Job? What Job?

Ah the sweet forgetting that comes over you when you shake off the reins step out of the traces a while.

All of us Americans were on ‘away’ holiday for three days now and I myself have been gone even longer. My man and I took a trip down the Danube on one of those Viking Cruise Lines you see advertised so heavily on public television. Who by now doesn’t associate that start of Downtown Abbey and its the shot of the retreating fanny of His Lordship’s hound with the image that just precedes it, showing a view like this one, of the ship we overate on for seven days and nights? 

the freya

The experience was delightful, to say the least: Free wine and beer served every day at lunch and dinner, which for me on my customary diet of seeds, kale and the  pale watery juice that surrounds your cube of cube, felt like the height of self-indulgence! 

But back on land now with a fresh ring of lard around my waist, it’s time to address all the things in my life that were so pressing I almost missed the plane trying to get them all done.  It’s twenty past seven on this post-holiday morning I’m ready to get back to work on all those projects – if only I could recall what they were. 

what do we want joke


There’ll be more to tell about that trip once I catch up but for now let me pause a minute and repeat: what a sweet forgetting it is to just float a while – and you don’t have to be an elder to know that it’s true. 🙂

Happy Sunday! Stay Out of the Malls

stuck in traffic poor dog

Happy Sunday! Stay away from the malls, or else you’ll sit in your car for an hour just trying to get within a mile of the place.

Stay home and do old-time Sunday things.

Read the funnies.

Put a roast in the oven, which is really an old-time thing. (Write in if you’re under 40 and you don’t recognize words such as ‘roast’ or ‘oven’. We have a little pamphlet we can send you.”

Watch old movies while filling out the old holiday card. Yesterday I caught portions of TitanicThe Dream Team and The Bone Collector, all on my best friend HBO, while writing warm personal notes on 200 holiday cards.

Take a walk.

Light a candle when the sun starts to lower, which it does around here at like twenty past twelve in the afternoon.

Dig out those footed pj’s.


Go to bed early.

You’re not in charge of as much as you think you are; God can probably handle the sunrise tomorrow.


Chill Out

Was I trying to offend people this week, writing about a hot-button political issue AND about sex? Why didn’t I drag religion into it too? I could have described the Ruben Bolling cartoon that shows the Supreme Being out on the hustings. (”God’s Election Campaign,” the caption reads, next to a campaign poster with a shot of the deity Himself, duly robed and bearded, standing against a background of stars and planets. “My 12 billion year term is almost up,” He’s  saying, one finger raised in a gesture of public address, “and I need your support for 12 billion more!”  The caption under the photo: “God For Supreme Deity’’ with the persuasive slogan, ”Hey, his name  is GOD!!”)

I also showed a picture of a mustached woman that I scored from a Google search and that was not only mean but maybe even illegal what with the new privacy laws. I do feel a little remorseful about that. I should have just shown a picture of my own mustache…

All of which has me remembering what happened one day in the midst of my own personal 15 minutes of fame, namely when I got to the Finals in the competition to send a journalist up in the Shuttle.

I was in the bathroom ‘treating’ my unwanted hair when I heard something through the open window. It had been more than a month since the TV reporters had been here and now here I was an obscure private citizen again, in running shorts and a sports bra, razor in hand, one leg angled up like a grasshopper’s to bring it into the sink and a line of mustache-bleaching foam on my upper lip.

That’s when  I heard the two lawn-mowing guys who had just pulled up in a truck across the street.

“See that house?” one said, pointing to our place. “That’s where the ASTRONAUT lives!”

I looked in the mirror at this unsightly stork with the fat white caterpillar of  Jolen under her nose and thought “You? who would ever send you anywhere, except maybe to makeover school?’

It was one of those clarifying moments when you see yourself as you really are and it made me laugh that little worm right off my upper lip. It was a lesson for me, in not believing my own hype and in not taking myself so seriously.

I could beat my breast here and issue my usual mea culpas but instead I think I’ll just grab the Sunday funnies and crawl back in bed. I bet even that Hey-his name-is-God guy sometimes steps off the hustings to just let it be.  I’ll end with this shot of me, taken around the last year of my life I could get along without  the waxes and the bleach. Happy Sunday y’all~! 

That’s The Way That the World Goes ‘Round

I once read that Japanese businessmen smile all the time, happy or sad. In fact the article said the sadder they are the more they smile and I don’t know if this is true or not but the idea of it struck me like a thunderbolt. I identified. I also happened to read the piece the very same morning I was walking through the sanctuary of my church before the service began. “Why are you always smiling?! “someone said to me and in not all that nice a way either. 

I guess what he meant was “Nobody’s that happy” which is true enough, though teachers also smile no matter what, because they know that whatever pain or disappointment they’re dealing with those kids filing in have a right to see them at their best.

I write here every single day because that’s what I vowed to do when I started this blog . Some days I’m ridiculously happy and some days I’m pretty sad but even I can’t tell, reading back, how I felt on a given day. It’s such a blend in this life, the joy and the sorrow, isn’t it though? 

My old neighborhood came together yesterday to remember the life of a man who was, in his way, a father to all of  us kids. We came from Missouri and Florida and Vermont to be there, first for the visiting hours and then for the  memorial service. For the better part of 24 hours we did our best, together with his three grown children once our closest pals and co-conspirators, to conjure up the past.

He was such a funny man this Charlie Wilson yet he was always helping people too. Being around him was more fun than watching monkeys on a trampoline, yet he cussed like a sailor, which made you laugh even more. His son Alex said during our reminiscences that they wanted to rename his boat The Goddamit Barbara,  for how often he could be heard exclaiming those words around his relaxed and easy-going wife. 

We laughed so much over the last few days, the three bereaved children included, even though they wake again this morning with both parents still gone from them; with both parents in that other land, the  great and inimitable Charlie Wilson and his bride Barbara, who went on ahead last November. 

And that’s how it is for us all We laugh and we mourn. We smile and we are sad. Maybe singer-songwriter John Prine said it best. Below his tragicomic vision of life, here performed by the luminous Norah Jones.


Here in Salt Lake City a fat wallop of snow has arrived to smack everyone on the chin, and this on the year’s second heaviest travel day.

It was just ten degrees here when our plane landed Thursday night and it’s still mighty chilly now. My girl Annie has been staying in the new-baby house all this time while I have been billeted in a motel so spartan its wee kitchen offers just two cups, two bowls, three each in the spoon-fork-knife department  and maybe ¼ of an ounce of dishwashing liquid in a small foil packet.

But hey the fridge works, sort of, and the toaster at least warms up your bread if it doesn’t exactly brown it and they say  an actual Whole Foods lies just over yonder. So if it turns out I’m marooned here I guess I can always trudge over there  in the my ridiculous old fur coat, brought along just in case. I look like the Abominable Snowman in it I know but I bought it 20 years ago  both because it was seriously on sale and so I could have something warm to wrap my children in that Christmas when at my INSANE suggestion, we took the train from Boston Massachewsetts clear to Tampa F-L-A, chased the whole way down by a cold snap so severe it made black wilted spinach of all their lush vegetation.

Glad I was for this coat on that train I can tell you, especially when in classic Amtrak style the cars went cold, the water in the johns all froze, and our kids began throwing up one after another on entering them, first at the smell of the unflushed waste and then at the sight of each other throwing up but let me not go there now. Instead let the God of All Travel shine his light on all those trying to get home safe today. Annie and I don’t fly ‘til tomorrow and I know I’ll be fine here  even if the kids can’t come get me today in all these veils of white. That Whole Foods is just past a few dumpsters, across a right-of-way and through several hundred yards of parking lot where I can find  a wealth of soy flour, and wheat bran, and kelp sprouts if there even is such a thing as kelp sprouts.

me in my old fur coat

Why Men Go to Prostitutes

A cultural anthropologist once told me men go to prostitutes to cede control; to have even just a short space of time when somebody else is responsible and this makes sense to me. As a onetime teacher I feel this way every time I go to a lecture that I’m not giving. As a person who gets asked to give talks that bring people to that itch-at the back-of the-throat moment when laughter and tears vie I feel it too: thank God it’s not me up there trying to pull of that high-wire act.  (And if you’re not sure who the experts are at getting you to that moment doe think Billy Crystal in his one man show 700 Sundays; think Robin Williams in his best movie roles, like when he played Adrian Cronauer in the 1987 movie Good Morning Vietnam. (Think of his face as he watches the troop convoy passing him? Boy after doomed golden boy laughing and waving, recognizing him as the funny guy on the radio who helped keep them from losing their minds in that terrible Through the Looking Glass war.)

I feel control ebb away every time I have to go Massachusetts General Hospital to have some painful piece of fixing done, like when one of the particularly deft magicians there uses an electron microscope practically to insert kenalog into the messed-up joints of my cervical vertebrae.

I feel it leave very time I lift off in a plane, at that alarming moment when with an unsettlingly loud thunk! the landing gear gets sucked back up into that big bird body. You look down and think Aargh where is earth? What if we crash? What if I never see those dear faces again? And then you just…. let go. Because somebody’s in charge and it isn’t you and for once, for this one little short while , you get to practice the spiritual gift of surrender.

Now here’s Robin as DJ Adrian just doing the funny thing. Good way to start a Friday I think.