I've been included in a Minnesota anthology "Under Purple Skies", now available 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!

Wednesday, July 22, 2020

Slightly Compromised; or I’m Sure I’ll Be Fine

My memory used to travel down seasonal paths.

What’s that?  What restaurant?  Oh, yeah!  When were we last there?  I remember it was cold, but no snow.  Was it November?  I remember wearing the “winter white” coat, the one with the fabulous collar.  And Diana wore flats with no socks?  How does she stay warm?  Oooh, and do you remember the restaurant on the lake?  Peg was there.  She wore a one-piece pantsuit she came to regret around the end of her second drink.

People.  I remember hanging out with people, sometimes in large groups.  We sat next to each other, broadly grinning into each other’s faces.  Sometimes we hugged or sang karaoke.  

Now?  The sun rises, falls.  Little changes but maybe my shirt.  When did I last wear a pair of pants with a zipper?  Was it yesterday?  Was it last week?    Does it matter?  

Is there anyone keeping score?

Pearl, to borrow a phrase, has become unstuck in time.

I mean, don’t get me wrong.  I hear people.  Sometimes I even see people.  Almost five months into a work-from-home situation that I would’ve thought far more pleasurable than it actually is, there are people on Zoom. 

There are people just over that fence.  People on TV.  People upstairs. 

But are they present?  Nay, my friend.  Pearl – who now refers to herself in the third person, occasionally with what she imagines to be a 19th century English accent – can go days without a mask-to-mask conversation.  Unless, of course, we’re talking about the mask I’ve adhered to the wall, the one I call “Wilson”.

Wilson and I are tight.  

It’s like he can read my mind.

Perhaps things will be better in the fall.  I’ll find that coat, maybe get a mask to match.  Wilson and I will go out, split an order of fries.  Maybe share a straw.

It will be magical.

Tuesday, July 2, 2019

Oh, You Know. Just Squeakin' By.

There is a drawer at my desk that currently contains a can of organic carrot soup, an envelope of dried soup, canned peaches, a ziploc baggie of dried apricots, and, for crying out loud, a dozen packets of Kikkoman soy sauce.

Good heavens.  What am I preparing for?

Canned food.  Dried fruits.  Lotion, band aids, birthday candles.  Wrist guards, silverware, a spare umbrella.  Salt packets, dried-up pens.  A bottle of Beano sent by one's sister, who worries, often and aloud, about office courtesy.

It is when the sky grows dark, with thunderstorms, blizzards and/or black helicopters that I imagine, all over the world, the drawers of the terminally employed.  In my mind, I go quickly from Pearl, Office Wonder Grunt, to Pearl, Last Woman on Earth, skittering through the Habitrail-like skyways and tunnels of Minneapolis, gleaning the canned fruits and extra socks from the abandoned offices of downtown office workers, stopping, perhaps, to nibble, nervously and mouse-like, on random packets of saltines...

Wait.  Am I a rodent now?

Friday, June 28, 2019

Representin'! or People. Huh.

The bus, this morning, smells of hot dish.  Some sort of tomato-based, Italian-sausaged, crusty-cheese-topped hot dish. 

It is 6:35 am, and I am ready for dinner.

What time did this person get up, anyway?

For the uninitiated, there are many potential smells to the bus.  The February unwashed-winter-coat smell of the horror of middle winter.  The weed-y What?-I’m-holding-this-for-a-friend smell creeping from backpacks.  Smells of flowers bought at the farmers’ market, of exuberant cologne wearers, of wet hairspray.

Generally, though the bus smells of nothing. 

Impressive, no?

How do they do it?  Of the hundreds, maybe thousands of people that ride a bus in a day,  can it be that the majority of us are reasonable human beings?

I got into a conversation the other day.

"I don't know how you do it," she said.  "Riding the bus?"  She shudders, shaking her head.  "Ugh.  So dirty.  All those people.  You just don't know what kind of person you're dealing with."

"Weird," I said, "that's what they say about you."

And didn't that get me a look.

I took a good look around today.  Just who are we dealing with?  The guy who wears long sleeves no matter the weather, the psoriasis peeping from his wrists.  The woman, dab-dab-dabbing moisturizer on her face for the three miles downtown.  The man in the business suit and track shoes, reading 1984.  The woman who went from slender to pregnant to mother of a six year old -- she shakes now, relies on a cane -- maybe early 30s.  The man with the pointy head, traveling with a boombox and usually dressed as an NBA player, circa 1976.  The middle-aged lady in sensible heels and a jaunty hat, her purse balanced on her lap, waiting...

Bus Friend Sandy boards.  "Look at you," she says, sitting down.  "All dressed up."

I smile at her.  "Just holding up my end of the bargain," I say.

Wednesday, June 26, 2019

On the Other Hand, I Can Belch When I Feel Like It

Hello hello hello!  Acme Gravel and Grommets Corporate lackey here!  I’m so glad you dropped by!

You know, I don’t always come into work on time, but when I do, rest assured it coincides with the days that there is no one else on the floor.  People on vacations, people working from home (WFH, or as those in the know say, “whiffing”), people working from, oh, who knows where.  It’s the anything-goes 21st century, where people take conference calls from the beach and people in the office are alone with their computers and overcome with the sound of the heating/cooling system, a gentle whoosh that makes you grab last winter’s shawl and contemplate the under-desk nap you’ve been meaning to take for the last 30 years.

An intern skulks by. Backpacked and pale, she heads toward the elevator bank, beaten down through long hours (here and at school) and a propensity for introversion.  Poor thing.  She hasn’t built up any work defenses yet. Shall I tell her of “the ropes”?  Tell her where the good pens are hidden?  Would she possibly be interested in knowing of the offices most likely to produce quality, under-desk naptime?

Far down the hall, the World’s Busiest Assistant is whistling.  She’s been in this line of work since certain fish took to land and is remarkably unwilling to learn anything beyond what she already knows.  But oh!  The pressure!  Has she told you of the time she had to order lunch for 20 and THEY FORGOT THE NAPKINS?

She will.  

And on the day she tells me again, I shall smite her.

Note to Self:  Must warn intern of making eye contact with the WBA, that to agree to lunch is madness, that she should never leave with her to a third location. 


So there was a reason for me coming in today, after all.

Tuesday, June 25, 2019

What Time is It?

My grandson’s first birthday was this last weekend.  It was a wheel-based affair, in keeping with his unabashed love for all things rolling.  

The oldest man in the room, my grandson’s great-grandfather, sits at the kitchen table, unmoored in time, drifting among the years he spent in the Navy. 

“Where’s Pearl?” he suddenly exclaims.

I remember him taking The Boy and me to the Swedish Institute when they had a Viking ship on display.  He took us to lunch afterwards, and I ordered the chicken breast in aspic, just to impress him.

Aspic, for those not raised in the 18th century, is a meat gelatin.

You’re welcome.

I sit down opposite him at the table.  I can see that he doesn’t recognize me, and I swallow hard.

We stare into each other’s eyes.  Slowly, he remembers.  He leans across the table and pats my hand. “You’re very pretty,” he says.  He winks.

I smile – he always told me I was pretty. I stand up, walk to his side, but he’s gone, back to the early 1950s, when he is young and strong and stationed in the Philippines.  “It’s just beautiful, the water. Just look at it.”

I run a hand across his shoulders and head back to the living room, where my grandson is spinning the wheels of his new tractor, and my ribcage feels too small. 

Friday, June 21, 2019

Stop, Feeth!

There’ve been a rash of “theft from car”s in my neighborhood lately, particularly ones in which the windows were not broken but the door simply opened.

NextDoor is abuzz with incredulity.

Imagine.  Thefts!  From cars!

“They got my laptop, my wallet, and my good umbrella!”

“Someone took the jar of change I keep in the backseat.”

And here it is where we stop – hammer time – and reflect on all the things I will not say in response.

Things like:
Was the car locked?
And of course
They took your UMBRELLA?!  That’s IT!  I’m getting my conceal and carry!

I’m not an idiot, according to my mother, and I don’t say these things, because what do I know?  People work late, they forget, and there’s always someone waiting to take advantage of someone else’s lapse in judgement.  Me, I drive my car maybe twice a month and therefore keep very little in it.  On the other hand, as a bus-dweller, I am known to carry both a backpack and a bag I could smuggle small dogs in, so again, what do I know?

Grandma went into town with a lipstick and car keys and did just fine. We now carry things with us that cost hundreds of dollars.

"I didn't know it was that kind of neighborhood," writes one young, newly disillusioned neighbor.  "Guess I'll have to start locking my doors."

And I feel for her; not because she sees her neighborhood differently, but because she once believed she could leave a laptop in an unlocked car.

Thursday, June 20, 2019

Who Do You Gotta Know to Get a Snack Around Here?

There are lemon bars in the work lunchroom, leftovers from yesterday’s Birthday Celebration and Monthly Placation.

We’re a cared-for little group, those of us at Acme Grommets, Gravel and Industry (a world-wide Octopi).  In the fall, there are apples every Wednesday.  Once a month there are “treats”.  And almost quarterly someone from the mailroom runs up and down the halls shouting “There are leftovers in the breakroom!  Leftovers in the breakroom!” whereupon we lurch from our desks and stampede toward free food. 

You have to be fast.  Some of the departments here are frighteningly young but many are on the plump side.  Disturbed middle-aged desk monkeys such as myself use guile and experience to edge them out.  I find that cutting through the bathroom and throwing elbows when necessary to be a winning strategy.

Get away from that stale donut, you pup!

I’ve been working for an uncomfortably long time.  I’ve gone from electric typewriters and, so help me, carbon paper, to a docked laptop that I can take home with me, should the urge to work come over me whilst cooking dinner.  I’ve seen dress codes move from panty hose and enclosed-toed shoes to bare legs and flip flops.  I’ve seen numerous people changing their pants in the obliviousness of their open-doored offices. 

I once knew a woman who kept a tiny TV hidden at her desk and watched her “shows” during her lunch break in the bathroom. 

The bathroom.

I said all that to say this:  There are lemon bars in the lunchroom.  To my similarly experienced, randomly hungry coworkers, we will meet in the bathroom immediately. 

As in all things, get it while you can.