pawspauseprose

Life as it arrives and dreams as they happen


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The Edge

my-edge

Funny how life eventually comes to an edge…and jumping is usually the least of our concern, at least for me, because after all, I had children.

Edges are a unique, but very literal descriptions of what happens when life throws you a curve. To prove it, next time you find yourself at the end of your rope, due to work or a relationship, take a minute and you catch yourself between glass, pill or puff, as you say no worries, I’m just taking off the edge…and, in such a moment, everything will become crystal clear. For me especially, it is also unwanted crusts, cut from the edges of countless peanut butter and jelly sandwiches, and the mother,  patiently telling her child’s story, prior to any judgment…taking off the edge with dad. She also regularly sits on the edge of her chair, waiting, praying, hoping and loving those same offspring, whenever they are out of earshot or view.

I never thought much about it, until one night in my not so distant and single past, after waking in the night, because either the timer on my playlist had clicked off, or I needed a drink of water. Regardless of the reason, it forced me to notice, that after 36 years, I was still sleeping on the same side of the bed, the same ten inches from the edge, on my right side, and nearest to the door. Ironic, since it has been years since anyone has shared that king-size space. Don’t get me wrong, I have tried going to bed on the opposite side, even tried getting comfortable dead center. However, before dozing off, I’ve inevitably moved to the edge, and to my place, where security, duty and memories live.

When my children were little, it was that edge allowing me immediate reaction time, especially after hearing a thud, cry, or groan of unexpected vomit (dog or child). Reaction time occurred in nanoseconds, while my husband and dog snored, oblivious to everything, and ever so comfortable in their 90% stake of the bed. It was also along that same edge, where I listened for car doors; make out giggles and keys opening a lock. In addition, although invisible to the naked eye, I also emotionally waited for them on the edge of another fearful abyss, until I knew they were inside, safe and secure. Occasionally as they grew, a bad dream, bad decision, or just a needed connection also placed them on the floor by my bed, where I would reach down from the edge to hold a hand or stroke their hair, until we fell asleep…along the edge of the bed, where they grew up and I grew old.

In later years the edge sharpened, as I worried with aging parents in hospice, and my children now out on their own, but I still jumped into action when the phone rang, ready for the worst, and praying for the best. This maternal world has remained now that I am alone, still no more than an edge to the floor, which more often than not disappears under my feet, as I prepare for what needs to be done. Living on the edge isn’t just something wild and carefree people do, it is also a mental obligation…one that changes you forever, and you never see coming.

As I write this draft, it is 3 am; I am snug on that worn ten inches of customary space, along the edge, and I couldn’t be happier. Tonight, there is also a grandchild sleeping horizontally next to me, her feet are pressed into the small of my back, and straddled across a large snoring dog, completing a layout that resembles the letter “H.” Yes, for years, I’ve slept this edge, and often warm bodies moaned in dreams, rearranged covers, and occasionally made contact against my skin in an unknowing act of security.  That being said, like tonight, that edge of my reality has always been clear and satisfying.

Tomorrow, I will go bed alone, somewhere south of 2 am, and without thinking I’ll lean over to put my glasses on the nightstand before returning to the edge. In society, some people find their edge of greatness after years of hard work, in a profession, after struggle and sacrifice, and others just teeter on  the edge of success,  never getting there. However, for me, I’ve lived on an edge of much more, because through care and concern, discipline and punishment I have been the unbroken circle, allowing everyone else to color their hopes and dreams inside my lines, reassured that I was only inches from the edge if they needed anything. Maybe my life never achieved a level of financial or public success, but it never fell short of what mattered in life, which is why I sleep very well these days and might just have an edge when my life is done.


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Give thanks or Thanks in giving…

 

giver-and-takeIt goes without saying, that everyone likes to be given something. Surprises however, I will leave on the fringe, since I hate them, as do most people I know…just don’t react well. That being said, gifts are still a nice way to confirm to someone that they matter, and it doesn’t matter if they are tangible or emotional, gifts are a necessity…like water in a weed patch.

There are however, two camps in this world, those that give and those that take, each having a few variations, no different from eye and hair color. Similar to physical attributes, we always will be who we are inside and no amount of wrapping paper or window dressing will ever change it. So ask yourself, which are you? I know that I am a Giver, and having been raised by Givers, it firmly solidified my direction in life…that of certain disappointment, and an intense happiness, having no earthly definition.

In recognizing Givers and Takers, we are quick to see certain deviations to their definitions. For Givers, there is total satisfaction in just providing joy, because they know a person so well, and can offer the unexpected. Then, there is having to do something out of guilt, because it is expected, and lastly, hoping to be loved and wanted as much as the recipient. These subcategories are gray, and often overlap. However, true intent always remains loud, clear, and in the forefront. Givers also tend to have less, and ask for little in return, having no problem being last in line.

Takers are another story, and although broken down much the same, there is a darker theme. They take because they feel it is due them, owing nothing in return, or because they don’t want to hurt someone’s feelings, accepting whatever is offered without emotion. It can also be just a basic exchange of the moment, give to take, a time shamed ritual, where everyone feels good for a while. Takers also seem to have lower self-esteem, failing to understand any happiness or compassion behind the process. More often than not, they’re well connected and/or wealthy, abundantly able to offer to others, but fail, instead, only worrying how they will survive without all they have, and how lucky they are to always get things.

Ironically, we don’t come into this world as a Taker. After all, children are born filled with love and giving, it is  not until they are challenged, a new perspective develops. Any adult or dog, can readily attest, if a child is asked for a bite of their cookie, they give up the whole thing…with a smile. Offering all they have, except maybe Mr. Blanket, because children are anxious for a positive reaction, and love, no different from the expression in giving itself. In addition, as they mature, children also discover what special buttons to push, further bonding them to those they care about.

I know I am not alone, when I comment on many drawings and objects de knick knack I’ve received from tiny hands, because they knew what would make me smile. In return, I gave tears, laughter, acceptance and satisfaction, and completed the circle, anxious to do the same for them. In life, that is also the only quid pro quo that should ever matter, because it is far more than legally binding.

However, somewhere down the line, life changes us, and only true Givers ever survive. The others left standing become Takers, unable to fully respond in kind, needing attention and gifts as reassurance of their own value, while falsely seeing their intended place in a family, friendship, business or organization. When I see these Takers, I think of the Emperor’s new clothes. Nobody would tell the selfish man who wanted it all that he was actually naked…because they feared being out of his good graces, a different fact of human nature, which no Giver understands.

Every day in the media, we are bombarded with political and religious figures, celebrities and athletes, all showing what they have acquired or become, demanding to be noticed for who they are. These Takers are applauded, and given even more, by those hoping to receive attention in return…all of them missing the mark on giving, just taking what they can, and wanting, and wanting and wanting.

Like many, I have saved things over the years, those items that made me feel loved, and even more intangible ones reside in my heart. Nevertheless,  the pick it up and feel it variety still clutter my life, and collect dust…like me, as time and memories pass. It makes me wonder what will be said after I die, when people look at what was saved. Obviously, nobody will understand the green Tupperware glass with a melt mark on the rim, the tarnished Cracker Jack ring, complete with rhinestone diamond in the center, or the aged dog collar with long expired tags. I also doubt that anyone will feel  love from a vintage butter cookie tin, or tears over faded scraps of material and rick rack in a vintage button box.

Regardless of my odd legacy, those items gave back to me, teaching that the greatest gift of all, is knowing someone’s soul, and unselfishly making their heart smile – as often as possible. Maybe that’s why I have more pictures than albums, or space on a flash drive, so I could look back at photographed reactions, which delightfully I was responsible for, knowing they forever meant more than anything someone might purchase, wrap or mail.

Religion aside, whether you believe a story about dirty and odd gifts from a small angel, that later became a nativity star or not, you can’t dispute a child, offering a wilted dandelion, favorite toy, or drawing that is colored in a shade or design they know you love. You see, Giving is the purest form of love, and it never asks for anything back, only tarnished human nature does that. So look at objects in your life, those connecting to the core of who you are as a person. Hopefully, the first thought won’t be why the hell did I save that! But instead, where it came from, and who gave it to you. The second thought with any luck will be…yes, I still have the stuff, but I wish I had the Giver instead…and that my friend is a reaction everyone should take away.


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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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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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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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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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Pink and Blue or Gender To You

loveisblue

Music has always played a role in my life, and once upon my hippie journey, Chicago even colored my world. There wasn’t a time my trusty Panasonic yellow cassette recorder, or uniquely shaped, turquoise AM/FM radio wasn’t by my side. There was also a cool 8-track player in my room, one that had removable speakers, and of course the Wildcat hi-fi, which turned 45’s, allowing Steely Dan to reel in the years and Sinatra to visit New York, from a thick 78, that had once been my father’s. The diversity of my musical tastes was and still is, every bit as overloaded as the buffet restaurants where I love to eat. However, in the 60’s and 70’s, life just seemed to have spun better.

When I entered Junior High, my buffet of acquaintances also changed. Students from all around the city now met at one school, far different from the neighborhood clique of our elementary days. We shared everything from arts to dreams…some shared smokes or worse, and others having discovered puberty, shared their tongues. Life had become a festival of discovery, and around that same year, I discovered love was blue.

Elevator music was also very real in those days, and that meant instrumental, dreamy and corny renditions of any song you could imagine, was offered by anyone from Lawrence Welk to Ray Conniff (Google if you must.) One such song, “L’amour est bleu” (“Love Is Blue“) was composed by André Popp, lyrics by Pierre Cour, in 1967. The glory of this syrup-sweet song, were the alternating verses in French, which made me feel like I was more than a bespeckled fourteen year-old girl, a few miles North of Denver, Colorado. I must have listened to it every day, practicing those delicate words, as if they were pink cotton candy, and I refused to let them melt in my mouth. Then I sat next to a new boy in class, and saw his French book.

Jay, was one of those new appetizers on my learning buffet. He had come from a school several miles away, and was a gentle giant. Standing next to me we could have made another person, between my height and his bulk.  Looking through our respective thick glasses, we also saw life in a special way. Our friendship continued, probably due to the fact that we were nerdy outcasts, happily meeting in our Assistant Period, where we delivered movie and film strip projectors from the Audio Visual department. It was then, that I also learned his dream was to build a Harpsichord, and thinking lovingly of Lurch in the Addams Family, it was a perfect fit for Jay’s eclectic aura and size, along with his incredible talent to draw anything.  All that aside, he was still learning French!

One day I mentioned my love of the song, and my inability to accurately pronounce the words. You see, I had taken the verbal street of Spanish, and although el amor es azul may have sounded exotic, it was romance I wanted…and shit, I still do…but I digress. I remember now, how Jay laughed at my request…I’m sure it sounded like some crazy chick thing, which young men don’t get until it is too late. Nevertheless, the following day when I went into class, Jay asked me go with him to the music room. Never before had a room been more appropriately named…not for the instruments it housed, but for the chalkboard it contained…one displaying the phonically written lyrics to Love is Blue.

If that had happened today, like anyone else, I would whip-out my always present cell phone, and take a photo of Jay’s painstakingly perfect work, to save and print later. However, back then, it was a number two pencil and spiral notebook, and I wrote those words as if they were a letter to God. After I finished, Jay sang the song for me in his own oddly feminine voice, pronouncing each word, making sure I had understood his odd, but literal breakdown of sound and syllable. In that moment, I felt beautiful, and prayed to someday get to Paris.  I also loved my friend and his unexpected gesture, one that had gone straight to my heart.

As years passed, we drifted into different classes and circles, and then to High School, where the process of re-assimilation started all over again. That was about the time I lost track of Jay, and traveled to Spain as an exchange student. It was there, in 1977 as I stood in a loud outdated discotheque, that a burly Spaniard, flirtatiously whispered the words to “Michelle” by the Beatles in my ear. Caught off guard, I realized he only spoke Spanish and had apparently taken great pains to memorize the French lyrics of:

Michelle, ma belle
Sont les mots qui vont tres bien ensemble
Tres bien ensemble

An ocean and several years apart, suddenly I was with Jay, the sweet boy who had cared enough for his friend to grant an odd adolescent wish. The rest of my trip I didn’t feel as alone, because I knew I had an overweight, somewhat unpopular guardian angel watching over me.

It wasn’t until my five year class reunion, that I learned a very sad, albeit sobering fact. My dear friend Jay, who had colored the lyrical linguistics of my life, and shaded beautiful drawings on my notebooks, had died. I suppose it could have just been one of those marks on the path of maturity we have to make, loosing friends along the way and growing from what we shared.  However, Jay’s untimely passing before we turned twenty-five, before an unseen health crisis of life changing proportions was different…Jay had been gay…and Jay had died from AIDS.

Talking to a mutual friend at the reunion, I learned the horror that had befallen the gentle boy I once loved as a kindred spirit, while we survived the caste system of education. The tears I cried that night, were as fresh and real, as if I had been at his wake. The world lost a remarkable soul, and then, no one knew why…worse yet, they didn’t know all he could have been.

Love is Blue was one of the first MP3 files I burned to a CD, and later transferred into a playlist. I still get emotional listening to the pink cotton candy words, all of which I can still pronounce.  But now, their love is a little more blue, as I also remember a dog eared French book, a blackboard and a heart that knew compassion. It may be decades later, but yes, even then Love Wins.

Thank you Jay for being my champion of life, long before I knew I needed one, and for confirming humanity and compassion for another person is the only way to live, words I will keep in my heart until I die.