the break up



I broke up with my lover of 7 years last night. I knew I was going to do this, I’ve done it before, but we both knew it was different this time. I’m different. I now think more of myself than I have before, my feelings matter. That’s very different.

I broke up with this man because we have political differences that I can no longer reconcile, that I can no longer dismiss. We have had numerous, hateful and hurtful discussions over our beliefs. Our hawk and dove fights have been flurries of feathers, screaming matches where I have thrown things, my discourse too often tantrum as opposed to dialogue—and I am ashamed of that behavior. I do not debate, it requires more research than I am inclined to do, a stronger commitment than I currently possess, and when the knowledge to support my position is not available to me, I default to childishness. I can do better, but I cannot deny, nor am I ashamed of the fact that I value feelings over intellect. I am sensitive and passionate to a fault—and for that very reason, I have dismissed all of our incompatibility for the extreme love we share in the bedroom. Our lust for one another, our passion, is boundless. There has never been a man who has touched my core in this way.

And I broke up with this man because he could not tell me he loved me. I broke up with this man because he lied to me about other women, because he is text-book narcissist and manipulative. I begged for the words, I begged for reciprocal feelings, I begged, I whored. But he remained true to his belief that the words were meaningless, that his liaisons were to be accepted, that what we shared in our love making was evidence enough of how he felt. It was and is not.

But he threw me a curve ball—I expected him to be cavalier about this break-up and he was anything but. I hurt him—a lot—a feeling, coming from the woman full of feelings, that I have experienced only once before in my life. I hurt him. And then we made exquisite love, not make-up sex, but sex like it was last-time-sex. And after we released, after we released all of the sex and some of the anger and some of the hurt, he pulled me close to him and told me he loved me. And I left him in my bed to come to work this morning, a cold and wet and miserable and heartbreaking morning, and I kissed him goodbye and he told me he loved me again. I am sad beyond belief. He will still be there when I get home, and I’m counting the minutes until he holds me again, memorizing the words of love and apology that I want him to hear, wondering if I called him in a month would he take me back. But I don’t think I’ll call. It’s different this time.


photo credit: the daily beast






So here are the questions I keep asking myself:

  1. Do people really like Donald Trump?
  2. What do they like about him?
  3. When did America become ungreat? What is in place that makes the U.S. not great?
  4. Does Trump have a plan, an agenda, a platform to make this great/ungreat nation great again? What is that plan? (Mr. Trump’s campaigning in Florida did not include answers to the above questions. Perhaps he shared these thoughts elsewhere.)

And can these questions be answered without Obama or Hillary bashing or without drawing comparisons? Can someone please answer these questions based on the merits of Mr. Trump alone? I’m serious. I welcome any dialogue from any affiliation. I scratch my head in disbelief every day—maybe someone out there can offer something that makes sense.


photo credit: beautiful on raw


end of the seminar



Final thoughts and observations on the Key West Literary Seminar, 2017

I may go long in this wrap-up and I won’t apologize. The fact that I am compelled to write so feverishly about this seminar is a testament to the overwhelming inspiration from every voice. But it’s like going to the movies by yourself and there’s no one to listen to your movie babble on the ride home—you, my readers, are getting the “car-pool-critique.”

Despite my hammer-to-the-head political posts, I must stress that this was indeed a literary seminar and not a bitch fest. The seminar topic, literature in politics, made politics a part of every discussion, but books, and book understanding, and book examination was also a part of every discussion. Readings by Oates, Kushner, others, from previous and upcoming works, were part of every schedule. There was a reading/performance of George Saunder’s soon to be released fiction, Lincoln in the Bardo, a spirit-narrated tale of Lincoln’s greatest tragedy, the loss of his son, Willie. There was poetry perfection, readings were poignant and humorous; Calvin Trillin’s Deadline Poet talk was comic genius, a Bob Newhart befuddled and wry delivery. Conversations about “truth” continued to be paramount. I was spellbound most of the time. I learned about style (and given the green light to fuck style and do whatever the hell I want), research, character development, publishing—I learned about things I thought I kind of knew, but I really didn’t. It was an education and an eye-opener, a look into the imagination of those who were speaking, and a look into my own.

The seminar also provided wonderful people watching—from the Key West kings and queens to librarians, lesbians, and former hippies. All were kind and gracious except for one woman from the upper crust who made a minor fuss about her seat not being reserved. An interesting side bar is that many of the wealthy women wore this kind of key-west-casual uniform—a high end, shibori tie-dyed, t-shirt with matching tie-dye scarf—sold exclusively from the store where I work. I saw maybe 8 of the t-shirts and scarves and had waited on a woman who wore one. I heard chatter about private parties after every days events and I was a bit jealous that I wasn’t a part of that world, but authors mingled with everyone after each session. I accosted Billy Collins in the lobby at the end of this mornings session and asked him to sign my book.* I had been too intimidated to approach him prior and was uncomfortable in the book signing line. He was lovely, of course, and signed and told me he was in a hurry to catch a cab to the impound lot because his car had been towed the night before. He looked rather scattered, but then he looks rather scattered to begin with—better said, he looked more scattered than usual. Wish I had been at that party.


photo credit:


  • I received Billy Collin’s book, Horoscopes For the Dead, from poet and renaissance man, Bob Kennedy on my 60th birthday. Mr. Kennedy inscribed my birthday book, “To my favorite poet, Pam, a book of poems from my second favorite poet, Billy C.” I thought Mr. Collins might be amused by the inscription and tried to tell him as such, but I think he was a little too “scattered” to pick up on my stuttering attempt at humor.


our president



Continued feedback from the Key West Literary Seminar

Gail Collins, novelist and Op-Ed columnist for the New York Times, shared a Trump anecdote that I have to pass along. It took place in the ’80’s, when Ms. Collins was writing for the New York Daily News or Newsday (I can’t remember which) and Trump was struggling with finances and marriage. Collins was reporting on Trump’s appearance before the New York City Council or some finance related board, and in her piece she referred to Mr. Trump as a “thousandaire.” Trump was outraged, and in response to the article sent the offending news piece back to Ms. Collins which she framed and hung on her office wall. Trump had circled her face in pen several times and wrote on the paper, “You are a dog with the face of a pig and if I were as ugly as you I would be angry to,” too spelled incorrectly, of course.

The title of the seminar discussion in which Ms. Collins told this story was, “Truth is Stranger than Fiction.” Yup.


photo credit: David Fitzsimmons / Washington Examiner


reading and writing and politics



First Impressions on the Key West Literary Seminar, 2017

I’m finding difficulty in selecting the words to describe this gathering of thought and talent—inspiring, evocative, provocative are the best I can do—where interestingly, the subject of words and language worked its way into the conversation several times. It was a heady and accomplished assemblage of devoutly liberal minds. I was the starry-eyed usher, struck several times, however, by how ordinary in appearance and manner the panelists were; how Joyce Carol Oates was a just a rail thin, elderly woman looking for a single seat, how Rachael Kushner and her guest were late and cute and apologetic, how when I first heard Robert Caro speaking to someone with his heavy New York accent, I was sure that it had to be the voice of some New Yorker who had just hopped over to Key West from his Miami condo. I was embarrassed by my stereotyping and my failure to recognize these artists, but I was thrilled with what I perceived as a tiny piece of commonality.

The topic, Revealing Power: The Literature of Politics, drawn from Caro’s Lyndon Johnson biography, was marketing and academic genius. Speeches and discussion in the first 2 sessions included Johnson anecdotes from Caro, Hillary insider stories both flattering and not from best friend Joe Klein, an homage to James Baldwin from Teju Cole, Sittenfeld’s Laura Bush fiction, and question after question, not about the political landscape, but about the political future. And across the board, responses were grim. Responses so grim, that at one point, the empath in me almost had to leave the auditorium. There were psychotic concerns and democracy without citizens discussion, but the two most repeated concerns were regarding “truth” and “language” (not the dissolution of rights or policies, although rights and policy concerns were in no way dismissed). And my take away on the discussions of truth was that it is not just a concern over “journalistic truth” but more importantly, the way truth is disseminated from the new regime—recklessly, ignorantly, filled with venom and with little regard for, well, the actual truth. The trickle down is he lies, she lies, everybody lies, journalists lie, nobody believes because everybody lies. We must honor the truth. And enter language, whose respect ratings continue to decline; our most meaningful and powerful tool of communication becoming an afterthought. Of all the passions weaving through the room today, hope was not one of them.

But in no way did I leave the venue disheartened, despite the extremely somber reading by Joyce Carol Oates, an excerpt from her new novel A Book of American Martyrs. Everyone there pushed my comfort zone and I wanted nothing less. I left intact, unharmed, and perhaps not hopeful, but neither was I anxious. Inspiration abound, fiction came into better focus, the poetry was penetrating, I wanted to go home and read or write, I was smarter. The trickle down of great thinking and great writing.


photo credit: Key West Literary Seminar /



politics / passion



Politics rakes our passions as nothing else, and whatever we may consent to overlook in reading a novel, we react with an almost demonic rapidity to a detested political opinion. For the writer the great test is, how much truth can he force through the sieve of his [own] opinions? For the reader the great test is, how much of that truth can he accept though it jostle his opinions?     – Irving Howe


photo credit: blog images taylor lavati



key west literary seminar / robert caro



Please read Mr. Caro’s biography below, and hopefully, you are not like me and have read one of his books. I will be in attendance at Mr. Caro’s lecture, “Revealing Power: When Lyndon Johnson asked, ‘What the Hell’s the Presidency for?’ and I’m excited already, 2 days in advance.


Robert Caro



love hangover



I woke with a love hangover this morning; a love of life hangover, not to be associated with man or woman or sex or romance. A painless and potent euphoria, a morning spent mindlessly circling the kitchen and tending to what seemed familiar, cigarettes, coffee, happily, dazily waking up to my new life.

The evening prior was simple yet spectacular. Dinner out with a delightful, dear and humorous friend, a tiny and full restaurant, a delectable platter of seafood with southern touches that had me moaning with pleasure throughout the meal (for a woman who doesn’t know what she likes to eat, this meal was a bell ringer, perfection). We walked home past the cemetery, a chilly and blustery night, the street softly lit on one side, the dark and mysterious burial ground on the other. The moon and clouds were ripe, my eyes darted from stone to stone, shadows and stories taunted me. Yes, it is magical, my friend concurred. The cemetery seemed to breathe, the land and its contents gently lifting, falling, sighing, hushing us to not tell what we only imagined.

I entered my warm and tidy and beautiful home, I opened a package that had arrived and was thrilled with its contents. I put on comfort clothes and lit a candle on the porch that somehow managed to hold onto its flame. I smoked pot and made note of how thankful I was to have no money nor man nor health nor self-induced conflicts. I slept with the windows open, blankets on, and waving palms to soothe. And I woke without hurry, with fulfillment, with that not often felt feeling that all is right with the world. I woke with a love hangover—the marvelous consequence of sharing my bed with good fortune and gratitude.


photo credit: pinterest


to the women who will march



I will not be a part of the Women’s March on January 21st, and I’m saddened, envious, and close to ashamed that I won’t be there. I can’t afford to take the trip to D.C. nor can I leave work at that time. It is (to date) the one and only regret I have regarding my move out of Maryland.

I am so proud to be a woman, so proud of female sensibilities and capabilities, awed by women’s intelligence and ambition. I am so proud to be a Clinton advocate. Why certain women continue to support white, male dominance in politics and think that those men are working on their behalf, or on behalf of the nation, is archaic and most recently, absurd. Why women don’t understand or appreciate the work, the struggle, the sacrifice of the women who have gone before us in the fight for equality and human rights, is an embarrassment. And if women do not understand how fragile those hard won rights are, if they do not see how vulnerable our position is, right here, right now, well then, shame on you.

March on, my ladies, march to protect your rights, to affirm your solidarity. But don’t stop there—be diligent, be aggressive, be aware of what legislation does or does not do for you, what lawmakers are aligned with your agenda. Be affective, be a mighty female.


“Georgetown history professor Michael Kazin noted that when it comes to effectively altering legislation, public demonstrations alone have a “checkered history of success.” To affect policy, Kazin said, a march needs to be part of a greater social movement with clear and consistent objectives, constant pressure on the Legislature, dedicated support from its base and continued momentum. Perhaps most importantly, creating systemic change has historically called for one last critical element: help from people in government.”  — NPR, Alejandra Maria Salazar


photo credit: elle magazine