on sadness




A difficult day today. In the past month, I’ve lost a girlfriend and a boyfriend, and hours ago, my son and daughter-in-law boarded a plane back to California. If you have children, and if your children live far away, you understand. And if you have ever loved a woman or a man, romantically or otherwise, you surely understand the sadness that comes with their loss as well. But was it sadness or self-pity I was feeling? There were twinges of something that felt like pity but not quite. My escape route of cigarettes and solitaire did not satisfy, what is this?, I am miserable.

from Quora.com / Karen Chamberlain

Self-pity asks “why me?”, and focuses on how the situation is not fair. There’s a whining quality to it. There is almost a belief that I, among all humans, should not have to suffer this pain.


Sadness does not include annoyance or the sense that the misfortune was not deserved. It is purely the grief that comes with loss.


Purely the grief that comes with loss. In the past month, I’ve lost a girlfriend and a boyfriend, and hours ago, my son and daughter-in-law boarded a plane back to California.



artwork: Berthe Morisot / Julie Daydreaming


letter to david




Do you ever think about me? Do you ever think about me when you’re with her? Do you look at her mouth and think about my lipstick? Do you put your hand between her thighs as you sit close in the restaurant?  Do you think about what I felt like under the silk, how I opened to your touch, your desires? Do you think about the last time you saw me and how I looked when I walked away or what you said or what I said or what difference did it make what anybody said? Your choice was made, your choice to continue with the affair as it was. Nothing has changed, you said, and that’s true—it was the same argument we had 6 months ago, and 6 months before that, the same vile twisting in my belly and brain, the same unsatisfying outcome and unanswered questions. But I changed. And I discovered that I love myself more than I love you. And now I just have to figure out how to fill the hole you carved out of my heart.


photo credit: sparkaction.org


the beach house

beach (1)

I first went to the beach house with my husband to visit our friends, the owners. I have since been there with my girlfriend, my muse, by myself, and now with two of my children. I love the beach house. The building itself is simple, modern, the interior tastefully curated with art and collected artifacts. There are a few building elements that are well constructed, properly installed, but to my uneducated eye, it seems that much of the house could blow away in a storm such as Hurricane Sandy, which fortunately bypassed the beloved beach house. The beach front is where the Atlantic Ocean meets the Delaware Bay, 4 or 5 miles above a healthy, wildlife sanctuary, abundant with fowl. There is also an abundance of excellent stones, shells, beach glass, arrowheads and not-so-excellent horseshoe crab carcasses. I have seen the low lapping water brown with Delaware sludge and I have seen my toes 6 feet into the surf. It is one of those unmanicured, ever-changing beaches, weathered, renewed, humble and yet magnificent. I have cut Christmas greens from the beach and spray painted brush for flower arrangements. The neighborhood is part hillbilly, part academic, part gay, part old, but very few residents in all, and NO commercialization. Amazing.

I love to be there alone, I love to go there and imagine love, which may sound sad but it is not. I love to go there and write, or at least, go there and think about writing, all of which may be better said by I love to go there and dream. It is not my dream house, and that is under investigation, but the beach house gives me a taste of what it might be like to live the life I’ve imagined. And that is very heady and inspiring—which is why I like to write there, or at least, think about it.

My deepest thanks and love to my generous, gentleman friends for offering this gem for my fancy alone.

her voice




her voice

which somehow reminded him of silk stockings, never failed to arouse him, and make him think of what it would be like to slide into those lips, over her pink tongue, and touch her throat, to nuzzle her neck and inhale the scent of her hair. It never failed to remind him of the sleeping demon which sometimes came awake with a vengeance. He would imagine other, more violent openings, and what tones the voice would take on when he, the demon, forced her, violated her, and hurt her as they danced on the edge of pain and pleasure. A thousand times he undressed her, watched her parade before him in an array of silky garments and stockings. A thousand times he had her for the first time, in her mouth, her pussy, her ass. A thousand times he caressed her bottom, felt the weight of her breasts, clothed and unclothed, brushed his hands over her nipples through her garments, rolled her nipples naked under his rough fingers. A thousand times he heard her squeal as he unexpectedly pushed his fingers into her, held her tightly to him as he explored her openings, ran his hands over her, lifted her skirt, ripped off her panties and forced her over a couch to take her without prelude or ceremony. A thousand times he came, spurting into her, either pulling out, or holding her as his cock softened and slid out of her, his come falling between her thighs.  And it was only the beginning.

So, what was different about this time? How was this fight not like the others? It was her voice. She heard her tone and her words and her volume and the guts behind it and the self that she was afraid to expose in an affair as shaky as theirs. WHAT ARE YOU, 10 YEARS OLD? A voice so true it startled her, a voice loud enough that she finally heard how contradictory previous voices had been. A simple and silly grouping of words, a juvenile lashing that just jumped out from behind her lips. Her voice—which somehow reminded her of how smart she can be.


photo credit: sodahead.com


snow day




With most all conversation touching on the upcoming snowpocalypse, I wanted to share some thoughts on snow days. A snow day can go either way, you know. It can be the unadulterated, un-adult, magical moment when you discover school has closed. The not-on-the-calendar bonus, glorious, pajama day. Or … your snow day can be the incredibly disappointing, depressing realization, “Fuck me. I have to go to work.” Your snow day can be luxuriating in bed with coffee and your laptop and a thousand fabulous ideas for the next great American novel. Or … a snow day can be sitting in bed sending nastygrams to Southwest Airlines and BWI management for closing the airport when you were supposed to be on a plane to California. Southwest aside, my snow day history has typically been filled with those magical moments, lucky enough to savor days with no agenda and little responsibility. I say little responsibility because there were many snow-day-years with batches of boys to feed and clothes to dry–and those were the best snow days of all. But there is a funeral I must attend this weekend, and people are hurting, and the weather is proving problematic. The notion of setting up house under the sheets appeals for a variety of reasons, the least of which is sadness.

I hope your snow day treats you well, blankets you with gratitude and childlike awe. I hope you bundle up and take a walk and savor the snow, savor life. I hope you don’t have to go to work.


photo credit: flickr.com


letter to lucy 3 or 4




Hello Sweet Lucy,

I know it’s been ages, I’m so sorry. I’ve been off the radar for months and I am truly embarrassed by my behavior. Lordy, I wish I could sit with you. I haven’t seen any photos in a while–tell me what fabulous trips you’ve been on, take me away, lovely Lucy. How’s mamma? Hope she’s comfortable.

I broke it off with David, for real. Yes, I did. And I can’t stop smiling, and shaking, but really it’s just a little shaking. I was so deep into the drama. I see now how I neglected my family, my health, my writing, my relations, both professional and personal. You. I neglected you. It was as if I woke from a dream, as if the hammer finally came down hard enough to knock some sense into me. The other girlfriend, the racism, the lying, a value system that I found repugnant, the arrogance thru it all–all in attendance for an explosive night away. And bad sex. He was never as good in person as he was on paper. Maybe had the touching taken me to ecstasy, I would have tolerated a few more blows. But not the case. Anyway, I am walking away with one of those incredible “I am so much cooler than you” attitudes (hence the smiling), and I swear to God, Lucy, this feels so right that I can’t imagine falling back into him.

And more amazing news–I rented the apartment in Puerto Rico that I’ve been coveting for a year. I’m so excited. It’s back on the market and I’ve had quite a few e mail conversations with the owner, who is hesitant to sell, but we seem to have a good connection so we’ll see what happens. And I’m excited about writing. I’ve got so many good stories going, both on paper and in my head, but I need to focus. It’s coming. The focus, the words. Writing to you always helps.

Tell me all that’s going on, be well, kisses to all and an extra hug for Henry.


xxx, Claire


photo credit: blogs.scientificamerican.com







There is no nosier place than the suburbs,

someone once said to me

as we were walking along a fairway,

and every day is pleased to offer fresh evidence:


the chainsaw, the leaf-blower blowing

one leaf around an enormous house with columns,

on Mondays and Thursdays the garbage truck

equipped with air brakes, reverse beeper, and merciless grinder.


There’s dogs, hammers, backhoes,

or serious earthmovers if today is not your day.

How can the birds get a peep

or a chirp in edgewise, I would like to know?


But this morning is different,

only a soft clicking sound

and the low talk of two workmen working

on the house next door, laying tile I am guessing.


Otherwise, all quiet for a change,

just the clicking of tiles being handled

and their talking back and forth in Spanish,

then one of them asking in English


“What was her name?” and the silence of the other. – Billy Collins, Horoscopes for the Dead


art: Christoffer Wilhelm Eckersberg


it’s just a chair


michael carson


“Why don’t you sell some of your antiques?”

“Excuse me, Susan?”

“Sell some of your stuff. You keep telling me about all the valuable antiques you have sitting in storage. Why not sell a chair or two?” She had no idea what his look meant and took the risk. “You know, instead of asking people to help you out. I mean, it’s all about helping Louis right? You need the money, you could sell some pieces and move on.”

He straightened on the sofa, book to his lap. He was wearing a Christmas red sweater and while the reflection from the overhead lighting did make his face a little rosy, it seemed as if Henry was starting to blend in with the v-neck.

“Are you kidding me? Can you hear yourself? Do you know what you’re saying?”

“Yes. I’m saying sell some of your antiques, pay off your ex-wife, get Louis started in the new business and give your son some sense of normalcy.”

“Never, Susan, never. I can’t believe you would even suggest that. Louis is fine. These antiques are for him, I’m saving them for him, in fact, he’s started collecting on his own. I would never dream of selling anything.”

Louis was not fine. Close to everyday, Henry told Susan that he was worried about his son. The family, Henry, teenager Louis and ex-wife Melissa, were living in squalor under one roof. The squalor was Henry’s idea, a plan to drive Melissa out of the house by way of filth, but she wasn’t budging. She was angry, vengeful, and waiting for her payback on their failed business. The environment was so unstable and Henry and Melissa’s confrontations so volatile, that Henry would leave the house during Melissa’s waking hours to avoid an argument, returning when she went to her room for the night. Louis was not fine.

Henry wanted 1: someone rich to come in and partner with Louis to get the hotel up and running again—turning the business over to Louis would somehow settle the financial dispute with Melissa; and 2: someone rich to give him $100,000 to settle some immediate debt and allow for a little spending–a computer and cell phone to start. He was massaging a business partner hopeful for over a year now, and a friend in Australia was going to send the cash, but that was 3 months and a couple of excuses ago.

“Henry. It’s just stuff. I don’t get this attachment to objects. You tell me all the time how worried you are about Louis and now you tell me he’s fine. Which is it? You have the means to end the madness, sell some art.”

Henry was incensed. “2,500 rare books, Hermes silver, German crystal, I should sell this? The rich don’t care that I ask for a handout, they don’t care about the money. You’re saying I should sell these books?”

“No, keep the books, of course, surely there is something… I suspect Louis could care less about the German crystal…”

“I’ve been an antiques dealer. I know antiques. I know what this is, you’re questioning my taste, no one questions my taste.”  Dead stop. Taste? What did taste have to do with anything? Don’t question—period. Did he even own these antiques? Is he a liar or insane? Susan moved to the patio for a cigarette. She cringed or shivered or shook or something, as if the cold slapped her, smacked her right in the face and popped her eyes wide open. She smoked slowly and sighed and adjusted to the cold and checked to see if Henry was watching her and discovering that he was not, she smiled—for Susan didn’t feel as badly about this fight with Henry as she typically would. Ha. Imagine that. She went back inside to apologize, a token gesture to try and salvage what was left of their weekend together for there were very few of them. But she woke early the next day and quietly left as Henry lay sleeping—the smell of moldy fabric was just too pervasive to bear.


art: michael carson


for mary




The subject line of the e mail read: Mary is in a coma. And the subject line of the e mail later that day read: Mary died at 3:10 p.m. The delivery seemed as poignantly sad as the occurrence. I don’t know what to say, I don’t know what to write about the passing of a dear friend, I don’t know what to write that doesn’t sound like a eulogy, and I don’t want to write anything that sounds like a eulogy—nobody should be writing a eulogy. We all know how special she was. Was. There will be a celebration of her life. A celebration. I get that, I understand that that’s what people do these days, that that is what they call funeral services–let’s put an upbeat spin to it all, celebrate their time with us, for surely, that’s how the deceased would have wanted it. And there will be plenty of laughter for Mary was a joyous person. But there will be plenty of tears for no one ever wanted her to go, never imagined her gone, and there is no celebrating in that.


photo: John and Mary Messmore, Decatur, GA, 2014