Sunday, December 26, 2010

Rabbits and Babies and a Brown Corduroy Sportcoat

I own a new condo. It's the penthouse in a crumbling historic building managed by my college. It's a remarkable place. Turrets and towers and balconies on all sides. The views are alpine. It looks like Julie Andrews might come singing down the mountainside--except that the place is in Minnesota. I've been renting it to my daughter's friend, Lily, but she's moving out and I'm going to move in. I've brought my friend Suzanne to show her what a spectacular place I'll soon be living in, and Lily's parents are there too, helping her pack.

It should be a glorious day. Except that it's Sunday and the college allows visitors to this historic monument on Sundays. There's a line of folding chairs snaking through the rooms and each one has someone sitting on it. The balconies are thronged too. The view. People want to see the view. This is the first I've heard of this sanctioned invasion of tourists. Shouldn't that have been disclosed when I bought the place? Shouldn't Lily have told me? I don't quite know what to do, so Suzanne and I pull up folding chairs near the balcony off of the compact kitchen and take in the breathtaking mountains. The trees on the nearby lower hilltops are swaying and through the lacy branches we ooh and aah over the peaks.
"I've got to be going," says a man sitting next to us. He extracts a brown corduroy sportcoat from a teetering hall tree--then realizes it isn't his. Someone has taken his coat by mistake.
"You men have such similar clothes," I say. I want to make him see how easily the mistake could have happened, but he's offended. It's obvious by the way he's handling the left behind jacket that his was far superior. "Gray, navy blue, pinstripes, the occasional brown corduroy," I say, still trying to redeem myself. The people around us chuckle, but the man goes off in a huff. I feel bad and I wish these people would leave. The babies, especially, are beginning to get to me. They are everywhere. Parents have pulled all the pots and pans out of the cupboards and the babies are napping in them. Tiny ones swaddled in loaf pans. Hefty ones stuffed into soup pots and dutch ovens. Little by little the babies wake, and parents bundle them up. "See you next Sunday," they call to one another. We'll see about that, I think.

It's getting late, and I want to help Lily so I offer to bathe her pet rabbits and put them into the pet carrier. As I'm toweling off the second one, I notice it's a cat. By this time, Lily's parents have reappeared and her father is unloading the freezer. I've been buying Lily's groceries to help her, and I want her to take whatever is left.
"Look at this fish," Lily's father says, holding up a frosty packet."Bottom feeder. Not good." The implication is that the fish is contaminated. I've bought his daughter contaminated fish.
"Don't worry about it," I say. We can feed it to the cat."
"What cat?"
"The cat that isn't a rabbit."

Just then the grounds crew/maintenance crew arrive. They're fitting a new railing onto one of my balconies. It looks like it's been salvaged from somewhere else, but they're making it work. Shouldn't it be custom made? I think. All those people leaning over it every Sunday. The boss of the crew is notoriously mean and gives me the evil eye which discourages me from telling him what I'm thinking. I've got to talk to the college, I think.

But I'm too busy worrying about the rabbit. How does a rabbit turn into a cat?

When I awoke with the man who loves me lying next to me in my bed, he began to tell me his dream of wandering through the rooms of a strange house, meeting a  round-faced little boy and finding the backpack he left behind.

photo credit: council of independent colleges historic architecture project

Tuesday, December 21, 2010

On the sixth day of rain

In the country of Rainland, there is an autonomous nation known as Dogland. Dogland lost half its population last fall--but somehow has managed to maintain the output of its main resource, Love love love. Love love love is mostly consumed within Dogland by residents and visitors alike, but small amounts are sometimes available for export. Interested parties may contact the Queen Mother of Dogland and come for a visit. Travel by boat is advised. While Rainland was formerly known as Smogland and required breathing apparatus, a snorkel is now required.

Sunday, December 19, 2010

Blog Gems # 5/ or Why the blogosphere amazes me

It's another festival of fantastic blogging with Jen at Blog Gems. Step right in and take a look. See what turns a person into a Blogger.
Here's how it happened to me.

photo credit:

Why I Hate You More When it Rains

I hate you, Mr. Ex.
But I hate you more when it rains.

I was in a hurry to buy my own place. The Little Missus (she was still "Miss" then) had already slept in our bed. She'd cooked in my kitchen, stuffed her leftovers into our fridge. The candles on the dining room table were burned lower, and two empty ice cream dishes flaunting pink plastic spoons basked on our patio. A bar of sandalwood soap perfumed our shower.

Yeah, I was in a hell of a hurry to make my escape. Running for my life, I looked at twenty townhouses searching for the one that could accommodate two big dogs. I pondered hallways and elevators, stairs and patio walls, neighborhoods and parks. It was September. An easy time in Southern California to forget about rain. In September we think of wildfires and smog and is the heat ever going to break, and why do some people say "Santana" while others call those evil winds "Santa Anas" and we know  it doesn't really matter because we're all thinking of The Devil and praying that hell hasn't burst  through some fault line to colonize the City of Angels. In September.

I didn't notice the place I chose had no kitchen door. No island of tile or linoleum on which to coral a soggy dog.

And now it's another December. My patio is a sewer.

And I wish you were floating in it.

Saturday, December 11, 2010

Another Piece Published

I love the look of this Lit Mag.   

 A perfect fit, I think, for this piece of mine which is the first two pages of my memoir.
 I have a completed manuscript and I'm looking for a publisher.

Friday, December 10, 2010

Divorce in a Box Grows Up

It was a little divorce at first. A divorce with a sense of humor. Cute in a twisted sort of way.

But little D. is all grown up now. 
A big boy.
He has teeth and drinks from a cup.
Doesn't dirty his diaper.
Wears big boy pants.
And he prefers black.

Little D's extinct  carcass has been  sacrificed.

I won't bother to keep his ashes in an urn.

And as for my new little man--well looks like he'll be too big for his britches someday soon.

But then again....maybe not.
I'm watching his diet more carefully now.

Thursday, December 9, 2010

Maybe this means I'm not listening

The writer's retreat is going wonderfully. I'm with my tribe--mentors, teachers, other writers--and our candlelit dinner is a feast in a lush garden. But my ear hurts. Just a minute, says one of the writers. She's also a doctor, and she goes to get her black bag. As she peers into my ear, I laugh and tell everyone it doesn't really hurt that bad. Be quiet, she says as if my words are in the way of what she's trying to see. Not good news, she says. You have two veins in there that are completely unattached. You could die at any moment. Great, I think, when I fly home and my ears pop, it will kill me.

When I wake my head is stuffy from the cold I'm fighting, but I don't feel like I'm dying.

My therapist told me the other day that Jung identified 250 dream symbols. I don't know if the ear is one of them. But it seems to me there's some kind of connection between the ear and the heart--or listening and feeling--that I might want to ponder. Or somethin'.

image from:

Wednesday, December 8, 2010

Gem of a Blogger & Blog Gems

Imitation is the sincerest form of flattery, they say. When it comes to blogging, I imitate my friend Elizabeth. There's a list of things that she's done with her blog and I have shamelessly copied them. My latest bit of flattery is Blog Gems. Elizabeth is posting there, so now I am, too.
I like the idea--the connectedness of it all. If you're a blogger or a blog reader, check it out.

Tuesday, December 7, 2010

Naked and Shoe-less

I am in my old house--the house where Mr. Ex and the Little Missus now live. I've come to get something, but I forget what. They're going on a trip, and I thought they would have left by now. But they're still here, flinging things into suitcases and shouting instructions to one another from room to room. "Raj, can you get the ice chest?" Mr. Ex calls to his brother-in-law. They're going on a car trip, I surmise as I dash around the corner just out of Mr. Ex's sightline. Now I'm crouching behind the couch. What have I done with my flip-flops? I have to get out of here. This place is a wreck, piles of clothes and junk everywhere. The blinds are drawn and it's hard to see what's what. Shoes. I see shoes. But not mine. Green brocade sling backs with kitten heels. I can't wear those. I root through the two-foot-high pile of sweatshirts behind the couch still looking for flip-flops--the bronze colored ones I really like. My daughter C. comes into the house from the back hallway. "Hey-hey," she calls. She's there to say good-bye to her little brother, but she practically steps on me on her way around the couch. "WTF???" she mouths when she sees me. I shrug. Now I've lost my clothes, too, and it's only because of the pile of sweatshirts that I'm not trapped on the family room floor stark naked. The coast is clear, and I dash for the coat closet by the garage door just as the Little Missus clip-clops down the  back stairs, cursing under her breath. Uh-oh. She bangs the closet door open, and there I am, panting behind the coats, my heart pounding so raucously it's a wonder she can't hear it. "God damn it," she says. She's looking for something too, I guess. She bangs the door shut and heads for the kitchen. Now's my chance. I slip into the garage and out the pedestrian door into the dog yard.
I'm wearing a stolen coat and it barely covers my ass.
My favorite flip-flops lost forever in the rubble.

When I wake I'm floating in a pool of sweat, my throat full of needles.

Sunday, December 5, 2010

The Transparency of Winter Forests

When I say I'm over Mr. Ex, I don't mean I've forgiven him.
When I say I don't care what happens to him, I don't mean the shadow of his swath of destruction is invisible.
When I say I would never go back to him, I don't mean that I would have coffee with him.
When I say I don't believe in Hell, I don't mean I wouldn't be happy if he rotted there.

photo is the property of the author