Category Archives: Bad News

Unhitched

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Unhitched

I’ll slog through the mud and slog through the rain,
but I’ll never slog back to you, ever again.
If ever again I work fingers to bone,
I will be doing it here on my own—
not chasing your dreams or plowing your furrow
like a mule in a trace or a poor laden burro.
Life was a hard slog, dear, trudging with thee—
much more of a grind than just being me.
So I’ll point my gaze forward, not back where I’ve been
without pulling you with me, ever again.

As Groucho would say, “The secret woid today was ‘Slog!’

Lack of Direction

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Lack of Direction

What am I doing here sitting on the street
looking like a vagrant to everyone I greet?
I know this is the day. I put it in my book.
Also on my laptop. I have another look.
9 a.m. on Saturday. I do not have it wrong.
I drove like a madman. The way it was too long.

My older dog just wouldn’t eat, my alarm didn’t work.
I rushed like crazy to be prompt. Didn’t want to be a jerk.
Yet when I got here on the dot, the salon was shut tight.
I sat down on the steps to contemplate my plight.
It’s been awhile since I have had a haircut here.
A month or two, or perhaps more. Perhaps it’s been a year!

I do not have the number to ask her what is wrong.
But wait! It’s on my laptop that I have brought along.
I prop it on my lap and open up the lid.
I rifle through my purse to find where my phone has hid.
I find my phone list and I dial, hear it ring and ring––
but just my luck my hairdresser must not hear the thing.

I leave a message but I fear I’ve made a big mistake.
Her name’s no longer even on the door, for heaven’s sake!
She hasn’t changed her phone for it worked for the appointment,
but when it comes to keeping it, I fear a disappointment.
Then from the corner of my eye, I see a woman waving.
It see her face and raise myself, slowly, from the paving.

She’s moved her shop across the street and down the block a bit.
And when she peeks outside, she sees the place I chose to sit.
She waves me in and now my hair is washed, conditioned, snipped.
I sit with toenails soaking, soon to be detipped.
So even though a big mistake started out my day,
it seems somehow that once again, good fortune found a way!

(And, best news of all, Edith’s Salon has the best wifi connection!  I got this entire blog finished while I was there.  The photo depicts what a perfect office spot this turned out to be!)

https://dailypost.wordpress.com/prompts/mistake/

Jake

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Jake

First thing you think of when you wake
are his fingers scraping like a rake
over your shoulder–sure to make
your toes curl up and fingers quake.

You rise to bake his birthday cake
and choose to pack it up to take
it to him there out on the lake–
your fear of water faced for his sake.

The weight of oars. The sun’s cruel bake
revealing two sure truths as fake.
And oh the pain and oh the ache
of what he’s chosen to forsake.

The boat you row to shore and tether,
foretelling wind and stormy weather.
Love vanished like a plucked-out feather
when you saw your friend and love––together

The one-word WordPress prompt was “Fake.”
https://dailypost.wordpress.com/prompts/fake/

Dare I Tell How I Excel?

                                                judy 3

                                                     Dare I Tell How I Excel?

No matter how much we might admire ourselves, there is something off-putting about revealing the fact. For some reason, by pointing out our own good points, it makes others less likely to admire them.  The one place where this fact of life is not true is in the resume,  where we can revel fully in revealing to the world how absolutely wonderful we are.

Some of us exercise our right to brag by the family wall.  Here we can display our successes as well as the successes of the families we have raised and  dynasties we have sired via photographs that show us at our most beautiful and successful periods of our lives.  Pictures with presidents or other celebrities,  awards and impressive vacations may all rub shoulders on this family wall.  By placing them in a prominent place–in entryways, offices, studies or staircases––we insure that they call attention to themselves without having to actually do so orally.  Thus we retain our humble natures while more subtly revealing to the world what superior human beings we really are.

The Christmas letter is another invention wherein we seem to think it is perfectly acceptable to toot our own horn.  The result is probably a lot of mail that, once quickly scanned if read at all, is quickly relegated to lighting the Yule Log. How much good news goes up in conflagration during the holiday season has never been calculated, but I can imagine that a good many gain a bit of satisfaction by sending these notices of how well their friends’ lives are going up in smoke.

So, when given the opportunity by WordPress to extol my own virtues, I must demur.  Luckily, in this cyber age, we need not call attention to our own virtues, for Google is always there to do it for us.  If we are lucky enough to sport an uncommon name, both the laudatory and shameful facts of our lives are there for all to see for the price of a few moment’s time and a little patience in sorting through the hundreds of thousands of bits of information available when our names are typed into the subject bar.

It is true that most of these bits of information probably do not apply to us at all, but the search for the ones that do can be as satisfying as a scavenger hunt, and the prize is, that in addition to all the good bits, we get to dig out the little bits of scandal or failures as well.  And who doesn’t like a little bad news sprinkled in with the good?  It gives a certain flavor to a life, as well as comfort that perhaps our own life–as boring, humdrum and plain as it may seem in comparison––isn’t quite so bad after all.

The Prompt: Toot Your Horn–Most of us are excellent at being self-deprecating, and are not so good at the opposite. Tell us your favorite thing about yourself.

 

The News is too Much with Us

 The Prompt:  Ripped from the Headlines–Click over to whatever website you visit most frequently to get news. Find the third headline on the page. Make sure that headline is in your post.

The News is too Much with Us

After an hour and a half of perusing the news, I am both confused and depressed and have found absolutely nothing I want to write about. In her blog, my friend Martha looked at the news, found froth and looked for substance. I found depressing substance and went in search of froth, veering off from the German airbus crash to a survey of Mitzi Gaynor’s life. What is wrong with me that I can no longer stand to face the truth of the world even from a distance? I will soon be reduced to watching old romance movies, no doubt, but I can’t help but know from talking to friends and acquaintances that I’m not the only person seeking escape and perhaps nature is taking a hand as well. Perhaps there is a reason why Alzheimer’s has become an epidemic.

May I excuse myself for limiting my world view as much as possible to enable me to still have faith in this world? If I look out my window, I see beauty; and this afternoon, I’ll celebrate the marriage of a friend/employee by taking her family of 8 for dinner at our favorite Argentinian restaurant. Perhaps part of the world as we wish it to be can be preserved by the simple living out of our own lives. For me, this seems only possible if I cut myself off as much as possible from the larger world as they choose to present it in the media.

Yesterday, Mark Aldrich wrote about schadenfreude, that strange but I fear too true tendency of human nature to take pleasure from the pain of others. How else can we explain our fascination with every detail of a major disaster? On one hand, we need to be informed, but if we look realistically at our own responses to the gory details, we will admit there is a certain thrill of horror mixed with relief that this happened to someone else and not to us.

In pandering to that side of ourselves, we fall in line with the the role that slasher movies, competitive and vicious reality television and internet games play in bringing our violent sides out at an ever-increasing and alarming rate. We are desensitized to the point that the reality of rape, pillage, war, tsunami, airline crashes, murder and the victimization of entire societies becomes little more than another thrill. We are so accustomed to horror in our entertainment that real horror becomes a type of entertainment as well.

This is why I disconnected my TV dish years ago and why the daily news no longer serves as my home page. My home page (ironic that a typo caused this to read “hope page” until I caught it and changed it) is now my blog and my email—things that I can control to the point where the first thing that greets my eyes every morning is not the news. Am I an ostrich, burying my head in the sand, or simply someone taking control of her own life? In the long run, I guess it just boils down to semantics, but the nice thing about a life and a blog is that if we are lucky, we have control over it, and so long as both of these facts remain true, I’m going to exercise my right, leave the news trapped in a part of the World Wide Net where I have chosen to entwine it and get my news filtered down to what inevitably seeps through to the part of the net I frequent. Controlled. Put in perspective behind the details of my own life and the life of my friends—where it would naturally be without the glut of information devices that instead of informing us about the world seem to have become our world.

 https://dailypost.wordpress.com/dp_prompt/ripped-from-the-headlines-2/

IMHO

 The Prompt: IMHO–Link to an item in the news you’ve been thinking about lately, and write the op-ed you’d like to see published on the topic.

IMHO

I gave up reading the news years ago. I just got too depressed when I did so. Certainly, stories filter through and then I hear the pertinent details or look them up online, but gone for me are days spent listening to and watching repetition after repetition of the same facts, many later found to be untrue or exaggerated.

So, this prompt is one that sent me out into the news Internet, looking for a story. The first one that came up was of the French pilot who it seems deliberately sent his plane careening into the Alps, killing everyone on board. Then I found a story about Korean twins, separated at birth, who never even knew of each other’s existence but who found each other over Facebook. Then a story about a woman who transforms abandoned Bratz dolls that look like hookers back into dolls that look like little girls.

Then back to President Obama’s Iran negotiations, a small girl born with two heads, The Voice finals in Australia, a letter of thanks gone viral, written by the mother of an autistic child to a businessman who had put away his papers and played with his seatmate for the 2 ½ hour flight. I flipped through dozens of other stories on the way: about the royal family, dogs, cats, a cow furnished with prosthetic legs and saved from slaughter. This hodgepodge was heartwarming, heartshattering, overwhelming, and two hours later, I had still not chosen a news report to write an op ed piece on.

I guess, instead, I will write it on how the internet seems to be substituting for our lives. This flood of information furnishes the vicarious existence once limited to The Soaps: The Edge of Night, Another World, General Hospital. I still remember the day Joan Lenzi came running into our room in college, tears streaming, shouting “Laura died, Laura died!” My heart flipped over in dread as my mind searched madly for a mutual friend named Laura, only to discover, once Joan had collected herself a bit, that a character on our favorite Soap had just departed our after-lunch afternoon.

No more skipping Astronomy to experience the next vicarious thrill. Without Laura, who was Luke? With no further excuses to skip, I dropped Astronomy, insuring the necessity to attend summer school to catch up.

Now it is harder to avoid excuses. When one internet heroine or villain passes from sight, there are ten thousand others to take their place. Facebook, YouTube, WordPress, OkCupid, Match.Com, Christian Singles, Pinterest, Blogster—ad infinitum. There is so much to fill our lives and furnish excuses for what we don’t want to do that it is no longer really necessary for us to assemble a life around ourselves at all. So long as we can somehow manage to feed, clothe and house ourselves, the rest is available online.

When I suffered a debilitating migraine lately, the first to know it were internet friends. My Skype near-romance phoned my oldest friend, now rarely communicated to other than through Skype or online Scrabble games. She talked me down from a near-panic attack and I eventually fell asleep. The next morning I wrote about it (Here) and had a flood of sympathetic comments from blogging friends. Another friend who lives in the town where I live Facebooked me the name of a medication that might forestall future headaches. No neighbor arrived on my doorstep with chicken soup or offered to feed the dogs, but cyber friends gathered round, giving me that warm feeling formerly reserved for a down comforter.

I had to look up IMHO before I wrote my response to this prompt. It’s a term often used in the past by my Skype near-romance. But every time, I forget this initial-speak. It’s as though life has been shortened enough. Emails have become Tweets and emoticons have replaced phrases of opinion, affection, disgust or frustration. Hyperlinks replace restatements and hashtags replace the social organizations where we used to gather for coffee or a coke and a good old-fashioned in-person gab session.

In my humble opinion, everything is finally short enough. If we become any smaller, we are going to implode. Computers now fit in the palm of one’s hand and I’ve heard of technology where one day they will be implanted into our eyeballs and transmitted to our brains. At that point, what do we become other than human robots? Perhaps it is all a plot by the machines of the world to be the next step of our evolution. Perhaps what the most far-out science fiction writer once imagined has become our world. In my humble opinion, we have gone far enough. We are able to know too much by doing too little. Experience too much by doing nothing at all. The time has come where observing life is more interesting than making it happen. Time to stop!!! But that is just “my humble opinion,” expressed as a full statement—railing out against this too-short world.

Note: Once more, my NaPoWriMo and Daily Prompt subjects seems to have intersected, so to read my other short post today, go HERE.

https://dailypost.wordpress.com/dp_prompt/imho/

True Grit

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I want to be like this little girl who wandered away from her parents in the sand and into the beach restaurant where I was typing this blog. She came in to meet and entertain me, then to climb the stairs to the upstairs apartment—a dangerous enterprise with no side slats to keep her from falling. Her mom watched from nearby. I moved closer, just in case. But she made it up and down with no injuries, came over to chat a bit longer and then departed. I felt a bit happier and a bit braver myself by the end of our interlude.

The Prompt: Be the Change—What change, big or small, would you like your blog to make in the world?

True Grit

I’d like my blog to be Grit magazine, Ann Landers and the funny papers—all rolled in to one. I’d like it to be the first love comic grabbed off the shelf, the thing everyone wants to read, hot off the presses. I want it to be true, uplifting and fun to read. Entertaining. A collection of words that make people feel better after reading. I want it to be the thing you go to after reading of the last cuts to social services for the poor, the latest fool elected to public office, the last school massacre or child who mistakenly shot an adult with a gun provided to him by an adult. The thing you read when you’ve had enough of police brutality, plane wrecks, financial crashes, reverse Robin Hoods, pit bulls attacking humans, humans abusing dogs, cartels, corporations, slanted news agencies, corrupt rulers, crimes against women, drought, Ebola, HIV and dengue.

Yes, all of these ills exist and we need to know about them, but do we need to know about them ad nauseam, day and night, hour after hour? Do we need them served with our morning coffee, our evening meal, our drive to work? Need we dream them, fill our thoughts with them every hour of the day? And need those thoughts be hopeless and without remedy?

It is not that I want to avoid reality, but rather that I’d like to give that reality my twist and I’d like one major strand in that twist to be optimistic, another to be humorous, another to gentle the cruel realities, another, if it is of any influence at all, to be a catalyst to understanding and a feeling that something may be done in this world.

If you don’t remember the Grit magazine mentioned earlier in this piece, Google it. You will learn that it was formerly a weekly newspaper popular in the rural US during much of the 20th century. It carried the subtitle “America’s Greatest Family Newspaper.” It was full of human interest stories, usually with an uplifting slant. I can’t remember whether it came in the mail or whether we purchased it in the grocery story or in Mowell’s Drug, but I do remember grabbing it out of Mom’s brown paper bag when she got home from a trip down town and making off with it to my room or a grassy place in the shade of an elm tree to be the first to read it.

Perhaps you will label me as superficial if I admit that the first things I read in The Mitchell Republic—that “real” newspaper actually delivered to our front door—were Ann Landers, the comics (We called them “the funny papers”) and the crossword puzzle. I guess I wanted to be entertained, but I also wanted that assurance that something could be done about the bad things in life. Dick Tracy could solve the crimes. Mary Worth could be of worth in helping out. Ann Landers could find a solution to the ache of love and every puzzle could be eventually solved with hard work and perhaps a peek at the dictionary.

Now Google makes puzzle-solving a snap, so long as one is not shy about cheating and using that larger universal brain to solve the Sunday Cryptic Crossword, but in revealing so much, Google causes bigger problems—mainly, what to do with all of this knowledge of the world. For me, what I do with it is to write about it and within the world of my creation, to try to alter it enough to put a bit of hope into the world—to tinge it with a sense of humor or a sense of creation or a stab at a solution—however fanciful or impossible or romantic or homespun or illogical it may be.

This blog is like the biggest purse in my collection of very big purses indeed. In it lie jumbled together all my memories, dreams, hopes, heartaches, genius, stupidities, foibles, schemes, assurances, doubts, mistakes, successes, affections and affectations. The clasp I leave open for all to dip inside to see what they might find. One day, draw out a ditty, the next a tirade, the next a soggy handkerchief, soaked with my tears or an unused Kleenex to dry your own tears that were soaking your pillow when you woke up.

I want to be that thing you sneak off with before the rest of the family cottons on to its presence and take up to your bedroom to read with your back pressed up against the bolster on your bed or roll up and stick up your sleeve as you make off to the hammock or that shade in the grass beneath the tree.

And when you finish reading, it would be neither the hugest compliment nor the hugest insult you could give if you just thought, “That girl’s got grit!” I think a knowledge that she had prompted that statement would make the little girl or teenage girl who snatched that weekly magazine from the grocery sack very happy.