Wednesday, December 10, 2008

From a Very Cute Egyptian Giraffe's POV.

Do you see what I see? Lisa's ebook is to my left. Have you read it? It's free.

I bet you wish your ears stuck out like mine. Note my stunning neck.

I have a slight overbite, but I'm still gorgeous. Free as can be here in Egypt.

So, have you ever been to Egypt?

Scrowl down for more, then get the ebook.  

I wanted you to see my topknot. And my other perfect ear. 

The spots are remarkable, too, don't you think? Your freckles really don't compare. 

Do you think this is my best side? I can't decide.

Lisa's uncle Frank took my picture. Obviously, he likes both sides. He has more pictures for you, that's another day. Nice meeting you. Come again.

And that's the truth. To some extent.

Sunday, December 7, 2008

The Invisible Woman

Shirley Knot is the  invisible woman. She's middle-aged, pays the bills, keeps the household in check, runs errands, shops and cooks and cleans. She also entertains every Thanksgiving, Christmas, Easter, on birthdays and special occasions. thinks2much is her email name. 

There are two questions that plague Shirley as she drives around doing what has to be done.
#1. Do I wear some kind of weird cloak that makes me invisible like in the children's fairy tale? And, is that cloak for my protection or to protect others from me? 
#2. Did the pencil that was supposed to fill me in as I matured get turned upside down and erase me? Did I erase myself or did someone else rub me out?

Shirley Knot's lost in thought as she comes to a Stop sign and turns right. The flashing lights of a police car reflect in her rear view mirror. I guess I'm not invisible to him, Shirley thinks, pulling to the curb.

"Step out of your car," the officer orders in a God-like voice over the loud speaker. "Walk slowly toward the police car." 

"Good Lord," Shirley says to no one but herself as she steps out of her car.

Shirley peers at the officer through his car window.  He's really cute, rolls across her mind, followed by, he's young enough to be my son. The officer peers at her driver's license and then back at her. "You cut me off," he said. "I had to swerve to miss you."  

"I'm so sorry, officer," Shirley says. "I don't know how I missed you, but I really didn't see you."

"You need to be more careful. It's important to be aware of what's going on around you," he said. "You could hurt someone, Shirley."

With the moving violation ticket on the seat beside her, Shirley looks at herself in the mirror on the sun visor, pulls out lipstick, puts it on, presses her lips together and smiles.  

As she cruises back up the boulevard to Gelson's Market, the erasure question just won't go away. I used to be the center of attention at parties. I was the smartest girl in math class. That boy in high school said I had the best legs. When I walked down the street, workmen would whistle. I never needed a push-up bra, let alone breast augmentation.

I weigh the same, wear the same size jeans, spend a lot of money keeping my hair the same color, and thank goodness modern medicine has made it possible to erase most of the lines and wrinkles. I hate the birthmark on my earlobe. I don't care what anybody says. It is not sexy. It has to go. I'll write myself a note to make an appointment.

I used to write. I have a journalism degree. I wrote for a newspaper, worked at a financial publication, wrote a screenplay.  Oh well, that was a long time ago. It's been ages since I read a good book. I always loved Washington Irving novellas.

Shirley can still hear her mother's comments. "Everybody thinks they can write. Be reasonable, do something that makes sense. You got your degree, all right, you are Mrs. Knot." 

Shirley can hear her husband's comments. "You won't succeed if you do that. It takes too much effort. You can't balance the kids and housekeeping, let alone, working too."

Surely not, Shirley Knot thought. Surely they were wrong. I don't want to be written off. 

And that's the truth. To some extent.

Sunday, November 30, 2008

Off to Grandmother's House We Go

Mary Margaret is a Ph.D. student at the USC, Keck School of Medicine, located in downtown Los Angeles. For four years she's done due diligence as a teaching assistant and research assistant in brain cancer, writing her dissertation and preparing to receive her degree.

For the past year her boss has been increasingly moody and distant and dissatisfied, so much so that he did not prepare her properly for the screening exam. Mary Margaret failed. It would be a year before she could take it again. All he had to say was that he was sorry. And, he said this to the department head, not to Mary Margaret. She heard it through the grapevine.

He ignored her questions, disregarded her experiments and subsequent analysis. When he did acknowledge her or her work it was unpleasantly critical.

"I'm stuck. This is so unfair," she wailed to friends. "I've always wanted to do brain cancer research, but there's no one else in my department available to take me on. He was a great boss when we started. I don't know why he changed and now I'm at the mercy of this yahoo."

"Let's get married," her boyfriend said. "I won't have any free time for five years once I start my residency. Please marry me the week I graduate medical school."

"I will. I love you," Mary Margaret said. The ring of her dreams was designed, the date set, a stunning gown selected, the hard work and intricacies of putting on a traditional Catholic wedding unfolded. There were a few arguments with parents but everything fell into place.

Her boss rarely came to the lab now. Rumor had it he was having family problems. Mary Margaret emailed him that she wished to put her work on hold for the month of the wedding and honeymoon. She sent him a wedding invitation. He did not respond. 

The wedding was beautiful, the honeymoon delightful, and then the happy couple packed up and moved to a city half way across the country. Her husband started his residency.

Mary Margaret readied to finish her degree. She emailed her boss. "You went AWOL," he emailed back. "No degree." Her university account was discontinued. She set up a personal gmail account. "I've done all the work. I deserve my degree," she pleaded via the new account. "I was getting married. You knew that."

"I don't care," he emailed back using his personal yahoo account. "You were %^*&^." (we won't give his words dignity in print)

She contacted the department head and her other professors, she offered to return to meet with him. They agreed, he was behaving in an unprofessional manner. Under pressure, he relented. She could receive a Master's Degree, the PH.D. was history. Mary Margaret would receive this reduced degree only after an in-person transfer of papers and his final approval at a later date at his discretion. 

Exhausted and distressed, Mary Margaret and her husband drove 4 hours one holiday weekend to visit her grandmother. They looked at old family photos, ate Campbell's tomato soup with saltine crackers. Grandma listened intently to Mary Margaret's troubles.

Let's read "'Gulliver's Travels Part IV: A voyage to the county of the Houyhnhns, Chapter VII'," she said. "He meets all kinds of yahoos. Did you know the definition of the word 'yahoo' is rude, unsophisticated, and uncouth?" 

Mary Margaret's grandmother read to them until it was bedtime. "I just stumble along as best I can. You'll understand better when you get to be a poor old thing like me," her grandmother said just before they went to sleep. "That's a quote I read some where. Live and learn, tomorrow's another day, do the best you's that sort of thing. Good night. I love you." 

And that's the truth. To some extent.

Sunday, November 23, 2008


Thanksgiving is Beth Holly's birthday this year. She's turning -it's-no old. The Botox and Juviderm, good hair, dash of make-up, yoga practice and vegeterian diet have taken off at least 10 years. Her life is happy. She's fashionably dressed, well-married, devoted mother, traditional and gracious in manner, educated, and socially involved.

Just home from yoga class last Saturday, she stretched out on the navy/green/beige Egyptian living room rug and balanced a cup of hot tea on her stomach. She'd done it a hundred times before. The tea cooled a bit while she thought out the rest of her day's schedule. Then the dog barked. The cup of tea slid down her side and spilled onto the carpet.

The dog barked again.

"Please don't bark, "she pleaded. "You spilled my tea." She stared at the tea stain on the beige areas of the rug. A dishtowel would soak it up. She grabbed a couple from the kitchen drawer and got down on her hands and knees pressing her hands atop the towel, feeling the liquid.

Then she saw it. Her white yoga tank top had tea on it. She rushed to the bathroom and pulled it off. It had to soak in cold water with liquid glycerin soap. It will be fine, she thought. Just give it time. "My tank top is stained," she shouted to her husband.

"What's going on? I'm busy," her husband answered. His Baritone voice resonated from the living room.

"I spilled my tea," she confessed, shivering in her sports bra as she came back in the living room. "It slid off my stomach."

"I can see the stain, " he said. "You didn't get it all up. Get another towel."

"I need a shower after yoga. My face will break out, if I don't," Beth Holly said. "And my hair is a mess. I'm getting really tense." She stood there, riveted to the spot. "Maybe the stain won't come out," she said. "I've messed up the rug."

"I'll take care of it," her husband said, shoving her aside. "Why did you spill it?"

"It was an accident. The dog barked." Beth Holly was shaken to the core."Maybe the rug was like that when we bought it. And, we just never noticed. Do you think anyone else will see it?"

"Just go take your shower," he said." You'll be a mess otherwise. Do you want people to see you that way? Where is your pride?"

She hurried to the bathroom, locked the bathroom door, and began to cry. How could this happen to her? A stupid stain on the rug. In the shower, she recalled a song her mother sang. "I'm going to wash that man right out of my hair," Beth Holly sang, "I'm going to wash that stain right out of my rug...I'm going to..." she cried harder. She scrubbed her head, soaped and rinsed her entire body twice, using the hand held sprayer to rinse everything especially well.

As she stepped into her robe, she looked in the foggy mirror. She'd even forgotten to turn on the fan. Better that I don't see myself, she thought. It's best that I stay home today. I can't let anyone see me like this. Beth Holly removed her wedding ring before she put the styling gel in her hair and scrunched it up for curl control. Wiping her hands, she looked at the ring on the counter, then put it in her makeup case.

Beth Holly's body literally shook, inside and out. She sorted through her books on the bedside table. O Magazine caught her eye. Settling in the pale pink chaise near the window in the bedroom, she scanned the ads then began to read the first article, "'Ten Tips to be Happiness' Number 1. Don't let the little things get to you. 2. Know what's important." She could not read any further.

I can make a good cup of tea, boil an egg, and give a good back rub, she thought. Tomorrow's another day. It's just another birthday.

And that's true. To some extent.

Saturday, November 22, 2008

Thursday, November 20, 2008

I've Been Tagged by Suzanne Lieurance, The Working Writer's Coach

Here are 7 facts about me. If you list 7 about yourself and send it on, and back to me, we'll get to know more about each other. You can read more about Suzanne Lieurance at The Working Writer's Coach


1. I studied acting with Lee Strasberg and met my husband in an acting class in New York City.

2. I've lived in Ohio, Wisconsin, Alabama, New York City, Los Angeles, and Texas. All in USA

3. My first job, after babysitting, was at the Georgetown Daily Gazette while I was still in high school. I also edited, illustrated and produced our high school year book.

4. I write at the back of my house with a lovely view of the garden, if the shrubs are kept trimmed (they are not now).  So, I'm working on the patio today.

5. I love Upcountry Maui and I'm lucky enough to have family there. I wish I could plan my life to visit on a regular basis. The beaches are nice, too. 

6. My favorite books are Lost Horizon by James Hilton, Portrait of Jenny by Robert Nathan, Russian novels in general, Oblomov by Ivan Goncharov in particular. And a story, The Necklace, by Guy de Maupassant. 

7. I have 5 half siblings, one that I love dearly, the others I don't have any contact with. I have 4 cousins who are as close and dear to me as siblings. 


Monday, November 17, 2008

The Pink Prom Dress

Micheline and Oscar have been living together in downtown L.A. since before it was fashionable. Their home is two large cardboard refrigerator boxes on skid row. A man and his dog sleep to their left. A old woman in purple flannel pajamas talks nonstop on their right. 

Oscar's a big husky man given to wearing long flowing gowns. He was wounded, his left leg, in the war (although he has never said what war) and he suffers from endless phantom pain. The only time it doesn't hurt is when  he sees himself in a beautiful gown in a shop window.

"Let's go window shopping," Micheline says when his pain becomes unbearable. "We'll look at your dress. Wouldn't you love that?"

"Oh yes," he says. Oscar pulls himself up from the sidewalk, leans against the wall and takes her arm. "Watch the curb," he says as they cross the street. "I don't want you to get hurt." He offers a smile and hello to all who pass, holding his head high, even as he winces in pain. With his free hand he lifts his gown a few inches from the street so as not to step on the hem.

At a shop window, they gaze intently. "This window is cracked," Micheline says. At the second shop, she shakes her head. "This window is distorted." 

"I think it makes me look good," Oscar says. "Just not quite right. My leg really hurts."

"You can lean on me while we walk," Micheline says. "If we don't like what we see today, we will tomorrow." She puts his arm around her shoulders.

"Oh, look over there," Oscar says, catching sight of a store window. "Perfect." 

In the reflection of the dusty shop window Oscar sees himself, strong, fit, and as beautiful as any woman he'd ever known. Micheline runs her fingers across his back until she's hugging him close. "We're a very lucky couple," she says.

"Yes we are," Oscar says. His pain has disappeared. They begin to waltz down the street, in a world all their own, gliding up-down, one-two-three. Then Oscar stops. He watches a young prosperous couple holding hands. He strides up to them. Micheline lags behind. 

"Hey buddy. Micheline's suit is at the cleaners and I left my money at home. Give me $10. We are late for the party already and no bubbly for our friends."

The man and woman stare at Oscar whose flitting left and right in his  pink chiffon prom dress that is a size too large.  

Micheline steps forward and speaks up for her friend. "He really wants to go. I want to go with him. And as you can see I'm not dressed for it. You may not know this, but he hurt his leg real bad in the war. He used to be a nurse at the Country Club hospital just up the street."

The man looks up the street. There's an apartment building. Country Club Hospital?  "That's the best story I've heard all day. You got it," he says, smiling, then pulls  a $20 bill from his pocket. "Have fun. You deserve it." 

"Thank you," Micheline says. "You're very understanding." She pulls a black comb from inside her thick matted hair and waves it at them. "I styled his hair. Doesn't it look fabulous?"
And that's true. To some extent.