Re: The A to Z Challenge

I had to discontinue with the challenge, due to unforeseen circumstances, regarding the health and well being of a family member. It took up a lot of my time, these past ten days. Thank G-d they are back home, comfortable and doing well.

The A to Z Challenge was a wonderful opportunity for me, to meet deadlines and come up with some interesting topics, as well as to meet some very interesting and wonderful writers. Please know that I feel atrocious, at not having been able to be as reciprocal as I’d wanted and intended to be. I’m also taking writing classes at the MFA level/style, which requires peer review as well as thoughtful writing. So a lot of writing and reading. I’m extremely committed to it and love it. And have seen vast improvement in my writing skill, in just the short time, I’ve been involved. So, with extra obligations, my classes, my family etc…something did have to give.

Please stay connected. I will peep in with the few I’ve touched base with. And hope to further my circle, when I have more to offer. In the mean time. I am not going to stop blogging. I’ve paid good money for this pretty site. I am committing to one good post a week–maybe more. Quality over quantity. Some of you are fantastic with both. I am humbled and floored. My hope is to provide something of interest, quality and in some way unique. I don’t feel I can do that on a daily basis. At least not at this point. So, I’ll be writing, you keep writing and I’ll see you shortly in Wordsville. Nihil obstat.*

*Nihil Obstat–nothing hinders.

From Endangered Words: A Collection of Rare Gems for Word Lovers. A just because gift, given to me today by my daughter, Aviva–who gets me where I live. Such a fun read!




Youth —the state of being young. Just when you think you’ve got it down pat, you aren’t.

There’s something wonderful about youth, in all it’s terribleness. You know everything. You’re better than your parents were—kinder, more accepting, more understanding, freer and way more worthy. You jump right in, oft-times without foresight. You don’t just get sad or lose at love, you get heartbroken—heart smashed to bits. You don’t just feel, you Feel. The love is so real and palpable you can see it’s movement, it’s vibe across the skyline the way sunshine shimmies across water.

And when you aren’t…young…anymore. You feel as well. You feel, the stiffness and the creaks in your muscles and bones. Your decisions are more measured. You contemplate, what it would really mean to let someone else into your life. There’s things and places for things and you say things like, “A place for everything and everything in its place”. And you don’t gag and you’re not jesting. You’re pleased. You remember your grandmother saying this and you don’t roll your eyes. And somewhere along the line you realize it stopped being all about you. And perhaps it was around the time you started having kids—more or less. Which gives you time to prepare…

…for when you need to make decisions for your parents who used to be young and now they are very, very old. Just when you stop deciding what your children will wear tomorrow and what  sweet but not too sweet cereal, you’ll put in the house, you’ll find yourself deciding on which Depends fit your mother better, bargaining tv for showers and trying to explain what happens if you don’t eat. And asking questions, like what happens if you don’t eat? And the jump from understanding that a feeding tube will save her life, and she says things exactly like, “do anything it takes to keep me alive” to actually agreeing to get the feeding tube seems to be an insurmountable chasm yet to be comprehended and crossed.

No, No, A Zillion Times, No!


No, No, A Zillion Times, No!

No, I won’t work for you.

No, I won’t taste that.

No, I won’t touch that.

No, I won’t smile.

No, I wont shed a tear.

No, I won’t do that.

No, I won’t sit down, shut up, and look pretty.

No, I won’t wear a spandex girdle, spanx it, suck in my gut, or suck wind.

No, I won’t walk behind you.

No, I won’t coddle you.

No, I won’t whisper sweet nothings in your ear.

No, I won’t be demure.

No, I won’t vote your way.

No, I won’t vote for the lesser evil.

No, I won’t buy what you’re selling.

No, I won’t buy into a system that fails.

No, I won’t go along to get along.

No, I won’t make the bed.

No, I won’t kiss it and make it all better.

No, I won’t pick up the pieces.

No, I won’t look away.

No, I won’t look down.

No, I won’t lie, because I don’t have to.

No, I won’t beat around the bush.

No, I won’t talk gibberish.

No, I won’t talk like a little girl.

No, I won’t close my eyes.

No, I won’t go to church with you.

No, I won’t celebrate your holidays.

No, I won’t cry.

No, I won’t get hysterical.

No, I won’t let you call me bitch, cunt, sweetie or hun.

No, I won’t do that either.

No, I won’t let you rearrange my books, my furniture or my life.

No, I won’t lower my voice.

No, I won’t be reasonable.

No, I will not take it back.

No, I will not erase it.

No, I won’t take it down.

No, I will not apologize.

No, I am not sorry.

No, I won’t shave my legs, my pits or wax…for you.

No, I won’t do your laundry, iron your shirts or touch your socks.

No, I won’t just listen to you.

No, I won’t stop singing.

No, I won’t move over.

No, I won’t accommodate you.

No, I won’t compromise.

No, I won’t not even a little bit.

No, I’m not mean, vicious or worried.

No, I’m not crazy, out of my mind or tortured.

No, I’m not concerned with what you think.

No, I won’t lose ten pounds and then I’ll be perfect.

No, I won’t not walk that way.

No, I won’t play strip poker.

No, I won’t let you cover my mouth so the neighbors can’t hear.

No, I won’t wear that for you.

No, I am making sense.

No, I won’t dumb down.

No, I won’t walk on eggshells.

No, I won’t crawl on broken glass.

No, I won’t stand on ceremony.

No, I won’t let you lock up my dogs.

No, I won’t let you decide what my truth is.

No, I won’t let you get the last word.

No, I won’t, I wont, I won’t, a zillion times I won’t

But you will and I might let you…

It’s All About Montaigne, Mama

“I quote others only in order to best express myself.”

“There is no passion so contagious as that of fear.”

“A wise man never loses anything, if he has himself.”

“Rejoice in the things that are present; all else is beyond thee.”

“The soul which has no fixed purpose in life is lost, to be everywhere is to be nowhere.”

“Nothing fixes a thing so intensely in the memory as the wish to forget it.”

^^Can you imagine being the mind behind all these quotes, and the luscious lips who sputtered forth those delightful dew drops of glory?^^

Michel de Montaigne, a  philosopher from the French Renaissance, and one of the preeminent essayists of all time, came to me quite by accident. I’d heard of him but have never read him.  In my quest to better my writing and perhaps to become a little more interesting and knowledgeable, I’m taking MFA level writing and literature courses.  As of now, I’m focusing on the essay. It seems like a simple enough place to start. And I suppose it is. But, it isn’t.

Writers read. And, so I shall. I’m compiling my summer reading list early. And, so far, it consists, primarily of essayists. Montaigne, Lopate, Emerson, Thoreau, Didion, and perhaps a smattering of Sontag. Add to that, Spinoza, Buber, Maimonides, Lionel Trilling and Franz Rosenzweig. And, I think I’ll have a fairly well rounded approach with which to begin an attempt… What are you going to read this Summer?

FullSizeRender.jpg  FullSizeRender-2.jpg

And the added bonus of taking pictures…is sometimes the unexpected shot. Who paid us a visit? Courtesy of my son, Zach. The sacred and the silly…FullSizeRender-1.jpg

Letting Go*

“New beginnings are often disguised as painful endings.” ~ Lao Tzu

“You only lose what you cling to.” ~ Buddha

I would really love to let  go of the expression “letting go”. I hate it! It’s so cliche; it’s repugnant. But, it is what I’m doing. Learning to do. I’ve been habitually holding on, holding in, clinging to what it safe as opposed to what propels. So, forget the term “letting go”.  I’m thinking of alternatives. These come close. Maybe a combination of a couple of them.

Stepping into the new.

Owning the future.

Bright skies ahead.

Traveling light.

So, this is what I have so far. So far I really kind of like “traveling light, stepping into the new”. <<– This pleases me. Have I heard it before? It sounds so dammed good! What about you? Any Ideas?

Somebody today told me I shouldn’t write some of the stuff I write. I’m too open, honest, people will see, and I might offend.  My response to them was this. I’m writing my truth(s). I cannot worry if people see themselves in what I write. I don’t write to expose anyone other than myself. I write so I can breathe, so I can find sanity, find clarity, and exorcise, my angst, my teeny little unheard voice, my demons and “your mother”.  If along the way, I amuse, help or just let on that I might be worth reading now and again, that’s all I could ask.

*Today’s post was entirely inspired by a post and subsequent discussion of fearlessness and being a “shero” belonging to Amy Ferris–a fearless broad, and one terrific womensch, well known in writing circles and author of numerous books including “Marrying George Clooney”.  She can be found on Facebook. I’m a Facebook friend and a ridiculously big fan.

This goes out to anyone who is fearless, or working on it…

Imagination, Before Coffee

Brain is on fire. Reality. I’m sitting in my kitchen, staring out the window at the ducks. Vacant staring outwardly. I imagine myself to look like a mindless, drooling zombie. But, brain on fire. Where from ducks, do I get the name Mercedes? Why is a German luxury car, named after a Spanish women’s name?

Interior— A shoddy Bronx apartment

Unidentified man:  Quick, get your stuff, let’s go, Milagros!

Little Girl:  Nobody calls me Milagros. Call me Mili.

Man: Your mother named you Milagros, so that’s what I’ll call you.”

Girl: That’s dumb. Why did she name me Milagros?

Man: She named you after the car—Milagros. The guy who created the car loved this woman, name Milagros, she was very beautiful and very smart, but she died young. She was the only woman he ever loved. So, when he made this car, he spared no expense, and every detail was an homage to her.

Girl: (wide eyed and happy) Is this true?

Man: nope, you were named Milagros, because your whore mother’s uterus was so destroyed, it’s a miracle you’re here. Now, hurry up! I don’t have all day.

Two incredibly large and beautiful Mallards. I can see from the window, some good yards off, the brilliant, dark, shiny, green on the male. I haven’t seen these two before. They must’ve caught the redeye, last night.

Flashback: A man, sitting on a large rattan high backed chair, wearing impeccable off white summer clothes. He is explaining to his sister’s nephew by marriage, why he has to send him and not his son to get his granddaughter from New York. Pan out and see large adobe stucco interior, with airy light, lots of windows with gauzy curtains and arched doorways, leading to other large airy rooms and vast outdoor gardens. And large expansive sky.

Forward to present:

The apartment, is cramped and small, with dingy walls and bad lighting. An abundance of laundry in baskets and clutter on dressers, tables, chairs.

Girl: (all of a sudden she has pigtails and is with a huge, round, rainbow colored all day sucker lollipop.)

I realize I’ve forgotten to turn the coffee on. Just press the button. Wait. Longer…

A glimpse—girl is sent to French boarding school.

2nd Glimpse—girl returns from boarding school, older but not finished with her studies. She is going to be homeschooled.

Exterior—outside the compound we see infiltrators—its not clear whether it’s rivals or feds. Shots ring out, bedlam ensues—lots of action/fighting/one on one fighting/mayhem

Interior: Girl is oblivious, consumed by her studies. Through the closed veil of the curtains we can see the fighting only through the veil it looks like a tango in slow motion, performed by a dance ensemble.

Coffee is ready. That was fast. It’s a Keurig.

Somebody has entered the sanctuary. They have girl by the arm. She is bleeding. She breaks away. A gun shot is heard and white bird flies out of window into a vast expanse of sky.

Flashback: Grandfather telling girl, if she’s ever to face danger, she’s to transform into this big magnificent white bird and fly away. She will have this ability as long as she never looks down.

Girl as bird takes one last quick sweeping look, and croaks and falls, riddled with bullets, she’s transformed into a raven.

One sip of my coffee and the reverie is over. And I’m left with questions.

  1. What was the reason for writing her as a Mexican? Why couldn’t she have been Black or Jewish or Norwegian. No reason. But, I think it accommodates, the significance of the birds. I saw her afterwards as she got older as being Mexican to accommodate a possible Indian/Aztec heritage/folklore with the significance of space and birds. I thought about the movie Sidewalls, where the opening narrative, discusses the architecture of Buenos Aires. How it’s oddly mismatched and the city faces away from the water, and how this oddity impacts the people. How everything from alcoholism, to loneliness, to neurosis, to whatever ails you can be attributed to the architecture.
  2. What is the significance of having her transform into a bird? And what do the colors,    black or white, have to do with it? Stereotypical, and I find myself guilty of resorting  to standard fare. White is free and good, Black is death. So, I go back. And resurrect.

Flashback redux: Grandfather telling girl, if she’s ever to face danger, she’s to transform into this big magnificent blackbird and fly away. She will have this ability as long as she never looks down.

Girl as bird, takes one last quick sweeping look, and croaks and falls, riddled with bullets, she’s transformed into a white bird, perhaps a dove or an egret. The man who brought her from New York, rushes in, only too late. He cries. He’s been in love with her since she came back from boarding school. 

2nd cup of coffee brings this —>> What is the significance of those that inform the girl, missing from the story? Why the anger, the death, why the sarcasm as seen in discussing why the name? Without going into details, I find this story has been strongly impacted by my personal situation, in that I’m thinking of change, freedom, death, historical lore etc…How much of being effected by the inevitable and upcoming death of a family member informs this story?

One last thought. As I upload this. I remember something else. The line where the girl asks, “is this true?” is/was a running joke, I had with a dear friend. We’d tell each other the most outlandish things, and the other one would ask, incredulously, “Is this true?” It would never fail to crack us up. He is very recently deceased. When I was having this morning, pre-coffee reverie, it had not dawned on me. I suppose I’m in mourning  for what was and what will be. It’s not easy.

The “H” Word

“Happiness depends upon ourselves” ~ Aristotle

“If you want to be happy, be” ~ Leo Tolstoy

I’d like to say everyone can be happy. But, I don’t think that’s true. Perhaps there is potential for everyone, but in reality, I don’t think happiness can be achieved for everyone. First off, one has to have the ability to retreat to one’s own resources, and not pursue happiness through external stimuli. Avoidance is often mistaken for happiness.

I know so many people, who have countless friends, and parties to go to and boats to sail away on. For the most part, these people and events are fueled by alcohol and drugs. When you’re stoned, everybody has oodles of friends and the illusion of happiness. The actively poor have a tougher time, than those who can can afford the luxury of tuning out for more than 15 minutes a day,  hiding from the kids, while you put makeup on in front of the bathroom mirror.

The ability to transcend is essential. The ability to create, to do, to be comfortable within one’s own skin and thoughts, is essential. Singing, dancing, drawing, writing, exercising, getting outside with nature–essential. Sun and light–essential…


With all my heart, in truth, and passion strong,

I love Thee; both in solitude and throng

Thy name’s with me, alone I shall not bide:

My friend art Thou, though others from me glide,

My lamp art too: my light shall never fade,

Nor shall my foot e’er slip, by Thee upstayed.

They little knew who have despised me so,

That shaming me doth cause my pride to glow.

O Fountain of my life, I’ll bless Thee aye,

And sing Thy praises, O my song, alway!

~Yehuda HaLevi

…Whoever said money can’t buy you happiness, either has no money, or they’re just lying so you  won’t try to get money–at least enough to afford enough breathing room to get happy. Virginia Woolf said in A Room of One’s Own, “One cannot think well, love well, sleep well, if one has not dined well.” This was about having money as well as opportunity, not just for some, but for everyone. She further states, women need  a room of one’s own and enough money to support this. This goes for everyone.

Money might not buy happiness–directly. But, indirectly, yes of course! Money buys happiness. Money bought me a small rubber raft, to float on the beach, diagonally across from my house–the sun on my face, the waves lapping at my feet hanging over the side. Money bought The Complete Works of Montaigne–I’m delirious with happiness. Money bought my dogs, without which life wouldn’t be happy. Money buys happiness and love.

“And what you can’t have now, leave in your will” ~Mace


Good Grief

G-d grant me the serenity to accept the things I cannot change; courage to change the things I can; and wisdom to know the difference.

It is truly one of G-d’s cosmic jokes played out on American adults, that retribution against children in the form of child abuse is no longer permitted. Hair pulling, whacks with a hairbrush, indian burns and honey in ears etc… Limb stretching, gone—too soon, too soon.  Do you really need to be told 45 times, that if you close the inside shower curtain, water will in fact not flood the floor? I’m not talking baby shaking or long term closet imprisonment, just some mild, yet questionable feather light pinching…  Something to get them to think—What the hell was I thinking, when I thought it would be okay to dress the dogs in Nana’s underwear, clean, just out of the dryer? Seriously, how bad would it be to tie a child to a cold furnace, for just 2 1/2 minutes? Just long enough to doubt themselves or their superiors, but not long enough for severe mental anguish to set in.

Is it any wonder why, I at these times, prefer the company of my furry roomies, to my offspring? Pasha, Queeny and my Harry would never, ever kick a bucket of red paint down a flight of stairs. An act so egregious, which in all sane worlds and realities, would call for divine retribution to the adolescent, criminal offender not the innocent victim and bystander. But, Karma really is a B word, and perpetrates a generational buffer zone and flips the script and gets her grins and giggles by allowing a repeat in the form…. She’s a twisted, fickle fingered sister, of fate.

Pasha shows at least moderate interest in me when I call his name. He lifts his head turns and gives me his full attention, he sniffs out the deal. He is able to determine in 2 wriggling deep nose sniffs, it’s I’m worth his while. Am I holding goodies or am I in need of  fur contact petting? If it’s the latter, he saunters off, bored. All in all, I can’t complain. Pasha would never take bright pink paint, from some fresh hell and paint all over exposed brick and wooden beams.

Thirteen year old girls are the worst! They do whatever they want, with their rotten thirteen year old delinquent minds and then when questioned, act like they’ve lost their minds and their ability to speak. And they leave you in all your feelings, sputtering and spitting blood and bile. 

“Tout, tout, through and about; your callow life in dismay. Rentum, Osculum, Tormentum; a decade twice over a day.” ~  Julian Sands, Warlock (1989)

Four on the Off Hand Side


“An essential aspect to creativity is to not be afraid to fail.” ~ Edwin Land


“The future belongs to those who prepare for it today.’~ Malcolm X

Found Poetry


We talk about rocks, tables, chairs,

books, feelings, governments, etc…

We divide the world

into different kinds of things.

There really are cats

and there really are dogs…

…and there really are suns and stars.

We have those concepts precisely…

…we accurately represent the way

the world really is.

Flip Fantasia