Tap shoes, dreams, and dust

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gathering dust as forgotten things go

My tap shoes gathering dust.  The dark blotch on the top shoe is my fingerprint.

 

I dreamed of dancing, once
of twirling, gliding, flying
slyph-like
across space and polished floors.
My parents couldn’t afford lessons
so I danced with Judy Forkey, instead.
She was Baryshnikov
to my Kirkland
because she was taller
and could catch me

when I lept.

Later the rage was tap.
Girls who took dance
in the next town over
wore their tap shoes to school
on the day of their lesson.
I loved the

click click click

of metal against
the tiled school floors.
I stuck tacks in the bottoms
of my shoes
trying to approximate the sound

click click click

It wasn’t the same.

Years later
I realized that I was grown up
and in charge of my life
so I bought a pair of tap shoes
and stuck them in my closet
sometimes I took them out
to imitate dance moves
on my linoleum floor
just to hear the

click click click

again.

I can afford lessons
now
when I find the time,
but time is harder to find
than the tacks
I had to filch
from my teacher’s desk
for the faux shoes.

Certainly
harder to come by
than dust.


Intrigued by the thought of leftovers.

If Andy Warhol came back as a horse . . .

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Would he look something like this?

Would he look like this?

A friend of mine has a horse she calls Rohan.  She also owns a tiny horse called Hobbit.  (She’s a huge LOTR fan.)  I took this photo of Rohan last month and then played around with it using various photo apps.  The picture makes me think of Andy Warhol.

What does this have to do with anything?  Nothing.  I just liked the photo.  It’s fun.  It’s summer.  And I’m not really here.

If you want to read something, though, here’s a VERY brief encapsulation of my entire life accompanied by 6 meaningful songs (plus a bonus track).  I’m featured with the very cool Hippie Cahier over at Life in 6 Songs. It’s a fun read, plus there’s great music.  What could be better than that on a summer’s day?

See y’all soon.

 

How to be happy

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Sculpture by Anne Mimi Sammis.  Located at Narragansett Beach, RI.

Sculpture by Anne Mimi Sammis. Located at Narragansett Beach, RI.

 

Lately, I’ve been working on HAPPY – that elusive state of being that people are always trying to achieve.  Seems like a good summer project to me.  I’ve been on antidepressants for fifteen years, and I recently decided to wean myself from them.  I want to see what difference fifteen years of living and learning has done for me.  So far, so good.

As an exercise in mindfulness (or as mindful as my over-active brain will allow), I’ve started making a list of the things that bring me joy.  Sometimes, I surprise myself.

(By the way, my list is not numbered. If you want to know why, it’s because I hate numbers. They are so often used to measure worth, as in too old/too young/too fat/too thin/too short/too tall.  They grade and degrade you. Numbers do not make me happy.  Ever.  If I were a mathematician I would probably feel differently.  But, I am not.)


 

MY HAPPY LIST

Always put butter on your bread when making sandwiches.  Because who really wants dry bread?

Stand up straight.  Your spine will thank you.  When I was in my early twenties I took beginning ballet lessons for a couple of months.  It was hard, but exhilarating.  I know what a plié is.  The ballet teacher taught us to picture a puppet string sprouting from the top of our head pulling us upright. I still imagine this.

Swim in creative waters every day.  See a rose in the dandelion; a butterfly in the wasp.  Paint a word picture.  Sing a story.  Make some noise and call it a song.

If you are lucky enough to have stairs in your home, run up them whenever possible.  Taking them two at a time is even better. Move your body.  Shake it, wiggle it.  Dance your feet off.  Promote yourself to the Ministry of Silly Walks.

Take time to daydream.  Revel in it.  If someone says you’re a dreamer, say — Thank you.  If they point out that your head is in the clouds, tell them  — Yes, I know.  (I’ve had this whole daydreaming thing pretty well mastered since about second grade.)

Always taste the ice cream as soon as you get it home.  The amount of pleasure you get is commensurate with the meltiness at the top of the container.

Be satisfied.  If you can’t be that, be patient.  (I’m holding out hope that eventually I will own a car with four doors instead of two.  It doesn’t have to be brand new.)  Stuff has a shelf life.  Memories last a lifetime.

Embrace your fear.  I am afraid of heights.  This does not bother me.  I don’t believe I am missing out by not conquering this fear.  I have no need to climb mountains, parachute from planes, or bungee jump from insanely high bridges. If anything, I’m increasing my chances of avoiding serious injury or premature death.

Laugh.  Because, endorphins or something.  It’s easier on your shins than running, and doesn’t make you sweat.

Be kind.  Because, duh.  Kindness is as simple as smiling at a stranger.  It reverberates through the universe.

Read out loud, even if it’s only to yourself.  If you have them, read aloud to kids.  The happiness quotient raises exponentially with the number of kids.

Also, just read.  Read for the words.  Roll around in them.  They are lovely. Read for the story; the escape; the characters.  Read for the child you used to be who got scolded for reading at inappropriate times.  You are an adult now. You can read any damn time you want.  (Whoa . . . just writing that last sentence released a whole swirling cloud of endorphins.  I can tell.)


There.  Wasn’t that fun?  Now you do it, go out and create your own list. What makes me happy is not a panacea.  Happiness isn’t a one-size-fits-all kind of thing.  Keep adding to the list. That’s what I’ll be doing.  And if you’ve a mind to, feel free to share the things that make you happy, too.

We’re all in this together.

Fragile

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one day they will fly

One day soon they will learn to fly.

 

Reflections: 07/08/1990

A night
in the life of us.
Kathy says
she wants credit
for the title.
Okay
I say.
I am easy.
Tommy has always been
easy
or so he thinks.
I think
we are all too
fragile
for real life.


Several days ago my husband discovered a nest containing newly hatched baby robins in our rhododendron bush.  I took a photo with my phone.  I keep looking at the picture, amazed that such tiny creatures are able to survive at all.  How is that even possible?  I mean, look at them.  They have scant feathers and see-through skin.  Their spines are a yellow dotted line down their backs.  They cannot hold their heads upright.

Something in the fragility of these babies made me think of a night long ago. My sister was visiting from Virgina, about to move to California.  My brother was still alive.  I convinced them to go with me to see the movie, Cinema Paradiso – a magical film about childhood and how it shapes who we become. Afterwards, we went to a bar where we drank wine and wrote poetry on paper napkins.  Then we sat in a park, talking into the night until one of us was sober enough to drive home.  I kept all of my napkin poems from that night twenty-four years ago.  Dated and numbered, yellowing and stained; seven of them in all.  I don’t know if my sister still has hers.  I wish I had my brother’s.

I don’t remember what started it, the writing poetry on napkins.  Most likely the wine and the movie, the looking backwards to the past.  Wondering how any of us survive the chaos that comes with growing up?  We were so fragile then, our dreams as transparent as glass.  Our poetry so self-confessional.

But survive, we do, for a time.  Some of us longer than others.

The baby robins are thriving.  Which is a miracle to me.  In five days they have doubled in size.  Their feathers are coming in and there are the shadowy buds of wings that will eventually lift them from their nest.

I hope to bear witness when they do.

Five days old.  A crowded house.

Five days old. A crowded house.

What the Heart Wants

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stone heart 2

“The heart wants what it wants . . . .”

     ~ Emily Dickinson


The heart wants blood & proper plumbing
valves
un-clogged arteries
electricity thrumming
a steady rhythm.

It’s a muscle
after all
little mouse of soft tissue
no bigger than a fist
wanting us to eschew
the fat
to move ourselves
in vigorous exercise
to breath deeply
of clean air.

A heart cannot live
on metaphors
that speak 
of love
and longing
words best left
to poets
& to time.

Weekly Photo Challenge: Twist

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fforde ffiesta 08 TwistA whirl of caracters rising upward:
a girl in a green dress
a Hawaiian-shirted tourist
a minotaur
two cheese smugglars
mustachioed
horned
and adorned
disguised
and prized
Ffiesta tomffoolery
for the ffun
of it.


The photo was taken at the DeVere Hotel in Swindon, UK, May, 2008.  The occassion was the second Fforde Ffiestaa gathering for fans of the author, Jasper Fforde.  (You can find out about Jasper Here and Here.) My husband, our son, and I have been attending these events since 2005, because these people are like family; each event has become a family reunion of sorts.  Those of us who consider ourselves members of this wacky, wonderful family are celebrating the fact that this weekend is EXACTLY 12 months away from the next reunion.  We can barely contain our enthusiasm.

Posted as part of the Weekly Photo Challange.

Until a tiny thing trips you up (Flash Fiction)

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London Eye pm 1

It is a truth universally acknowledged, that a mother in possession of a young child must be in want of a crystal ball.

She wasn’t afraid of anything: Smoldering fire; hail storms of passion; blood-sucking leeches, reeking of desire.  Bring it on.  Her hobnailed boots were made for stomping, and she could dance, by god.  She could move.  She could run long and fast and still have breath enough to laugh in the face of all that friction.  Drive a truck with her old life across country toward her future?  Piece of cake.

She, and the man she knew would never try to change her, made a new life in a place where people lived on fried dough and clams.  A baby arrived one winter morning weighing less than the four-layer fudge cake she was planning for her birthday later; a clear-eyed boy careening headlong into the world so furiously that he took her breath away.

But time is a forward moving thing that cares for no one.  It will not pause for one second, no matter how nicely you ask.  She learned this on a ferris wheel as her child laughed between her husband and herself. The wheel lurched forward and backward, filling and emptying, still moving ever upward, and then slowly around and down, where she asked to be let out.  She walked away and watched as the wheel rolled upwards carrying her heart.

She pictured the wheel collapsing, sending the cars flying through the air, saw her husband and her child (who still believed she could make monsters disappear) hurtling downward while she had chosen to save herself.  She could do nothing to stop the inevitable.  Hobnail boots were useless.

She knew that all she had was now.

 


 

Written for the DP Weekly Writing Challenge: Flash Fiction.  296 painstakingly sculpted words.  The limit was 300.  As is usually the case, I chose the photograph first and let it tell me the story.  Apologies to Jane Austin for the bastardized version of her opening sentence in Pride and Prejudice.

Mostly a true story

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Pet rabbit

When I was seven or eight, my father caught a rabbit.  As in, saw it by the side of the road one winter evening, stopped the car, and chased it down.  I don’t know what possessed him to do this.  He’d been drinking and we were poor; presumably he saw it as an opportunity to bring home a pet for my younger sister and me.  Also, he liked a challenge.  This was a man who swam in the winter, in the Adirondacks where winters (and lakes) are frigid. He believed swimming in icy waters kept him from catching colds.  I don’t know if that was true.  It is true, however, that he is still alive and 82 (though he no longer drinks or chases rabbits or swims in winter).

My sister and I were happy to have the rabbit.  A rabbit is soft and cuddly, and lives longer than a goldfish — especially our goldfish, which we had not had much luck keeping alive for very long.  My sister kept wanting to hold hers; I kept forgetting to feed mine.

But this is not really about rabbits or pets or fathers who chase wild rabbits through the woods until they catch them.  It’s about memory, and the illusionary nature of what we think we know.

What I thought I knew was this: my father chased a rabbit through the woods, caught it and brought it home.  We kept the rabbit in a pen in the yard.  I came home one day from school, or from playing, and learned that the rabbit was dead, which was bad enough, but then later sat down to a dinner of rabbit.  Our rabbit.  I am still traumatized by the memory.  Especially after toting it around in my bag of recollections for so many decades.  (It’s a wonder I am sane.)

After rummaging through my memory recently, I decided to fill in the gaps of this particular story.  I called my sister, first.  She remembered the rabbit incident.  The neighbor’s dog killed it, she said.  They gave us a black bunny to make up for it.

What neighbor, I asked?  I didn’t remember the dog-as-rabbit-killer bit, or the black bunny replacement.

The people who lived next door, said my sister.  An old couple, they drank a lot.  I think his name was Bill.

Even with a nudge, I can’t remember the people who lived next door to us. I can vaguely picture the house — it was smaller than ours — but in my mind it always sat empty.

Okay, but Mom cooked the rabbit for dinner later, I said.  I remember that.

I don’t think she cooked it.

She did!

Maybe.  I suppose she could have.  I remember eating rabbit when we were kids.

Then, I called my mother.  Remember when Dad caught that rabbit and brought it home?

I think so, she said.  We built a little pen for it.  We went somewhere for the day and I forgot to leave it water until after we got home, and by then the rabbit was crazed from being so thirsty.

Is that how it died?  Amy said the neighbor’s dog killed it.

I don’t remember how it died.

Did you cook it?

(I asked nicely.  Not the least bit accusatory.)

No.  Someone would have had to skin it.

Finally, I called my father, the man who caught the rabbit.

Our rabbit, I said.  Amy claims the dog next door killed it.

No.  The dog that killed it belonged to the family who lived on top of the hill. Your brother dated their daughter in high school.

Did Mom cook the rabbit?

There wasn’t much left of that rabbit after the dog got through with it.  The people felt so bad they gave you ducklings.

Amy said we got a black bunny as a replacement.

Could have been, my father said.

So, there you have it.  Mostly a true story, except for the rabbit being cooked. For the life of me, I don’t know where in my psyche that piece came.  A bad dream, perhaps, fused with the memory by virtue of proximity in time.

To this day, though, I will not eat rabbit, nor will I ever as long as I live.

That part is completely true.

 

 

 

 

 

“why i feed the birds” by Richard Vargas

marydpierce:

Sharing this especially for my dear friend Jeanne who will know why this particular poem is so special, and that I am thinking of her. Also, Christina at Words for the Year is awesome and posts WORDS that are always worthy of reading.

Today is Earth Day, people. Go out and feed a bird or two!

Originally posted on Words for the Year:

once
i saw my grandmother hold out
her hand cupping a small offering
of seed to one of the wild sparrows
that frequented the bird bath she
filled with fresh water every day

she stood still
maybe stopped breathing
while the sparrow looked
at her, then the seed
then back as if he was
judging her character

he jumped into her hand
began to eat
she smiled

a woman holding
a small god

“why i feed the birds” by Richard Vargas from Guernica, Revisited. © Press 53, 2014.

*for my grandmother, who loved to feed the birds and who passed that love to me

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