key west literary seminar



During the years Tennessee Williams lived in Key West, he swam at South Beach every morning before sitting down to write. “I work everywhere,” Williams said of Key West, “but I work best here.”



The Key West Literary Seminar is a tremendously prestigious gathering, this year being no exception—a record sell out with a wait list that closed almost immediately after the seats were sold; with other worldly authors, competitive workshops, and a genius topic, REVEALING POWER, The Literature of Politics. It is an event that reminds and embarrasses me as to how little I know about literature, how my attempts at writing are so perfectly infantile. It’s an event that I wrote a post about—but took it down because I suddenly had an upcoming job interview with the Seminar’s executive director for his assistant’s position. Since he was going to look at my online presence, it didn’t seem appropriate to plug an event put on by the organization that I hoped to work for (potty mouth and erotica posts were not a problem). It was an interview opportunity that came to me by chance, a dream job, one that I wasn’t seeking but was perfectly qualified and suited for. Of course my hopes soared and of course I didn’t get the job, but I was honored to be considered, seriously, and thrilled to sit and talk with Arlo Haskell, Executive Director.

And are you envisioning a Gregory Peck sort, with just a few gray streaks in his hair, trousers a little tattered where his wallet sits? Too warm for the cardigan here, so maybe a vintage, short-sleeve shirt? That was my image—pre-googling, of course. Arlo Haskell is a very young man, early thirties, red-headed, big grin, Key West native, jeans and t-shirt (A wallet? iPhone in the pocket.). He is a first time father and a poet (I bought his book of poetry right after his first email to me), and I’ve been told (although I can’t find any evidence to support this) that he won a coveted poetry prize as a young man which propelled his literary life. We talked mostly about non-profits, and I told him I was fired from my non-profit job. I continued and said that I would be glad to discuss it, but he looked at me directly and told me he didn’t care. I understand that that was when I may have lost the job, but I don’t think so. I asked him if he read all the time and with a young man’s look of curiosity and humor told me, “pretty much.”

So… no job with the Key West Literary folk… but… I did receive confirmation today that I am indeed a volunteer at the Seminar. I will be able to attend any lecture when I am not working one. Please take a look at the line-up of presenters in the link below. I am blown away—and I have so much homework to do. Will keep you posted.




KW Literary Seminar: REVEALING POWER


ps – I am happily employed at Jane Gardner Interiors – the lovely retail space of an ambitious and talented interior designer.


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gift from the sea




Excerpts from the introduction to Gift from the Sea, by Anne Morrow Lindbergh. If you own this book, reread, and if you’re not familiar with it, please purchase—it is exquisite. Thank you, Cathie Trogden (Christmas 2005).



“I began these pages for myself, in order to think out my own particular pattern of living, my own individual balance of life, work and human relationships. And since I think best with a pencil in my hand, I started naturally to write. I had the feeling when the thoughts first clarified on paper, that my experience was very different from other people’s. (Are we all under this illusion?) My situation had, in certain ways, more freedom than that of most people, and in certain other ways, much less.”


“…Even those whose lives had appeared to be ticking imperturbably under their smiling clock-faces were often trying, like me, to evolve another rhythm with more creative pauses in it, more adjustment to their individual needs, and new and more alive relationships to themselves as well as others.”


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radio show 2


If you are not familiar with this series, please start at radio show 1




Wendy was the neighbor on the other side of Frank and Honey’s property. Wendy was a daytime visitor, not one found at the evenings dinner table, and thank God for that—Wendy spoke in expletives, in screams; her voice, should she let it loose in the night, would generate more than a few calls to the local police regarding noise. Her voice, should she aim it at the treetops, was so shrill and so loud, so sharp, it could prune branches off of the mightiest of palms.


Marlene wasn’t sure if she too should run for cover or stick around and listen to the show. She listened.

“HONEY, where’s FRANK? Haven’t seen much of him lately. Is he ILL? EVERYTHING OKAY?”

“He’s fine, Wendy, Frank is fine. Come inside. I want to show you what I’ve done to the kitchen.”

And sometime later, a short time it seemed, Wendy and Honey and the addition of Frank woke Marlene from her light, sun-induced sleep; Frank’s cough seemingly replaced by sighs, the festive Honey laughter, the cackling Wendy scream, all jumping, not in unison, behind the neighborly wall.


Marlene hung by the fence for a minute or two longer. Long enough to hear the couple giggle and whisper something and giggle some more.


photo credit: pinterest


radio show 1




They entertained a lot. Dinner at the table on the covered porch, and sometimes at the outdoor table which sat alongside the tall fence between the properties. Never before had Marlene lived so close to a neighbor, so close that she could sit silently in the dark and listen to business conversations, the latest gossip, and sometimes the intimacies and hushed anger of the husband and wife when they dined alone. Frank was a loud and gregarious man with an I-talk-too-much scratch to his voice and as of late, a chronic cough. His wife Honey was also a sociable sort, a woman who could laugh easily and often, a light and girly laugh with the word “yes” as the exclamation point after each bubbly burst. Marlene could pick out Honey’s laugh anywhere, in any darkness, but the more she listened, the more Marlene felt that the laugh was often less than genuine, especially when they were entertaining business associates and their wives.

The business dinners were typically with another couple and always started out with the men and women involved in some common conversation; the city, the glorious weather, the fresh fish they were about to dine on. But it never took very long for the pairs to form; the ladies chatting about travel or children, the men getting down to the business of real estate and “I can show you the property tomorrow.” Listening became harder at this point. Along with the foursome talking over each other, Honey’s laughter and Frank’s cough, a couple bottles of wine had been consumed and the words that whooped and fell over the fence were slurred and disjointed. Marlene would often leave her seat in the dark when the diners became a little loopy, but always tried to return when the company left with a great roar of good-byes and thank yous and the clean up began. Those were the best conversations. Marlene sat behind her wall in the dark, her cigarette burning away in the ashtray or between her fingers, her leg crossed and softly swinging, her head back and eyes closed as she listened to her neighbors in the night.

“You were an ass,” Honey hissed.

“He was an ass. I responded in kind, made him feel comfortable,” coughed Frank.

“You were the bigger ass,” she said a little louder, dishes and silverware dangerously making contact on the other side of the fence.

More coughing and they were gone.



photo credit: pinterest


a tolerant, tourist town




Mandy Bowlen tells a story in her book Tan Lines that I wish were mine to tell. Her house, like mine, was on the tour bus route. Although I sit a bit further off the street than Mandy, I see the many tour buses, trains, etc., several times a day. Mandy was taking her trash to the street one evening for the morning pick up and heard the woman on the Conch Tour Train say to her husband, “Henry, look, it’s trash night.”  It’s an odd neighborhood experience, defensively satisfying. That’s right. People live here, I live here, I’m cool. I’ve encountered the tour train on my trash hauls several times now, and although I’ve never heard it spoken, I know that’s what the riders are saying in their heads.

Last week, the invading tourists were the Parrot Heads—the Jimmy Buffet fan club. Robust, mostly Southerners it seemed, wearing shirts that made you squint, and passes on lanyards around their necks that let them into I don’t know what ’cause they sure didn’t need passes to sit at the bars and sing buffet songs all night long. This week it’s a big boat race, the Super Boat International, cigarette boat racers, their large entourage/teams, and their fans which include a lot of big chested blonds. It’s a pretty important race series, but I’m (thankfully) working in retail again and the word behind the counter is that neither the birds nor the boaters are spenders. I have no idea who’s coming next but am coming to know that this city spins entirely on the tourist dollar.

It’s a ridiculously happy city. Laughter is everywhere and contagious. I hear it from backyards, bars, on the street, from the lucky visitors and the even luckier locals. What’s not to be happy about? It’s a beautiful, sub-tropical island, filled with activity, events, great food and bars, arts, all the draws of a healthy tourist town. And it is the most tolerant city I can imagine, the birthplace of One Human Family. All are welcomed, the unfortunate are tended to, the benefactors and those who govern are generous. Key West just re-elected their mayor who has been in office since 2009, Craig Cates, a Republican, in a city with a large, Democratic, LGBT community. That’s top notch tolerance and respect. There is no crime here (okay, bicycle theft)—because there is no hate here. It is a place where I can come close to burying my head in the sand, where I can live naively blissful should I choose. And I am very happy to have that option right now.

There is a man in town who writes beautiful poetry lamenting the demise of his hometown Key West, how tourism and gentrification and growth have destroyed his island. No ones hometown is the hometown of their youth. Cities evolve, some even dissolve, and seems to me, Key West has fared very well in maintaining its integrity or lack thereof. My eyes are wide and my experiences here are few, but I’m very glad to be in a city that has evolved into a mecca for tolerance and gaiety, and the occasional Jimmy Buffet fan.


photo credit: pinterest



are you fucking kidding me?





If this election does not produce a resurgence of the feminist movement, I will fucking burn my bra in Mallory Square all by myself. Are you fucking kidding me? How many times have you said it—to yourself, to your husband, your girlfriend, your co-worker, your neighbor—if you want to get something done, get a woman to do it.” How many times? And who has balls big enough to take on the male bureaucracy other than Hillary?  Shame on you, trumpettes. You could have had an AWESOME, first ever, fucking FEMALE president in your lifetime. Instead you picked a raging bull. A step backwards in time. A horrific loss of integrity, a tragic loss of beliefs.



post election




“A human being is part of the whole universe, a part limited in time and space. We experience ourselves, our thoughts and feeling as something separate from the rest. A kind of optical delusion of consciousness. This delusion is a kind of prison for us, restricting us to our personal desires and to affection for a few persons nearest to us. Our task must be to free ourselves from the prison by widening our circle of compassion to embrace all living creatures and the whole of nature in its beauty. We shall require a substantially new manner of thinking if humanity is to survive. I know not with what weapons World War III will be fought, but World War IV will be fought with sticks and stones.” – Albert Einstein, 1954


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the redhead




He was working in the lane for 3 days, and of course, she made up fantasies about the redheaded, tree trimming guy. It was too easy. He was such a flirt. So aware of his strengths, his frame, his persuasion. He looked her straight in the eye every time he talked to her, demanding that she do the same. He stood close to her as he talked, touching her arm, her shoulder. When his work was finished, he placed his wide palm and long fingers firmly on the bulge of her hip, just below her waist, leaned into her face and kissed her goodbye on the check. No tree guy had ever done that before. He told her, “anything you want, just call,” emphasizing the anything, giving her his number, watching to make sure she put it in her phone. She didn’t really want him; he was too young, too wholesome, and probably too eager, and despite the Adonis profile, not at all the type of man she was attracted to. She just liked making up fantasies, it’s a good way to pass the time of day when you’re alone, she thought. Making up a story with herself as the star was the intriguing part, the seduction. It had been her experience, that should the fantasy come to fruition, the consummation often proved disappointing. She just wanted to imagine him, the redhead, imagine him wanting her, imagine herself as the prize. And so she made the imaginary call. And he started coming to her in the night. And soon she began to think about the reality of a younger man.


art: joseph larusso


when the lucky sperm club bites you in the ass


I have a fair amount of angst on this election day. Humor always helps.


The Lucky Sperm Club  (oh, daddy!)




Look at that guy with the new Mercedes
A great big house and fancy ladies
Winning the game by dropping Daddy’s name
And hanging with the other Lucky Sperm Club babies

The swinging king of the society scene
Gets obscene in a limousine
Charging cheap thrills full of frivolous frills
Taking lazy luxury to new extremes

And oh it must be fun
To be so wealthy, healthy, rich and young
One might wonder what he’s done
To become the fortunate one

He’s another member of the Lucky Sperm Club
The only thing he had to do was be conceived
It’s great to be a member of the Lucky Sperm Club
Living in the lap of lazy luxury – Lucky Sperm Club / The Toyes


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a little something




A downside of leaving my marriage is that my buying power has been greatly reduced, and it has become quite clear to me that I’m more of a shopaholic than I realized. Its happened several times recently; where I find myself in a little hole of boredom or loneliness (wording taken from the Irish Times to account for alcoholic behavior, found in my post on drinking), where the thought of buying something made me perk up, made me feel better, lighter. Yup. A little shopping fix. It doesn’t have to be a big ticket item, small will suffice, just a little something to alter the mood, to make me feel a little less sorry for myself and the fact that I currently cannot, should not, be buying a thing.

But isn’t my focus, my intent, to pare down, to do without, you ask?  Yes, it is. But I’m not relinquishing my love of beautiful and shiny new objects, just my excessive accumulation of beautiful and shiny objects. And I apparently haven’t lost the need to put into play some shopping therapy, to self-medicate when I’m feeling a bit down. I moved here with 11 tubes of lipstain, which clearly speaks to those moments of discontent in my marriage. But I’m such a cheap, hungry, shopping junkie; what’s the harm in making it an even 12?


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