first love




My first love was Silvio Balos, a handsome, green-eyed Sicilian, a bad-boy who spent his short stint in public school amassing detentions, suspensions, and broken hearts. My memories are sketchy, but what I do remember seems oddly impassioned and inordinately important—strong visuals that come back easily and often, an unfamiliar wistfullness. How is it that someone I knew so long ago and for such a short period of time is with me still? Interesting what we hold on to.

I remember the high school guidance counselor sitting on the back porch of my parent’s home and warning us of all things Silvio. I remember Silvio jumping off the roof of that porch when my father came home unexpectedly. I remember driving around with one of his friends who had a license and my father waiting at the front door with a golf club in hand—all for show, but fifty years later I can almost hear the stones flying out from under the tires and feel the twist in my stomach that went along with the night.

My strongest memory, however, was when I would sleep outside (which my parents somehow allowed) on a chaise lounge, waiting for Silvio to come wake me at 1:00 a.m. (although I don’t think I ever fell asleep waiting for him). I can see the fabric of the chaise, where it sat next to the grill, I know what tee shirt I wore, the color of my panties, the color of his eyes. I would be damp and cold by the time he arrived and he would gently climb under my blanket and slowly move his body over me till we were a perfect fit. He would come night after night, hundreds, thousand of nights it seemed, and feel me up and kiss me till our lips were raw, our faces chafed, till we drifted off to sleep to wake and begin again. And then he was gone, just like that, my sweet and sexy Silvio sent to reform school. My heart was broken and sadly, my virginity intact.

Several years later, years of no communication whatsoever, Silvio called asking if he could visit. We sat on the back porch with a girlfriend I had asked over to hold my hand should he do something rash but I quickly knew that I wanted her gone, that I wanted to sit on his lap and start the kissing again. He left with every question unanswered and I never saw him again. At my high school’s tenth year reunion, Suzanne somebody told me she was crazy about Silvio but the only one he wanted was me. I could feel my nipples rise and the moisture build between my legs as she spoke. He was, our love was, a teenage-dream–like a million other teenage dreams. Except every one of those images, every touch, tease, car ride and wet night spent together lives in my recent memory, never having moved to the back of my brain to mingle with the memories of long ago. Silvio, should you ever read this post, contact me immediately.


photo credit:


from the wisdom of no escape




From The Wisdom of No Escape and the Path to Loving-Kindness

by Pema Chodron


“There’s a common misunderstanding among all the human beings who have ever been born on the earth, that the best way to live is to try to avoid pain and just try to get comfortable. You can see this even in insects and animals and birds. All of us are the same.

A much more interesting, kind, adventurous, and joyful approach to life is to begin to develop our curiosity, not caring whether the object of our inquisitiveness is bitter or sweet. To lead a life that goes beyond pettiness and prejudice and always wanting to make sure that everything turns out on our own terms, to lead a more passionate, full, and delightful life than that, we must realize that we can endure a lot of pain and pleasure for the sake of finding out who we are and what this world is, how we tick and how our world ticks, how the whole thing just is. If we’re committed to comfort at any cost, as soon as we come up against the least edge of pain, we’re going to run; we’ll never know what’s beyond that particular barrier or wall or fearful thing.”


“… loving-kindness—maitri—toward ourselves doesn’t mean getting rid of anything. Maitri means that we can still be crazy after all these years. We can still be angry after all these years. We can still be timid or jealous or full of feelings of unworthiness. The point is not to try to change ourselves. Meditation practice isn’t about trying to throw ourselves away and become something better. It’s about befriending who we are already. The ground of practice is you or me or whoever we are right now, just as we are. That’s the ground, that’s what we study, that’s what we come to know with tremendous curiosity and interest.”


I’ve probably read this book four times but have not picked it up in ten years. I believe it’s time for some loving-kindness.


The Wisdom of No Escape / pema chodrom


photo credit:






Robes were always a part of our fantasy, what they did or did not reveal, how they fell from the shoulder. An appetizer, David would say, his fetish, one of many. Not the terry cloth variety, not those heavy spa things. The robes of our fantasies were light, floaty, like the long, turquoise silk with the mandarin collar or the pink gossamer with the pink ribbon sash, the sash servicing a multitude of sins all on its own. Sometimes they were black, bitchin, crazy sexy. I love black robes, I own two, and I’m sitting outside in the dark with one on now. I can’t put one on without thinking about him, about his hands and tongue moving underneath the fabric. Underneath was whatever he wanted, gentleman’s call and our combined imaginations–and we were very good at imagining things.


photo credit:

georgia/memorial weekend




If you have been following this blog, you know that my “Mary” post was drawn from a bad poem, one of many bad poems that I authored. “Atlanta” was another such poem, written after several trips and several attempts to find something to love about that city. While Atlanta is a lovely and vibrant town, we never quite connected until one evening when I found myself alone and waiting for my ride on an unfamiliar and pedestrian empty street, my son and husband circling the block and apparently stuck in traffic. I watched a homeless man limping his way toward me, beaten by poverty and circumstance and a whiskey diet, frail enough that I probably could have pushed him over, strong enough to make me move closer to the street light and wrap myself in defensive stance. My pale form was a beacon of white. He stopped 5 feet from my face, spat, spoke, “I thought you was an angel,” and continued around me as if I were never there. For a split second in time, I was.


photot credit:

on exuberance


final dance 2


I started this blog with the intention of not including stories about my family, my children in particular. I wanted to keep that world private, protected. But I want to share this story before it becomes memoir, while it is fresh and hopefully infectious, while I am feeling exuberant—the mother/son dance at my son’s wedding.

When our children were young, we vacationed at a lodge on Lake George in Upstate New York. I loved this place. It was a Dirty Dancing kind of resort, minus the dancing and the dirty, and in compliance with the universal, lodge-calendar-of-events, there was a talent show every year. Bruce Springsteen’s 10th Avenue Freeze Out was popular at the time and the song had a saxophone riff that the boys and I mimicked on air saxes. I suggested we turn it into a routine for the Canoe Island Lodge talent show and everyone was on board. We practiced, we danced, we laughed and laughed and at the last minute the boys chickened out and we never did it. But this spring, twenty some years later, my son suggested that he and I should dance to 10th Avenue Freeze Out at his wedding. I was delighted, honored, blown away by his tenderness. Yes, of course, I told him and for 2 weeks I choreographed both our dance and the routine for the band, my younger son and the bride’s brother. It was going to be great, a celebration within a celebration, fun not foolish, despite the fact that I bought blow-up, plastic saxes for the guys. They all had to learn the routine in 2 days and they did. The band brought their A game, sunglasses, swagger, and my son and I danced like pros, with smiles wide enough to take in the entire venue. The wedding guests cheered. It was awesome, it was joyous unrestraint.

Joyous unrestraint, that’s it, that’s exuberance. Requiring almost a clownish confidence, occasional physicality, an appreciation for unrestricted expression. It feels like freedom with an hallelujah chorus. It comes with long lasting side effects: spontaneous smiling, an unworried world, satisfaction. Joy, joy, joy. I could go on and on. Find exuberance, embrace it, exalt it—before you fall off the edge of old.

personal jesus


pray 1





Reach out and touch faith

Your own personal Jesus
Someone to hear your prayers
Someone who cares
Your own personal Jesus
Someone to hear your prayers
Someone who’s there

Feeling unknown
And you’re all alone
Flesh and bone
By the telephone
Lift up the receiver
I’ll make you a believer

Take second best
Put me to the test
Things on your chest
You need to confess
I will deliver
You know I’m a forgiver

Reach out and touch faith – depeche mode


While I am no music aficionado, I do love lyrics and love to look up the lyrics to my favorite songs. I feel I get so much more out of a song if I know what they’re singing about. And how can you sing along if you don’t know the words? Some lyrics are great, some are crap (as with any form of the written word), some can stand alone, some work only within the context of the music. And, of course, there are iconic renditions like, “hold me closer, Tony Danza” which shows that sometimes, the best lyrics are the made-up ones. While Personal Jesus is hardly poetic, I have always been intrigued by this Depeche Mode song but was startled when I read what songwriter Martin Gore said served as inspiration for the piece: the book, Elvis and Me, by Priscilla Presley. Gore’s interpretation was not about their healthy love (if there was such a thing–I never read the book), but Priscilla’s God-like devotion to her mentor/man, and her role as Elvis’ confessor, his Jesus. Before having read this, I was sure, absolutely, positively sure this song was about phone sex.


photo credit:


letter to lucy




Clarie to Lucy: (subject) Him

Hello, sweet Lucy. It seems like forever since we last talked. I miss you terribly. How is life in London? And your boys, your mom? Spring has sprung in Virginia, it’s beautiful, but sigh, it’s Virginia. Lordy, I miss you. Kisses to everyone.

The sad news. David had a stroke. I’m very upset. I sent him a short email to tell him the latest on the novella and it bounced back with the message that he had a brain hemorrhage and could not be reached–but with his son’s email address if it were urgent. Philip-you remember Philip, yes? I mailed him immediately and carried on as much as one can carry on on paper. He was very sweet. He told me that it happened on the train to Paris and that David was doing okay, that the doctors think he will recover completely minus a small balance issue. He gave me the phone number at the rehab facility, but then, you know I don’t want to call overseas, but fuck it, I called anyway.  After many, many attempts, I finally got David. Oh my God, I was shaking. I had not talked to him in months! He sounded better than I expected, but I question the prognosis. He was not quite right–hopefully just a matter of time. He was humble. Can you imagine? David humbled. I think that’s what rattled me the most–the absence of arrogance. My heart ached as I was talking to him and my hands seemed suspended in air as if I were holding his face. I don’t know what to make of all this, but God help me, I want to see him. Crap. I won’t do anything rash, promise, but I’m twisted into an enormous knot and contemplating a visit to Europe. I don’t know what I’m saying. This is stupid. Lordy, I miss you.

I’ll keep you posted, dolly.  Everything else is fine, on hold, insignificant. More to come, I’m sure. xxx Claire


photo credit:


fuck cigarettes




I want a cigarette more than I’ve wanted any man, purse, piece of property, vodka martini or brownie made in heaven.  Fuck ’em, that’s all, just fuck ’em.


photo credit:

much more




When my sister was in high school, somewhere in the sixties, she went to the off-broadway production of The Fantasticks and came home with their album. We listened to it, danced to it, sang with it, for hours, days, weeks. My favorite piece was, and still is, Much More, one of the lesser known songs, which I have tried to play on the piano for thirty years unsuccessfully. I have always thought that the lyrics are simple and brilliant, and interestingly, related to the excerpt from Paulo Coelho, posted 5/12. If you are not familiar with the play, it shows up a lot at summer theaters–go.

The italicized paragraph is presented in the play as spoken word, and while I’m not sure if it is technically part of the song, I have never seen it performed without this preamble and therefore am including it here. Thank you, Tom Jones, lyricist and genius.




I’m sixteen years old and everyday something happens to me, oh, oh, oooooh!

I hug myself till my arms turn blue, and then I close my eyes

and I cry and cry till the tears come down and I can taste them.

I love to taste my tears. I am special. I am special.

Please, God, please, don’t let me be normal!


(It was at this point that you could hear my mother mocking us from the kitchen, “I am special, I am special.”)

I’d like to swim in a clear blue stream
Where the water is icy cold.
Then go to town
In a golden gown,
And have my fortune told.
Just once,
Just once,
Just once before I’m old.

I’d like to be not evil,
But a little worldly wise.
To be the kind of girl designed
To be kissed upon the eyes.

I’d like to dance till two o’clock,
Or sometimes dance till dawn,
Or if the band could stand it,
Just go on and on and on
Just once,
Just once,
Before the chance is gone.

I’d like to waste a week or two
And never do a chore.
To wear my hair unfastened
So it billows to the floor.

To do the things I’ve dreamed about
But never done before.
Perhaps I’m bad, or wild, or mad,
With lots of grief in store,
But I want much more than keeping house,
Much more,
Much more,
Much more.