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Thursday, August 4, 2016

I'll Bet a Pencil Would Fit Nicely...

Part of my descent into cranky world-weariness involves the young man about to walk by me.

He doesn’t know it – and probably wouldn’t care if he did, him bein’ a young’un and all – but for the next couple of minutes, I am holding him directly responsible for the battle I am engaged in, the battle wherein I consciously work on not frowning.

His pants, heavens above, his pants are buckled just below his butt.

Not a jaunty slip of the waist, not a ribald flash of crack, but a full-on, you-don’t-know-me-I-wear-my-pants-the-way-I-want, belt-cinched, thigh-hobbled, future-chiropractic-needing middle-finger-by-way-of-trousers to every single person passing him on the street – nay, every person in the world.

OK.  Maybe not every person in the world.


That descent happened so much faster than I expected it would.

Mr. These Are My Underwear passes, a half-smoked cigarette stuffed behind one ear, one hand holding a cell phone, the other holding up his pants.  The urge to trip him wells up in me as I feel a crooked smile spread across my face.

“Hey,” I say, “Your pants are falling down.”

He doesn’t hear me but instead continues his way down the street where he will no doubt meet up with others of a similar fashion ilk. 

Good luck to him.

Tuesday, August 2, 2016

Come Here! No, Go Away! GAH

The angst I feel at this time of my life is not becoming. 

I mean sure, it was cute when I was a teenager – even somewhat adorable in my 20s!  But firmly ensconced in my 50s?  Muddled, anxious, crabby, lonely, and sweaty, maybe.

Not becoming.

I dislike my moodiness and have taken to faking jocularity in public.  Hi!  How are you!  Me?  Oh, fine, fine.  You know, it certainly is hot out!  That’ll change soon enough, huh?  OK – yeah, you, too!  Talk to you later!


Truth be told, I sailed through my teens.  Aside from being unreliable, contemptuous, snide, disagreeable, and sneaky, I was not an entirely bad person, despite what you may read in my yearbook.

And now, it’s all I can do to keep the scowl off my face.

How does this work now?  How do I go from loving the people around me to secretly wishing that they’d, oh, you know, drop dead?

I keed!  I keed!  Please don’t drop dead!

Argh.  I need someone much, much larger than me to wrap me in a blanket, swaddle me tight, and beam lovingly into my eyes until I fall asleep.

Followed by treats, words of praise, and a steak, medium-rare.

I am in the middle of writing this when I get a text from a relative:  I’m crabby and hormonal and a complete monster. What do I do?

What do you do? 

Oh, honey.  You sit here next to me.

Tuesday, June 21, 2016

I've Gone Straight

I recently started seeing a chiropractor.

This, after a lifetime of disparaging them.

It was a medical doctor who got me started.  “No matter what,” he said, “never let anyone “crack” your neck.  It will paralyze you.”  He tapped the x-ray of my neck, a crooked, convoluted depiction of a Jenga tower, with the end of a pen liberated from a Holiday Inn.


“Absolutely,” he said.  “Never see a chiropractor.”

So I didn’t.  Because if there’s one thing that can be said of me, it’s that I’ll listen when it’s convenient.

And so to compensate for the increasing instability of my neck I took up yoga.  And wearing one of those bags of uncooked rice you heat up in the microwave.  And purchasing pillows.

And margaritas.

And it all worked until the day it stopped working, the day I couldn’t raise my left arm, couldn’t pull a shirt over my head, couldn’t raise my own margarita glass.

“Hmm,” says the doctor.  “What pharmacy do you use?”

And so I consulted with a professional, took out a small loan; and am here, before you once again, as a woman with two sets of fully functioning limbs.

I go twice a week, where a small and intensely chatty woman hooks me up to electricity and heat lamps.  This is then followed by another woman – not as small but just as chatty – who tells me to relax and then bends my spine to her will.

I take back all the things I said about chiropractors.

Tuesday, June 7, 2016

I Haven’t Always Been as Hot as I am Now

I regularly burst into flame.

Of course, you wouldn’t know it to look at me.

Or maybe you would.  It’s hard to have one’s internal temperature moved to “Bake” – and without permission! – and not give it away.

Take, for instance, the flush of my downy pink cheeks.  There’s a giveaway.  What once spoke of a day in the sun now shouts of increasing distraction and the urge to get into some sort of hollering match, preferably one in which I am absolutely in the right, something that perhaps ends with a massage and offers of treats.

“You can’t tell by looking at you,” he says, turning on the fan.

“But it’s true,” I say.  “I’ve been set to Intermittent Broil.”

He says these things, perhaps, because it’s in his best interest.  Or so I imagine.  Frankly, while I like to envision myself as somewhat formidable, I’m just not that scary.  I rarely shout, berate, or demand, in general; but I am beginning to see why some women do.

“I see perimenopause as the reverse of puberty,” I tell a friend.  “Whatever your puberty was like, it’s going to come up again.”

She shakes her head.  “I’m gonna crawl out my bedroom window,” she says, “looking for parties.”

“Me,” I say, “I’m going to burst into tears.”

She nods.  “Probably do that, too.  Hey – can we write our boyfriends’ names over and over on something?”

“Only if you call mine and ask him if he like-likes me.”

We are quiet for a moment.

“You want to go to Dairy Queen?” she asks. 

I rise.  “Think they will let me stand in the walk-in cooler?”

Thursday, May 19, 2016

Pleased to Meet Me

According to the scrolling marquee at the front of the bus, today’s date is 10/23/34.

I turn away from it, return to my Springtime Revelry, required of all Minneapolitans, wherein we gaze lovingly at the green, green, green of a well-deserved spring.

It’s October, 2034, you say.

I feel as if I should be more concerned about that.  My bills, for instance.  Am I current?

Or perhaps it’s 1934, in which case I am earlier for work than I’ve ever been. 

I am struggling with which scenario I prefer when the bus comes to a stop.  A young woman settles into the seat next to me. 

I wait.  It’s been a full two seasons since I’ve last seen her.  Does she still do it?  Will she do it now?  I can wait for – I pull out my phone, check the time.  I can wait for another nine minutes.

I got all morning, lady.

And just like that, my patience is rewarded.  She opens her purse, pulls out a small zippered bag from which she pulls out a small bottle.  From this bottle she squeezes perfect, candy-button sized daubs of lotion onto her fingertips.  Dab. Dab dab dab.  The ends of her fingers dance, lightly, across her cheeks, her chin, up on to her forehead and down the line of her nose.  Dab.  She isn’t rubbing.  She isn’t smoothing.  It’s far more delicate than that.  Her fingertips touch delicately upon her flesh.  She is young, she is moderately attractive, and dagnabit, her skin is hydrated and dewy and it’s going to stay that way.

I look out the window.  I want to stop her, want to tell her that she is going to look as young as she does right up until she doesn’t, that with bone structure like hers, moderate attention to her diet and exercise, she will be judged much younger than she is, right up until she isn’t.

I look back, quickly, to see her carefully, oh so carefully, massaging the lotion into her face.  She doesn’t stop until two minutes before I get off the bus.

What year is it?

It’s both sooner and later than we think it is.  

Wednesday, May 18, 2016

Seems Like About 20%; or Yeah, But How Was the Service?

The morning sky is a powdery blue, the clouds edged with a salmon color that really sets off the red in my eyes.

I don’t sleep well, a fact that I feel the need to repeat every now and then. 

Hello.  How are you?  Me, I didn’t sleep well last night.

But I do what I do, as I must, every morning.  Not only does my alarm clock demand this of me, but Dolly Gee Squeakers, formerly of the Humane Society Squeakers, relies on our routines:  the alarm clock, the slap-slap-slap of the snooze button, teeth/hair/lunch/dress/treats for the kitty and then out the door.

Monday through Friday, between the hours of 5:32 and 6:34. 

I cross a busy intersection, imagining that I look crisp and business-like, stepping smartly from road to curb.  I feel urbane and glamorous, no small feat at this time of morning.  Summer is returned, and all things are possible.  The weather has ceased its six-month-long killing spree, the birds have returned and have much to say, the sidewalk is free of ice and full of underwear…

I look down, step over a pair of pink lace and leopard-skin-patterned underwear.  They are neither old nor new.  I decide, for my own sake, to think of them as clean.

They are on the walk way directly in front of restaurant nearest the bus stop.

I stop, back up.  Whose are they?  Does she know they are gone? Were they hurled from an open car window?  Were they left here, in front of the restaurant, in exchange for services rendered?

I move on, reach the bus stop, whereupon I board the stopped bus, waving my scan-able bus card in front of the scan-able bus card reader.  I sit, as I always do, near the rear of the bus and stare out the window at the newly-leafed trees.

Have I been tipping incorrectly all these years?

Friday, February 5, 2016

A Quiet Moment with George and Pearl

I have taken the bus to George’s place, a self-sufficient set of rooms in an old building with high ceilings and interesting neighbors.

The bus line is a mix of people who wear business suits and expensive shoes and people who wear striped socks and miniskirts, ironically tragic velour tracksuits and Rasta hats.

I stare, absentmindedly, at Rasta Mon, thinking about how much I would like a nap.  I do not realize how much I have been staring at him until he de-buses, but not before slipping me his phone number.


George  greets me at the door, leads me to her rooms.

She has been using the lid of a giant tub of laundry detergent as a palette, multiple blues, whites, black and red daubs of dried oil paints have dried in excited, creationist splotches.  I push aside a sweater, take a seat.

George has been creating moods.

“What’s going on here?” I say.

George raises her eyebrows.

“The one on the left looks submissive,” I say. 

George nods.  “And perhaps a bit accepting, right?  Like this is something she’s known all along.”

“Well, look at her,” I say.  “The chick in red, she’s won; and somewhere along the line, the one in the tank top always knew she would.”

George tilts her head to one side, scrutinizes the painting.

“Are they a couple?” I ask.

George shrugs.  “I don’t know,” she says, finally.  “Red Dress seems to be kind of possessive of her.  Makes ya wonder.”

I squint at George.  “You didn’t know if they were a couple when you started painting?”

George shakes her head.  “I start out with an idea, but I can’t control where it goes sometimes, you know?”

“But what’s it all mean?”

She shakes her head again.  “I’m not sure yet.”

“That happens to me,” I say.  “I start writing something, and where it ends is rarely how I thought it would.”

“That’s interesting,” George says.  “I would think that someone who works with words would have some sort of control over them.”

I laugh.  “And I would think someone who works with oil paints would be using something other than the lid of a detergent bucket as a palette.”

George shakes her head.  “Sometimes,” she says, “I wonder if I’ll ever be fully self-aware.”

I nod.  “I know exactly what you’re saying.”