Questions I ask in the middle of the night

Why are there so many commercials about pharmaceutical drugs and cell phones? They’re pushing us toward an all-or-nothing cloud crowd, where there’s no room for one-on-one, face-to-face, farm-to-table interaction anymore.

If this year’s flu is bordering on a pandemic, and the worst ever, then why not shut down businesses, schools, life as we know it until this deadly virus goes away? Just quarantine everyone. Wait it out. Or, are the Truthers right? They’re depopulating the planet under the pretense (that word again) of flu vaccine propaganda. What else do you call it when almost every year, the vaccine is a bad match for the real thing? I searched “flu media scare tactics” on Twitter. From as far back as 2009’s swine flu, the media’s been reporting the same thing in the same provocative, all-or-nothing way. So, the flu’s been deadly every year?

Wouldn’t it be smart of the CDC to research and order up a vaccine with all the flu strains in mind? Maybe go down to Australia, use flu strains that crop up there to develop a vaccine for the USA that would be a better match.

I get the feeling that my former best friend never really liked me, that she, in fact, hated me with a venom. I wonder, did she always hate me? Was she just pretending to be my friend for a laugh with her real ones? This explains why her daughter refused a ride after school once when it was pouring rain. Her daughter looked disgusted with me. This also explains why my son was never invited to her sons’ birthdays or Halloween walks, why she and her daughter would always turn their noses up at the sight of me on a random weekend shopping at an outlet mall.

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The Best Part of Spain

I’m supposed to be there, skin of balsam wood, paint-by-numbers vacation, my face to the sun on these cobblestone streets.

Now, in this sunless balcony, way in the back, I imagine a figure slouched in his seat, another falling in a sunken ballet somewhere between the stage and the overflowing toilet. Terri was here, too, before they carried her shrunken body out the back on Cancer Street.

What went through his mind as his hands stopped moving rhythmically, cutting back and forth over the sharp wizened lines of “Spain,” a bluesman’s version for the $10-a-blowjob Everett hooker without underwear and the construction workers after her punch clock? To watch the glow from a distance, a 90-year-old man led by his daughter, blind and deaf when once he led an army, custodian of this fandango dance of unearthly regret and remembered sin.

Standing alone where there were once two, the remnants of sand and promises in the debris left behind a tourist bus, I remember Spain too. When will I want to forget?

If You Don’t Know Me

It’s been over four weeks since The Incident with my now-former best friend. I thought I was over it. Onto the next drama, right?

Wrong.

I shared what had happened way after the fact with another person I thought cared about me. When I saw her email about the incident, I naively expected oodles of sympathy, even a fired-up invective or two about that thoughtless bitch.

I began to read this person’s email, hoping to see something along the lines of, “How dare she hurt you like this?! What kind of mom would say such an unforgivable thing to someone else‘s child?”

Instead, in the first line, I got this: “I see how hurt you were by her comments. But teens are deceptive… I used to brag that … was so honest that he turned his cousin and him in about some beer up the road at our cabin. In retrospect he talks now about a lot of things I was totally unaware of. Naivety. I thought because I had never done anything like that, my children wouldn’t.” Blah, blah, blah.

Is this about you or about me? I’m confused.

Against my better judgment, I laid into her. I wasn’t cruel. I just wasn’t interested in tip-toeing around her feelings anymore. I made it clear that her response pained me, and after writing pages of back story in defense of myself, pissed that I’m explaining myself to someone I shouldn’t have to explain myself to.

I don’t expect you to kiss my ass. Believe me, I confronted my teenaged son. I did my due diligence as a responsible parent. (But thanks for assuming the worst about me.) For three days straight, I put him through an interrogation process as hardcore as a real-life civil trial. I made it clear that I would not tolerate lying, not after my best friend made a slanderous accusation with our friendship, and his reputation, on the line. I actually gave her accusations more credence than they deserved.

In the end, it came down to whether I believed my son’s account or hers. I chose to believe my son, because he has never given me any reason to doubt him. Her, on the other hand? LOL. Case closed.

I only confided in a handful of friends about what happened. Only two of them responded as friends and decent human beings. Ben simply said, “I believe you.” Claudia laughed her ass off at the accusation, said it was total bullshit, and that best friend was “a shady bitch.” She said if my son was wilding out, she would’ve immediately come to me and told me, and I believe her.

Everybody else started in on the “lying teens” bullshit, then projected what they went through as proof that my son was just one of them.

What they don’t seem to grasp is that I’m okay with teens being teens. I was a teen myself. We can talk about any issues as a family, no judgment, open communication. My son knows he can come to me about anything. He knows what I will and won’t tolerate. Head in the sand? Blindly defending him?

If anything I’m way too hard on him. Thank for playing, though!

He’s not the psychopath who insists there’s no party when you can clearly hear a party going on, on the other end of the landline — like a certain holier-than-thou, hypocritical ex-best friend’s son did this past summer.

But I’m the one with the problem child? Okay, LOL, you go with that, sweetheart.

My son? He’s never had that problem.

After all was said and done, I did not appreciate having this ugly mess thrown back in my face, again, by someone who wasn’t there and who professes to love me. I’m done with it.

I don’t have to justify myself to you. To quote that Patti LaBelle song, “If you don’t know me by now, you will never never know me.”

And, you don’t deserve me.

Circle

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Photo by Takemaru Hirai on Unsplash

Is it me or is Netflix just another HBO with bad movies and shows?

Felt another round of restless channel surfing last night until I chose “Circle,” about an alien space ship forcing ordinary citizens to vote on who will die next in a sick, futuristic round-robin game of chance and cunning. IOW, the same violent doomsday shit, aka Twitter on the daily.

It’s the same with life in this digital age. I’m at a point in my life when I can remember before and after, and wax nostalgic, like my parents used to. I almost envy my grandparents and my dad, because they’re no longer here. They wouldn’t understand the fast-paced, technology-driven AI, trans-human world.

They certainly wouldn’t want to be in this world.

I miss going outside, smelling plumeria — I lived on 7th St. in Ft. Shafter, Hawaii in the early 1970s — hopping on my three-speed bike, “Daisy,” and seeing my friends, throwing tar at each other, playing roller derby, climbing trees, listening to Top 40 radio on my futuristic Panasonic radio Death Star (in red).

I miss paying in cash. Knowing where my money came from, and where it was going.

I miss the simple days of youth crushing on a boy who would later break my heart in the most romantic way, drive-in movies, Campus Life volleyball, daydreaming under street lamps in our neighborhoods, warm and cool tradewinds, that one night at Lorraine’s grilling oysters Gary got from a friend of a friend who owned a boat…

I’m trying to get back to that. I’m trying to focus on the good things, the way the music builds into this floral wonderland on jazz bassist Mark Wade‘s new release, Moving Day, the drums setting places for every single guest on the invitation, hope and delight in one rolling interval, a piano carrying melodic compassion — a faithful, fun companion…

the way the colors unravel and reveal themselves in this throw blanket I’m stitching for my son — his second — because it’s soft and warm and safe when people get too heavy out there, putting demands, expectations, their lived-in assumptions on me…

the way my legs slowly come to life on this treadmill with my reality-TV shows, as I broach commercials and cinematic breaks in my see-saw, 50s fashion, pretending I am back on a farm road in Spokane before my son would catch the home run, busting the gates for a second time, and oh the roar of that crowd…

It’s so hard turning off the constant barrage of doomsday news, none of it good or hopeful. Somewhere between my salad and icing my knee, I realized that we only enjoy three safe months out of the year, in the summer: June, July, and August. The rest goes dark.

The majority of the time, we are in peril. Any minute, fade to black.

I don’t remember any of this before.

When did life become a Stephen King novel?

To The Death

She made leaving him sound like a noble cause. Her words stung, as he gathered up the fragments of their life, bandaged their children’s cuts, bore the texts and the calls and the dirty looks, watched everything he ever loved go with her in the moving van, memories in photos he couldn’t bear

He stayed up many sleepless nights figuring out the budget, table of one, mattress in the middle of the floor he once tore apart and stained. For her.

Her pipe dreams broke his bones, bled him dry, left him alone. She took and she took, and when she could take no more, she left him with:

You’re draining. You’re pathetic. You’re not giving me what I need.

They talked of the men she fucked, like it was a special club, this little girl with the fat ass and the face of an ugly boy, the kind who stole your lunch and chewed with his mouth open. I know, she let me see the photos she kept in a ratty shoe box.

Yes, I hate her. But she is not dying right now. She can’t be the heroine or the villain of his story anymore. She had her chance. I gave her a choice. I gave her my dreams… her family encased in gold. She laughed in my face: her personal pet project in size 22 sweatpants who couldn’t sing a note. Your angel.

In a movie I saw two hours ago, the dead girl said, “Everyone dies.” As if that’s enough.

Let her dance on his grave. We love you. You’re so beautiful. You have such a perfect life.

I will hold his hand in my dreams, while the world explodes around us, his eyes the color of stars.

the lovely bones

“If I had but an hour of love, if that be all that is given me, an hour of love upon this earth, I would give my love to thee.” —”The Lovely Bones”

I think of him lying there, in small doses, for I would fall into the deep dark blue, like a child peeking over a tall building, one tiny hand clasped, the other letting wind and rain flutter bird-like, a cloud of vague temptation.

Death is far away when you are young. Farther for the beautiful who accept Christ in their lives, doe-eyed and fresh-faced, the obedient pay for their parents’ winless fortunes. I am closer now, remembering him frozen in time, the moon, his hands, the cells of multi-colored spotlights, those long, long legs, taller than the tallest trees.

I hold his hand. He is a little boy again, save for those eyes.

Beautiful Voice

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Photo by Nong Vang on Unsplash

A weather report, snow somewhere East of here, East of him

A brief glimpse, faint like the sound of a car accident or muffled bullets:

She’s skiing this weekend.

Her Facebook timeline confirms the facts. I wish I could conjure up his cure, too afraid to look inside his broken doll house, the sticks, the dreams

In a Nyquil dream today, I walked into my ageless son’s room. His toys roll toward me, a dog from a Netflix show barked and whined. My son curled up in a ball in my father’s smokeless living room.

We need to move.

No jobs on Linked In. Just a private message from a beautiful singer who blames me for costing her everything. I write for free, in between time I don’t have — the cancer growing. She says I am a bad person, in not so many words.

But I was kind.

So, I listen to Mark Wade’s new album, “Moving Day,” to keep me warm and help me forget my sniffles.

He has maybe two years left.

Hospital

I am in an examining room, but there are no doctors. I am told they are occupied with far greater patients and that I’ve been laying here for hours, for nothing. They will never come. Somehow, my internal pain is caught up in finding an eyeglass repair shop and going back to the dentist at the top of the building in the middle of Bishop Street in downtown Honolulu — open only at night. I know, because I used to watch the city lights flicker outside the windows, lying and waiting for the mind-numbing drill to expose me.

There’s no point in screaming. They won’t come. The system’s beyond repair. It’s like looking behind the curtain of Oz. Set your Bibles down, love. It’s time to wake up.

Even the music sounds off.

Ivy

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Photo by Maike Bergold on Unsplash

An online clairvoyant once read my fortune. She said my husband used to be a man of God, and that we would have two children, maybe three, two daughters and a son.

I used to think that man of God was my current husband, even though I could never picture him preaching in a church.

Years later, I dreamed a wonderful dream, what Steely Dan once called time out of mind. In it, I ran from an elaborate dresser at one end of the sun-lit room to the other, leaping on top of the bed next to my beaming beloved. I remember I was chattering away, impassioned by the injustices of the world, slapping an open newspaper for effect, as he gazed at me as if I were an oasis in a desert and he had traveled for days to find me.

About two years ago, I dreamed of church, the one I’d left in 2006. My birthday party? Everyone there, but him. He arrived late, but walked toward me with a branch of ivy in his hands, a gift for me. Then, gone.

The definition of love we’ve been handed, handed down from generation to generation since the Industrial Age means nothing. That love is a shallow, stupid invention of Hollywood, meant solely for entertainment, a never-ending hamster wheel, the carrot and the stick, image for money.

Love doesn’t often make sense. You could sneak looks at a complete stranger from across a crowded room, hide behind his tall, tall frame as he stirs up steel-cut oatmeal and gently laughs as his youngest finds you for a game of hide ‘n seek. And then he’s gone, the level of his words a resonant Scripture stronger than the Bible.

You have Eddie for many more years to come and I urge you to cherish and nurture each other as long as you have breath. Never, ever quit or come to some elusive ‘end of your rope’ because there are rope stores EVERYWHERE now, so there is no excuse to become part of that ridiculous 50% crowd who says divorce/marriage is a crap shoot!”

I will love you forever.