What can YOU say in six sentences?
You know, it's a long world.... Lawrence Welk
York enjoyed telling people he was born in Europe, though his family had moved to America within weeks of his birth, settled in Gayville, South Dakota, the "Hay Capital of the World."
He was also proud of the origin of his Welsh name, Plevens, from Bleddyn meaning wolf cub, and fancied himself a hero since the heroes of medieval Wales were often referred to as Blaidd, as in, Don't…Continue
The Wynot, Nebraska landscape suddenly felt foreign to Ethel, common places like her pink bedroom and Planter's Community College where she studied pottery now somewhere else, or somebody else's somewhere.
Her life had always been somewhat messy but now, with York's trial, her period late and her weight climbing, her world was in tatters, so Ethel walked two blocks to Averys Bookstore for answers, where she bought candy and a "Make A Decision" kit for a mere…Continue
There are eating utensils in each drawer, on the left a complete set organized by type in a partitioned box, and on the right are six incomplete sets, one to four random pieces from each, the mismatched forks for scrambling eggs or feeding children, the knives for spreading peanut butter or condiments, the spoons for stirring sugar into coffee or dishing out ice cream.
The right drawer is also filled with plastic spoons, baby spoons, two plastic Disney character plates,…Continue
On a Wednesday in 1964 you take your first breath at Harris Hospital in Fort Worth, and five years later you're in Mrs. Gray's Kindergarten class at Dee Mac Rae Elementary, copying chicken figures from the blackboard, circles and triangles and sticks for legs, all the while fighting the urge to tell Jimmy Borkowski that you're in love with him.
At ten you're sitting in the back of Miss Shackleford's fourth grade class at Joy Baptist School, laughing with John Bakker at naked…Continue
When things get really bad, or when I just perceive they are, and if I'm still able to muster a crumb of an uplifting thought, I grab one of these: Pestjeet, Crack or Turn.
Pestjeet reminds me of an Ann Lamott quote, which I think she borrowed from someone else, but I'm too lazy to look up the source so, sue me: "Peace is joy at rest, and joy is peace on its feet," and this is what we live for.
Crack is from Leonard Cohen, "There's a crack in everything;…Continue
My six year old has made a new friend in a Chickfila play area, two little boys running wild in a maze of tunnels and nets, and I ask the new friend as he's running from aliens back to the mother ship, "And how old are you?"
I tell him my son just turned six. The boy smiles, his brown eyes luminous, then he asks, "Is he Muslim?"
"No, he's Catholic."
"I'm Muslim. Muslim is good."
His name is Raj, in his early 40's, Eastern Indian with a medium build, and he's come to look at my dying air conditioner.
His phone rings, a unique tone designated for this caller to whom he speaks with tenderness, "I'm with a customer but I'll call you back, okay?"
We discuss the cost of a partial repair versus replacing the entire A/C unit, and whether I or my husband would make the final decision in the event of a disagreement, which leads to Raj telling…Continue
It is a place found by accident while driving to nowhere, or a rest stop on the way to somewhere, a low-key nook with street names like Margaret, School and Church.
There are clapboard houses with wooden porches and worn screen doors, grain mills, cotton and corn fields, feed stores and dented metal barns; four small cemeteries with tiny markers or tufts of plastic flowers, churches on every corner for a population of less than 3,000, of which 11.5% are below the poverty…Continue
It's a recurring attraction to outcasts, to men behind theater masks and dark castle walls, within caves and coffins.
Their seductive dark makes me hungry for night, to sing the Phantom's opera, to excise with love, the fear and rage from the man.
I am in love with rugged mysteries and outlaws chased by pitchforks, torches and rigid conformity.
I am in love with handsome adversity, tortured genius, brilliant lunatic artists, and yes, this is…Continue
The teen doll did the coolest thing -- just spin her left arm around once, and Skipper went from flat-chested to a B cup.
There's no way you'd find a toy like that today, because ladies in mom jeans and alphabet vests would riot outside every Toys-R-Us, and Gloria Steinem would throw Barbie burning parties in parking lots.
I don't think I'm at all scarred from watching a plastic doll's boobs grow, but why didn't they mature the Ken doll? It never looked right…Continue
As I watch my Rat Terrier/Chihuahua mix do a sort of hand stand in the yard, her ballerina slipper feet tapping as she relieves herself, I realize she multitasks well, that she "shrowls" and "sharks", which meals she can growl, bark and shit at the same time.
This is something my seven year old might have thought of, since she mentioned the other day that if Miss Piggy and Kermit married, their children would be "frigs".
I've often wondered about names for…Continue
I try to imagine the strength, size and mindset of a woman who would abduct a man, or several men, and shackle them in a dark moldy basement for years.
Would she look like the Amazonian Popeye Goons, eyes blank dots, chin slick with drool; would she wear a "husband-beater" t-shirt, eat giant bags of Funyuns, guzzle twelve-packs and drive a white Chevy van?
Would she hammer together a thin-walled shack for a favorite blond captive, imprison him in her back…Continue
I'm sitting along a back wall at the Sweetwater Starbucks to avoid the heavy rain. My exposed toenails are blue with cold as Tony Bennett sings about good times not coming around anymore.
The man in the wingback chair to my left is reading a book, his skin pink with brown patches, tissue paper thin. His navy shirt, khaki pants and Timberland boots are still wet from rain.
I'm facing my own book, David Sedaris's Squirrel Seeks Chipmunk, but my eyes…Continue
This morning I washed the dishes from my stepdaughter's graduation party last night, the pots and pans, cutting boards and knives, crystal, china and silverware dirtied by twenty members of my husband's family.
I walked the dogs four times, wiped little boy pee off the floor, old man pee off the floor, cooked sides for the Mother's Day brisket my husband prepared, then washed the dishes again, those dirtied by his remaining family, while he took an afternoon…Continue
It's been a couple of years since my seven year old and I discussed how mistakes are made, how we sometimes blindly navigate through life.
I only remember her looking out the car window as we drove along Sweetwater Boulevard, saying as we passed a Catholic church: "We learn as we go. We learn as we travel. Because every country is different. And every day is like a new country."
When I hear the song Wildfire by Michael Murphy, time folds back to 1977, to a convention center in Waco, Texas where a T-bucket hotrod with flames painted on the doors revolves slowly among other cars on display, the song playing continuously, worn and scratchy from too many competitions.
Sitting nearby are my aunt and uncle and their enviable fun and wealthy friends, Gary and Jerry, the quintessential perfect couple who own the hotrod they…Continue
The feeling is an acoustic guitar and a wooden porch, a crisp spring blue and nowhere to be.
It's a hammock swaying in the steady center of the world.
The mood is lavender in a breeze, laughter like dandelion puffs caught in playful currents.
It's a road without stops, a giant gulp of air, a birthday cake two hundred stories high.
Your heart is wrapped in other hearts, clear skies and eternities.
You were born…Continue
I wrote down what Dolly Parton once said during an interview -- "You can find magic somewhere between what's real and what's not " -- because it sounded like the only smart thing my ex-husband ever said, "The truth is always somewhere in between."
I recently met an odd woman who believes she's a Pleiadian, an Indigo which is, according to the Pleiadian website, "a soul who has chosen to incarnate on the planet to bring a specific vibrational energy of love." This…Continue
The only real value I have in his eyes is what I can offer his son and grandchildren, which makes me feel like a set of orthotics, invisible and mostly forgotten comfort.
But he loves my children, which is the quickest route to my heart, even though he likes to point out that my daughter gets her looks and brains from my husband, the sting of the insult somehow mollified when he insists, despite having two daughters, that his son is "all I have."
I was walking in New York City and I brushed up against the man in front of me. He turned only his head, barely glancing over his left shoulder, never acknowledging my whisper of a smile and apology.
He was wearing a black wool coat, black Prada shoes, and he smelled like Ivory soap and a jar of old dirty pennies.
He was tall like the buildings, shiny like the glass reflecting sky, solid like the stone and sidewalk, and empty like the gutters and…Continue