a vulnerable position




I’m looking for part time work. I don’t know anyone my age looking for a job. Most of my peer friends are either trudging through their last couple of years with some organization they’ve been with forever, or they are retired. Some have never worked, some have worked for their husbands, two women I know will soon be unemployed, one of which may be facing dire consequences as a result of not working. My situation, thankfully, is not dire, but I need the company and the cash—need, not want. Despite a less than stellar work history, I like to work, and I’ve hit the streets in search of employment before—I know what to do—but it’s a challenge. It’s about emotional vulnerability.

I’m looking for a job in retail. There’s a cragislist in Key West, but all the part time jobs listed are for servers, bartenders, or yard help. I have no car, so I hoof it to the shops I know and like and hope that the owner is in—but will talk to anyone (calling to see if the owner is in doesn’t work, they want to see that you’re ready and able). It takes a while for me to psyche myself up and get out the door—hair and dress and coffee and cigarettes and then airing out and brushing my teeth for the 3rd time. It’s nerve rattling, hard, it is humbling—but not humiliating. I feel vulnerable and I feel courageous. I feel open to rejection or acceptance. I feel that my path and my choices are correct, I feel confident that work will come. I feel I’ve been too far and too long removed from vulnerability and welcome it back into my life. I feel hopeful.

I’ve read up on vulnerability before. It was once suggested that I look into a better understanding of the subject to help with my writing. But reading about vulnerability it is a whole lot different than practicing it. I extend, I stumble, I grow, right? There are numerous online sources for all things vulnerable. I like the simple and straight forward excerpts from Bloom Life Design below (check out the full article):


“When you hide who you really are to avoid being vulnerable, you pre-emptively reject yourself to avoid the possibility of rejection. The logic goes something like… I don’t think I’m good enough to write that post so I’ll pass at it because no one will like it anyway. Do you see the flawed logic? You reject yourself to avoid the very possibility of rejection.

Emotional vulnerability is key to connection, in your relationships, and most importantly with yourself. Think about your closest relationships, they’re close because you’ve allowed these people to see beyond the façade, to really see you. When you pretend to be perfect, when you strain to be likeable, when you go to great lengths to demonstrate your selflessness, you cut other people off from the real you. You render yourself invisible to your tribe.

Last and most important: Emotional vulnerability connects you to yourself. It’s only when you give yourself permission to be vulnerable, to make mistakes, to fail, to have “flaws” that you can grow.

When you allow yourself to be vulnerable to yourself – without beating the crap out of yourself in your head — you can heal, change, transform. When you buy into “the voice,” when you believe that you have to have your shit together (and why isn’t my shit together and what the hell is my problem, and you must be joking if you think you can pull that off…), you will never be able to connect with yourself long enough to get clarity about your real desires, your true purpose or the unique contribution only you can make. Because who wants listen to that voice?”


photo credit: toothpastefordinner.com



a nod to norman




When I was trying to find a publisher for Claire (my choice was to not to self-publish), a sat for a month and a half with a small press database and submitted to about 25 presses. As the list was in alphabetical order, Black Scat Books, a reputable publisher of erotica with over 100 books in print and an outstanding list of authors, came up relatively early in my search. Norman Conquest, Black Scat publisher, responded to my inquiry in a couple of days, if not sooner. He loved my story! Can this be true? Oh joy, oh fuck, this was amazing, exposure, disclosure, just what my suffering ego needed to carry on. But Norman Conquest? Really? I asked him in an email, “Who are you?” “I’m Derek Pell,” he replied. “Google me.” I googled the crap out of him. He was a wild child, a geek, an author, artist, a literary man, a nonconformist. I was starstruck. Norman took an excerpt from my story for the anthology which came out quickly—and I had a big-ass crush.

Black Scat took a second story from me for their second anthology; a story I don’t promote very often because I don’t think it was well written (although I do think the concept was good, my attempt at clever). I was sure that Norman took this piece in a moment of panic, that suitable submissions weren’t showing up fast enough and he needed the story for filler. But for the second time, Norman Conquest, aka Derek Pell, told me he loved my story, and in this go ’round, made reference to a sentence that he thought was a stroke of genius. Huh. Imagine that.

Black Scat Books is struggling to survive and there is a fund raiser in place to keep them afloat. I don’t realistically expect my readers to support this cause, I’m sure you all have causes of your own that are in need of your hard earned dollars, but it is definitely a cause that deserves consideration. Indie presses like Black Scat are invaluable to writers, often the only way into a highly competitive field. And Black Scat publishes erotica of literary worth, and in the flooded field of crappy porn, Scat soars above the the competition. Beneath the wikipedia blurb on Derek is the link for the Black Scat Indiegogo fundraiser. Even if you cannot help at this time, please read Norman’s story—he is quite the character—an ambitious and intelligent literary rebel, an over-sexed, hippie kook, a friend for life. Thank you, Norman.


“Derek Pell dropped out of the Art Institute of Chicago in the late 1960s and opened The Not Guilty Bookshop & Press on Martha’s Vineyard. His writing & art began appearing in publications of experimental literature under various pseudonyms, most notably Doktor Bey and Norman Conquest. His primary style was incorporating mixed-media and using collage-text and cut and paste techniques. After the success of his Doktor Bey series in the late 1970s, Derek Pell moved to Los Angeles in the eighties, during this period he was charged by the FBI for defacing US Currency while working on a mail-art performance. He began experimenting with cybertext, hyperlinks, and other computer-aided art in 1991.[3] Pell & Conquest currently reside in the Bay Area where they edit Black Scat Books, a small independent press devoted to “Sublime Art & Literature.”” —wikipedia


The Case for Norman Conquest and Black Scat Books


photo credit: wikipedia.com


key west 3




To say that Key West is not abundant with, encased within inspiration, would be a ridiculous understatement. The local color, by which I mean characters, architecture, history, folklore, make it permanently exotic and evocative, and I’m struggling with how to begin the story of my new, permanent residency. I suppose it makes sense to start with my house and my neighbors. This is urban living (with palm trees instead of oaks, iguanas instead of squirrels), properties are close and neighbors important.

I bought the house from Neighbor 1. The cottage was built in 1928, completely and meticulously renovated in 2009. It is only 700 sq. ft., and coming from a much larger home, it is a challenging but welcome transition (more on that another time). It is quintessential, Bahamian cottage on the outside, but the inside is much more Balinese, sexy by way of an ambiguous gender and tranquil by soft, filtered, natural light (I, personally, find it intriguing when the outsides don’t necessarily match the insides). Its location at the end of a walking lane is a fairy tale come to life, and I am in love, languishing in the honeymoon for as long as I can, for as we all know, honeymoons do come to an end.

Neighbor 1 is a little too short to be called a walrus of a man, but close. His personality is indeed walrusy. Round and white-haired and full of laughter and chatter and a “stay-and-indulge-me” likability that is hard to say no to. In a long and convoluted story, which he is only to happy to share, Neighbor 1 struck a deal with the Jams World clothing label, and has become both manufacturer and distributor for several of their products. He named my cottage Jams Shack, and hung its signage over the side porch door. There are beautiful, custom made, Jams fabric curtains in my living room, Jams fabric lampshades and a few jammin’ accessories throughout (maybe a touch too much?). I thought about changing the name to Pam’s Shack, making it more my own while extending a nod to the original—but to do so may be bad luck (as in boats), so for now the name will remain as is. And I don’t want to offend Neighbor 1. He hung a traffic light (horizontally) over the tall gate in the fence between our properties, a reverse order light that flashes red, amber, green and back to red. It’s quite pretty at night, the colors hanging on palm leaves, a slow and skewed progression that is so typical Key West. How crazy is that? My neighboring hanging a traffic light in his beautiful, tropical yard.

I don’t know Neighbor 2 as well, but I can touch his house from my back deck. I first saw him outside my kitchen window, a curly haired, small man, brandishing a long pole in the lane. He saw me in the window and laughed and motioned me outside. He owns the house on my other side, which is vacant and up for sale, Neighbor 2 living with his girlfriend elsewhere on the island. His weapon was a custom made avocado picker, and he shook my hand and handed me two massive pieces of fruit from his tree. Come to find out, through natural and easy conversation, that No.2 was a teacher at Annapolis High School, right next door to the town I had just left. And, come to find out later that evening, as I was talking to my realtor friends on the street and No. 2 drove by on his bike and called out my name, this neighbor is a body painter—the body painter that my friends employ for Fantasy Fest, Key West’s spin on Mardi Gras. Neighbor 2 will most likely be painting my body this October. There’s almost too much to tell. Stay tuned.


photo credit: xlr8r.com

dear melissa rivers




Dear Melissa,

I love what you do and your television persona—your work, your commitment to your work, your style. Fashion Police has long been a favorite and bravo to you and well done. I loved your mother, and I love how you responded, and continue to respond, to her passing. I loved her irreverence, her self-deprecation, her God-given talent for humor and performance, and her compassionate and generous other side.

I have a few questions, fellow Joan-Ranger, and please know that I consider you to be highly intelligent and forthright, as was your mother (forthright, to say the least). How the hell did your mother and Donald Trump become such good friends? Did it come from the Apprentice thing or were they friends before? Could you please explain their relationship? Would your mother have supported Trump in his run for presidency? Do you support Donald Trump in his run for presidency? If your answer is yes to the last question, could you please explain that?

Thanks for your time, Melissa. I would love to hear from you. Continued success with your show (wish you were on more often) and kisses to Joan. I don’t think I’m so baffled by her relationship with Trump as I am disappointed. But then, we all seem to latch on to bad men from time to time.


Pamela Naruta


photo credit: chicagonow.com






Two Visions of Fulfillment


The ego’s vision:

I have everything I need to be comfortable.

I am serene because bad things can’t come to me.

Through hard work, anything can be achieved.

I measure myself by my accomplishments.

I win much more than I lose.

I have a strong self-image.

Because I’m attractive, I win the attention of the opposite sex.

When I find the perfect love, it will be on my terms.


The soul’s vision:

I am everything I need.

I am serene because I have nothing to fear in myself.

The flow of life’s abundance brings me everything.

I do not measure myself by any external standard.

Giving is more important than winning.

I have no self-image; I am beyond images.

Other people are attracted to me as soul to soul.

I can find perfect love, because I have discovered it first in myself.


Deepak Chopra / Reinventing the Body, Resurrecting the Soul


facebook tyranny / a must read




Partly in response to my “bitch post” regarding facebook, the lovely DVD sent me the New York Times article, The Tyranny of Other People’s Vacation Photos, link below. If you have ever agonized over the barrage of vacation photos on FB, the repetitious and self-serving stream of kayakers, hikers, snorkelers, walkers, foodies and winos, it’s a must read. And if you suffer, as I do, with misguided and mindless “likes,” or the lack thereof, again, a must read. My take away with regards to my sporadic blog readers (just substitute the word “stories” for “photos”):

“I have a client who really wants Likes, so he posts a lot of photos,” Dr. Vannucci said. “When people don’t respond to them, he feels very alone. So he posts more. It’s a cycle like any interpersonal cycle in which we’re doing something that people hate but we’re doing it to try to make people like us. With that type of client, I try to find out what the motivation for posting is: What are the feelings around it? What is he looking for? Then I try to help him find other outlets.”

Check it out—great article. And a note to article author Henry Alford; I just posted a sunset shot. I couldn’t help myself.


From the Times:  The Tyranny of Other People’s Vacation Photos


photo credit: flickr


new girl at the flaming buoy




The last time I moved into a community where I knew absolutely no one was my freshman year in college—so long ago that I’m not going to be bothered counting the years; let’s just say decades. This stranger-in-a-strange-land experience is humbling yet inspiring. Humbling in the recognition that you are not a piece, unimportant in the personal puzzle of others. Inspiring in that new connections are seemingly attainable, new faces and new places are fun, intriguing.

My realtors were the first connection I made in Key West—I could not have been any luckier, and I could not be any more grateful for having made that connection. They are smart, gracious, generous, humorous. I doubt that I could ever be as welcoming of a stranger as they have been. On one of my many walks with them, leisurely strolls through beautiful neighborhoods, we ran into a friend of theirs walking his dog—a manically happy and confused gay man, probably 10 years younger than myself, probably high. I liked him immediately, a character right out of my 1980’s, downtown, Baltimore years. This man owned a successful restaurant (more Baltimore memories), number 1 on my realtor’s list of favorite Key West eateries, popular also with a handful of celebrities. Days later, even though my new friends said they would take me there soon, I went to The Flaming Buoy Filet Company on my own.

Many Key West restaurants are small and fill up fast and I knew that to be true of The Flaming Buoy. I like to go to a new place early and eat at the bar—the bars are always set up for diners and those seats fill up fast as well. I readied for the evening, hair and make-up and dress as if I were going on a date; and really, I was—a date with myself as well as a blind date. I was nervous, school-girl nervous, would this man recognize me, would it be so obvious that I was seeking friendship, seeking someone to talk with over dinner? Well, he did recognize me—and could probably care less about my insecurities, and was as happy as when I had met him on the street. I was the only customer in the restaurant for at least 20 minutes, and the owner/friend, his young staff of 2 or 3 and I, laughed the entire time. I sucked down a tall and sweet iced coffee, drooled over the plump, perfectly grilled “key west pinks” that preceded my perfectly seasoned chili and ribs. I said to these handsome and charming men;


“You guys are so funny. I love you, I love to laugh like this.”

They looked at each other and burst again.

“We’re high!” they almost screamed.

And I almost screamed back.

“Me too!”


New girl jitters squelched—for the evening, anyway. I went back to the Flaming Buoy for the chicken and waffles—fabulous. Even more fabulous—the chocolate quesadilla.


The Flaming Buoy Filet Company


a bitch post


toni morrison


That’s right, I’m feeling bitchy—my second (and now, annual) why I hate facebook post. And here it is—the absolute truth, the real reason why I hate facebook—I’m jealous. That’s right, jealous of the “friends” and their inane posts that get 1 million “likes.” I’m sure I’m not alone in my popularity paranoia, nor am I the first to voice it, but my confession does make me feel a little foolish, like I’m holding on to some high school thing. Let me elaborate.

I’m not jealous of happy birthday likes. If all my friends wished me a happy birthday, I would still be far below the 100 mark. Nor do I feel jealous if someone’s baby/puppy pics gets more likes than my baby/puppy pics—all babies and puppies are beautiful and worthy of everybody’s likes (I do get jealous of vacation photos, but jealous because I’m not on vacation, not because of how many likes the lucky traveler gets). But I don’t like the number of platitudes that are posted on facebook, and I’m jealous of the number of likes that platitudes receive. Like Toni Morrison’s wonderful quote, above. This particular quote received many likes, and numerous amen-sister! comments, but I had just written 3 honest and difficult paragraphs on exactly how I was getting rid of the shit (read “the desire drug”), 3 paragraphs on learning to fly—and I have not received, nor am I expecting to receive, a single like. And it pisses me off because I’m in the trenches of change, I’m your on-the-scene-reporter, ladies. Look at me, read me, don’t rally round a poster. Jealousy.

I write because I am compelled to. I can’t not write. But would I like a little popularity, an occasional writing assignment/job, an income for my efforts? You betcha. I’m on friggin’ facebook in part to get some acknowledgement, to build readership, but damn, too often some snappy slogan, and the popular person who posted it, steals my thunder. Life lessons available to copy and paste into the void. Absolutely, there are quotes and assorted words-of-hope-and-wisdom posted that do inspire or strike a chord, posts that are serendipitous, timely, posts that you look at and say, “that’s a good one, I’ll hit like.” Facebook makes it so easy to endorse an enlightened path—but it’s a whole ‘nother thing to walk it, or seemingly, to even read about it. Toni Morrison doesn’t need your likes, I do. Stupid facebook.


photo credit: FACEBOOK


ps—I’m not putting this post on facebook.


the desire drug




I am confounded by desire, brought about (most recently) by the packing of clothing and possessions to take to my new home, my much smaller home; looking at what I once found desirable and had to have, and finding that that is no longer the case. I’m looking at my obsession with things and wondering how did I get here, how and when did it get so out of hand? The unworn dresses, the rainbow array of handbags. I had 12 lipstain tubes in a drawer! 12! (Maybe that’s vanity; is vanity a form of desire?) I have small vases by the dozen. I won’t even count them. And I’m confounded by carnal desire, brought about (most recently) by a rash of urgent phone calls and emails of a sexual nature—wondering over and over why lust is such a seemingly integral part of my soul, why is the desire to be desired is so strong. Am I so wounded or do I think so little of myself that lust trumps all indiscretions, all absurdities? That if you tell me how you’re going to fuck me, I forgive or forget everything else? What are all these holes I’m trying to fill? See my confusion?

As I pare down, as I strip away the layers of accumulation and expectations, I have no choice but to confront desires, including the sexual ones, because sexual desire is as ruling, as delicious (if not more so) as the pretty pumps. This move is in part to discover what is the essential me, and I can’t even begin to understand that with all this extraneous stuff. But then—it was desire that brought me to this point—a desire to be happy, creative, independent, is what propelled me to make this marvelous and adventurous life-change. See my confusion?

The second noble truth, as told by Buddha, says desire causes suffering. I’m even suffering in my confusion about desire! Desire is a drug, for sure, so insidious, so seductive, so easy to swallow that you don’t even realize you’re hooked until you find 12 lipstains in your bathroom. Yet the desire to grow is invaluable, a tool that can move you to purpose and understanding—and while I bargain and do battle with some aspects of the desire drug, I am very glad to have also been injected by that particular strain.


“The central fire is desire, and all the powers of our being are given us to see, to fight for, and to win the object of our desire. Quench that fire and man turns to ashes.”

Basil W. Maturin, Laws of the Spiritual Life


“Desire, like the atom, is explosive with creative force.”

Paul Vernon Buser


“Sex … or lack thereof … is at the center of everyone’s identity, and once you’ve cracked someone’s desires, you understand them in full.”

Arianne Cohen, Marie Claire Magazine, March 2008


“…You can’t eliminate desire! Without the basic desires for food, water and shelter, we’d die. Without the desire for sex, the human race would disappear. If Buddhism was about eliminating desire, he thought, then Buddhism was stupid.

Nishijima was not the first person to notice this. Lots of people have thought the same thing and many of those people, quite sensibly, rejected Buddhism altogether as being simply unrealistic. Which it would be, if that’s what it actually said.

It may be true that the cause of suffering is desire. However, the solution to this problem is not to eliminate desire, but to confront and understand desire for what it actually is.”

Desire and Happiness


photo credit: kinseyconfidential.org


You, Reader




You, Reader

I wonder how you are going to feel
when you find out
that I wrote this instead of you,

that it was I who got up early
to sit in the kitchen
and mention with a pen

the rain-soaked windows,
the ivy wall paper,
and the goldfish circling in its bowl.

Go ahead and turn aside,
bite your lip and tear out the page,
but, listen—it was just a matter of time

before one of us happened
to notice the unlit candles
and the clock humming on the wall.

Plus, nothing happened that morning—
a song on the radio,
a car whistling along the road outside—

and I was only thinking
about the shakers of salt and pepper
that were standing side by side on a place mat.

I wondered if they had become friends
after all these years
or if they were still strangers to one another

like you and I
who manage to be known and unknown
to each other at the same time–

me at this table with a bowl of pears,
you leaning in a doorway somewhere
near some blue hydrangeas, reading this.  — Billy Collins / The Trouble with Poetry


I recently submitted poetry for acceptance into a Billy Collins workshop in Key West. I did not get into the workshop and was obviously disappointed, but fortunately the disappointment did not last long. I am not a poet, I only play at poetry, and there are serious poets out there who are much more deserving of the space. This rejection in no way diminished my love for Billy Collins, in fact, I somehow feel closer to him knowing that I almost got into his workshop.


art work: Frederick C. Frieseke