If you’d told Jane three words would destroy her life, she’d have guessed they might be “You have cancer” or “You’re under arrest” or “President Elect Trump.” She would have never pinned it on this particular trio. Nor would she have thought her demise would occur on Thanksgiving, the most wholesome of holidays.
When the doorbell rang that morning, she’d assumed it was her parents arriving early. Instead, she found her neighbor on the porch with a condescending smile and bouquet of fresh-cut peonies. “I thought you could use some cheering up.”
"Why?" Jane was more curious than concerned.
“You don’t know? Well, I hate to be the bearer of bad news.” Celeste’s twinkling eyes told a different story. “There’s no easy way to say this, but—”
Next, came the three words. Then, Celeste took out her crystal-encrusted cell phone to offer video proof.
Not knowing whether to panic or pray, Jane opted for both.
Why is this happening? I’m a good person. Right, God? I attend midnight mass on Christmas, donate to the ASPCA, and drive a hybrid. Oh Lord, please let my boss never see this…or my mother…or Patrick...especially not Patrick.
The whole thing began the previous day with a coupon, craving, and subpar plastic. Sav-A-Mart was offering turkey for ninety-nine cents a pound and carried her all-time favorite pumpkin pie, so despite it being across town, Jane went.
It was a delightfully uneventful trip, right up until she left the store. That’s when her shopping bag broke sending the turkey on a collision course with her left foot. The initial pain was rapidly replaced by absolute anger—blind fury that Vesuviused in a molten string of obscenities.
Nearby, a woman piling sturdy, reusable totes into the back of a Volvo abruptly stopped, glared, and covered her toddler’s ears.
This only bolstered Jane’s wrath. She reared back and kicked the frozen fowl. It went wobbling across the parking lot. Then, like a deranged soccer star, she booted the Butterball all the way back to her car. But just before reaching the SUV, she miscalculated the turkey’s trajectory, tripped over it, and splayed onto the pavement, dumping her pie in the process. Instead of attempting to get up or regain composure, Jane burst into sobs and began scooping handfuls of gravel-specked, pumpkin custard straight off the ground and shoveling it into her mouth.
By the time she saw the kid filming on his iPhone, it was too late.
“What came over you?”
Jane just gave a silent shrug, but she knew the answer.
Perimenopausal rage. It’s a real condition.
Celeste shoved the flowers in Jane’s direction. “As of an hour ago, the video had been viewed five hundred thousand times.”
Jane didn’t know whether it was the cloying scent of the blooms or immensity of the number, but she nearly vomited on the spot.
“It’ll probably be up to a million by dinner.” Celeste smirked and again uttered those three wicked words, “You’ve gone viral.”
He done come to town,
The Village Inn right down.
The cruel “Closed” sign upon the door,
Taunts us with “No more. No more.”
No more pot roast. No more pie.
No more Friday catfish fry.
No more cornbread, no more beans,
No more fatback collard greens.
No cheap, first dates,
For young lovers.
No gab and gossip,
For bored mothers.
Got nowhere to eat.
Got nowhere to meet.
The motive for my mourning,
Is simple and pure,
Now, I got no more
Sunday hang-over cure.
Folks are growing lean.
Spirits are growing mean.
Worst times I’ve seen.
Since that Halloween…
When Crazy Old Man Handy,
Put razors in the candy.
That restaurant was the soul of this place.
Now, there’s a hateful, hungry space.
Our sustenance has vanished without a trace.
Our salad days have ended,
Our hearts have been rended,
A dark cloud has descended,
Since the day,
Came to town,
The Village Inn right down.
The streetlights turned the snow into diamonds. Gloria stared out the window at the sparkling white, feeling like the luckiest girl in the world. For two days, a rare blizzard had assaulted the Midwest. Plummeting temperatures followed. A foot of precipitation. Record-setting, single digit lows. The conditions were perfect.
I hope I dream of tigers. The thought fleeted through her mind and then loped off across the frozen landscape.
Gloria skipped to the closet and flung open the doors. The red ball gown beckoned from where it had hung in anticipation since being purchased last spring. The vivid scarlet would play perfect against the alabaster backdrop. She slipped the taffeta dress over her head and let it fall onto her freshly-showered skin. It felt cool against her paleness. After zipping up the bodice and fluffing the crinolines of the tea-length skirt, she retrieved a pair of stilettos in the same deep crimson and slid them onto her feet.
On the bedside table, a bottle of champagne was chilling in a sterling silver bucket filled with crushed ice. Next to it, a plethora of pills were arranged in neat rows. Gloria popped the cork allowing a plume of foam to escape. She poured a crystal flute full of the effervescent liquid, and then dropped onto the edge of the mattress. With great reverence, she picked up a single blue tablet.
In the movies, the actors always popped the entire handful of pills into their mouths all at once. It seemed so disrespectful. Gloria planned to relish the experience. So, she took them one by one, and washed each down with a sip of Krug.
After ingesting all thirty, she grabbed her laptop and, out of sheer habit, checked her Facebook invitations. As she perused the long list of events, a sudden sense of relief set in at not having to decide whether she was interested in going or not. Next, she navigated to her own page. 863 friends. 126 followers. After a few moments of thought, she updated her status to two words--cellophane wizard, no caps. Let people ponder. Gloria slammed the computer shut and gave it a haphazard toss across the covers.
Within an hour, the soporific effects of the bubbles and barbituates were beginning to take hold. Time for a change of scenery.
Gloria made her way to the door that led into the backyard, stepped outside, and teetered through the drifts to the Japanese maple he’d planted for her when they first moved in. Trying to disturb as little of the pristine powder as possible, she lay down in the snow. Despite the frigid conditions, a yawn escaped her lips. Then, a smile formed as she recalled what she’d read about hypothermia. The ingestion of alcohol and drugs gives a false sense of warmth and increases the risk of death through several mechanisms.
Nestled in the white, Gloria closed her eyes and drifted off to sleep…perchance to dream of tigers.
I once had a dream...
I was roller-skating through a rainforest in a red satin ball gown,
Escorted by mammoth-moths with peacock-patterned wings,
Swooping and looping to the whir-whir-whirring of my wheels.
But when I returned home from my rendezvous, I realized,
That somewhere along the way, I’d lost my vagina.
I rushed to rainforest Lost and Found
It was located in a tree trunk and manned by a native named Makuna Timberlake the Third.
Frantically, I asked, "Click clack-clack clickity click clack click?"
Makuna presented me with a box brimming with vaginas.
I rifled through the misplaced muffs desperate to find my own,
Tossing twats to and fro...
Then, it hit me...
I had no idea what my vagina looked like,
At least, not in any specific sense.
Any pussy in the pile could have been mine.
Next night, I had the same dream...
Except the moths had morphed into thirsty mosquitoes,
And my roller skates were ill-fitting wooden clogs,
And Makuna was Martha Stewart scolding me,
"I told you, 'labeling your vagina is a good thing'."
Third night—it was pterodactyls, snowshoes, and legendary serial killer Henry Lee Lucas at the Lost and Found.
I awoke knowing there was only one way to stop the nightmares--I must confront the cunt.
So, I moved to the mirror, stripped and sat astraddle...
Legs spread wide and confident...
An Indian princess riding a royal pacaderm.
And then…I looked at it.
Oh my God... I thought…
It would take Jesus, Jenna Jameson and Jacques Cousteau
To explain what I had witnessed down below,
A creature that could flourish on the ocean's floor,
Pulsing pink, lascivious lips, the ultimate predator.
I assumed it couldn’t be normal.
There had to be something debauched about my crotch.
Forlorn, I turned to porn,
To find a match for my snatch.
After more than my share,
Of contrast and compare,
I found there was none.
Mine looked nothing like the pierced, plucked,
Delicate daisies that grew between their thin thighs.
That night over dinner I was lamenting aloud,
When one knowledgeable queer from the crowd,
Exclaimed, "What you have, my dear, is a full-blown rose.
In some cultures, that would keep you drowning in beaus.
However, many in polite society find them...
Well...for lack of a better term...nasty,
Have you ever considered labioplasty?"
For months, I crossed-my legs,
Tight with all my might,
Certain that every stranger,
Was aware there was something different and dangerous,
Looming in my loins.
All that summer I refused to go near the water,
For fear of the slaughter,
That might occur if the monster broke free from my bikini.
What is someone was bitten by my kitten....and it was rabid?
To cause a further diversion,
I grew my pussy's coat from Domestic Shorthair to Persian.
It was exhausting shielding the world from my vagina.
Come fall, I had no more energy to be appalled,
So I said, "To hell with it," and shaved the damn thing bald.
That night, I had another dream...
White doves, spike heels, and Javier Bardeem,
At the Lost and Found.
I asked, "Have you seen my full-blown rose?"
He took out a crystal box and put it to his nose,
Then, held it out for my inspection.
I immediately recognized the fabulous, fuchsia flower.
He said, "My lady, I believe this treasure must be thine."
I swelled with pride, "Yeah, baby, that vagina is mine."
Some years later,
I am thrilled to report,
My vagina is now,
My most trusted cohort.
My confidante. My top advisor. My muse.
Whether battling writer’s block, buying a stock, choosing a cock,
I leave it to my twat to sort out what’s what.
And it never fails me.
Hell, when my snazzy is in top form,
It can predict a thunder storm.
Seriously, I can’t I believe I once deemed it,
Inferior, Indecent, Inedible,
Because, put quite simply,
My vagina is incredible.
And, so is yours.
We've become a nation afraid to look one another in the eye.
We must strive for a society that makes eye contact, because...
Seriously, it's science. Read why in this article from the Stanford School of Medicine. So, how about it? Let's all take a good, long look at each other.
So, let me set the scene. Frank and I are listening to the oldies station, which is the only one that comes in remotely clear at Bohemian Bay. The angelic voice of Minnie Ripperton is crooning the lyrics to "Loving You"
Lovin' you is easy cause you're beautiful...la-la-la-la.la-la-la...
Frank: Is loving me easy?
Me: No. Loving you is like being strapped to a bucking bronco, then shoved into a bouncy castle that is affixed to a Tilt-A-Whirl, which is located on Bourbon Street during the height of Mardi Gras with a hurricane barreling down on New Orleans...but I do it anyway. And, always will.
And this is what marriage to a marvelous man with awesome ADHD is like--exciting, exhausting, scary, sexy, dizzying, fun, and infuriating, but totally worth it.
For several months, every day started with a black tide that rose and washed over me, leaving me lonely and scared, unable to fully-function—not feeling up to seeing anyone or doing anything. I’ve only just recently found a renewed sense of hope and purpose.
Of course, to keep history from repeating itself, I became determined to figure out why. Why? I have a loving husband, fabulous friends, free time, disposable income, decent health, and even a place to get away, so why in the hell was I so damn melancholy? Why? What was I missing?
After serious soul-searching, I realized what I lacked was a solid sense of self-esteem.
It’s something I’ve been struggling with since my late twenties. At least three days out of every week, I have a crippling level of doubt about my abilities and innate worth. Of course, I’ve mastered the art of faking it. I’ve learned to psych myself up, pull up my big girl thongs, put on the game face, and pretend to be bold and badass. But when the bravado fades, I'm an exhausted heap of unhappiness.
I could blame it on an excessively dysfunctional childhood. Seriously, my formative years were fucked up…like verging on Augusten Burroughs-level fucked up…but I don’t want to blame this on anyone or anything. I just want to fix it. I have to fix it. Why? Because I’m almost fifty years old. I don’t want to waste any more time. I want to be able to fully embrace exactly who I am, become audaciously authentic without fear of judgement, and then use it for good.
After reading dozens of articles on the topic, I’ve compiled the best advice from each on how to achieve real self-worth and lasting self-love. This is what I came up with, in my own words:
1) Treat your body like a temple, not CBGB during the early eighties.
2) Perfectionism is a punk ass bitch...and social media is its BFF.
3) Stop talking smack…about yourself.
4) Know yourself as well as you do your favorite celebrity.
5) Learn to have fun with flaws.
6) Get an attitude of gratitude.
7) Reserve a sheet of gold stars just for you.
8) Double dog dare you to try new things.
9) Realize nothing is as sexy as kindness.
Each week…month…fortnight…hell, however long it takes…I’m going to work on one of these principles. Come along on the journey with me. Come on…please…it’ll be fun. Perhaps, not eating cupcakes with sprinkles in a pile of kittens fun, but definitely kayaking in a kaftan while bourbon-tipsy fun. So, let’s harness the sun and do this. Let the manifesting begin.
When I was raped,
I didn’t scream.
In the next room.
I didn’t want to wake her.
I didn’t want her,
To see me naked.
I didn’t want her to know,
That her grandson,
Was an animal.
Because as taught,
I respected my elders.
More than I respected,
My own body.
UPDATE: I have now found my voice and am not afraid to scream. Loudly.
The Kentucky Arts Council sent out the call for Kentuckians to
delve into their pasts, sift through their memories, and tell the world “Where I’m From." Each poem was to follow the structure and style of the brilliant original “Where I’m From” by our own Kentucky Poet Laureate George Ella Lyon. I decided to take the challenge. The result is below. And as a bonus, I was asked to return to my childhood stomping ground and give it a reading. I saw some old friends, swapped stories and shots of bourbon chased down with of Ale-8-One, won a $10 door prize, and used it buy Berryman’s chili dogs...so I’d say it was a damn near perfect evening.
Where I’m From
I am from
Tidy closets, armed with moth balls,
But stripped secret-clean.
Our skeletons rocked on the porch,
Drinking tall glasses of sweet tea spiked with Maker’s Mark bourbon.
Waste not, want not.
Pretty is, as pretty does.
And, you don’t know your ass from apple butter.
I am from
Reared up on Queen Street,
Riding a chestnut mare named Cleopatra,
And listening to the King…
Until he was found dead next to his porcelain throne,
(My mother wailed for a week, clutching unused concert tickets).
I’m from Mouths,
That tasted of Ale-8-One, small town gossip, steeped sassafras,
Berryman’s chili dogs, Marlboro menthols, and answered prayers.
That played honkytonk piano, birthed slippery calves, rubbed on Coppertone lotion,
Dug potatoes, picked purple irises, and applied layers of lipstick in Pink Frost.
That trod through fresh manure,
Danced in black, shiny shoes in Miss Rosalind’s recital,
And tracked through October Court Days hot on the scent of a funnel cake.
I am from
The rhinoceros that lived in the tobacco barn,
Great Aunt Pearlie’s ghost,
A buried treasure at the bottom of the pond guarded by an albino catfish,
And, a faraway place that never slept called New York City.
(I was determined to live there one day…and I did).
A bone and flesh compass,
Needle never wavering.
No matter how far I get above my raising,
It always leads me back,
To where I’m from.
Click HERE to read more "Where I'm From" poems from around the state.
I did not die at thirty-one. And, found myself at forty-one to be more alive and in love than ever…even at fourteen.
At fourteen, he introduces you to "A Clockwork Orange" and pot and takes you to a roller rink where he plays hockey. A girl says, “That’s my boyfriend. Which one’s yours?” You point and blush and say, “The one in The Cure tee shirt with the earring and the bi-level haircut.” And you are so proud because he is the raddest dude in the place.
At forty-one, he introduces you to the latest incarnation of his balding buddy’s punk revival band and pain pills, which he needs from decades of irresponsibility and injuries and you need for energy. And he takes you to a skate park that he used to frequent in his bad-ass BMX days. It is filled with teenaged boys on boards and bikes. A woman says, “That’s my kid. Which one’s yours?” You point and blush and say, “The one in The Cure tee shirt with the beer belly and the full beard.” And you are so proud because he is the raddest dude in the place.
At fourteen, you know he is your soul mate because you talk on the phone every night, have both read Fear and Loathing in Las Vegas, and love big dogs.
At forty-one, you know he is your soul mate because you talk all night when you both have to get up early and go to work. And you’ve read everything and he’s read nothing but that doesn’t matter, because he can read you better than a book. And your big dogs are your family and have taken the place of the children you both chose not to have…even together when you were miraculously given that option.
At fourteen, you know he will be a good lover because he has watched porn, and dated a girl two years older, and bites your bottom lip when you kiss.
At forty-one, you know he will be a good lover because you are a good lover and will make certain of it; and he knows his way around when he goes down; and there is a mutual acceptance that neither body is what it used to be, but that experience and commitment can make up for a flat stomach if the lighting is just right. When all else fails, you just crank up "Do It All Night" by Prince.
At fourteen, you get jealous because he keeps a picture of his ex-girlfriend in a shoe box in his closet and still hangs out with her brother.
At forty-one, the ex-girlfriend is an ex-wife who could have been a lingerie model. He loved her so much that he gave her his granny’s heirloom ring, and offered to adopt her daughter, and waited celibate for sixteen months while she served a stiff sentence for a fourth DUI. You fear no man can love that way twice, but you’re willing to suffice with whatever is left, which with him is more than enough.
At fourteen, you dream of a wedding to a pop star or a royal, or both…you’ll marry Prince. You’ll wear a tiara and purple ball gown and ride through the streets to the flower-filled church in a crystal carriage drawn by unicorns. There will be fireworks and, of course, doves. But, not the crying kind. You’ll hold your reception in Milan or on the moon. He'll play a song written especially for you. All your friends will be so jealous, and that’s really all that matters.
At forty-one, you know how hard marriage is and how often it fails. And yet, when you look in his eyes you know that if there were ever a man with whom you could spend forever, it is him. You are way past white. Besides, you know what looks good on you…you’ll wear red. There will be no flower-filled church. Neither of you believes in organized religion, and the best florist in town just happens to be his one-time-lover. Instead of a crystal carriage, you’ll employ a yellow cab to make certain all your drunken friends get home safe…because they will party like it’s 1999.
Yes, I am more in love than I have ever been in my life, even with Prince. For better or worse…because at fourteen, you just think you may be able to die of a broken heart. At forty-one, you know you actually can.
Sharing All I KNOW about the fine art of voluptuating. here's to living the lush life.