like a Three Card Monte dealer, quickly flipping distractions and shuffling enough reality into her teenaged yarns to be plausible. You know you’re being conned but want to believe her anyway.
Wednesday, March 15, 2006
Meeting for the first time was like stepping before a funhouse mirror. Hey look! Me! Suddenly I distorted into too much this or not enough that. And all that jeering laughter! It's hard living with me, especially knowing that before me, I was perfect.
Tuesday, March 14, 2006
Pasty white and dough-boy squishy, Tom had accepted that no gym membership would firm his ever-softening middle-aged girth, so when he made partner he spent lunches at posh restaurants taking credit for subordinate’s brilliant ideas while getting toasted by happy Japanese clients and martinis.
Monday, March 13, 2006
59/365 Eugene Jr
In a claw-foot bathtub at his favorite saloon, EJ (wearing our father’s fishing waders) tried and failed to break the world’s record for sitting in catsup. Tomato acid burned several tiny holes in the waders which Dad discovered later - standing in a cold river.
Sunday, March 12, 2006
Lisa worries about worrying. Having read neurosis stems from physical imbalances she combats irrationality with yoga and aerobics. Recently I described the majesty of witnessing the Snow Geese migration. She gasped! Aren’t I afraid of bird flue? At least she’s in great physical shape.
Saturday, March 11, 2006
Paul’s sole aspiration was memorability. An unskilled and neglected son of wealth, he jetted from country club to country club buying embroidered golf jackets like souvenir t-shirts. During flights home he’d reflect: Was I enough of an asshole that they’ll remember me? Yes. Undoubtedly.
Friday, March 10, 2006
My brother called him the girl downstairs. When a windstorm uprooted an ancient willow, Reno wasn’t allowed to play in it. “Too dangerous,” his parents cautioned. Obediently, he watched from the porch as we climbed through its tangled branches and made it our fort.
Thursday, March 09, 2006
No matter what it is, David’s is always bigger, better, or more clever. “Nice poem,” he’ll say, quickly adding “let me show you one I’m working on.” I know - I only detest this annoying habit because I sometimes have it myself. However, mine’s better.
Wednesday, March 08, 2006
Joanne’s been town clerk since the earth was formed. She listens as you speak and her lips twist into a discrete little smile that hints she’s got some dirt on everyone in town and at that moment is recalling what she’s got on you.
Tuesday, March 07, 2006
53/365 Patrick (No, The Other One)
Classmates defined Patrick by who he wasn’t. He wasn’t the cute, funny Patrick - every girls’ answer to “who do you like?” He was the other one. Desperate to appear special, he once volunteered his grandfather was stillborn. The class discussion halted; the laughter didn’t.
Monday, March 06, 2006
Bill’s oldest of two daughters ran into the house waving a story she’d written at school, upon which was a teacher-placed gold star. The following day Bill (in his thirties, working for the state) called Literacy Volunteers so he could learn to read it.
Sunday, March 05, 2006
Compared to us urban scapegraces, Richard was a tall blue-eyed-blonde breath of fresh air -- like a country boy -- as uncomplicated as a walk along a rural road. Parents and authorities never suspected Country was our supplier, tending bumper crops of nickel-bags in his basement.
Saturday, March 04, 2006
Until Kenny brought levity to our Easter breakfast table, only priest-blessed food was permitted. Surrounded by grumbling Slovak-American in-laws celebrating The Resurrection, he joked, “Pass the matzah," and was handed kielbasa. “Close enough. Thanks.” Jewish comedians deliver a different salvation. I bet God laughed.
Friday, March 03, 2006
Growing up Mike moved with sloth-like urgency (only sometimes less briskly) and grinned groovy contentment without ever being stoned. In his early forties he went to the doctor on Monday then the mortician that Friday, shocking everyone with his breakneck velocity toward ever after.
Thursday, March 02, 2006
Laura wasn’t popular because she was pretty, smart or clever, but because she was a lunatic who entertained the ruling class by shoving schoolmates against lockers, lighting fires in trashcans, cussing out teachers. She aroused primordial fear - until that little blonde girl shoved back.
Wednesday, March 01, 2006
Tom sees everything coming. “I could have predicted that,” he’ll shrug but nobody can recall him doing so. “I could have told you that wouldn’t work,” he’ll declare. Then why didn’t he? In hindsight Tom continually stuns the group with his expertise and perspicacity.
Tuesday, February 28, 2006
By the time she got to college Peggy believed her seven older siblings had already accomplished everything necessary to serve man and god. Programmer, priest, politician, actor, analyst, advertising exec, and mother, were covered. What’s left? She graduated, with honors, a divorced bulimic astrophysicist.
Monday, February 27, 2006
Michael is a magician with schoolchildren and computers. He can pull a giggle fit out of a sour-puss or data off a dead disk with a wave of his hand. I figured out how he does it. First he makes his ego disappear. Ta-Da!
Sunday, February 26, 2006
Karie returned from spring vacation refusing to remove her floppy hat. The teacher didn’t argue. At lunch she terrified sixth-grade girls by describing the crazed hairdresser who, tripping on acid, had butchered her hair. In reality, her best friends’ Doberman had shredded her head.
Saturday, February 25, 2006
43/365 Dr. Beckler
When I described feeling electrical pulses in my shins and forearms, Dr. Beckler said nothing. Not a word. I’m no doctor but I would think when a patient describes those symptoms you might say something--anything--even just, no kidding or that sounds cool.
Friday, February 24, 2006
A disproportionate percentage of people Debbie loves die cruel deaths, tragically young. She’s surrendered months to cherished friends’ bedsides watching cancer consume their brains, breasts or bones. Her fiancé also died, quite unexpectedly, in her bed. The note he left cautioned: Don’t go upstairs.
Thursday, February 23, 2006
Money beneath the doily signaled Blackalvin (the bookie my great-aunt booked numbers for) was coming to collect. Besides his gangster grin, his only obvious bling was his cherry-red DeVille. “No! Around again!” I bossed, leaning out the passenger window waving to pedestrians like royalty.
*This is what my grandmother and great aunts always called him. I was probably eight or nine before I realized they were saying "black Alvin."
*This is what my grandmother and great aunts always called him. I was probably eight or nine before I realized they were saying "black Alvin."
Wednesday, February 22, 2006
40/365 Great-Great-Aunt Annie
At ninety-two Annie was barely bigger than the high-strung Chihuahua she left waiting at home each morning while she toddled self-reliantly to the neighborhood grocer or five-and-dime. One day the dog waited well into night unaware death had sent a car for Annie.
Tuesday, February 21, 2006
Ian, a wiry Australian, jumpier than any kangaroo, grinned like a jackass while feeding me Vegemite. He atoned afterward: ballet tickets and cheesecake at The Plaza. He would have stayed but America, not needing another CPA, deported him before we found an American bride.
Monday, February 20, 2006
My bad massage came from Mark. His clumsy, erratic touch, and repeated attempts to squirt lotion from a container so empty it farted, paled against the incense he lit while endlessly thrumming about the benefits of time spent with parents. Mine are unfortunately dead.
Sunday, February 19, 2006
Not merely a member but the teacher-appointed Safety Patrol captain, Chris took her position seriously. She rigorously reviewed the deployment of her orange-belted squad. More than once she assigned Tiffany the farthest intersection, just to be pissy like any good sixth-grader with a badge.
Saturday, February 18, 2006
You never sensed sadness, but everything about him sagged downward: wilting bangs and languishing gaze; the solemn corners of his mouth; sloping shoulders; droopy jeans. His unmistakable detachment suggested he knew things in ways poets, or prophets, do. When he winked, you were certain.
Friday, February 17, 2006
Whenever it came up I told Lori “Quit griping. You’re imagining it. Workplace racism is history.” After dropping her off the first time we socialized, my boyfriend seethed. “You didn’t tell me she was black!” I’d been shamelessly blind to what Lori saw clearly.
Thursday, February 16, 2006
Tall, young and lovely, Alice casts out a thousand questions--each baited to hook the same answer: Yes, you’re pretty. As her companions tire of continually gushing, their half-hearted affirmations stir more doubt than if she’d simply caught her own reflection in the stream.
Wednesday, February 15, 2006
33/365 Ed the Plumber
If crime scene investigators uncovered a note from Ed, they’d conclude the perp was a second-grader. He writes cursive precisely as taught--no personalizing flourishes or altered strokes. This lack of deviation might be considered pathological. However unlikely, the delectable possibility twists my imagination.
Tuesday, February 14, 2006
John could speak to computers in several languages but struggled talking to his sons. He couldn’t remember punch lines or why he stayed at one company, unhappily, for 35 years. Still, every February he sent his daughters-in-law Valentines until eventually succumbing to heart failure.
Monday, February 13, 2006
Having drummed for the Air Force Band, Andrew insists middle-eastern terrorists are targeting Vermont. When my eyebrows arch in doubt he zips his lips, keeping confidential information he’s got that proves it. Soon he’s moving to Nashville. Could the Grand Ole Opry be next?
Sunday, February 12, 2006
When my stepmother’s mother had singing waitresses surprise me with a cake, joydrops spilled from my eyes for the first time, showing me what love looks like. Today I’d wish leukemia never stole her. At seven, selfishly, I wished only to keep that cake.
Saturday, February 11, 2006
Bob’s made a career of elbowing his way near famous people. Shooing others aside, he flings his arm around celebrity shoulders and grins for the camera he himself brought. At parties he continually drops his own name leaving acquaintances blanched and wondering Bob who?
Friday, February 10, 2006
In the box of Licorice Allsorts that was our fourth grade class, Quinn was the colors of the Irish flag: freckle-faced, blue-eyed and red-headed. He worried about family he'd left in some imaginary land called Belfast and, inexplicably, kept asking classmates, are you Catholic?
Thursday, February 09, 2006
Garth manages a South African ostrich farm. He hatches them, raises them, then feeds them to lunching tourists, with a fruity Pinotage and amusing one-liners. “Of course! I know America,” he insists. Then earnestly, “Has anyone you know been on the Jerry Springer show?”
Wednesday, February 08, 2006
Mark was willing to pay $1000 to anyone who found him a woman to marry. He was good for the money, so all his taller, funnier, stronger, more accomplished friends tried. Then a female colleague suggested, “keep your money, just find some uglier friends.”
Tuesday, February 07, 2006
Travis scrawls some unnamed despair into his forearm. Circling a penknife toward his wrist, he carves wounds he can touch into his flesh. Occasionally, ambitions roll up his sleeves, revealing his disquieting prose and invented alphabet. His parents gasp, terrified they’re reading his memoir.
Monday, February 06, 2006
Joann’s a capable woman who buys crystal animals from mall kiosks as investments. “There’s so much about your father you don’t know,” she joked at their wedding. I knew enough to not be surprised when he left her horribly widowed before their first anniversary.
Sunday, February 05, 2006
Muriel’s four daughters produced a swarm of grandchildren. She fussed over those babies until some grew wings. Then she couldn’t stand flaws so like her own constantly flying in her face. She swatted them away. A happier queen she’d be - surrounded by attentive drones.
Saturday, February 04, 2006
An honor student and gifted athlete, Leon endured months of hallway snickering as he carried his girlfriend’s books while she carried her ex-boyfriend’s baby. It left many wondering whether his heart was the strongest muscle in his body. She delivered someone’s son after finals.
Friday, February 03, 2006
Terry rode in like a hero in his red Cadilac (the same cool car as grandma’s bookie!) After the wedding he moved us to the burbs, snuck us into country clubs, demanded we smile and say cheese. After mom’s funeral, he left us the photos.
Thursday, February 02, 2006
Early in our relationship, whenever Dolores phoned I invariably had to ask her to hold on--the pizza guy was at the door. She waited patiently, biting her tongue, but ultimately asked if I ever fed her son anything else. No, Chinese doesn't count.
Wednesday, February 01, 2006
19/365 J. Russell
Russell epitomized brainy dork - slight build, straight bangs, rimmed glasses, toted a briefcase whereas I forgot everything in my locker. His enthusiasm for knowledge bewildered me. He chuckled once over something I said but stopped to explain subtle differences between witticism and mockery.
Tuesday, January 31, 2006
Ellen, a recent abusive relationship escapee, is tentative but startling curious. When I mentioned having to write sales copy for a client she innocently asked “How do you know how to write?” Hm. It never occurred to me that I didn’t know how. Until then.
Monday, January 30, 2006
17/365 Mr. Balsley
Hip Mr. Balsley taught science by day, bartended by night. I saw him in action, mixing drinks like a chemist. The next day I wasn’t listening when he explained why shampoo lathers better the second time – something I wonder whenever I wash, rinse, repeat.
Sunday, January 29, 2006
16/365 Those Kaminskys
Inseparable, they moved as one. Karen, the brain, gave the six-legged animal intention. Teddy, its bellowing mouth, hollered its arrival. The (momentarily nameless) youngest, the wagging tail, gleefully motioned until I followed, ignoring mother’s appeal that I not go find trouble with those Kaminskys!
Saturday, January 28, 2006
I can’t pronounce the initial click in Njongo. I try. He laughs. Walking us through Langa (a township of determined shanties on battered roads littered with lack), he points out progress since Apartheid. If he can laugh, I can vow to never whine again.
Friday, January 27, 2006
Lauryn’s remarkably inquisitive and enterprising with a lust for dumb hats. She treats every thought she thinks as though it was never thunk before, by anyone, ever. Her teenage son, also exceptionally bright, recites from memory the calculation proving the statistical improbability of that.
Thursday, January 26, 2006
Having once lived in an orchard, Melissa tells me you can toss a chicken through a well-pruned apple tree. Intelligent, adventurous, and self-sufficient, she speaks music fluently. Only twice have I thought, perhaps there is a god; the first time was hearing Melissa sing.
Wednesday, January 25, 2006
Jon’s a back flip off the high dive into the shallow end of an empty pool – an exhilarating burst of commotion but a heartbreaking waste of potential. After he wins Powerball tonight he’s buying a life others will envy; he’s promised me a Winnebago.
Tuesday, January 24, 2006
Masquerading as a redhead, sparring with blindness, sitting beside me with a National Book Award for Poetry under her tongue, Ruth plucked my wobbling words from the air, held them up to the sun and sighed, “Wonderful!" Then commanded “Read it again!”
Monday, January 23, 2006
10/365 The Other Don
I’ve never met anyone funnier than my friend Don’s friend, Don - a merchant marine who lived on land only half the year. He kept us in stitches all through dinner while his fiancé grew more peeved as another minute ticked off their six-month stopwatch.
Sunday, January 22, 2006
Bob distrusts everything -- animal, vegetable, mineral. He fortified his property with cameras and alarms. Yards of barbed wire barricade his driveway. Without these protective measures crooks wouldn't imagine Bob owned stuff worth stealing. He doesn’t – but the spoils aren’t a thief's only reward.
Saturday, January 21, 2006
Star and her mother moved into their apartment at night. She was six too. Having no dolls, Star would use rocks or steal mine. One afternoon her mother slammed the phone down and ordered me home. I never knew why or saw Star again.
Friday, January 20, 2006
Jaye’s width is twice her height. X-rays would reveal only an enormous juicy heart inside her, no other vital organs. To feed that heart she bakes cupcakes of happiness for others -- always licks the bowl -- but goes to bed hungry.
Thursday, January 19, 2006
Rick swears that he, both his parents, and his two sisters, were all born on the fourth of July. The remaining sibling, his brother, arrived early on the fifth. Sounds far-fetched, I know, but believe it. Rick, a skilled accountant, lies only with numbers.
Wednesday, January 18, 2006
Bobbie wintered on exotic islands, drove hot cars, and dressed fashionably. Her three more dowdy sisters (including my mother) suspected she was a call girl since they were unable to explain how she maintained her enviable lifestyle. Perhaps she was smarter than anybody thought.
Tuesday, January 17, 2006
4/365 Cousin Albert
Albert carved totem poles; kept a boa constrictor for a pet; and once while babysitting, served me blueberries in cream, calling it dingleberry soup - laughing. Last time I heard his name was on the evening news. His alligator was loose in Greenwich, Connecticut.
Monday, January 16, 2006
3/365 Mr. Mason
Weekdays, Mr. Mason taught Spanish to five periods of snot-ass middle-schoolers. He commanded his room with a long wooden pointer, thwacking the floor, blackboard, and occasionally shoulders of unsuspecting slouches. I’ve come to believe he was tapping “You can do this.” in Morse code.
Sunday, January 15, 2006
Joe, a talented dancer, had the hottest ass of any guy I never slept with. He believed in numerology and saving himself for marriage. He moved to Vegas, but became a stock broker, then lost his house and family when the dotcom bubble burst.