When You Least Expect It

galaxy 1


There are some days when the daily drudge of life grinds a person’s spirit to the point that stepping out of the routine is nothing short of lifesaving. Of late, the daily repeat of rain, thunder, wind and humidity had pretty well left me feeling like old toweling; I was ready to let the individual threads of whatever was holding me together release their integrity. I’d gotten to such a point within a manuscript that all I wanted to do was pull out a virtual torch and let fly with the fire. Yes, my finger hovered over the “delete” key.

Then, I saw that someone else was struggling with the same hated dance partner that I was fighting with, depression. I do so wish that the stigma of mental illness was a thing of the past. When you’re dealing with any of the monsters that live in that closet, it’s as if they have a life all their own. Your sanity is their prey and they are avid, cunning predators. Mental illnesses know where all the ‘buttons’ are because they hardwired the triggers. If you own a single erg of compassion, then when you happen across a similar soul fighting the same noble battle, there is no other choice but to lend a hand, a shoulder; Hell, take up arms right next to them.

Not all of us are blessed to find the “other” part of us in a relationship that goes beyond a simple pairing, but when that particular magic occurs, very few of us examine the depth of what it can truly be. We’re not a perfect species, even in relationships we tend to mess things up – sometimes beyond simple repair. Then, there are those of us that despite repeated failure find a way to, with great trepidation and despite the inner warning klaxon deafening us, open that door to our fragile, delicate soul centers one more time. When it’s not a fatal error, this becomes the very thing that poets and philosophers have waxed poetic over for centuries.

For near a quarter of a century, I have woven my spirit with that of another. Whatever it is between us, it has served us well as a medium against the criticism of others, as a nursery of hope to raise three children within, and a shelter against the storms of rising and falling fortune. We’ve found a safe harbor to moor within, and gypsy spirits that we may be, this is our base, our home – no matter where we rest our heads when sleep beckons. With all the hoopla over same sex marriage, legal rights, acceptance of sexual identity, etc. I stand baffled. What is it with humanity that we must insist on finding the most inane, bizarre conflicts of consciousness and inflate them to be the dread monsters of superstition?

In some form or another, we’ve managed to scrape together 2.5 million years of bi-pedal hominid history. Did we ever make it from sentience to enlightenment? Are we supposed to? Or, are we destined to dance around the next transformative force we discover and name it as a god, not unlike our distant forebears around a campfire? This day is too young and there’s too much blood in my caffeine system to follow this line of questioning any further.

I was thinking about my beloved last night as I watched the skies momentarily clear from the seasonal rainy weather. To that end, I will share the following:


Infinity Plus One

Somewhere on the shores

of Eternity, we’ll still be

walking hand in hand

until the last star flickers

into the shadows of Infinity.

Then, we’ll just turn, one

to the other and murmur

into our shared breath, “That was

interesting. Shall we do it


My heart shall ever beat as

one with yours, our feet

will dance the same

steps, and our fingers

intertwine. All our joys,

fears and tears to mingle

in the same rain, dance

on the pebbles of the driveway,

and water the flowers in the garden

of our lives together.

One day, maybe the rest

of the 6 billion souls we

share air with will understand;

“I Love You” is just the beginning.


P.S. Remember, Angel Martinez will be on this blog on the 25th. Come see what she has to share!

LGBTQ Push Back Giveaway



Love is Love is Love…..

Allow me to state once and for all, I am a STRONG supporter of equal rights for EVERYONE. Likewise, I usually allow folks with a differing opinion to enjoy every bit of their personal opinion – as long as they don’t try to shove it down my throat, or the throats of anyone else, OR decide to legislate their personal beliefs into a public policy. Live and let live is a pretty happy place to be and with very few exceptions, a fairly nice lane to drive through life in.

When my firstborn nervously approached me to venture forth the idea that she might be bisexual, I didn’t flinch an inch. In fact, I think she was sort of shocked when I told her that her biological father was and he was closeted about it. Which, wasn’t a nice to for me to find out about until a couple of years AFTER he left the scene and I had to wait 3 weeks for the results of an AIDS test. (Note to genetic benefactor of first born child: Spurned ex-lovers have a very efficient network capability and a definitive taste for revenge tartare….oh gee, is the blood still dripping down my chin from that? Oops.)

Events of late have left a VERY nasty taste in my mouth; especially when righteous dim-wits go out of their way to show the rest of the world what an absolute failure our educational system currently is and just how decayed the interior working of our democratic republic is. We have the legislative process only the most elite of oligarchs could have wet dreams over and an educational system so pathetic that we’re only microns away from dropping statistically below certain Third World countries. Into this festering cesspool we add laughingstock after vaudevillian sideshow of state mandated ‘religious freedom’ statutes and ‘abstinence only’ sex education.

The pathetic outcome of such short-sighted actions will result in hairless bi-pedal hominids with scarcely enough mentation to punch buttons; those that survive their litter’s gestation in mothers infested with drug resistant venereal diseases, that is.

It’s PAST time to push back against the tides of intolerance, the bulwark of bullying, and the rubber bullets of riot police. I proudly support AJ Rose, Kate Aaron and Meredith King’s organized efforts in this weekend’s LGBTQ Push Back Charity Giveaway, and have a couple of short stories to offer up in exchange for donations to their efforts. OR….(keep in mind that in R/L I am clergy) …I will joyfully write a complete liturgy for whatever spiritual need you have.

There you have it in 500 words or less. Please support this cause; next to our fur-babies and purr-babies, it’s near and dear to my heart. Further, for about the same price as that fancy coffee in your hand, you’ll be supporting authors that could be wandering the streets looking for unsuspecting characters to add to their next novel in compromising situations with questionable motives. Scary thought, no?

For more information and how to donate, sign up for the neat stuff, etc. Go HERE:


An excerpt of the good stuff at that site:

It started when my sister Sarah overheard me talking to my boyfriend on the phone.
That afternoon, under the football stadium bleachers, Jonathan and I had our first kiss, and
I told him how much I liked it, how I wanted to do it again. I didn’t notice the click of
another phone in the house being picked up, but I sure heard it when my parents yelled my
full name.
“Elijah Michael Goodman, come here right this second!”
“I gotta go,” I whispered to Jonathan, and hung up before he could say anything. My
heart was in my throat as I went downstairs to the living room to see my mother and father
standing there, looking for all the world like they’d swallowed lemons.
“Who were you on the phone with?” Dad asked.
“Jonathan,” I answered truthfully. They thought he was my best friend. “Why?”
“What were you talking about?” Mom demanded, her voice shaking.
I squirmed and did the only thing I could with no time to think. I lied. “A test in
Algebra tomorrow.”
“That’s not what Sarah heard,” Dad challenged, eyes flashing.
Oh shit, I thought, but would never say out loud. My parents would tan my hide if I
swore in front of them, then take me to confession.
My silence made them angrier. Dad’s face turned red. “She said you kissed Jonathan.”
There was no way to refute that. I wasn’t a good liar. All I could do was take a deep
breath and nod, hoping they’d see the pleading in my eyes.
“Are you gay?” Mom demanded. Another nod.
The rest is a blur. My mother began screaming about my soul and salvation, and
they wouldn’t listen when I tried to tell them I tried not to be interested in guys, but it was
impossible. My dad went quiet, which was scarier than if he’d yelled, or even taken out the
Roughly grabbing my arm, he marched me up to my room, got out a duffel bag, and
threw three changes of clothes in it, grabbed my deodorant from the top of the dresser, and
shoved my shoes at my chest. Then he dragged me back downstairs, twisting my ankle in
the process, and threw me out the front door, the duffel landing beside me on the dry,
brown lawn.
“Don’t come back. You’re not our son anymore.”
My heart, having never left my throat, exploded, taking with it my ability to breathe.
What did he mean? Don’t come back, ever?
That’s how it started. By the time I’d walked to Jonathan’s, my parents—no, Mr. and
Mrs. Goodman—had already called his parents, and his mother met me at the door with
crossed arms and a stern expression, telling me Jonathan wasn’t home, and that he wasn’t
allowed to see me. As I’d walked away shivering, tears stinging my cheeks in the cold
November air, I’d looked back. Jonathan was at his bedroom window, holding an ice pack to
his eye and looking miserable. He gave a tentative wave, which I returned.
I had no choice. I had no money. I didn’t have my coat. No phone. And no one to call


Adrian 2









When you are trapped in a mind

That is crippled with broken wings

The winds that bring the day to you are cruel and unkind.

When your spirit is mocked and shamed

For not playing along, though the game

Is for those who cheat and lie.

It is then that I long for the breath

Of a dragon, the claws of the lion

The scream of a hunting hawk.

I did not ask to stumble and fall

I did not expect the march to be broken

By the Sword of Unspoken Fate.

Enchanted by the illusions of immortality

I failed to understand that mortal bodies

Have mortal limits, despite the Eternity

Of the inner self.

When next you see the ashes

Of a fire, remember well one day

You too will be like those remnants

Of what was once bright and welcoming.

You will be no more than the fragile flakes

Of someone else’s memory.


March 28th, 2015

Rhae Camdyn

I Weave On Her Loom



What is it about being human that hurts so damn good and so damn bad at the same time? I ask this because, in a fit of that strange sanity that attacks me from time to time and kicks my arse into cleaning and organizing, I stumble over things like birthday cards, Mother’s Day cards, and old pictures that have me sighing in blissful joy or sobbing like baby. Perhaps, it’s also because the college kid is winging her way back to campus in about 24 hours more or less; and it’s always an emotional wrench to let her go.

On the other hand, there are the insane conversations that leave her father howling with laughter, trying to catch his breath and me blinking in confusion, “What did I miss?” It simply must have been hysterical on some level, because if I caught their eye throughout the day, the giggles and guffaws were painfully stifled. I’d like to say that I’ll promise revenge later, but I’ve also learned at the knees of Chaos that my chance to laugh like a madwoman at their foibles will come soon enough.

It’s been insanely crazy with the weather locally. When you consider that Kat left her winter clothes on campus because she was coming back to the locals of Texas for the Winter break, it’s been a bit of a stunner to awaken to a morning when the mercury on the back porch barely struggled to make it over 20 degrees. Oh to be sure, it gets better – her plane leaves tomorrow morning and the ever-so-rare event of threatened SNOW is a distinct possibility overnight.

This is Central Texas, folks. No one with any sanity dares to drive on the inevitable iced roadways. Personally, I’m convinced that this is a Universal slap-tickle because I refused to book any flights through Chicago O’Hare either way for our girl. I felt that no child of mine would be forced to sleep on the floor of a snow-bound airport and Truth be told, O’Hare gets more than their share of snow delays. Looks like the joke is going to be on me if ABIA is doomed to a weather delay.

In the mad stroke of domestic desire to clean and organize, I found my Josh Groban CD’s. (Yeah, whatever…I’m a shameless, hopeless romantic. I’m convinced we’re a dying breed, so I’m not going to make apologies.) Everything was going along swimmingly until I found a picture of my eldest child’s godmother at the same time that the CD reached the selection “To Where You Are.” It was emotionally devastating on the order of a 9.5 earthquake.

Mary was my beyond-best-friend/sister-by-a different-mister/anamcara (before I knew what the word meant!) We’d seen each other through really tough times, and she’d held my hand as I made those first tremulous steps of independence after an emotional and physically abusive marriage. Of course, those of us that find ourselves in that horrific quagmire usually find ourselves there again unless there is some drastic intervention. The genetic benefactor of my firstborn child was no exception; I’d seen him as a “Knight in Shining Armor” and he was in reality a “Rat Turd in A Tin Can.” In reality, when he abandoned the baby and me, she was angrier at him than I was! Because of health reasons, she was unable to conceive children, so the day I was able to place my daughter in her arms and name her godmother, her eyes shone so bright with tears of joy that I’d wished I’d been able to just give her the baby. She’d finally met and married a man that she loved to distraction before my daughter’s birth and the two of them loved to take my baby and spoil her rotten.

Life being what it is and having an equally generous hand with joy and sorrow, there was a phone call shortly before Christmas of 1987. I was going to take the baby down for a visit, and Mary had called to tell me that it would be better if I reconsidered the trip. Then, the gut punch – she’d been diagnosed with ovarian cancer. She wasn’t clear with the stage, etc. She said she was going in for a hysterectomy and would do some follow-up chemotherapy; treating the diagnosis with an attitude of nonchalance. I, in turn, managed to keep the quaver of tears out of my voice until after we completed the call. Somewhere in our conversation, she’d mentioned that her chemo would finish up in early March. I promised her that I would plant King Alfred daffodils then; by the first week of March, they would be up and blooming. I would harvest them and bring them down as a celebration.

We’d touch base now and then, throughout her treatment and surgeries. I’d send pictures of the baby as she was growing, and Mary sent me a copy of the picture of herself and my daughter during happier times. The first weekend of March dawned foggy and cool, and I padded into the large kitchen at my parent’s house to start the morning’s coffee. After grabbing my housecoat, I stepped outside to make the long trip down the driveway to retrieve the newspaper. The small Arizona ash that I’d planted the daffodils around was awash in eye popping color. Not only had the daffodils bloomed overnight, but the Dutch irises I’d planted with them had bloomed early as well. The small garden was simply breathtaking in its bright, transcendent colors, and I was overwhelmed with joy. It was Saturday, and I could harvest these after breakfast and take them down to Mary today, remembering that her last round of chemo had completed the previous Thursday afternoon.

Somewhere around nine o’clock that morning, I was gathering the basket and the shears and the phone rang. There was a pause, then a deep breath on the other end. Then the voice on the other end informing me that “We lost Mary last night.” I was stunned in a silence of denial. NO. No. No. Everything within me screamed that this couldn’t be so. The daffodils were blooming, and the irises bloomed early. But, the strangled voice of the newly widowed husband on the other end of the phone assured me that he was in just as much shock as I.

On a morning so foggy you could have cut it, bound the edges and used it as a blanket, Mary’s ashes were scattered at sea with a lone bagpiper playing “Amazing Grace.” To this day, I cannot stand to hear even one measure. Part of my soul left to be eternally with the ashes of Mary, the elements of her earthly body returned to the Universe via the waters of the Mother.

On the other hand, her death spurred my own “bottoming out” so to speak because my use of barbiturates and alcohol accelerated until I found myself in an AA meeting by the end of May. I will always maintain that my best friend gave her life for mine, and no greater sacrifice can be given. However, the entire matter also spurs another windmill I tilt at until the Universe gasps its last erg of Light; that of healthcare for women.

Those of us who identify as female know on a gut level the inequality of care for our bodies by a medical system still slanted towards patriarchy. Our psychological health has long been treated with a “there, there” pat on the hand and prescriptions that do nothing to address the underlying self-hatreds, self-doubts, wounds from survival in a word-wide society that condemns most of us to a ‘less than’ status, and denies education to many. Women suffer genital mutilation, denial of pregnancy termination, denial of access to contraceptives and hormonal therapy. Endometriosis is a horrifically painful malady, and there are national figures that think the hormonal therapy needed to control the worst of the symptoms brands the woman using it as a “slut.” We are sexually shamed, our body images manipulated by greed, ignorance and stupidity. Additionally, we are asked to turn on one another should we counter this insanity with Truth; demanding that our passions be illustrated as feline or canid in their fury.

In summation, there is but one sentence to forewarn and advise those who listen: The Goddess is Awakened, and Her Will Be Done.


Behind “Home”

trail home


There’s been a ghost of an idea sitting on the back burner of my mind for a few days; more than just the usual ‘because’ that grants perpetuity in the writer’s mind. This niggling, this fomenting creation of firing synapses and fulminating neurons is much more than that. It’s a concept that is being borne out every day in some new way by hard science and prattled upon mercilessly by one guru or another.

In a very simple derivative, it is thus: all that we are is the summation of what is around us at any given time. We must needs be mindful of this at every moment or accept the consequences. Breaking this down into chunks or simple bits of digestible concept much like cold cereal follows. (Yes, stuff like this really DOES bubble around in my brain…maybe I should have had a bit more support in the educational realm.)

There now exists hard science that our bodies shed cells on a regular basis – we are ever in the process of becoming who we are on a regular daily, almost, cycle. Given this, stop for a moment and think. Where did your breakfast come from? Was it grown locally? Touched by the hands of a neighbor? Was it harvested by machine or by hand? Was it transported in a refrigerated truck far away from where it first saw sunlight? Did it sit in a warehouse waiting for its lot to be bid upon before moving on to a distribution center? Where does every iota of what you eat come from? Where are the hands that touched it in some form before you purchased it and brought it home to grace your oven, hotplate or microwave before it graced your plate and table? Do you know these people? Would you have them share your dinner with you? You do, you know.

Every time you eat, everything you eat has been touched by others in the process of here to there; unless of course, you grow and harvest every morsel of food you put into your mouth. So with this in mind, let’s track your day. Who grew the beans that were later harvested by another, transported by yet another, processed by an additional handful, roasted, blended and ground to be put into a container that found its way to your kitchen pantry and thus your coffee cup? Do you ever think to thank the blessed hands, hearts and minds of each person that touched the coffee you now drink? How about the hands of the laborers that went into making the coffee machine that brewed the beverage you now consume? Like it or not, we are all creations of energy; we expend it in myriad ways throughout our day, but we take it in likewise. The sum of each person’s touch is in every item of clothing we wear, every morsel of food we eat, the cars we drive. Our days, our world, our presence is literally filled to the brim with the essence of another – in fact many others.

When we allow Oligarchs and Plutarchs to rule, they seek to stifle, muffle, and silence the voices and the energies that make this energy exchange bright and joyous. Without the love of the land as expressed by a human farmer, the beauty and health of the wheat field loses something in the process of providing life-sustaining grain. Without the loving hands of those that prune, tend and harvest them, tomatoes seem to lose the vibrant flavor that dances upon our tongues and sings within the sauces and dishes that they later grace. Let us add the additional dimension of presence of place.

Many of us choose to live within an urban environment, some of choose instead to thrive well off of the beaten paths of civilization. Some of us live upon the water, and some of us have no door to close nor roof to shelter our heads. Wherever we find ourselves, we need be mindful of where we are for many reasons; the least of which was stated earlier – we change, we recycle, we regenerate our cells on a regular basis. The building blocks of who we are we must get from somewhere.

Think about this – think about it hard, for more than just the moment that you are taking to read this blog. Do you know the barista that made your coffee? Do you know the hands and heart of the person who crafted a cheese Danish for your consumption? Are you aware that the chicken that laid the egg you are eating may very well be living out her short miserable life in a 1 x 1 foot cage and force fed nutrients that do nothing more than force her to lay egg after egg?

There’s a very simple reason why home-grown tomatoes taste so good. The obvious reason is the vine picked freshness, but think of the joy and energy put into the plant with the daily watering and hand care received by the plant itself. But, you argue – I cannot raise the wheat that makes my bread, or the corn that goes into my tortillas, or the beef and fish and chicken that I consume. Maybe there’s another Truth you need to embrace and integrate. Are you within reasonable commute distance to a farm? Have you ever made an effort to get to know where your food comes from? When was the last time you kicked off your shoes and let your naked feet embrace the soil?

As a whole, we humans have forgotten our sense of tribe, our sense of unity with all things living and growing. We’ve neglected to remember our bodies crave communion with the earth our bodies are made of. We’ve forgotten the music of the winds, the waters, the hymns of feather, fur and scale. What’s even worse, we’ve convinced ourselves that wandering from place to place without discovering the “feel” of where we are is a ‘normal’ thing.

As a result, our children are numbed out with medication, we take pills to wake up, go to sleep, and keep our attentions focused on the production of mindless crap. We’ve neglected to embrace our elderly in a healthy manner and allow them to pass their stories to our young. We’ve failed to place adequate value in sound judgments that will stand the test of common sense and altruism. Further, and perhaps even more shameful, we refuse to govern ourselves beyond electing a sound bite and carefully packaged automaton whose sole purpose to exist is for the elite.

If we can, it is now past time to put our courage to the sticking place and take charge of change with both hands. If you only have one hand, make sure it’s your neighbor’s that you grab because like it or not, we’re in this together. None of us can single-handedly raise the food, shelter and transportation required of our lives; but we can remember and learn to accept as family those that can.

The “Me” generation was wrong; it is past time that “We” stand up, get over the petty issues, address the serious ones and move into our tomorrow – mindful of who we are, where we come from , and where we intend to go. At the very least, before you consume anything; eat food, pump gas, buy a piece of clothing, perhaps it would be a good thing to be mindful of the hands behind its creation – and give thanks.

My Brother’s Keeper

Some time back I wrote this piece while ‘learning’ about blogging and the fact that the Evil Day Job was a soul-killer. There are so many other ways for us to ‘lose our way’ and I was awakened this morning with the inspiration that today, Veteran’s Day, of all days, was a perfect gateway to re-blog what I’d written earlier. The memory this brings forward still shakes/stuns my soul; never have I just suddenly been brought to tears by another’s plight so nakedly shown before me. The plight of America’s veterans (and I include myself in that category) is an ugly gaping, festering wound within our society. Not unlike the metaphor, if attended to properly that wound may leave a scar but the patient is still intact and functional. If allowed to fester without proper attention, it can become a deadly infection that can kill and or spread disease to another.  We were once admonished by those older and wiser than ourselves that we are “Our Brother’s Keeper.”  Let us not forget.


vet 1

He sat there on a milk crate, bundled up against the north wind on a street corner in the bright winter sunshine of a Texas February noon. At his feet was his obviously beloved Golden Retriever; the animal nestled as close to his master as he could sit, furry face turned up to watch every move, every breath.  In the hands of this man was a sign that went straight into my consciousness; a cannon blast of lettering that overwhelmed me and sank my gut with the wave of helpless compassion it generated.  “Homeless With Cancer – Anything Helps.”  One look at the gaunt, unshaven face and you knew that this was not a ruse; this was a summary judgment against our current society and the safety net that no longer exists after 40 years of political decimation. Four decades of pathetic ennui and lack of political will to rise up against the selfish self-centeredness that gained a foothold in the cocaine inflamed 80’s and continues today.

Look at the language we tolerate regarding the safety net against poverty in old age, Social Security. We allow the political language of the elitist rich who fling the term “entitlement” like it’s something as filthy as rotted flesh. We allow terminology to become watered down; made politically correct because we lack the backbone to define reality in naked terms that would expose our collective shame.  We allow the repression of Puritanical ethos to defame the natural sexuality of each person within our society such that young children are encouraged to become Lolita’s, but group shame descends upon the female that finds herself pregnant without the “blessing” of a life mate – male preferably.  There is no wholesale acceptance of the human condition in its beautiful and terrifying entirety in this country, save for the small pockets of free-thinkers who keep themselves anonymous for the sake of personal safety.  Those that made their forward-thinking and evolutionarily advanced beliefs public ages ago are being systematically decimated through government sponsored genocide.

The mentally ill in this country have had to learn to navigate the fierce jungle of intolerance to their many and varied conditions by adapting “societal masks” of acceptable terms. If your psyche is tormented by the roller coaster of a bi-polar disorder, you must swiftly amend your statement to include whatever treatment you’re trying so that you “fit in” to the landscape you find yourself traversing. If you or your body or your lifestyle doesn’t meet the expected norms, you are expected to provide a reasonable excuse as to why not. Further, if the gnawing beast of depression haunts you, rather than address the muted anger/rage that creates the problem, your employer would rather you pop a pill and get back to work.

Once upon a time, there was an uprising and a beautiful cry of “I’m not here to meet your expectations.”  There was an acceptance that what once was, was broken and needed to be replaced because it was too broken to fix.  Somewhere before the overhaul could get more than a foothold, an evil reptilian presence inserted itself and self-delusion replaced self-examination.  I’d like to think that it’s not too late. It’s not too late to take that young, very ill gentleman off the street corner – along with his dog and offer him treatment or at the least palliative care until his days upon this Earth are no more.  I’d like to think that we can re-open the mental institutions and half-way houses and encourage all who need the gentle touch of a listening soul, as well as those who need a structured oasis from the everyday Chaos the rest of us navigate, to walk through the gates.

I almost despair that we’ve forgotten how to care for our elderly, that we’ve adopted a learned indifference to the cries of the very young, and plaint that those from pre-teen to college graduate have no sense of responsibility or values. We’ve forgotten the rich values of community in favor of selfish ends. Young children crave the gentle attentions of family and elders who teach so much more than just behavioral bounds, but are isolated within artificial crèches of commercial daycare.  The length of marriages is rapidly dwindling because there are no committed couples willing to share the wisdom of compromise woven with tolerance and compassion that creates the reality of long-lasting relationships.  The elderly are expected to live out their waning days in the sad relative isolation of retirement communities.

A healthy neighborhood should be a layered structure of ages and backgrounds that weaves itself together in acceptable societal tension; young and old, married and single, teens and younger kids, all claiming with a sense of pride in belonging. Those that experience tragedy, illness, or misfortune would find a willing hand to help, wisdom to find their way out, many hands making light work of the heavy realities that Life can hand out. Education of the young and old happens best in an integrated community, because ignorance and fear are beasts best slain by truth and trust: the hands of wisdom crafting a vision of the future seen by younger eyes but guided by elder hearts.

We’ve forgotten it seems that we are our brother’s keeper. We are our sister’s handmaiden, our mother’s steady guide when her steps falter, our father’s eyes when the eyesight begins to dim. We are the gentle support of a toddler learning to walk, we are the ears of the deaf, and we are the listening heart of those who struggle emotionally.

Once pointed out, a problem should become the burden of the society it affects; a burden that can then transform into a solution that becomes second nature by those who adopt the change within their community.  This isn’t an impossible dream; this is a possible reality for those of us with the intestinal fortitude to say “Why not?” If change only occurs because the status quo is so painful that we cannot maintain it, then why haven’t we changed?

We are told by many different tales of ancient wisdom that our lives are Gifts of the Eternal, what we do with them is our gift back. Why are we so insistent on trashing this precious gift by not doing all we can to make another’s  life better? Why are we turning a deaf ear on our own? Further, will someone with a bit more resources that I, please reach out to my brother and his dog on that cold street corner? I’d be so appreciative to know that he was able to go Home in peace.

On The Road to Shambala


With a joyful heart and spicy, wicked grin for planting the earworm of the Three Dog Night classic in your mind, let me tell you where my body, mind and spirit wandered from four o’clock in the morning on Thursday to this Sunday afternoon. Let me help you get your bearings in the “Land Beyond your Imagination” – or where I live in my mind. I am a hopeless, shameless romantic that will occasionally ooze angst. I believe in the Power of Love to overcome all but the most Evil, and perhaps at that to have a fighting chance. I am also dealing with the aftereffects of a nasty cerebral vascular event which tends to make my life play out in vignettes of wonder strung along with tears and laughter.

Love is love is love and should be celebrated and held as Holy no matter how it manifests amongst consenting individuals of legal age. When I learned of the GRL Retreat being held this October, AND that not only would some of the individuals of like mind would be there but my favorite authors as well, it became like the Sacred Quest to attend. Fearlessly and courageously I cleared the mental chess board to ‘make this happen’ in spite of financial, physical and emotional limits. What I failed to consider, no toss that; what I denied even existed was the possibility of my short term memory loss manifesting adventure where I did not need it!

I was so proud that I’d made flight arrangements AND arranged for a rental car. I was going to do this like an adult! Did I LOOK at those reservations closely? Was I aware that I was shorting myself of re-coop time from travel? Did I know I was travelling before the chickens were awake BOTH ways and would miss the closing breakfast? Aww Hell, no!

Amy Lane is an author hiding her Goddess nature well, and as her birthday was close to the event, I packed a gift and card for her along with the books that literally saved my life for autographs. I packed clothes for cold weather, I packed clothes for hot weather. I packed shoes (which upon unpacking, I FORGOT I brought!) I packed all my electronic toys, and by the time I was done, I needed a wagon train with pack mules. Alas and alack, TSA doesn’t allow those on flights. Ok, time to reconsider and re-pack. Ummm, rethought and ended up packing even more. This wasn’t working. Finally, 8 hours before flight time I managed to get it together enough to have a reasonably bulky, but two item burden to schlep….and a purse….and a cane! Oh I was ‘Stylin’ – not!

packing list two

It was off the plane, onto a bus which took me to the rental agency and then into my chosen chariot for the weekend, a 2014 Kia Soul….but I did look lustfully and longingly at the Chrysler minivan as my evil heart had alternative plans flying around. I’d agreed to pick up another FB friend at Union Station whose train would arrive after my flight. This was not to happen simply because a.) The trains do not run on time and b.) Chicago depends on parking fees to pay its debts – simply outrageous! Looking at the maps on Google, my quest appeared to be quite easy. Allow me to interject here that while I have a snazzy Android style phone, the damned thing lost its mind AND it’s voice simultaneously at soon as I landed at O’Hare. Let us also interject that Chicago in its’ eternal wisdom of metropolitan angst decided to re-arrange ALL of the access roads, highways and byways with which one navigates any mass transportation area. I managed to get myself lost TWICE in the span of 4 hours despite having the latest in electronic navigation equipment via cellular device. Some would call it “creative ineptitude” – I prefer to term it as “The Tolkien Effect” – I was not lost, I was merely wandering with a purpose, because I eventually got to where I needed to go. Not without unnecessary drama, and I’m sure that there’s a certain member of Chicago’s finest who will NEVER forget the creative epithets that I have given him gratis for life in describing my cell-phone-that-doubles-as-a-flotation-device.

curse bubble

When I arrived, 4 hours AFTER I arrived, I was in no emotional state to do more than find a cool corner and quiver like nervous dessert (think jello) but I stowed the nervous breakdown for a later date and managed to get myself registered and responsibly present for book-stamping duty. Even though I missed the Swag Room and the Newbie Meeting, thus began the lovely adventure that ended all too soon but was marked by meeting Facebook friends and some new faces. Those I was in awe of: Shira Anthony, Rhys Ford, Amy Lane, Sara York, Ariel Tachna, Cherie Noel and Angel Martinez. Folks that I will share heartspace with forever: Dana Piazzi, Tame Anna, LE Franks, Kazy Reed, LM Somerton, Christy Duke, Kris Gray, JP Bowie, Tim Brehme and so many more that I simply cannot remember names. Allow me to take this moment to drop a deep curtsy of respect to the event organizers – you’ve earned a respite from incarnation as anything less than a pampered adored demi-deity for the next term of Eternity.angel-halo

The biggest development of sheer surprise to me? I sang karaoke without needing copious amounts of pharmacopeia to do so! That was ME – without Zoloft or Klonopin, (I’d brought them with in case I needed to return to the regimen I’d so carefully weaned off of…) and I remember just letting GO. Wow. Niki Massey and I did breakfast together….after schlepping the ¼ mile jaunt down the hallway that reminded me of the labyrinthine passages of a bad sci-fi movie. It was the only negative to a fantastic 4 day adventure that passed as a blur – the eternal jaunts back and forth and having to school the gnat brain into consideration of “things future needed”…(gnat brain barely speaks English on GOOD days. The cold weather and the fireplace gather pit was a welcome refuge that allowed me to enter into conversation as I was able to without an inner nervous breakdown/freak out.

Speaking of which, LM Somerton – honey, you were an angelic intervention when I was on the edge of implosion/panic attack. There simply not enough words to express the gratitude I feel for you being there when the press of the crowd was about to send me screaming off into the shadows. (Turns out that missing that particular highlight was a good thing….after the crush of the crowd, the temptation of alcohol would have been too great…Ya’ just never know when the Goddess will use you for emergency purposes!)

Lessons learned for the next gathering of my beloved, eternally adopted Tribe:

  • Bring your OWN pillows. Trusting others for your sleep comfort is foolhardy.
  • Pack simple basic outfits, not entire changes of wardrobe. Thou art not a clotheshorse.
  • Make room for every comfortable pair of shoes you usually schlep around in. Pack them.
  • Jammies trump t-shirts in cold weather.
  • Remember to send up good prayers for roomies with the patience of a saint – (LOVE YOU, Kris!)
  • There will simply never be enough time, hugs, smiles or tears when you spend time with the weirdos, misfits, and miscreants you call Tribe. That simple seed of Love will grow in my heart forever.
  • Find the courage to go outside your comfort zone – you’re amongst your people!
  •  HUGS. Give them, get them, seek them out. It’s how we stay sane.

Finally, I came home with a secret, glowing happy sheltered in my heart….Amy said my crochet was ‘Beautiful work’…..! I saw her fingerless gloves and was totally in AWE….Thank you, my new beloved adopted peoples, my Tribe!!!

PS: “Unicorn shifters? Ouch!”

unicorn funny

Quiet Lives of Desperation

Three guesses about what I spent my afternoon watching. Oh Hell, I can’t keep anyone in suspense – which is why I buy Yule gifts at the last minute. I used to claim that it was because I spent so much time finding the perfect gift. Bullshit. Pure and utter bullshit. I simply can’t wait to see the look on their faces when they see what I just had a gut-felt feeling would rock their world the instant it was in their hands.

The husband and I were broke newlyweds of 4 years when “Good Will Hunting” debuted at the theatre. We had three kids, one with the genetic birth defect of PKU and her metabolic needs required weekly trips to a San Antonio hospital to make sure I was “getting it right” with blood tests and frequent adjustments to her diet. Had we been able to afford seeing the movie, perhaps my venture into writing would have occurred earlier and I wouldn’t have had to spend a week in ICU and two months learning to walk without appearing inebriated.

Let’s start with a fairy tale, then. It will start with the frightening little kernel of Truth Robin Williams stated as Sean Maguire when he’s telling Will that he could do anything freakin’ thing he wanted to – “No, you were born with it. So don’t cop out behind “I didn’t ask for this”.

As all good fairy tales begin – Once upon a time, there were twins. Born in the middle of the nastiest coldest sleet storm you can imagine. They were also six weeks premature in an era where preemies just didn’t have good odds of survival. It wouldn’t have mattered to the mother of these children. After all, she didn’t marry the sire of her kids. He was Mormon and a good Southern Baptist girl didn’t do that sort of thing. Then again, neither did she get knocked up on her first Spring Break fling from college. So she lied to the grocery delivery boy after some serious seduction on her part and bada-bing bada-bam, the 4th generation of a Founding Family failed to handle the legacy and instead married a butcher’s apprentice.

The twins, you ask? Ah, yes. One little girl with curly red hair and a little over 4 pounds, one little boy, with dark hair like his momma at about 5 pounds. Neither had good chances of survival, and the attending physician told the anxious husband “Don’t get too attached to the little girl. She’s far too fragile to last the week.” Surprisingly, the little girl did last the week, and the next one and so on until after two months they were told to “come and get her, she’s quite capable of taking on the world now.” Only, they didn’t take their daughter home. No, they took her to the husband’s grandparents in a far flung rural area where the only advances beyond electricity were regular postal delivery and automobiles. They left her there, with aging individuals that had done their share of raising children, 13 to be exact. What energy did they have left for another? Oh, of course the little boy would stay in town. Better access to doctors and all, and he was the heir, right?

Fast forward 18 months, and the spring of that year was delayed by cold and windy weather. The little girl got to see her twin brother about once a month, sometimes twice. They delighted in each other, but the little girl was clearly an instigator if there was trouble to be found, gotten into, and created. She stood up and by virtue of being able to jostle the playpen by sheer tenacity, she was able to reach both the lipstick (Ruby Red) and the dusting powder (My Sin.) It was time to explore creativity with her brother as a canvas, and then herself. This display of mischief was captured by a relative with a camera and the resulting photo would surface many years later after all the lies began to unravel. In the meantime, it meant a bath for both in a house poorly heated, and by a mother who was more about appearance than care or concern for her offspring. After all, she was about to give birth to another child, it was about time that the girl went back to her country home. Then, there was that nagging cough that the little boy had developed. It was the last time the little girl would see her twin, ever.

Time to jump ahead a couple of more years. The little boy had died with complications of pneumonia and the little girl didn’t see her parents for over a year. “It’s far too hard on her mother to see this child when the other didn’t make it. He was such a healthy child, too!” But the little girl didn’t understand the emotional distance, she didn’t know exactly what was missing, and it was just easier to stay with Nanny and Papaw. The farm was her world; the gentle chuckling of the chickens, the earthy smell of the cattle, the warmth of being on the broad mule’s back when Papaw plowed up the garden for Nanny, standing behind Papaw’s shoulder on the rides into town once a month to “take care of business.” It was an easier existence than having to stand still in a starched pinafore and black patent leather shoes and “be good.” Being barefoot in a simple cotton sackcloth shift, having her unruly curls braided into pigtails, and squishing her toes in the warm dirt while looking for the first of the ripe cherry tomatoes was a better fate than anything anywhere else could offer.

All too soon, the big brown leather suitcase came out of the dark recesses of attic and when Nanny opened it up, there was a tiny wristband from the hospital, a small pink receiving blanket and 3 neatly folded tiny diapers. A tear escaped from Nanny’s eye and the little girl didn’t understand why her Nanny’s eye leaked. Papaw gruffly mumbled, “Come on woman, let’s get this done and over with. It’s not like she can go to school out here.” All the little girl’s clothing and possessions were being packed and when Nanny went into the bathroom to get the small toothbrush, the little girl grabbed a small stuffed lamb from the belongings so carefully arranged in the suitcase. Her small sneakered feet took her to the living room where she handed the lamb to her Papaw. “Here Papaw. You said that Nanny always would need a lamb to look after. Give her mine, please.” She turned and went back into the small bedroom she’d always known as hers to help her Nanny finish.

That was when the night terrors began. Every time the little girl saw the suitcase, she’d start crying. When she cried, the spankings, the whippings would start. So she learned to cry silently; to sit up in the horrible metal crib and smell the night air through the zinc screening on the window and sob in silence. She had a younger relative that would often show up and bully her by taking her clothes to wear them, even though he was a boy. She misjudged the ominous click of the gas floor heater and suddenly flames were melting her tiny feet to the metal grid because he’d stolen her slippers and dared her to come get them. Two weeks alone in a hospital burn unit with only nurses to see to her cries because, the husband was too busy working to support his family and the wife was too emotionally fragile to see a child of hers in this setting. There was also the matter of a younger sibling, who was often sick and screaming.

It was there that the little girl heard classical music; her godfather brought her an album and a child’s phonograph to listen to it in her room. The little girl soon learned that it was better to sit still and listen to “Scheherazade.” She could sleep, she could dream happy dreams, and she could heal. When she got home, another album joined the first, and strains of “The Sorcerer’s Apprentice” could be heard echoing down the hall. Her godfather and her grandmother began to take the little girl to symphonic presentations, much to the jealous dismay of her mother. Soon, all the little girl wanted to do was go to school so she could read and learn all about the music she was hearing, the stories that the music told. She even ran away one bright September morning to get on a school bus that was picking up other neighborhood children. However, 6:30 was really very early to an excited young lady and she fell asleep before they ever made it to the school. Upon being discovered by a bus driver and escorted to the police station to hopefully be reunited with her parents, the little girl steadfastly refused to give her name, her address or any other information that would help in the process.

Eventually, a panicked grandmother verbally sparred with her old school mate, the current Police Chief, and the little girl was returned to her home; but not without some string pulling that resulted in a placement in a private school. Even that day would have some distinct consequence, as the little girl had to be tested for placement. While she couldn’t yet write her name, she could effectively draw a man, anatomically correct of course, but with a hat to keep his ears from sunburn. The docent and school administrator had to walk away from the little girl for a moment to keep from laughing, so serious was the child about the addition of a fedora to her rendering. So, into the first grade went a child 5 ½ years old, but with a wisdom far older about her.

First grade flew by and so did the opportunity to continue in private school. The little girl overheard the heated arguments that resulted in her going to a public school for second grade, but she had to be “tested” again. Again, it was a sultry summer day when she was walked into the nearby elementary school, all her paperwork presented and then the testing commenced. She looked up as she’d completed the last question and saw the others still working. Her confusion must have garnered the attention of the proctor, because a tall blonde lady came and took her small hand into a much larger, cooler one and they walked out of the room with her completed paper. There was a softly spoken conversation and she was told she could go home, they’d be calling her mother later. It was frightening, but she would walk home alone for the first time in her young life. True, it was only a block, but at 6 ½ the world is a pretty big place. She would soon get used to walking home alone; and by then she would learn to love the solitary nature of each step.

Soon, the third grade came around, there was a heated controversy going on about “new math” and how it was going to cripple some children because they simply wouldn’t be able to make the transition from the older methods. German measles was also going around and this time there simply wasn’t a vaccine for this form of the virus. Both the little girl and her younger brother were stricken with the disease and both ended up spending two miserable weeks in a darkened room as the virus had “spread to their eyes” and there was a danger of going blind. Other children in their neighborhood had contracted the disease and one of the neighbor’s children was in the hospital fighting for his life. Three weeks later, short one neighborhood child and 15 days of valuable lesson time, the little girl returned to her classroom. She’d never really liked her teacher, sensing that the woman had favorites, and then overhearing her say “Well, wouldn’t you know that the white trash would survive?” An inner fear that this woman was not going to help her catch up with the lessons she’d missed began to grow and was well founded when she wasn’t promoted to the fourth grade with her classmates.

The teasing and gossip would begin, and it was simply better to turn inwards and read. The little girl, skinny from illness, began to take on some height which resulted in an awkward gawkiness. It was just better to curl up in a corner of the library and read rather than attempt to play kickball or four-square or hopscotch. The librarian appreciated the assistance in re-shelving books, and re-filing reference cards. Things at home turned darker, however and now a young lady beginning to bloom into a young woman at the young age of 9 began to hide her library books. However, there was yet another sibling joining the already crowded nest, and sometimes library books were forgotten in the mad scramble of the mornings. When the late notices began to show up in the mail box, the beatings commenced. When the young lady brought home books for a book report, she had to ask the teacher for a written assignment stating such, else face the inevitable belt whipping.

Somewhere in all of the blur of elementary school, all the children were set down with Stanford Binet IQ tests. It was just another test, the young lady thought; never even comprehending that this would change her life from “get by” to “unbearable” when her parents were contacted by the school. “We don’t have the capability to educate her properly,” her parents were told. “We can’t afford to send her to private school,” came the reply. What had been just a “deal with the child until we can marry her off” attitude, changed overnight to “how do we deal with the freak?” Then came the joys of a Yule where all her dreams of being a scientist came true with a small German microscope, a huge chemistry set, and a telescope all showing up under the Tannenbaum. There was so much to see, to observe, the sheer joy of making a “wet mount” slide and then sharing her finds with anyone she could coerce into looking thru the small oculus. So what if her grandmother was permanently sickened by the sight of chicken fat enlarged 200 times under the lens?

Santa had also brought a bicycle and it was a joy and a danger because the young lady’s mind would wander frequently while riding, thus ensuring many cuts and scrapes along the way. Other neighborhood children would gather in wheeled packs and thus conquer the adjoining streets and driveways on daily rides. Of course, shortening the distance by “cutting across” the corner lawn was a given, but so also was the anger of the lawn’s owner and Mrs. Baum was very likely to take her complaint directly to a parent. The resultant disciplinary correction inspired the creation of smoke bomb with the chemistry set that would ultimately blow a 3 x 4 foot hole in the bedroom wall of the young lady. This explosion ended the gifting of any additional scientific equipment for fear of curiosity levelling the dwelling by flood, fire or some other mishap.

The remainder of her education would pass fairly unremarkably save for the constant impediment of chronic depression. When she would ask for direction, or guidance with where her education should go, there was the stand-by answer of “oh, you’re so bright you can do anything” with never an interest taken to see where her heart might lie, what might make her sigh in the joy of completion. Somewhere in high school, an English literature teacher took an interest and challenged her to write a screenplay for a 5 minute movie. Something ignited and a joy burst forth. While the end result was a cheesy Grade B science fiction 8mm creation, that it was done and a small figment of a germ of an idea sat in the dark shadows of a heart.

It would be a dream denied not because of the young lady’s wishes, but because of parents too self-absorbed to guide their child beyond what was “expected of a young female after high school.” They’d never noticed that she’d turned her back on religion after a playmate’s grandfather molested both of them before either was 12. They’d not given much credence to a letter sent to them by the school counselor stating that their daughter had earned no less than 5 scholarships and would they please consider making an appointment for college placement?

When the young lady brought home all the paperwork from her counselor, her ‘father’ sneered and challenged, “You don’t have the guts to get your education the way I did. You and all your pot smokin’ friends are too lazy to even consider the military.” Something inside the young lady snapped; she’d worked damned hard to master Spanish classical guitar, 6 and 12 string, and spent endless hours researching the correct translations of Chaucer. Lazy? Then, there was her mother who told her that the “most correct path” for her to follow would be for her to attend a junior college and then transfer to the local university to obtain a teaching degree. A correct path? Whatever happened to “you’re so smart you can do anything you put your mind to?”

This young lady instead went to a recruiting office, with a signed age waiver and raised her right hand. Nothing prepared her for basic training, but then nothing prepared them for her intelligence when it came to radio communications. Somewhere in the marching and drill, between the rifle range and personal defense lessons the bookworm found her voice and her spine. Nothing prepared her for the politics and personal gamesmanship that the military foisted upon its cadre, however; she opted to leave when she made an issue of a misplaced hand on her thigh, and the resulting career backslap would have had her on a mountaintop listening to alpine goats take a piss.

All of her training and credentials amounted to nothing on the civilian market when she came back home; it was by happy chance that she landed a technician spot in a naval laboratory….until the funding was cut and she was facing eviction from her first small apartment. This young lady sat in the quiet of her own dining area and thought…numbers had always been difficult for her, but basic maths were nothing. Her grandmother had told her that folks would always need someone to keep their books straight, and she could at least do that. Thus began 30 plus years of taking care of other people’s money, credit cards, bills, and insurance. The dream of writing thus deferred again; sometimes it couldn’t be silenced and came out in strange little poems written in a journal or a diary. Or sometimes in a ballad or two when a guitar found its way back into her hands. Then came an accident, and accidental addiction to the pain pills…and just as quickly, the young lady found a resolution to the addiction, but the pain remained.

The years stretched out; three then four marriages failed and as a single mother, the daily grind for survival and sobriety outpaced her inner muse. Until, one night she fell off the tailgate of a U-Haul truck while helping a friend move. She hamstrung both ankles in the accident, and a sober friend took her to the ER and thence to a couch with a nearby monitor and keyboard attached to a dial-up modem and a BBS bulletin board. There, the young lady met the one, the one who would be there for her through two more babies and 20 years of marriage. He would also be there for her when her old nemesis depression came back with a vengeance and a new angle of horror known as PTSD. Then, in the long shadows of an October afternoon, after a particularly fractious phone call with the insurance company, she would stand up and a blood vessel that had formed a deadly bubble in her brain would burst. He would find her unresponsive and unconscious after coming home because ‘something didn’t feel right.’

Everything she had every taken for granted would be gone within 3 days of bleeding within her skull. Gone was the near instantaneous recall of minutiae required for her job, gone was her sense of balance, gone too was the surety that she could just “move on” when she found her way back from conquering the re-awakened demons of depression. After 10 days in the hospital, she was home – to nothing. She was on total bed rest until they could do a “follow-up” CT scan to determine the nature of a tumor discovered in her stay. Somewhere in the drab grey dullness a friend put a series of books in her hands to read and something stirred to life, something long denied stood up and said “No. Not this time.” Then, her beloved echoed the same words that her heart had been saying. “No. Not this time.”

Behind the eyes of every writer, there is a simple trigger; a switch, if you will. It takes us from those “quiet lives of desperation” that used to echo around me in every morning’s traffic, to a life spent describing the moment that a simple dragonfly landed within the landscape of my inner eye, and I want to share that moment with you. The little girl, the young lady, the single mother of this narrative was me. The story is still unfolding, but like Matt Damon’s character, I have learned my lesson about denying what you love and who you are. Hello, I am a writer.