pawspauseprose

Life as it arrives and dreams as they happen


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Successfully Unplanned

successfulMany times over the years, I’ve wondered, as we all do, about the what if, and what might have been scenarios in life, and how they compare to where I find myself today. It’s so easy to look back at photographs and memories, placing ourselves in the past, comfortable and innocent, not yet tarnished by the stress and drama of adulthood, while remembering from a youthful perspective. For me, I dreamed of being a wife and mother, and loving to write, I also hoped to be a published author, with fans that appreciated, understood and connected to my thoughts. However, as I circle my wagon for this last rodeo, I find myself not quite there, and frustrated, with a side order of dissatisfaction.

My youthful neighborhood was 1960 normal, where fathers went to work, and mothers cleaned, made dinner and helped at school. There were also the right amount of bikes and bugs, and we played at night until it was dark, or until someone yelled for us to come in. I can’t complain, it was simple and basic, like the grocery and drug stores that were separated by Woolworth’s.  Looking back now, everything we needed was either there or already at home. I also had a best friend next door, and one across the street, along with other buddies, scattered on adjacent streets, eventually ending at our school. However, in the wonder years that would follow, both girlfriends moved.  One family went a block over, and the other a few miles further. We tried to stay in touch through junior high, but as everyone knows, along with boobs and facial hair, everything changes.

Back then, seeing through immature eyes, I only focused on my own existence, that of a lonely, nerd of a girl, more isolated than entertained, passing time as teacher’s pet, and being the one people counted on. Because of that, I missed seeing how the lives of my friends fell apart. Looking back, I see that I did become the wife and mother I hoped to be, even if it didn’t have the staying power of Mom and Dad. There were also high profile jobs and opportunities, where I achieved things never planned, opening more than a few doors (some of which should have been nailed shut), all offering me a look at the world many never see. I also wrote my books, and offered them to the world. In many ways, I filled that youthful bucket.

It was only then; all pieces fell into place, due to my still selfish hopes of being a bestselling author, and successful entrepreneur slapping me in the face. Looking deeper into my memories, I remembered why my best friend across the street moved…her father had walked out on the family. To survive, her single mother struggled, and took up sewing, before foreclosure put them into an alley apartment, hidden behind a questionable television repair shop.

As a kid, I had no idea the poverty they had been subjected to, because my ignorant middle class couldn’t relate. After I was married, I learned she had turned to drugs, and was selling herself on the street, almost dying after a bad abortion. Now, I only wonder what became of her and her two sisters. The life they got certainly wasn’t what they dreamed of, during lazy days when we played Barbies on their cement driveway.

My other friend, who moved from next door, only went down the street and a block over, but  got an equally unplanned life. Both of us had loved our fathers as true heroes, and although mine was much older, hers was a muscular, handsome man, that drove a truck for a living. It was also on once such trip, when he fell from his truck, landing on his head. The result was a true Flowers for Algernon bookmark, and his scrambled existence was never the same. Unable to cope, his wife turned to drinking, and was later diagnosed with cancer. She eventually took her life, leaving behind a family shattered in too many pieces. As an adult, my friend married and had children, but when it went south, she also turned to the bottle, and driving under the influence killed a man on a motorcycle. Like her mother, she too left a family in pieces, having been sentenced to prison for vehicular manslaughter.

Because my mind remained on a roll, I remembered more friends, one that died of AIDS, long before it became a known disease, years before any school reunion. And then another, one that lived the happy family home life I had known, dreaming as early as Kindergarten, that he would be a surgeon, (substantiated by the mouse he autopsied in first grade). However, his parents split after a rumored affair, and even though he took his dreams to college, he couldn’t make the grade in medical school…literally, ending up as a chiropractor in a retail strip mall. Sadly, I think the only shining moment in my recollecting, was a boy nerdier than I had been, picked upon mercilessly, and ignored long past not being selected in gym class. You see he became not just a beautiful swan, but a jaw dropping piece of man candy, every Heather bound cheerleader dreamed of landing. The perfect irony was he also came out as gay, and at our reunion ignored all of them! Karma, well played if you ask me.

It was then, that I sent my side of dissatisfaction back to the chef, and admitted to my fifty something self, that I had got a life better than most, even if I didn’t know it at the time, or during my own struggles with life, death and change. Because dreams never happen exactly the way we hope, and certainly not on any schedule we pray they will follow. However, there are always moments to be thankful for, and never take for granted. Something no twelve year old will understand, and most adults fail to appreciate.

That being said, I still hope those who read my book, Stiletto, smile between detective banter, and colorful clues, seeing there is proof of compassion in the world, and people who are LGBT are no different from anyone else, except sometimes better for what they have experienced. I also hope a few dollars from Glint in the Dark make it into the fund for justice I pledged them to, hoping to eventually help identify the killers, in the case that saw the West Memphis 3 falsely accused, and branded as felons. Most of all though, I hope I’ve made a difference as a mother, grandma, daughter, sister, friend and neighbor, leaving a small piece of my humanity behind after I am gone. Which, after all, may not be the dream we hope to have, but it is the only one that will ever matter, regardless of what we  live with and through.

 

for the record colored dark


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Heart, Brain and Soul are indeed, Lions and Tigers and Bears…oh, my!

ltbomy

We’ve all followed the yellow brick road in some capacity, as either a movie of wonder, life’s destination or just entertaining a fantasy of what if. Some of the more analytical in our world, even ask where the red road goes, prompting laughter or deep thoughts, while waiting for Godot or Yoda…depending on your out of body experience. That being said, when the scarecrow, the tin man and the lion are gifted with humanity, something already there of course, we sense a larger picture…something far and above a balloon, and movie set, and we are right.

Raised in the 60’s and 70’s, I had parents that had seen war and depression, moved for greener pastures, and always put family first. I guess you could say they valued life, and in turn gave us values of a lifetime. There was also never a right or wrong to question. Knowing the Golden Rule, I followed it straight and narrow, years before it became metric, and nobody knew what the hell was going on. That was however, until I became a teenager and wanted to be beautiful, and there was no movie set, fairy godmother or wizard to help my quest.

There was instead, a family drugstore, where Mom and Dad had been going since it opened. The owner and his wife were wonderful, and played a major role in my life, after I required heavy medication, in an era when it was not readily available or understood. This kind man also allowed us to have a running tab, paid off at the end of the month, insuring we could afford my prescriptions. As I matured, primarily due to this generosity, I learned the best acts of kindness are never seen or given to grandiose presentations. Instead, they are silent, felt in the heart and given by the soul, and if you’ve ever done or received them, you know no there is never any lion.

However, even the best laid bricks of mice and men crumble on occasion, and a few of mine did just that, shortly after turning into a teenager. As I mentioned, my parents were old school, meaning when I left the elementary world, our experiences didn’t match up. It was a time when I wanted to wear mini’s and jeans, which were all the rage, but girls couldn’t wear pants, only skirts and dresses just above the knee. Likewise, I wanted to color my world, Chicago and New York style, in makeup palettes and brushes of Avon temptation, something else never seen in our home. You see, if you had a red dye No.4 lipstick, and a Helena Rubinstein compact nothing else was necessary.

Hoping to convince my mother of the value behind such cosmetics, which incidentally, would be barely visible behind the thick lens of my glasses, I accompanied her to the drugstore and showed her the colorful display of powders, shimmers, liners and sparkles. Looking at all that was before her, I’m sure the once young girl in her memories had a say in the matter, because we left with light brown mascara, a pale pink blush, and nude lipstick. Yes, I had the mother lode, and was going to be beautiful! Checking out was an almost religious experience, and one I have yet to forget in my aging brain…the day the scarecrow in the field finally burst the bubble of beauty.

As time went on, my desire for beauty continued, long after the initial cosmetics were gone. I never understood why my mother assumed it was a never ending well of glory, because she never asked if I needed more, and unlike my own daughters, a replenishment didn’t just happen when she went to the store. That was also when I discovered misplaced courage, and crossed the road of honesty, stealing what I needed. Sadly, there is nothing as driven as a teenager on a mission of self service, and speaking from experience; I never thought I would get caught, because after all…we had an account at the drugstore.

Once I had perfected my shoplifting, which couldn’t have amounted to more than a hundred dollars if ever calculated up, I was in the zone. Walking into the store after school, I’d look at several cosmetics and often drop two, replacing one on the counter and one in my purse. I’d also walk around the store with my selections, removing something from a package as I browsed, leaving the empty box on the shelf. It was a thrill, a satisfaction, and in the time before I wasn’t caught, a lesson sent by a higher power.

You see, the clerk at the store was a woman named Betty, and also a family friend, usually working when I arrived. We’d exchange pleasantries, and I would go off to look at what was new, and occasionally buy something, always leaving with more in my bag. Then one day, in a less than Hallmark moment as I was reading greeting cards, attempting to hide an empty mascara package, I looked up, and knew she saw me. My blood went cold. I started to sweat, and as soon as her back was turned, I left the store. I also never went back to steal. Waiting for the other shoe to drop, I expected my mother to say something, or at the very least comment, that there were charges on her account she didn’t understand. But it never happened…only silence.

Now if you are like me, silence is the great equalizer of life. It forces you to listen to your heart and soul, and allow your brain rip you a new one. Some people call it a conscience, but I know it as the oh shit moment, facing music only you can hear, while praying there won’t be a sold out performance with everyone you know. In my case, that silence continued for years, until one day, after I was engaged to be married, and then there were all kinds of police sirens. They weren’t for me though; they were for a 911 call at the drugstore.

Still loyal and conscientious, while working, Betty suffered a fatal stroke. I’ve always found it an odd comfort when people die doing what they love best, as if reaching the end of their yellow brick road, entitled to happiness. I still remember sitting in our kitchen, listening as the story unfolded, experiencing a mixed bag of feelings, as unrelated as stolen cosmetics in a purse, because after all that time Betty died with my secret. I had never acknowledged it, apologized or thanked her, and knew I could never make it right. It was in that moment, that the lions, tigers, and bears all came together, as my heart broke, my soul hurt and my mind knew the truth. I grew up that day.

As the years went on, the drugstore became a pawn shop, the family retired and we occasionally saw each other at church. I now see vintage ads on Facebook, for  cosmetics I  knew would make me beautiful, and I laugh, because it took something ugly to find the real beauty in life…something that comes from a pure heart and compassionate soul. Like my mother, I doubt Betty ever wore makeup in her life, but yet, I think she knew how important it was to a bespectacled young girl with pimples and a flat chest. She also let me tap my heels, free to go home, assured I knew the right road to take, and never to look back. You see, not all courage roars, and not all good witches sparkle, but the best ones watch over us for a lifetime.


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Yes, you have one

friendsBefore you read any further, this has nothing to do with Oprah, or a plethora of free items, insuring that those selected will get a big ticket item she can’t live without, and they can never afford. It is however, about something much deeper, and unless you kicked the bucket in 1970, you will remember a boy named Charlie, and a single golden ticket, changing his future forever. His grandfather later confirmed the moment, by saying, “Charlie you won!”

Despite poverty and minimal prospects for a successful life, Charlie   had already won, long before he found the chocolate, because as we discover…he had one. That one was a mother who loved him unconditionally, and a family, which although struggling to survive, still saw the good, because they had one another. After all, that’s the true ticket we are given as we pass Go, and start the game of Life…before greed, deception, ego, and friends monopolize who we were supposed to be, causing us to lose sight of our future.

Unlike golf, life doesn’t toss  a mulligan when we need a do over.  Instead, it demands we stay the course, try not to be a pawn, and roll the dice at least once on the journey, taking a chance with the cards we’ve been dealt. The problem with unwritten instructions, however, is that we rarely follow them, and often bring along friends, not offering the best advice, or with a decent track record. These guests on our path, can also emotionally bankrupt our soul…long before we realize it has happened.

Recently, a certain celebrity was featured in the news, mourning for her dead mother, a woman she walked away from years ago. Glittering in the public eye, this friendly actress has always been one to follow on gossip pages, watch on television and in movies, and for some, live vicariously through…or at least share the same haircut. How complete her life must be, since she had no use for the one mother, and one life she was given…until it was too late. I would call her actions an Imitation of Life, however, that title and movie have already been done twice…and very well, I might add, with the painful result perfectly dramatized. Because you see, no one ever wins at a funeral, and two are lost forever.

If life is indeed a game of winning and losing, why do so many make the mistake of cutting the quarterback and/or the coach, right as their game gets interesting? Sure, if it was Vegas, the card dealer handing out too many wins should be replaced, but only so the house would win, and not any onlookers, hoping to take what was never theirs in the first place. You see…if we’re lucky or blessed,  we already have a winning house, where unconditional love waits behind every unopened door, and there aren’t any moments of chance. Why then deliberately pass on your past?

The only rational explanation for walking away from your one, the won that doesn’t come with a trophy or certificate, can only be explained as a combination of pride and ego, coupled with fear and emptiness, which sadly, are the four corners in a home, that compassion always sweeps clean, insuring room for acceptance and love.

Nevertheless, a part of me is happy for those who can successfully rewrite their personal story, delete characters that know too much, remember too often, or refuse to accept an inevitable wrong decision ( Hell, we all have uncomfortable history!) That being said, such people still only live a faux fantasy, much like the children that went with Charlie into the chocolate factory, with a fake existence forcing them to perform daily. And should their agendas ever see the light of day, they’ll have no one but themselves to blame, having missed out on not just their true journey, but who they should have been, with loved ones supporting them…even at their lowest point.

Yes, this actress is worth millions of dollars, has vacationed and celebrated herself for years, and has once in a lifetime memories, even walking down the aisle with her own brand of Prince Charming. However, you can’t tell me, that there isn’t a place in her heart hurting, a place where one woman, one family and one memory got removed. After all, you only get one moment at a time…and they never repeat, no matter how good they can be, or how much money you have to spend.

Just as the paper a certain Golden Ticket was printed on, once a page in life is read, all but life is dead…or so says Perry Como. Likewise,  sand through the hourglass, is either just days of our lives, or the time left to hand over our ruby slippers, before facing the end, in a nightmare of epic proportions…complete with flying monkeys and melting witches!  So make sure you do it right, with the people who know you best, and love you the most.

In rock music, one may be a lonely number, but in life, having that one hand, one heart and one love behind you, usually from your first breath, is the sole reason you have for trying, succeeding and discovering who you are. Because when everything is over, regardless of motives, fears, embarrassment and pain, if you’ve walked away from your one, in time, you’ll be the one lost…no matter how much you think you’ve won.

 


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We just don’t a Dress the right things anymore

dress lgogTime and time again, I find myself going back to the past, where peace of mind waits, next to a daily newspaper, a ringing rotary phone no one is answering, and my father sitting in his chair, wearing a shirt and pants, with black socks and shoes. It is also a Saturday. You may wonder why such a memory continually drags me back, but I know, and it is because all of it is gone…never to be again, and I realize the impact.

Growing up, before we left the house, we used to dress. By that, I mean we cared how we looked. If you were flying off in a plane, going to the office, heading to school, or just shopping for an afternoon, overall appearance was important! Check out catalogs and ads before 1990 and you get my drift. Once upon a time, we cared how we presented ourselves to other people, and how we were viewed was important, and it didn’t stop there.

Coming home to be with your family in the evening, odds were you might have removed your shoes for slippers, but in general, you stayed in the outfit of the day, shared time and a meal together, and often watched television or played cards, sometimes with neighbors. I guess you could say, that life appeared to matter at lot more (unless you are a gay man…and well, I’m getting to that…sort of).

Never did you go for a job interview, an appointment…even the dentist, or to school, looking as if you could clean out a garage, or had just rolled out of bed. Likewise, going to bed, there were pajamas for the men, long pants in the winter and short in the summer, and oh, the nightgowns and peignoir sets women could choose from. However, no matter how beautiful they were, with lace and sheer fabric, if she was needed to leave her room, a practical robe was always waiting. You see, some things no matter how beautiful, still remained personal and private (what a concept!)

We also addressed the issues of life, corrected mistakes, took responsibility for our wrongs, and did everything possible to make the world a better place to live. Our attitudes, although occasionally misguided, which happens in a melting pot of society, still had family at the core, with love and compassion wrapped tightly around, all dressed respectively in a protective shell. However, as time passed, just like any other jaw breaker, the nuclear family saw everything sucked away, until all that remained, were shreds of family, and a lot of opinion and attitude. Personally, I don’t think anyone saw what was coming…at least they didn’t dress for it.

Forgetting a time when television and movies had a moral code, musicians couldn’t swivel their hips, and cleavage was found in a different rock formation, we started to let our hair down. After freedom was given to love, the press and our will, sweat pants and jeans gave free reign to loose flesh and tight opinions. We no longer cared what we looked like, as long as it was comfortable, and cared even less what people thought of us. However, we did care to address the faults of others, more vocal than ever before.

When the appearance of society shifted to grunge, our personal outlook also lost shape. Greed and opinions made laws, fought wars, and broke promises, while political and legal leaders also stopped being role models, becoming nothing more than fodder for reality television, something Cronkite once honored as the news. As long as we’re all comfortable, like cheap micro fleece Sponge Bob pants, and gray sweatshirts who cares about tomorrow.

Along with the advance of technology, we also work from home, another reason not to dress for impress or swim with the sharks. We can have a pile of nachos and a soda on the desk, as we tap on a keyboard for $15 and hour, while alternating between eBay and Facebook, offering troll behavior and opinions anonymously as we feel like a somebody. Even a trip to the bank is gone, since direct deposit is a given, just like the calories those nachos will eventually deliver to our ass. However, what does any of it matter…we’re comfortable!

In order to address all that is wrong with the world anymore, we have to first look at ourselves, in a true reflection of what not caring has allowed to happen. Because if we don’t start, and accept some inconvenience, and uncomfortable moments needed to make the effort, the foundation for society will continue to crumble, just like the cake, which we probably stood over the sink eating for breakfast. We can’t expect change if we don’t start with ourselves, and in a world of a few billion people, that’s a lot of ourselves needing to listen.

I also find it pathetic, in a country teetering on political chaos, that we prioritize half-naked women on a daily basis. We’ve made them famous for over sized lips and butts, and of all things, are envious over the way they dress, in thousand dollar outfits with purses, costing as much as a car. There is no logic or wisdom to such behavior, especially when we refuse to tolerate a normal person, taking great pains to look nice, who just wants to be accepted for the gender they associate with, and use a damn bathroom!

Maybe it really is that simple. We give a shit for what we can address personally, feel comfortable in and know will never directly affect us. However, what we should be giving a shit about, is the country, the complete breakdown of society, humanity, and personal rights, all of which we’ve flushed down the toilet, after pulling up baggy sweats, on the way to a television set or laptop computer.

Dress for success isn’t an ancient slogan, and addressing the facts isn’t a onetime threat. They are both a way of life, which if we don’t wake up and remember, will have us struggling to survive in a country that has become too comfortable at doing nothing, forgetting how to break out a sweat and suit up when the time comes.


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Pass the Scotch…tape

sex tapesSome things in life are inevitable, like chicken nuggets, being heralded as parts is parts, the need for personal space, and cellophane tape, sticking anything into place. However, should you shake them up in a bag, what comes tumbling out is our society (or lack thereof) and the way people make money in our new unordered world.

As a young girl, I loved hearing real family voices, on Dad’s reel-to-reel tape recorder, and later felt my independence, with a cassette player, screaming out odd remixes of Frank Sinatra, Led Zeppelin and the Carpenters, with Humperdinck thrown in for romance. It was also fun, recording a favorite television show on my 30 minute a side, K-Mart cassettes, that came three to a bag. Mentally watching an episode of MASH or Hogan’s Heroes, I thought I was all that and a bag of chips. To this day, the wishing episode, where Hawkeye needs a new pair of boots, is mentally and forever in my head, along with the icy, cold puddle of water he steps into, which I saw a hundred times from my mind. Having such ability was freedom!

However, as that freedom evolved, so did the magnetic mystery of tape, and soon we had VHS,  actually capturing and televising our family moments, as well as private ones, best left at the Super 8 Motel, and camera of the past. Suddenly, it was possible to have your world immortalized as a movie, captured to share, or be remembered, whenever you wanted. For the most part, it was wonderful, reliving priceless times, many that would never be repeated. However, about that price part…

In recent years, bedroom rodeos of the bare back, and butt variety have become giggle and blink moments of unscripted release. Such grainy, personal and sex-filled tapes, made in the heat of passion, the moment, and behind closed doors, have no business in the public domain, unlike The Pink Panther, who got his point across with similar innuendo, but acceptable animation. Be that as it may, sex does sell, and becoming rich, and/or famous these days, is often due to the accidental or retaliatory release of such a video.

When did it become a viable revenue stream to flash your parts on tape, letting them perform to the masses?  Only to later cry foul…or chicken, and go to court for a tidy pay off in the millions, or see a foundation for  lifetime notoriety built. Whatever happened to working an honest day of work with pride? The number of times sex tapes are mentioned in the media anymore is uncountable, even if they appear to have pride attached…false or not. But who really cares, since the payoff is usually more than real.

Life taught me a simple and good rule of thumb. If it’s private, keep it covered, and if you have to, tape it down to avoid an accidental embarrassment. Also, try to keep your life whole, because once parts start flying free, there will always a missing piece, and once a piece is lost, there’s a hole that never gets filled right again.

In addition, if you need to record a sexual moment, do it in your heart, because that’s where it belongs anyway…along with the person sharing it with you. Life may be a movie in many ways, but there is never a need to publicly audition, because your soul is the only thing you’ll ever truly own, and once it is sold, the world will own you, and no amount of money, or crime scene tape can ever put it back in place.


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Recipe for disaster: ½ cup ego, and ¼ each of boredom and ability

selfiesAlthough we now say, Different Strokes for Different folks, it was a Sly remix of Different Strokes by Different Folks, that brought it into the family. Regardless of the origin, coupled with the freedom of the Internet, it now takes on a whole new meaning, from simple Idiom to deviant idiot…mainly because we have too much time, are paid for doing nothing and have more ability at our fingertips.

Once upon a time, cable television and HBO brought previously unheard profanity and sex into our homes, if you had a scrambler; otherwise, you got static and strange shadows, which frankly might have been a good thing. Suddenly, visions of personal privacy were no long secret, and swearing like a sailor became the norm, in everything from cartoons to the daily news…then we really hooked up! Because clicking a power button, is more than a simple turn on. Live and in the flesh tone, the world presents itselfie, via standard pose, moving gif or video…welcome to the world wide weird!

Photographs once commemorating, or memorializing a moment in time, used to be taken when someone either didn’t want to be in the picture, or was more than happy to oblige, posing and giving their best or worst shot possible. Looking back on such relics of film art, there are tears and moments of laughter, since we know that is how we’ll most likely remember those certain someone’s. So, taking that for what it’s worth, how will our grand children explain Aunt Valerie’s Vulva?

Since human dignity and personal values long since jumped ship, leaving the brain to function on its own, we’ve allowed our growing knowledge of technology, along with boredom, due to lack of employment, education, imagination or desire, to fall victim to personal vanity and ego, with vile results. Children as young as six are sending off pictures in their underwear to friends, or worse…and anyone with a free right hand (awkward pause), can click off a sensual, sexual, scintillating and/or scandalous photo, unsuitable for an instant upload, and eternal mark on the highway of cyber communication. All because they need a like, or comment from the darkness of their room and soul. As a certain Church Lady would have said, “Isn’t that Special!”

When did waking up in the morning, wanting to have a great day, do a good job and love one another become a footnote? Telecommuting and lack of real employment and education in general, has given birth to a society of misguided individuals, that see breaking the Internet, with their private parts in a public post, better than a gold watch, and unpaid ticket to popularity. It is also highly doubtful, that they will ever see the stupidity of their actions, because after all everyone is doing it!

When X rated films hit the screen, the equivalent of what is now seen on cable or Youtube, I was a newly married twenty year-old, and went to see one with my husband and another couple, out of curiosity. The theater was old, because just like in Vaudeville, when an act plays Burlesque it’s finished. No one was looking at each other either, as we picked up popcorn, and purchased overpriced tickets of $8 (a regular film back then was $1.75.) Before the film even started, I learned embarrassment also had a price, and the fact that I actually ate the popcorn, freaks me out still today.

Nevertheless, we peeked into the filmed bedroom, and watched as others did it, with reckless abandonment, in every orifice, and with devices never intended for personal use. There was also strange background music, which later triggered a gag reflex, every time I was in an elevator with musac (Google it.) I can say now, as I did that night, it was not entertainment. I also remember how none of us talked on the ride home, except when the guys laughed hysterically at some of the aerobatic poses, and areola exposures. Maybe it was because I took my values along with my curiosity, and they were mortified. Be that as it may, it took years to forget that evening, and the salad dressing used in Barbara Broadcast.

My ire if you will, is that again this week came a deluge of naked celebrities, with black lines across a top and bottom section, equaling nothing more than exhibitionism, for the sake of an ego, a troubled level of self esteem and pure boredom. Yes, I know porn is porn, and will always be around for those who need to make it, view it and desire it. However, a daily and amateur offering, into streams of communication everyone is submerged into is wrong.

These instant, mini electronic posters for adulthood, which young minds view, and copy, send a very wrong message. I don’t know about you, but Uncle Sam saying, I Want You, had nothing to do with a pair of naked breasts, or an erect penis at attention. War efforts may have a political bend, and not something everyone agrees upon, but right now the war is at home, and like it or not, we can’t afford to butt out or turn the other cheek.

The naked truth, which needs to be face-timed, is that we are creating a generation of children that believe it is acceptable to show and tell, as well as reach out and touch, what should be private and personal. Eventually, without the proper foundation and direction, they will also end up paying the price for their lights, camera and unsupervised, but emulated actions, and we will have no one to blame but our selfies.


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Touch me in the Morning…just don’t do it to my life!

picture thisI have had the honor of raising three daughters through school, and now watch as grandchildren climb the same step stool and ladder towards knowledge and success. The highlight for their efforts is seeing a class photo each year. Albeit way over priced monetarily, they are priceless in the hearts of those who posed, and those who receive.

We’ve all been there. It is the morning of school pictures, and you either have crappy hair, a zit, totally forgot and have nothing to wear, or you’ve been up for hours as if it was a Vogue cover shoot along the canals of Venice. Regardless what your take is, or was, on that memorable day, what developed after the film was processed would follow or haunt you forever, and become an icon to your youth on Ancestry.com. That being said, it also is a moneymaker of epic proportions, and in most states a well-held account by a company called Lifetouch.

Don’t get me wrong, I appreciate a small business that has grown over the years, and hired only a few reported and/or investigated criminals, such as those noted by the FBI in Rochester, NY. However, when anyone in business has such an untouchable hold on something, things always fall through the cracks. In case you don’t believe me, see what happens when you try to hold sand too tight in your fist….get the picture? These may be the days of our lives, but they are dictated by a precious few, and if you take a look at the recurring complaints they rack up, their pictures speak more than a thousand ill words.

In our family, one  particular noteworthy shot is my older sister with her bangs held back in pin curls (consult Google or Betty Boop). In her haste to get her daughters to school, Mom overlooked the embarrassing and the obvious. There are also a couple I personally shudder at in junior high, with white yarn bows I knew looked great, stuck in at the last minute, and another, with the indentation from a leather cord, since I wanted to be a flower child, and needed to hide my accented attire outside the home. However, regardless of the toothless, hair flying crazy, those photos were who we were, and how we lived, and forever have a place in life….touched as they may have been.

So that being said, why does a single company hold the inspiration, imagination and decision for such moments? Over the years there have been many times when a photo was taken poorly, due only to the judgment of the photographer, and we were left without what we paid for, and usually no recourse, or occasionally the option for a retake. Regardless of the fix, the moment in time was gone, and when the pictures were eventually brought out, inevitably someone would say, that was the retake…OMG you should have seen the first one. Negative as they may be, dark comments forever remain in a family room.

This brings me to a granddaughter, anxious for her first school photo. Frozen was still all the rage (will it ever end?) and so, her short hair was put into a side braid, and in her heart she was Elsa the Winter Queen. However, did the Lifetouch photographer let it go? Oh Hell to the no! Instead, they positioned this sweet child with her hair pushed to the back, so it appeared she had been the victim of Edward Scissorhands on a good day, and not the beloved Princess of snow. They also decided on a background different that we had selected and paid for.

When pictures arrived, this little girl burst into tears, and said, I look like a BOY! Her spirit, memory and excitement were crushed. Lifetouch also refused to refund the ridiculous price that was paid, so we took a new photo ourselves, and placed it in her school memory book. You would think that was enough…but it wasn’t.

Today, this little girl was an official elementary delight, anxious to be with her friends and take their photos, which would also be in a yearbook (yes, don’t ask….again, Lifetouch$$$.) Bouncing down the stairs in all her creative and imaginary delight, trust me when I say she is a true original, she presented herself in a full piece panda suit, hood and ears outlining a face with missing teeth and bright eyes. Certain that was how she wanted to look; she left for school and pictures. Arriving home however, that delight was long gone.

It appears the photographer not only removed her from the panda suit, but according to very fine print on the offer all children were put in a cap and gown, which we had not asked for…it, is KINDERGARTEN NOT HIGH SCHOOL! There was also no reason to assume this would be done after they collected our money. Therefore, all the bows and headbands, special hair styles or memorable outfits were removed, hidden and lost forever, along with the memory of “Mom…that was my first school picture!”

There are only a few days in life that can never be recaptured, and that is why photography, from the days of tin type, to Kodacolor, and now digital remains a lifeblood for families. Who doesn’t want to remember catching her bouquet, or seeing a bouquet of blessings in a nursery, the first lost tooth or a football bruise worn in pride? Life touches us all, good and bad, and when it is saved for future generations, it is a gift, triggering memories and emotions, that die away with the person, leaving only a photo behind.

There is time enough, with individuality frowned upon, school uniforms issued and peer pressure demanding identical looks. However, when the cookies are still fresh from the oven, don’t we own them a chance to be sprinkled and sugared with the innocence and happiness that fades too fast? Companies that overstep their bounds in the arena of education, or a photographer, coach or teacher, need to be slapped with the nearest ruler, and read their rights, because they do not have the right to ruin a child’s laughter or dream! Just because they aren’t sexual, some touches are every bit as bad, and we trust these people to see our children to the end of their rainbows, where unicorns and pandas wait patiently for their day in the sun, where they will leave a lasting impression on our future adults.

 


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Strike the pose and let the door close

vogue it

There was a saying once, that you were old when you worried about the denigration of the youth. Now, however, it is the denigration of society and the entire human race, and worrying about it has long since grown old. Vogue Magazine, the timeless tome of advertising, style and impulse dreaming, was in the news today, with an exhibit, which confirms that flash for cash is no longer model behavior, leaving behind negative images, cluttering the stage of society. That being said, it also confirms there isn’t any social left in humanity, so along with your exhibition, please pen a new moniker for this world…the darkness where we co-exist.

Newspapers and magazines were the first tangible window of the world, bringing fashion, news, humor, spirituality, cartoons and advertising. Teething on these pages of once mighty trees, was a rite of passage, which gave us the option to share life with one another, offer an opinion or quote a fact. I am proud to have known it, because it is where my mind learned, and yearned for more. However, as that desire grew, so did curiosity, and soon Pandora’s Box was laid open, against waves of invisible communication, offering more than ever dreamed possible.

That being said, knowledge is not rude voyeurism, which is what now corrupts our minds, hearts and souls. Why is it news to know the intimate deals of strangers or celebrities? Watch boils and cysts pop open, spewing yellow and green pus against blood stained gauze, or hear heart wrenching details, as someone dies or an animal is killed? Likewise, underwear is just that…something worn under…and in private,  not something for public commentary! Nothing is sacred anymore, personal or sentimental…because if it will get a response on social media, it is posted, and all the more, if it could be liked or become viral…as well as vile. We don’t dream or live vicariously anymore, we live for quick attention, even if it is bad, or disgusting.

The society we have created, has fallen back to a Roman thumbs up or down with more lying than lions, as people tear down lives with hateful comments or jealous retorts. Everything is now offered for public critique, and there is no end in sight.  Bullies, advertising companies, media productions and our very children will continue this game of life to the end, as it gets darker and darker. People are hurt, some die and some  simply give up, all because of empty words and personal bravado, stepping in where it never belonged.

Lord of the Flies is no longer a book against a wall, but a reality, as we turn on one another just because we can, and know we will come out victorious with Instagram, Facebook, Snapchat and Twitter crowds of invisible applause and approval. I remember fears that Strawberry Fields would forever brainwash the youth, offering ideas of free love, pot and LSD, music and nonconforming lifestyles, sure to undermine the establishment. However, as someone from that same slice of American Pie, I saw more love for one another, compassion, and roots of family values than I ever saw hate, blood and destruction.

All lives mattered when I grew up, and we didn’t need to make it a statement, we just respected it and one another. Yes, there were times of political and racial unrest, but the foundation my home was on, was committed to caring, and with my open door, open heart and open mind, I didn’t need an open Wi-Fi- signal to share. Life, like everything else, only works when it is taken care of, allowed to find its own level, tended and nourished with honesty and love.

Maybe someday compassion, understanding and brotherhood will again be in vogue, and having pride and class won’t be something held up for comment, but will again define character in more than an exhibition. Then again, we’ve moved so far in the wrong direction, does anyone even care? What I do know, is that Somewhere over the Rainbow there are more than a few Grateful Dead, happy they are not living in the shadowed reality we’ve accepted, and taken for granted.

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http://www.mzlks.net
My newest on the shelf at Amazon

 

 

 

 


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Milton was a Monster ~ and Paradise is Getting Lost

milton blog

Years ago, cartoons could be dark and funny, and Milton the Monster was just that, in the era of The Addams Family and The Munsters. Looking at life through a slightly cobwebbed glass is probably what made me the person I am, and the writer I became. There is something reassuring about living in suburbia knowing it is okay to wonder about a twin size coffin with matching sheets.

Unfortunately, such humorous darkness is far from the real darkness, which shadows my writing career. I also know, that I am not alone in this world of publishing and social media and the perils are ones Pauline would’ve avoided. Yes, the days of mailed in submissions with stands of hair between a page, to tell if they had been read, when the rejection notice arrived are gone. However, writing along with ability, was and still is a business of who you are, or who you know, along with a dash of luck, and a moment of opportunity. Frankly, anyone who chooses this torture is either a true writer or a masochist, who enjoys pain with number two lead.

Vanity Press as it once was is now E-Publishing, and everyone and his or her grandmother can be an author in a few days with less than $25. That being the case, those of us of that live, breath and cry over plots and characters, nurturing a manuscript to life are often lost in the shuffle between these What I did on My Summer Vacation memoirs. It is indeed a twisted desire; to bring a character to life, filling them with your dreams, fears and ego, only to send them into the world to be ignored. Again, we have returned to the picking of sides for basketball in 1968, and we all know how that felt.

Twitter, Instagram, Facebook, Snapchat, and all of their twice removed, third cousins play a role in this popularity contest, and despite reviews one prays to see, sometimes the book never is, all because you aren’t playing full court with the right press or team. Becoming a bestselling author anymore can be as easy as having a lukewarm plot and have a Kardashian hold up the book, or have it shown in a shopping bag. Suddenly 51.9 million people want to read it. So much for the satisfaction of knowing the story is good – you just need placement…like an apple in the Garden of Eden.

I remember someone telling me the weight of popularity made her crazy. She went so far as to go to school wearing only one long earring. The following day, all her friends arrived with only one earring. She laughed, they beamed and I want to puke. This behavior is the lemming flavored stupidity we live. If it is on social media or television it is a winner and everyone needs to celebrate it. Lost behind are the true gems, never uncovered because they wanted to shine on their own, and not through an endorsement.

Wouldn’t it be wonderful if for one day, everyone with a social media base looked at reality and those around them and made a difference? What is the value of all the likes and followers, other than an ego boost if they just sit? Look at those who are contributing to the world, writing great things, designing and bringing to life new possibilities, and offer them a hand with maybe a comment, simple nod or emoji smile :). In turn, as I was raised, they will do the same for the next person, and before you know it, there will be a better diversity of things to choose from! Books otherwise shelved can deliver a message, instructors can offer a new way to feel and express emotion, cooks might have a breakthrough that isn’t featured at Starbucks, and children will know they really can accomplish anything.

I stopped wearing earrings years ago when I left work, staying home to care for my family members. Once in a while, I put them on and sparkle, remembering and changing my appearance. However, I do always wear two, because just like everything else in life, they go better together, and I can always share…if someone else needs to sparkle.

 

pr cover

 

Misfits & freaks of society relegated to the streets find family in Stiletto
learning it isn’t blood or the box we came out of making a family.

Amazon – Lori Kay


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The Shot

theshot

Indeed…heard, felt or seen across the world.

No other two words have such immediate impact, visual recognition or feeling. Regardless if it is photography, sports, physical contact, celebrating, healing, hunting, comfort or commentary, at one time or another, we’ve all experienced The Shot.

In school prior to the 1990’s, actually comfortable in the 50’s and 60’s, nurses in crisp white uniforms took up residence in the gym, and vaccinated the next generation of leaders against many a feared disease. As we lined up waiting our turn for the painful privilege, the three words going in and coming out were the same: “Did it hurt?” Because as we faced the shot, we already knew we would feel. To this day, the response or memory is the same, since we are creatures of comfort and not agony, wanting to be prepared…wanting to feel.

Imagery does the same for us, when we feel the exhilaration of the athlete or hunter who takes the shot, only to then celebrate or crash in defeat. Likewise, the photographer…amateur or not, who captures a moment, wherein we all share the shot as it attaches to our heart, soul, conscience or being. However, sometimes life takes a different direction, and needing to rise above or escape, alcohol or drugs will provide the shot, numbing senses into a place of soft darkness. All that aside, when we turn on the news anymore  it is always a killing or upraising, which also started with the shot – be it bullet or verbal assault. Regardless of the action,  the end result is again the same…physically, emotionally or spiritually we feel.

I find this ongoing human connection a true paradox, since the majority of humanity hides behind phone, computer, tablet or door, doing most of their living vicariously through the technology sector of life, that place where bugs have viruses, don’t need grass or soil, and byte very differently. Nevertheless, we  need to feel, because it is the essence of life and  fuel for our existence…even when it isn’t our own experience.

When the media started to invade our lives it was through radio, and it was an experience or theater of the mind. Listening to worlds of adventure, news, entertainment or music hit the spot, and although G rated, that spot was a climax of experience outside of the normal routine in life, and for many was never forgotten. There were no aliens in War or the Worlds, the Hindenburg was a lifetime away and Fibber McGee’s closet would make us walk around the image – but in the moment…in the spot where we sat…it was our reality and we felt it.

So was it really a shock when we saw the rise of the Selfie? The picture…the shot…the share. By clicking a button, we offer up our soul to the world, so anyone can experience what we feel…and in an equal click, we are either celebrated or rejected, causing us to feel something all together different. Acceptance, which was once discovered on a playground, in an office, in a church or on a front step, is now done primarily in front of a bathroom mirror, hoping for the perfect spot. The reason is simple, we want to feel how we look, how important we are, and how life is around us. Ego and feelings are mutual.

Many rely on the shot from private worlds, sent out with abandonment, a bottle, the media or drugs to amp up our existence, and give us a few minutes of nerve stimulating, heart pounding, tear jerking feeling. Whipping out a microphone on a newscast, or a cell phone in a moment of crisis has become so normal, that without one we doubt the validity of the moment. Why do we need the shot of cheap journalism asking a person in panic, pain or fear how they feel? Just so we can equally experience it? Do we need that instant photo…the shot at a crime scene, bloodbath, war torn panic or injury to validate we have a heart or conscience? Why have we accepted the mail order reality of a scratch and sniff experience, wanting to see dead children, injured animals, multi-million dollar celebrity weddings, live births or disembodied infants, simply to feel what was behind the shot?

When I was a child I got the shot, and yes, it hurt. Today I turn on the news or computer, and again, there is the shot…the image…the moment someone else had to experience, and I am being offered the chance to view it against my own life and yes, it usually hurts. Even though I prefer to walk away, some can’t…or they need a mind numbing feeling from the shot of a different kind…regardless, we’ll both end up feeling something.

Life needs to take a step back, feeling with feet on grass, hands held together with feelings of security, friendship, acceptance and reality…first hand, and not through the shot someone else wanted to share or made. Not all of them are cheap, but the best ones are always felt before they are made, and in time they also make us feel that we matter.