Sunday, July 24, 2016

Space Dust and Human Ashes (Part One)

Look closely at your hand. Everything you see there has been on this planet in some form since the beginning of earth time. That used to blow. me. away. The outcropping of new life forms and new lives from the original blue bobble we call home as we dance about in our galaxy. (You can see how I try to grasp this concept in "Space Travelers," below.) And yet . . .

Tuesday, July 19, 2016

Trash Talk and Bob's Bread

I saw this adorable clip on Facebook a few days ago, definitely worth a watch if you’d like to get a few more of your happy synapses snapping. It’s of triplet girls--about three years old--dancing around the driveway in their anticipation of giving their trash collection guys each a cold Gatorade.

I found this especially endearing in light of my recent attempt to show gratitude--FAIL. 

Friday, July 15, 2016

What You Wish For

Mugging with Mother a few months before the accident.
All I ever wished for was to be a writer. (And that elusive pony.) At 10, I wrote my first book: The World and I. Fully illustrated. And then there followed a looong, dry spell.

My dreams of a writing life didn't begin to materialize until Wichita State University established its MFA program, and I went back to school--a divorced mother of three with a weekly study-work schedule of 110 hours. My mentor and life-long friend, Distinguished Professor Bienvenido Nuqui Santos, told me I was writing to find my mother, who was killed in a car wreck when I was 26. 

Sunday, July 10, 2016

My Fathers Frank and the Birds and the Bees

In Santa Catalina with Sister-cousin Carol Dick Jansen.

Both of my fathers were race car drivers named Frank.

My first father raced on asphalt with the Sports Car Club of America 
and later stewarded for them, once fixing a gas leak in Paul Newman's motor home. 

My step-father was a three-time Grand National Champion of stock car racing, which took place on dirt tracks.

In spite of their mutual love for racing, stockpiles of trophies, and taste in women, they couldn't have been more different--one 
an only child of a wealthy family and one a farm kid with nine siblings being raised by a widowed mother. But what struck me during my growing up years was their very different world views, which was especially evident when it came time for "The Talk."

My 18th summer, both of them decided to have a heart-to-heart to explain what their expectations were sex wise--to me, not to each other. These fairly one-sided conversations came long after my first serious boyfriend said he might die if I didn’t “give in to him,” or at least he’d be really really sore “down there” (in the 60's, that was the anatomically correct terminology.) At the time, I thought that was an odd sort of power to hold over someone. 

Anyway, that summer, Father A came through town and told me that if I were being sexually active I’d better be using birth control. His friend had just paid for an abortion for his daughter, and “damn, it was expensive.” 

Father B, noting that I was pretty tight with my college boyfriend, said that if we felt we might give in to “our animal urges” to let him know and he’d give us money to get married with. 

The messages couldn't have been more mixed, but there was definitely a financial motif. 

Ironically, they also planned identical driving vacations that year--from the scorched checkerboard of Kansas to the temperate bliss of the southern California coast. Luckily, cloning hadn’t been discovered yet, so I got to visit my beloved Pacific Ocean and Santa Monica Beach twice that summer. 

Even back then, I recognized what a fortunate and privileged girl I was. On the other hand, I figured my celibacy was contributing significantly to my four parents' financial wellbeing.

Now I’m almost to the age where a boyfriend might die if his girlfriend did give in. I still think it’s an odd sort of power . . . .

#writer #writerslife #writing #author #birdsandbees #racingfromthepast

Tuesday, July 5, 2016

Long Lungs

In the dim glow of the x-ray lab, I overheard one technician talking to the other behind the safety screen: “Darn. That’s odd. We’ll have to take another one and lower it; she’s got long lungs.” He sounded rushed and irritated.

Wait. Come again? Long compared to what? I wanted to ask them about it, as in, is this unusual? Am I a freak? I didn’t ask because, to be honest, I felt a little uncomfortable. As if they were being judgmental, and what would I use as a come back? “Oh yeah, well so are your mother’s!” 

So of course I’m still pondering this revelation. Have my lungs always been long, and no one ever thought to mention it? Is it hereditary? Do I come from a long line of long-lunged people? And are long lungs an advantage or a disadvantage or just an irritant to over-worked x-ray technicians?

True I’m tall; 5’11” at my peak, I’ve compacted to 5’9” in my dotage. Along with dreading my annual weigh-ins, I cringe with my annual height-ins as I surreptitiously stretch to graze the 5’9” mark.

But that got me thinking that maybe, just maybe, my lungs appear long because they’re closer to my waist than they used to be. And what about gravity? We all know what it does to our outer selves. Does it actually drag down our innards? Are our insides in a perpetual cascade? Are pot bellies and collapsed chests a result of this long inglorious slide? If so, could a web of mesh slings pull us back into the glorious alignment of our youth?

These are things people probably don’t give much thought to until they’re saturated with radiation and their innermost outlines held up to the light and possible derision. Do I wish I hadn’t overheard that conversation in the x-ray lab? I don’t really know. I do know I left there with a long face, and am still wondering if I should bring this up with my GP.


This reflection on length got me remembering bits of a poem I wrote in junior high. I think I’ve finally reassembled it. Yes, I do see a pattern of obsession here. So’s your mother!

Tall Troubles 

People say height doesn’t matter
but this cannot be true
for I’m a very tall girl
and because of that I’m quite blue.

Take short Stanley for example
we got along just fine,
but after I stood up
he suddenly called time.

He said height didn’t matter,
he preached on and on,
but then a few minutes later
Stan was gone, Man, gone.

Then there was Jerry D,
boy that guy could flirt,
then his neck got stiff,
now he can’t see me for dirt.

The latest one was Adam,
but that will no doubt end
like all the times before it,
before it can begin.

So I’ll just have to cool it
and learn to bide my time,
while I wait for them to grow,
they will some day you know.

#writer #writerslife #writing #author #rehab #teenpoetry

Friday, July 1, 2016

Me Before Me and the Poopy Dog

First, please don’t throw a ton of shade for this ludicrous comparison, but in week 10 of imposed inaction from a fractured tibia, I’ve been reflecting on a novel I read three months ago, Me Before You, now a movie. 

It’s about a quadrapalegic who entertains the idea that death would be better than an action-packed life siphoned down to an existence dependent upon a third party to keep an ebbing life force sludging along into a future without hope of recovery. Whew.

As I’ve spent day after day after day perfecting the imprint of my backside in my leather recliner, it got me thinking about the mind-body connection. Here’s what I think I’ve learned: as goes my body, there goes my mind. 

Think about it: if you had 10 weeks during which you were freed from any and all mundane tasks--with the only mandate to stay off your right leg and take care of yourself--what might you achieve? The possibilities are staggering (I had to go there).

Maybe you would finally read the classics? Learn French? Address and send out those Christmas cards languishing under expired coupons at the back of your desk? Fill in the kids’ baby books? Start--or finish--the great American novel? Learn to meditate? Translate the Bible into emojis? I know, draw up a plan to end world hunger! 

Ah, if only.

Not so much for this shut-in. It's as if the immobilization of one leg--just a knee really--also shut down my ability to see past the TV (resulting in the side effect of dry-eyes from lack of blinking). 

I thought I'd hit bottom when I started making smart-ass comments to what passes for news commentators on my omnipresent TV, including scorching retorts regarding the ever-present Trumpitis that has infected the air waves. But then something outside the boob tube occurred, and I realized that my brain has as far to go recovery-wise as my steel-laced tibia.

BJ Auch, who is like a beloved daughter, sometimes leaves her dog with us, and the other day, I was convalescing on the upper deck when Annie Banannie ran up to me smeared with dog poo she had rolled in. 

I held my nose and called out to Glenn and then sent a picture to BJ. And I laughed. With delight.  

I laughed while Glenn gave Annie a preliminary rinsing with the hose while BJ texted she was on her way with doggie shampoo!!  

I laughed as poor Annie endured her second shower of shame and at BJ's stream-of-consciousness admonishments as she lathered and rinsed. 

At long last, I was in the moment and having the best. time. ever. Watching poop run off an otherwise endearing dog. 

Starting next Monday, I'm to once again navigate sans chair, sans walker, sans brace. I'm hoping it won't be too long before I'm once again walking with a steady, if measured, gait and that my gimpy brain will eventually catch up. (But really, you had to be there.)

#writer #writerslife #writing #author #rehab


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