Where are the Wise Men?

     This is not a post about sides. Not sides that are separated by race, religion, culture, leadership, borders or boundaries. This is a post about human beings.

My husband John is brilliant (he might argue, but I must insist). He has explained to me numerous times that wise men are programmed to fix things. Wise women will tend to the wounds of the weary and nurture during crisis, they wrap their arms around those they hold dear and comfort, but wise men fix. When something is broken, flawed or causing chaos, the tendency of the wise man is to fix it and once again bring about contentment to those he loves.

The tendency of the caveman is to pound his chest, swing his club, wield his spear and thrive in creating animosity and fear in his opponent. Perhaps that is why we’ve worked so hard to evolve from the caveman status. It never seemed to take hold as a method that served as a means to a satisfying end.

So, when my heartbroken, frustrated self said “Fix the crisis in the Middle East!  People are dying!” he said “I’ve already thought it through.”

Killing the innocent, the under armed and overexposed was not acceptable when it was done to the Jews from 1933 to 1945 and it’s not acceptable as it has been done to the Palestinians from 1948 to, well, right now. Oppression in any form is wrong, robbing individuals of their right to a safe and healthy existence can only be condemned and never condoned. Both sides have got to be sick and tired of this conflict. The Palestinians tired of check-points and strip searches and watching their children suffer and die. The Israelis must be tired of looking over their shoulder, even though their superior weapons ensure their death tolls have remained low, death is still death and meaningless loss is still meaningless loss. The Israelis must be weary of being associated with genocide, once again, only this time on the outside firing in. Does the abused really become the abuser? Who stops the pattern and how?

John went on to explain to me that if Israel put a tenth of the money they put into their arsenal into the good of Palestine; built good roads, state of the art hospitals and clinics, schools and universities, built houses and helped entrepreneurs realize their ambition to serve the public in whatever fashion they dreamed, perhaps some good would come from it. After all, it is rare to bite the hand that feeds.

If Israel pulled Israeli settlements out of Gaza and instead of threatening Palestinians with the idea that they will slowly become a disappearing act, helped build infrastructure with the funds they receive from the U.S., that perhaps the end result would be a Palestine willing to compromise and shake the outstretched hand of Israel in the name of peace, for the future of the children.

If the horrible, insulting wall came down, the one that divides the two nations in such a way that makes one feel like a caged animal and the other the keeper, perhaps a sigh of peaceful relief would replace the sounds of bombs, gunfire, and cries of grief, pain and insurmountable loss.

We’ve seen it done before, but can it happen twice in a lifetime? Can we witness a wall toppling in the name of humanitarianism more than once in a span of thirty years? Why not?

“So what you’re saying is ‘be kind’? Considerate? Aware that an act of compassion might mirror itself and bring about more compassion?”

“Yes” he said. “Compassion.”

It sounds way too simple. This is a conflict that has been going on for nearly seventy years. It’s complicated, messy, bloody, painful and hopeless.

Or is it?

This conflict is a human tragedy, but it is human and humans are the only ones who can make conscious decisions to make change. If we don’t make change, we cannot picture a world without an Israeli/Palestinian feud. The Hatfields and McCoys of our time.

Yes, there are bad guys – on both sides, but it’s not the bad guys that are suffering insurmountable loss, it is people. Human beings that love their children, take (took) pride in their homes and just want peace.

My hope in my father’s lifetime was to have him see his homeland once more. As he nears his 83rd birthday, I have realized that probably won’t happen, so I gave him the only gift I know how to do well. I wrote him a feature script about the possibility for love and peace replacing hate and animosity between Palestinians and Israelis. A love story that has received high marks from movie producers and scored in the top 15% of the prestigious Nicholl Fellowship, yet no one is brave enough to touch it.

I wonder how it’s possible to be more comfortable in the chaos then it is to cry “Hate isn’t working!” It will never work.

Who will be brave enough to stop destroying olive trees in Palestine and instead extend the olive branch? What people in power in all the lands will be brave enough to stand up and say we are destroying humankind and ask what good can come from this?

Hate breeds hate, just as compassion breeds compassion.

It is time to put down the weapons, it’s time for all hands on deck to rebuild Palestine to be a place where human beings who just wish to live their lives can live free and with dignity alongside their neighboring Israelis.

There must be a new way to think this thing through. For seventy years war has not worked – it’s time to think outside the wall of containment and rebuild a crippled nation so that the children of the region can cease to live in fear. So that people, just people, can live in peace.

It’s time for finger pointing, name calling, blame seeking to stop.  It’s time for the wise men to come forward and lead, and the wise women to nurture and heal.

Where are all the wise men?

Before one more drop of blood is senselessly shed, before one more parent buries their child, before one more heart is broken

In the calmest of tones I can muster up – at last, it’s time.

Posted in #Palestine #Isreal #Peace, family | 13 Comments
     I like this time of year.  All the commencement speakers offer up their best advice to wide-eyed “welcome to the real world” newbies standing on the brink of the rest of their lives.  Some of the most famous speeches are delivered by celebrities that never even filled out a college application, skipping the dorm life for a head start into some form of super stardom – tipping the world on its ear with nary a prerequisite or panty raid under their belt.
     It’s unlikely I’ll ever stand at a pulpit in a flowing black robe giving me stature and distinction with words of wisdom intended to equip the youth of today with tools of discernment for tomorrow.  I probably won’t be paid the equivalent of a school teacher’s annual salary for twenty minutes of blabber about what awaits them once the last remnants of buttercream frosting, in the hues of what is now their alma mater, are licked from their chins.
     But, I’m pretty sure we all have a speech and since this page is my pulpit, indulge me for a moment while I get mine over with, leaving room for one more to make their own speech a youtube moment complete with good hair, an honorary doctorate and an invite to an after party where there will be cake.
I can live without the cake and the video clip (but I would likely want to know what kind of cake I was missing out on).
We live in a world of lists.  If you can count to ten, you can accomplish just about anything.  In fact, I’m sure there is a ‘top ten list of the top ten lists of the top ten ways to do just about anything’.  Google it when you have the time.
So, in keeping with the current trends, it occurred to me that my speech would take the complicated idea of living life well and simplify it into ten basic concepts.  Once equipped with these, all else that the world has to offer would simply be icing on the cake.
Is anybody else hungry?
 Ten Simple Ways to Live Well  (There is no reason to sugar coat this with fancy titles – it is what it is.  There is enough sugar in this post already.)
1.  Wear your seatbelt.  You can’t enjoy your life if you’re not here.   While texting and driving is illegal, I can almost guarantee that fifty percent of drivers on the road have their eyes lowered to the smart phone in their cup holder which means their eyes are not on the road  – which means you’d better get yours off your phone and pay attention to the road and since you’re probably not – wear your seatbelt.  Any questions?
2.  Love abundantly.  Most people love adequately.  Give it everything you’ve got.  Trade in the ‘scratch the surface of euphoria’ drugs you’ve likely experienced more than once over the past four years for this powerful drug that won’t empty your bank account or kill off brain cells.  Open your heart, gather it up and share it generously.  It is free of calories and carcinogens and is only toxic if you spend it on the wrong persons, so love wisely as well.
3.  Be kind.  You will avoid many fist fights, altercations, road rage, bad karma and life long enemies with this one.  Be kind to animals, old people,  the homeless, your parents, pedestrians, the bag boy at the grocery store, the valet and, oh yes, tip generously – he’s navigating your expensive car through a concrete obstacle course.  Make him care about you.  Only the universe can explain the power of kindness, but believe me, it’s a biggie.
4.  You will fail – get up.  This one is pretty basic.  You will fail – get up.  It’s a two-step process that everyone – yes, everyone experiences and the only ones who fail twice are the ones that don’t get up.  Easy fix – get up.
5.  Foster your relationships.  Take care of your family, your friends and those who find you valuable.  You may be their investment, but they are your returns.  Be known as someone who is loyal and of good character; someone who can be counted on.  This will serve you well.  It’s not just the human relationships that matter, either.  Water your lawn, rotate your tires, groom your dog, shampoo the rug and change your sheets.  You’ll feel accomplished and a little more in control in an often out of control world.
6.  Exercise.  You will look better.  You will feel better.  You will thank yourself as you age – yes, you will age.  So, appreciate that easily maintained BMI you brag about today.  Run your fingers over those washboard abs and perky breasts.  Gravity waits one quick decade down the road – and she doesn’t always believe in item #3.
7. Keep an umbrella in the trunk – because into every life some rain will fall.  And there will be thunder, lightning, an occasional tornado, hurricane and tsunami.  While you will weather these storms, you may emerge a little worse for the wear.  Along with that umbrella it may be wise to have an emergency make-up kit, an extra change of clothes, some dry sneaks and a good Cabernet.
 8.  Do what you love.  It will bring you joy.  For some, doing what they love also pays the mortgage, fills the fridge and puts the kids through school.  For others, doing what they love must be done on evenings and weekends and in pre-dawn hours before the freeway encounters and desk jobs.  Create – make art, music, literature, theater and express it in your own unique manner.  It’s the human way of leaving your mark, and far more acceptable than peeing on the neighbor’s Azalea.  It lasts longer, too.  Do what you love in a way that you leave this world somehow better than when you arrived.
9.  Live within your means.   If you don’t have it, don’t spend it.   If you have it, spend a little and sock a little away for the repairs you’re going to need after – well,  see item #7.  If you spend, spend wisely and surround yourself with few things that mean a lot rather than many things that mean nothing.
 Remember that line, it’s a good one.
10.  Put down your phone.  Burn the image of the beauty around you into your memory before you store it in your virtual photo library.   If you lose your phone, the memories go with it, unless you’ve etched the people, colors and events into your brain.
       Talk instead of text.   Don’t engage in public twitter battles which are fast becoming the norm for ‘how to ruin your relationships, sacrifice your reputation, jeopardize your job and screw up your life in 140 characters or les-” (I ran out of characters).
That’s my speech.   There could be more, I could go on about embracing your circumstances, setting goals, and being grateful, but I think I covered the essentials.  Don’t want to overwhelm or disenchant the nestlings too early.
Hopefully I saved them a step or two.
I’ve learned that following these ten simple steps leads to an easier time with the additional twists and turns the world may have in store –
Now, pass the cake.
Happy Summer!
Posted on by Writestuff | 10 Comments

End of Summer Round-up —

It’s been an unusually anatomical summer.  We began in June with a Weiner and we’re wrapping it all up with an Ass-ad and while the Weiner is nothing more than comic relief as his daily political dumpster dive deeper and deeper into oblivion serves to distract us from record temperatures, Ashton Kutcher’s poor showings at the box office and the fact that both Clint Eastwood and Michael Douglas are once again “out there” giving new meaning to the term “Senior Prom”.

The whole Ass-ad thing is a lot more serious.

Here’s what’s going to happen if we bomb Syria to “teach Ass-ad a lesson” — they will bomb a school (or 2) in the middle of the day and say we did it.  The images will be bleak and even more children will die.  Their anti-American propaganda will be fierce.  If you think they won’t go to extremes due to a deep sense of responsibility toward Syrian children, perhaps you haven’t been paying attention to the news of late.

If we take out a few military targets, they will surely bomb a Mosque, blame us and further un-endear us to the rest of the Islamic world.    Then the martyrs will surface to retaliate giving you one more reason not to run 26.2 miles ever again.

Although the bad guys do eventually get it in classic Disney style, we have learned that the cost is enormous, both in monetary and human terms.  We’re just beginning to see real signs of financial recovery and a war costing billions will set us back immensely, separate families,  cause five-star generals to have  illicit affairs with their biographers, mayors will grope anything in a skirt and McDonald’s and Burger King will breathe a sigh of relief that they can continue to pay below-poverty wages because all eyes would be off them and on yet another middle eastern conflict.

Chaos would surely ensue, and that seemingly delicious sesame-seed bun just might be harboring a loogie.

I’m suggesting we think outside the foxhole on this one.

Bear with me, here.  What is Ass-ad?  He’s a bully.  Plain and simple, but not the one who gave you wedgies in fifth grade gym class, he’s a murderer with a silly, spoiled wife who’s an embarrassment to the Arab world and humanity in general.

That being said, it’s time to bring out the “big guns” in classic “Get Bob Geldof on the line!  It’s time to organize!” fashion.

One Direction has teamed with Office Depot to end bullying.

We get them to head to Syria, wiggle their cute little butts for millions of fans in the name of putting an end to bullying.  We call it “Kicking Some Syri-us Ass-ad” concert.  Ryan Seacrest will MC, Taylor Swift will dedicate her song “Mean” to the cause.

Yes!  It is about you, BASHAR!

Office Depot will sponsor, and everyone gets a package of graffiti worthy Sharpies to scrawl “Get Your Ass-ad OUT OF HERE!” on every Syrian overpass.

I know it’s a long shot, but this sort of peaceful, yet musical voice has had power in the past.  It’s worth a try — it’s all I’ve got.   Perhaps this is why I never got into politics.

Now, about Miley Cyrus —  Bless her as she goes the way of Brittany Spears and Lindsay Lohan, desperate to express herself as something other than a product of the Disney Channel.   She is after all, just a kid.   The sad part is there were adults involved.

Is that you, Robin Thicke?

Image

I’m supposed to be writing a script today, but I got all distracted with the idea of world peace with a top-40 flair.  Maybe, as “idea person”, I could finally get Allie tickets to a One Direction concert…

and maybe rid the world of bullies.

Dreaming big on a Sunday.

Until next time –  Happy September.

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Bill Clinton was impeached, and while the word includes the word “peach”, which makes us (and him) think of supple, soft somethings, it was anything but sweet.  He was dragged through a grueling, public (almost) hanging by his peers for nearly two months. He was found “not guilty” and walked away with little more than a slap on the wrist and a confiscated cigar box.

He left office with the highest rating of any U.S. president since World War II.  

Mark Sandford played hooky from his wife, family and role as governor to the people of South Carolina for six days and headed to Buenos Aires for a little horizontal rumba with a woman his “spiritual advisor” confirmed was “the one”.

He claimed his MIA status was due to a much-needed hike in the Appalachians to clear his head. As a result, the euphemism “I am soooo gonna hike the Appalachians tonight” was echoed in every sleazy bar from Myrtle Beach to Miami.

He recently snagged the seat of U.S. Representative for South Carolina’s 1st congressional district —- He’s baaaa-aaaaack!

Now, Anthony Weiner would very much like to run for mayor of New York City.

And he seems to be gaining steam.

If you must, please refer to my one and only post about said Weiner to take in my thoughts on his antics of past.

https://faroukifibs.wordpress.com/2011/06/06/karma-for-hire/

I’m sorry to say I may have been a little hard on Anthony Weiner as the rest of New York City finds him pretty mayor-able.

I’m considering jumping on his band wagon on the road to the Mayor’s office of New York City

Here are some of my slogan ideas:

“Everybody Loves a Weiner”

“New York: Betting Short on Memory and Long on Weiner”

“Ain’t He Tweet?”

“Anthony Weiner is no Softy on Crime”

“Weiner for Mayor – Because We Know He has a Pair…Cuz We Kind of Saw.”

_________

How do they do it?

We’ve been waiting 2000 plus years for the return of the King, and these not-exactly-Jesus types seem to resurrect daily. But the behavior lives, the challenge is to stay well under the radar of the powers-that-be…the roving eye of the news snoop of which there are an abundance of these days and so – the David Patraeus’s of this world, the ones who are in charge of all the secrets???

Yeah, they have to step down because they have been exposed — often in classic Anthony Weiner fashion.

How do they do it? How do some politicians and government officials sleep at night knowing what they know the public doesn’t yet know but could very well know very soon???

The Politician’s Prayer — that’s how.

It goes something like this —

Now I lay me down to bed

To rest my weary, aching head

If I should die before I wake

I’ve some apologies to make

I’m sorry that I sinned in life

and kissed a gal who’s not my wife

I’m sorry that I spent unwise

and told some rather nasty lies

And yes, it’s true I wasn’t fair

And no, I didn’t really care

On babes I did pretend to dote

To fool my fans and get their vote

I have been bad, there is no doubt

But please don’t let the press find out.

Amen.

They sleep like a baby.

Posted on by Writestuff | 11 Comments

Mrs. Two-Day

I woke this morning early and ended up here on my page with intent to write clever prose about politics and press, but the house is quiet and my head is still wrapped around a weekend of wonder and whimsy in Carmel. So my thoughts on resurrected politicians will have to wait for another day.

Today you get romance.

B is for Bliss -- and Besmehn

I married Two-Day.

For those of you who follow my blog, you’ve known him from page one as the guy who encourages me to write, makes me laugh, gives great cuddle-calls, engages me intellectually, slow dances, walks my dog, takes on my girls as his own and loves me. Me and all the baggage we hauled from Northern Virginia that would fit in a bug — and the stuff we left behind.

He’s got great arms, awesome pecs (according to one very pleased 70-something lady in Carmel), a brilliant mind, an irresistible face

Dashing -

Dashing –

and a heart that even the transformed Grinch would covet.

So, I married him.

We met on a January day in 2010 in a book store in Northern Virginia (thanks to Barbara Brooks-Wallace who insisted I be present at a meeting between her and the boys who serve as the life force of PangeaCorp), he was a happy wanderer and I was an optioned writer with a hankering to head west, but little in the way of the necessary nads to do so. “C’mon,” he said, “come dip your toes in the California sand. You’ll be glad you did.”

Even dashing-er

Even dashing-er


I am.

He wooed me with bright, clever words and photos from afar. Photos from Italy and France and the local coffee shop. Each accompanied with a phrase that tugged at the hopeful dreamer in me that still believed in princes and fairy tales.

Come walk with me... in the Italian rain.

Come walk with me…
in the Italian rain.


Waiting for you... by the fountain.

Waiting for you…
by the fountain.

He is romantic and for those of you who know me, you know I have little in the way of defenses against a good tear-jerker or a handsome romantic. His magnetic pull is strong. I’ve never experienced anything quite like it. That combined with a killer two-day shadow overtook me and had me floating west in classic Pepe Le Pew style.

So, I married him.

He met my parents in October and ended the visit with a hand to my father’s shoulder and the chivalrous words “I intend to marry her, but I can’t ask her without your permission.” I can speak for all the girls in the room when I say he took our breath away, and probably some of the guys.

We were engaged Christmas Day.

We have great parents. Parents who have a combined record of 110 years of marriage which affords us an excellent foundation and an extremely good example of how to do wedded bliss just right.

Super-duper-ultra-deluxe parents

Super-duper-ultra-deluxe parents

We were married May 18th in my parent’s backyard in Springfield, Missouri and wrapped the whole thing up with a grand party in his parent’s clubhouse in Carmel, California this past weekend. A party complete with a photo montage of our journey so far set to my favorite song “Moon River” (thank you Big Dog).

Two drifters — both of whom still believe in the magic of love and marriage.

He captured my heart in January, 2010 and has made each and every day a lovely adventure.

So, I married him.

Forever.

I just thought you’d like to know.

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The Number’s Game

There’s little to think about when you lie awake at 4am, other than the fact that it’s 4am and you probably didn’t get your full 8 hours, so chances are you’ll be dragging ass by 12noon.

 Note the numbers; 4, 8, 12 — toss in there 16 business days to prepare a 1040 for April 15th, an 18 year old with a limited college fund, a May 18th wedding for which I’ve not sent a save the date to save the date to save the date.  A pending merger of 2 households, complete with 2 daughters here, 1 some 3,000 miles to the east and 1 aging black lab with bad hips and it’s no wonder sleep is fleeting.

Numbers.  They’re everywhere and don’t kid yourself, they’re powerful.  They loom in deadlines, lay risk in Richter scales, define markets and sustain or squelch self esteem.  

How powerful?  The moment we’re born we’re given one.  Perhaps one day in a century far, far away we will have evolved from alpha signatures to numeric titles:

2278767882 meet 446932545.

Perhaps we just grow tired of names like Apple and Blanket — that was so 2000 and whatever.  Our great, great, great, great to the 5th power grandchildren will marvel at the idea that odd and even were once known as Smith and Jones.

While we’re not quite there, numbers do already define us.  If you’re not the 1%, your the 98.  On that note, what happened to the 2%?  Is it that evident that nobody really cares who comes in second place?  Second’s not all that bad, not if you’re right behind first, but not sorry enough to be third, but lucky enough to be in the Final Four — is your head spinning yet?

Numbers continue to gain power.  Just ask our youth who measure success and self worth on likes and followers on Instagram, friends on Facebook and re-tweets on Twitter.   Those numbers have snatched the crown from the almighty bathroom scale for numbers to make or break your morning.  While victory used to be defined as a loss of 5 on a digital scale, it’s now commonplace to celebrate your 100th “like” with dinner at Cheesecake Factory where you can gauge your 3,000 calorie meal in the margin of the menu, and still manage to feel pretty damn good about yourself.

We measure life in numbers, both high and low.  How many zeros in your bank balance?  What’s your HDL/LDL ratio?  What’s your class rank?  Your dress size?  Your BMI?  The square footage of your house?  The turbo on your car?  The rank of your cell?  Does “supergirl” Siri find you worthy of her time and attention in an iPhone 4s or 5?  Because the previously coveted 4 is lame and a 3G is just plain – sorry-non-Siri- 2008.

We’re pressed to keep our daily steps high, our body age low and our social status optimum. 

Life’s a numbers game.

But, I challenge you —

Just for a day (that’s just 1) ; make a point of paying attention to those things we can’t track — can’t measure.   They’re out there to be the mesmerizing, fascinating, unmeasurable treasures that they are.  They can’t be counted, ranked, tracked, weighed, bottled or even rated impressive.

Just for a day don’t pay attention to where you began, whether the 3rd day of the 3rd week of the 3rd month of 1963 or the 5th day of the 1st week of the 4th month of 2006; and don’t pay attention to the pending finish line — whenever that may be.

 Pay attention to the dash between the two.

That tiny, immeasurable, powerful dash.

Just for a day.  It’s easy —

as 1, 2, 3.

 

 

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Not Today

By now you’ve heard enough — read enough and hopefully seen enough to turn off the TV.

I don’t need video to accompany the already vivid pictures in my head of terrified cherubs wielding nothing more than Cinderella lunch boxes and red, white and blue Captain America shields against an unimaginable monster.

I have no business encouraging cameras to be thrust into the tear stained faces of those left behind, and I have no interest in hearing tales or seeing images of the deranged, granting him a sick sort of fame.

I’m not chomping at the bit to take part in conversations of those who are  “pro-right-to-carry-assault-weapons-on-the-streets-where-you-live” or those who recklessly believe that a lack of access alone will lead to the end of senseless mayhem and unthinkable loss.  While conversations need to happen, I can’t listen at the moment – not yet.  Not today.

But, to do nothing means those who stormed the gates of heaven on Friday so grossly premature, do so in vain — and that’s equally unthinkable.  So the conversations on mental health awareness and “smarter” gun laws must happen.

But how do we get through today?  Tomorrow?  Next week?   The news crews will strain their view finders for glimpses of tiny caskets in the coming days to catapult us back into last Friday.  The faces will stream across our screens and fill our grocery store checkout counters, and in a small town in Connecticut, the most wonderful day of the year won’t be so wonderful.

I’ll keep my distance from the sideshow of grief, allowing family to grieve in their private way — all the while asking God to please see them through.

The only comfort I take is that the majority of the nation and the world feel the same as I do about this tragedy.  That for the most part the world is good and while that’s a bit of a Pollyanna attitude, Pollyanna was a pretty powerful little girl.

The comedy I’m working on right now will have to be shelved for a spell while my fractured funny bone heals  — and it will.  But, not yet.

Not today.

Posted in Uncategorized | 7 Comments

I love airports.  As a writer, I’m forever in search for the story.  The one I’m allowed to build from scratch based on an inspiration from the handsome guy standing next to me at Starbucks.

Where’s he going?  Why?  Is he coming back?  Does he have a girl he left behind, or one he’s going to fetch on bended knee?  Is he a rogue on the run, trying to stay one step ahead of the mobster he screwed out of a wad of cash, which he now plans to use to indulge in a Gingerbread latte — extra whip?

And what about the girl sprawled in chairs, her overstuffed bag tossed carelessly at her feet, her fingertips flying over the tiny keyboard in her palm?  She’s “yell-texting”, you can tell by the flurry of fingers, her tight lips; her furrowed brow.

Who’s getting the brunt of her wrath?  A lover who betrayed her?  Refused to claim her?  Stayed behind when perhaps he should have come along?  A friend she’s relaying her lovesick woes to?  Her mother who doesn’t get it; an office mate who sent the wrong file?

No, it’s not the office mate.  Her ankles tattooed with hearts, skull and cross-bones give her away as far more the fleeing lover in search of “reckless but real romance”, than the responsible rep of a Fortune 500 company .

What about the young man with the guitar slung over his shoulder and a backpack he likely salvaged from the back of a closet, the one he used to stuff with high school textbooks and marble notebooks scrawled with lyrics to his songs instead of notes from history or algebra class; what’s his story?

Off to Nashville?  Or L.A.?  Or New York City to strum his way from a street corner in Greenwich to a sold out show in Madison Square Garden?  His only source of transportation; one flight, a wing — and a prayer.  It works for some — and that’s what keeps the dreamer dreaming.

They’ve got stories.  Every one of them.  Airports are full of them.  Who got taken?  Who just lost?  Who just won?  Who is broken?  Who is weary?  Who is hopeful?  Who is texting love notes?  Who just lost their job, or their sense of safe?  Who has left chaos in their wake — who longs for reason among the ruins?

I watch, because one of them is next under my scope.  Bound for the blinding, probing glare of my screen and my “tap, tap, tap” of keys — determined to expose their story, even if it is a simple, manufactured product of my imagination.

That’s what I do.  In airports, in coffee shops, at traffic lights; in life.

Pull up a chair and a Gingerbread latte with extra whip.  I can probably tell you a story.

 

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Just Words in a Wallet

I met a wandering man one day

We stopped to chat along the way

His face was worn and full of lines

Put there by work and struggle and time

I was young and full of fury

“Slow down” he offered

“look around, what’s your hurry”

I was taken aback and I heard myself say

“What’s your reason for getting through life,

day to day?”

He paused for a moment and thought back on the years

And his eyes became moist as they filled up with tears

“I’ll tell you young man, my reason for living

It’s loving and learning

It’s taking and giving

It’s winning, then losing

Then winning again

It’s abiding by rules you believe,

And defend

It’s all this and more

But the main thing I’ll say

It’s belief in one’s self that holds life day to day.”

He gave a slight smile and looked to the ground

I didn’t dare speak, or utter a sound

I never saw that man again

But to me he was a teacher, a wise man

A friend.

T. Farouki ~1981

~ This may not be verbatim of the original, as I’m writing it from memory.  The only reason I remember I wrote it is because a friend I wrote it for found me on facebook last spring and messaged me that it’s still in his wallet. 

“Over the years there have been times when a little lift, a glimpse of the past and a look into the future would shove me in the right direction. I would pull out a very old, wrinkled and somewhat worn piece of spiral notebook paper. This paper has been taped together so much over the years it almost appears to have been laminated. At the top there is no heading just starts out with a simple yet very warm and heart filled poem. The first line goes to say: I met a wondering man one day. His face was worn a full of lines put there by work, worry, struggle and time.”

I had no idea. 

He called it a gift.

I remember writing it because he was very much a rebel and living so fast and furiously that I was afraid he’d crash head first into something stronger than his own youthful stubbornness, born completely from the need to fill a void.

I was grateful when I learned that 30 years later he won the battle of the restless soul and he’s happy and  healthy and basking in the love of family and friends.

He gave me a gift.

It taught me to choose my words and gestures carefully.

You never really know when verse, or a touch, or a hand will matter.  Whether they are stored in a memory, or a heart, or a wallet.

And it may take 30 years to find out.

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No Permissive Reason

I have a lover.  We spend time together when no one else is around.  We travel the freeways of California together.   I listen — and argue from time to time, but for the most part we get along pretty well.  The relationship started long ago, one of our first discussions was about cars.

They made me laugh.

We spent 9/11 together and the days that followed, the days we understood that life as we knew it was pretty much over.  A new day dawned and it might not be quite as easy as the decade prior or the one before that.  Bob Edwards walked me through the ashes of the World Trade Center.  His smokey voice came complete with an imaginary shoulder for me to cry on.  He was my rock during those difficult, difficult days.

I am a grown-up at last, you can tell by how my car radio is programmed — classic rock, “anything but rap” and NPR.

NPR is that lover (sorry Two-Day, but know it’s only an affair of the ear, you get the rest).

They keep me up on the news of the day.  The trends of the hour and the facts of the moment.  Their hosts and reporters have outrageous names such as Lakshmi Singh, Ira Flato (his name still brings out the ten-year old kid in me), Sariah Sarhaddi She-latti-kha-hari-mari-rasmussen.  I think that’s what she’s called.  Terry Gross.  Those clever Car Talk boys.  The calm, alternative to Ambien voice of Ira Glass.

They escort me to work, teach me about galaxies far, far away,  teach me how to distinguish a ping under the hood from a pain in my checkbook.  They take me to the front porches of my favorite writers and actors and walk me through the remains of the day.   They’re my dinner table companions minus the meal.  A lo-cal alternative.

They gave me regular updates during the Summer Olympics, stories of scores and scandal and celebration of victory.  When the Olympics were finished, we continued on with our regularly scheduled rendezvous, minus the stats and stories of Olympians and audio images of the grandeur that was Michael Phelps.

But, the other day they taught me about accomplishments.  Real ones.  Not the ones that come from the muscular, able-bodied.  This was about a man who received a silver medal in archery.

In the Paralympics.

Matt Stutzman has no arms.

When the story was airing, I thought “Hmmm, well, prosthetics are wonderful tools nowadays.  Haven’t we come a long way?”

He wore no prosthetics.  This man won a silver medal by using his toes.  His chin.  His teeth.

A man shoots a bullseye with his bow and arrow with no arms.  He does not reach his goal of a gold medal.  Falls just shy.

What’s my excuse for not reaching my goal?

None.  No Permissive Reason.

Back to work.

Right after CarTalk.

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