Thorazine Helps

January 31, 2012

She had pulled the back of her gray cable-knit sweater up and over the top of her head like a hood, a peculiar positioning that lifted her arms up to her sides like a scarecrow gone half limp. She entered the cafeteria sashaying in this unusual fashion and then stopped, as if impeded from going further by an unseen force. Her skin was mashed potato pale, and her eyes were like the black mouths of caves carved into her angular face. She didn’t sleep much, he said. She was up wandering the halls each night; mumbling, walking, mumbling, walking, then stopping like she did just now, for no apparent reason. Frozen in her restlessness.

Once, when he got up in the morning, she was outside his opened door, her sweater still atop her head, eyeing his scrambled eggs like a predator ready to pounce upon anxious flesh. He hurriedly ate his eggs, not knowing if this action would avoid a confrontation or create one.

She frequently watched the BBC and occasionally a fragment of laughter would leak from her lips, although her face never revealed a hint of pleasure. Laughter is in the curve and light of the eyes, he said; and hers had neither. They were lightless, loveless.

But Thorazine helps.

Writers Anonymous

January 26, 2012

My family is intimately familiar with addiction. It’s imbedded in our DNA along with large noses and a love for pizza and music. Writing this piece gave me some perspective on the dis-ease:

Is your entire life centered on the current article, poem, play or novel you are writing or the next piece you are going to write? Are you forever manipulating and scheming to find time to read, write and rewrite? Are you deluged by dialogue and preoccupied with plot? Do you write to live and live to write? If this sounds familiar, you may need Writers Anonymous! If you can say ‘yes’ to at least 4 of the below, please contact your local Writers Anonymous group and get the support you need before it’s too late:

1. You have decided to stop writing for a week or so, but only lasted a few days.

2. You have renewed your library card but allowed your driver’s license to expire.

3. You have periodically stopped cooking meals and neglected your partner or children in favor of writing ‘just one more’ paragraph.

4. You have been arrested for an OUI (Operating Under the Influence of Inspiration), which occurs when a writer fervently scribbles notes while simultaneously attempting to drive a motor vehicle.

5. You would prefer a gift certificate to Barnes & Noble to food or sex.

6. You remember the title and author of the first book you read and the first byline you received, but not your first kiss.

7. You write alone.

8. You have been discovered writing at work and received a written warning for ‘Misuse of company time’. You have sent the warning back to your supervisor after having corrected their grammar and added sidebars.

9. You don’t know where your children are but you have already outlined what your characters are doing and where they are going.

10. You have switched from one genre to another in the hope that it will make you more marketable and increase sales.

11.You have experienced blackouts while writing, where you loose track of time.

12. Your current partner informs you they have had it with your lack of attention and are leaving in five minutes to begin their new life with their new lover. Immersed in your second rewrite, you respond with a distracted, “Could you get me some fries with that? Thank you so much, honey’.

13. Your neighbor is suing you after having recognized their dysfunctional existence in Chapter five of your new book.

14. You have stopped being invited to family functions because they recognized themselves in Chapter’s Two, Three and Four.

Twelve steps may not be enough to overcome this addiction or set your feet firmly on the road to recovery, but it’s an admirable beginning.

Remember, it’s One Word At a Time!


January 25, 2012

He loved you until
the romantic winds blew his stilted heart
in the direction of someone
someone he will spend all your time with
a new drug
with less side effects
no blame he said like that makes it better
for whom?

And you tell me you’re ready
to love again
like a dog is ready to run
headstrong into oncoming traffic
struck lifeless
and I tell you you’re insane
insane, I say


As Freud Would Say…

January 24, 2012

In 2005, I finally took my Christmas Tree down just before the deadline for taxes on April 15th. Yes, it had been up for four months. I think I was attempting to extend the Christmas season through February and March until Spring arrived and with it, the crocuses and daffodils – my multihued assurance of a resurrected life. For me, Spring flowers are that promise.

My mother died that year in the early morning hours of December 26th. I spent that Christmas Eve by her side, watching her chest rise and fall with diminishing breath, the morphine having done its job to eradicate her pain. I spent Christmas Day, watching the color of her skin change from pink to pallid gray as her life slowly ebbed, then ceased. It seemed as if I breathed in and when I breathed out, she was gone. Her death was like her: a gentle whisper, a hush. I could almost see her hooked arthritic finger poised in front of her lips, gently reproving my grief with a, ”Shhhhh…it’s OK.” It was 2:10 am and the vigil was over.

Death is a busy thing. There are people to call, documents to peruse, bills to pay, arrangements to be made; all of it done in a state of mind that would resemble catatonia if it weren’t for the sobbing spasms that grip your gut and pitch your body into contortions at the most inappropriate times. Her dying had been the focus of my life for close to a year. Her dying had become my life. Now that she was gone, I stood there in the empty house and didn’t know what to do with myself anymore. And so I did what anyone else would do under the circumstances: I checked the water level in the Christmas Tree stand. It was empty.

Seven feet of Scotch Pine laden with hundreds of lights and tens of ornaments, requires frequent hydration. It’s a thirsty organism and this one had been, understandably, neglected. I filled the teakettle with tap water and poured it into the base of the tree, then because I had been awake around the clock for days, tried to get some sleep. The next morning I checked the tree again and noticed it had already consumed the water from the day before. I watered it again and kept watering it until the days turned into weeks, December turned into January, January into February, February into March and March into April. For some reason, I couldn’t allow the thing to die. I needed to keep it alive.

The tree had become my mother.

I don’t know what Freud would have to say about that, but most of my friends thought it strange, as did my family, as did my co-workers and anyone else who happened into my living room where the tree stood, dwarfing my furniture. Some asked me outright, what it was still doing there. Some pretended to ignore its existence, as if to mention it would disturb my fragile relationship with reality. Others found it eccentrically interesting, like pasting shoes to one’s forehead would be interesting. Still, some found it fun.

As the first crocuses of the season that year peeked their purple and yellow flowering heads through the soil, and the April 15th tax deadline loomed, I finally took the ornaments and lights off the tree, carted it through the house, down the steps and out to my car. Then I tied it atop the roof and brought it to the landfill. By that time, the Christmas Tree section was no longer accepting trees. On the drive home, I left it in the woods.

This year I bought my first artificial tree; nothing to keep watering, nothing to keep alive. Maybe I am becoming healthier?

But…today is January 24th and my tree is still up…


As Freud would say, “Ziz girl needs TREEtment.”

Moon Ladders

January 23, 2012

A few wintered nights ago, the full Wolf Moon emerged from the horizon of Cape Cod Bay casting its yellow and orange upon the sea. It was a huge moon, the biggest I’ve ever seen, its size dwarfing the landscape and its light rendering the black January sky, almost palpable. A multitude of stars pierced the darkened heavens like peepholes into another, brighter world. It was beautiful.

I was there walking on the beach with one of my favorite companions, seven-year-old Alissia Rose. She has skin the color of rich Mocha Latte, a smile I get easily lost within and an innocent heart that is sometimes the only thing I can trust. She keeps me present and sane. On this night, she looked up at me in the way only seven-year-olds pondering the deep things of life will do and asked, “I want to catch the moon. How can we catch the it?”

“I don’t know. How can we catch the moon?” I questioned back, not wanting to admit I hadn’t a clue.

She squinted her eyes into the vastness before us where the moon hung suspended by unseen physics equations that belie its beauty, and excitedly exclaimed, “I know!”

“You do?”

“Yes, I do!” she repeated now jumping up and down and as certain as her seven-year-old heart could be about anything, then began to share her discovery with me: “What you do is get a moon ladder, put it up there against the moon, climb up it, put the moon in your pocket and climb back down!”

I was amazed by her brilliance and blessed by her creativity. And then a hint of melancholy crept in to threaten the moment. I was already heartbroken by her eventual disillusionment when she realizes that there are no such things as moon ladders and never will be. Life isn’t that simple or that easy.

We stood together there on the beach, each in our own separate worlds: she climbing moon ladders and me wrapped in my painful, practical cynicism. We were silent. Then it occurred to me that disillusionment might be one of God’s greatest gifts, if we allow it. Eventually, it replaces moon ladders with aeronautics and spaceships and makes dreams solid and real.

Later, we reverently placed a crystal pitcher of water on the porch where the moon’s rays suffused it with its light, then went to bed catching the moon while we slept.

In the morning she looked at me from across the breakfast table, raised her glass to her lips, smiled that smile that takes me to a gazillion better places, and drank.

Ya’ know, maybe – just maybe – you really can catch the moon.

Concrete Moses

January 22, 2012

Yesterday, I watched a man walking the sidewalk outside the courthouse. He was draped in white from shoulders to sandaled feet and was apparently dispossessed of a coat to protect him from the biting January winds that whipped through the caverns of tall, city buildings that surrounded him. A modest length of golden tinsel, probably the treasured result of rummaged trashcans and dumpsters, encircled his head like a crown. He carried a wooden staff in his right hand that he held out before him like Moses parting the sea of people elbowing their way to other places; they were people who knew things, busy people with agendas who dressed in suits and designer clothes, who scurried into buildings, who carried briefcases in and out of meetings and who frequently glanced down at their watches in the middle of conversations. He was not one of them. No.

I stood secure inside the warmth of the building and watched him as he almost glided upon the concrete, wingless and smiling. For some reason still unknown to me, I knocked on the window to get his attention. He paused and turned toward me, then in a graceful and kingly gesture, raised his staff in recognition of my presence. We smiled at each other, and then he slowly turned from me to continue his endless journey among the city streets. This was his kingdom. He owned it; it didn’t own him. He owned it because he asked nothing from it and needed nothing from it. Then, separated only by the plate glass windows that ran the length of the façade, I walked with him down the street until I couldn’t any more.  An overwhelming sadness overtook me as he disappeared from view. I wanted to run to him and ask him why he didn’t appear cold, although the Fahrenheit approached freezing.  I wanted to ask him if he’d ever been in love or had children. I wanted to know where he got his meals and what he thought about when he woke each morning. I wanted to ask him if he still had unfulfilled dreams tucked warmly into the corners of his heart, like me.

I didn’t.

Instead, I pushed the button on the wall and waited for the elevator bell to signal its arrival on the ground floor where I stood sipping my Starbucks. Once inside, I pushed the button for the third floor where the people who know things work; busy people with agendas who wear suits and designer clothes, people who carry briefcases in and out of meetings and who frequently glance down at their watches in the middle of conversations…

    I have B- blood. Who cares, right? I discovered this during the course of my first pregnancy but knew very little about blood typing other than what I learned in elementary Science classes. Admittedly, it was difficult to absorb science instruction while staring out the window or while slipping notes to friends, and what little I did learn, not used, was quickly forgotten. Recently, I came across something online that jarred those long forgotten science lessons from long term memory into short: the negative or positive in a blood type refers to the Rh factor. We’ll say someone is then, either Rh positive or negative. But what does this Rh represent? It represents Rhesus; that’s Rhesus, as in Rhesus monkey, people. In short, people whose blood tests Rh positive, share the same protein/DNA with the Rhesus monkey. They are descended from the monkey. And conversely, people’s whose blood tests Rh negative, do not have any Rhesus monkey DNA. If Rh negative people do not come from monkeys, then where do they come from and how does science account for this anomaly? Science doesn’t account for it and can’t…at least, not yet.

One theory, in fact, the only theory is that when the Rhesus gene was passed on, it failed to copy and was dropped from the evolutionary parade, never to be seen again in the 15% of the population who are Rh-. This sounds like a viable explanation until one takes into account the problem of reproduction. An Rh negative mother’s blood will destroy her baby as a foreign substance in utero, rejecting the fetus as if it literally were another species. Nowhere else is this seen on Earth among reproducing life forms. Different species such as horses and donkeys can reproduce with each other without such disastrous effects to their fetuses, but their resultant offspring, the mule, is unable to reproduce. This is the only other similar example on the planet but still isn’t enough to serve as an accurate comparison. Is the human Rh- mother’s blood rejecting the fetus because it very simply is a different species from herself: of monkey lineage, when she is not? Have two similar but divergent life forms/species coexisted on the planet, unaware of each other’s genetic heritage for eons? This is what the Rh factor difference appears to indicate. Interestingly, Rh- people share many of the following characteristics. I happen to have all of them:

Low blood pressure, Reddish/light brown hair – blue or green eyes, High IQ, Lower body temperature, Intolerance to alcohol, Interference with electrical energy (I cannot wear an analog watch. It will stop keeping accurate time after a few days, then cease to work).

Metaphysicists are having a heyday with this Rh factor riddle. Some claim Erich von Däniken’s Chariot’s of The God’s already outlined this scenario, postulating that space men impregnated humans and then left them to populate the Earth. Some quote that enigmatic passage from Genesis 6:1-4 where the ‘Son’s of God’ impregnated the ‘daughters of men’. Some, like me, still sit and ponder. While others have been opening gifts and celebrating the New Year, I’ve been researching and wondering. Still, it is good to know that I am not a monkey, thank you very much. They sure are darn cute, though! Much cuter than space men.

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