Lowest Common Denominator



Dear Mary,

Thank you for the card after the delivery of my twin girls. I appreciate your congratulations though I somehow think a Good Luck card might be more appropriate. Already, I find the need to steel myself against the lowest common denominator of our society that seeks to undo all the gains our gender has worked tirelessly to secure. Have you read the Twitter comments on a recent Jeopardy contestant’s breasts? But, I must not despair. With luck, hard work, and fine role models my girls will not be cheerleaders, and will eschew every hue of pink.



For Tara’s 100-Word Challenge. The word is Luck. Try it… Join in the fun!


Thanks for reading!

Caramel Macchiato and a Kick in the Shins

2015-08-03 08.41.08


7 a.m. I’m standing in line for coffee in the hotel lobby. This is no ordinary lobby. A cathedral ceiling soars to the second story. A couple of birds, I don’t know what kind, little brown birds, sit on the beams watching, every half minute tweeting a critique that I imagine says: look at all those addicts waiting in line for their caffeine fix.


At one end of the room a massive wall of glass frames a panorama captured on canvas, and postcards, and digital film countless times. The window glass is dusty, pocked with dried raindrops. But it does not dampen the view. The scene is like an IMAX film. I feel the vertigo. It sails across the green of Willow Flats to those jagged masterpieces of volcanic activity, the Grand Tetons. I feel the religion emanating like heat from the peaks.


I was raised Catholic. Believing it was the right thing to do, my parents dragged us to church on Sundays without much enthusiasm. Their parents had performed the same tired ritual. One of my great aunts was a nun, but I didn’t know her. I met her once or twice at a family gathering, but I was too young to do anything other than stare at her outfit. Dutifully, my parents sent their first three daughters to Catholic school.


Sadistic nuns administered my elementary school. A little known fact about Catholic nuns: they are mind readers. Anyone whose thoughts veered toward speaking in class had her ponytail yanked to the level of whiplash, or his shoulder tweaked by the Vulcan death grip until he slid off his chair, and under the desk.


Catholic high school, slightly more tolerant, was still strict enough to require pleated skirts of a length that grazed the floor when you kneeled upon it. Walking to class it was not uncommon to discover a girl kneeling in the middle of the hall, a sister bent at the waist to examine the length of a rolled up skirt.


This is my history as I gawk, wide-eyed at the mountains older than any of the nuns that heaped abuse under the guise of discipline, and the direction of young minds toward a healthy fear of Hell and God’s wrath. Seeing the Tetons, and the specks in the distance that I know are elk make me think that maybe there is a god after all. A positive force, not the punitive entity I was taught assembled us out of his image and likeness.


Ahead of me in line is a woman holding a leash. At the end of the leash is a toddler sitting cross-legged on the floor paging through a Good Dog, Carl picture book. Her mother is paging through her Facebook timeline on an iPhone. I look over her shoulder to see photos of breakfast muffins and fettuccine Alfredo, cat memes, a split screen of Donald Trump and an orangutan. What’s missing are the stories of migrants flowing like sea water into Europe. Of children not on leashes drowning in the Adriatic. The mother flicks her thumb and the images fly. She does not click on any link.


I love Carl. He really is a good dog. I would have liked to sit next to the girl-child on the floor, and have her read to me. Instead I read the Tetons taking into consideration their mood. Clouds lift to greater heights unveiling their stoic exterior. Sunlight streams, slowly, as the minutes tick, until the wall of rock is entirely illuminated, and invites us: Come closer!


And then I hear someone order a caramel macchiato. Turns out it’s the mother. Her girl-child, having felt a tug on the leash, stands up without a word, moves a few steps toward the mountain view, plops down, opens the book, and starts again from the beginning.


I wanted to kick the mother in the shins. For a number of reasons. But mostly, because I’m a judgmental asshole. The caramel macchiato was the last straw. Who orders a caramel macchiato at 7 a.m. with twenty people behind her in line? Who orders a caramel macchiato at all? Ever? There is no god. We’re both assholes in a coffee line. She for her lack of awareness, me for my hyper-awareness.


Good and evil, right and wrong, are they equal opportunity, one size fits all? Should they be? To some God exists, to others she’s a speck on the horizon in the form of an elk.


Thanks for reading…












Main Street in a Small Rural Town


2015-05-10 17.23.57



I want to do magic. I want magic to be done to me.
I didn’t say perform magic, but do it, make it happen.
Real magic. I want to shout, abracadabra!
And have the whole world listen.

Walking down Main Street in a small rural town
It doesn’t matter where, the Midwest, the South,
The Center of this vast country, I overheard a man
Talking to another man.

Fuck them, he shouted, grabbing the other man’s elbow.
I’ll take them out, every last one of them, if they try to tell me
What I can and cannot do.
It doesn’t work that way, said the other man, gently pulling away.

You’re either with me or against me, the red-faced man roared
Through clenched teeth, the sinews at his neck bulging
Like rope so taut it begins to fray, to split, to rip
On the edge of bloodletting when the capillaries burst.

Chet, the gentle man says, I don’t believe it’s as bad as all that.
I don’t believe anyone is coming to get you or wants to take what is yours.
I don’t believe what I hear on television.
And Chet replies: At your peril you dumbass motherfucker.

Hearing this makes me want to believe in magic.
I want to utter “open sesame” and open the closed mind.
To snap my fingers and part the clouds
And watch the light rinse the dark of intolerance.

I want to do magic. I want magic to be done to me.


OctPoWriMo – Day 4…. The prompt is “magic.” Will I ever lighten up? Maybe. Tune in to find out!

Thanks for reading!   Poetry5



Rescuing Bumblebees




This morning, while waiting for our yoga teacher to arrive, I sat outside in the sun with two other women, and prayed that I would not be invited to join their conversation.

“Have you let go?” one asked the other

“Yes, I have,” she answered, “I’ve let go of everything I can.”

“Have you become aware of the spaciousness around you,” the first woman wanted to know.

“Yes, it feels nice,” admitted the second.

“It takes awhile,” offered the first, “to understand that spaciousness comes from inside. It’s an internal process.”

Say what?

My yoga buddies were talking about the effects of a minor health issue. But, it’s just as likely they might have been discussing a son or daughter leaving for college, or a change in hair color.

I get tongue-tied during these esoteric conversations.

All I want to do is work up a sweat in my Ashtanga class. I don’t want to think about what I don’t comprehend about internal spaciousness.

I live in a tie-dye town surrounded by wine vineyards. Our economy is driven by the over consumption of alcohol. Limousines for hire happily drive tourists to wineries where they sip a Russian River Pinot while attempting to comprehend what the wine pourer is talking about. He’ll ask if they smell the soil in the wine. And whether they taste the fruit forward splash of raspberry and apricot with a finish of chocolate and cinnamon.

Say what?

All they want to do is get drunk, and flirt with their driver.

This is the Left Coast. I love it. It suits me. I live in a blue bubble. I love it that some old men on the Right use that term in the pejorative. It means they won’t be moving here anytime soon.

Since it’s a huge tourist draw, my little pocket of the Left Coast attracts an enormous number of daytrippers from all over the country. Once while wine tasting with friends from out of town we listened to a couple from Florida enter into a heated discussion with a couple from Seattle over guns. Naturally, the slow-witted mantra, guns don’t kill people, people do, was trotted out at high volume. To which the Seattle people responded: Tell that to the kid who is collateral damage in a shoot out.

The Florida couple was “outgunned” by the preponderance of Lefties.

All we want to do is convince the other side our paranoia is more worthy of outrage than theirs.

Yesterday on Facebook, that bastion of intolerance, someone deemed a celebrity sanctimonious. Irony is clearly lost on that dude along with self-awareness, and the definition of sanctimonious. No one is more sanctimonious than the guy who called out the celebrity as sanctimonious.

Isn’t that a great word, by the way?

All we want to do is castigate all those who do not share our worldview. I’m right, you’re wrong. Who can say it the loudest, and with the most venom?

I returned from yoga to find a terrified bumblebee pummeling itself against a sun-warmed window. Carefully, I wrapped him in a kitchen towel and escorted him safely out the door.

For a second he seemed to hover as if to say thank you for rescuing me. Or maybe he said fuck you for leaving the door open ushering him into a labyrinth of turmoil and despair.

I don’t understand the esoteric buzz or body language of bees. But, I aim to learn. Through this study maybe I’ll expand my consciousness, and come to understand the nature of internal spaciousness. It’s worth a try.

Or maybe not. One thing I do know is how easy it is to finish a bottle of Russian River Pinot Noir.


THANK YOU! to all my commenters on the previous post. I appreciate you! It’s lovely to see everyone again after so long an absence. I’ll visit you all to catch up on what you’ve been up to!





“I forgive you.” Shelly pressed her hands together in prayer, or Namaste, Zane couldn’t be sure. She bowed, deeply, like the Japanese.

“You forgive me? That’s rich.” Zane stepped backward.

“I know you didn’t mean it the way it came out.” Shelly’s beatific smile was real. Zane could see that. Not a hint of irony or sarcasm.

“Shelly, you tell me I’m an uninformed, poor excuse for a male dolt. And I’m the one who ought to ask for your forgiveness?” He was beginning to wonder if Shelly’s smile, she was showing teeth now, was something more sinister.

“You called me mean. Though I was only being honest.” She frowned as if Zane were a dolt, and just didn’t get it.

“Ooof, Shelly, punch me in the gut again…” Before Zane could complete his euphemism Shelly punched him in the gut. Zane crumpled to the floor where he lay in the fetal position.

Shelly blurted in surprise, “Why did you make me do that?”

Zane opted to say nothing, believing that the best tactic until he could get out of there.

“Zane? I didn’t want to do that. Why did you tell me to do it? You really are a poor excuse for a male. Like many males you lack empathy.” Shelly leaned over to peer in Zane’s face. He winced.

He’d always thought of Shelly as eccentric or quirky. She had a flair for hippie fashion that suited her. She had always made him laugh. But, this… what was this? Was she on medication, or rather, off her medication?

“Shelly?” Zane squeaked.

“Yes, Zane?”

“Are you on medication?”

Shelly kicked him in the chest. Zane groaned.

“Maybe I was a little too spontaneous with that kick. At least you didn’t ask me if I was on my period.”

“Are you on your period?”

She kicked him again, this time in the knee. “You really are quite hopeless, Zane.”

“Is this how you forgive all male dolts?” Zane shielded his face with his arms, just in case. But, no kick was dealt.

“You’re the first one I’ve met in a long time. Before, I ignored their innuendoes. You’re the first I decided to try to get through to. Wake you up to the reality of your doltishness.”

Shelly circled Zane who guarded his body parts as she walked.

“Shelly, tell me what I did. I thought our relationship was progressing to the next level.”

Shelly pushed Zane with her boot. He turned over, and she kicked him in the back. Zane grunted. “Grabbing my crotch is your next level?”

“Shelly, I thought you wanted me to. The way you looked at me. And that low cut t-shirt you’re wearing. C’mon. I know you wanted it. You’re just a little scared.”

Shelly kicked him one more time in the back. “Does it look like I want it, you dolt? Does it look like I’m scared?”

Zane moaned. “No, I guess not. I’m sorry, Shelly.”

“I forgive you. Now get out.”


For the Light and Shade Challenge. Click to discover the prompt, and read the other interpretations. Very different takes.. that’s what makes life interesting! 🙂


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