Tag Archives: death

So Many Photos!

I’m a bit compulsively organized, as I may have mentioned previously. So, it was already bugging me that I had a giant box full of disorderly photos. They were of my children and my pets, my exes and my parents, ancient relatives, random friends, cakes and flowers, and whatever else, all spanning like a hundred freaking years. There were “leftovers” that hadn’t made it into my cute memory albums, duplicates I couldn’t bear to dump, and sepia shots of strange people who possibly are related to me.

I tried not to think about this too much, even though the box was lurking right there in my hall closet like a sleeping demon.

But then my former sister-in-law gave one of my daughters another big box of photos consisting of all the photos I had given my in-laws over the years while they were alive. My daughters took the photos they wanted and gave me the rest, which was a lot. A lot.

Now what was I supposed to do? Add this box to the other, so they could weaponize against me? Hah. I know how that works: soon my closet would turn into the devil’s disaster zone. No thanks. Only one option ~ I bought big envelopes and am sorting all the photos into categories and filing them away.

It’s taking me longer than I expected. Some of the photos provoke memories that I stop and linger over for a minute or three. And some I struggle to categorize. My girls look very similar as babies; I’m happy when they’re both in the same shot so I can toss that one in the “sisters” envelope.

Now everything is on our phones and in “the cloud.” Don’t think I’m not making folders there. Are you kidding? My cloud is totes foldered up.

I am the Goddess of Folders!

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Mom’s Flowered Suitcase [flash]

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I stood alone at the empty carousel. It had finished spinning out the bags from my flight and mine wasn’t among them. I glanced at the people around me–they were busily texting and briskly wheeling their suitcases outdoors toward ground transportation.

“What did it look like?” The friendly customer service rep was trying to help me find my lost bag as I waited in her office.

I was a little embarrassed. “It was small. And green. With um bright flowers all over it.”

She smiled. “Oh! We have it here. I’m sorry but it seems to have come apart a bit, so we kept it safe.”

“That’s the one.” There was no mistaking the unique floral case the rep brought out from the back. It had been shabby to start with, but now the handle was dangling off and one side was shredded. “It was my mother’s. I guess I’ve had a hard time letting it go.”

“I understand. I could tape it up as a temporary solution.”

As I watched, I thought of the broken vase and the lost earring and the other disappearing mementos. They would all be gone eventually, except for the ones in my heart.

~*~

Flash Fiction for the Purposeful Practitioner #28 -2018 

199 Words

Ch-ch-changes

I just downloaded the WordPress app and so far it seems fabulous! They’ve really improved it since I tried it a zillion years ago. It takes a lot of motivation for me to deviate from my habits, so this is a big deal, blogging from an app. Truth be told, I’m a bit resistant to apps in general, misliking the idea of cluttering up my phone with icons. Why can’t I just use my browser? But this WP app is very nice. Very nice indeed. Of course, now I’ll need to d/l more apps to even out the row, but never mind that.

My motivation is partly due to the fact that blogging from a phone browser is rather clunky, and while I have a semi-solution in my old Kindle Fire, it’s still imperfect. (Hard to access media from there.) Also, I like using one device. I already have a sweet Kindle for reading and the Fire is pure backup, which I like to keep at home.

Isn’t this fascinating? I thought my fans would be enthralled with an OCD data dump.

I’m feeling good about all the things I’ve abandoned along the path toward enlightenment, or death, whichever comes first ~ husbands, real estate, dating sites, Facebook, fiction writing, and thigh highs. Thank gawd I never have to wear stupid thigh highs again! What a dumb invention.

Oh, and sushi. Blech!

RIP Donald Hall, American Poet

Donald Hall, whose poetry was introduced to me in a fabulous CSUN contemporary lit course, passed away yesterday at the age of 89 in Wilmot, New Hampshire. When I read of his death today, I vaguely recalled that the first poem I read from him was about death, and when I checked my tattered old lit book, it turned out that this memory was correct: “My Son, My Executioner.” Many of the other poetry selections in this book from DH are about death also, but he had a happy life, or at least one can infer such from his bio, with a long marriage to his college sweetheart and a successful career.

This is the ending from one of my favorite Donald Hall poems, “The Black-Faced Sheep“:

At South Danbury Church twelve of us sit—
cousins and aunts, sons—
where the great-grandfathers of the forty-acre farms
filled every pew.
I look out the window at summer places,
at Boston lawyers’ houses
with swimming pools cunningly added to cowsheds,
and we read an old poem aloud, about Israel’s sheep,
old lumps of wool, and we read

that the rich farmer, though he names his farm for himself,
takes nothing into his grave;
that even if people praise us, because we are successful,
we will go under the ground
to meet our ancestors collected there in the darkness;
that we are all of us sheep, and death is our shepherd,
and we die as the animals die.

 

Light Paulas

Light

They’re out there somewhere…
Not a hoax
I catch glimpses of their lives
Floating through mine
Via misdirected emails:
The other Paula Lights.

One of them has DISH TV–
That might be nice,
All those channels.
I could watch anything
And everything!
Well, I do have trouble with choice:
This is known.

Another one, married,
Bought homeowners insurance;
They seem like a solid couple,
Smart financial planning.
I was like that once,
With a house and a husband,
Doing all the things
I was supposed to do.

Sad day–
One of the Paulas has a tribute page
Posted for a deceased relative.
The confirmation came to me.
(Please do not reply.)
I probably should have done
Something like that
For my parents.

One shops at Wal*Mart
And I get her alerts,
No way to unsubscribe.
She bought a granite-topped cart,
Which looks pretty cool.
I had a cart once,
In that house with the husband.
They’re convenient, at times:
Carts and husbands.

Fun! One of them just visited
Margaritaville Casino
In Bossier City (Bossier!),
Louisiana.
The casino asked me
If I enjoyed my stay–
I’m sure I did.

These other Paula Lights
Are in the Midwest,
Where I once lived too
Among the blizzards and ‘nadoes.
For all I know,
They’re the same person,
Or maybe they’re reflections of me,
The OP,
Living my parallel life.

~*~

The Persistence of Me

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I confess I don’t know much about Tom Wolfe (RIP), but have only begun learning about his brilliance this past week from his obits and write-ups in the news. Of course I’ve used the phrase “The Me Decade” to describe the 1970s, never even knowing that he coined it. How embarrassing! I’m adding The Electric Kool-Aid Acid Test and Bonfire of the Vanities to my reading list.

I think a strong argument can be made that the Me Decade hasn’t ended and shows no signs of abating anytime soon. All the selfies and oversharing, plus the endless quiz-taking, are encouraged by industries whose purpose is to make us feel insecure about ourselves, and are part of an infinite loop of superficial self-examination, wasting our time and energy as we search for enlightenment in our belly button lint, rather than expanding our horizons outward for fulfillment. I’m no stranger to these behaviors myself.

But something interesting has happened, a small thing, but interesting nevertheless: since I quit Facebook and Instagram two months ago, I haven’t taken any photos of food. My life is no worse for this; I don’t miss these pics at all. In fact, that was simply another superficial way to “connect” with people online when we really had nothing in common. In my opinion, this obsession with selfies, including food pics (unless you’re a restaurant critic or recipe blogger), is part of the narcissistic sickness of society. Notice me! Like me! Follow me! We see our favorite celebrity posting 857 photos of their face and we think we should too. It’s headshot day! Gah.

I suggest that the me-ness of the Me Decade never disappeared but instead spilled into online life, splashing over all we did, turning the entire social media experience from information-based, when it began, to communication-based, for a time, and finally now into a monstrous narcissistic ouroboros that not only controls how we behave online but offline too. We are even more self-centered now than we were in the 1970s despite allegedly “connecting” with all sorts of people different from us all over the world. We don’t actually do this in any kind of meaningful way. I doubt most of us even begin to relate to people in our own neighborhoods and what issues they might have in this primary election, if they are different from our own. All I see is people ready to bully, disparage, and dismiss anyone who thinks differently from them, more now than ever.

If you don’t conform to my reflection of myself, I push you out of the picture. Turn the camera back to selfie mode. Ah, much better. Smile. Click.

*

I know some of you probably thought I would jabber on about the narcissists I’ve dated and link to my new poetry book All She Wrote, which explores quite a bit on that theme, when you saw the prompt “narcissism”… well, surprise! I actually do have otter things to say sometimes besides look at my stupid mistakes. 😀

~*~

The Daily Prompt: Narcissism

Froth

Beachy

Hot summer sand met cold ocean froth. Two little girls in sunglasses and hats with buckets and towels, digging and giggling. I would bring a book and never open it, preferring to watch my children’s fun and the turquoise waves tumble in, one by one. The hours moved slowly but the time went so fast. Grandma came too with lunch in a cooler. She’s gone now and soon my time will be up, the next decades sure to pass even faster than the ones before. Each year’s bubbles crash in, spread out with a susurrus, and disappear back into nothingness.

~*~

The Daily Prompt: Froth

Happy Birthday Dad

It was fun looking through the box of unsorted photos and finding this gem from around 25 years ago ~ Dad and my eldest in the backyard of our old Huntington Beach house. If he were still around, I’d probably be baking his favorite fudgy wudgy brownies for a birthday celebration tonight. Miss those days, love you Dad, RIP.

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Chasing Sunsets

OC_sunset

It’s been a good month of sunsets
Outside the conference room window,
Splashing down behind the old Hyatt–
A riot of violet, indigo, crimson.
As the days lengthen
And storms malinger,
The sky waits for my drive home,
Candy striping on my commute–
Watermelon, apricot, grape.
I stop at the fairgrounds
To take a shot of butterscotch
Streaking out of sight.
Summer will soon push them later,
After I’m inside for the night.
I tire early now;
One day I’ll see my last.
I wonder which kind it will be–
The glorious burst of final savage color,
Or a slow unremarkable fade to black?

~*~

The Daily Prompt: Wonder

Restart

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I was chatting with a friend the otter day and lost track whether it had been 5 or 6 years since my divorce was final. (It’ll actually be 7, this July.) The years roll on by. This month marks 5 years since my dad passed away, and April 13th will be the 10th anniversary of my mother’s death. At the end of August, I’ll have been at my current job for 17 years.

Nothing dramatic, but I feel that 2018 is finally starting for me now on March 1. I didn’t feel well for a bit and, except for my daughter’s wedding, 2017 wasn’t that great of a year overall… the end of it slid into the blackness without a splash. It’s taken a few months for this year to get going in my mind. Emotionally, I needed to process the fact that time passes so ridiculously quickly now and quit wasting so much of it. I saw some piece of trivia that we really only read around 4000 books in our life ~ so let’s not be gobbling up so many crappy ones ~ also let’s not allow a month to pass without reading any (note to self).

I read two books in February. One was supposedly “great,” a NYT bestseller by the demigod Ethan Canin Titled A Doubter’s Almanac, which took me a long damn time because I tried to grok the math, and lol the joke was on me [spoiler alert]… it was fake. Yes, in the era of fake news, we also have fake math. I enjoyed the beginning of the book so much, but then when the narration took a weird turn I started wondering about the math theorem and looked it up ~ fake! I thought, okay cool, he made it up for his fiction. I can respect that; I make shit up all the time. Fuck, I’ve made up whole cities. But dammit, I felt betrayed. I had invested so much time in the book’s philosophy up until that point. In fact, it reminded me of my own philosophy, my central thesis, my touchstone…

MATH IS GOD

But eh fuck it. I read the rest of the book much faster, skipping most of the “math” and just trying to keep it together structurally until the end because I had a hunch about what might happen regarding son/father and… viola… I was correct. Sheesh, what a long book. Unnecessarily so. All those beautiful women falling for dorky mathmen with no social skills because of course they do. I love male fantasies. They’re almost as stupid as female ones.

Then in two days I read a nice, neat, normal murder mystery by Robert Dugoni titled My Sister’s Grave. Well, it wasn’t “nice” exactly ~ made me cry a little. Good book. Significant flashback sections, but after the fake math stuffs? Totes fine.

Point being, with unlimited time I would read every book, see every movie, give each tune a listen that friends slap up on FB. But time is running out. Well, not time precisely. It’s not doing anything. But I’m finite. I don’t want to waste another 3 weeks immersed in a boring father/son angst marathon only to discover there’s no such thing as the Malosz conjecture. Break my heart! Never trust a writer.

~*~

The Daily Prompt: Restart