Thursday, June 30, 2011

Things unsaid during reunions

Oh, it's so nice to see you.
But you've gained a lot of weight.
And how is your husband?
Looks like he is still drinking heavily.
Yes, thank you for noticing I've lost weight.
You haven't.
My boyfriend cooked me a gourmet dinner last night!
Yours didn't even come home and hers was 
passed out by dinner time.
Dad is so nice to let me and Dude stay with him.
Look at me, look at me, I'm an attention hog!
Oh, she's just six years old - and so full of energy!
Up for the Laziest Parent Award again this year, are we?
Don't you think my boyfriend, Dude, is the handsomest guy ever?
Unlike your tattooed mess of a husband/ex/lover/child.
Yes, I'm very proud of my daughter making honor roll.
Yours seems to be going for 'most slept with' in her junior year.
Going to Mass daily is one of the best choices I've ever made in my life.
Totally dissimilar to your choice to ignore your children, right?
Exercising every morning at 5 am just gets my day off to a great start!
Interesting what a masochistic idiot you are, even in your forties.
Are you still going to that little AA class of yours?
I just can't imagine how you live life without drinking/drugging! 
...though you WERE a bad one.
Guy is just the absolute love of my life and treats me like gold.
Just like the last six losers who wouldn't marry you.
My relationship with my Savior has just changed my life.
Is that why you and Bubba got divorced last year?
Please let me tell you all about my church family.
So, I'm obviously not really family for you anymore, right?
Isn't it great that your dad is already dating?
Oh sure, dating a crazy woman within months after mom died.
Grunt just loves my kids like they were his own.
Hmmm...evidently that's how you justify ignoring them.
I could never have kids - I love my dogs too much.
Another excuse for selfish narcissism - whatever!


God, grant me the serenity to accept the people I cannot change,
the courage to change the one I can,
and the wisdom to know that one is me
- especially during this upcoming weekend.

Reunion II

Well, my classmates should
be able to recognize me by
my broken-out face.
What the hell?
After years of clear skin,
I look like a teenager again
these last months.
Farging hormonal changes.
Menopause sucks.

Wednesday, June 29, 2011


Colors swirl and dive,
dance and twine.
Patterns vary and varying.
These are my thoughts
each day different
disciplined, influenced and
inspired, brilliant or dull
but unceasingly active
yet flowing towards
the same end:

(Posted for MagPie Tales, Mag 71,  6-27-11)

Promises broken

Vows were made
for better or worse
richer or poorer
sickness and health
cleaving only to one another
to have and to hold
from this day forward
until death do you part.

This situation challenges every
single one of those vows.
How much 'change' is one
supposed to uphold, especially
when it involves every aspect
of life and physical being?
This determination has narrowed the
other's option to only one: the
decision to leave.

A choice was made to
lie before, continuing to lie after.
The lying before, especially when asked
directly, was definitely a choice.
The lying afterwards is an even
uglier and cunning choosing,
born of selfishness and disregard
for others' needs and promises made.
The compulsion of the other to
accept the unacceptable is
abhorrent and a deal breaker and
Decisions are not simple when
love is involved.

(Poetry prompt on Changes from "Poetic Asides", 6-29-11)

Tuesday, June 28, 2011

Good deed

As I wrestle the Pomeranian out of
the suburban for her grooming appointment,
an older gentleman approaches from his
monstrous RV, proverbial hat in hand,
asking for directions to a tire store.
I stare at him in puzzlement, arms full
of pinwheeling, excited furball who has
now spotted her groomer and is trying
to launch off my chest into her arms.
Finally focusing on his question, I
suppress my irritation that he is hogging
eight parking places with his rig plus a towed
vehicle. As I attempt to give him directions to
several businesses and study his confused
face, I then hear myself offering to
guide him to an appropriate establishment.
The dog bounces away in Katie's arms into the
paw spa for her bath and trim while I climb back in
my vehicle to lead this parade of elderly
elephants to their destination, feeling only slightly
righteous about helping out a kindly tourist, one of the
persistent crowds that silt up my home town with
sightseeing and money every summer. I really
shouldn't take all this beauty and location
for granted, not to mention their financially
beneficial presence.

Sunday, June 26, 2011

Pahaska ride

Craggy hillsides unexpectedly
covered with inconceivably numerous
brilliant yellow black-eyed susans and
modestly pale purple penstemon flowers,
incredible because Wyoming tends to
be a high desert clime and this year
has been a long, cool wet spring,
resulting in green, colorful vistas.
Mountain sheep cling to microscopic
ledges on sheer sedimentary cliffs.
An eagle's aerie tucked into a cave
on a pitted weathered volcanic formation.
Spills of green down similar cliffs where
ground water has seeped and flowed,
providing encouragement to plant life.
A mere few of the hundreds of
astonishingly beautiful and unsuspected
glimpses during today's motorcycle ride to the east
entrance of Yellowstone Park.

Saturday, June 25, 2011

Yet again

We talk about 'this'
again and again;
there's much less shouting and
finger pointing than there once
was, but only because I control
my temper and my mouth.
I haven't changed how I feel
about this - and you probably haven't
either, though it seems you did,
though that is due to dishonesty
on your part.
The sparkle isn't there in your
eyes anymore and your dullness
is taking the shine out of mine.
How do we resolve the
unresolved, the unforgivable?
Serenity has finally replaced sorrow
which had replaced anger and
accusation, dogged determination
to have what I want scuttling
behind my thoughts and plans.

Friday, June 24, 2011

Reunion I

Barely a week now until
the thirtieth class reunion.
I've never attended one;
my life was always a wreck
in previous decades and I
couldn't bear to put my problems
or my body on display for
their delectation. After all,
high school had often been a time
of rather intense harassment.
As I anticipate this event, I
am contemplating my former
classmates and wondering about
the changes I will see. After all,
I have changed incredibly!
I'm betting that while bodies and
hair colors will vary, some personalities
will be exactly the same, especially as
I observe a bunch of them, on Facebook,
plotting the first night's gathering at a bar.
I don't drink anymore!

Wednesday, June 22, 2011


My high school best friend posts 
frantically on Facebook about the 
tsunami in Japan and the coastal 
side-effects heading straight for her 
section of northern California. 
She posts picture after picture of the marina, 
before shots tranquil, soothing, attractive, 
sailboats at mooring, waiting to 
leave port with absent owners;
in progress shots showing the rising
water, the rocking boats, the terrifyingly
powerful pull of the ocean as it draws
all the way out, leaving boats sprawling
obscenely, sand glistening, then rushing, roaring in,
crashing the serene and perfect vessels
against the docks, each other, and other
detritus swirling with the storm;
after shots, piles of matchstick
wood, heaps of trashed beauty,
scuttled and mangled boats, and
areas swept clean of formerly tidily
settled beachfront.
She pleas for prayers and mercy,
her fear infecting and motivating me
across thousands of land-locked
miles, and I hope, fixing my eyes on those
first pictures, that the damage and recovery
won't be as bad as she projects.
(Posted for Bluebell Books Short Story Slam, Week 4, 6-22-11)

Fear re-experienced

Love for my baby daughter
led to the decision to be different,
different than my parents were, to
be a better mother and father than the
ones I was given.
So many moments of my
childhood were full of fear,
anxiety and abandonment.
I wanted more for this tiny
being that God had gifted me with
so unexpectedly.
I think I did well at seeking that difference,
so that all those pivotal moments of childhood,
my daughter strode into with confidence,
leaving me with wistful, joy-filled tears and
healing for the similar, painful
moments of my own history.
Kindergarten, she ran through the classroom door,
arms outstretched with joy while I watched,
scared she would be hurt or disappointed.
She wasn't - she bubbled with new life.
At each new school and middle school
and high school, buildings and playgrounds were
her oyster and I stood at the curb,
weeping with anxiety at our separation as
she shrieked in high-pitched delight
at the sight of potential new friends as
well as old ones.
She never saw my tears, though; she
always looked forward, not back.
So many other moments like these,
she charged into her life whole-heartedly
so unlike the fearful, tentative approval-driven
child I was. Thank God I had the courage
to re-experience my own fear in order that she
could see life as an exciting challenge
rather than a scary, undesirable never-ending night.

(Posted for Thursday Poet's Rally, 6-30-11)

Tuesday, June 21, 2011

Double standard

Congratulations on your joy.
I get that you are excited and
happy in your new relationships after
ditching your less-than-perfect former
partners. But I really don't see why I
should be all wound up about your
choice to have this latest person in your
life when in the past, when I had made
a similar choice - five years ago, to
be exact - you acted like my love was a
passing phase and you
still treated me as the pariah that the
family/maternal unit has always
insisted that I am.
You'll move on as well yourself and I will
still be intact, not expecting anything
different from you, though you'll still
probably be mad, as you always are,
that I didn't do what you wanted.
And why didn't I? It's mostly because
your motives aren't pure and you are still
making the same old sick choices you always
have, based on appearances, status, finances and
'feel good.' I sort of wish I could be excited for
you, but the past bitterness tints my
family view glasses dark.

Monday, June 20, 2011

Oh what a night

The sensual and seasoned pace of
intelligent conversation, peppered with
varied and cosmopolitan topics over an
excellent dinner is fine dark chocolate to
the intellectual's starved soul.
Rarely is the opportunity presented to
talk to another who has similar
education and interests, who actually
understands what I am holding forth about
so fervently and why such communion is
akin to passions of a more physical nature,
smoldering words and ideas stroking the
ears as well as the skin.
Such an intimate evening is sex for the spirit,
even within the bounds of
platonic friendship.

Sunday, June 19, 2011


Grumpy from the moment of awakening.
The complexity of  'the humors' is ever
fascinating, a eclectic and varying
blend of anniversaries,
dreams about sex or no sex,
financial challenges and goals,
vacation or lack thereof,
seasons, forest fires (real and perceived),
roommates, contact with family of origin,
body pain, dietary choices, weather
events, dating, exercise, recovery activity,
addiction/abstinence status, odors,
meetings, sleep patterns, and work load.
Today seems to be a mixture of
Father's Day, complacent spouse,
indifferent father, perceived dietary
deprivation (none), and low barometer.
Unable to shake the claws of lowness
off the shoulders and out of the head,
unwilling to eat to stuff it down or
scream it out in familial disputes and
too rainy to walk it off.
Might as well write about it and
hope that the pen and the ether-net
serve to dissipate the cloudy darkness
inside the confused head.

Saturday, June 18, 2011

Washing the old, embracing the new

Musing about cleansing, renewing or
changing one's outlook as life
unfolds, rather than clinging to
faded, often unrealistic, beliefs and hopes.
My life has changed dramatically in recent
years. What might I wish to be
different or rejuvenated?
Abundant time and inspiration to write.
Release from the burden of self and
the past and all its dated pains.
Bountiful acceptance and
tolerance of those in my life and
their quirks and wishes.
And, having the viewpoint of an
innocent child, brimming with
wonder and shiny clean
courage and luck and wishes.

(Inspiration from 
"The Girl Who Circumnavigated Fairyland in a Ship of Her Own", 
by Catherynne M. Valente)

Friday, June 17, 2011

Dreams unravelled

Remembering falling in love
the absolute certainty of God's choosing of
this perfect partner for me and the unfolding
fairytale courtship and wedding that
came together spiritually and almost magically.
Reality is not nearly as pretty or certain
but one day at a time, it works and we
go forward, despite the disappointments and
tiny betrayals and unexpected thoughtless
loneliness of the complacent male and the
still fully-engaged female, talking to only herself
after so many hopes and dreams finally crumble.
Love is still there, but definitely manifesting
differently than initially demonstrated and expected.
I wonder, as I observe a sister 'falling in love' 
yet again, if she knows that even the most
perfect partner will someday put up his
feet and doze in front of the television, intellectual
intimacy and hot nights casually neglected in the 
day-to-day sloth of an established relationship.
Should I remind her of our respective pasts?
Would she even listen or believe?
We both have a tendency to think
it will be different this time, though our
histories have always proven otherwise.

And I'd like to nominate CC Champagne for consideration!

Thursday, June 16, 2011

Summer day

As I write during this laid-back
morning, I cherish the sound of the
lawn mower; someone else is
cutting the grass besides me.
The Kid is rummaging around
the house, cooking, chattering,
gaming, cleaning; I listen to her,
relaxed, loving that I no longer
have to feed or dress her or
monitor her closely.
Someone else has 'duty'
on the work phone today; I can
scribble uninterrupted by telemarketers,
wholesalers, and (gasp) customers.
All three jobs have been worked at
this week and all books are up-to-date;
I am blissed out to have only a dentist
appointment to attend today, instead of
juggling work, kid, other commitments
and home to complete all the chores and
duties of mother and wife and employee.
Today is the dream of a day I have
had all my life, to be truly able to
enjoy the day and not be worried
about the future or regretting the
past, creative ink flowing and mind
at ease.

Wednesday, June 15, 2011

Restless irritable discontent

Getting back on the old
food plan is hell when I've
been indulging myself for several
months now with all my
favorite eats. Physical withdrawals
aside, the worst part is the mental
addiction that must be endured.
 Food is a drug for me,
sedating my feelings, responses.
On food, I'm very mellow.
Initially being 'off' the binge foods
(sugar, wheat, potatoes)
I'm snappish, crabby, sensitive,
hair-trigger pissed off. I've been
ranting for hours to anyone who
will listen to me about the failings
of the world and pretty much everyone
else who enters my orbit.
Every word my family says to me
garners a snarl in response.
It'll be better tomorrow, but oh boy,
is everyone in trouble today.
I can hardly wait for the peace of
being totally abstinent to kick in
once again.

Tuesday, June 14, 2011

Please, don't start that again...

To my inner child,
the one that thinks there
will be a shortage of food:
we are not starving nor
will we be any time soon.
The size on our clothing label
proves that beyond doubt.
Every time I attempt to curb
the eating and lose the weight,
your voice becomes an unnerving
fear-filled siren, bouncing off the inside
of my skull, shrieking that there
will not be enough.
There is enough. More than enough.
You are enough and I am enough.
It is time to release the old fears and
insecurities and the mental, insatiable
hunger for security and sanctuary.
We are safe and loved and sated by
everything we could ever dream of,
including food.
(Prompt from Poetic Asides, June 8, 2011.)

Monday, June 13, 2011


Yet another anniversary approaches
of when I left your lame ass.
After ten years, the trauma has faded
along with the bruises and the financial
devastation and the barely detectable
self esteem, battered into mere atoms
by your selfish certainty that I would
never leave. But I did. And I remember.
Every mid-June, I relive those last few days,
however mildly, always with the caveat,
'never again.'
Never again will I allow any person to
treat me with such disrespect for my
needs and dreams and make me
fear for my very life and that of my child.

Sensory overload

Being around other people is
often a chore for me. On the
Meyers-Briggs scale, I am an
extreme introvert: I recharge my
batteries with alone time.
Even being around those I love
overwhelms me.
After a weekend with the Kid
and my love, I can't wait for them to
head back to school or work
so I can have a few quiet hours to
write, read, and doze. My own job
cuts into this precious time quite a bit,
making me a crabby chick at times when
the old mental cells don't get topped off.
Never mind being around my family of
origin, who sometimes suck me dry in mere minutes;
I have learned to limit my time with them
especially when all six of us girls are
together. Who knew love could be

Sunday, June 12, 2011


After confirming her work shift
two days ago, I arrived at the walk-in
salon to get my hair cut and low-lighted.
She wasn't there. Frustrated, I stormed
back through the mall, with angry tears
brimming, to try a different beauty shop.
Two hour wait. No deal.
I charged off to yet a third establishment that I
had never patronized, only to discover a young
woman very willing to listen to my style and
color woes and accommodate me.
As her fingers flew through my hair, the
synchronicity commenced. She had grown
up in my home town but literally hadn't been
back there since the day
she had graduated five years before.
We swapped names and families and friends and
jobs and discovered overlap in my husband and
a few other friends and former teachers.
I began to realize I would likely have known
her during her middle school years when I
taught there, but couldn't quite place her.
My daughter took my place in the chair and
she and the stylist swapped more bios and mutual
acquaintances, cheerfully complaining about the
quirks and staffing of the local high school.
When my husband took his turn in the barrel,
listening to her tersely reveal her parents'
names with very little detail, the connection
suddenly became clear to us, though not to her.
The uniquely private circumstances of our married life
were parallel and nearly identical to the
ones in her mother's life that this pretty girl had loathed and
run from and, she thought, put irretrievably behind her. We did
indeed know her and her parents, but quietly chose to not
clarify that aloud, respecting her familiar pain.
We paid and tipped her well, to her delight, and resumed
our retail therapy activities, wondering at the
chance and circumstance that had brought us to
briefly overlap her life, knowing well that the circle was
not yet complete.

Saturday, June 11, 2011

I hear liberty singing

So many beautiful young women
singing at the Girls State inauguration -
the patriotism and talent presented
astonished my jaded American soul.
Once again, the small child in me
stood with hand over heart
reciting the Pledge, eyes fixed on our
flag and believing absolutely that
my country was the best in the
world and all was right
as long as I lived in the
land of the free and the
home of the brave.

Thursday, June 9, 2011

Rainy afternoons

The long mild spring we are having
reminds me of summer school at
college in small town Wyoming.
My alma mater was (and still is) at 7,000 feet;
summer mornings there are temperate and
quiet, afternoons drizzly and
overcast, perfect for the industrious
graduate student who taught in
the morning, wrote and studied
after lunch, drinks with friends at five.
In the present day, I prowl my home,
as I did then,
checking that windows are tipped open to
take deep breaths of cool
humid air, lighting candles to
mingle and pierce the grey shadows,
searching the horizon for lightning
crackles, thrilling at the sound of
thunder rolling around the hills,
cradling a glass of iced tea,
long-stored memories
tucked around my neck
warming me,
fingers itching for the pen and book.


The nurse and the receptionist
spoke in hushed tones behind the desk.
I stood there for a few moments,
waiting to be acknowledged for
the appointment, but they continued
to whisper, their eyes flickering over
me several times.
I patiently sat down,
suppressing the urge to rudely lash out at them
for their behavior triggering old
memories of children in grade school,
whispering, pointing, mocking, bullying,
disdain clear in their eyes and stances.
Even now, when people stand to one side
murmuring, the hyper-vigilance rises high and
sharp in my mind, constantly surveying the
scene for potential threats and violence,
while my little girl shivers with fear of
being rejected and criticized.
Later, at the cell phone store, when an
obnoxious man cut in front of me in the
two hour long line, my fists quivered with
retribution, but he wasn't whispering - this
bully was shouting at the uneasy employees.
I couldn't decide if I wanted to thump him for
his overbearing creepiness or growl at the
grunts for making me wait ten more minutes
while he vented his rage at being

Wednesday, June 8, 2011

Strange dreams

In a dream last night, I spotted my 
deceased mother at the local Gambles store.
She was talking to me and I could actually see and
hear her and she proceeded to nag me about the
state of the carpet in my house.
It seems that the Gambles hardware store was 
going out of business and had become a 
flooring and wallpaper store, so we 
wandered around the store
looking at the selections and then
Dad came in to get something and I told him about 
seeing Mom and that she was right there and
he looked at me like I was crazy and then
suddenly he could see her and she proceeded to chew 
him out about how he had not given me and my
sisters the sets of cookware and dishes they had agreed
upon us getting after she died so then
Dad left the store to complete her mission
and she and I went along with him.
He gave us the sets and also told us we should make 
popcorn with them. I told the sisters about seeing 
Mom at Gambles and that she really was right there, 
but they also looked at me like I was nuts. 
Mom got frustrated with them and huffed off
into the ever after or wherever she was hanging
out before we started this funky dream shopping trip.
Suddenly I was at the house we lived
at when I was in grade school, in the basement
play room and I was watching a presentation by Dad
with my husband's bible study group, eating 
popcorn, playing cards and trying to figure out how to 
hang the sliding closet doors.
And then it was morning.
What the hell did that all mean?

Tuesday, June 7, 2011

Extract of contentment

Happiness smells like
candles burning
cake flavoring
incense prayerfully wafting
early college dorm room
lotion and body oil scenting the
skin with melt-in-the-mouth
ice cream the most popular
infused shower gel laving the
skin with a soothing start
to every day.

Monday, June 6, 2011

Late night pool

The water fountains upward over a
dimly red lighted volcano-shaped spout,
heated ribbons falling to feed into the 'cooling' pond as
the darkness dances with the tall lights
stationed around the steaming pool.
If we hold still long enough, the entire
area becomes inky black
except for the faintly rosy glow of the geyser,
the motion lights drowsing and fading.
Mostly, we sit on the pool entry ramp up to our chests
in 104 degree water, gently leaning on foam floats
that the kids battled each other with earlier in the
day, gently wiggling toes and fingers, as we
talk and talk and talk about
our mates, children, jobs, recovery, parents,
aging, and where is God in all this and the
usual meaning of life stuff that best girl friends
talk about late at night when the offspring are
bedded or out. Neither of us cares about the
other's sagging body or dowdy swim suit
as we eagerly catch up on thoughts and ideas
though we only had coffee the day before.
A dazzling profusion of stars twinkle at us,
flickering across the still water,
the only light as long as only our lips are moving.
We watch first a plane and then a satellite
determinedly travelling on their respective
trajectories across the star-spangled sky,
as we debate the characteristics that identify
various celestial bodies, while the guys
hide down at the other end of the acre size
hot springs, speaking the manly language
of grunts and nods, so dull to our sparkling eyes.

(Posted for Week 46, 6/16/11, Thursday Poet's Rally)

Sunday, June 5, 2011

Scents of the road

Riding the motorcycle on the
open highway
so many smells tickle the nose.
Cut grass
blooming lilacs
fuel, oil and road tar
decaying roadkill
freshly bladed fields
rain on the tarmac
river under a bridge

Surprisingly refreshing.

Saturday, June 4, 2011

Writing dream

It seems that even in
my dreams I am writing.
From what I can remember from
last night, I was working on
my CampWriMo novel.
Wish I could bring to mind what
it was about so that when the
camp starts in July, I would be
ready to go!
Perhaps after tonight's
installment I'll recall
the inspiration.
That was intriguing to me.
I've had drinking dreams and
sex dreams
but never a
writing one.

Friday, June 3, 2011

Kidless in Cody

A date with my husband
Just us.
A rare event - the Kid is usually in tow
(and quite welcome. She still likes us
even at seventeen and is willing to be
seen in public with us;
we feel the same.)

Favorite window seat at our favorite restaurant,
serendipitously snagged without a reservation.
Seafood and steak and various veggie concoctions.
Talking about our work days, our families, dogs
friends, sponsors, motorcycles, parents and
weekend plans.

Evenings like this gently remind
me why I fell in love with this man and
how much I enjoy my life with him.

A very welcome and peaceful
interlude in the hectic swirl of
our life together.

Thursday, June 2, 2011

Unexpected grief

Melancholy over her death still
overtakes me in unexpected spaces.
Helping a sick sister yesterday and
hearing her lament,
'dammit! why is she dead?
I need her to take care of me!'
was like being hit by a car I
didn't even know was speeding
towards me.
After telling baby sister that I
truly understood how she felt
but I wasn't going to hug her
better because she was sick,
I cried in the car on the way home.


The nights you two brawl are
sad and stressful.
I love you both but you must
figure out how to talk to
each other without
me in the middle.
Sometimes it is a challenge to
determine who is sixty and
who is seventeen with those
identical mad faces.
I dare not laugh.