Bravery In The Wee Hours

Ready. I prepared to hit the spider my cats had cornered in the bathroom, and I held a napkin for the clean-up—me, the tired human living with two felines who chase bugs.

Lions, Tigers, and Bears

Even in the middle of the night, my male cat leaps over objects to obtain prey. Like the predators they are, my two lovely beasts will stop at nothing, not even toppling lamps, to reach a moth or “water bug.” I put the last in quotes since exterminators have informed me those large critters are American Roaches.

Oh My!

It was before my coffee, and I expected to see one of the brown American visitors being the latest prey. Until I saw it wasn’t. I’d been rather blasé regarding the event because of my assumption. Seeing changed my attitude. Every inner alarm came on and I was awake. I started grabbing needed supplies and shouting commands like a drill sergeant, “I need paper towels.” I also snatched a shoe I’d slipped off after work last night.

I was ready.

I flew into the bathroom, still freaking out about seeing the massive spider in front of the two cats, and then I looked closer. Dammit! It was a black plastic Halloween spider. My cats had spoofed me.

Cats! They do the darnedest things.

Cats make me smile

We Are Beautiful People

She is broken.

A misfit. She doesn’t fit anymore. The whispers surround her. You see that lady, the one at the end of the bar, her clothes were once beautiful but now are wrinkled with lingering odors.

When the men knew her name, they poured glasses of champagne, brought her lush red roses, and whispered sweet things in her ear. Now, she drinks alone.

In her dreams at night, she still stands on the stage. She’s engulfed in a cloud of cigarette smoke and wearing her favorite dress. She belts out a song with such enthusiasm that the audience rises to their feet—the best day of her life.

Soup is Better the Next Day

Soup’s hard to mess up. You can, but you can fix it by readjusting your ingredients. My life has been a lot like a soup. I’ve learned that life is complex and never simple as I pass the 56-year mark. The postman brings solicitations from AARP and Medicare. I yell I’m not old. My mind believes I’m capable of racing with the children. My legs know different. When a young man on YouTube ridicules me and calls me Old Lady, I smirk, knowing there’s a point when we all get there, even his sorry self.

Why Soup Tastes Better the Next Day (most of the time)

Letting a finished pot of soup hang out overnight means that harsh flavors soften, the ingredients have a chance to absorb the tasty broth, and everything transforms from very distinct flavors into one harmonious soup.

Christine Gallary

At ten, when I had knobby knees, it was impossible to think of marriage and sleeping in the same bed with a man. Oh, I was curious enough, but I thought the world would end before I grew up. My sister-in-law reassured me that there would be time. I kept seeing what the preachers taught, the fear speeches. I saw the cracks in the ground. Earthquakes. Wars and rumors of wars. Signs in the heavens. Yes, the world was ending, and I wouldn’t get a chance to be married or have children. I’d never had a first kiss.

“Well, I suppose nothing is meant to last forever. We have to make room for other people. It’s a wheel. You get on, you have to go to the end. And then somebody has the same opportunity to go to the end and so on.” – Vivian Maier, nanny and photographer

Life isn’t the pretty pictures you see in the magazine. Our moments, each one of them, are important. Live them. It’s not a delicate family portrait. Life is pleasure and pain. I’ve had kisses that made me weak in the knees. I have found a friend and a lover. Joy. Other moments in my life have crushed me with grief.

I was 15 when I kissed a boy for the first time. It was at a park with my youth group—a very long time ago. It was a kiss. No sparks. In those days, I’d pictured perfection, my future unfolding full of joy and happiness. I was good, kind, so I expected rewards.

I once expected a solitary perfect moment, a portrait, but life is a collage of photos. Life is the soup.

Bowls and Memories

The world was big and ready to be explored when I was four. It was also a scary place where I could fall. But the fear didn’t stop me.

There was a hole in the kitchen floor. In my two-year-old mind, it was huge. My family lived in a travel trailer. There were a hundred acres of land with pecan trees and livestock, horses, chickens, all with a nearby river and wooded area, wild enough for any child’s fantasy. The hole—I avoided it, walked around it, afraid of falling.

When I was three or four, I remember picking pecans. My first experience with money and the thrill of commerce. Power.

I remember sitting carefully on the toilet. Mom bought an adapter seat so that I wouldn’t be afraid.

Falling in holes, dropping in toilets, we can’t forget that I dove out the door. I was young. Early that morning, dad had been plowing the cornfield, and he had a bowl that he wanted me to come and get. I was happy to run to help — a good little worker. I stood on the edge of the open door, and I knew I should sit down and scoot. The steps were tall. Four-year-old little legs can’t leap the way her big brothers do, but I never realized this. So I jumped.

I jumped and missed the steps. What happened afterward is a blur. I screamed. I’d fallen awkwardly on my arm, pinning it under my body against the concrete steps. People say there’s no pain when you break a bone. Or it hurts worse if you’re an adult. I don’t know what type of weed they’re smoking because pain hurts everyone.

For fifty years, I’ve tried to convince Mom that I jumped, that Dad did not force me to run outside for the bowl, but she’s stayed stuck in the blaming. Dad will always be The Evil One. And I’m not sure where that puts me.

I had difficulties at a young age. As a kid, my life was out of my hands. Written in these paragraphs are memories, vivid. They are the squares of fabric I’ve sewn into my life. Why did I save these and shelve the others? Memories are packets, and you change them each time you examine them. And every person who sees an event will see it differently.

How do you see yourself?

People Watching

Do you enjoy guessing what people are doing, where they live, or what their bad habits are? Do you people watch? I do it to pass the time.

Who are these people? Are they going to work or playing a game of dress up?

Fearless people are interesting to watch. 

Ron Perlman

From the voice of Chibundu Onuzo–I’ve missed traditional people-watching during the lockdown. Of course, we all watched people from our windows. The delivery drivers who always seemed to go to the wrong address. The mothers (and it was mostly mothers in my neighbourhood) on their school runs, herding children to the school gates. And of course, the righteous runners, cyclists and power walkers, refusing to let a global pandemic stand in the way of their fitness goals.

The Guardian, Lockdown Stole the Fun of People Watching

How to Begin People Watching by wikiHow.

  1. Find an area with the demographic that you want to watch.
  2. Go to an area that is well-populated.
  3. Sit in a spot where you’re out of the way.
  4. Set goals for your people watching if you want to learn something. (people watching is good for character studies in writing and acting)
  5. Bring a friend with you to have more fun.
  6. Wear an outfit that won’t make you stand out.
  7. Bring a notebook to write down interesting moments or people.
  8. Act like you are doing something on a phone or laptop.
  9. Think about each person that passes and who they might be.
  10. Avoid passing judgement on anyone.
  11. Observe people’s body language to pick up on their emotions.
  12. Listen to people’s voices as they talk to learn more about them.  – steps by wikiHow, italics are mine

Most of the information is simple, but there are a few reminders which I find useful such as, don’t make yourself obvious. I also like going to heavier populated areas if I can. The more people, the less likely you will be noticed, think sports events and farmer’s markets.

Remember why you are watching people. For me, this is not stalking or ridiculing people. I enjoy observing real speech patterns and true interactions as they happen. If I hear a good phrase I jot it in my phone app. These are valuable when writing fiction dialogue.

Being an actress, I find myself people-watching and I can be quite shy. 

Emma Watson

Is there anything you would add or change? Do you people watch? Or is it repulsive to you? I want to know. Leave a comment.

Get Smarts With Stories

I love stories. A good story isn’t only for kids. A hearty tale is filling, leaving me satisfied. I am entertained and I learn, but learning wasn’t the point. Stories are my sunshine, my light. Here are some I enjoy.

THE NORTH WIND AND THE SUN – ÆSOP

A dispute arose between the North Wind and the Sun, each claiming that he was stronger than the other. At last they agreed to try their powers upon a traveller, to see which could soonest strip him of his cloak.

The North Wind had the first try; and, gathering up all his force for the attack, he came whirling furiously down upon the man, and caught up his cloak as though he would wrest it from him by one single effort: but the harder he blew, the more closely the man wrapped it round himself. Then came the turn of the Sun.

At first he beamed gently upon the traveller, who soon unclasped his cloak and walked on with it hanging loosely about his shoulders: then he shone forth in his full strength, and the man, before he had gone many steps, was glad to throw his cloak right off and complete his journey more lightly clad.
Fortune and Fate
Photo by Los Muertos Crew on Pexels.com

Along similar lines, here is an audio which I listened to recently. I hadn’t heard either. I especially enjoyed Luck vs Wisdom. It’s about 15 minutes or so. There’s a commercial and then the second story. No torture, I promise.

LUCK VS WISDOM (with Host Simon Brooks)

What is more important? Luck or wisdom? Discover the answers with host Simon Brooks and Joel Ben Izzy telling “Luck vs Wisdom” and Jenni Cargill- Strong telling “Reaching for the Moon”.

The universe is not made of atoms; it’s made of stories. — Muriel Rukeyser

The Day For Luck – 13th

A black cat crossed my path many years ago. It was around 2002. I haven’t been the same since Ms.Kitty moved into my home then took over my life. I struggle with writing these words because I miss her cuddles. She was my best friend. Eighteen years is a long life for a cat, a good luck cat.

May all go with you today. All of the bad has happened and is done, and for today, this one day, may there be beauty.

May the luck of the cats be with you.

Sunny Side

I’ve been a blonde since as far back as I can remember. That’s how I think of myself, a blonde. I don’t say I have light hair, or I’m the one who streaks bleach through my short strands then masks on some vanilla toner. Nope. It’s a self-portrait thing. This is me, The Blonde. As a teenager, my method was a cocktail of lemon and peroxide. Then, with a bit of music, hot sunshine, and my stinky stuff on my hair, I had my own spa and salon.

The ridiculousness of color and identity isn’t lost on me. So I’ve been pushing those boundaries, trying to gently explore new possibilities. But there are limits. As a child, I wished to be as dark-eyed and brown-haired as my cousins were. My mom’s youngest brother has almost black eyes, and in my memories from my childhood, his hair was dark and wavy brown.

Across the Border

A girlfriend and I decided to walk across the border from Brownsville, Texas, into Mexico. We were on vacation one summer around 2005 and had driven 18 hours to get away, to be free. This was our wild moment. So we walked our very American-looking selves into the crowd and the cars already filtering toward Mexico. Neither of us had been here before. My friend, “C,” had recently lightened her hair a lot. Ordinarily, she’s a brunette. She was 5 foot and prayer tall, with a good dose of the short person’s complex, or as she called it, Oppositional Defiant Disorder. Personally, I think C just had a rough life.

Cigarettes were cheap on the other side. And it was C’s smoking habit that encouraged us to make this trip into Mexico. I was excited to do a new thing. We stepped onto brick streets and entered a narrowing old-world city. The roads were willy-nilly, and we came with no map. C became agitated, which surprised me. For all of the time I had known her, I had thought of her as bold and brash. Finally, I said we should walk on, just remember the way we came in.

Hey Blondie

While we walked through markets that were selling blankets, bags, dolls, and rugs, the male stall owners hollered in English, “Hey Blondie, Over here. You come. Buy.” over and over again. “Hey, Blondies.” Now, my friend was ready to go. And I understood. I’m sure she had been catcalled and whistled at before, but she was feeling like prey. It made me reconsider how I have been treated. The men didn’t upset me. This concerns me.

As a child, I was blondie, even to strangers. I didn’t choose my identity or my name. The culture I was born into chose my religion, politics, dress style, and education. Somewhere in all of that, I made choices. Our identities guide us. Yet, we are blind to the choices we make because of their influences.

For another version of this story read my earlier post from 2016 Profiling Me.

Scary Things in the Night

At 13 we watched a Bigfoot video.

Outside was dark, country dark, and I was accustomed to living inside of the Collinsville city limits. It wasn’t big city life, but at least we had street lights, and I was having a hard time sleeping. Sasquatch. In the 1970’s it was a phenomenon. It frightened me.

It didn’t help when Dad and his friends joked about their close calls while out hunting-running away from loud sounds, getting their jeans caught on the barbed fences. You’d almost think they got a kick out of scaring me.

The bigfoot video I’ve included below is good. Although I probably wouldn’t have knocked down the timber X. The producer traveled to an area in the Ozarks near the Current River in Missouri in the video. He said he received a message from David, the landowner, explaining the activity that had taken place and asked if he was interested. A few days later, he was on the way to Reynolds County. The video is below.

But is it real?

I’m neither a skeptic nor naïve. I enjoy the questions, the search. A few years ago, I know there was the dude who falsely made videos and had dressed up in a bear suit. It makes a bad name for things not understood. But there are people whose want for money is more important than their desire for pleasure or inquiry. This may always be.

Here, in Oklahoma we have a Bounty On Bigfoot’s Head of 2.1 million dollars. I didn’t stutter. But don’t forget your permit. It’s tourist season.

There are people whose want for money is more important than their desire for pleasure or inquiry. Be curious.