I've contributed to perhaps the best humor compilation I've ever read. Available now on Amazon!

My second chapbook, "The Second Book of Pearl: The Cats" is now available as either a paper chapbook or as a downloadable item. See below for the Pay Pal link or click on its cover just to the right of the newest blog post to download to your Kindle, iPad, or Nook. Just $3.99 for inspired tales of gin, gambling addiction and inter-feline betrayal.

My first chapbook, I Was Raised to be A Lert is in its third printing and is available both via the PayPal link below and on smashwords! Order one? Download one? It's all for you, baby!

Monday, April 27, 2015

Do What You Can; or Breaking it Down to Its Most Manageable Bits

I have painted my nails a dark red.  Short nails at the end of fingers on a small hand, I stare at them.

The boiler in a rental unit has died.  The fascia and soffit on the garage has gone soft and splintered in the misguided rain.  A stained glass window is broken and must be replaced.

And I am getting a divorce.

In preparation of the upcoming move, I have been packing my life away. 

The house has never been cleaner.

I rise from the couch and head to the porch, where I put my earbuds in.  There is a man and a dog in the park across the street, and I watch as master hurls ball and loyal sidekick chases.

I light a cigarette.

When I finish, I go through all my books, wipe them off and separate them into “take” and “donate”. 

I am both impressed and horrified by the collection. 

Over the next three hours, I work.  One thing begets another: stacks of books are moved from the three-season porch, the shelves, from piles on the hardwood floor and then into boxes.  I break the vacuum down to the wand, suck up whorls of dusty clouds, then, dissatisfied, pull the bucket from under the kitchen sink and scrub on my hands and knees.  The house smells of PineSol.

Suddenly, I am tired. 

As if from a dream, I look down.  My nails are chipped; and in two cases, broken.  I have a shallow cut on the inside of an index finger.

And after a moment of staring, I go back to the couch, reach for the lotion, the clippers and the polish.

This, I can fix. 

Friday, April 24, 2015

Distracting the Monkey

I wipe away my sweat mustache. 

The man on the mat next to me swipes at his own face at the same time, which, given our proximity, seems almost intimate. 

But to tell the truth, in a class this size, we’re all almost intimate.

I close my eyes, breathe in deeply.  I don’t come here to criticize, I remind myself.  I come here to focus, to stretch, to embrace the beauty found in an absence of thought, to leave the clutter of my life on the winter-grit dirty sidewalk, and to –

-- pretzel yourself next to perfect strangers!  The monkey in my head chatters gleefully. Eeee-Eeeee-Eeee! 

Oh, shut up, I think.

The man next to me grunts.  Sweat runs off his outstretched arms, pools on the floor between us.

The monkey grabs the inside of my skull, pulls himself up and plants himself behind my eyes. 

Holy cow!  Look at him sweat!  Oooooh!  Have you seen his feet?  What’s up with those toes, huh?  And where’d he get that hair?  Thatch!  Absolute thatch!  Hey – do you know where the phrase “raining cats and dogs” comes from? I'm bored!

The monkey goes on for several minutes, from his opinion on a thick head of hair to the tensile grip strength found in your longer toes.

Oh, shut up, I think.

I pull up into Mountain Pose, then fold forward, attempt to press my nose between my shins.  The sweat runs from my face into my hairline, distracting the monkey, who revels in the feel of it.

I put my hands on the floor, press back into Downward Facing Dog: feet hips' distance apart, head down, butt in the air: I am a human V.

Image result for downward facing dog

"Breathe in, and breathe out," intones the yogi.  "Let your head hang heavy.  For the truly advanced out there, look under one armpit, say "hi" to your neighbor."

The monkey jabbers, rolls his eyes.

I turn to my left:  Amy.  I grin at her from under my armpit.  "Hey, Amy!"

She smiles:  "Hey!"

"Now turn your head, look to the other side," the instructor says.  "And say hello to the nice human being."

The monkey throws his arms into the air:  Eeeee!  Eeeee!  Eeee!

I turn my head.  The man with the running sweat, fabulous head of hair, and funky toes grins at me.

"Hi," he says.

I smile back.  "Hi."

And the monkey rolls his eyes again, gives up and goes elsewhere in search of distraction.  It's no fun criticizing someone who smiles at you.

Thursday, April 23, 2015

What Am I Thinking? Oh, Not Much...

“The walk to the bus may have looked like any other, but Monday was the day that changed everything.”

I’ve been known to narrate my life. Not aloud, of course, because that would be unseemly. No use in frightening my fellow citizens.

Honestly, the commentary in my head is usually more entertaining than what’s going on around me.

I don’t limit my narrations to my life, though. I’m willing to narrate yours as well.

“Little did the woman pinching the tomatoes know, but the person next to her at the Farmer’s Market, the person inspecting the turnips, then the rutabagas, was her brother Frank, the man who had left for the Navy 15 years ago only to be struck by lightning and left wandering, witless all these years, in his pursuit of the perfect root vegetable.”

My lips don’t move when I do this, so it’s perfectly normal.

Now if my lips moved

I sometimes see people’s lips moving. They’re walking down the street, fully engaged in something or other. Before Bluetooth and teeny-tiny headphones, this was more amusing than it is now. Like the 'rahr, rahr, rahr' of a dog with a mouthful of peanut butter, one could envision any monologue one liked. Now, however, rather than imagining someone reciting the “My-mother-was-right-and-I’m-leaving-you-you-cheap-SOB” speech as they push their grocery cart through the dairy section, the odds are actually much better that the words they are speaking into the world’s smallest phone are more along the lines of “I’ll be home soon! Do we need milk?”


So I’m going to continue to create little fantasy lives around them, what they’re saying, where they’re going, why they’re meeting.

Oh, if only they knew how happy they make me, these lip-moving people, or how much I love them.

Wednesday, April 22, 2015

Me? No. Not Distracted.

Separating household goods, separating emotions, Pearl remains confused, a bit sad-ly, and tender to the touch.  Please enjoy another kind of distraction below, where the man on 9th and Nicollet wonders aloud for all of us...

The guy on 9th and Nicollet looks at me.

“The world is getting louder,” he says. “In all kinds of ways. “

I know what he means.  It’s not just the sirens.  Not just the dogs and the airplanes and the birds at dawn – for cryin’ out loud, what are those birds doing?! – but even our personal loudness.  The phones and the iPods and the devices we hadn’t ever thought we’d need, ever be surrounded with.

I was in the elevator the other morning with four other people.  This is not uncommon.  Uncharacteristically, I was not wearing headphones at the time.  But the other four were – and they were all checking their phones.  Heads down, fingers caressing the screens.  And this struck me.  I mean, six-thirty in the morning and there is already something we just have to know, have to check in with?  I’m not saying we should all be fully present, be speaking to each other!  It is, after all, six-thirty; but as a friend, should we be hunched over our phones already?  Hey! I’ve got 45 seconds before the elevator doors open.  I wonder if my freakishly angry political friend on Facebook posted another rude comment?

I can’t help but smile.  It’s six-thirty in the morning!  Really:  is this good for us? 


No one on the elevator notices.

Has the world always been this loud, so distracting – so petty?  A thousand years ago, did someone stand out on the prairie, look out over a herd of buffalo and feel a hole in his life left by the lack of something to pull from his pocket and play with? 

How were we so easily trained?

I worry about this, about the stolen silence. 

“The modern man is being led by the nose, man, to just shut up and be distracted," the guy on 9th says.

And I pretend to check my phone to discourage him from asking me for money.

But what if the guy has a point?

What would happen if we weren’t distracted?  

Just How Much Booze Do You Have, Anyway? or No Thanks, I Can Do Better

Pearl, wishing to distance herself from the pain she is feeling, reposts -- again -- so that she has time at night to go through her belongings, sort through what she will need and what she will not, for her upcoming move.  I am moving out of the house, as I did in 2012, only this time will be different.  This time is permanent. 

Taking your hugs, kisses, and offers of gin...

I’ve lived in a number of small towns in Minnesota and Wisconsin, and I’m here to tell ya: The rumors are true, particularly in Wisconsin, where unsuspecting tourists are turned into jerky and their clothes sold at thrift stores.

I moved to Wisconsin Rapids in the early ‘90s. Fresh out of school and clutching my newly earned Fabulous Court Reporting Skillz Degree, I found myself doing per diem work in central Wisconsin.

One thing I had noticed in my move from Minneapolis to Wisconsin Rapids was the change in societal attitude. Minneapolis is a rather liberal town, an open town. I missed that. Wisconsin Rapids – and forgive me, perhaps it has changed since I lived there? – was full, according to what I was seeing in the courts and in the bars, of domestic violence, child abuse, drunk driving, and rape.

I did not fit in. It may have been the fact that I wore skirts and heels. It may have been that I did not have a mullet. It may have been the lipstick and mascara; but I heard, more than once, “You’re not from around here, are you?”

It showed.

Other than the police officer who stalked me for the last half of the year I was there, I had made only one friend. Angel, her name was; and I was invited one night to her house for a night of drinking and games. I was very much into games at the time: Trivial Pursuit, Pictionary, Yahtzee. I hadn’t been out since moving there and was really looking forward to meeting some people.

I was lonely.

I dressed up, in the fashion of the day, put on my big gold hoops and my lipstick and walked the six blocks to her house.

I knocked on the door; and from the looks of things, they had started without me.

The party, it appeared, would consist of me, Angel, and her husband.

Angel was a quiet, heavy young woman with an unfortunate perm. Her husband was quite attractive and should’ve been more fun to talk to, but there was something in the way he looked at me that put me on guard.

“Wow,” he says. “You look great.  Doesn't she look great, Ang?”

“Thanks,” I say.

He nudges Angel, an elbow to the ribs, and she nods.

One gets the impression that they feel this is subtle.

She takes my arm. “Let me show you around the place,” she hiccups.

It is a two-bedroom duplex, and honestly, you can see it all from the doorway. Nevertheless, we look in on the baby, already asleep; give a passing nod to the dining room/living room; and end up sitting on the foot of the bed in the master bedroom. We sit next to each other and she reaches out and touches my hair. At this point in my life, it hangs just short of my waist, and it's not unusual that she would do this.

“We got a friend in porn movies,” she blurts.

“Yeah?” I had tried watching porn once but came away from it thinking “well, who can't do that?” and never gave it another thought. Not my thing. “That’s weird.”

“We knew her in high school. She went to Chicago and next thing you know we see her in a porno!”

“Well don’t that beat all,” I say flatly. The direction of this conversation is getting on my nerves.

Angel redirects. “How long you been in Rapids?”

I sigh.  “Four months,” I say. “It’s a tough town to break into. Very insular. This is the first time I’ve been out in a long time.”

“Yeah?” she says. “So hey, can I ask you something?”


“You know anything about threesomes?”

My heart stops momentarily as the distant wail of sirens is heard. The squat, fur-hatted ancestors in my head sit upright and reach for their weapons.  “What?”

“You know: threesomes. Sex?”

I frown, angry. Four months in the house, four months with no friends, no boyfriend, no phone calls, three TV stations, no VCR, and I finally get invited to a party and it’s me, a court employee I've had lunch with twice, and her husband.

“My husband,” she prattles on, “thinks you’re cute. I mean, we figure, you being from the big city and all…”

Did she --? Did she really just say you being from the big city and all? Hey! Who’s the gal with a friend in the porn industry?

There is a pause as my brain slides, like a large, coddled egg, from one edge of my skull to the other.

I get my bearings.

“I think,"  I say quietly, "that if you’re really interested in such a thing that your best course of action would be to place an ad in an independent newspaper and see who answers.”

Suddenly I am tired.

I stand up. “I totally forgot that I have company coming tonight, but I have to go.” I don’t turn around as I walk through the bedroom door and into the hallway.  I speak over my shoulder to her.  “I’ll see you next time I’m in the courthouse.”

I never did get the hang of Central Wisconsin.

Tuesday, April 21, 2015

Oh, You Just Know Everything, Don't You?

What’s with everything changing all the time? Roads are detoured, U.S. currency looks different from day to day, my pants are inexplicably shrunken in the wash…

Could we all just sit still for a moment?!

Remember when nothing seemed to change? When green was your favorite color, when you knew that there was no way that you would ever get fat or get seriously hurt, when you knew things for a certainty because they always had been that way?

The older I get – and the more I think about things – the more convinced I become that knowledge is relative, that nothing can be known for sure, and that few things under the control of humans can be “known”.

For example, when I was little, gambling was wrong. Everyone “knew” this. I specifically remember a movie, some movie, where the police came in, raiding a poker game. I had wanted to know why they couldn’t play cards, and my parents explained to me that playing for/with money was wrong, that it was illegal, and that people who gambled were criminals. My father continued on with a speech on organized crime, prohibition, and the Kennedys, but I had already stopped listening.

But gambling illegal? Not true anymore! Gambling is okay now, have you heard? The lottery’s on the TV. There are by-the-hour daycares in casinos. Vegas is actively promoting itself as a family destination. There’s water parks and shows and buffets and hookers. Something for everyone!

Full disclosure here: I’ve only been to Vegas once. Got dreadfully lost in an unfortunate I’ll-Be-Over-Here-While-You’re-In-The-Bathroom Fiasco that netted me two hours of 3:00 a.m. fear, two marriage proposals I suspect were not sincere, one lewd proposition that I suspect was, and a stern yelling-at from the people I was eventually reunited with. I do have to say, however, that through all the trauma I was surprised by the number of people in the casinos with strollers and small children, even at 3:00 in the morning. Ding! Ding! Ding! Daddy, can I have another roll of quarters for the slots?

What does that mean, when something that used to be wrong is now right?

For instance, it used to be okay to smoke cigarettes. Everywhere. In theaters. In airplanes. In hospitals. In courthouses. In bars! I kind of miss that, the smoking-in-the-bar thing, as beer and cigarettes are truly the Fred and Ginger of the night-out dance, but that’s okay, too. Because of the smoking ban, it’s no longer necessary to wash everything that had anything to do with the smoky night before.

What’s my point? That what is okay changes from year to year, from place to place. Some changes, like fashion, are within our control – grown women with bows in their hair? Crocs? Neon-blue bras under sheer white tops? As we say in Minnesota, well, that's interesting.

And other changes, like the profane/highly entertaining cell phone conversations one sometimes overhears on the bus, are more nebulous. When did people become okay with airing their dirty laundry in public?

But I guess that’s the nature of change, isn’t it? One minute you know exactly what you’re doing, and the next minute, despite your high school education, you can’t remember the old name for Myanmar or what used to stand on that corner before they tore it down to make way for the condos.

Change. You just can’t keep up.

Monday, April 20, 2015

Not All the Notes in my "Ideas" Notebook are Created Equal...

Knowing that I may lose whatever respect you may have developed for me – that is respect you’re developing for me, right? – it is possible that the time has come to expand on the note I scribbled in my notebook a month ago.

He may have moved out - and years ago - but his ability to influence remains.

The note?

“My son’s got gas.”

So small, isn’t it? A four-word sentence with more gravity, more depth, than one little sentence has a right to.

It’s not like there isn’t a warning beforehand. There’s a look on his face that I’ve come to recognize, immediately followed by a two-word precursor to a potentially life-changing event. Like the imperious command of “Scratch” – my cue to run my nails along his back until I am dismissed – there is also a far more subtle “Hey, Mom” – followed by an almost Mona-Lisa-like smile – that makes me run out of the room.

Why would a loving mother, a woman interested in what comes after “hey…” no matter who says it, go skittering out of a room as fast as possible after such a statement?

Because like I said, my son’s got gas.

Don’t get me wrong. This is not regular gas; not “whoops! sorry about that” gas; but hair-frying, clothes-wrinkling, room-clearing gas.

I hold myself responsible. Was it something I ate during pregnancy? Should I have not eaten only Mexican food, potatoes drenched in Tabasco, those little canned oranges and, so help me God, canned sardines?

Perhaps it has something to do with my weather-predicting hair? Could the ability to stenchify whole rooms be The Boy’s equivalent of my hair's ability to detect humidity?

I’ve lost your respect, haven’t I?