Category Archives: Essays

My Day So Far, Sept 12, 2020

I awoke this morning on my own, some time before 8, having had 8 full hours of sleep–a rarity for me. I awoke without assistance from the cat or the dogs or both–another rarity. Stepped on the scales and then went into the bathroom to try on “the” pants–the ones hung up a month or so ago as a reminder that I needed to get serious about losing some of the weight I’ve gained during this isolation period–not to mention the weight I’d gained before. I’d hung them up as a goal. When I could actually zip them up, I would have passed the first milestone.  And guess what? They zipped up, albeit with some heavy inhaling to execute the zipper and button. 

A few days ago, my sister mentioned going on a fast diet. Very simple. You could eat anything you wanted to, but only within a 5 hour period each 24 hours. She had chosen 3 to 8 PM. She encouraged me to try it (even not having seen those khakis hanging like a flag of shame on my bathroom towel rack.) I remembered that my friend Blue had lost 34 pounds in the past six months on such a diet and later my friend Brad reminded me he’d lost 20 lbs. on it. Or was it 40?

And so, four days ago, I started on it myself, choosing the dining hours of 4-9 PM initially, then after doing more research that said that any shorter eating period than 6 hours didn’t really improve rate of loss, I gave myself a one-hour cushion. If I am hungry at 3, I can start then, or if I’ve started at 4, occasionally extend beyond the 9 PM mark. My problem is that I decided I would eat one meal at 4 (or 3) and then have my usual morning smoothie that night before my curfew. But, I get busy and two nights in a row noticed that it was 8:45–or 8:57–and I still hadn’t had it. Fast action the first night meant I got the smoothie made and drunk before the 9 PM cutoff. The other time I was 3 minutes over. 

At any rate, adhering strictly to these rules and having no others makes it a perfect diet for me after a lifetime of counting calories, carbohydrates or points. Somehow, it helps not to have to worry about food. I can eat half of that small pizza in the freezer–but now I choose yellow peppers and green olives to top it  rather than pepperoni. I can have yogurt and fruit, but skip the ice cream. Bread is not a no-no. I just limit the hours of its consumption. At yesterday’s weigh-in, I’d lost 3 pounds. Today it is down to 2. Not gonna worry about it. My friend visited yesterday with a Caesar salad and forced me to drink two gin and tonics. Life is to be lived. At least I drank them within my 6 hour period. 

7.2 pounds down (I’d lost a bit before beginning the fast) and I’m not telling how far to go. Gotta go now and find a new pair of pants as a goal.

What are the Rest of the Rules?

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What are the Rest of the Rules?

I just made a comment to Bag Lady that I’ve decided I want to ask a wider audience. If you have the answers, please let me know. This is an expanded version of my comment to her. If you want to see her post, click on the link above. Here is my comment:

Aside from the dangers that at any given moment, someone may shoot you because you do or don’t have a mask on, because you’ve asked how tall they are, or spray acid in your face while parked at a stoplight just because you are black, another reason I have less incentive to leave my house is because of how uncomfortable the masks are.  My glasses fog up and by the time I’m out for a half hour or so I feel wringing wet all over, with droplets hanging off the tips of my hair, as though I’m holding in all the heat usually released in my breath. I’m not using this as an excuse not to wear one. I always do, even though the tops of my ears aren’t high enough to keep the ones held in place with ear bands in place. The mask is constantly ejecting itself, and the ones that go all the way over your hair make me look even worse that I do with hair I’ve cut for myself for 4 months, no makeup and no earrings because the mask keeps catching on them. 

In spite of this, I would never go out without a mask or even have contact with someone in my house without wearing one, but I do have my questions regarding mask protocol. In a restaurant, six feet away from your companion, waiters all masked, the next table twelve feet away, what are the rules for eating and drinking. Do you replace your mask after every sip? Fanangle a straw between you and the mask? Do you lift the mask for each forkful? No one tells us these things.

And the hand washing. Does that twenty seconds include rinsing or is that just the soaping part? What are the precise rules?

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The Taste of Love in a Time of Cyber Romance

photo snapped on Mar. 12, 2020 by okcforgottenman, in direct response to Judy’s post.

The Taste of Love in a Time of Cyber Romance

We met on OK Cupid. I was in Mexico, he in Missouri, 1600 miles away. What we feasted on in those first stages when nine hours was too short a conversation was words.  Thanks to Skype, these words could be either written or spoken and could be accompanied by sight of each other.  The rigors of wearing makeup 24 hours a day were nothing compared to the agony of not talking for from 4 to 9 hours a day. He later admitted he couldn’t tell the difference between me in makeup and me without, but I had to admit this made little difference, for it is a peculiarity of Skype that the other person can’t see you unless you are seeing yourself, and to see myself in the pure unadulterated natural cramped my style. How could I be a vixen when I didn’t look like one? He granted the point. Why shouldn’t he, if he couldn’t tell the difference, anyway?

This point taken care of, we passed on to the next stage of computer dating: our first dinner date. He watched on his desktop computer as I prepared a salad. This was a long and lengthy process followed as closely as was possible using the camera from my laptop. He had not yet purchased a laptop, so when he repaired to the kitchen to prepare his meal, I heard sound effects but little else. When he returned to his desk in the living room, he laid his meal in front of his computer. I had yet to see it as I, in turn, placed my salad in front of me and proceeded to take my first bite, watching closely my technique according to my Skype image. I chewed politely and then smiled, revealing the lack of lettuce shards on my front teeth. I looked up. He was watching me as lovingly as usual. Now, it was his turn. 

“What are you eating?” I asked. “Ham,” he said. This said, he lifted a huge hunk of ham on his fork, taking a dainty bite and chewing happily. 

“What else?” I asked.

“Just ham,” he answered. And so he demolished the entire pound of thick ham steak, now and then washing it down with a healthy swig of rum and coke.

Rum and coke. It had been one of our bonding experiences to find that the drink of choice of each was not only Rum and Coke, but Bacardi Rum with Caffeine-Free Diet Coke. How could this not be a romance made in heaven? 

But as for our culinary compatibility? From 1,600 miles away it seemed to be less of a problem than it was three months later, when we first made physical contact.

Well, there was a resolution. He started munching on carrots. We both found a like mania for potato chips, but true romance bloomed when I found the full bar of Hershey’s Chocolate atop his refrigerator. Who says we need to concentrate on our differences? Hershey’s Chocolate? Yes. Our first true taste of love.

 

For fandangos-provocative-question-60: How did you meet your mate or current love interest?

Hoarder

Hoarder

There are moments caught between heart-beats that fall into crevasses where they nourish our dreams. Streaming rivulets that escape our conscious daylight world swell these moments until they become full-grown nightly adventures––what we have hoped blended with what else might be possible, tempered by fears and regrets. What part of us orchestrates these dreams has never been discovered––some grand arranger of self that does not allow itself to be controlled by any conscious part of us, perhaps. It is a cinema we construct for ourselves—a relief from or a censor of or a collector of those parts of ourselves we would otherwise not deal with. Those parts of ourselves we struggle to forget and throw away? There is no detritus in our lives. Some great hoarder within us reaches out a hand to capture and arrange them, then calls them dreams.

 

The dVerse Poets Pub prompt today was to write a 144-word flash fiction piece making use of the first sentence in my essay above.

A Hamburger for Breakfast (by Forgottenman) Reblog

I couldn’t find a reblog button on Forgottenman’s post, but he gave me permission to quote a bit and give a link. This is a fun essay. Check it out!

A Hamburger for Breakfast

–by Forgottenman               

Dad and I were apparently very close when I was a baby, based on the photos my mom took. But the disengagement came later, when I was about three, when Mom took control. Control.

I grew up right here where I type this, in this very house. Playing outside here as a kid there were always summer crickets to be found, to be chased and caught, and to be kindly released. Occasionally, one would make his way inside the house, but his song made it easy for us to track him down, to catch him, and to release him outside. It’s different today.

In the summer of 1960 I was eight years old. I was a smart kid but (therefore?) floundering in what to make of life, of family. One day Dad mentioned he and his buddy Carmack were going fishing Saturday at Duck Creek (not really a creek, but rather a man-made cypress swamp created by the Missouri Conservation Department). Somehow, he gauged me and decided to ask if I’d like to join them on the excursion. I nervously accepted. I had never been fishing before.

I had already disappointed him, and he had disappointed me. When I was four I was thrilled when he promised he’d take me the next day to pick up our new 1955 Chevy Bel Air at the car dealer, but he “let” me sleep in instead. (I still can’t forgive him, though he is ten years gone. I was devastated.) A few years later he would take me to little league baseball sign-up night, but I couldn’t get up the nerve to go inside. A few years after that he stormed out at me when I relayed a message from Mom that made him mad – and she made him apologize to me when he returned. I knew early I wasn’t the son he had hoped for. I know now that I never would be, exactly, although we would eventually, um – accommodate. But Dad invited me to go fishing with him that day in 1960, and that moment was perfect.

….read the rest of the story HERE.

Facing the Inevitable. Alone.

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Facing the Inevitable. Alone.

Tilting at windmills or slaying dragons is too retro for my taste. I’d rather just have a man who tickles my funny bone, or at the very least one who tickles my fancy. At my age, I am between vulnerable stages. I don’t need anyone to save me financially or ego-wise. I’m pretty sure I’ll be able to house and feed myself for the twenty or so years I have left and unless I have a serious decline in mental and physical power, I will always have blogging to salve my ego–a few loyal followers who still want to hear what I have to say.

Whatever I have made of my life, it is a pickle of my own choosing. I have not been jinxed or done ill to—at least recently. What I have I deserve. What I don’t have, I deserve. I don’t look forward to that day when fate will serve me a bitter dish, but that part of me that has to binge-watch *”After Life” or listen to an Audible book to get to sleep at night knows it one day will. In spite of my niggling lifelong conviction that I’ve been left on this planet by some foreign species and that I’ll be picked up soon and whisked off to a life unending, that part of me that needs constant distraction knows that I am human and therefore vulnerable.

Those with partners may think my title here sad, but there is another way of looking at it. Those of us unmatched and “unespoused” have only one inevitable death to face. We need fear no phone call when parted or unwelcome discovery when together. The only death we need fear is our own.  We have half of the dread that the happily paired must face as they approach a certain age.

With increasing regularity, when with friends my own age, after we have hurriedly (I hope) gone over the ills of today—knee replacements and hip replacements and intestinal disorders and the ilk—we eventually get around to discussing various methods of insuring the end we desire over Alzheimer’s or stroke. I have a high bridge picked out. Various friends have pill stashes. Everyone knows which friends, in spite of their obituaries, have already made this choice.

What we fear most is waiting too long and forfeiting the choice and spending the rest of our days in some repository for the walking dead—those antiseptic storehouses where they partition off residents unlucky enough to have not experienced a swift death—those cursed either with an active mind trapped in a body turned to stone or the reverse. What living hell is this, that so many of the aged are now preserved in part who in an earlier age would have been afforded a dignified death?

There is something about writing to multiple prompts that takes us into a part of our brain where otherwise we might have not gone. So it is with this seemingly pessimistic rambling into the dark side of my brain. Although nothing I say is fiction, still, perhaps the balance is wrong. Here is no discussion of the birds outside my early-morning sunlit curtains or the components of my morning smoothie that await my hand in compiling them. It does not mention friends that still stimulate and amuse, relatives that still fill my heart.

It overlooks those twenty potential years that I hope will lead up to whatever end I face. These are just words that I shed during a side trip through consciousness. Do not call me or consult with mutual friends, worrying about my state of mind. I am in no way suicidal. I am not morose. I am simply wandering through a few alleys where I think we must all wander from time to time, and as we grow older, where we wander more frequently. For in spite of my title, I don’t really think I wander here alone.

* “After Life” is a new show on Netflix, written and played by Ricky Gervais. A bit dark, but worth binge-watching if you’re in the right frame of mind. Along with the four prompt words, it is perhaps what put me in the mood to write this piece. I have a feeling it is more Ricky Gervais’s attitude than my own.  Well, maybe a wedding of the two.

 

Prompt words today are pickle, retro, dragon and jinx. Here are the links:
https://ragtagcommunity.wordpress.com/2019/03/31/rdp-sunday-pickle/
https://onedailyprompt.wordpress.com/2019/03/31/your-daily-word-prompt-dragon-march-31-2019/
https://wordofthedaychallenge.wordpress.com/2019/03/31/jinx/
https://fivedotoh.com/2019/03/31/fowc-with-fandango-retro/

Teaching Our Kids to be Violent

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Teaching Our Kids to Be Violent

I’m in a very busy outside restaurant on the plaza in La Manzanilla, Mexico.  To the front and side of me are two long tables filled with 13 adults, children and teens who seem to be members of the same family.  When I first entered, the littlest girl in the family was sitting on the lap of her auntie or her mom, mugging for “sorta selfies” taken by her mom/auntie who was using some app to horribly distort the photos.  All were laughing uproarously at the monstrous images.

Then the child moved to the end of the table, where someone had removed the long cellophane-plumed toothpicks that had held their sandwiches together. Grabbing two of the toothpicks, she proceeded to jab the pointed end of one of them into the arm of one of the young women at the table. 

Waiting for chastisement, I was sorely disappointed, as what I imagine to be an auntie giggled and then grabbed the other toothpick and jabbed her back. Back and forth they went, all of the adults at the table smiling and laughing as though it was the most adorable little performance in the world.  In time, the child went down the table, jabbing with more enthusiasm each time, moving to the other table where eventually she jabbed so violently that the adult slapped her.  She slapped the adult back and a slapping match ensued.  Everyone watched, smiling, giggling. Such an adorable child! 

She moved away from the slapping match and sneaked up on a more elderly member of the party, approaching her from behind to take a hard jab with the point of the toothpick into the flesh of the woman’s upper arm.  The woman jerked away in surprise, slapping at the arm as though she believed it to be a wasp or bee sting.  This brought great peals of laughter from the other table and the child returned to it to take her bows.  

At no point in this crazy string of behavior did any adult ever censure the child or display any emotion other than enjoyment and approbation. I, on the other hand, was totally horrified.  What they were teaching the child was fairly obvious.  They  were well-dressed and sophisticated-looking, modernly dressed—like city folk come to the beach who didn’t actually want to get sand between their toes.  The voices of the seeming other half of their party at the nearby table were louder than theirs—very loud, in fact, to the point that even some Mexican customers accustomed to the general noise of Mexico were glancing over in surprise. But the table where the child sat seemed more refined–in the level of their voices if not in their surprising acceptance of the increasing violence of the formerly angelic-looking little girl.

Was she the heir to a vast cartel empire? Was this part of her education in ruthlessness? Was their glee at her monstrous appearance on the smart phone just a hint of the monster child they would raise to carry on the family business?  As most scenarios begun in restaurants and other public places, this is a story whose ending I will never know. I leave it to your imagination to come up with an ending for yourself.

But I could not help seeing it as a small metaphor for the violence in films and games and sports entertainment that our kids are submerged in every day.  It seems as though movies and TV are resorting to ever more violent and extreme cruelties to keep our interest. War and murder are not enough. Sadistic twists and torture are called upon to keep the audiences and thereby swell the coffers of production companies and advertisers.

Years ago when violence first reared its ugly head on TV, we were told that it was a fantasy that would have no effect on children, but if we look at the world around us, I think this is an assertion that has been proven to be false. As some in our society grow ever more affluent, we grow increasing more dependent on entertainment to distract us from the reality around us, and part of that reality seems, sadly, to be that we are teaching our kids to be more violent.

 

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Cellar Door

 

 

As doors go, this is a much prettier door than a cellar door.

After I wrote my poem, forgottenman apprised me of the significance of “cellar door“—that being that many consider it to be one of the most beautiful phrases in the English language, apart from its meaning.  Since I had already written my poem using “cellar door” in its literal sense, I published my first post anyway but now feel compelled to rebut it as one of the most beautiful phrases (or words) in the English language and to suggest a few more.  Propinquity is one, although I still have to look it up every time I hear it. Ascendency is another, as is onomatopoeia–but that is too obvious a choice. Parsimonious or terrarium. Gondola. Pandemonium.  Okay.  It’s getting late and let’s face it.  There are lots of beautiful words in the English language, and in my estimation, cellar door isn’t even in the running. 

 

The Daily Inkling Prompt today is cellar door.

Lava

I saw this wonderful tirade by Audra Alexander on a friend’s Facebook page. I tracked down the author, who generously gave me permission to run it on my blog. Since there was no button on her blog to do so, I couldn’t “reblog” it, so here it is in its entirety. I hope you visit her blog, URL given below, to tell her what you think !!!! I think she’s captured perfectly and in an entertaining if irate fashion what is going to happen when Kavanaugh is confirmed:

Lava

Kavanaugh is going to get confirmed, we all know that. A lot of women will be very angry. Some might even take to the streets. But this won’t be the tipping point. There won’t be a tipping point, there never is. There will just be the subterranean lava flow of women’s anger – slow, blistering, savage and inexorable. We’ll go to bed angry, we’ll get up angry, we’ll drink our coffee and fix the kids’ breakfasts angrily, we’ll drive thru car line and to work angry, our male colleagues will ask each other if we’re on the rag, we’ll eat silent lunches with rage and we’ll pick up groceries on the way home with vengeance on our hearts. We’ll kiss our partners and our kids goodnight wrathfully. We’ll cry hot, silently screaming tears in the middle of brushing our teeth. We’ll go to bed angry. We’ll get up angry…

Nothing will seem to change for you. But the mother of a 32 year old man will suddenly snap at him to “Grow up!” when he complains that he’s pretty sick of frozen dinners lately. That quiet chick 3 cubicles down will show up out of nowhere and tell a gathering of dudebros that she’ll report them to HR if they don’t shut up. They’ll call her a bitch under their breath as she turns around, but she won’t care. The teenage daughter will ask her dad if he’d still find it funny if she was the punchline in his favorite joke. He’ll scold her for talking back and look at his wife, who will look back and say nothing. Another daughter will say nothing to her father – ever again.

The anger will shift, seismic but unseen. Before the lava used to burn us to ash on the inside. It’s bubbling over now. Enough of us have ripped open our bodies to let the boiling soil of our lives out that the heat itself causes fires. Sure, you can put one or two out at a time. A single flame is easy to catch. But the lava is elemental and everywhere. Kavanaugh will be confirmed. And in less than a generation he’ll be a petrified ash fossil, frozen in a rictus of agony in the new Pompeii. Nothing will seem to have changed, until it’s too late. The lava of our anger is going to cover the earth and bury you.

Here is her blog.  Check it out!  https://scarletvirago.com/2018/09/28/lava/