Friday the 13th. – the day after the Democratic debate and a name game


Friday the 13th. could be bad news for one or more of the candidates who participated in the Democratic Party debate last night. Once again, I felt overwhelmed by the number of persons who met the criteria to participate in the debate, the merry-go-round format of questions and answers at dizzying speeds. I haven’t watched the post-debate analysis today so I have no idea who the media thinks won, lost, or was neutral in the outcomes of the performances. I’m sure I’m not a good judge because I confess my favorables floated among all  the candidates with the same dizzying speeds of their answers.

I’ve decided to whittle my choices for the next debate using the non-scientific method of a name game. I am assigning point values to my reaction of the names if they were President with 1 point being the lowest and 3 being the highest. I invite you to play along in the privacy of your own home. Then we can compare our results. Isn’t this fun?

President Amy – 1 point

President Cory – 2 points

President Pete – 3 points

President Bernie – 1 point

President Joe – 1 point

President Warren – 2 points

President Harris – 3 points

President Yang – 1 1/2 points (he gets the extra half point for sending me $1,000 a month)

President Beto – 2 points

President Castro – 2 points

Now about the score. Looks like Pete and Harris each had 3 points. Cory, Warren, Beto and Castro each had 2 points. Yang had 1 1/2 points. Amy, Bernie and Joe each got 1 point.

So, according to my name game poll, my next debate would inclue Pete, Harris, Cory, Warren, Beto and Castro. Say goodbye to my bottom vote-getters.

Hm. I detect a pattern here, but I’ll let you have it your way, too.

Really, the only name I hope never to see with the title of President again is Donald Trump. Please.

Have a great weekend. Stay tuned.

 

Posted in Humor, Lesbian Literary, Life, Personal, politics, racism, Reflections, Slice of Life, The Way Life Is | Tagged , | 15 Comments

and on the flip side…


Canada has a new 19-year-old super star, Bianca Andreescu, who won the 2019 U.S. Open Women’s Championship in New York City this past Saturday. With that victory she became the first Canadian to win a grand slam singles title…ever. #SheTheNorth. Congratulations to Bianca and to a rebirth of professional tennis in our neighbors to the north. Although I was disappointed that Serena Williams had another missed opportunity to win major title #24, I had to be happy for the young woman who beat Serena at her own power game that was virtually unbeatable for the past 20 years. #SerenaTheQueen.

And let me also add my best wishes to Rafael Nadal who won the Men’s Championship on Sunday in a 5-set match that was packed with everything a tennis fan could ever dream of in a U.S. Open final. Daniil Medvedev, the young 23-year-old Russian, was fearless in his pursuit of the title – fearless, tireless, an ingenius combination of drop shots intermingled with ground strokes of nearly 100 miles an hour. This young man had all the weapons to beat Nadal, and yet Nadal somehow brought the tenacity and focus to play every shot as if it were his last. At 33 years of age, Nadal is the first man to win 5 majors after reaching the age of 30. He is one win closer to Roger Federer’s record pace of 20 total grand slam titles. Fed Fans probably weren’t happy with Nadal’s 19th, but I don’t think any tennis fan could deny Nadal’s counterpunching every shot in the grinding 5 hour match. Vamos Rafa!! My heart still belongs to you.

I was so happy to have the U. S. Open to lift me out of my post-operative fog following my surgery on August 28th.  So happy with tennis that I rarely clicked on the news. I missed the headlines of the Taliban leaders’ invitation to Camp David to sit down with the American President. Seriously? Inviting the Taliban to Camp David for a little chat on the weekend before the 18th anniversary of 09-11. Even wild-eyed National Security Advisor John Bolton couldn’t go along with such madness. So before I came totally out of my fog, John Bolton was gone. Oh my. That would be four national security advisors in three years. Quite a record.

The fog has finally lifted after two weeks of post-operative rehab and the ongoing care of Pretty who continues to add stars to her crown in this world and the next. She does love me and wants me to recover fully by the time our first grandbaby Ella arrives. Fingers crossed! Thanks to our friends here who show up with food and foolishness to help sustain and entertain me – you will always be on my good side and I will never forget your kindnesses.

Thanks to everyone around the world who sent me encouraging words, complete sentences, and short paragraphs designed to make my second knee surgery less stressful and my recovery speedy. I really appreciated your support from places I have never seen but would love to visit now that I’m a bit more mobile.

Finally, I am truly grateful to have only two knees.

Stay tuned.

 

 

 

Posted in Humor, Lesbian Literary, Life, Personal, politics, racism, Reflections, Slice of Life, sports, The Way Life Is | Tagged , , , , , , , , , , | 10 Comments

FOG ALERT!


For all my friends who heard the sad story of my throwing away 20 years of mine and Pretty’s movie ticket stubs when I came home from my knee replacement surgery in May, I have good news. I found the box of missing ticket stubs last week in my office in the same place I thought they should be – except that they were hidden under a decorative gift bag I had been saving since our 10th anniversary celebration ten years ago. I swear I have been looking for that box of memories everywhere and nowhere apparently but was thrilled to find them before tomorrow.

Tomorrow is the day for my second knee replacement surgery which is proving to be as fun as the first one was.

I have instructed Pretty to keep me away from the computer for the next couple of weeks since I clearly am not responsible for the fog that anaesthesia brings. Thank goodness for the US Open – so far my favorites, the Williams Sisters and Rafael Nadal, are through to the second round. Life is good.

Catch you on the flip side.

Stay tuned.

 

Posted in Humor, Lesbian Literary, Life, Personal, Reflections, Slice of Life, sports, The Way Life Is | Tagged , , , | 13 Comments

a day at the farm off backswamp road


Pretty and I love nothing more than taking our dogs for unleashed adventures, and the farm off Backswamp Road in Hopkins, South Carolina has always been one of our favorite stomping grounds. The farm owned by our good friends Dick and Curtis has a lovely old  house that’s tucked off the country road that leads us there from Columbia. Their home has been the site of countless fundraisers for the LGBTQ community and other local charities over the past 30 years because its owners are generous, ready to share their southern hospitality for a good cause or just a dinner for a few friends.

But it is the acreage surrounding the home that has been a favorite spot for our dogs to run until their tongues hang out with joy and weariness. So in October of 2014 Pretty and I took our three dogs, The Red Man (rescued Welsh terrier), Chelsea the tennis ball chaser (black lab), and Spike the squirrel chaser (yellow lab/ shepherd mix) out to the farm for an afternoon romp. The day was one of those days you can forgive South Carolina its blistering summer heat for the perfect weather she gives us in autumn.

I hope you enjoy these images as you envision three city dogs who must be leashed on their walks in their neighborhoods as they experience the freedom of the farm.

Pretty talking to Dick – Chelsea curious about conversation

the pool cover entertained all afternoon

Red and Spike busy exploring – Spike has always been a follower

Red would rather explore by himself

what do labs love? WATER!!

run, run, run!

who says I can’t play?

Pretty and her cell phone

the old Dodge Dakota – faithful to the end of its second engine

loading up and saying goodbye

we had the best time – thank you, Dick, for inviting us!

This day is one of my favorite memories. Red and Chelsea lived until the beginning of 2016, but they both had cancer and their last year of 2015 was a tough one for all of us. Spike continues to live on with us today and now has Charly around to torment him. That’s ok – he didn’t like being an only dog.

We still love to visit the farm, but I haven’t been able to go as often as I would like.  We’re grateful for the standing invitation. Hopefully after this second knee surgery at the end of August, I might be able to make another visit this October. Fingers crossed.

Stay tuned.

Posted in Humor, Lesbian Literary, Life, Personal, photography, Reflections, Slice of Life, The Way Life Is | Tagged , | 10 Comments

Happy Birthday to our own millenials!


Number One Son and Pretty Too

This week Pretty and I had dinner with our Number One Son (Drew) and his wife Pretty Too (Caroline) to begin the celebration of their August birthdays. They are our very own Millenials and we love them dearly.

This picture was taken recently by a friend of theirs – they are all smiles because next year they hope to be holding one Ella Elisabeth James, their daughter who is expected in October.

Pretty and I are all smiles, too! Our children and grandchildren are our hope for not only our family but also our country. May the promises of America become a reality in their lifetimes.

Stay tuned.

 

 

 

Posted in Lesbian Literary, Life, Personal, photography, politics, racism, Reflections, Slice of Life, The Way Life Is | Tagged , | 6 Comments

today I need a little help


Dear Anybody,

More images of killings in our streets, parking lots, playgrounds, classrooms, movie theaters, night clubs, houses of worship, baseball fields, homes, offices, You Name the Scene of another one before Shazam does.

Another series of cases of blatant disrespect for the law by the highest officials sworn to protect the law and its constitution.

Another year of refugees held in “detention” camps that look, smell and sound very similar to the concentration camps of the Nazi regime in the 1930s and 40s.

What can we do? We feel helpless, hopeless.

Sincerely,

The American People

Dear American People,

Every morning we are born again. What we do today is what matters most.

Buddha

Dear American People,

We gain strength, courage and confidence every time we look fear in the face. We must do that which we think we cannot do.

Eleanor Roosevelt

Dear American People,

Our lives begin to end the day we become silent about things that matter.

Martin Luther King, Jr.

Dear American People,

Sometimes you have to give up on people not because you don’t care,

but because they don’t.

Maya Angelou

Dear American People,

The single biggest problem in communication is the illusion that it has taken place.

George Bernard Shaw

The American people need more help today to understand how we have allowed ourselves to become a nation without a moral compass adrift in a sea of blood and lawlessness with no way home to the promises still unkept for the potential of equality for all.

Stay tuned.

 

 

 

Posted in Lesbian Literary, Life, Personal, politics, racism, Reflections, Slice of Life, The Way Life Is | Tagged , , , , , , , | 7 Comments

a little spanish mixed with a little bit of yankee and a lot of midwest


Pretty and I (along with the rest of the world) watched the final episode of Season Two of Big Little Lies this past week which reminded me of a story I wrote that became a chapter of I’ll Call It Like I See It: A Lesbian Speaks Out – my book that inspired this blog.

A LITTLE SPANISH MIXED WITH A LITTLE BIT OF

YANKEE AND A LOT OF MIDWEST

      “Hey, hon,” the middle-aged waitress said as she brought my cheeseburger and fried onion rings to me.  “Give me a second while I clean the grill, and I’ll visit with you while you eat.  It’s just about closing time.”  She gave me a friendly, but tired, smile.  She appeared to remember me from my prior visits.

I sat at one of the four wooden picnic tables at Holder’s, my new all-time favorite hamburger and barbecue place.  The day had cooled from the earlier rain, and a slight breeze blew through the outdoor eating area that provided a vision of the quintessential Texas roadside café.  Waiting for food wasn’t a problem here.  If you ran out of license plates and signs to read on the walls, the personal carvings on the wooden tables guaranteed entertainment.

In theory, I’m a vegetarian.  In reality, I’ve loved hamburgers since my mother made them for me at home and Miz Inez Wood cooked them for me at the Richards Café more than fifty years ago.  Hold the mayo—extra mustard.  Lots of onions, tomatoes, lettuce, pickles, and cheese, and meat that’s cooked on a grill until it’s done.  No pink showing.  The burgers at Holder’s are always perfect.  Bobby Holder, the owner, trains his cooks to do them the same way every time, and I fear it’s a lost art.  I was in hamburger heaven, and I wasn’t particularly interested in conversation.  I don’t mind eating alone, and today was a day I’d planned to enjoy the total Holder’s experience by myself.  The biggest decision I had hoped to make this afternoon was whether I wanted barbecue or the cheeseburger.  I started dipping the onion rings in ketchup and wondered if anything could possibly taste better.

The woman who cooked for me, and served me, had an average height and very good posture for someone who was at the end of a long work day.  I recognized her as one of several cooks/waitresses who worked at Holder’s on random schedules.  She wore a pair of blue jeans and a tight-fitting blue T-shirt.  Her hair was bleached blonde and pulled back under a navy blue Lowe’s baseball cap that left curls showing around her face.  The face, however, was a dead giveaway for how tired she was this day, and all the other days just like it.  Heavy makeup couldn’t mask the erosion of youth and the impression that her life required too much from her.  I guessed she was in her late forties or early fifties.  She began wiping the tables while I munched on the onion rings.  She finished cleaning the table next to mine and stopped to sit down on the bench opposite me.

“Did you see that car and those guys who were here just before you?  They kinda scared me,” she said.  “One of them came in first and ordered, and then the other one came after I had already finished cooking the first order.  It was odd.  That’s all I’m saying.  Odd.”

“I saw them,” I said.  “They had two little children in the back seat of their car.”

“I’m not prejudiced or anything like that.  I don’t care that they were black.  It’s just that I’m here at the front by myself this afternoon, and anything unusual these days makes you nervous.  You know what I mean?”

“Yes.”  I nodded.  “I don’t blame you for being careful.”  I saw her point, and I tried to empathize more, but basically, I just continued to eat.  Did anything smell better than a cheeseburger and onion rings?  The grease-coated batter covering the onion rings created a wonderful, crunchy bite.  Somebody stop me before I eat all of them.  A dozen big home-made ones.  This was definitely too many.

“I mean, they could be purple for all I care, and I would’ve felt the same way.  If you had acted like that, I would’ve felt the same.  It wasn’t about them being black or anything.”  She stood up and started cleaning the tables around me again.  I wondered if she had spied the Obama 2008 bumper sticker on my pickup truck or had seen a small frown steal across my face when she spoke about her fears.  Methinks the lady doth protest too much, I thought.

I didn’t say anything.  I hoped that was the last word on the subject of the previous customers.  Actually, I hoped that was the last word on any subject.  The tomatoes on the cheeseburger were fresh off the vines and mouth-watering.  She had put the extra mustard that mixed with the onions in a taste that I’d missed for more than a month.  No meat was better than hamburger meat in Texas.  This was hallowed ground, and I wanted to worship.

“Are you from around here?” she asked.  She’d finished cleaning the tables and now stood next to mine, across from me.

“Yes,” I said, mentally giving up on a solitary dining experience.  “I grew up in Richards and bought a home in Montgomery several months ago.”

“Oh, well, that’s a coincidence!  I live in Montgomery, too,” she said, and we were off and running on a lively monologue that included her, and her brother, being born in Massachusetts to an Army family that moved from the northeastern part of the United States to Nebraska where she attended junior high and high school.  Her parents eventually settled in El Paso, Texas, and her father still lived there.  Her mother had died two years ago after a lengthy illness.

“I lived in El Paso for twenty years with my second husband, and I can tell you that we were in the minority there.  It’s a border town, you know.  There’s more Hispanics in that town than you could ever imagine.  Everybody always wonders about my accent, and I say there’s a little Spanish mixed with a little bit of Yankee and a lot of Midwest.”  She laughed at her own joke, and I laughed with her.

Her demeanor changed abruptly, as if she had taken a wrong turn on a one-way street.  The smiles vanished, and her good humor went with them.  Her voice lowered significantly, although we were the only two people in the place.  “My second husband was abusive,” she said.  “Mentally, and physically, too.  I put up with it for twenty years.  He ran around on me all the time and came in at all hours of the day and night and beat me when he got home.  He said I was unfaithful and useless.”

I was horrified at this intimate revelation, and I couldn’t think of an appropriate response. I’m not the best at quick reactions, so, before I could say anything, she went on with her story.

“We had a daughter, and I worked as a bookkeeper to help pay our bills.  My mother used to ask me why I had black eyes and bruises, and I just lied about it.  I told her I ran into things.  She knew, though.”  The woman began to gather the bottles of hot sauce and salt and pepper shakers from the tables to take them to the kitchen for the night.  She kept up the conversation, and I began to experience the pain that prodded it.

“Gosh, that sounds like a nightmare,” I said, trying to think of more to say.  “Twenty years?  That’s a long time.  What finally happened that made you leave?”

She stopped in her tracks and turned to face me. The matter-of-fact voice returned.  “My daughter grew up and left home.  One night I decided to turn the tables on my husband and give him a taste of his own medicine.  So, I stayed out until four o’clock in the morning.  I wasn’t doing anything but driving around, but I knew what he would think.  He beat me so bad he broke my nose and busted my ribs kicking me with his boots.  I crawled through the doggie door to get away from him because I couldn’t walk.  I made it to my neighbor’s house, and she called 911.  They took me away in an ambulance, and the emergency room doctor said he was amazed I wasn’t dead.”

“Oh, my God,” I exclaimed at this picture.  I couldn’t imagine that brutality against her, and the rage I felt touched a fury within me that was like a powder keg sure to be ignited whenever I encountered oppression of the defenseless.  I exploded with the same violence in my mind that her husband had shown in her living room.  “Why in the world didn’t you just shoot your husband?”

“I don’t keep a gun in my house, and I didn’t keep one then either.  I was afraid he might kill me with it.  I left after that with my dog and my clothes in a car that I bought myself.  That’s it over there.  I still have it.”  She pointed out the window to an older model Pontiac sedan.  “My dog and I drove around the country for eighteen months.  She thought it was her home for a long time since we slept in it.  She’ll jump in it today if I leave the door open.  I can’t get her out.”  She smiled at the thought, and I made an effort to relax with her.  I was still reeling from her revelations and working to subdue my own anger.

“We ended up in Texas, but I’ll never live in El Paso again.  I don’t have much in the way of material things like other people, but I don’t care.  Money doesn’t buy you happiness.  It really doesn’t.  I have a two-bedroom home and two dogs that love me.  I’ve had a couple of boyfriends, but I’m not getting married again.  Two abusive husbands are enough.”

“Your first husband did that to you, too?” I asked in disbelief.  This was too much, and I struggled to make sense of this woman’s complexities and tragic circumstances.

“Yes, but I divorced him after three years.  I was twenty-three when we parted company.  We didn’t have any children, thank goodness.  I guess I must have ‘I love a man who’s an asshole’ tattooed right here.”  She grinned as she pointed to her forehead.  “Are you finished?  You didn’t eat all your onion rings.”  Evidently, she was finished, and ready to go home.

“Yes, I’m done,” I replied.  I was at a loss for words to end our conversation.  “You gave me so many I couldn’t eat them all.  Thanks so much for everything.  It was delicious.  You’re a good cook.”

“Yeah, I may be slinging burgers over a hot grill for the rest of my life, but at least I’m not a bookkeeper any more.  I was as fat as a pig when I had that job.  I sat at my desk all day, and I had me this little secret stash of candy that I snacked on during the day.  Bills and Baby Ruth bars.  I paid one and ate the other one for too many years.  Say, it looks like that storm is heading back in.  You better get going.”

“You’re right,” I said.  “The clouds are headed this way, and my dog will be going crazy in the truck.  He’s afraid of bad weather.”

“He sure is cute.  What kind is he?”

“I think he’s a Welsh terrier.  Whatever he is, he’s got a phobia about storms.”

“My daughter’s got a Chug a little bit smaller than your dog,” she said.

I must have looked puzzled as I tried to process the information.

“You ever hear of a Chug?  It’s a mixture of Chihuahua and Pug.  Get it?  Chug.  That’s one ugly dog with a smushed face on that little body.”  She laughed one more time.  “Well, I enjoyed talking to you.  Hope to see you back in here soon.  Be careful driving home.”

 

As I drove the five miles home to Montgomery, the rains came in a downpour, very much like my thoughts from the conversation with the waitress.  My dog Red was a wreck, and he threw himself from one window to the other in the back seat of the truck while he panted frantically.  Luckily for him, this storm was brief.  It was over by the time we pulled into the driveway, and he was calm again.  I was also an emotional wreck, with a jumble of feelings stirred by her words and had a strong impulse to fix a rare cocktail, so I did.  As I sipped the bourbon and ginger ale and replayed her story in my mind that night, I sifted through the tumultuous feelings of outrage and compassion to a sense of admiration for a woman who refused to give up on herself.  I toasted her courage that must surely have come from a little bit of Spanish mixed with a little bit of Yankee and a lot of Midwest.

Here’s to you, and others like you.

Stay tuned.

Posted in Humor, Lesbian Literary, Life, Personal, politics, racism, Random, Reflections, Slice of Life, The Way Life Is | Tagged , , , , , , | 5 Comments

saltgrass tales (by GP Morris)


GP Morris is the son of my father’s brother Ray. He is a graduate of the University of Texas in Austin. He has lived in or around Houston, Texas all of his life but has a son, daughter-in-law and granddaughter living in Seattle, Washington;  a daughter, son-in-law and another granddaughter live in Tyler, Texas.  He recently began a journal of stories for his grandchildren and sent several to me. This is my favorite to date.

milky way
Lying on my back, I could see him through the slats.
He was doing the same. A smile on his face.
It was bright inside and out. He got up and
grabbed the top rail with both hands. He rocked
back ’n forth. He was laughing.
He bent down and picked up his bottle. Holdin’ it
above his head…rockin’ on his feet. Something was
about to happen. I quickly drug my bottle to the far
corner and started drinkin’.
His crib was four feet away. He flung his bottle
across the room. It clipped the top rail of my crib,
spun and shattered. He was still laughing.
My mouth clenched a nipple attached to 1/2 a
bottle. Milky shards of glass strewn about my crib.
Hot and sticky…all shapes and sizes. Sparkly wet in
the sunlight I put one in my mouth.
At that moment she opened the door. She calmly
took the glass from my mouth, gently inspected my
mouth and said, “No blood”. In one motion she
scooped me up, held me close and quietly sobbed.
The salt of her tears mixed with the milk on my
face. She turned around. He was crying.
She picked him up and we were three. She did not
put us down for an hour.

Gene and his twin brother Dean surrounded by their Morris cousins

Stay tuned.

Posted in Humor, Lesbian Literary, Life, Personal, photography, politics, racism, Reflections, Slice of Life, sports, The Way Life Is | Tagged , | 6 Comments

nobody says it better than Serena


This past Tuesday night I spoke at Chris Maw’s monthly social Words and Wine which brings authors and readers together in an informal setting for food, wine, and friendly interaction. My thanks to a friend of many moons, Fred Quattlebaum of Modern Family Asset Management, for sponsoring the event and to musicians Marty Lopez and Julien Kaprino for providing great entertainment. I was invited to talk about my newest book, Four Ticket Ride, but whenever I speak about my writing, my thoughts turn to truth and equality.

I read while…

 

…Pretty’s smile sells books!

At her press conference this past Saturday following her loss in the finals at Wimbledon, Serena Williams was questioned about why she lost. Although she tried to say her opponent played a brilliant match, the members of the press wouldn’t let it go. They asked her if she thought her lack of match play in 2019 had hurt her, whether her role as a mother took too much time away from her tennis, and finally someone said they heard Billie Jean King wondered if she spent too much time supporting equal rights or other political issues.

Serena’s quick response to that question was “The day I stop supporting equality is the day I die.” I can identify with her answer because I’d like to believe my actions to support equality and social justice are two of the dominant forces of my life.

My first understanding of how it teels to be treated as a second class person came at an early age and became the impetus for my lifetime support of equality, too. My dad gave me the vision of looking at the whole world as my territory. Nothing should be impossible if I set goals and then worked hard to achieve them.  There were no limits, according to him. When I entered the work force at the age of 21 in 1967, I learned very quickly that there were, indeed, limits.

Limits were imposed by powerful men in positions of leadership in the places I worked from Houston, Texas to Seattle, Washington to Columbia, South Carolina – men with tanned skins and silver hair who sat behind large impressive oak desks, men who saw me despite my impeccable credentials as lesser than my co-workers whose singular good fortune was that their gender and the color of their skin made them superior to me in the eyes of my bosses.

It was a rude awakening for me to find out that my dad had been wrong. But that rude awakening changed my life as I took part in the battleground for ratification of the equal rights amendment here in South Carolina in the 1970s, my involvement in the civil rights movement in Columbia in the 1980s and eventually coming to the most passionate cause of my life: the LGBTQ movement for equality in the 1990s. I want to be able to say with Serena that the day I stop supporting equality is the day I die.

For me, writing has been my platform for supporting equal rights during the past 13 years. For ten of those years, I have had the most fun as a blogger on my wordpress blog I’ll Call It Like I See It. When I finish a blog, usually after many re-writes, all I have to do is click on the word publish and my words fly through cyberspace to readers who either choose to follow me or randomly read my posts whenever a topic interests them. One observation I’ve made about my readers is that you all are far more interested in Pretty than you are in my political commentaries.

I saw a segment about the author, vlogger and you tube super star John Green on Sixty Minutes this past Sunday night. John Green, the author of the Fault in our Stars and a ton of other titles has a Twitter following of more than 5 million. My blog, I’ll Call it Like I see It, on the other hand, has 1,700 followers. Thank goodness my daddy also offered me the good advice of never comparing myself to others. Some people will be better off and some people will not, but that’s not how we are measured.  In spite of that advice, I will do a small comparison.

I am thrilled that in the first 6 months of 2019, I’ve reached people in more than 60 countries from Argentina to Vietnam through 36 posts with nearly 5,000 hits. My top five countries for followers are the US, the UK, India, Canada and France. Small potatoes to John Green, but quite an amazing audience for a little girl from deep in the piney woods of Grimes County, Texas who grew up in a time where her family’s only communication device was a two party telephone line that her grandmother on her daddy’s side used for spying on her neighbors.

Truth telling is a lost art.  Honesty is no longer a virtue nor is it admired by everyone we come in contact with.  Nonfiction writing lacks the pop and sizzle of fiction, although I like to think sometimes it’s a close second.

One of my favorite scenes in the movie Cat on a Hot Tin Roof is the scene where the tortured son Brick played by Paul Newman discussed his problems with his father Big Daddy played by Burl Ives. Brick blamed his alcoholism on mendacity which he claimed affected everything in the universe but especially the family he came from.  Big Daddy wasn’t so sure about that claim, but I have to say Brick just might have been on to something powerful. I was so impressed with this idea that I devoted a chapter I call Human Frailty and Mendacity in my latest book Four Ticket Ride to the concept.

Ideas for writing come to me in random places, but what I can promise you is that I try to bring truth telling to every piece I write.

Stay tuned.

P.S. Thanks so much to everyone who bought my books from Pretty Tuesday night – we almost sold out! I loved meeting you all and look forward to seeing you again in November.

P.S.P.S. Thanks to our friend Saskia for taking pictures.

 

 

 

Posted in Humor, Lesbian Literary, Life, Personal, photography, politics, racism, Random, Reflections, Slice of Life, sports, The Way Life Is | Tagged , , , , , | 4 Comments

all my happy trails lead to Pretty


I Wonder if Columbus Kept a Journal

(chapter one from Four Ticket Ride)

In 1492 Columbus sailed the ocean blue. Five hundred years later in 1992 the maiden voyage of the Space Shuttle Endeavor began when the spacecraft was launched from the Kennedy Space Center in Florida. Seven astronauts were aboard; the flight lasted nine days and was successful on several missions including the first time three astronauts walked in space together. 1992 was also an election year with President George H.W. Bush running for re-election in the U.S. against Bill Clinton and Ross Perot. The UK also had an election, but no news was more important in that part of the world than the breakup of Prince Charles and Princess Diana.

The USA Mall of America opened its doors in August, 1992 at a time when the average income in the United States was $30,030 according to The People History. The Summer Olympics were held in Barcelona, Spain and the Winter Olympics in Albertville, France. The North American Free Trade Agreement better known as NAFTA was signed by President George H.W. Bush in December, 1992 a month after he lost his bid for re-election.

I was 46 years old when I voted for Bill Clinton in the 1992 election. I was in the third year of a new career path as a financial planner for Jefferson Pilot Life Insurance Company in Columbia, South Carolina, my home since 1972. In other words, I sold life insurance on a commission basis along with annuities and mutual funds to sweeten the deals. I was barely surviving financially and nowhere even close to the average annual income for U.S. citizens. I had to borrow money from my mother that year to pay my bills and keep consumer credit card companies happy.  Something had to give.

I was also madly, passionately infatuated with a pretty, fun, smart female client thirteen years younger than I was. We had loads of fun and sex whenever we were together, and that affair which began in 1991 carried an additional element of danger because we were both in long term relationships with other women. This, unfortunately, was a pattern I had established in my early twenties for my interpersonal connections that seemed to fit the sociological profile of serial monogamy. I was in my third long term lesbian monogamous partnership; the first two both ended with my infidelity. Add early onset menopause full of hot flashes to the mix, and I was truly a hot mess.

Recently I discovered a journal of mine from that time period. I was amazed at the contents. The entries were dated in the month of February, 1992. By this time my partner and I had split.  She had found my indiscretion at the end of 1991 through a phone bill that was clear evidence of what was going on in my affair. After six years together, she told me to get out and think about what I wanted in my life. One of our dogs, a Westie named Sassy, and I moved into an apartment not far from our house.

1992 was twenty-six years ago now so I have a few memory lapses, but I get exactly what was happening through the journal which was a day by day response to prompts from a self-help course taught by one of the popular gurus of the 1990s. Regardless of the creator of the course, I must have been desperate for help and unwilling or unable to consult a therapist. I would have been afraid to discuss my problems with someone who might judge me for being gay. I was out to some friends and family but not out at work and in many ways still struggling with internalized homophobia. The journal showed a gradual progression of self-awareness.

My journal was called the “Success Journal” – 20 days to success.

Day 1 – February 20, 1992

Two things to do that will improve my quality of life:

  1. Take bottles for recycling. *
  2. Buy 10 pound weights for exercise program*

 

*Done February 21, 1992 (with no noticeable improvement in my quality of life)

Day 2 – February 21, 1992

Four things I have not done that I want to do:

  1. Lose 12 pounds
  2. Separate from relationship (can’t do – see day 4 for revision)
  3. Coming “Out” to family and others
  4. Being financially wealthy

Days 3 and 4 were focused on Controlling my Destiny around the four things I had not done but wanted to do.

The losing 12 pounds never happened in the past twenty-six years although I faithfully made it my number one New Year’s resolution every year. I dishonestly changed wish #2 on Day Four to why I needed to stay in that relationship because I was afraid to make a change. Not too many days after Day 20, the Final Breakthrough Day, Sassy and I left the apartment and returned home where we stayed for twelve more years until my partner found someone new. Karma was alive and well.

I defined being financially wealthy in 1992 as buying new golf clubs, buying a new car, repaying the loan from my mother and paying off my credit cards (the order was vague); and having a maid, cook and gardener. I’m fairly certain I got the new golf clubs.

I will omit the discussion of empowering and disempowering neuro- associations, pattern interrupts, overcoming fears, and the next 18 Days to Success except for two poignant revealing passages in the journal.

Why I must come out to others:   (Day Four – February 23, 1992)

  1. I can be whole
  2. I can be honest
  3. I can be free of secrecy.
  4. I can be in control of my life.
  5. I can be healthier.
  6. I can be stronger.
  7. I can have energy for other parts of my life.
  8. I can be more at peace.
  9. I can be happier/more content
  10. I can know my friends.

As long as we are invisible, we are vulnerable.

The personal costs of the closet were the most important lessons I learned from my 20 Days to Success Program. I believe acknowledging those lessons in the winter of 1992 speeded up my coming out process that prepared me for the personal epiphany in the March on Washington the following year in April, 1993.

On Day 10, the day for Setting Goals, I wrote “I would love to write a book!” In 1992 that goal seemed as unlikely as having a maid, cook or gardener but in 2007, fifteen years later, my first book Deep in the Heart: A Memoir of Love and Longing was published.

Was my “Success Journal” a success? That’s a tough one for me. Are journals important for writers? That answer probably depends on the person, but journals indicate the compulsion writers have to record their experiences. This journal was only one of several I’ve started through the years, but periodically I open it to read about that middle-aged menopausal woman struggling to become a whole person.

(Thank goodness for Pretty who rescued me from myself 8 years later in 2000 and encouraged me to write that first book. Wow – all my happy trails lead back to Pretty.)

Stay tuned.

Posted in Humor, Lesbian Literary, Life, Personal, politics, racism, Reflections, Slice of Life, The Way Life Is | Tagged , , , , , , | 9 Comments