dear ivanka

Dear Ivanka,

I had such high hopes for you, dear Ivanka, I’ve always said that. Fashion was your strong suit, wasn’t it, dear? I sold your dresses at Lord & Taylor, I wore your dresses (at Lord & Taylor), they were a perfect fit, I loved them. And I always thought you had some smarts. I don’t think any Trump qualifies as “the brains of the family,” but you had your own path, your own vision, right? And then, I don’t know what you were up to after I left the department store (not a big enough fan to be a follower, although I did see you on Apprentice a couple of times), but the next thing I hear about Ivanka is that you married that weasel-ass, crooked, little man. Was it an arranged marriage, dear? Probably so. You really could have done so much better. Anyway…what happens next?…history is made and you’re in the White House, girl! Holy cow, how did that happen?! My, my, such a rise in stature, in responsibility. And are you still working on Pennsylvania Avenue and could you please tell me WHAT THE FUCK IS GOING ON OVER THERE? Daddy’s got dementia, darlin’, could you please get him some meds or put a muzzle on the bastard? YOU, girl! Step in there, sister, DO SOMETHING. He listens to you, right? Save the fucking world, Ivanka, you could be the first female president (screw Hope Hicks), get the old man outta there! You could have a big-ass resignation parade, all the bells and whistles. Tell your idiot father it’s the military hoopla he always wanted–and in his honor! The crowd would be huge! I’m serious, they will name holidays after you, build statues, take the reins, baby, DO SOMETHING! He’s losing it, honey, probably your only chance to save the family name (hmmm) is now.

And ditch the skinny husband (ew) .… And get a decent speech writer … And manufacture your clothes in the USA, you dumb ass.

Sincerely,

The Women of the World (and KC)

in the presence of babies

I have been scolded for my cavalier attitude of the corona virus pandemic, I have been questioned if my trip to Atlanta to help with my son’s moving was really necessary. My foul mouth is once again under fire (no surprise there). I suppose it has been confirmed by those who know me and those who don’t that I’m a hard-ass bitch. I suppose that’s true. On the positive side, I am consistent—what you see and hear is what you get. There is a heart of gold underneath for those who care to look. For those I’ve offended, my apologies—I’ve had quite a bit of experience in that department. But I’m not writing to defend or explain my behavior, my thoughts, words or actions—I am writing about what happens in the presence of babies.

If I were to put the experience of babies into one sentence, it would be that the world as you know it (this pandemic world, in particular) doesn’t exist. There is little to no talk of disease, no old people chatter about infection and contamination—dirty diapers come first. Snotty noses, coughs and colds are a way of life. There is no end to the consumption of milk, juice, yogurt, snacks—the trip to the grocery store, drug store, can be done with one’s eyes closed and quarantine can easily become a fleeting concept. There is no whining about missed movies, concerts, travel—there are videos, baskets of books, enough toy cars to drive a nation of sick folks to the hospital (my knee is actually bruised from hours of racing cars on all fours). A smile turns to tears (and vice versa) in seconds—determining the reason may take a little longer. Your sleep, your hunger, your sanity comes in fits and spurts. Babies rule the roost and self-indulgence doesn’t exist. Facebook is a time sucker that you have no time for. And so on and so on and so on.

My children are exhausted and I get frustrated in not knowing what to do, how to soothe when mommy walks out the door, how to help with packing a household amid the chaos and constant interruption of toddlers. But I’m here, agile and grateful that I am physically strong enough to handle it all, and I fall asleep with only one thought—that the babies live to experience a better world, a dream perhaps, but one that I cling to. I am needed and I am loved. And can think of no better way to face a pandemic.

without truth

Without truth, without transparency, how does one come to believe that their interests are aligned with the president? Does “telling it like it is” equate to telling the truth? Does political rhetoric not apply to the “I hear ya, heartland” speech, does coarse language and bullying make the message more true?

Without science, without education, without compassion, how does a nation grow, compete, lead, survive? Without integrity, civility, what is the value of humanity? Are we no better than animals? Does one think that entitlements are for the entitled, that trickle down economics exist, that less government is the way to go but budgets and deficits and accountability mean nothing? Does one believe that a robust stock market equates to a higher quality of life among the populace? Does one think that words like “fake” and “haters” are answers to legitimate questions? Does one think the president is above the law? Would this belief apply to a president of color, a female president?

What brings on this faith, this allegiance? Certainly not the truth. The president’s lies number in the tens of thousands, they are daily Facebook fodder, truth in word and action buried by bravado. So faith in what? A faith that he has heard your voice, understands your concerns and will work for you? Really? Work for the common man? What actions have turned faith into a belief? Is it a belief/faith that this president can secure a more pure and safe nation via immigration reform, border walls and militaristic bells and whistles? And we should ignore the threat of the home grown terrorist? Is it a belief/faith that capitalism will reign supreme over socialism, that socialism or anything that resembles socialism will rob you and your grandbabies of a financial future? A belief/faith that if we could only roll back the hands of time, of learning, of justice, of reform, of environmental protections, all would be right in the world and we would somehow be great again after a black man made us bad? And does one think God wants it this way?

I have faith with regard to many aspects of my life, with regard to thought, action, belief, but I have no faith in this president, nor do I have an ounce of respect for the man. I have seen no indication that his position, his agenda, his actions are anything but self-serving. I believe that a leader is one that brings the troops together; it is the enemy that divides—have to say it—divide and conquer. And I believe that a society is only as healthy, as sound, as great, as progressive and innovative as its inhabitants. No revolution was ever staged because of too much equality. If you feel the need to name, call me whatever “ist” or “ism” you think applies.

employment tips for congresspersons in fear of losing their jobs should they defy mr. trump

For the republicans (or democrats, statepersons, laypersons) who fear losing their jobs should they defy the president, here are just a few employment and employment related suggestions should it ever come to that:

write a book
write for your hometown newspaper
work for a law firm or go to law school
work as a lobbyist
work for the city you live in
work within your party’s organization/re-elction campaign
work at your local library
work for your wife’s father
work for your husband’s mother
work at Home Depot (always hiring somewhere)
work at Target (discount!)
drive for UPS (health care!)
teach a class
take a class
be a consultant (within your field of expertise, of course)
sell real estate
seek board positions
become a farmer
become a manfacturer
become a dog walker/sitter
buy a coffee shop franchise, a pizza franchise, a burger joint franchise
assist in your church
assist at your children’s school
write another book

Why, the opportunities abound! And should you find yourself waiting on a response from any particular industry as to the status of your application, the volunteer opportunities are endless. In any organization of your choice! Hope this helps to relieve a bit of your stress.

sparring

I like to spar:

spar| spär | verb (sparssparringsparred[no object] 

• make the motions of boxing without landing heavy blows, as a form of training: one contestant broke his nose while sparring

• engage in argument, typically of a kind that is prolonged or repeated but not violent: mother and daughter spar regularly over drink, drugs, and career

• (of a gamecock) fight with the feet or spurs. 

I believe I’ve sparred pretty much my whole life, remembering myself as the impish child, the one to provoke, stir the pot, defiant, contrary – training for adulthood, no doubt. And my only guess as to why I’m this way stems from a healthy curiosity regarding people; not just where they’ve been or what they do or like, but what they reveal when challenged. Show me the good stuff. And I like sparring; a little jab here, a little jab there. And my most favorite friends, writers, artists, professionals, comediennes, musicians and celebrities are those who also like to spar. I am, however, often viewed (and often incorrectly viewed) as passive aggressive, obnoxious and opinionated. I apologize to those I’ve offended, I’m working on the negative. But I have no intention of stepping out the ring—it’s too much fun. Carry on, my lovely sparring partners, my snappy sparring mentors; keep me sharp, keep me in the game.

the double assault in los angeles

We were stopped at a red light on Hill Street, downtown Los Angeles, near the Grand Central Market and the jewelry district. We were the second car from the corner, waiting to make a right on red but the car in front of us couldn’t turn—as the driver of that car was in a heated argument with some crazy dude on a bike stopped in front of her. I couldn’t see the driver but say her only because her head did not appear over the little, black Mercedes headrest—a small person, probably a woman, older, I thought incorrectly. With windows closed I could hear the crazy dude cursing like crazy, incoherently, giving no clue as to his beef with the driver. He spit on her windshield multiple times and finally biked away as the other drivers, the many pedestrians and my carful shook our heads in disbelief.

We were stopped again by the light in the next block, Mercedes to our right, and the dude on the bike appears out of nowhere and continues his rampage. The woman, a small, young Asian woman with a blond dye job and edgy haircut steps out of the car and starts screaming at the biker, Jesus no lady, get the hell back inside the car. She does. The man starts kicking her door, pulls his bike away to reposition, and again, out of nowhere, a pedestrian I recognized from the first corner comes racing towards the crazy man and body slams him and his bike onto the street. He kicked the man several times in the face and gut and the crazy dude on the bike lay face down, unconscious, in a pool of his own blood.

Holy shit. I was sure he was dead. I looked around our car and there were at least a dozen phones capturing the assault. All I could think of was he’s dead, lets get out of here, please, go around. We did. My fellow passengers tried to assure me that the man wasn’t dead but I wasn’t totally convinced—he remained motionless and face down as we made another right turn and lost sight of the body. Wow, wow, wow. I had never seen anything like that. City of Angels and Demons.

But the reason for this trip downtown was in fact the jewelry district—I wanted to sell my engagement ring—and in doing so, the second assault. Not that anyone treated me unkindly, not that I had strong romantic feelings regarding this ring. My ex-husband and I are friends, he will forever be an important person in my life but this ring was no longer a symbol of love shared, and interestingly, the ring I wanted to sell was actually my third engagement ring—the first stolen from our home and the second lost in the Chesapeake Bay. Clearly, the ring no longer held the significance it once did. But it was an assault to my ego, an older woman with her adult son navigating the diamond district for cash, which yes, I needed and wanted. I hoped to heaven I didn’t look desperate (perhaps too strong a word to describe my financial situation) but it sure as hell felt as if I did. I met every jeweler in the three shops we visited, all of them men, straight on in the eye, seemingly proud but it was humiliating and embarrassing to say the least. Back to the first as he was the only gentleman to make an offer. It felt as if I had been body slammed.

I left downtown that day with some diamond education, a little bit of cash in my wallet—not at all what I foolishly hoped for—and the image of an unconscious, bloody man on the street. I’m still shaking my head thinking about it all but better now that I’m removed from the wreckage and no longer sitting before a man with a loop and bad news. No regrets about selling the ring. I did what I had to/wanted to do and can safely say that the jewelers of Los Angeles have seen plenty of gals like me. And I bet you the residents of Los Angeles are no strangers to street violence but this day took me to the edge and back. A double assault, double whammy, double feature starring angels, demons and diamonds.

the sanctity of a space

I am in part going to tell a story that I promised not to tell—but I’m pretty sure that the part I share will not violate any vows.

Last year, my dear Frenchie friend (who lives alone here in Key West the majority of the year and yes, who is still my employer) broke her ankle at her beach house in Edgewater, MD. Being that I am from that area and still own half a house there, being that I know the hospital and shopping environment, being that I am single and capable, the co-owners of the shop where I worked asked if I would go to Maryland and take care of their partner, Frenchie. Absolutely.

Beach house is a stretch—it is a beach shack, in the shackiest sense of the word. A two bedroom, dusty, old thing, with brown paper, hula-fringe-wall-covering in the living room, D.C. and French memorabilia filling in wherever the fringe has torn. The tiny bathroom walls are papered (by Frenchie’s late husband) in fading and blistered New Yorker magazine front covers—completely. Beach remains, photos, art (exceptional pieces along with flea market finds), fishing rods and reels, rusty buckets and tools are everywhere. There is a single, ancient air conditioner in one window. There is no central air, no microwave, no dishwasher, no disposal, no washer or dryer. There is wifi, a stack of movies on cd’s, but only French tv. There is a rotting deck outside and an ample table with assorted chairs, all sitting under a slightly shredded awning that bows with the weight of dozens of crab pot buoys. The view is outstanding.

While staying with Frenchie, I, of course, visited my former home, my ex-husband and his girlfriend. Difficult, to say the least, as that property, once my source of comfort, safety, and joy had been seriously violated. But the shack grew in importance and held me close as challenges mounted, a crowded simplicity to the space that added no baggage to my brain. This curious and funky, slightly moldy and slightly grimy, Chesapeake cabin became one of the most nurturing properties I have ever had the experience to enjoy. And in a recent visit back to Maryland (as my home there is now for sale), my darling Frenchie offered me her empty shack, my second stay confirming the sanctity of this space. Challenges were more difficult this time, the pain of letting go and moving on slapped me at every turn. But it was at the shack that I finally acknowledged my brokenness, there that I fully looked at all the sadness that I carried and still carry, there that I could admit that my courageous act of jumping off the cliff was also my running away. What is it about a place, a Walden Pond, a Bhutan monastery, a Chesapeake cabin or Key West cottage that offers peace, safe enough to offer confession? Is it just that we treasure those places where revelation, where understanding comes to us, that those places are just the lucky locations where the light bulb finally comes on? Is it profound experiences, history, children, lovers that make a property special, or merely a moment in time when we feel whole? Are there spirits within these places, a wind from a certain direction, a tilt to the ceiling, a light that falls with exceptional clarity that carries us to knowledge, to creativity, to wisdom? I have no earthly clue. In Alcoholics Anonymous they tell you there is no such thing as a geographic cure and with regards to the alcoholic I absolutely believe that to be true. But that adage holds no weight whatsoever with regards to my soul. That shack has seen my soul, held it, loved it, and gently nudged me out the door with a kiss. Peace to you and your abode.

the view from my bike

It will be 3 years this September that I’ve lived without a car. While I know a few people who could pull off this lifestyle (yes, only a few), none of them are, and I consider my decision and my act of ditching the four-wheeler to be something close to superhuman. It is not doable with children, at least not easily; clearly not an issue for me–I’m 68 years old. It is, of course, comfortably doable because I live on a 2 x 4 mile island with everything I need within biking (or walking) distance. Also possible because this island is flat, weather is (typically) not an issue and there’s no heavy volume of vehicles. A tropical village is a whole lot easier to navigate than any city or suburb. All that considered, challenges remain. I can only carry so many groceries home, run only so many errands. If I forget my lock (which doesn’t live on my bike because of rusting) it’s a trip back home to get it. It’s rainy season. It’s hot. I deal with it. I take Lyft, my Publix (grocery) now delivers, I’ve rented a car on a couple of occasions and plan on renting more. Superhuman? Maybe a stretch, but I still think I’m a pretty big, damn deal.

A few biking observations and thoughts below, along with a little bit of advice–3 years on a bike comes with plenty of opinion. While I do still bike for exercise, my biking is primarily for transportation, and much of what I experience is the same as if I were sitting behind the wheel of that fancy M5 I used to drive.

YES, THERE IS ROAD RAGE ON A BIKE. In my travels, I share the road with idiot-out-of-towners both on bikes and in cars (not even gonna touch the scooter issues), and all the blue sky in the world cannot save me from occasionally flipping someone off. Anyone who doesn’t signal, bikers traveling 4 across, cars moving so slowly I can tap their rear fender with my front tire—same things that piss you off in your car can piss you off on your bike. The funny part is, that while you sit inside your windows-closed-air-conditioned vehicle and curse a blue streak at the fool in front of you, I’m sitting on a bike seat, and my cursing is loud and clear. I kinda like it—silly, gray-haired, old lady, yelling at a bunch of 20 somethings—very Key West.

YES, YOU CAN SPACE OUT WHILE BIKING—just like in your car. Of course, anyone who drives has experienced miles (or what seems like miles) of blankness, those times when you’re lost in thought and suddenly brought back to the road. Easy to do down here—all those palm trees waving, a straight line downtown, little congestion. Not to mention that I’m prone to spacing out regardless of setting or activity (or lack thereof). Be mindful.

NO, YOU CANNOT RIDE YOUR BIKE ON THE SIDEWALK. For anyone who doesn’t know—the rules of the road are the same for both bikes and cars. Period. You don’t drive your car on the sidewalk and your bike doesn’t belong there either. If you’re uncomfortable biking on the street, then you shouldn’t be on a bike. [I will confess to breaking one rule of the road—I travel the wrong way on a one-way street in 2 different locations. It’s just for a block in both places and a huge convenience. I told my neighbor I would have to be ticketed or hit to conform—also very Key West.] I don’t wear a helmet and leave that decision up to you, but side view mirrors are a must-have. Get decent lights for night biking. And take the ears buds out, for cryin’ out loud. How the hell are you going to hear me cursing?

good bye, game of thrones

from Tyrion Lannister, game of thrones, final episode

What unites people? Armies? Gold? Flags? Stories. There’s nothing in the world more powerful than a good story. Nothing can stop it. No enemy can defeat it. And who has a better story than Bran the Broken? The boy who fell from a high tower and lived. He knew he’d never walk again, so he learned to fly. He crossed beyond the Wall, a crippled boy, and became the Three-Eyed Raven. He is our memory, the keeper of all our stories. The wars, weddings, births, massacres, famines. Our triumphs, our defeats, our past. Who better to lead us into the future?

where the sidewalk ends / shel silverstein

A late but important addition to National Poetry Month. Silverstein was Key West royalty, a brilliant cartoonist, composer, poet and author. His biography below is well worth a read.

There is a place where the sidewalk ends
And before the street begins,
And there the grass grows soft and white,
And there the sun burns crimson bright,
And there the moon-bird rests from his flight
Too cool in the peppermint wind.

Let us leave this place where the smoke blows black
And the dark street winds and bends.
Past the pits where asphalt flowers grow
We shall walk with a walk that is measured and slow,
And watch where the chalk-white arrows go
To the place where the sidewalk ends.

Yes we’ll walk with a walk that is measured and slow,
And we’ll go where the Chalk-white arrows go,
For the children, they mark, and the children, they know
The place where the sidewalk ends. –Shel Silverstein

Silverstein on wikipedia